August 2020 Web User Group: updates & upcoming attractions

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, August 5th, 2020. These meetings are held monthly, generally on the first Wednesdays of the month, with dates and details of the meetings available via the Web User Group wiki page.

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

The primary focus for the web teams remains the transitioning of services from the Lab’s own servers to AWS servers as a part of the Uplift project. However, other work is continuing as an when possible, and in the last month this has meant:

  • The new Second Life logo (see: Out with the green, in with the blue) continues to be rolled out across the various services – in this case, notably the Cashier pages – as the team get to them. This is a relatively low priority item so it will still be a while before the logo is consistent across all properties.
  • UTF-8 will now be accepted in response to security questions.
  • Additional back-end work on Name Changes was implemented, mainly tools used by the Lab but also some changes that may allow for some possible future features related to the capability.
  • The log-in page images received a refresh.
  • Fixes:
    • Marketplace: received a fix for images not showing correctly.
    • Events: fixes for images not showing with posted events; for multiple pages of hosted events not working and for the language picker drop-down not working on exiting events pages.
    • Place Pages received a number of fixes.
    • Land Auctions received a fix for beta lifetime users being unable to bid on auctions.
    • A back-end issue with Premium acquisition was fixed.
    • Viewer download page: now includes a link for Mac OS X Catalina (and later) users experiencing problems installing the Mac flavour of the viewer, and that takes them to the Troubleshooting Second Life Installation on Mac OS X page.
Viewer installation help for Mac OS X Catalina (or later) on the viewer download page

Mobile Client

  • The iOS version has been in a closed alpha for 2+ months. These is now a build destined to go to Apple’s App Store.
  • Work continues on the Android version, but is currently some way behind the iOS work.
  • See for more.

Post-Uplift Work

Note: the following is a general list of work LL are looking at, post-Uplift to the cloud, however, it is still subject to change, and none of it should be taken as a firm commitment for carrying out the work or any indication of the order in which it might be carried out:

  • Marketplace: variances for listings (e.g. one listing for an item offering it in different colours).
  • Events: bug fixes, category  and search refinements.
  • Names Changes: further tweaks.
  • Web properties in general: better optimisation for display on mobile properties.
  • Further work still to be added to the list.

Marketing Brief

  • Following the presence of Gen Con in Second Life (see: Coming to Second Life: Gen Con “the best four days in gaming”, Gen Con: sneaking a peek in Second Life and Gen Con in Second Life: let the games begin!), LL have had a debriefing with the VRazeTheBar team, and the hope is it will pave the way for further displaced conferences to be held within Second Life.
  • There are potential opportunities in the offing for a further media presence for Second Life which may be akin to the CSI:NY episode Down the Rabbit Hole (2007), or SL’s appearance in the US version of The Office. Details still TBA.
  • There is also an upcoming partnership with the Peale Museum in Baltimore, so the latter can bring their exhibits and events in-world with a reproduction of the museum building (itself a National Historic Landmark in the United States) and special virtual open house as part as the museum’s August 15rh Founder’s Day event.
  • These styles of events are seen as a way to broaden awareness of Scone Life and its potential.

Premium Plus

  • Still on hold.
  • May be revisited at some point.
  • May also be revised before being released.

Next Meeting

Wednesday, September 2nd, 14:00 SLT.

Second Life Mobile mini update, August 2020 with audio

As I’ve previously reported several times over the last year, starting with Linden Lab confirm Second Life iOS client in the making, Linden Lab is developing a companion app for Second Life.

Since that first article, I’ve provided a number of updates on the development work – please use the SL Mobile tag to catch up with all of them.

At the Web User Group on Wednesday, August 5th, Keira Linden gave a further update on the client’s status, as per the notes and audio below, which have been provided alongside my usual notes on the app.

