A photogenic Dukedom in Second Life

Dukedom, June 2022 – click any image for full size

As regulars to my Exploring series may know, Busta (BadboyHi) is a region designer whose work I enjoy, and I recently had the opportunity – courtesy of an LM passed to me by Shawn Shakespeare – to visit a design he has put together for Kn0cks Shad0ws (Whozyer Daddy) and his Full region, Dukedom.

Designed primarily for photography, the region is divided north-to-south by the presence of an elevated rail line, making this a setting very much of two parts. To the west, and occupying the majority of the region, are wild lands, a place of tall trees, waterfalls, streams and touches of the bayou along the west coast. Along this shore are wooden cabins, shacks and an old houseboat that mix their presence with mangroves, wetlands and a rocky shoreline to suggest a little community eking out a living by finishing – something added to by a number of fishing boats, one of which has seen much better days…

Dukedom, June 2022

This is a place where wildlife abounds. gulls wheel and turn overhead, ibis stalk the mouths of the streams emptying into the coastal areas, alligators bask in the  dirt of the local tracks and ignore the fact potentially tasty seals are not that far away, also basking themselves out of the water; deer watch more domesticated animals – cattle, goats, and geese; peacocks strut their stuff, bids sing in the trees and more. Ways around the coast and through the hunched uplands behind it are marked by rough trails, boardwalks, tree-trunk bridges that span the streams and hard-packed earth paths and steps.

Sitting between the streams and set a little back from the waterfront lies a roughshod deck extending outward over rocky ground from where a glass-fronted cabin sits. At first looking to be a cosy retreat, closer examination with reveal it to be something of an apothecary-come-magic store; a place well in keeping with the bayou vibes exuded by the lands below. Around it are offered several places to sit, including a welcoming cuddle sofa.

Dukedom, June 2022

The sofa and benches around the cabin are a just a handful of all the places people can find to sit and pass the time; places that include swings watched over by baby chimps, and the carving of a giant hand holding a blanket in its palm which begs the question, was it carved over the bank of the stream against which it sits, or has come to reside there after the fact. Back down as the waterside sits a comfortable deck ideal for a small group, sitting alongside a makeshift watchtower.

Further back among the trees awaits more to be found among the trails; with two further cabins being chief among the sights. Each is comfortably furnished and offer welcomes to those passing, and both sit close to where the elevated train line cuts across the region and, beyond it, the purely urban setting.

Dukedom, June 2022

Occupying a little over one third of the region, this urban area sits as a busy, if a little run down, corner of a much larger town. The area under the elevate tracks looks to be undergoing repair / renewal, lots of people are out and about on the streets, a building is being heavily refurbished / rebuilt, cars are everywhere, and a military helicopter is clattering around overhead.

The latter might have been called by the local law enforcement as they attend a rather grisly homicide that has been committed on some waste ground to one side of the town. It’s a scene that – as is the way of things – has drawn a crowd of its own, some of whom are more interested in catching the situation on film and selfie, rather than offering respect for the life lost. But not everyone is drawn to the tragedy; at the back of the waste ground, a skateboarding area has been set-up and is of much more interest to local teens – although perhaps that is also a reflection on modern-day human nature and indifference…

Dukedom, June 2022

Throughout the region there as many points where photography is possible, although sadly, group membership is closed, so no props rezzing available. As an adult-rated region, there are apparently some adult-rated items spotted around – but nothing too obvious that I noticed from my ramblings through the wilds and along the streets.

I would also say that as a Full region with both the private island additional land capacity and with a lot of mesh and textures, Dukedom can hit some people’s performance, so be prepared to make some adjustments to your viewer if required. But that aside, Dukedom has a lot to commend itself; just take your time when visiting – and try not to disturb the sleeping bunny!

Dukedom, June 2022

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2022 SUG meetings week #26 summary

Hollybrook Regional Park, May 2022 – blog post

The following notes were taken from the Tuesday, June 28th, 2022 Simulator User Group (SUG) meeting. They form a summary of the items discussed and is not intended to be a full transcript. A video of the entire meeting is embedded at the end of the article for those wishing to review the meeting in full – my thanks to Pantera for recording it.

Note: little discussed, as this was the summer solstice Party.

