Previewing the Linden Home Log theme in Second Life

The new Linden Home Log / Lodge theme with the Log 2 to the right, Log 3 to the left and log 4 partially visible to the left

The fifth in the 1024 sq metre Linden Homes that are available to Premium members, was unveiled on Friday, February 28th at a special region sitting adjacent to the main American Cancer Society (ACS) region in Second Life. The site was selected as a combined result of ACS home the 2020 Home And Garden Expo in support of Relay for Life, and in recognition of the strong ties between ACS Relay for Life and Second Life / Linden Lab.

The new theme is referred to a the Log Home theme – or if you prefer, lodge theme, a further distinctly rural theme well suited to woodlands, lakes, mountains and remote spots, joining with the Campers and Trailers theme to offer such a rural opportunity. As such they stand apart for the more urban styles of the Traditional and Victorian homes, whilst also offering a chance to blend the the Houseboat type.

The Log 1 style of Linden Home, showing the recessed balcony

As per usual, four styles of the new home are available for Premium users to choose from, all four selectable from the wooden mailbox that accompanies each parcel. The four styles, as shown at the preview, didn’t have individual names, but were called simply, Log 1, Log 2, Log 3 and Loge 4, with each featuring:

  • Log 1: 2 front aspect entrances, 3 open-plan ground floor rooms, one overlooked by the galleried upper floor that forms the bedroom area, complete with a balcony recessed into the roof and offering a side aspect view.
  • Log 2: semi A-frame, with full height picture window to the front aspect, and a porch running across the front under the A-frame roof, and part-way down one side to the front door. Three rooms on the ground floor, the front room overlooked by the galleried upper floor bedroom.
The Log 3 Linden Home
  • Log 3: full length front porch, 1/2 length rear porch. Three rooms on the ground floor, 2 open-plan, with one of the latter overlooked by a galleried landing providing access to two bedrooms.
  • Log 4: 2 entrances to the front aspect, 3 ground floor rooms, 2 open-plan, stairs to upper floor with two bedrooms, one with en-suite bathroom; further stairs up to an attic space with windows to all four aspects.

The preview region featuring the houses offers a feel for how they will look when in situ in Bellisseria, once they become available. Like the Campers and Trailers theme, the landscaping features open spaces, trees, water and dirt tracks. As all parcels are, in keeping with the Linden Home house builds, 1024 sq m (Campers and Trailers are currently 512 sq m), individual footprints for the 4 styles of home offer plenty of scope for outdoor options as well – and these homes would appear especially well suited to those wishing to have somewhere to place a small stables and fencing and provide a home for their horse.

The Log 4 Linden Home

The preview region will be available for viewing through until the end of the Home and Garden Expo on Tuesday, March 3rd. Currently, I do not have a date as to when the new theme will be available in Bellisseria.

SLurl for the Preview

American Cancer Society (rated: General) – follow the signs

Previewing Lab Gab 15: Patch, the Moles and the New Linden Homes theme

via Linden Lab

The 15th edition of Lab Gab will be live streamed on Friday, February 28th at 11:00 SLT (19:00 UK; 20:00 CET). For those who have not seen the official blog post about it, the segment will feature Patch Linden and members of the Linden Department of Public Works (LDPW) – the famous Moles, resident builders who undertake Mainland infrastructure and other projects on behalf of Linden Lab, and who have been spending a lot of time over the last 12 months building-out the Linden Homes continent of Bellisseria, and who also provide the regions and infrastrucutre / core builds for SLB event, including this year’s SL17B.

Part of Patch’s responsibilities at the Lab covers the work of the LPDW, although his remit is far wider than that.

Patch Linden. Credit: Linden Lab

Originally a Second Life resident and business owner who joined the platform in 2004, Patch joined the Lab in 2007, initially working as a support agent and then as a support liaison. From there he moved to the Concierge team, eventually becoming that team’s manager.

