Bellisseria gains a coastal airstrip in Second Life

Flying over the new island airstrip at Coral Waters off the west coast of Bellisseria

The Moles have been busy again! Following requests for airstrips within Bellisseria, the new Linden Homes continent (something I’ve actually requested in these pages as well), one has appeared off the west coast, complete with a boat rezzing area alongside.

We spotted it by chance whilst taking one of the boats out to try local region crossings; in fact, the airstrip was so new, it hadn’t actually appeared on the world Map – although we weren’t by far the first to spot it. By the time we happened to motor past it, the island was already the subject of considerable attention – some of it probably not suited to the environment (such as attempts to rez an ocean-going freighter followed by a United States Navy warship).

At the time of our initial visit (by boat – we’re loitering at the left-hand ed of the island in the photo) the Coral Waters airstrip was so new, it hadn’t even propagated to the world Map – but people were finding it!

Situated on a low-lying sandy island in Coral Waters, the airstrip has a tarmac runway suitable for light aircraft, complete with a rezzing zone off of its north end (although the mesh here can give some aircraft a little trouble when trying to clear the runway onto it).

The boat rezzing area – one of a number scattered around the region (generally on the offshore islands such as Springhurst Gulf or those with lighthouses on them) – sits on the east side of the island with a couple of piers. Rezzing time for both airstrip and piers is set to 2 minutes, which should be enough to get a ‘plane or boat pulled for inventory and sat upon.

The position of the island, with the north-south orientation of the runway means there is plenty of room for aircraft manoeuvring when taking off or positioning for a landing – just be sure to be careful if turning west on climbing out, as the island isn’t too far from the grid boundary.

Readying the TBM Kronos for take-off at the new Coral Waters airstrip – the aircraft rezzing area can prove a little rough for some ‘planes

Following our boat trip, I dropped over to the airstrip to give it a go using my TBM Kronos (see Flying the TBM Kronos in Second Life for a review). There’s not really a lot to report in this respect, other than the fact the airstrip does exactly what it does on the tin – provides space for flying out of / into for light aircraft (it’s really not suitable for jets or larger ‘planes), and has room enough from helos – again providing they are not oversized.

It’ll be interesting to see how popular the new airstrip is once the novelty of its arrival has worn off – and whether another might pop-up somewhere else in or around Bellisseria. Kudos to the LPDW for being so responsive (again) to requests!

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2019 SL User Groups 17/1: SUG – teleport disconnects update

Puddlechurch; Inara Pey, March 2019, on FlickrUmiblog post

Server Deployments

From the server deployment thread for the week:

We are working on the TP & sim crossing disconnect issue, and making several changes over this week.  These may be a little bit more disruptive than our usual grid roll process and we apologise in advance for the inconvenience of those.  We’ll do our best to keep this disruption to a minimum. We have a simulator update which we will roll to BlueSteel and LeTigre on Tuesday.  Depending on the results we will make additional plans for gridwide rolls as soon as practical. We thank you for your patience and fully realize both the urgency and the frustration this has been causing.

Thus far, there has been a deployment to BlueSteel and LeTigre – server update 19.04.22.526534. Check the deployment thread for further updates.

SL Viewer

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

  • Current Release version 6.2.0.526190, formerly the Estate Access Management RC viewer, dated April 12, promoted April 17 NEW. – see my EAM overview for more information
  • Release channel cohorts:
  • Project viewers:
  • Linux Spur viewer, version 5.0.9.329906, dated November 17, 2017 and promoted to release status 29 November – offered pending a Linux version of the Alex Ivy viewer code.
  • Obsolete platform viewer, version 3.7.28.300847, May 8, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7. This viewer will remain available for as long as reasonable, but will not be updated with new features or bug fixes.

Teleport Disconnects

Let’s see … for server news, many of us are focused on the teleport issues … I hate to promise anything, but we all know a lot more about TP internal problems than we used to 🙂 . We do understand they’re annoying and a frustrating problem – we definitely want to fix it and make it better.

– Simon Linden, Simulator User Group, April 23rd

From the above statement, it should be clear that the Lab is devoting a lot of time to teleport disconnects. There have been mixed reports on the outcome of the deployment made on Thursday, April 18th, 2019, with some indicating matters have improved, others reporting no real change. In particular, people visiting Fantasy Faire and travelling around the new Linden Homes continent appear to be faring a lot better than had been the case. Which is not to say the issue has in anyway been resolved – hence the continuing work.

While it had been indicated that the recent operating system update may have played a role in the problems, Simon again referenced the timing issue with region crossings, whilst also mentioning the potential for the simulator side of EEP possibly also playing a role in things.