Server Deployments

For the latest updates and news, please refer to the simulator release thread in the forums.

  • On Tuesday, June 28th t, the SLS Main and Event channel servers were updated to simulator release 572665, containing fixes for cases where llRequest*Data would return incorrect result; also, llGetVisualParams() now accepts hand_size as a parameter.
  • On Wednesday, June 29th, the RC channel servers will be subject to a rolling restart without any simulator code deployment.

Available Official Viewers

There have been no official viewer updates at the start of the week, leaving the current crop as:

  • Release viewer: version – formerly the Performance Improvements viewer, dated May 25th – no change.
  • Release channel cohorts (please see my notes on manually installing RC viewer versions if you wish to install any release candidate(s) yourself).
    • Nomayo Maintenance RC (Maintenance N) viewer, version, June 1.
    • Makgeolli Maintenance RC viewer (Maintenance M) viewer, version, May 12.
  • Project viewers:
    • Performance Floater project viewer, version, May 10.
    • Mesh Optimizer project viewer, version, dated January 5, issued after January 10.
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version, dated October 26, 2020.
    • Copy / Paste viewer, version, dated December 9, 2019.

In Brief

  • The issue of simulators that have been running for “4-5” days are ceasing to send Friends lists to those logging into them and requiring a restart to fix, continues for some. It’s not clear how widespread the issue is, but LL are aware of it.
  • Concerning the log-in / appearance issues experienced by some people on Monday, June 27th,  Rider Linden commented:
    We were updating one of the backend systems on Monday. Unfortunately it had complications. (Please see scene in Brazil re: Complications) and we had to roll it back. Among other things on the back end I think it hit the Bake Service. It should be working now and we’ll address the issue and try again at a later date with something more stable.
  • BUG-230584 – “Various Lindex data feed values are returning zero” has apparently been back in action for the last week or so, and is being investigated by the Web Team.
  • The second half of the meeting was dominated by chat and ideas around a number of ideas and feature requests, including BUG-4706, BUG-4906 and BUG-40680. Please refer to the video below for details.

FIXED: Nvidia drivers correct SL rendering issues

Nvidia have issued driver updates that appear to fix the rendering artefacts reported with GeForce driver version 516.40 (+ others).

The issue has been primarily reported against Windows and some Linux flavours, when running the viewer with Advanced Lighting Model (ALM) enabled. It would result in some objects to flashing or blinking in and out, or rings and lines to be displayed across in-world objects (as shown in the image below).

Image showing some of the artefacts created during scene rendering following an update to the Nivida 516.40 driver – now fixed in driver version 516.59

According to Techpowerup.com, the new Windows 516.59 (Windows) drivers contain the following fixes:

  • [Red Dead Redemption][Vulkan]: Some objects may flicker when player is indoors.
  • [OpenGL] Minecraft Java Edition may display artefacts when using Optifine shaders.
  • OpenGL] Artifacts may appear in Second Life when connecting using third party viewers.
  • [Neverwinter Nights] Light sources not rendering correctly.
  • [Vulkan] Path of Exile displays flashing black textures.
  • [G-SYNC] Games may stutter when bringing up the Xbox app overlay.
  • [UE5] General UE5 stability improvements.

(my emphasis on the Second life bug).

Users Ven Banana ((VenKellie) and Wurfi informed me of the driver release after installing and testing it for the fix – my thanks to them for doing so.

In addition driver version 515.57 has the fix for Linux.

Beq Janus, who originally reported to issue via the Nvidia forums, has also confirmed the issue as fixed.

The drivers can be downloaded via the link on the Techpower.up release notes page (linked to above), or directly from the Nvidia drivers page.

Artsville: a new arts venture in Second Life

Artsville, June 2022

Artsville is the name given to a new collaborative arts hub in Second Life, which opened over the weekend of June 24th through 26th with a trio of 2D art exhibitions. The hub is the work of Vally Lavender-Prodigy (Valium Lavender), who provides the space for the hub on her ValiumSL region; Frank Atisso, who has closed his own Art Korner to focus on curating Artsville, with the overall design and layout of the hub by Megan Prumier.