August 5th Update

iOS Client

  • The iOS version has been in a closed alpha that includes a number of residents for some 2+ months, having started in May.
    • In keeping with the Lab’s plans, this version offers the ability to communicate via IM and view your Friends list.
  • As a result of this close alpha testing, the Lab now has a build that is “destined for [Apple’s] App Store”, which is currently “bouncing back and fort”h between the development team and LL’s QA team.
  • The hope is that this version can be submitted to Apple for review some time in August 2020.
  • This does not necessarily mean the iOS client will immediately appear within the App Store, as Apple can be exceptionally picky in their review process, which can result in requests for changes to an app to be made before listing is allowed.
  • LL obviously hopes the app will not encounter significant issues, but because of the review process, no time frame can be given on when the app will appear in the App Store – but there will presumably be an announcement once it is available.

Android Client

  • Having started much later than the iOS version, which remains the Lab’s focus, the Android version is still at a somewhat earlier stage of development.
  • However, it is under active development.
  • When it is ready, it will likely follow a similar Alpha / Beta test process to the iOS version.

In-world Presence

  • In a change to earlier statements, Mobile app users will have an in-world location.
  • This will be in one of several special “Mobile” regions. However:
    • As Mobile users have no 3D world view, these regions are not landscaped or populated in any way.
    • Access is restricted to those using the Mobile app, general access by users on the viewer or other clients is not allowed.
    • Currently, three Mobile regions have been set-up.

General Capabilities

Note: this is a reiteration of notes from earlier updates on the SL Mobile client.

  • It should initially be regarded as more of a communicator / companion app than a fully-rounded client. The initial intention for the client is to provide users with a means of maintaining basic contact with other users whilst away from their main means of accessing Second Life.
  • As such, it will support logging-in to Second Life services to support IM and group chat support.
  • Capabilities such as having an in-world rezzing location, the ability to chat locally, support for scene rendering will be added over time.
  • However, in terms of any in-world rendering, this will not be part of any initial released (in the meeting it was described as “not even Soon™”), as LL are focused in just trying to get the basic app available to users as soon as reasonably possible.

Reporting and Updates in this Blog

Again, all information I’m able to provide through this blog, including future updates can be found under the SL Mobile tag, and can be accessed directly from the top menu options:

  • SL → User Group & Viewer → Viewers → Android & iOS and then selecting either:
    • Android Clients → SL Mobile or
    • iOS Clients → SL Mobile.

Lab Gab preview: Philip Rosedale

via Linden Lab

Lab Gab returns on Friday, August 7th, 2020, with a very special guest in the form of Philip Rosedale, the founder of Second Life and co-founder of Love Machine Inc., and Coffee and Power – which would become High Fidelity.

In 1995, Rosedale created FreeVue, an Internet video conferencing product, which was acquired by RealNetworks in 1996, with Rosedale joining that company as a Vice President and Chief Technology Officer. He later left RealNetworks to form Linden Lab, initially working in virtual reality before moving to focus on a virtual world platform with the goal of demonstrating a viable model for a virtual economy or virtual society.

Philip Rosedale

We don’t see this as a game. We see it as a platform that is, in many ways, better than the real world.

– Philip Rosedale, Google TechTalks, March 2006

As well as founding Linden Lab, Rosedale served as CEO and / or as a member of the Board until 2009, when – having already handed over the CEO reins of the company to Mark Kingdon – he announced he was stepping away from the board to focus on other projects (Love Machine Inc.). In 2010, he briefly returned as interim CEO through until Ebbe Altberg was appointed to the role.

Contrary to the rumour mill, Philip will not be discussing the recent announcement about Linden Lab putting itself up for acquisition (as this process is still on-going and cannot be publicly discussed beyond what has already been said by way of the announcement), but will be talking to Strawberry Linden about the history of Second Life, what he is up to now and his views on the future of virtual worlds.

The session will be livestreamed as follows:

Venesha: an enchanted twist of Venice in Second Life

Venesha, the enchanted isle, August 2020

Once upon a time there was a place called Venexia. A full region, it offered a taste of Venice in something of a Gothic twist, largely built with role-play in mind – although it was a highly photogenic region – it was open to Second Life users between 2011 and 2015, when it and it’s “companion” region – as in, designed by the same people – closed (see: The passing of places in Second Life, June 2015).