One of the puzzles we’re trying to sort out is if somehow the environmental work caused the TP problems – the timing of the release is suspicious but the functionality _should_ be different …. The disconnects are a problem where the viewer and 2nd region don’t start talking as they should [so something is out of sync] or there’s a failure to communicate. I know, for example, the 2nd region is waiting for the viewer to connect and get a message … that never happens …

He continued:

It doesn’t seem to be closely associated with AV complexity … that said, the more complex your AV is, the more work it needs to change regions. It’s always been better to have fewer scripts and data for teleports and region crossings.

The problem is still trying to pin down actual potential causes, with disconnects remaining inconsistent in terms of reproduction., again as Simon noted:

It’s frustratingly inconsistent. It’s a lot easier to fix something that breaks all the time … to fix it, and to know when you fixed it. For example, before this meeting we ran a test that had probably 400 or so successful teleports, no disconnects … that’s good, but not proof of a fix.

Mazidox Linden, from the Lab’s QA team further qualified the Lab’s problem:

We need in the neighbourhood of 10000 teleports to have any kind of real statistical confidence, just as a reference point 🙂 .

EEP / Windlight Issues

Following the Thursday deployment, many region holders / designers noted significant differences in how their region windlights were being rendered. The didn’t get much in the way of discussion during the meeting, however, Rider Linden offered an apology for the situation, noting that the focus on the TP issue(s) resulted in some unexpected regressions. However, it’s not currently clear what might be done to deal with this issue.

Re-visiting Elvenshire in Second Life

(Fae Forest), Elvenshire; Inara Pey, April 2019, on Flickr(Fae Forest), Elvenshire – click any image for full size

It’s been two years since our last visit to Elvenshire, the Homestead region designed by Zuma Fae Dust (Zuma Jupiter); a fact I was recently reminded of by Shawn Shakespeare, who actually originally pointed the region out to us back in March 2017. So this being the case, we girded our lions for teleporting, and hopped over to renew our acquaintance with the region.

Back in 2017, the region was set as a place rife with magic and not a little romance, rich in little vignettes and suggestions of an elven (or at least fae) presence. A lot has changed since then; now simply called (Fae Forest) the region still encompasses a forested feel – but this time it is a rain forest, suggestive of somewhere in the sub-tropics, backed against at high arc of mountain-like terrain, the rest of the setting smothered by a heavy blanket of foliage hiding it from prying eyes overhead.

(Fae Forest), Elvenshire; Inara Pey, April 2019, on Flickr(Fae Forest), Elvenshire

Much of the land around the feet of the trees is flooded, with water tumbling from the inaccessible uplands (while a path does offer a way up the steep hills, it only goes so far – to a plateau where a Koi house sits alongside the tumbling waters of falls). This is one of several places available for visitors to find when exploring the region.

Several of these maintain the mystical feel present within the region at our last visit. There’s an ancient, broken rotunda, for example. Slowly being overtaken by forest growth, it marks the way to an ancient garden area that in turn leads to an aged bath house rich in décor, brought together in an eclectic mix that completely satisfies the eye. A door to one side of this structure offers a way back to the landing point – but taking it might risk missing other attractions.

(Fae Forest), Elvenshire; Inara Pey, April 2019, on Flickr(Fae Forest), Elvenshire

Elsewhere sit hints of fantasy and the fantastical: a great blue whale, swimming without moving on the water rather than below it, a garden on its back, the bulk of spaceship like submarine close by. Then there are the little vignettes still waiting to be found: the old round stone turret when rusting canon and makeshift sofa, the gamer’s hideaway, all sitting between and under the trees.

And then there is the landing point itself, a hall close to the edge of the region. It has a wonderfully homely feel to it setting that immediately puts one at ease, yet holds an exotic look offering the promise of discovery within the region beyond.

(Fae Forest), Elvenshire; Inara Pey, April 2019, on Flickr(Fae Forest), Elvenshire

Should the forest prove too oppressive, gated steps run down from the landing point to a short tongue of land that licks the edge of a little grassy island crowned by a single tree (although two more lie to one side) and a sunken ring of standing stones. Here the rain falls lightly, and may well ease the more enclosed, oppressed air some might feel under the heavy foliage of the rain forest.

For those who fancy more of a challenge, the route to the path up the hills mentioned above can take some finding, but it also does reveal another little cuddle spot for romantics. Also, take care when crossing the bridges that form part of the route to the hillside path; we both fell through parts of the bridges to take a further dip in the waters below.