In the latter regard, Megan has produced an engaging, modern setting for the hub in the form of artificial island-platforms sitting directly above the surrounding water, each with its own features and attractions and linked one to another by flat glass walkways.

Set under a twilight sky that gives the impression the Sun has not long since set, these stucco-finished platforms and the buildings to be found on some of them has an understated, slightly sci-fi presence, edges limned in white strips and low lamps periodically spaces around edges – this is very much a place where Advanced Lighting Model is needed (Preferences → Graphics → make sure ALM is checked and disable Shadows if required) to appreciate the point lighting.

Artsville, June 2022

Between them, the two largest of these island-platforms present, respectively, the landing point, offering a minimalist touch of horticulture in the form of box hedges and junipers given a topiary twist, and the island housing the three 2D gallery spaces, of which more in a moment.

Four glass walkways reach outward along the cardinal edges of the landing point, each marked by a great arch. Beside offering the way to the 2D galleries, these walkways respectively lead to: a small island with the promise of Coming Soon; the centre’s café and presentations centre; and a further sets of island platforms of various sizes, each featuring 3D at by Mistero Hifeng.

Artsville, June 2022: Maloe Vansant – Freaking Beauties

Whether the 3D art areas represent a single, permanent display or will feature other 3D artists over time, I’m not actually sure. However, they offer a sense of space and peace as they all eventually leading the way south and east to where an impressive event space has been placed out by Megan, with one of the routes to it leading through an impressive sculpture tunnel constructed by Megan.

The 2D galleries are arranged on three sides of a platform which almost mirrors the landing platform, with the exception that the glass-over-the-water area forms the events space for exhibition openings. For its first exhibitions, The galleries are simply numbered 1 through 3, and for Artsville’s opening, they bring us exhibitions by Maloe Vansant, presenting Freaking Beauties; in Gallery 1; Hayley Dixon’s Just a Little in Gallery 2; and in Gallery 3, When You Open A Door, by Scylla Rhiadra.

Maloe’s Freaking Beauties is the most visually striking of the three, presenting a series of avatar studies offered in powerful, vibrant colours and strong contrasts; the magic of post-processing giving them a captivating and eye-popping edge, with a richness of tone and focus to draw the eye into each of them.

Artsville, June 2022: Hayley Dixon – Just A Little

With Just A Little, Hayley Dixon offers a short introduction. In it, she notes how, by adding just a little colour and / or light into an image, it is possible to completely transform it.

This is thoroughly demonstrated within the 10 images she presents, all of which are presented in black-and-white or monochrome tones, and which use light to great effect. Some make use of light in the most minimalistic of ways, drawing the eye into them, causing us to almost adopt a tight focus on the lines before slowly pulling back in the manner of a cinematographer so that the complete scene and its narrative might become clear (such as with pause); others intentionally contrast the use of light and dark in an almost yin/yang balance to present their mood and story.

Just A Door is another thought-provoking series by Scylla Rhiadra. Like Hayley’s, it comes with an introduction. However, I would urge visitors not to read it directly – or at least, to not read beyond the first question and the two sentences that follow it.

Artsville, June 2022: Scylla Rhiadra – Just A Door

This is because – for me – framing the exhibition through the supplied exposition beforehand risks diminishing the power and layering of metaphor waiting to be peeled back within each of the ten images and their accompanying texts – all of which combine to form a rich treatise on love, relationships, attitudes, the unlocking (or blocking) of potential; the richness of allowing the imagination to flower and bloom (and the potential emptiness of turning it aside). It is a layering that deserves to be examined free from the preconceptions which might result from reading such notes in advance, so as to allow their narrative richness of each piece to percolate freely through our subconscious thinking and challenge us in the most subtle of ways.

Which is not to say Scylla’s exploration of her work should be ignored; it does provide additional depth and underpins the exhibition as a whole. But in coming to it last (which, fortunately is easy to do given it is tucked between the entrances to the gallery, and so can be missed when initially entering), we allow her words to underscore our own thinking on, and reaction to, the individual pieces, rather than having her words shape that thinking.

