Lab Gab Feb 26 summary: AWS update and a farewell to Oz

via Linden Lab

On Friday February 26th, Lab Gab, the live streamed chat show hosted by Strawberry Linden on all things Second Life, returned with a show of two halves.

Featuring guests Grumpity Linden, the Lab’s Vice President of Product and Oz Linden, the Lab’s Vice President of Engineering, the first part of the show took a look at the latest of the work to migrate Second Life and all its services to running on Amazon Web Services (AWS) hardware and infrastructure and attempted to address questions forwarded to the Lab by Second life users.

Table of Contents

The show was also an opportunity to say “farewell” to one of the leading lights at the Lab – Oz himself, who is retiring from the company and from full-time work as a whole – after more than 11 years with the company.

The official video of the segment is available via You Tube, and is embedded at the end of this article. The following is a summary of the key topics discussed and responses to questions asked.

Please be aware that as some topics were touched on more than once during the conversation, the notes blow collect references together, rather than presenting them in chronological order. However, where relevant, time-stamps are provided.

Strawberry linden (l), Oz Linden and Grumpity linden (wearing an Oz ‘tache and goatee in his honour)

On the Status of the AWS Migration and the Future

Current Status

[1:43-2:50]

  • All of the services related to Second Life were transitioned to running on AWS hardware and infrastructure by the end of December 2020.
  • The last aspect of the core work was the removal of all of the Lab’s own hardware and equipment from the Arizona co-location facility that had been hosting Second Life, which included the shredding of 10,588 hard and solid state drives to ensure data security.
  • The majority of the work went a lot more smoothly than had been thought might be the case, however, there are some services that have given rise to some problems that are still being resolved.
  • Chief among the latter is the Land Store, which was once again turned on ready for use on Thursday, February 24th.
  • Map title generation has also been a issue sine the migration, but work is progressing on fixing this.
    • [9:09-11:34] A core issue with the Map tile generation failure lay in the fact that the code had not been touched in a “long, long time” – so long, in fact, that the code isn’t geared to rendering mesh objects, hence why they can look so abstracted on a map tile.
    • In terms of the current problems, the code made a lot of assumptions about the architectural environment in what it was running, assumptions that are no longer true with the move to AWS.
    • The current work is focused purely on getting the service to generate Map tiles one more, without making any additional changes to the code to account for things like rendering mesh objects correctly  or addressing other bugs.
    • Most of this work is now thought to be complete and Map tiles are now being generated as they should. however, there is some work to be completed on stitching tile images together when a user zooms out on the Map.
    • There is a project to improve the overall appearance of Map tiles, but this was put aside in the focus of migrating to AWS, but will hopefully be picked up again at some point in the future.

What is Next?

[2:54-5:45]

  • While the physical migration of Second Life services from a proprietary environment to AWS is complete, the Uplift Project work is not, and so will continue to be a focus of engineering efforts.
  • In  particular, the immediate focus is on optimisation work, which encompasses:
    • Optimising the performance of the various series on the new hardware / infrastructure.
    • Optimising (for the Lab) the cost involved in running within an AWS environment.
    • Fine tuning systems and operations within the new environment.
    • Working to leverage the new hardware options and infrastructure presented by AWS to favour Second Life as a product running in that environment.
  • In this it should be remembered at the initial migration work of getting Second Life transitioned to AWS was devoted purely to taking all of the SL services – front-end simulators, back-end services, middleware, web properties and services, supporting tools, etc., – from the proprietary environment in which they had always run and just getting them running on AWS in what was called a “lift and shift” operation, whilst making as few changes to any of the services as possible.
  • With the “lift and shift” aspect of the work completed, the engineering team has turned its attention to gathering data on exactly how the various services are running in the new environment and understanding where opportunities for making the improvements noted above may lie, and how they might best achieve them.
  • In this, the Lab now has much improved service monitoring tools at their disposal, and these are now allowing the initial work on tuning performance on key services to be made.
  • Two practical benefits of the move are:
    • Regions running on AWS can run more scripts / script events in the same amount of time than can be achieved on non-AWS regions.
    • The way in which simulators are now managed mean that LL can more directly obtain logs for a specific region, filter logs by criteria to find information, etc., and the entire process is far less manually intensive.