(Fae Forest), Elvenshire; Inara Pey, April 2019, on Flickr(Fae Forest), Elvenshire

This is a very different setting from the one we witnessed two years ago – hardly surprising since it is two years since our last visit; but it is one that remains photogenic, and visitors are invited to share their images via the region Flickr group.

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2019 viewer release summaries week #16

Logos representative only and should not be seen as an endorsement / preference / recommendation

Updates for the week ending Sunday, April 21st

This summary is generally published every Monday, and is a list of SL viewer / client releases (official and TPV) made during the previous week. When reading it, please note:

  • It is based on my Current Viewer Releases Page, a list of all Second Life viewers and clients that are in popular use (and of which I am aware), and which are recognised as adhering to the TPV Policy. This page includes comprehensive links to download pages, blog notes, release notes, etc., as well as links to any / all reviews of specific viewers / clients made within this blog.
  • By its nature, this summary presented here will always be in arrears, please refer to the Current Viewer Release Page for more up-to-date information.
  • Note that for purposes of length, TPV test viewers, preview / beta viewers / nightly builds are generally not recorded in these summaries.

Official LL Viewers

  • Current Release version 6.2.0.526190, formerly the Estate Access Management RC viewer, dated April 12, promoted April 17 NEW. – see my EAM overview for more information
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Teranino Maintenance RC viewer version 6.2.1.526357, April 18.
  • Project viewers:
    • No updates.

LL Viewer Resources

Third-party Viewers

V5/V6-style

  • No updates.

V1-style

  • No updates.

Mobile / Other Clients

  • No updates.

Additional TPV Resources

Related Links

Fantasy Faire 2019: Seanchai’s Tales

Fantasy Faire 2019: Trollhaugen

This week, Seanchai Library joins with Fantasy Faire to present stories of fantasy and science fiction throughout the week and the Fantasy Faire LitFest. Join them at the LitFest region of Trollhaugen.

Monday 22nd 19:00: Selections from the Works of Ursula Le Guin

Gyro Muggins presents selected excerpts from two different works by the late author Ursula Le Guin: Left Hand of Darkness and The Lathe of Heaven.

Published in 1969 as a part of the Hainish Cycle, Left Hand of Darkness established Le Guin’s status as a major author of science fiction. The novel follows the story of Genly Ai, a native of Earth and the envoy of the Ekumen, a confederation of planets that includes Earth. He is sent to the planet Gethen (also know as Winter), to persuade the nation states of that world to join the Ekumen, but he is stymied by his lack of understanding of Gethenian culture: the people there are ambisexual, with no fixed sex, something that plays a powerful role in the culture of Gethen, which Ai finds hard to understand. And then there is the intrigue he finds…

Originally published in serial form by Amazing Stories in 1971, The Lathe of Heaven is set in Portland, Oregon in the year 2002. Now a city of three million inhabitants and continuous rain, in a United States now an impoverished nation, as is much of the world, thanks to the impact of global warming. For Portland, this means the poorer inhabitants to have kwashiorkor, or protein deprivation. Within this environment, a battle of wits ensues between a psychiatrist and a patient with psychic dream powers.

Tuesday, April 22nd 19:00: Nothing But Trolls!

From Neil Gaiman to J.K. Rowling, as well as more traditional adventures, Caledonia Skytower presents a troll’s eye perspective

Wednesday, April 23rd 19:00: Celebrating Ursula K Le Guin

Seanchai Library joins Litfest’s celebration of the life and works of Ursula K. Le Guin.

Thursday, April 24th: 19:00: Halloween in April – X-Files: The House On Hickory Hill

With Shandon Loring and Calaedonia Skytower. (Also in Kitely grid.kitely.com:8002:SEANCHAI).

2019 SL User Groups 16/2: Content Creation summary

Puddlechurch; Inara Pey, March 2019, on FlickrPuddlechurchblog post

The majority of the following notes are taken from the Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meeting, held on Thursday, April 16th 2019 at 13:00 SLT. These meetings are chaired by Vir Linden, and agenda notes, meeting SLurl, etc, are usually available on the Content Creation User Group wiki page.

SL Viewer

  • The Estate Access Management (EAM) RC viewer, version 6.2.0.526190, dated April 12th, 2019 was promoted to the de facto release viewer on Wednesday, April 17th. See my EAM overview for more information.
  • The Teranino Maintenance RC viewer updated to version 6.2.1.526357 on April 18th.