Following this, Patch shifted focus to the role of Operations Support Manager for a year prior to pivoting away from support entirely to join the Product group, the team responsible for defining the features, etc., found within Second Life, where he developed the Land Operations team, which includes the Linden Department of Public Works (LDPW).

In 2019 he was promoted to Vice President, Product Operations and joined the Lab’s management team. The role continues to see him managing all of the Lab’s user support operations (some 5 teams), including the LPDW. He also forms one-third of the “troika” (as Grumpity Linden has called it) overseeing Second Life’s continued development, working closely with Grumpity and Oz Linden, both of whom also joined the Lab’s management team alongside of Patch.

Patch and the Moles will be responding to questions put forward to them by users – and there is still time (just!) to submit yours.

So, if you would like to know about Patch’s role, how support works, what might be coming to SL as a part of the Product Operations team’s work, how you might become a Mole, or have questions concerning Linden Homes and future plans – including the 5th Bellisseria Linden Homes theme – or what might be coming with SL17B this June, then drop them via the  Lab Gab Episode 15 Questions form!

The programmed will be streamed via YouTube, Facebook, Mixer, or Periscope, and if all goes according to plan, I’ll have a summary of the video (and the video itself) available soon after the the broadcast, for those unable to watch live.

Some of the LPDW moles and Patch, as they appeared at the SL16B Meet the Moles event.

What’s That? “New Linden Homes Theme”?

Yes, one hour before Lab Gab airs, Patch and the LPDW, in conjunction with Relay for Life of Second Life and the American Cancer Society, will be revealing the next new Linden Homes Theme, as announced by ACS:

What might the new Linden Homes theme be? Find out when LPDW and RFL of SL / ACS reveal all on February 28th, 2020

The American Cancer Society is excited to host the 5th Linden Home Reveal as part of the 2020 SL Home & Garden Expo. Residents are welcome to take a tour of the new Linden Home theme that will become available at 10am SLT on Friday, February 28, 2020. Residents can land on the American Cancer Society Island and walk to the Reveal region following the directional signs from there.

“We are always grateful for our relationship with Linden Lab and are honoured to host the Themed Home Reveals,” says Stingray9798 Raymaker, American Cancer Society staff Director in Second Life. “We hope to use this opportunity as a way to educate the residents of Second Life that the American Cancer Society is here to help cancer patients and caregivers from around the world, and to give our Second Life community a means to fight back against a disease that has taken too much.”

This marks the 5th Linden Home theme that will be added to the Bellisseria community, alongside the previous 4 themes: traditional, trailers, houseboats, and Victorian.

– from the official ACS announcement about the new Linden Homes reveal

I’ll also have more on the new Linden Homes theme following the reveal.

2020 Content Creation User Group week #9 summary

The Cold Rose, January 2020 – blog post

The following notes were taken from my audio recording of the Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meeting held on Thursday, February 20th 2020 at 13:00 SLT. These meetings are chaired by Vir Linden, and agenda notes, meeting SLurl, etc, are available on the Content Creation User Group wiki page.

Environment Enhancement Project

Project Summary

A set of environmental enhancements (e.g. the sky, sun, moon, clouds, and water settings) to be set region or parcel level, with support for up to 7 days per cycle and sky environments set by altitude. It uses a new set of inventory assets (Sky, Water, Day), and includes the ability to use custom Sun, Moon and cloud textures. The assets can be stored in inventory and traded through the Marketplace / exchanged with others, and can additionally be used in experiences.

Resources

Current Status

  • Final review of issues is due on Friday, February 28th. If the project passes this review, the EEP will be cleared for promotion to release status.
  • There is a viewer build that the Lab has internally that is liable to be the release version; it’s not clear if this viewer will go to RC prior to promotion or be issued as the de facto release viewer .
  • It has again been noted that EEP will not give a precise one-to-one rendering of absolutely every environment (sky, lighting, etc.) in SL when compared to Windlight, as EEP uses a completely different and updated set of shaders, but it is hoped that most will be “very close”.
  • Once EEP has has reached release status, it is anticipated that their will be a “fairly rapid” cycle of viewer promotions to clear the remaining RC viewers in the pipelines (i.e. one new promotion every other week).

