2020 TPVD meeting week #44: summary with uplift news

The Muse, September 2020 – blog post

The following notes are taken from the TPV Developer meeting held on Friday, October 30th, 2020. These meetings are generally held every other week, unless otherwise noted in any given summary. The embedded video is provided to Pantera – my thanks to her for recording and providing it. Time stamps are included with the notes will open the video at the point(s) where a specific topic is discussed. Note these summaries are not intended to be a full reporting on all topics discussed, but focus on those items that are more directly user-facing.

Another exceptionally brief meeting, with some discussion in chat, so please refer to the video as well.

Cloud Uplift

[0:00-1:01]

  • The transitioning of regions to running on AWS services in progressing “extremely well”.
  • So far, LL has been able to deal with those issues that have arisen.
  • At the time of writing, just under 15% of the the main (Agni) regions are now running on AWS.
  • This amount is set to increase “significantly” in week #45 (commencing Monday, November 2nd).
  • If there are issues users are encountering with regions running on AWS that haven’t been reported, now is the time to test them (preferably with the official viewer) to confirm they can be reproduced and then report them via the Second Life Jira.

SL Viewer News

[1:06-2:48]

  • Current release viewer version 6.4.10.549686, formerly the Mesh Uploader RC promoted on October 14 – No Change.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Cachaça Maintenance RC viewer, version 6.4.11.551139, issued October 27.
  • Project viewers:
    • Project Jelly project viewer (Jellydoll updates), version 6.4.10.549690, October 1.
    • Custom Key Mappings project viewer, version 6.4.5.544079, June 30.
    • 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.
    • legacy Profiles project viewer, version 6.3.2.530836 – but see below.

General Viewer Notes

  • The Legacy Profiles project viewer appears to be in a state of flux:
    • Updates to the viewer were dependent on on back-end changes which were in turn dependent on completion of the cloud migration work.
    • It had been hoped that an interim workaround could be made to allow the viewer to progress without the back-end changes.
    • On Monday, October 26th, the viewer was apparently updated to version 6.4.11.550519 (including on the Alternative viewers web page), presumably to bring it to par with the release viewer code base.
    • By Friday, October 30th, this appears to have been rolled-back to version 6.3.2.530836 (noted above), dated September 2019.
    • [10:07-10:35] When released, this viewer will see the deprecation of all aspects of the current web profiles, other than the Feed.
    • [11:02-11:36] The Feed will be made available through the viewer “as is”, but may be enhanced or possibly retired in the future.
  • An upcoming project / RC viewer will feature a replacement for the VFS (Virtual File System) cache.
    • There may be some benefits from the initial release of this viewer, however its primary aim is to get a new cache framework in place for upcoming cache-related projects (e.g. texture fetching and caching).

In Brief

  • [2:54-3:37] Firestorm currently have a pre-release of their EEP Beta viewer in testing, and are moving to promote that viewer to full release status, and is moving towards a code freeze so that it can progress to a release.
  • [4:19-5:13] BUG-229555 “[CEF 2020] AltGr key doesn’t work within internal web browser” – this issues also apparently affects special characters on windows as well. It has been accepted by LL as an internal Jira, and a fix should be in an upcoming Maintenance viewer / update.

Beyond Space and Time in Second Life

The Kondor Art Centre: Beyond Space and Time

October 28th, 2020 saw the opening of a new gallery space at the Kondor Art Centre, the centre for the art of Hermes Kondor, an artist and photographer for whom I’ve developed a strong appreciation. Occupying a space-aged building designed by Beth Delaunay (Isilmeriel) entitled Into The Future, the gallery is intended to be the home of “new creative projects and ideas”.

The first exhibition within it is entitled Beyond Space and Time, a set of stunning images that combine digital creations textured with Hermes’ own photographs from the physical world. And when I say “stunning”, I’m not using hyperbole.

