2020 SUG meeting week #43: further uplift update

Bungenäs, Binemust – blog post

The following notes were taken from the October 20th Simulator User Group meeting.

Cloud Uplift Update

There are no formal simulator deployments for week #43. This is to make way for selected regions (both RC and Main channel) to be migrated to AWS services (the cloud). This means those regions that are transitioned will be restarted.

For details of the initial announce on the uplift, please refer to Lab expanding number of regions on AWS.

Speaking at the simulator User Group meeting on October 20th, Maxidox Linden provided the following update:

This morning we started our medium-size (at least by the size of a world) movement of regions to cloud based simhosts. Specifically we now have over 300 simulators running in the cloud. We’re looking at how quickly we can move more, as well.
For this round we went with a mixture of extremely high impact regions and extremely low impact “filler” regions, to stress various parts of our systems like the region allocation process and how we pack regions into a host.
In future rounds it’s likely we’ll be focusing on specific Release Candidate channels.
Basically: My *goal* (I’m not saying it’s what we’re doing, but I’m saying it’s what I’m trying to do) is to make this the worst it gets, and it only gets better from here.

– Mazidox Linden

Bullet Notes on Uplift

  • As of the October 20th SUG meeting, some 300 regions have been transitioned to the cloud, representing a mix of region in terms of use.
  • Performance issues have been warned about because there are a number of back-end systems that have yet to be uplifted (and presumably need the simulators in place before they can be), which may have some impact.
  • The hope is that some of these additional services will be transitioned when they can, rather than being “left until last”.
    • One of those earmarked for transition that has been causing some angst are the servers managing the KVP database for experiences.  There have already bee reports of degraded experience performance on AWS-hosted regions, so the hope is to get the KVP database moved, with “quiet a bit of effort” going into it.
  • Those who have had regions uplifted and feel they are suffering adversely from the move can request a roll back to being hosted in the Lab’s co-lo. However:
    • As all regions will be running on AWS services by year’s end, LL would rather region holders bear with any issues they may encounter whilst things are in a state of flux, and if they are encountering specific issues, to work with the Lab to try and identity and rectify matters.
    • Those who feel they need a roll-back to the lab’s co-lo facility should file a support ticket, providing a clear indication of why they would like their region(s) rolled back, and the issues they are encountering.
During the transition (as now) either the uplifted or data centre regions will have some penalty … we expect that will mostly disappear by the time we’re done

– Oz Linden on possible simulator (and other) performance impacts
during region migration

  • The Lab’s aim is to continue to make the transitioning of services from their co-lo to AWS services as invisible to users as possible (that is, you shouldn’t really be able to tell the difference between a service now running on AWS and when it was running via the Lab’s co-lo).

SL Viewer

There have been no updates to the current list of official viewers, leaving the pipelines as follows:

  • Current release viewer version, formerly the Mesh Uploader RC released October t and promoted on October 14 – No Change.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Cachaça Maintenance RC viewer, version, issued October 1.
  • Project viewers:
    • Project Jelly project viewer (Jellydoll updates), version, October 1.
    • Custom Key Mappings project viewer, version, June 30.
    • Copy / Paste viewer, version, December 9, 2019.
    • Project Muscadine (Animesh follow-on) project viewer, version, November 22, 2019.
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version, September 17, 2019. Covers the re-integration of Viewer Profiles.
    • 360 Snapshot project viewer, version, July 16, 2019.

In Brief

  • Group chat issues are being worked on, but is pending the uplift work.
  • The long-promised increase in sound loop support from 10 seconds to 30seconds, first promised a fair while ago now, is … pending the uplift work – although it is rumoured (and subject to confirmation) to be a Premium Plus benefit.

Just Melusina in Second Life

Melusina Parkin: Just Melusina
I’m not familiar with portraits; objects, details or landscapes are my favourite subjects. I’m not aware of the many secrets one needs to know to catch expressions, feelings or bias in a body or in a face. But sometimes I try that. It’s when a place, a dress, a pose, suggests an atmosphere or meaningful emotion.

– Melusina Parkin

These are the disarming words Melusina Parkin uses to introduce her latest series of images, Just Melusina, an enticing set of 34 self-portrait / avatar studies that are uniquely Melusina in appearance, tone and style that fully underline her use of atmosphere and emotion – and demonstrate she indeed has an eye for pose and look.

“Traditional” portraits tend to exercises in power and / or ego, however subliminal. The subject and their pose is what counts, the clothes they wear, the backdrop to their sitting, etc., are all merely accoutrements to the central theme of look at ME. Even self-portraiture can follow a similar route, although they can also lean the other way, projecting too much of the artist’s own self-reflection in a piece, although the end result is the same: to push their audience into a single track of emotional response.

Melusina Parkin: Just Melusina

Within avatar studies, ego can also play a role – who doesn’t want to have their avatar looking its stunning best? – but leaving aside things like Profile photos and personal shots, avatar studies within SL tend to focus on narrative: telling a story in a single frame. But often, rather than allowing the image to speak for itself, the artist will directly lead their audience into an interpretation of a piece through the use of an intentionally descriptive title that sets the foundation of what they are trying to convey. There’s actually nothing wrong with this where the story is the intent, but where the interpretation might otherwise be broader, it can focus too much on generating the primary response rather than – as with the likes of landscape images – allowing the audience to take in the whole and allow their thoughts and reaction to be more freely driven by what they see and perceive.

