April 2021 SL Web User Group summary

The Web User Group meeting venue, Denby

The following notes are taken from my recording of the Web User Group (WUG) meeting, held on Wednesday, April 7th, 2021. These meetings are generally held on the first Wednesday of the month, with dates and venue details available via the SL public calendar.

When reading these notes, please keep in mind:

  • This is not intended as a chronological transcript of the meeting. Items are drawn together by topic, although they may have been discussed at different points in the meeting.
  • Similarly, and if included, any audio extracts appearing in these summaries are presented by topic heading, rather than any chronological order in which they may have been raised during the meeting (e.g. if “topic X” is mentioned early in a meeting and then again half-way through a meeting, any audio comments related to that topic that might be included in these reports will be concatenated into a single audio extract).

Web Properties Updates

  • General post-Uplift internal work is continuing, particularly the fine-tuning of various web services.
  • The secondlife.com home pages have received a “spring refresh” with new images. etc..
  • A general clean-up of web pages is in progress. This includes things like:
    • Enabling unicode support in the DMCA complaint form (important for those with accented letters in their names).
    • Web profile fixes: removing a bug that prevented interests from being deleted on web profiles;  correcting an issue that caused an error to appear at the top of the About section of a web profile; (finally) removing the link to “Open Groups in the sidebar” that hasn’t existed in the viewer for almost a decade…
  • A  number of the Lab’s own tools for managing / maintaining the Marketplace were also worked on, but no details supplied.
  • Resident search has been updated to ensure all those who should be showing in searches are showing in searches.
  • Additional work on Search in general is still on-going.
  • The problem people are having in being suddenly logged-out of Marketplace for no accountable reason (such as going from browsing to the check-out page or when editing a listing) is still being looked into.

Marketplace – The “Catwa Incident”

At the end of March, Catwa ran a Marketplace-only promotion for a fully feature Bento Head priced at L$1. The resultant demand overloaded the Marketplace system. The outage lasted several hours, causing considerable upset, some of which was exacerbated by the poor quality error message that was given to those trying to reach the MP, and which included commentary on the state of the infrastructure in being unable to scale with the load placed on it.

  • In terms of the error message, this has apparently been updated to give more meaningful information should a repeat situation occur in the future.
  • As a result of that situation, the Lab has now implemented changes that should allow the MP to better leverage the AWS environment and correctly scale to meet similar massive increases in demand, should they occur in the future.
  • The was the first time the MP had faced such a massive demand, one which far exceeded anything previously seen the the MP’s history.

Mobile Client

  • iOS Version:
    • The app didn’t make it back to Apple for further evaluation before the end of March, but is now “very close” to being ready to go.
    • The Lab will be running an internal test with the updated app during the upcoming week or so.
    • Assuming no issues are found as a result of this testing, the app will be passed to Apple once more for their evaluation.
  • Android: nothing to report.

In Brief

  • Linden Homes: the Chalet theme (see: Lab announces Linden Homes Chalet Theme released) is now regarded as “mostly released”. The total volume of available Linden Homes means that the Lab is no longing “selling out” of new homes immediately on a release or batch release.
  • Last Names: at the start of April, the Lab introduced a couple of “limited time” last names to the Premium Name Changes capability. The two names, UwU and OwO, were introduced specifically for the furry community, among whom they have apparently proven popular.
    • According to a tweet from Soft Linden on April 8th, the two names will be removed from the active list “shortly”. So, if you want either one – now’s the time to grab it.
Twitter comment from Soft Linden on the two “limited time” last names for Premium members.
    • At the WUG meeting, Keira Linden indicated that the Lab is considering doing more such “limited edition” last name options from time-to-time and that may be geared towards particular events or holidays, or towards a particular community. The next example of these “limited offers” is liable to come around the time of the Second Life Birthday celebration in June 2021.

Next Meeting

  • Wednesday, May 5th, 14:00 SLT.

2021 SUG meeting week #14 summary

Wythburn Village and Arts Community – blog post

The following notes were taken from the Tuesday, April 6th, 2021 Simulator User Group (SUG) meeting.

Server Deployments

Please refer to the server deployment thread for the latest news and updates.

  • There are no planned SLS Main channel deployments.
  • Wednesday, April 7th: the SLS RC channels should all be updated with simulator release 557694, defined as containing “internal fixes an tweaks”.
Last week we ran into an unanticipated glitch and had to push the RC roll back to this week. So, this week we’ll be pushing out the next Maintenance simulator to all the RC channels.