Will the Migration Mean lower Prices for Users?

[5:46-9:02]

  • Sort answer for the foreseeable future: no.
  • There has been an idea circulating among users that running SL on AWS is “dramatically cheaper” for Linden Lab; but this is actually not accurate.
  • Prior to the migration, all of SL and its services had been running on LL’s own hardware  for which there had been no capital expenditure for years, and which had completely depreciated.
  • The move to AWS represents something of a new capex spend, increasing the Lab’s costs [although it is not unfair to say that the capex involved is liable to be significantly less over time than repeatedly buying-in new server clusters to allow SL to run on more modern systems].
  • Rather than presenting LL with reduced costs, the move to AWS is designed to:
    • Present the company with far broader options for delivering a more performant and capable service to users – although as noted above, it will take time for all of this to be delivered.
    • Improve the overall longevity of the Second Life service through the noted performance improvements and access to better hardware and infrastructure services.

Second Life Mobile App  Status

[19:20-20:39]

  • Mobile has taken longer than expected to bring forth, for two primary reasons:
  • The first is that while the initial release will be more of a communications tool, considerable foundational work has been put into ensuring the app can be encompass a lot more functionality than that in the future.
  • The second has been that as a result of testing by Apple, the Lab has been forced to make changes to the way in which chat works.
    • These changes will, in time, be filtering through into the viewer as well.
    • They should actually make chat more reliable in the future.
  • No commitment as to when the app may be more widely available.

Other Technical  Questions

  • [11:38-17:47] There have been numerous niggling issues of late: further issues with search (e.g. avatars failing to show in search), profile issues, etc). When are these likely to be addressed? Should users report bugs then find?
    • Whilst the majority of the migration process did go smoothly, there have been glitches, and the Lab is working to address them alongside of working on the performance, etc., work mentioned above.
    • There are a lot of aspects of SL built on old technology, so there is an expectation that, over time, and as things can be looked at, not only will niggles go away, but software and capabilities as a  whole can be made a lot more stable and resilient.
    • Bugs should most definitely be reported using the SL Jira. Information on how to file bug reports (and feature requests) can be found here:
  • [17:55-19:18] Will capabilities that were being worked on some time ago (e.g. 360 snapshot viewer) ever be completed?
    • The migration work has demonstrated what can be achieved with a tightly defined set of goals and teams focused solely on those goals.
    • This is an approach Grumpity would like to carry forward, with a commitment to review current and past projects to determine what might be required to bring them to completion (input, time, resources, etc), and then make decisions from there.

About the Lab’s New Owners

[20:50-24:06]

Looking Back at Oz’s Time at the Lab

[24:20-46:20]

The latter half of the programme looks back over Oz’s time at the Lab and provides him with the opportunity to discuss what attracted him to Linden Lab, the nature of his work, why he regards his time with LL as potentially the best job he’s ever had, and to discuss his post-retirement plans and answers various questions.

Rather than offer a summary of this part of the show, I encourage people to listen to it in full, as it really is informative and enlightening, particularly if you’re not familiar with Oz’s work, his teams, or the Lab as a whole.

Lindens say “farewell” to Oz

[46:23-end]

The end of the show sees Strawberry teleport Oz to s special in-world retirement party, where the teams reporting into him and other LL staff have gathered to wish him well. This again a touching and moving tribute that says so much about Oz and the high regard in which he is rightfully held, and should be seen without input from the likes of myself.

