Lab issues warning about in-world phishing scam

Linden Lab has issued a number of blog posts concerning Second Life account security recently. All of them should be read with care and heeded. Most relate to external issues  – so-call viewer wrappers, or links to website Phishing scams.

On Friday, September 22nd, the issued a further warning, again about a phishing scam, but which is being circulated in-world and which appear to be a pseudo-notification pop-up claiming that a user’s account has been compromised.

In the interests of clarity of reading and understanding, I’m including the full text of the post below. Please read it through in full, be aware of the scam and do not be fooled by it – and the blog post states. Linden Lab and / or their support agents would not attempt to contact users on account security in the manner described.

It has come to our attention that some Residents are sending messages – which may appear as pop-up windows in some viewers – informing other Residents that their accounts have been compromised and encouraging them to contact Support, using a phone number that is not associated with Linden Lab.

These messages are phishing attempts to gain access to your Second Life account. Neither Linden Lab, nor Second Life Customer Support, would attempt to contact you in this manner. You can always find Linden Lab’s official customer support contact methods within the following links:

https://support.secondlife.com/billing-support/

https://support.secondlife.com/contact-support/

As always, please be wary of suspicious messages and contact from other users. If you believe your account has been compromised, please contact us via support case at https://support.secondlife.com/

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SL project updates 38/2: Content Creation User Group

Content Creation User Group Meeting, Hippotropolis Camp Fire Circle

The following notes are taken from the Content Creation User Group meeting, held on  Thursday, September 21st, 2017 at 13:00 SLT at the the Hippotropolis Camp Fire Circle. The meeting is chaired by Vir Linden, and agenda notes, etc, are usually available on the Content Creation User Group wiki page.

Medhue Simoni live steamed the meeting to You Tube, and his video is embedded at the end of this article. Time stamps to the recording are included below, and clicking on any of them will launch the video in a separate browser tab at the assigned point. However as these notes present the meeting in terms of topics discussed, rather than a chronological breakdown of the meeting, time stamps may appear to be out of sequence in relation to the recording.

Animesh (Animated Mesh)

“I like the name ‘animated objects’ because I think it’s unambiguous, but it takes a long time to type!” – Vir Linden joking about the name “Animesh”.

Project Summary

The goal of this project is to provide a means of animating rigged mesh objects using the avatar skeleton, in whole or in part, to provide things like independently moveable pets / creatures, and animated scenery features via scripted animation.

  • Animated objects can be any rigged / skinned mesh which is correctly flagged as an animated object (so it has a skeleton associated with it), and contains the necessary animations and controlling scripts in its own inventory  (Contents tab of the Build floater) required for it to animate itself.
  • The capability will most likely include a new flag added to an existing rigged object type in order for the object to be given its own skeleton.
  • At this point in time, this is not about adding fully functional, avatar-like non-player characters (NPCs) to Second Life.
  • Animated objects will not (initially):
    • Have an avatar shape associated with them
    • Make use of an avatar-like inventory (although individual parts can contain their own inventory such as animations and scripts)
    • Make use of the server-side locomotion graph for walking, etc., and so will not use an AO
    • Use the avatar baking service
  • The project may be extended in the future.
  • It will involve both back-end and viewer-side changes, likely to encompass new LSL commands to trigger and stop animations (held in the object’s contents).

Current Progress – Animesh Constraints

“It’s not [been] the most exciting week,” Vir commented about his most recent focus on the project. “What’ I’ve been working on lately is complexity limits and other constraints.”

[2:48-4:19]As noted in previous CCUG meeting notes, some constraints on Animesh are required to prevent undue impact at either the simulator or viewer end of the system. These constraints will be in addition to any already in place in SL (e,g, Land Impact, overall limit of the number of attachments an avatar can wear, etc), and include:

  • Limiting the overall complexity of an Animesh object
  • Limiting how many Animesh items an avatar can have attached at any one time (currently set to one in the upcoming project viewer for testing purposes)
  • Limiting the number of triangles an Animesh object (attached or in-world) can contain, possibly to around 20K initially. Interestingly, some limits in Sansar are defined in terms of tri / poly limits.

With complexity and number of tris, the limits have yet to be fully defined, and Vir welcomed any well-made mash models could serve as Animesh examples in order to try to help baseline the initial limits.

[4:45-5:10 and 8:55-9:49] Currently, there are no new limits for the scale (or size) or an Animesh object beyond the existing constraint re objects and avatar skeletons already in place. Some feel that additional constraints / viewer limits may be required in order to handle “titan” Animesh creatures (e.g. creatures of 64m in height, which may also require bounding box adjustments). Vir is prepared to look at this, but would like to see how things go with testing via the project viewer.