– Rider Linden on the upcoming deployment

SL Viewer

There have been no official viewer updates to mark the start of the week, leaving the pipelines as:

  • Release viewer: Custom Key Mappings RC viewer, version 6.4.17.557391, dated March 24, promoted March 27 – NEW.
  • Release channel cohorts (please see my notes on manually installing RC viewer versions if you wish to install any release candidate(s) yourself):
    • Maintenance RC viewer – Eau de Vie, version 6.4.17.557412, dated March 25.
    • Love Me Render (LMR) 5 project viewer, version 6.4.14.556118, dated 23, 2021.
  • Project viewers:
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version 6.4.11.550519, dated October 26.
    • Copy / Paste viewer, version 6.3.5.533365, dated December 9, 2019.
    • Project Muscadine (Animesh follow-on) project viewer, version 6.4.0.532999, dated November 22, 2019.
    • 360 Snapshot project viewer, version 6.2.4.529111, dated July 16, 2019.

Group Chat

On Monday, April 5th, Maestro Linden posted on changes made to Group Chat to try to improve overall message handling. The change appears to have met with with mixed results, with some seeing no real change in how their group chat sessions are affected. There may also been some related unintended consequences, some some reporting the following:

  • Some people are finding they have to make multiple posts for group chat to finally open and their chat to be seen by everyone, otherwise their group chat remains silent. It is not clear if this happens across all their groups, or just some.
  • Messages for some still appear to be failing with a degree of measurable regularity.

Commenting on the situation, and in lieu of Jira reports, Rider Linden commented:

As far as group chat. We know that it is a problem and we’re going to continue to work on it from our end.

New LSL Capabilities?

This from Rider Linden:

I’m proposing the following three LSL functions llOrd, llChar and llHash. llOrd() will return the ordinal of the first character in a string, llChar() given an integer will return a single character string, and llHash() is a non-cryptographic 32 bit hash. I was looking for a way to just have an integer that had a reasonable change of being unique for an arbitrary string.
Use case I can see: Given an owner of two objects I want to select a chat channel with a low probability of colliding with other agents in the area.
This approach wouldn’t be cryptographically secure, but would be convenient.

This many be the start of ongoing work to provide new  / improved LSL capabilities, with it being indicated that feature requests BUG-227663 “[Feature Request] llGetInventoryAcquireTime()” and BUG-227641 “Play/Loop/Stop sounds in linked primitives other than the primitive where the script exists” may also be considered  for implementation.

In Brief

  • Some people are reporting Voice issues – Voice failing to start, or Voice simply not working in a region unless others are already there and using it. It’s not clear have widespread these issues are, or whether bug reports have been raised.
  • BUG-229871 “Unable to re-enter or teleport to a region that I’ve been to during same session” – Linden Lab is still trying to consistently reproduce this issue. In discussing the problem, Maestro Linden noted:
One interesting case was somebody reporting that they were able to reproduce the issue 100% of the time until they replaced a faulty coaxial cable  – which makes me think that packet loss could somehow be to blame (disconnecting from the simulator the first time in some unclean manner due to time-out?).
  • Getting inventory syncing between Agni and Aditi working once more is also being worked on, with the hope that the fix will be available Soon™.
  • Work on Map tiles is progressing, but still no ETA on when the remaining fixes are liable to be deployed. Again, in lieu of a fix, people can use the following alternatives, each with its own functionality:

2021 TPVD meetings week #13: summary

The Handmaiden Estate – blog post

The following notes are taken from the TPV Developer meeting held on Friday, April 2nd, 2021.

These meetings are generally held every other week.  They are recorded by Pantera Północy, and her video of each meeting is embedded at the end of the report relating to it – my thanks to her for allowing me to do so – and it is used with a transcript of the chat log from the meeting to produce these notes.

This as a very short meeting.

SL Viewer News

[1:13-4:55]

As noted in my CCUG summary, the Custom Key Mappings viewer, version 6.4.17.557391 was promoted to de facto viewer release status on Thursday April 1st.

The Key Mapping viewer adds the ability to assign your own keyboard short-cuts to a list of defined commands

The rest of the current pipeline of upcoming RC and project viewers remains as follows:

  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Maintenance RC viewer – Eau de Vie, version 6.4.17.557412, dated March 25.
    • Love Me Render (LMR) 5 project viewer, version 6.4.14.556118, dated February 23.
  • Project viewers:
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version 6.4.11.550519, dated October 26,   2020.
    • Copy / Paste viewer, version 6.3.5.533365, dated December 9, 2019.
    • Project Muscadine (Animesh follow-on) project viewer, version 6.4.0.532999, dated November 22, 2019.
    • 360 Snapshot project viewer, version 6.2.4.529111, dated July 16, 2019.