For my part – and because Oz has been both a direct and indirect influence in my SL time – I’d like to just repeat what I wrote a few days ago on reading of his upcoming retirement:

For my part, I cannot claim to know Oz as well as I would like to – but I’ve always found find his enthusiasm for Second Life never to be anything less than totally honest and infectious, and his high regard for users utterly genuine and sincere.
As such … I’d like to take this opportunity to offer him a personal and public “thank you” for all the times he’s provided me with insight and / or encouraged me to get involved in various projects, all of it has been greatly appreciated. I am, and will be, genuinely saddened to see him leave the Lab; we are all losing something in his departure, and the void left will not be easy for the management team to fill.

VWBPE 2021 in Second Life: programme announced

VWBPE 2021

The 14th annual  Virtual Worlds Best Practice in Education (VWBPE) conference will take place in Second Life between Thursday, March 18th and Saturday, March 20th 2021, with the supporting programme commencing on Wednesday, March 3rd.

The core schedule of events for the conference has been officially announced, and highlights include (att at the main auditorium, unless otherwise stated):

  • March 18th:
    • 08:00-09:00 SLT: Kick-off event at the VWBPE Gateway.
    • 09:00-09:50 SLT: Keynote address – About the History of Virtual Reality and the Meaning of VR for Education with Dr. Undine Frömming (Angenblick Winkler SL); HMKW Berlin, University of Applied Science for Media, Communication and Management.
    • 15:00-15:50 SLT: What’s up at the Lab? with Patch Linden and hosted by Kevin Feenan (Phelan Corrimal), VWBPE Director; Rockcliffe University Consortium.
  • March 19th:
    • 08:00-08:50 SLT: Keynote address – Heike Philp (Gwen Gwasi).  Details TBA.
  • March 20th:
    • 09:00-09:50 SLT: keynote address – Dr. Bryan Alexander (Bryan Zelmanov SL). Details TBA.

The above are just the tip of the iceberg – through the three days of the event are discussions, presentations, workshops and social events. In the lead-up to the conference that are numerous in-world events and activities. This being the case, please refer to the official schedule for a full breakdown of all events currently planned, and check back on it as further details will be added between now and the start of the conference.

Attendance at the conference is free and open to all. Educators and those working in the educational sector are obviously especially welcome, and those wishing to can also register their intent to attend.

I’ll have a preview of the event ahead of the conference opening.

Call For Volunteers

Volunteers are still being sought to help with the conference. he organisers are looking for people willing to get involved in the following areas:

  • Event hosts.
  • Mentors.
  • Steaming support.
  • Technical support.

Those wishing to give of their time should visit the volunteer page and look at the tabs and then click on the volunteer button.

Fae places, gifts, other worlds and distant galaxies

Seanchai Library

It’s time to highlight another week of storytelling in Voice by the staff and volunteers at the Seanchai Library. As always, all times SLT, and events are held at the Library’s home in Nowhereville, unless otherwise indicated. Note that the schedule below may be subject to change during the week, please refer to the Seanchai Library website for the latest information through the week.

Monday, February 22nd, 19:00: Into the Green

The harp was a gift from Jacky Lanter’s fey kin, as was the music Angharad pulled from its strings. She used it in her journeys through the kingdoms of Green Isles, to wake the magic of the Summerblood where it lay sleeping in folk who had never known they had it.

Harping, she knew, was on third of a bard’s spells. Harping, and poetry, and the road that led – to….?

Charles de Lint takes us into lands infused and transformed by magic. Magic that grows in the roots of old oaks and dances by moonlight among standing stones. Magic that sleeps in an old soldier’s eyes and glows in the gaze of a phantom stag. Magic that pumps through the heart and the veins of those born to the Summerblood-to be stolen at knife point, burned, destroyed, in danger of fading back into the green and disappearing forever from the world.

Join Gyro Muggins for more!

Tuesday, February 23rd

12:00 Noon: Russell Eponym, Live in the Glen

Music, poetry, and stories in a popular weekly session.

19:00: Ursuala Le Guin’s Gifts

Scattered among poor, desolate farms, the clans of the Uplands possess gifts. Wondrous gifts: the ability—with a glance, a gesture, a word—to summon animals, bring forth fire, move the land. Fearsome gifts: They can twist a limb, chain a mind, inflict a wasting illness.