In 2018, the spirit of Venexia returned when Zee9, one of the original region’s designers, created a Homestead region based on Venexia that she called Venesha. Referring to it as a “stripped down” version of Venexia, Zee9 nevertheless imbued much of what had made Venexia special within the mesh and prims of Venesha.

Venesha, the enchanted isle, August 2020

To be honest, I’ve no idea how long that iteration of Venesha remained in Second Life – I stopped by in something like August or September 2018, IIRC, but never wrote about it – and by the start of 2019, Zee9 had moved on to her futuristic 2019-XS city design, itself a recasting of her Drune build (which it was also to morph into over time (see Time at 2019-XS in Second Life, January 2019 and Drune IV: an Aftermath in Second Life, August 2019).

Now, with Venesha, the enchanted isle, Zee9 has brought all the magic of Venexia back to Second Life – and more. Once again occupying a Full region, Venesha, the enchanted isle has given Zee9 to completed rebuild the original and enhance it to offer a setting that is utterly captivating and rich in nuance and style.

Venesha, the enchanted isle, August 2020

Situated as a sky build in order to make use of the better performance people can oft experience with the viewer (no pesky Linden Water to render, which can affect viewer performance, particularly for those running EEP-capable viewers),  Venesha offers an enticing mix of classic Venice with canals, gondolas (some of which act as site-to-site teleports within the build), humpbacked bridges, waterfront houses, narrow terraces, inner courtyards and one broad square that takes its lead from the famous Piazza San Marco.

But mixed with this is much more – the aforementioned Gothic element for example, together with something of a steampunkian edge, like the clockwork elevator that will take you up the inside of the clock tower, and the street lamps that look like they might be gas-powered. The docks, meanwhile are strong Renaissance period in styles (and shipping). Meanwhile, the taverns and tea houses look as if they’d fit into any period from the Renaissance through to the present day, whilst the preferred (but not enforced) dress-code is Victorian / Edwardian.

Venesha, the enchanted isle, August 2020

If all this sounds a bit of a hodge-podge, rest assured, it isn’t. Thanks to the architecture of the region, everything naturally flows together from waterfront to streets, to island gardens, going by way of theatre, churches, clubs, taverns. Rather, Venesha the enchanted isle is a genuinely immersive setting that suggests a place cut-off from time, and where role-play opportunities abound throughout. Those with a Gothic / supernatural bent will find places like the Tomb Garden and the great basilica to their liking; the interior of the latter is certainly not what you might expect from a house of God – but who said churches have to be places of worship in one particular direction?  Across the region, the dungeons may similar offer opportunities for some role-play scenarios, whilst the island gardens and the library sit as quieter retreats.

Those with an interest in magic can always enrol in the local magic school, tucked away behind the Basilica and occupying a little island of its own. For the adventurous there is the ride to the top of the clock tower and a zip line ride down to a nearby tower, where a treat of wine and cheese awaits those who dare – just down drink too much, as the way back t the ground is via a pair of ladders!

Venesha, the enchanted isle, August 2020

As noted above, some of the gondolas found along the canals offer the means to teleport around Venesha, but I really recommend talking your time and walking around; there a lots of little corners and terraces that might be missed otherwise, as well as one or two secrets. Can you find the hidden entrance to the catacombs, for example?

Currently there are no plans to re-introduce formalised role-play into Venesha, Zee9 preferring to leave things open to visitors who wish to do so to engage in free-form RP. She does note, however, that any of the old Venexia RP groups that might still be active are welcome to hop over and try the region on for size.

Venesha, the enchanted isle, August 2020

Zee9 describes Venesha as her best build to date – and while I have always enjoyed her region designs, I’m not going to dispute her on that point: Venesha is fabulously designed and executed, and perfectly recaptures everything that made Venexia so popular. The default environment settings are recommended for maximum enjoyment, but with care, others also work well with the design.

SLurl Details

Intentional Creativity in Second Life

Kultivate Signature Gallery: KismaKSR

Currently on display at the Kultivate Signature Gallery, curated by Johannes Huntsman, and running through until the end of August 2020, is an exhibition of art from the physical world painted by KismaKSR – or Kisma K. Stepanich-Reidling as she is known outside of Second Life.

