2021 SUG meeting week #48 summary

The Rock, September 2021 – blog post

The following notes were taken from the Tuesday, November 30th, 2021 Simulator User Group (SUG) meeting. The meeting was recorded by Pantera Północy, and the video is embedded at the end of this summary.Note this summary focuses on the key points of the meeting; where there is something to report, the video should be referred to should full details of the meeting wish to be reviewed.

Server Deployments

See the server deployment thread for further updates.

  • On Monday, November 29th / Tuesday, November 30th, all simulators on the SLS Main channel were restarted to allow for a hardware upgrade.
  • On Wednesday, December 1st:
    • The Le Tigre RC channel will be updated to the simulator version using the new toolset.
    • Pending a final QA decision, the remain RC channels may also receive a new simulator version.

Simhost Configuration

While the Lab is not prepared – yet – to discuss the simulator host configuration changes that are being made, we have been promised a blog post on the subject in the near future. However, in commenting on the work, Rider Linden stated:

Amazon offers a variety of hardware configurations. We’ve been switching from one that closely mirrored what we had in the colo[cation facilities, the Lab’s former dedicated server facilities] to a new one that fits our usage pattern better.

End-of-Year Deployments

  • There are potentially two more simulator deployment periods left for the year: December 7th / 8th, and potentially the 14th/15th, if anything has to be pushed back – although LL would prefer not to have that happen.
  • There should be restarts on the 21st / 22nd December for the holiday period, but no deployments.
  • The next scheduled restart / deployment period will then come on January 4th / 5th 2021.

Available Viewers

This list reflects those viewers available via Linden Lab.

  • Release viewer: version version, formerly the Maintenance RC and dated November 10, promoted November 15 – this viewer now contains a fix for the media issues caused by the Apple Notarisation viewer.
  • Release channel cohorts (please see my notes on manually installing RC viewer versions if you wish to install any release candidate(s) yourself):
    • The Tracy Integration RC viewer version (dated Friday, November 5) issued Tuesday, November 9.
    • 360 Snapshot RC viewer, version, issued October 21.
    • Simplified Cache RC viewer, version, dated September 17, issued September 20.
  • Project viewers:
    • Performance Improvements project viewer updated to version (dated November 17) November 22.
    • Performance Floater project viewer, version, issued September 2.
    • Mesh Optimizer project viewer, version, issued September 1.
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version, dated October 26, 2020.
    • Copy / Paste viewer, version, dated December 9, 2019.

In Brief

  • As many have noticed, avatar bakes have been taking noticeably longer when logging-in, with some also reporting changes of outfit. This looks to be a systemic issue.
  • Some have been reporting a log-in issue that manifests as a warning that the computer running the viewer may have an incorrectly set clock, exacerbated by the fact the suggested resolutions to the issue do not appear to correct it. However, LL believe the underpinning cause has been identified, and a fix should be deployed “soon”.

Art and Virtual Identity in Second Life

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Margherita Hax, Virtual Identity

To round out what has been another year of totally flawless exhibitions at Nitroglobus Roof Gallery, Dido Haas has invited Margherita Hax to present the first ever gallery exhibition of her SL photography, which will be up through the month of December.

Entitled Virtual Identity, this is a fascinating series of black-and-white avatar studies that are in and of themselves, a demonstration of the art of photography in its truest. From framing through the use of focus, depth of field, filters, cropping, to post-processing, these are images that are visually engaging. Within them, can be found both single-frame narratives and threads of broader stories and themes.

While the title of this exhibition suggests a focus purely on a matter of the “real” and “virtual” identity dichotomy, it does so from a broader perspective than we might normally view it:  purely from how an individual presents themselves through their avatar, actions and words to create a character. While this is part of Virtual Identity, so to is the other – oft overlooked  – aspect of identity: how we overlay what we see through projection, being overly focused on our own emotions and even idolatry. In doing so, it also touches on subjects such as honesty and filtering.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Margherita Hax, Virtual Identity

Within Second Life, much has been made about the freedom of expression we have: one to another, the majority of us are very much anonymous, with complete agency over how we choose to present ourselves via our avatar’s appearance and – more intrinsically –  what we chose to reveal of our actual natures and selves. Many commentators have seen this as something that leans very much towards the beneficial, with a  quote by Oscar Wilde often being used to underline this point:

Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.

– Oscar Wilde, The Critic as Artist (1891)

However, as a truism, this quote is actually a double-edged sword; whilst broadly taken as a being a “good” thing for our freedom of expression in Second Life; Wilde’s words also underline the fact that that very anonymity can be used to detriment; not only in the more obvious ways we all think of, but also in one-to-one interactions and relationships, in that the likes of avatar appearance and the use of text make it both next to impossible to judge intent. Thus, within it lies a paradox, as Margherita notes:

I have always felt the fascination of this paradoxical combination of emotions which, although limited and contained by an important filter in one sense, flow even stronger into the other. Thus, suspended from judging what is true or fake, in my photos, through portraits, gazes, stories and attitudes, I try to show and narrate emotions, lifestyle, relationships and (why not) love in 3D.

Through a central story – told down one arm of the gallery, and more individual pieces down the other, Margherita tells both the story of a Second Life relationship from beginning to end, whilst also opening up questions of what level of reality that can be found purely through a screen / text relationship. Both are somewhat linked through the use of mythological figures: Narcissus, Eros and Athena.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Margherita Hax, Virtual Identity

In particular, the former is used in an emphasis of what the artist calls “fake love”. It actually sits well with Projections, the two underlining how projecting our own needs / wants / desires into a relationship as a result of what we see is something that can result in heartache and hurt, regardless of any intent on the part of the other within the relationship. Eros, meanwhile, is used as a symbol of true love, and in the process perhaps offers a pairing with Athena and PinkPower in expressing the natural outflow of emotion and contentment that can be brought to the fore when our real personalities and heartfelt feelings are brought to the fore, and honesty forms the basis of our interactions with one another.

By using different avatars throughout, Margherita offers a reminder of how the two sides of identity and its role in a relationship and who we are. That something as simple as a change in appearance  – from skin tone through to gender – can completely alter perceptions, responses and personal outlook. This further underlines her central tenet of Margherita’s description of the exhibition: that when we are reliant purely on a single filter, emotions and projection also become singular; something that can be, depending on the intent of both parties, potentially harmful  – or actually unifying.

Remarkable in its power, this is an exhibition that offers multiple opportunities for discussion, there is simply so much wrapped within the images and the themes. As individual pieces, the images at Nitroglobus are all inspiring in their presentation and depth; by using the west-east arm of the gallery to focus on a core story of love (and regret), and the north-south arm for more “individual” pieces that can also help to underline the motifs and emotions of the other arm, Margherita offers an exhibition of two intertwined halves that might be said to present a metaphor that again underlines her idea of paradox.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Margherita Hax, Virtual Identity

As this is the end of the year, and  – as I’ve noted – another superb series of exhibitions at Nitroglobus, I’d like to close with a personal note with regards to Dido herself. Her approach to the exhibitions she hosts – invitation, collaboration, encouragement, the use of additional 3D to offer contrast or emphasis, her sheer enthusiasm for art, makes any visit to Nitroglobus a consistent delight and an absolute pleasure to write about in these pages.