General Viewer Notes

  • LMR 5 is being used to address crashes relating to older hardware using Intel Graphics drivers. These have proven difficult to track down as almost nothing is reported on where in the viewer the issue causing the crash occurred. In the meantime, those on systems using older Intel HD graphics drivers are encouraged to update to more recent versions.
  • Both LMR-5 and the Maintenance RC are awaiting merges with the new release viewer code.
  • The Simple Cache Viewer has been updated following the forced roll-back, and should be appearing as a new RC viewer some time in the next week.
  • The recent hold-up in the viewer update and release cycle means that there are now a number of Maintenance RC viewers, each with its own focus, awaiting initial release.
  • A further Lover Me Render viewer (LMR-6) is also in development,  with around 8 known issues awaiting resolution before it can be considered for initial release as an RC viewer.

In  Brief

  • [7:20-8:06] the re-working of the Map Tile code continues. It is believed “significant progress” has now been made, but no ETA on when the fully revised code will be in operation.

2021 CCUG meeting week #13 summary

MARFA, January 2021 – 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, April 1st. These meetings are chaired by Vir Linden, with dates available via the SL Public Calendar, and the venue is the Hippotropolis camp fire.

SL Viewer

On Thursday, April 1st the Custom Key Mapping viewer version 6.4.17.557391 was promoted to de facto viewer release status.

The rest of the official viewers remain as:

  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Maintenance RC viewer – Eau de Vie, version 6.4.17.557412, dated March 25.
    • Love Me Render (LMR) 5 project viewer, version 6.4.14.556118, dated February 23.
  • Project viewers:
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version 6.4.11.550519, dated October 26, 2020.
    • Copy / Paste viewer, version 6.3.5.533365, dated December 9, 2019.
    • Project Muscadine (Animesh follow-on) project viewer, version 6.4.0.532999, dated November 22, 2019.
    • 360 Snapshot project viewer, version 6.2.4.529111, dated July 16, 2019.

Graphics Work

The graphic team is addressing crashes relating to older hardware using Intel Graphics drivers. These are proving difficult to track down as almost nothing is reported on where in the viewer the issue causing the crash occurred. In the meantime, those on systems using older Intel HD graphics drivers are encouraged to update to more recent versions.

Project Muscadine (Animesh Follow-On)

Project Summary

Currently: offering the means to change an Animesh size parameters via LSL.

Current Status

On semi-permanent hold and unlikely to resume in the near future.

  • The initial project viewer had some significant issues, which have not as yet been addressed.
  • More particularly, as this was a test project prior to the work in transitioning the simulator software to the cloud, the necessary support code was never made a part of the core simulator core build, and so would require engineering time to be updated and integrated into the post-transition simulator code, and this is not something that is currently under consideration.
  • However, the hope is to at least get the LSL extensions work that has been done thus far into the simulator and the viewer updated “at some point”.

ARCTan

Summary: An attempt to re-evaluate avatar rendering costs and the cost of in-world scene rendering, with the current focus on avatar rendering cost / impact, with the in-world scene rendering to be tackled at some point in the future.

  • The updated Jelly Dolls rendering is seen as the first phase of the avatar work, even though it was more of a side project when initiated..
  • The next stage is to improve how Avatar Rendering Cost (ARC) information is presented to users, together with improved performance controls within the UI.
  • Once the UI updates have been made, the updated ARC calculation code can be integrated into the viewer – although these new calculations remain dependant on a Bake Service fix that has been awaiting the cloud migration work to complete before being scheduled for implementation.
  • The hope is to get through this work Soon™.

In Brief

Proposals for New Forms of Avatar Customisation / Skeleton Deformation

Two proposals have been put forward to allow for a more “dynamic” approach to customising the avatar skeleton on the part of the user.

BUG-230428 “Interpolate between poses/animations via script” presents the idea for allowing pairs of scripted animation to act on the skeleton in such a way that when used, they present a UI slider element the user can adjust to define how the two animations interact with one another. As cited in the feature request, this could be used to combine walking animations so as to produce a unique walk / stride for an avatar. Currently, the idea has been accepted for consideration as possible future work.

BUG-230430 “Ability to interpolate between mesh skeleton offsets/deforms” presents the idea for users to gain a greater degree of avatar customisation by being able to deform the avatar skeleton using dynamic sliders.