Artsville, June 2022: Scylla Rhiadra – Just A Door

Artsville is an engaging new addition to the SL arts scene, and I look forward to further exhibitions there. I do, however, have one small critique: the gallery spaces could benefit from lighter interior finishes than was the case at the time of my visit; the tomb-like darkness left me squinting to make out details of some images, and then scrambling around in inventory for an alternate EEP by which to view the art (the images of the exhibitions shown here have all be had their contrast altered via post-processing to better present them); a lighter finish to the interiors would eliminate this kind of distraction.

Outside of that, all three exhibitions form engaging displays of art well worth visiting, with Artsville as a whole equally engaging in its general presentation.

SLurl Details

Bella’s Nocturne in Second Life

Bella’s Nocturne, June 2022 – click any image for full size

BellaSwan Blackheart is the creative mind behind Bella’s Lullaby, a place I’ve frequently visited and written about down the years; so when Tara (TaraLiaMe) forwarded to me the Landmark of another of Bella’s creations in May, I knew I had to take a look – although admittedly, it’s taken me a while to get to see it and to write about it.

Occupying a 4096 sq m parcel on a Full region, Bella’s Nocturne is a sky build, offering a setting which presents a corner of what might be a little town somewhere in Europe (going on the general aesthetic of the buildings, at least). The Landing Point sits within an enclosed square, what is clearly a communal space in which can be found a fountain, places to sit and enjoy ice cream and appreciate music.

Bella’s Nocturne, June 2022

It is the piano within this square that perhaps offers the best clue to a definition for the setting.

An instrumental composition of a pensive, dreamy mood, especially one for the piano.

For this is indeed a dreamy setting; a place caught under the cloud-reflected light of a lowering Sun (thus removing it somewhat from the other definitions for nocturne), giving it a n air of calm.

Bella’s Nocturne, June 2022

A narrow alley points away from the square to lead to a broader road sitting at right angles to the alley, but equally caught between tall shops and houses. Walking from alley to street, it is not hard to imagine the melodies of the piano flowing gracefully off the walls of the buildings and over the lengthening shadows, spreading a sense of peace along alley and street, giving cause for cats to snooze on benches and birds to join in with the music as they sing to the closing of the day.

That the buildings are façades makes no difference here; it is the little details along the the street, down the alley and around the square that are important; they offer a sense of place and – more importantly – plenty of opportunities for the photographer. To assist in the latter, the parcel has open rezzing for visitor to allow for props; but (and as I generally remind people) please be sure to pick up you items when you are done!

Bella’s Nocturne, June 2022

At the far end of the street stands a DJ’s twin deck, suggesting a street party might be in the offing, while tucked into a corner of the square sits a little gate, the sign fixed to it giving away the secret that lies beyond: a quiet retreat of a wild garden, a place where bees are encouraged amongst the richness of flowers, and a shaded couch awaits those seeking retreat.

Small without feeling crowded; rich in detail without feeling overloaded and designed to be enjoyed with draw distance dropped down, Bella Nocturne is a cosy, comfortable visit.

Bella’s Nocturne, June 2022

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SL19B MTL – the Moles (new starter avatars + Linden Homes)

via Linden Lab

Friday, June 24th, 2022 saw the final Meet the Lindens special events take place for the SL19B(irthday) celebrations, featuring Patch Linden and the Moles of the Linden Department of Public Works (LDPW).

Unlike previous articles in this series, this is not a detailed summary of the session, but focuses on information relating to the New User eXperience (NUX) and the upcoming new Starter Avatars, and on plans for Linden Homes for Premium Plus and Premium accounts. Also provided is information on who the Moles are, and how to apply to become one, if you believe your skill sets are suitable.

New User Experience / Starter Avatar Project

[Video: 12:27-20:56]