These are pieces that, although produced via digital means, have a deep organic feel and look that gives them a sense of life and vitality that just holds the attention. Such is this sense of life that, despite the metallic look with the primary forms in them, the mind is drawn to wonder if they are exotic lifeforms or living machines travelling through space to observe distant worlds, gathering strength in the yellow radiation of distant suns, or hurtling through the interstellar medium at relativistic speeds.

The Kondor Art Centre: Beyond Space and Time

A closer look at them, particularly the “reflections” on their surfaces created through the use of Hermes’ physical world photographs, adds to this idea – and also turns in on its head. Within these “reflections” can be seen many of Hermes’ photographs of plants.

They suggest that what we’re looking at has been seen via a macro lens, powerful enough to reveal exotic new lifeforms travelling amidst the plants and flora of our own world. Or might it be these “reflections” are actually a part of these creature, these craft; patterns on their metallic-like skins or hulls,  or even part of their complex interiors, their surfaces actually bring semi-transparent?

The choice of what they might be is totally yours to interpret – and therein lies the magic of Beyond Space and Time – within the extraordinary set of themed images is the freedom to allow the imagination unfettered freedom of flight when appreciating them.

The Kondor Art Centre: Beyond Space and Time

Another remarkable exhibition from a genuinely gifted photographer and artist. when visiting, make sure you set your viewer to Midnight, and reduce your draw distance so that the surrounding skyboxes don’t distract from the art when on the rooff of the gallery building.

SLurl Details

2020 CCUG meeting week #44 summary

Poughkeepsie, September 2020 – blog post

The following notes were taken from my audio recording and chat log of the Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meeting held on Thursday, October 29th 2020 at 13:00 SLT. These meetings are chaired by Vir Linden, and agenda notes, meeting SLurl, etc, are are available on the Content Creation User Group wiki page.

There was a lot of general discussion about animation synchronisation, cloud uplift (the majority of which I’ve already reported in my SUG and TPVD meetings of late), etc., none of which should out as really reportable.

Jellydoll / ARCTan

  • Vir has been working on some bug fixes to the Project Jelly viewer (version 6.4.10.549690 at the time of writing), and this work is now with the Lab’s QA team. When issues, this will see the viewer also based on the current release viewer code base.
  • As a reminder:
    • The current ARCTan work is focused on the viewer-side updates to avatar complexity calculations.
    • Work on providing in-world object rendering costs (LOD models, etc.) which might affect Land Impact will be handled as a later tranche of project work, after the avatar work.

Graphics

  • The Graphics team is still looking at options for replacing OpenGL, particularly as a result of Apple’s plans to deprecate all support for it on their systems.
  • The OpenGL project is large-scale, so the Graphic team is also looking at other shorter-term projects related to performance improvements. These may include:
    • Possible optimisations for people on low-end systems (as noted in my previous CCUG summary, roughly 1/3 of all users are running on systems that do not support Vulkan and many of these systems are more than 5 years old).
    • Linden Water: since the last TPV meeting (see: 2020 TPVD meeting week #42: summary) the Lab believe they have determined that the FPS loss seen when rendering Linden Water appears to be related to a combination of the actual rendering and with water reflections. This is still being investigated. One idea to deal with the latter is to completely disable water reflections in the viewer; however, doing this at present affects the sky and the look of the Sun, so again,further investigation is needed.
  • In addition, the graphics team is looking to see if the viewer UI rendering can be divorced from other aspects of viewer rendering to see if any performance improvements can be obtained by keeping the two separate – currently, a lot of cycles are taken up in the drawing of things like UI panels and buttons.