The Uplanders live in constant fear that one family might unleash its gift against another. Two young people, friends since childhood, decide not to use their gifts. One, a girl, refuses to bring animals to their death in the hunt. The other, a boy, wears a blindfold lest his eyes and his anger kill.

In this beautifully crafted story, Ursula K. Le Guin writes of the proud cruelty of power, of how hard it is to grow up, and of how much harder still it is to find, in the world’s darkness, gifts of light.

With Willow Moonfire.

Wednesday, February 24th, 19:00: The Guns of Avalon

Across the worlds of Shadow, Corwin, prince of blood royal, heir to the throne of Amber, gathers his forces for an assault that will yield up to him the crown that is rightfully his. But, a growing darkness of his own doing threatens his plans, an evil that stretches to the heart of the perfect kingdom itself where the demonic forces of Chaos mass to annihilate Amber and all who would rule there.

One of the most revered names in sf and fantasy, the incomparable Roger Zelazny was honoured with numerous prizes—including six Hugo and three Nebula Awards—over the course of his legendary career. Among his more than fifty books, arguably Zelazny’s most popular literary creations were his extraordinary Amber novels. The Guns of Avalon is the second book of The Chronicles of Amber.

With Corwyn Allen.

Thursday, February 25th:

19:00: Star Wars a New Hope

The story that started a saga with the immortal words:

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far, away…

Join Sandon Loring and Caledonia Skytower as they bring us the story of Luke, Leia, Han, Chewbacca and two certain ‘droids as they fight for the Rebellion against the tyranny of the Galactic Empire. Also in Kitely! Find teleport from the main Seanchai World grid.kitely.com:8002:SEANCHAI.

21:00:  Seanchai Late Night

Finn Zeddmore presents contemporary sci-fi and Fantasy from such on-line sources as Light Speed, Escape Pod, Clarkesworld Magazine, and more.

ALS Awareness Week 2021 in Second Life

Harvey Memorial ALS Awareness Week, 2021

The 2021 Harvey Memorial Ensemble ALS Awareness Week is taking place between Sunday, February 21st and Sunday, February 28th, 2021.

Organised by members of Supporto Italiano, the Harvey Memorial week is dedicated to the memory of ALS victim and Second Life resident Harvey22 Albatros, and focuses on music, fun and raising funds, with all donations during the week going to AISLA, the Associazone Italiana Sclerosi Laterale Amiotrofica for research into, and treatment of,  Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

Sometimes also referred to as motor neurone disease (MND) or by the synonyms Lou Gehrig’s disease and Charcot disease, ALS is a specific disorder that involves the death of neurons that control voluntary muscles. For about 90-95% of all diagnosed cases, the precise cause of the disease is unknown; for the remaining 5-10% of diagnosed cases, it is inherited from the sufferer’s parents. There is no known cure, and symptoms generally first become apparent around the age of 60 (or 50 in inherited cases). The average survival from onset to death is three to four years. In Europe and the United States, the disease affects about 2 people per 100,000 per year.

Harvey Memorial ALS Awareness Week, 2021

The Harvey Memorial Ensemble in Second Life features a daily schedule of music running from 07:00 SLT through to 18:00 SLT through the week up until Saturday, February 27th.

On Sunday, February 28th, the schedule of music runs from 07:00 SLT through to 17:00 SLT, after which there will be an After the Memorial event that will go on as long as people want. All of the music events are a mix of live performers and DJs, and a schedule board (seen above) is available at the event location.

Donations to AISLA can be made in three ways when at the event:

  • By clicking the donations kiosks in front of the event stage.
  • By purchasing one or more items of clothing from the vendors located to one side of the dance area.
  • By clicking on the boards at the AISLA information tents in the event space -these will take you directly to AISLA’s donations web page where you can use credit / debit cards or a PayPal account to make a direct donation.

100% of L$ donations made to the in-world kiosks and vendors will be forwarded to AISLA a the conclusion of the event.