  • Currently, the avatar skeleton can be deformed in two ways: via joint offsets and via animations. These are particularly (but not exclusively) used to force the avatar skeleton to adopt the shape required by a non-humanoid mesh avatar – such as a dog or elephant, etc. These are more-or-less “permanent” deformations, in that as long as the offsets are applied  / animations are running, the avatar skeleton will be deformed, and the user has no real control over the deformation.
  • BUG-230430 proposes a number of ideas (of decreasing complexity as thoughts are better crystallised) for presenting the means for the user to be able to use and adjust / interpolate different groups of offsets or animations (with the bias shifting towards the latter) by means of a set of sliders that are made available as the groups are applied to the avatar.
  • There are numerous complexities involved in the approaches suggested  (e.g. animation priorities when running multiple other animations through AOs; predictability of results in running multiple animations and possible offsets where timing / relationships can be user-adjusted; added UI complexity; viewer / server / viewer synchronisation,  etc.). As such this request is currently set to “needs more information” should animators  / avatar creators wish to add thoughts.

New User Experience

As I’ve reported elsewhere in these pages, considerable effort is being applied to the new user experience and on-boards of new users. Some of the work is approaching the point where it should be surfacing in a few months time. Elements of the work have included:

  • Analysing the hardware incoming new users have by logging non-intrusive stats through the viewer.  This is indicating that the majority of incoming new users have hardware of much lower specification than might be thought.
  • Work on simplifying / improving elements of the viewer UI, and looking at the potential of removing settings that are rarely, if ever used.
    • In a sampling of 10,000 individual user sessions it was found that over 700 of the 1,500 non-intrusive visible settings (i.e. settings that do give rise to privacy concerns if logged) the Lab now log in the official viewer, were never actually used by any user. This raises the question, would any of those 700 be missed if removed?
    • This does not mean those settings *will* be removed, and the Lab are aware their data doesn’t include TPV users, as third-party have yet to adopt the logging code – although the Lab would be happy to work with them on this.
  • Updating the learning and social islands incoming users encounter.
  • Performance updates. This includes considering ways users can be made aware of controls they can adjust / turn off to improve frame rates; possibly introducing a means to have the viewer adjust itself to optimise frame rates, etc.

General Notes

  • Feature request BUG-230429 “Morph Targets/Shape keys on Mesh” has been accepted by the Lab for consideration as a possible future project.
  • There was more discussion on the animation system, with views fairly split.
    • Some see the animations system   and formats as being “too old” and needing replacement; others see the BVH format as being extraordinarily flexible in the way it allows control of individual joints when compared to other systems / engines.
    • Some would like to see a better internal engine with greater support for inverse kinematics, etc., but a concern here is potential knock-on effect / scope (how would such a system relate to the existing animation system? Would it require broader changes to the avatar system? Could it result in existing content breakage? And so on).
  • There was further discussion of whether or not a system like Marvelous Designer could be incorporated into Second Life as a means to provide a better means of adjusting / fitting clothing to an avatar.
  • Neither a complete overall of the animation system or the adoption of a Marvelous Designer like cloth / clothing system is currently under consideration.

Date of Next Meetings

Content Creation: Thursday, April 15th, 2021.

2021 SUG meeting week #13 summary + World Map alternatives

Amrum, January 2021 – blog post

The following notes were taken from the Tuesday, March 30th, 2021 Simulator User Group (SUG) meeting.

Server Deployments

Please refer to the server deployment thread for the latest news and updates.

  • Tuesday, March 30th: no planned deployment or restart.
  • Wednesday, March 31st: the SLS RC channels should all be updated with simulator release 557505, defined as containing “internal fixes”.

On Region Restarts

There is a general assumption that region restarts result in a region and its simulator being relocated to a new server. However, this is not always the case, as Rider and Simon Linden explained:

Simon Linden: the host change isn’t burnt into the design for a restart. basically you stop the region, and another part of the system sees the region is down and hands it out to a system to run it. Based on random timing that might end up on the same host.
Rider Linden: We simply do not guarantee that you will remain on the same host after a restart. Where a region comes back up depends on a lot of factors that are outside the realm of predictability.
Simon Linden: [However] during a version update, that’s VERY unlikely since the old ones get replaced with new ones.

