2021 TPVD meetings week #1: summary

Midnight in Paris, November 2020 – blog post

The following notes are taken from the TPV Developer meeting held on Friday, January 8th, 2021. Unfortunately, other commitments prevented me from attending the meeting, so I am solely reliant on Pantera’s video. However, for some reason, the region hosting the meeting was re-started mid-session (possibly the result of a rolling restart), and on resuming, Pantera suffered a recording glitch that meant the second half of the meeting did not get captured.

While I have the chat transcript of the full meeting (my thanks again to Pantera), given that the majority of commentary is via Voice, replies to questions and comments are unavailable, so this summary only covers the period of the meeting that was recorded successfully.

SL Viewer News

[1:33-3:51]

On Thursday, January 7th:

  • The Jellydolls viewer (updates to avatar appearance based on rendering costs) was promoted to Release Candidate status with the issuing of version 6.4.12.553798.
  • The Custom Key Mappings RC viewer updated to version 6.4.12.553437.
  • A new Love Me Render (LMR 5) viewer, version 6.4.12.553511,  was released as a project viewer.

The rest of the current official viewer pipelines remain as follows:

  • Current release viewer version 6.4.11.551711, formerly Cachaça Maintenance RC viewer promoted on November 12 – No Change.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Dawa Maintenance RC Viewer, version 6.4.12.553053, released December 3rd.
  • Project viewers:
    • Simple Cache project viewer, version 6.4.11.551403, issued on November 12.
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version 6.4.11.550519, October 26.
    • Copy / Paste viewer, version 6.3.5.533365, December 9, 2019.
    • Project Muscadine (Animesh follow-on) project viewer, version 6.4.0.532999, November 22, 2019.
    • 360 Snapshot project viewer, version 6.2.4.529111, July 16, 2019.

General Viewer Notes

  • Viewer updates have been delayed both due to the holiday break and as a result of a couple of processes being broken as a result of the cloud migration process.  The latter have now been fixed.
  • Currently, the OS  X (Mac) build  process for the official viewer is currently “broken” and in the process of being fixed.
  • The LMR 5 viewer comprises a number of EEP fixes together with fixes for water reflection rendering and for the Mesh uploader preview image. The full list of fixes from the release notes comprises:
    • SL-12740 [EEP] The EEP moon has a hardcoded blue light that is not present in Windlight-based viewers (Lab internal Jira).
    • SL-13888 The model is displayed with artefacts in the upload preview floater (Lab internal Jira).
    • SL-14275  Water Reflection new modes (Lab internal Jira).
    • BUG-228581 [EEP] Specular map reflections are way too weak.
    • BUG-228781 [EEP] Specular color interpreted wrong (too bright) from point lights.
    • BUG-228914 [EEP] Deferred Soften Shader fails to link when Atmospheric Shaders are disabled. This causes Debug viewer builds to crash.
    • BUG-229013 [EEP] Moonset inconsistent
    • BUG-229122 [EEP] Glow should be directly behind the sun or moon when it is near the horizon.
    • BUG-229689 [EEP] cloud texture is rendered backwards
  • The Profiles viewer had been expected to be promoted to RC status, but there appears to be a UI issue that needs to be addressed before this can happen.
  • It is not clear which of the RC viewers will be the next to be promoted to de facto release status. However, given the amount of testing against the Custom Key Mappings RC viewer, this could be a strong contender.

Upcoming UDP Changes

[10:35-14:45]

  • Following on from the switch away from using UDP messaging for asset handling between the viewer and the Lab’s back-end systems that took place in recent years (assets are all handle by HTTP), the Lab is now looking to make a similar switch away from UDP messaging for all “mission critical” (e.g. messages that need to be handled in a specific order / receive responses in a specific order).
  • These changes are to be made over time and on a “case by case” basis.
  • Exactly how this is to be done has not been entirely worked through; it may be that some changes can be made without impacting TPV developers with a lot of additional work on their side of things.
  • Part of this work will involve moving some of the message handling for chat to TCP as well.
  • This work will take time to complete; however, once it is finished and once the replacement messaging protocols have been a part of the official release viewer for around 12 months, the Lab will seek to removing UDP message handling from both the viewer and the back-end code where it is no longer required.
  • The reason for doing this is because UDP is not a reliable messaging format when information is required in a specific order, and can be at the heart of assorted issues users can experience. Ergo, the aim is to make things a lot more predictable and robust.

In Brief

  • [4:02-5:06] There are a number of services still being adjusted post-uplift, these include:
    • World Map tile generation.
    • Land Store.
    • Some noticeable performance glitches.
    • These adjustments likely mean there were be a slightly higher cadence of server-side changes, but the focus is on trying to fix things and get back to the usual Tuesday / Wednesday simulator deployments  within the next week or two.
  • [5:08-5:53] There is a further update to help with Group Chat issues   that will hopefully be deployed in week #2 (commencing Monday, January 11th).
    • This is not seen as a “total fix” for issues, but part of the continuing work to improve things.
    • The focus is to “sharply limit” the amount of group chat traffic generated by people logging into or out of Second Life. This means that the member lists for very large groups may not report everyone in the group who is on-line, but will report all those actively using the group chat function as being on-line.
  • [5:55-10:17]There is to be a “real push” to make improvements to the Second Life Voice service. This will likely be based around a new Voice SDK supplied by Vivox.
    • As a part of this work, the Lab is gathering data on users who are still running on very old viewer versions / old version of the SLplugin.EXE for voice, as part of this work will likely result in some of the oldest, low-quality codecs used by the Voice API being disabled in the Voice package from Vivox at some point in the future – which may “break” Voice for those still using those really old versions.
    • The reason for disabling these old codecs is because they are of much lower quality output, and if just one person in a group voice chat is using a Voice package reliant on them, everyone in the same group chat is downgraded to the old codec, impacting the Voice quality right across the session.
    • This work will also focus on trying to correct / eliminate the “little” voice drop-outs that can occur (so those listening don’t hear every single word the speaker says).
  • [13:55-16:25] Another change with the viewer is the on-going removal of code that is not longer being actively used. A  further example of this is that there are two protocols used for handling requests for logging-in to SL. One of these (XML-RPC) is almost never used nowadays, so this code may well be removed – with warning beforehand – in the future.