Harvey Memorial ALS Awareness Week, 2021

SLurl Details

Tales from around the world and from far, far away

Seanchai Library

It’s time to highlight another week of storytelling in Voice by the staff and volunteers at the Seanchai Library. As always, all times SLT, and events are held at the Library’s home in Nowhereville, unless otherwise indicated. Note that the schedule below may be subject to change during the week, please refer to the Seanchai Library website for the latest information through the week.

Sunday, February 14th, 15:00 Seanchai Library at One Billion Rising

Aoife Lorefield, Dubhna Rhiadra, Gloriana Maertens, and Caledonia Skytower share an hour of short prose and poetry to celebrate and honour women.

Monday, February 15th, 19:00: Into the Green

The harp was a gift from Jacky Lanter’s fey kin, as was the music Angharad pulled from its strings. She used it in her journeys through the kingdoms of Green Isles, to wake the magic of the Summerblood where it lay sleeping in folk who had never known they had it.

Harping, she knew, was on third of a bard’s spells. Harping, and poetry, and the road that led – to….?

Charles de Lint takes us into lands infused and transformed by magic. Magic that grows in the roots of old oaks and dances by moonlight among standing stones. Magic that sleeps in an old soldier’s eyes and glows in the gaze of a phantom stag. Magic that pumps through the heart and the veins of those born to the Summerblood-to be stolen at knife point, burned, destroyed, in danger of fading back into the green and disappearing forever from the world.

Join Gyro Muggins for more!

Tuesday, February 16th

12:00 Noon: Russell Eponym, Live in the Glen

Music, poetry, and stories in a popular weekly session.

19:00: Ursuala Le Guin’s Gifts

Scattered among poor, desolate farms, the clans of the Uplands possess gifts. Wondrous gifts: the ability—with a glance, a gesture, a word—to summon animals, bring forth fire, move the land. Fearsome gifts: They can twist a limb, chain a mind, inflict a wasting illness.

The Uplanders live in constant fear that one family might unleash its gift against another. Two young people, friends since childhood, decide not to use their gifts. One, a girl, refuses to bring animals to their death in the hunt. The other, a boy, wears a blindfold lest his eyes and his anger kill.

In this beautifully crafted story, Ursula K. Le Guin writes of the proud cruelty of power, of how hard it is to grow up, and of how much harder still it is to find, in the world’s darkness, gifts of light.

With Willow Moonfire.

Wednesday, February 17th, 19:00: The Guns of Avalon

Across the worlds of Shadow, Corwin, prince of blood royal, heir to the throne of Amber, gathers his forces for an assault that will yield up to him the crown that is rightfully his. But, a growing darkness of his own doing threatens his plans, an evil that stretches to the heart of the perfect kingdom itself where the demonic forces of Chaos mass to annihilate Amber and all who would rule there.

One of the most revered names in sf and fantasy, the incomparable Roger Zelazny was honoured with numerous prizes—including six Hugo and three Nebula Awards—over the course of his legendary career. Among his more than fifty books, arguably Zelazny’s most popular literary creations were his extraordinary Amber novels. The Guns of Avalon is the second book of The Chronicles of Amber.

With Corwyn Allen.

Thursday, February 18th, 19:00: Star Wars a New Hope

The story that started a saga with the immortal words:

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far, away…

Join Sandon Loring and Caledonia Skytower as they bring us the story of Luke, Leia, Han, Chewbacca and two certain ‘droids as they fight for the Rebellion against the tyranny of the Galactic Empire.

Also in Kitely! Find teleport from the main Seanchai World grid.kitely.com:8002:SEANCHAI.

 

Previewing One Billion Rising in Second Life 2021

One Billion Rising 2021

One Billion Rising in Second Life will once again be taking place in Second Life on Sunday, February 14th, 2021. As with previous years, the event opens at midnight SLT on Saturday, February 13th with entertainment and activities then running all the way through to midnight SLT on Sunday, February 14th.