SL Viewer

There have been no official viewer updates to mark the start of the week, leaving the pipelines as:

  • Release viewer: version 6.4.13.555567 (Jelly Doll improvements) originally promoted February 17th.
  • Release channel cohorts (please see my notes on manually installing RC viewer versions if you wish to install any release candidate(s) yourself):
    • Maintenance RC viewer – Eau de Vie, version 6.4.17.557412, dated March 25.
    • Custom Key Mappings project viewer, version 6.4.17.557391, dated March 24.
    • Love Me Render (LMR) 5 project viewer, version 6.4.14.556118, dated 23, 2021.
  • Project viewers:
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version 6.4.11.550519, dated October 26.
    • Copy / Paste viewer, version 6.3.5.533365, dated December 9, 2019.
    • Project Muscadine (Animesh follow-on) project viewer, version 6.4.0.532999, dated November 22, 2019.
    • 360 Snapshot project viewer, version 6.2.4.529111, dated July 16, 2019.

In Brief

Region Crossings

  • While they were not intended to directly benefit vehicle region crossings, there have been reports by some that the changes made in the deployment over the previous two weeks have improved things. However, and equally, others are reporting declining smoothness of crossings. As it is, Rider noted that the team haven’t yet had the chance to dig deeply into the code since uplift.
  • BUG-229871 “Unable to re-enter or telport to a region that I’ve been to during same session” – this remains an issue. Unfortunately, issues with testing the upcoming simulator release been the work on a fix has been delayed.

Map Tiles

Map tiles continue to be worked on, but not fully fixed. There are now a couple of user-developed alternatives available, each with mixed functionality:

2021 SUG meeting week #12 summary

Adventures In Mad Wonderland January 2021 – blog post

The following notes were taken from the Tuesday, March 23rd, 2021 Simulator User Group (SUG) meeting.

Server Deployments

Please refer to the server deployment thread for the latest news and updates.

  • Tuesday, March 23rd: the SLS Main channel received simulator update 556847, which includes the optimisations for crossing and teleporting into a region. This should result in less of a performance hit being felt with lots of people entering a region.
    • Anecdotal evidence from reports after this update was deployed to RC regions suggested vehicle region crossing had improved.
    • The update also states that BUG-226851 – “Only 30 – 50% of scripts run on regions since SLS Main server roll of April 18th” – has been resolved. However, there are reports that the deployment appears to have made little or no difference.
  • Wednesday, March 24th: the SLS RC channels should all be updated with simulator release 557269, defined as containing “internal tweaks”.

On the Teleporting / Region Access Changes

The basic change seen in 556847 mean that instead of multiple avatars trying to get into a region at once, they are now, in a manner of speaking, waiting in line, thanks to the order in which things are handled, as Mazidox Linden described.

Previously, when you teleported to a new region, we stopped the world, grabbed all the data, and injected it into the simulation before resuming the world. Now when you teleport to a region, we grab all the data, stop the world, inject the data into the simulation, and resume the world. Very, very, very approximately.

– Mazidox linden on the changes to how avatars enter a region.

Rider Linden that added that the performance hit people feel in busy regions is not so much the result of the avatars in the region, but all of those trying to get into it, which the new approach should now help eliminate.

SL Viewer

There have been no official viewer updates to mark the start of the week, leaving the pipelines as:

  • Release viewer: version 6.4.13.555567 (Jelly Doll improvements) originally promoted February 17th.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Custom Key Mappings project viewer, version 6.4.17.556726, dated March 15.
    • Maintenance RC viewer – Eau de Vie, version 6.4.14.556149, dated March 4.
    • Love Me Render (LMR) 5 project viewer, version 6.4.14.556118, dated 23, 2021.
  • Project viewers:
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version 6.4.11.550519, dated October 26.
    • Copy / Paste viewer, version 6.3.5.533365, dated December 9, 2019.
    • Project Muscadine (Animesh follow-on) project viewer, version 6.4.0.532999, dated November 22, 2019.
    • 360 Snapshot project viewer, version 6.2.4.529111, dated July 16, 2019.

In Brief

  • In terms of monitoring changes as a result of fixes for issues such as BUG-226851, the Lab do check the data they are collecting, but it can take time after an initial deployment of fixes.
  • There are reports that mesh uploads are generating more HTTP 499 errors (the so-called “Linden catch all”) since the AWS transition. There is no known reason why this might be so, and it is not clear whether or not a bug report has been raised on the matter.
  • BUG-229871 TP issues: some people are experiencing teleport issues whereby they cannot teleport back to any region they’ve previously successfully teleported to previously in the same session, but are disconnected – still under investigation.
  • Map tiles continue to be worked on, but not fully fixed.