[5:22-5:41 and 6:18-6:47 and 10:41-11:06] The triangle limit will apply to all Animesh objects regardless of whether they are in-world or attached, and will be applied at the time the objects are flagged as Animesh. So if someone tries to link together a set of existing rigged mesh items and flag them as Animesh (or which contain an Animesh item) which exceed the limit, the flag Animesh flag will not be set. This should leave existing content unaffected and avoid content breakage.

[12:14-13:17] Some see the proposed 20K limit is two low and suggest 30K or even 50K, to allow for clothing, accessories, etc., to Animesh characters. The counterpoint to this is to set a limit which encourages optimisation, and to have people consider impact on the simulator / on others.

[14:24-15:32] A request for the viewer to provide meaningful feedback when Animesh limits are reached, preferably with a pointer back to some wiki information. Limits won’t actually be reached on mesh upload, but when objects are flagged for use as Animesh post-upload, so would require some form of viewer notification.

[15:34-16:20] Requests have been made to obtain poly counts of objects via LSL to help track things or even in the viewer UI. Vir currently uses his own diagnostic display to help indicate such things, but currently, no such updates, LSL or UI are planned, although the debug ShowRenderInfo could display the required information if more directly exposed and Vir will file a JIRA on this, although it might fall outside the current scope of work.

[22:11-22:35] It was also pointed out that tri / poly counts are variable based on LOD. Vir is currently focused on the tri count of the highest LOD for an object

[13:18-13:44] Vir’s approach to all of the constraints / limits being discussed at this time is to start as tight as possible, and then make adjustments and loosen things as testing with the project viewer begins / offers reliable feedback and data. It is easier to relax constraints and allow people greater creative freedom, than to start with a loose set of limits and then have to tighten them (potentially breaking test content, and adding to people’s overhead in having to rebuild it).

Time Frame for Animesh

[19:29-20:00] The constraints mentioned above and trying to fix the transform matrix when handling Animesh attachments. There are also a couple of bugs he feels need fixing before the project viewer appears. However, the hope is now that the viewer will be appearing sooner rather than later.

[48:52-49:28] There are a couple of irritants in the viewer Vir wants to fix before releasing a project viewer for Animesh testing. Ther are some corner cases where the viewer can be awkward, but these are not considered blockers to a project viewer appearing, and can be cleared-up in due course.

Performance Hits

[27:45-28:42] There are still concerns as to the performance hits on things like real-time shadow casting with Animesh skeletons following avatars (pets, etc.) or in being attached to avatars (and vice-versa). Vir isn’t too concerned by this at the moment, as the code is already handling much of what will be required with Animesh: every time an avatar sits on something, it is effectively updating every frame, so with Animesh this will be much the same. However, as with everything else, this will be subject to testing.

Bakes on Mesh

Project Summary

Extending the current avatar baking service to allow wearable textures (skins, tattoos, clothing) to be applied directly to mesh bodies as well as system avatars. This involves server-side changes, including updating the baking service to support 1024×1024 textures. This may lead to a reduction in the complexity of mesh avatar bodies and heads.

Current Status

[31:28-32:00] The updates to the service to manage 1024×1024 textures and compositing is with LL’s QA team, who ar testing to ensure the system can handle the compositing correctly, and the back servers won’t fall under when loaded with handling 1024×1024 textures in bulk. Progress with the rest of the project is dependent on this.

[36:25-36:59] The rest of the work will focus on applying the baked textures (which will include alphas, just as is the case with the system avatar now, but will not include materials) to mesh avatar models.

[39:09-40:55] A possible follow-on to the current work on bakes on mesh is to extend the capability to include Animesh objects as well, although this will require Animesh objects to have a notion of a body shape. It might even be possible to push the system into other uses.

Environment Enhancement Project (EEP)

Project Summary

A set of environmental enhancements, including the ability to define the environment (sky, sun, moon, clouds) at the parcel level; a new environment asset type that can be stored in inventory and traded through the Marketplace / exchanged with others; scripted, experience-based environment functions, an extended day cycle and extended environmental parameters.

Current Status

[30:32-31:12] Rider has been working on getting his settings objects – environment assets – correctly passing into Windlight. Once he has this working smoothly, he’ll feel a little more comfortable in talking potential time lines on when things like a project viewer are likely to appear. However, he did point out that everything is currently in “Goth compatibility” – black environment settings against a black sky!

Other Items

Mesh Uploader

[49:38] A discussion on whether creators will in future be forced to upload only manually created LOD for their models, rather than auto-generating them. Short answer: No, but people are encouraged to optimise LODs where manually or automatically generated. The uploader also has numerous constraints on upload, not all of which are well documented or which provide adequate / any feedback when they occur. It’s acknowledged that such situations could be handled better.  However, issues of tracking the number of bones a mesh is rigged to can be tracked through Avastar and MayaStar prior to upload.