ARCTan

Project Summary

An attempt to re-evaluate object and avatar rendering costs to make them more reflective of the actual impact of rendering both. The overall aim is to try to correct some inherent negative incentives for creating optimised content (e.g. with regards to generating LOD models with mesh), and to update the calculations to reflect current resource constraints, rather than basing them on outdated constraints (e.g. graphics systems, network capabilities, etc).

As of January 2020 ARCTan has effectively been split:

  • Immediate viewer-side changes, primarily focused on revising the Avatar Rendering Cost (ARC) calculations and providing additional viewer UI so that people can better visibility and control to seeing complexity. This work can essentially be broken down as:
    • Collect data.
    • Update ARC function.
    • Design and provide tool within the viewer UI (i.e. not a pop-up) that presents ARC information in a usable manner and lets users make decisions about rendering / performance.
  • 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.
  • The belief is that “good” avatar ARC values can likely be used as a computational base for these rendering calculations.

Current Status

  • Vir believes he has a fix for the appearance  / Bake Service issue that has been causing problems with ARCTan testing. This has yet to be QA tested. Should it pass, then it will mean internal testing can resume.
  • UI tools: one of the issues with the current ARC capability is how the information is presented and how it is interpreted. The question was therefore asked (by Vir) about possible ARC-related tools that could be incorporated into the viewer.
    • There are tools already in the viewer (Max Complexity Setting, Always Render Friends, etc.), although how well these are used is open to debate.
    • A concern with added further tools is that they could just additionally confuse for users (“more options and sliders!”) or just be ignored.
    • Automated  / semi automated means of adjusting complexity settings was favoured by some at the meeting.
    • The problem with full automation could be difficult to implement due to the broad variance in hardware used to access SL, the complexity of existing content (avatar heads, bodies, etc.), plus people’s personal preferences, etc.
    • A mechanism for adjusting  / bypassing an automated process could be provided, but then it defeats trying to automate as people will just opt to bypass a the process and ramp up settings.
    • An alternative might be to make the current tools more intuitive / easier to access and also more granular, then gradually move towards greater automation (with overrides) as people gain more familiarity with the whole issue of optimised content and performance.
    • A suggestion from the Lab was to have some form of “temporary” thresholds: such as when teleporting into a busy region switches to some form of frame-rate threshold / asset load prioritisation that helps to maintain a reasonable frame rate whilst also prioritising CPU cycle use to speed up the initial loading period, then switching back up when done. The complication with this approach is, not everyone has the same bottleneck areas, so a threshold setting that works well for some, might not show any benefit for others.
  • Bound up with this is the question of educating users as to:
    • What tools are available and how they work (e.g. a capability one of those at the meeting was espousing as something that would be “nice” to see in the viewer, has in fact been a part of it for almost five years).
    • What actually is impacting their experience with SL (it is so easy to blame “the servers” and “LL” when actually many of the problems are in fact viewer-side and could be better managed by a user than might otherwise be the case).

An abandoned vacation spot in Second Life

Dya’s Abandoned Vacation Spot, February 2020 – click any image for full size

An Abandoned Vacation Spot in the 30s. Sometimes you can still see the glamour of the past….

So reads a part of the description for Dya’s Abandoned Vacation Spot, a location we were drawn to courtesy of Maddy Gynoid. Designed by Dya OHare, this Homestead region presents a fabulous setting, an island sitting somewhere – possibly just off the coast or within the estuary of a broad river – that was once a place for holidays and fishing, but which has now faded well past its prime, the holiday makers long since departed, the water front now little more than moorings for fishing boats, but not a base of operations.

To say this is a beautiful setting would, frankly, be an understatement. The island has obviously been carefully considered and designed to present a setting that really could exist as much in the physical world as in the virtual. It’s made all the more natural through its single-track road which, just as might be expected of a vacation setting, neatly loops its way around the landscape, linking all the points of interest, and thus providing a natural means of exploration.