In  Brief / General

  • Teleport failures are still under investigation. Beq Janus from Firestorm is also investigation, and has encountered a situation where the failure may be related to the manner in which regions are queried bases on draw distance, and the system potentially becomes confused as to the actual destination.
  • Megaprims and relaxing linking constraints (BUG-229551):
    • As  expressed by the feature request, the Lab sees this as being two issues: allowing the use of prims larger than 64m on a size / diameter, and handling region surrounds.
    • In particular, the Lab is looking at the potential of braking out region surrounds (“sim surrounds”) as a supported feature in their own right, simply because of the size of the use case. One suggestion for this is to have what is seen beyond a the edges of an individual region to be definable as texturing, rather than just the default of Linden Water.
    • Increasing prim sizing beyond the current maximum is seen as problematic as the size constraint touches on multiple aspects of the simulator code (e.g. Interest Lists being one) that would have to be overhauled – which is not something the Lab wants to undertake in the near future, although this does do preclude the potential for very large prim sizes at some point.
  • The cloud migration work has left the Lab with a certain amount of “technical deficit” – work  deferred in favour of simply getting systems and services transitioned to running on AWS infrastructure and hardware. This means that once the Uplift Project is completed, there will be a number of areas of simulator and back-end services that will need to be re-visited.
  • Potential projects to follow-on projects outside of the graphics performance updates mentioned above could include:
    • Updating the default terrain texture.
    • Further work on easing the new user experience,
    • Further work on viewer UI improvements.
    • Streaming changing an avatar’s appearance.
  • Bone uploads: the question was asked that why, given Bento provides 120+ bones, single avatar sub-mesh uploads are limited to a maximum of 110 bones. The reason is that 110 bones is the maximum some graphics systems can handle in a single upload before things go wrong.

Date of Next Meeting

A Farthest Light in Second Life

The Outer Garden – The Farthest Light

Bisou Dexler recently announced an addition to his extraordinary region design, The Outer Garden, a place we’ve visited a number of times over the years (see Return to the Outer Garden in Second Life (2017) and Timeless peace in The Outer Garden (2015). The new addition to this Full region (which includes the private region land capacity bonus) is called The Farthest Light.

The new build is reached via the teleport mirror located at the main landing point at The Outer Garden. For those who have not rich in the fantastical and whimsical, and if you’ve not previously visited it, I recommend taking a look around before progressing onwards, as it will set the tone for an onward visit. However, while talking teleporters, I would that at the time of my visit to see the latest additions, a couple of the mirrors in the network didn’t appear to have been set to public use.

The Outer Garden – The Farthest light

The Farthest Light comprises two parts; the first and larger offers a night setting (although the surrounding shell can be de-rendered for alternative looks to the setting   should you wish), and is visually stunning in its presentation.

The arrival point sits within a lighthouse sitting atop a slender pillar that rises from what appears to be cresting waves a far distance below. It stands alone from the rest of the setting, which is dominated by a floating castle hanging in the night sky like an ice palace.

The Outer Garden – The Farthest Light

The “land” before this castle is, to say the least, chaotic. Resembling a draught board, it undulated as breaks, mixed with water-like clouds that pulse and swirl like waves caught amidst the rocks of a coastline. A bridge spans one of the undulation in the landscape, but is canted wildly, while telegraph poles march along one of the waves of the tiled land, whilst beneath it, what appears to be the façade of a collapsed building lies, forming a new face to the setting. Fish circle and swirl in the air above and below this strange landscape while the most whimsical of flowers rise up from the cloud waters.

All of this only scratches the surface of what its a most unusual world. As well the columns supporting the lighthouse and the castle are other, shorter pillars rising to decagon tops. Many of these are empty; some are home to further objects of interest: stage curtains here, a broken trampoline there – you can even take a turn as Schroeder and try your hand at playing a miniature piano – or play the full-size own outside of the lighthouse).

The Outer Garden – The Farthest Light

These pillars and columns stand within a setting of its own, presided over by a Moon rising over the cresting waters from which the pillars rise, whilst more moons hang in the black sky.