Defining Kisma isn’t easy, as she is a woman of many talents – artist, published author, curator (notably working with Reiner Schneiber, head curator for various worldwide Biennales), gamer, therapeutic art life coach, immersive 2D / 3D artist, and currently a creativity teacher-in-training! As an artist, she works in a range of mediums including acrylics, watercolours, gouache, pastels, coloured pencils, graphite, texture paste, stencils, and more. 

I paint what I see inside. I love working in art journals, creating altered book art journals, and taking my creations from the page to the canvas… and on occasion from the canvas to the page! My creative journey is based in watercolours but has taken me into so many mediums that I believe I love acrylics the most. 

I love working in layers… lots and lots of layers, distressing paintings, vibrant colourful paintings, collage paintings and sketch paintings. I also work with encaustic wax and fibres, throwing in the making of journals and fibre weaving to create embellished covers. 

– Kisma K. Stepanich-Reidling

Kultivate Signature Gallery: KismaKSR

For her exhibition at Kultivate’s Signature gallery, Kisma presents 16 reproductions of her physical world art that fully embody her approach to her subject: all richly expressive, some offering hints of expressionism, others perhaps leaning a little towards surrealism and still others more abstracted in nature. Every piece speak of Kisma’s Intentional Creativity approach to her work: the act of being aware of thoughts, ideas, feelings, and of self, and allowing all of this to inform and shape whatever task is being undertaken – be it making a soup to writing a musical score or – as in this case – producing works of art.

These are pieces that also include subtle cultural undertones to them that can be form in form, style, colour and symbolism. These touches add further depth to Kisma’s work, infusing them with a sense of of humankind’s cultural heritage through the ages – something we tend to too easily lose sight of in the modern age of technology and bustle.

You can find out more about Kisma’s work via her website, and about Intentional Creativity at MUSEA, the Intentional Creativity Foundation.

Kultivate Signature Gallery: KismaKSR

SLurl Details

2020 Simulator User Group week #32 summary

**[Dream]** Village, June 2020 – blog post
The following notes were taken during the Simulator User Group meeting of Tuesday, July 28th, 2020.

Simulator Deployments

Please refer to the server deployment thread for news and updates:

  • There was no deployment to the core SLS channel regions on Tuesday, August 4th, leaving the majority of the grid running on server maintenance update 544832, designed to resolve issues with some internal service updates, chat range improvements and capability improvements.
  • There should be two RC deployments on Wednesday, August 5th:
    • 545722 comprising internal changes.
    • 545966 updates to assist with the cloud uplift work.

SL Viewer

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

  • Current release viewer version, dated June 11th, promoted June 23rd, formerly the CEF RC viewer – ROLL BACK.
  • Release channel cohorts (please see my notes on manually installing RC viewer versions if you wish to install any release candidate(s) yourself):
  • Project viewers:
    • Custom Key Mappings project viewer, version, June 30.
    • Copy / Paste viewer, version, December 9, 2019.
    • Project Muscadine (Animesh follow-on) project viewer, version, November 22, 2019.
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version, September 17, 2019. Covers the re-integration of Viewer Profiles.
    • 360 Snapshot project viewer, version, July 16, 2019.

Region Crossings

As noted in my previous SUG meeting update, Simon Linden has created a fun challenge people can take to test region crossings on Aditi, where the Blake Sea regions have been cloned and are running on AWS services.

However, ahead of the challenge being issued, changes were made in how region crossings are handled by the simulators, and these have seen significant improvements in crossing performance (with the exception of corner-to-corner crossings). As a result, the same updates are to be deployed to an RC channel in week #33 (the week commencing Monday, August 10th, 2020).

A video documenting region crossings using the updated code  / handing on Aditi has been published on You Tube by the MIRAI group.

Note: If you still want to try Simon Linden’s Aditi region crossing challenge, go to secondlife://Aditi/secondlife/Morris/200/207/34 on the BETA (Aditi) grid and click on the red egg-shaped thing. It will give you the “Blake Sea Challenge” object which should be worn so it can give you instructions for sailing / flying / motor-boating around the 46 regions. See if you can make it without doubling back!