  • NUX is a multi-phase, multi-faceted project that is fairly constantly in motion.
  • Currently, the focus is on the new user starter avatars, given the current avatars are a mix of the original system body and mesh attachments.
  • This project is intended to replace all of the starter avatars with fully mesh offerings. These will utilise the Bento skeleton and sliders, support Bakes on Mesh (BoM) and be an all-in-one, head-to-toes avatar, complete with new animation overrides.
A preview version of the new, single mesh (head-to-toe) avatar, which will use by mesh clothing and Bakes on Mesh, and be open for creators to design clothing and accessories
  • These avatars:
    • Will be provided with an “array” of outfits/looks/ethnicities from which new users can choose during the sign-up process, with everything being an unisex as possible, so as to work across the full gender spectrum and the avatars themselves also available through the system Library.
    • Won’t necessarily be as robust and extensible as some of the “best-in-class” bodies and heads, but are seen as a means to help those coming into SL get started and ease them into the wider creative ecosphere.
    • Will be supported by developer kits so that creators can produce clothing and accessories for them, and again further encourage new users into the broader commercial ecosystem.
A closer view of the preview avatar head / face. Note this is not necessarily indicative of the final versions of these avatars; the project is a work-in-progress.
  • The work is still very much at a pre-release status, with the preview shown at the event not necessarily represent the finished product; there is a lot more to come with the project before it is ready for release.

Linden Homes – Premium Plus and Premium

[Video: 36:31-44:55]

  • At the time of the Moles MTL, 34,845 Premium Linden Homes had been made available and 1,913 regions released, with a further 172 “under construction”.
  • Premium Plus Linden Homes:
    • Entirely new “ground up” themes with a new approach to implementation.
    • The “ranch” theme Patch mentions at his MTL session [video ; blog summary], is one under consideration, although exact style, etc., is still TBA.
    • The fact that ideas are still in development is why Premium Plus Linden Homes will not be appearing until the end of 2022 “at the earliest”.
    • The increased land offering (2048 sq m) means more opportunities to use different parcel sizes.
  • Premium Linden Homes:
    • Both the Traditional and Victorian theme will be getting a refresh with “open-plan” variants on their styles.
    • Houseboats to get four new floor plans.
    • Updates will include a pass to bring the control panels up-to-date with the most recent home releases.
    • All of this will be rolled out before the end of 2022.
  • New large-scale community centres for Bellisseria are also in the works.
  • No plans at this time for a “city style” theme with apartments and the like.

About the Moles

Who or What are the Moles?

  • Officially called the Linden Department of Public Works (LDPW), originally formed in 2008, Moles are residents from all over the world hired by Linden Lab as independent contractors to undertake specific tasks.
  • Their work was originally focused on the Mainland, adding the infrastructure – road, bridges, etc., and the landscaping, as noted in the official LDPW wiki page, although they actually do a lot more than this.
  • Notable major projects carried out by the Moles include:
    • The infrastructure within Nautilus City.
    • The development of Bay City.
    • The Linden Homes continent of Bellisseria (including all topography, flora, infrastructure and housing).
    • The facilities for events like Shop & Hop, the Second Life Birthday, town hall events, the turn-key regions available for businesses, starter avatars, etc.
    • The Lab provided games such as Linden Realms, Paleoquest, Horizons and the grid-wide Tyrah and the Curse of the Magical Glytches – all accessible via the Portal Parks.
  • They also provide support / input for / to technical projects (e.g. Project Bento and the avatar skeleton extension), and work with marketing, QA and other LL teams.
  • In keeping with their name, Moles were originally given a mole avatar, complete with hard hat. However, over the years, most have moved to having a more individual and personal look, although some say with their Mole look.
  • As well as being paid for the work they do, Moles also receive and allowance from the Lab, which is primarily intended to go towards the cost of uploads (texture, animations, mesh objects, etc)., but which can also be put towards developing their individual looks.

How to Become a Mole

  • Positions in the LDPW are open to application by residents who believe they are qualified to work in the team, and the team may also approach specific residents and ask if they would consider joining them.
  • Applications are made by dropping a résumé (note card or email) of qualifications / experience (including links SLurls, Flickr, You Tube, etc.) to Derrick Linden (derrick.linden-at-lindenlab.com) or to Patch Linden (patch.linden-at-lindenlab.com).
  • Applicants have to go through a former interview process.
  • Successful applicants get to pretty much choose their hours of work – providing agreed tasks are completed on time.
  • As they are from around the world, this can allow some projects to move forward on almost a round-the-clock basis.
  • Those who are more fully-rounded in skill sets  – content creation, scripting, etc., – are encouraged to apply, but LL will also take on specialists.
  • Motivated, outgoing, communicative people with a passion for SL and willing to self-teach themselves new skill sets are particularly considered.