Meet Linden Lab’s new board of directors

Linden Lab’s new board of directors (l to r): Brad Oberwager, J. Randall Waterfield and Raj Date

Following confirmation early this month that the the acquisition of Linden Research Inc., (to give Linden Lab its formal name) has been completed (see the second half of 2021 Update: Life in the Cloud from the Lab and also my own Linden Lab gives cloud migration update & new ownership announcement (updated)), the Lab has updated the Board of Directors section of the About page on the official Linden Research website.

The acquisition, sees three new board members replacing Jed Smith, Bill Gurley, Dina L. Evan and Bing Gordon. Two of them have been previously mentioned: Brad Oberwager and J. Randall (Randy) Waterfield (you can read my own notes on these two gentleman here: Linden Lab announces it is to be acquired). However, what may come as news is that there is a third member of the Lab’s new board: Raj Date.

The following are the biographies for all three as found on the Lab’s About web page:

Brad Oberwager

Brad Oberwager has spent his entire career in technology and consumer focused companies as an entrepreneur and board member.
Currently, he sits on the board of two public companies, Asure Software (NASDAQ: ASUR) and Better World (NASDAQ: BWACU). He is the chairman of two companies he founded, Jyve and Sundia and is also on the board of TEGSCO (aka AutoReturn). He owned Bare Snacks, acquired by PepsiCo in 2018.
Brad was Vice-chair of YPO International, a global organization of 25,000 CEOs.
Brad received his BS from Georgetown University, his MBA from the Wharton School and lives in San Francisco. 

J. Randall (Randy) Waterfield

Mr. J. Randall (Randy) Waterfield, is the Chairman of Waterfield Holdings, which traces its origins to 1928. After selling the largest private mortgage company in the US and largest Indiana based bank in 2006 and 2007 respectively, he diversified into technology, manufacturing and other industries.
Randy holds the Chartered Financial Analyst designation and is a graduate of Harvard University. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of Red Oak Partners, Waterfield Technologies, Linden Research, Inc. and has previously served on the boards of YPO (and was the 2017-2018 Chairman of YPO), Asure Software ( NASDAQ: ASUR), SMTC Corporation (NASDAQ: SMTX), RF Industries (NASDAQ: RFIL), among others. He is also the Co-Chairman of Missouri Cobalt, LLC, the largest cobalt mine in North America.
Randy supports various education, environmental and community development charitable causes through the nonprofit Waterfield Foundation and J. Randall Waterfield Foundation.

Raj Date

Raj Date was the first-ever Deputy Director of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). As the Bureau’s second-ranking official, he helped steward the CFPB’s strategy, its operations, and its policy agenda. He also served on the senior staff committee of the Financial Stability Oversight Council, and as a statutory deputy to the FDIC Board.
Before being appointed Deputy Director, Raj acted as the interim leader of the new agency, serving as the Special Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury. He led the CFPB for most of the first six months after its launch.
Currently, Raj is the Managing Partner of Fenway Summer, an advisory and investment firm focused on financial services and financial technology. In that capacity, he chairs the investment committee of Fenway Summer Ventures, a fintech venture capital fund, and works with clients of FS Vector, the fintech advisory firm. He also serves as a Director for a number of innovative firms in financial services: Prosper, the marketplace lender; Green Dot, the bank holding company; Circle, the digital asset firm; Grasshopper, a de novo bank; and College Ave, a private student lender.
He is a graduate of the College of Engineering at the University of California at Berkeley (highest honors) and the Harvard Law School (magna cum laude).

Without wishing to take anything away from Mr. Oberwager and Mr. Waterfield, Raj Date’s credentials are especially impressive for a relatively small company like Linden Research; having joined the CFPB in February 2011, on what he thought would be a 2-3 month tenure, he was asked by Elizabeth Warren, who oversaw the establishment of the CFPB as a Special Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury, to lead “the guts of the policy apparatus” within the Bureau. When Warren sought to (successfully) run for the U.S. Senate later in 2011,  Date was nominated to succeed her as the CFPB’s Special Advisor to Treasury, and (as the Lab notes), its first Deputy Director, under Richard Cordray.

His background with consumer affairs, finances, and his post-CFPB founding of Fenway Summer would appear to help lend significant weight to Linden Lab’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Tilia inc; while he is not currently listed as a member of Tilia’s board, his background and expertise could be used in an advisory capability, and his name certainly brings a further level of gravitas to Tilia,

 

Thus far, the acquisition and arrival of the new board has been handled in a relatively low-key manner. While some might be tempted to see the negative in this, it’s likely more a case of the Lab wishing to demonstrate that, from their perspective and that of the incoming board, things are very much “business as usual” rather than being indicative of any kind of radical change.