This is where the 34 images found within Just Melusina differ from the more “usual” forms of avatar study. While each and every one has obviously been posed, none are titled by anything other than by a number), so there is no leading by the hand when it comes to interpretation. The result is that what we see within each image is entirely a matter of our owner observation and emotional response – and this is broadened by Melusina’s skill in lightly (and sometimes indirectly) touching on smaller specifics within an image, as well as in using dress, poise and camera angle, to offer the way to larger stories our imagination might frame.

Melusina Parkin: Just Melusina

Take Just Melusina 34, for example (above). In a muted, soft-focus monochrome, it presents a woman sitting, perhaps curled with her knees up, on a sofa of some description.  But is she at home or some public place? Just the hint of the chair is sitting on suggests a sofa, but could it be a vinyl-covered bench seat in public place that she has chosen to make her own. And is she alone or with someone? The turn of her eyes could suggest either; is she looking at someone whilst listening to them? If so who? A friend? A lover? A stranger? And if so, what does the neutral set to her expression suggest? Or has something outside of the frame attracted her attention? Is it something she is witnessing outside of wherever she is and seen through a window? Or is it closer, within the space she occupies, but not something with which she is directly involved? Or is she just lost within her own thoughts, unaware of either the sideways glance or the expression on her face? If so, what might be the thoughts she is lost within?

Thus, through each image, Melusina beautifully and lightly sets a scene – not an entire narrative, and certainly not a shout of “look at me!” – abut a scene. One in which we are invited to step and allow our eyes and emotions construct the narrative beneath.

And there’s more besides. Whilst all of these images open a veritable storybook of possible narratives to hold our attention, so too do some have other aspects to them. There are those that seem to have a more playful edge to them as they offer hints of other mediums – such as a possible call to Liza Minnelli in Cabaret or Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Others meanwhile, seem to offer hints of famous works to be found in the physical world – Just Melusina #17, with the use of pose and hair colour might be seen to offer an echo of Whistler’s Mother without actually ever being a direct take on it, but remaining true to itself.

Melusina Parkin: Just Melusina

Wonderful in scope and depth, this is another superb collection from Melu, and I hope you’ll take the time to see it.

SLurl Details

Lab expanding number of regions on AWS

Logos ©, ™ and ® Linden Lab and Amazon Inc

On Friday, October 16th, Oz Linden posted about the work in migrating Second Life services to running on Amazon AWS cloud servers and infrastructure – see: Uplift Update, which I expanded upon in Oz Linden posts on Second Life cloud uplift status.

At the time of that update, it was indicated that about 100 regions on Agni, the main grid, had been transitioned to running on AWS, comprising a mix of Linden-held, Mainland and private regions.

Commencing on Tuesday, October 20th, the Lab will be expanding on the number by “a few hundred” regions during week #43. The announcement came via a forum post by Bugsly Linden, which reads in full (re-formatted for ease of reading):

This week marks the beginning of medium-scale migration of production regions to the cloud (AWS). We will be transferring a few hundred regions from all existing channels of Second Life based on the Engineering team’s need for additional data and performance metrics. Bulk region migration will take place this week between 6:00 AM and 12:00 PM (Noon) Pacific Daylight Time.
If you are interested in having a region you own (or are the alternate payer for) migrated to the cloud, please submit a Support Ticket. Regions that are migrated to the cloud may experience degraded performance or behave incorrectly; if you are in a cloud based region (you can check by clicking Help->About, and if you see the URL on line 3 end in “amazonaws.com” you’re in the cloud) and observe behaviour you believe is newly incorrect, please file a BUG at jira.secondlife.com.
Due to the rapid speed of our Uplift efforts, we are unable to guarantee that regions in the cloud that are behaving incorrectly will be moved immediately back to our existing hosts.

Bugsly Linden

Spotting a region hosted in the cloud via Help About. Top: a region hosted at the Lab’s co-location facility (note the agni.lindenlab.com in the address). Bottom: and a region running on a simulator in the cloud

There have been concerns about aspects of performance with regions operating in the AWS environment – particularly with regards to communications with the KVP database associated with experiences, which has yet to be migrated), and there are on-going teleport issues that might be related to the Uplift work, although as Oz indicated in his blog post, this has yet to be confirmed.

Elsewhere, some of those with regions already uplifted – such as London City (see London City Uplifted) – have reported generally good performance, if with a one or two caveats such as legacy profiles being slow to load in viewers that support them (which again may or may not be Uplift related). Similarly,those testing region crossings between those based in the AWS environment and those still within the Lab’s co-lo facility have reported them to be generally “smooth”.

However, as Bugsly’s forum post implies, there could be a period of degraded performance within regions that are transitioned to AWS, so keep an eye on where you are in SL.


The Fourmilab Cloud Halo detecting an AWS region. Credit: Fourmilab

For those who are curious about whether or not they are in a region that has been uplifted to the cloud or not, and who don’t like opening menus and panels to find out, Fourmilab may have the answer: a freebie full permission halo that attaches to your avatar.

By default, it is invisible, but should you move from a region hosted by the Lab in their co-lo facility to one running on AWS, it will sparkle briefly into life to the faint accompaniment of harps being played (well, you’re in the cloud, after all) before vanishing.

Similarly, when you leave a region running in the cloud and return to one still based in the Lab’s co-lo facility, the halo will again briefly appear, this time a dull grey and without the golden sparkles, while a trombone plays a couple of sad notes.

Note that it will only play when moving between regions hosted in the two facilities, not when moving between regions in the same facility (so you won’t repeatedly get the trombone when moving between regions that are all hosted at the Lab’s co-lo for example).

You can grab the halo here.