But how does one reach these various points? There are no obvious paths or stairways, visible or transparent, to be found. The answer is given in a sign just outside the lighthouse where visitors arrive: take to the wing and fly. Whether this means physically wearing any wings you have (which would be fully in keeping with the setting), or just taking to the air is up to you. Whilst flying, be sure as well to check the floating rock with the large lit window fronting it. I also understand there is a tour system that will fly you around the setting, although I confess I failed to find it.

The Outer Garden – The Farthest Light

The castle, when reached is mostly empty; but find your way to the great hall and you will find more worth seeing and photographing, together with another of the teleport mirrors. This will carry you down to the second part of The Furthest Light, a watery scene complete with a sinking vessel.

A  third build element, one I hadn’t visited previously, can be reached through at least some of the teleport mirrors is the Travelling Carnival, less complex setting where a gondola is making its way through a sea of plants and moons towards a walled gate with the promise of blue skies beyond.  

The Outer Garden – The Farthest Light

Admittedly, how you get back to the other platforms from here is a little difficult to work out – at the time of my visit there was no teleporter – however, walk far enough, and you will find your way down to the ground level of the gardens. Although again, this was one of the locations where the teleport mirror that was available had apparently yet to be set to public use at the time of my visit.

SLurl Details

A Country Hall in Second Life

The Apple Fall Country Hall at Isla Pey

It’s pretty well established in these pages that when it comes to home life in Second Life (and while I do still build with prims), I’m one for playing with house builds and kitbashing bits to produce something I like. As such, I’m always on the look-out for building I think might fit the bill.

One of such building is Apple Fall’s Country Hall, available in-world from the Apple Fall store. It’s a unit that has long caught my eye, being a frequent choice with region designers who have often used as a summer house or a café, but it’s taken a while for my ideas with the building to develop into something I might want to have a try at bringing together. However, the recent addition of AustinLiam’s Captain’s Retreat to our range of homes (see: A Captain’s Retreat in Second Life) started me thinking more about seeing what I could produce using the Apple Fall Country Hall.

For those unfamiliar with the Hall, it is a single-storey, building with a brick exterior and a worn-looking interior priced (at the time of writing) at L$625. It has a footprint of 15m ant 14m  and comes in at 148 LI. The interior comprises two linked spaces: a room that runs the full length on one side with an almost full-length skylight, with a second square space opening off to one side, separated from the larger room by three columns. Double doors at either end of the building allow either end to be oriented as the “front”, so depending on preference you can have a double entrance or single.

The Apple Fall Country Hall with additional decking and moorings at Isla Pey

What is particularly attractive about this build (and I assume others in the Apple Fall range, although I’ve not tested them), is that it is designed with sufficient faces on parts, allowing it to be re-textured with relative ease. Which is not to say this must be done; the default finish has a certain shabby-chic interior look with faded plasterwork, paint flaking from woodwork, faded, worn (and in one place, damaged) floors, careworn doors, and so on. However, should you want something a little brighter on the interior, those individual faces make it comfortably possible.

For my part, I liked the aged look of the building’s exterior, but I wanted the interior to offer a brighter contrast and give the feeling that the interior has been renovated. To this end, I opted for a light cream paint look for the ceilings, white walls and refreshed woodwork. The two floor sections allowed themselves to be re-textured with a “new” herringbone parquet, which I finished with a light tint of grey to deepen the colour and a soft specular application to offer a slightly polished look.

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In terms of layout, the modular nature of the build also meant I could remove the interior columns and a section of the floor to incorporate a gallery kitchen that, with the assistance of blinds, can act as a divider between the large “living” area and the smaller “bedroom”. This required minor physical adjustment to the ceiling panels in the smaller room area to maintain a degree of symmetry, while a clean-up of the six doors helped finish things off.

For those who like smaller living spaces, the Apple Fall Country Hall offers a very flexible design that can be used in a number of ways (hence its popularity among region designers), and I hope the brief slide show above – taken at a time when things were still a work-in-progress helps gives others ideas at what might be achieved.