Dya’s Abandoned Vacation Spot – February 2020

The landing point sits in one of these aged waterfront buildings, one that is in slightly better overall condition than the rest, and home to Dya’s Gacha resale store.  From here, visitors have a choice: proceed on foot, take a bicycle from the rezzer a little further along the waterfront, or take the the steps down to the the piers where a motor boat rezzer awaits anyone who fancies pootling around the island by water.

The road runs both north along the the shore, and east. The former route fully brings home the faded nature of the island’s heritage, passing between water to the one side and buildings that are falling apart on the other, their signs and façades harking back to when the the paved street was alive with visitors – although a couple of folk appear not to have realised the bar is no longer serving customers!

Dya’s Abandoned Vacation Spot, – February 2020

To the north, through a local rain shower, sits a more business-like wharf and buildings, where also sits the carved hull of a submarine whose shape looks born more of the Cold War era than from the 1930s. It sits as a single incongruity in the region’s overall design – and yet it still fits the setting, suggesting that while this was a holiday centre in the 1930s, time has indeed moved on, and the island has seen other uses.

Two beaches mark the south and east side of the the island, separated from one another by a rocky headland dominated by an old wooden lighthouse.  Both of the beaches reflect the island’s long-passed heyday; flotsam is scattered along sands that have a tired feel to them under the overcast sky, the trees along them apparently dead, marker buoys just offshore warning passing fishing boats not to get too close to the shore where they might run aground (and also mark the region’s boundary for those using the local motor boats to get around).

Dya’s Abandoned Vacation Spot, February 2020

Both of the beaches are also overlooked by a ruins of an ancient church, a place that looks older than than the rest of the island’s structures. Neon signs hand from one end of this old building, advertising it as a hotel, but whether it ever served this purpose or not is open to question; there’s barely the space for individual rooms, so perhaps the signs – still flickering, and so under power, are meant as a joke by whomever still uses the island.

This ruin can be reached by following the loop of the islands-road, which also provides access to the beaches by means of board walks and steps. The road also runs past what is perhaps the last standing holiday home overlooking the sands and sea. It’s a modest place, the deck bigger than the house, but it is still in use, simply furnished and offering a sense of life within a place mostly given to the past.

Dya’s Abandoned Vacation Spot, February 2020

While it has no obvious connection other than the period in which the island had its heyday being close to that of the book, where exploring, I couldn’t help but feel it sits as some kind of seaward Valley of Ashes from The Great Gatsby, albeit with strong differences; a place that, rather than being a place of run-down businesses, secrets and eventual tragedy, through which the rich of East Egg and West Egg pass under sufferance, the island sits as a place to be passed by and occasionally used by fishing as they travel to and from richer ports of call whilst plying their trade.

Why my mind should jump to such a connection, I’ve no idea; but it just seems to fit. What I can say is that with its wildlife and horses, sound scape and cloud-heavy skies, Dya’s Abandoned Vacation Spot is a captivating place to visit, rich in its own romance and utterly photogenic.

Dya’s Abandoned Vacation Spot, Februay 2020

SLurl Details

Art and idioms in Second Life

Vegetal Planet: State of Mind

Currently open at Vegetal Planet is an impressive 2D / 3D interactive installation led by Cherry Manga, made with the support of JadeYu Flang, that makes for a fun, and also thought provoking visit.

State of Mind is a journey through 20 popular idioms and expressions, taken without the need to move that far. It’s a journey that requires visitors to enable Advanced Lighting Model (Preferences → Graphics), although you do not require shadows to be enabled as well, if you’re concerned about viewer performance.  With ALM set, touch the sculpture at the landing point to deliver you to the main exhibition space.

Vegetal Planet: State of Mind

Located in a skybox, this is an environment that is in a state of flux, the scene within it changing periodically, gently paging through the 20 idioms. Visitors can either stand and watch the show or, by touching the east wall, can become a part of it, floating serenely as the scenes change around and below them.