All other SL viewers in the pipelines remain unchanged:

  • Release channel cohorts:
  • Project viewers:
  • Linux Spur viewer, version 5.0.9.329906, dated November 17, 2017 and promoted to release status 29 November – offered pending a Linux version of the Alex Ivy viewer code.
  • Obsolete platform viewer, version 3.7.28.300847, May 8, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

Environment Enhancement Project

Project Summary

A set of environmental enhancements allowing the environment (sky, sun, moon, clouds, 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.

Due to performance issues, the initial implementation of EEP will not include certain atmospherics such as crepuscular rays (“God rays”).

Resources

Current Status

The bug stomping continues.

Animesh Follow-On

Vir is now looking at adding shape support (or similar) to Animesh, which Vir sees as possibly being approached in a couple of ways:

  • To make Animesh objects behave as much as possible like avatars. This might be done by issuing a command to load a given shape into an Animesh, or just have a similar appearance resolution to avatars, which would allow associations with body parts for any attachments contained within the Animesh’s contents.
    • Advantage: either route offers the closest compatibility to the way in which avatars work, making it easy to port stuff over from using with avatars to using with Animesh (e.g. Animesh NPCs).
    • Disadvantages:
      • This is a much more complex project to implement as it requires substantial changes to the Bake Service, which can be a performance bottleneck. So a concern is that adding Animesh support to the Bake Service could have a further adverse impact on its general performance.
      • While applying a body shape could be done via the simulator (avoiding the Bake Service), but this again involves added complexity in the amount of asset information fetching the Simulator already has to do.
  • An alternative approach would be to offer a more granular control, using LSL to set the values usually set by shape sliders.
    • Advantages: It can reduce the complexity by allowing s subset of slider changes to be replicated via LSL (e.g. face, hands, etc), rather than trying to have the entire slider system replicated.
    • Disadvantages: This doesn’t give the same level of compatibility to the way avatars work, and if all the sliders were required, it would add considerable additional work with LSL calls for the 130+ sliders.

Which approach should be taken is down to whatever the most common use-case for customising Animesh might be (a likely topic for discussion). Currently, either approach will require additional server / viewer messaging, so Vir is looking at that.

There are also questions on what else might be preferable to add to Animesh (e.g. extending Bakes on Mesh to support Animesh, adding attachments support, etc), and the relative priorities people place against the various options as to any order as to how things might be tackled (would applying shapes be sufficient? Should it be shapes then another requirement, or is there another requirement that should take priority over shape support?).

Attachments are an issue in themselves; as Animesh doesn’t have an associated agent, there are no attachment tables for it to use, making basic attachment to s specified point difficult. Also, avatar attachments are effectively individual linksets applied to a common root – the avatar.

However, as an Animesh object is a single linkset, adding attachment to one object is more akin “merging” the attachment’s linkset into that of the Animesh, making them one continuous linkset. This clearly add complications; for example, how do you identify all the parts of the attachment to remove them when detaching, and how do you ensure they detach as a single object, rather than a coalesced group of unlinked items?.

One potential solution might be to have a means by which individual prims within the Animesh linkset can be flagged with an associated joint within the skeleton, thus allowing attachments to be made to that joint, and somehow “faking” the fact that the attachment linkset is not part of the Animesh linkset.

Exactly how this would work in practice still has to be properly determined, together with an mechanism for handling local position and the attachment’s position and rotation offsets. It is further unclear at present whether this approach might required support from and additional viewer UI element or could be controlled entirely through LSL.

Bakes On Mesh

Project Summary

Extending the current avatar baking service to allow wearable textures (skins, tattoos, clothing) to be applied directly to mesh bodies as well as system avatars. This involves viewer and server-side changes, including updating the baking service to support 1024×1024 textures, but does not include normal or specular map support, as these are not part of the existing Bake Service, nor are they recognised as system wearables. Adding materials support may be considered in the future.

Resources

Current Status

Anchor Linden is dealing with issues related to handling alpha layers in the new baking channels – with dome of them not getting correctly baked, and which may need some fixes in the baking process. BUG-226599 is also being looked at; although a feature request, it might actually be the result of an underpinning bug.

Following the April 11th CCUG, Cathy Foil carried out further tests to apply materials to a Bakes of Mesh surface. This involves using a script to take the UUID for one of the new universal bake channels (e.g.BAKED_ AUX1), and pointing it to a normal map (shown in the place holder normal map image “BAKED AUX1 IMG”, right), then wearing a universal wearable that uses the same bake channel. This results in the normal map then being applied to the desired face, as show in the image of the normal map in the Edit floater (arrowed on the right, above). This approach also appeared to allow a layering of normals on a face. However, the method is not currently seen as a recommended approach to materials with BoM, and probably won’t be treated as a supported technique.