The Apple Fall Country Hall at Isla Pey

As noted towards the top of this piece, the Country Hall is available through the Apple Fall store in-world.

SLurl Details

Jennifer and John at Sinful Retreat in Second Life

Janus III Gallery: John Huntsman – Latitudes

Currently open at the Janus I and Janus III galleries at Chuck Clip’s Sinful Retreat are two independent exhibitions by Jennifer Steele (Steele Wilder) and John Huntsman (Johannes Huntsman) that share a common link.

I’m going to start with John’s Latitudes, on display at the Janus III Gallery, as this has been open the longest thus far, having commenced on October 17th.

Janus III Gallery: John Huntsman – Latitudes

A Marine Corps officer in the physical world, John is well-known within Second Life as a multi-talented individual: photographer, Second Life entrepreneur responsible for the Kultivate brand that recently extended its portfolio to include live music, arts curator and organiser of Team Diabetes of Second Life, whilst in the physical world he is becoming more involved in his family’s art gallery and learning more about art curation in the process.

John’s photography spans both the physical world and the virtual, and encompasses many genres – landscape, architecture, machinery, vehicles, nature, the parts of the world to which he has been deployed on active duty. He presents his images in a variety of styles from colour to monochrome, whilst using post-processing to offer some with a vintage look and feel. More recently he has started to use digital techniques to render his photographs as paintings, and this has led him into a deeper examination of digital painting.

Janus III Gallery: John Huntsman – Latitudes

It is that latter that is particularly offered for display with Latitudes, a selection of 20 pieces, with those on the lower level of the gallery offering a marvellously abstracted series of images that are striking in their use of form, colour and style. Some are richly geometric – straight lines, right angles, etc., others present a more fluid, natural flow of line.

These are complimented by a mixed set of images on the upper level of the gallery that brings John’s other artistic talents to the fore, with marvellous natural images of insects, together with photos-as-paintings of vehicles and boats, a combination that offers a rich diversity of John’s work.

Janus I Gallery: Jennifer Steele

Located in the Janus I Gallery is The Art of Jennifer Steele, which opened on Sunday, October 25th. I  admit I think this exhibition is the first time I’ve seen Jennifer’s work, which is odd considering she has exhibited at the likes of BURN 2 and the original LEA. As with John, she is multi-talented: an artist both in the physical and virtual worlds. She is also a chef, voice-over artist and business woman running her own company, whilst in Second Life she has worked as a volunteer and mentor among many other aspects of her involvement in virtual life.

As an artist she studied Fine Art and Fine Art History at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo Ontario Canada, under the mentorship of Michal Manson. Her work has been featured in the Robert Langen Art Gallery in the late 1980s, and also in the TAG Art Gallery, The Hub On Queen in Niagara Falls and at Niagara Night of Art, all in Canada. Since graduating, she has studied art in both the United States and Europe, and also presents her own art classes on-line.

Janus I Gallery: Jennifer Steele

Jennifer’s work has been influenced by a number of artists and moments, including the Algonquin School (the Group of Seven), Alex Colville, Ken Danby, Wassily Kandinsky and Claude Monet. Some of these influences are notable within the art presented within the Janus gallery. The eight smaller pencil (and chalk) pieces, for example, lean towards the Realist movement and so echo Colville and Danby. Together, they make a series celebrating the female form and are rich in emotion and energy.

These pieces are accompanied by 16 pieces that are of a more abstracted nature, thus offering that thread of connection with John’s exhibition – although Jennifer’s pieces perhaps lean more towards abstract expressionism in places. These are again pieces rich in colour and form, well suited to the large format in which they are displayed.

Janus I Gallery: Jennifer Steele

Taken individually or together, these are two remarkable and attractive exhibitions which sit well within the broader displays of art to be found within Sinful Retreat (see: Unveiled: a new art experience in Second Life), and should be visited both as a part of that, and / or individually.

SLurl Details

Sinful Retreat is rated Adult