Each idiom  / expression is presented as a complete scene, with the expression written in French or English and French against the wall that can set you floating. While is it easy to look at this and translate what is written, it’s more intriguing to observe the scenes as they appear and decrypt what is being illustrated. Sometimes this is easy – as with Head in the CloudsWalking on EggshellsStars in (Your) Eyes, others may take a little time to figure out, and some may not have an literal translation from French / English, so may not always be familiar to everyone.

Vegetal Planet: State of Mind

All of the pieces are, however, cleverly presented, often inviting the observer not just to try to identify the idiom being presented, but also consider how it came about – particularly with those that border on cliché. Take Thinking Outside the Box as an example – where did it originate, and how did it descend into a management consultancy cliché? Turns out it may well have originated with management consultants in the 1970s as a result of the “nine dots” puzzle, only to circle back to them through wider use to become a common training cliché.

Consideration of the derivation each saying is encouraged by the lack of any explanation for each setting beyond the expression appearing on the wall. Thus, in looking at the passing scenes, the grey matter is naturally stirred into questioning just why such expressions have become so recognised, that nine times out of ten we’ll happily use any one of them without otherwise considering where and how it might have be born and then enter into common usage.

Vegetal Planet: State of Mind

Fascinating, intricate and engaging, State of Mind will, I believe, be open for at least the next month.

SLurl Details

2020 Simulator User Group week #9 summary

Lost Lagoon, January 2020 – blog post

The following notes were taken at the Simulator User Group meeting held on Tuesday, February 25th.

Simulator Deployments

As always, please refer to the week’s deployment thread for updates.

  • The SLS (main) channel servers were updated with simulator update 2020-02-14T20:17:32.536748. It’s not clear on what this update contains, as the release notes generation process is currently broken.
  • A “large load” of RC simulators are planned to be updated on Wednesday, February 26th. However, at the time of writing, the status of the release was in the air due to some last minuted investigations to determine if the updates are fit for purpose.

SL Viewer

At the time of writing, the official viewer pipelines remain unchanged from the end of week #8:

  • Current Release version 6.3.7.535996, formerly the Yorsh Maintenance RC, dated February 7, promoted February 20 – NEW.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • EEP RC viewer updated to version 6.4.0.536347, February 11.
    • Love Me Render RC viewer, version 6.3.7.536179, February 10.
    • Camera Presets RC viewer, version 6.3.6.535138, January 24.
  • Project viewers:
    • 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.
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version 6.3.2.530836, September 17, 2019. Covers the re-integration of Viewer Profiles.
    • 360 Snapshot project viewer, version 6.2.4.529111, July 16, 2019.

Sansar and Second Life

While Sansar and SL are very different platforms based on different technology and capabilities, it has often been asked if / whether capabilities found in Sansar might be ported / developed for Second Life.

As a result of the recent decisions at the Lab to cease development work on Sansar, lay off staff and considered options (see: Sansar: lay-offs, rumours, and confusion and Lab seeking a “plan B” to secure Sansar’s future), these questions have been raised again, including at the Simulator User Group meeting, where Simon Linden responded:

We are going to take a look at Sansar tech and see what might be brought into SL but that’s a long-term project … nothing at all has been decided.

Whether this means the upcoming long-term graphics / rendering project mentioned in the February 21st Lab Gab session with Ebbe and Grumpity Linden (see Lab Gab: Second Life in 2020 with Ebbe and Grumpity (and Keira!) ) might look towards poking at the Sansar render engine for ideas or not remains to be seen. However, a recurring request that has cropped up vis. Sansar capabilities and SL has been the potential for a similar level of Marvelous Designer™ cloth simulation to be added to SL – although it’s unlikely this could be done without some headaches.

However, as Simon notes, any project related to what might be adopted from Sansar for Second Life is a long term thing, and LL has enough on its plate vis cloud uplift, etc.