The Itakos Project in Second Life

The Itakos Project: Tutsy Navarathna

“You don’t make a photograph just with a camera,” American photographer and environmentalist Ansel Adams  wrote in The Camera. “You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.” It’s  a thought-provoking statement which encompasses the richness and depth of photography as an expression of art and artistry; suggestive that photographs can be part of a wider, deeper journey through life.

It is also a quote Akim Alonzo has chosen to encapsulate The Itakos Project, which is now open through until the end of 2017. A gallery complex of three buildings arranged around a courtyard, with the main building flanked by two pavilions and facing an events space across the courtyard.  The name for the project has, like the quote from Adams, been carefully selected, echoing as it does the name Ithaca, the Greek island and legendary home of Odysseus. In doing so, it also evokes the idea of a journey  – or, as Akim himself notes, a dream or the search for beauty and emotion.

The Itakos Project: Akim Alonzo

The aim of the project is to present the work of SL photographers who, through their work, engage upon story-telling or presenting the ideas of stories, or who seek to present beauty and emotion through their study of the avatar and the worlds around it.

For the initial exhibition, Akim presents his own stories told through his images and work within the project’s Blue Pavilion, while in the Red Pavilion focuses on Maloe Vansant and Paola Mills under the joint title of The Itakos Collection. Within the main gallery structure can be found Subtle Scent of Solitude, by Imani Nayar and The Dancing Serpent by Kate Bergdorf. Also to be found in the foyer area of the main building is a teleport doorway leading to a separate platform wherein can be found The Venal Muses,  an exhibition by artist and videographer Tutsy Navarathna.

The Itakos Project: Maloe Vansant and Paola Mills

“Poets, painters, photographers, writers, film-makers and musicians were all inspired by the atmosphere of brothels and their venal muses,” Tutsy notes in introducing the exhibition. “Some, like Toulouse-Lautrec have even made it an essential part of their work. Painters like Degas, Manet, Derain, Munch, Ronault, Van Dongen, portray ladies of little virtue lounging on a sofa, on the rooms of their lupanar….”

Thus those taking the teleport to The Venal Muses find themselves in a softly lit setting with plush red walls, soft furnishings, all of which are redolent of the boudoir for a woman of easy virtue whilst also retaining the feel of a gallery. On the walls of the rooms and halls of this space hang striking images by Tutsy, rendered as painting and richly recalling the work of the artists he mentions.  It’s an evocative space, not just because of the inherent depth within the images, but because the design of the space casts the visitor perhaps into the role of voyeur or – on a deeper level – patron, within some of the scenes presented.

The Itakos Project: Tutsy Navarathna

All of the exhibitions on display offer much to those visiting, but with its richness of setting and uniqueness artistic expression, both of which reach directly into the subject matter, The Venal Muses is perhaps the most captivating of the current exhibitions currently on display at The Itakos Project. From the project’s notes, I understand feature artists at the gallery will change on a monthly basis while the upper floor of the main building will be devoted to displaying work by artists enrolled in the Soul Portraits – Itakos Art Gallery in Second Life Flickr group.

SLurl Details

MetaChat – a new virtual worlds client for iOS

MetaChat is a new virtual worlds text client produced for Apple iOS and which was recently added to the third-party viewer directory for Second Life.For those VW users with iPhones who are missing Pocket Metaverse, it could be just the ticket.

The app has been in development for several months, and was first accepted into the Apple Store in August 2017, where it is available for US $2.99. Development of the client is continuing, and the current release (10.7, released on September 12th at the time of writing) includes:

  • The ability to add accounts from different grids with different start locations.
  • See your Friends list, add / remove people from the list, set permissions for fiends (see you on-line, edit your items, etc.)
  • View avatar profiles.
  • Search for an avatar by name.
  • Chat locally or via IM.
  • View group information, join Group chat and / or send Group notices.
  • List inventory and preview textures and images.
  • Teleport to landmarks and move around a mini-map.

The MetaChat website / blog makes for a fascinating read, looking as it does into the background of putting together an application like this, including jumping through Apple’s many hoops in order to get an app accepted on their store (like not being allowed to use the word “beta” with an app – which caused problems when including the SL Beta grid in the grid list). The blog also provides interesting insight into why MetaChat works the way it does with certain things.

MetaChat screen captures via the MetaChat Apple Store page: Friends list (l) and Inventory. Note the quick access buttons at the bottom of each screen

As I’m not an iPhone user, it’s a little hard for me to road test the client. However, I’ve been talking to the app’s creator, Monti Messmer, and will hopefully have a more informative piece on MetaChat, including images from the newest release, in due course.

In the meantime, here are the all-important links.

MetaChat Links

With thanks to John Brianna for the heads-up.