When launched in the physical world on Valentine’s Day 2012, One Billion Rising (OBR) was the biggest mass action in human history; a call to action based on the staggering statistic that 1 in 3 women on the planet will be beaten or raped during her lifetime. With the world population at 7 billion, this adds up to more than one billion women and girls who are at risk. OBR aims to bring people together, raise greater awareness of the plight of those at risk the world over, and bring about a fundamental change in how vulnerable and defenceless women and girls are treated.

One Billion Rising, 2021

This year, the global movement takes as its theme Rising Gardens, which the organisers describe thus:

Over the years, One Billion Rising campaigns have brought deeper into focus the intersectional issues of poverty, the environment, economic violence and other factors that cause and sustain the continuing violence towards women and girls (cisgender, transgender, and those who hold fluid identities that are subject to gender based violence). One Billion Rising: Solidarity initiatives in 2018 continued to see other movements coming together to address the issue of how climate change and environmental plunder aggravate the situation of women, especially in developing countries and in poor communities around the world. People all over the world joined the Risings to demand and end to violence against women and girls, by looking at policies that pillage, devastate and destroy the environment in the name of “development”.

Within Second Life, the event follows this theme, presenting the usual four event regions as a series of gardens centred on the main event stage as it straddles the centres of all four  regions, offering a place where up to 200 people can come together any any time during the event to join in with the music and dance. In the surrounding gardens, and linked to the central stage and one another by trails and paths, are the landing points (with information givers), art exhibits, gardens, and additional activity areas, such as the Poetry and Prose area and the #Me Too forest.

One Billion Rising, 2021

Artists participating in this year’s event include: 2Lei, Darkstone Aeon, Krystali Rabeni, Ilyra Chardin, Johannes Huntsman and Tempest Rosca, Jessamine2108, Fifi Oh, FionaFei, Lampithaler, Herbie Haven, Jennifer Steele, Daark Gothly, Patrick Ireland and Angela Thespian, and iSkye Silverweb. Their installations can be found around the outside edge of the four regions, with information available on each display available touching the sign board in front of each of them.

For the second year running OBR in Second Life also presents the I Rise Campaign. Earlier in the year, Second Life artists and photographers were invited to produce original images for display at OBR in SL 2021 (with the images also available on the Campaign’s Flickr group) in support the message of One Billion Rising: educating people about the plight of women, and which can include references to personal experiences. As such, some of them may be uncomfortable for those who have themselves been victims of violence – if this is the case, they are asked to reach out to event organisers if they feel they need support.

In addition, the four corners of the OBR estate offer elevated park areas providing elevated views across the regions, while the #MeToo Forest forms a place of retreat and meditation / contemplation, whilst the Heroes’ Pavilion features inspirational stories about women from many different cultures and communities.

One Billion Rising, 2021

Also, this year’s event continues with the themes of poetry and the spoken word as seen in past events in Second Life. The poetry sessions will take place between 14:00 and 15:00 SLT and 16:00 and 17:00 SLT, with recitals by selected readers. Between them, at 15:00 through 16:00 SLT, Seanchai Library will read poems and short prose to celebrate and honour women, while between 17:00 and 18:00 the microphone will be open to anyone to offer a reading in keeping with the themes of the event.

And if this weren’t enough, also on-hand during the 24 hours will be three of Second Life’s top dance and performance groups:

  • 10:00-11:00 SLT – The ChangHigh Trinity Sisters present Fireshow of Light, Life, & Love.
  • 17:30 – Misfit Dance & Performance Art.
  • 19:00 – Guerilla Burlesque.

At 13:00, the Second Life Cheerleaders will provide a display, while at 14:00, there will be an interactive dance session with Cordie.

One Billion Rising, 2021
The full schedule of events is now available, covering all live performers, DJs, dance performances and poetry, and further information on the music entertainment acts can be found here and here, and information on those presenting the spoken word can be found here.

Why Dance?

A critique sometimes levelled at OBR / OBR in SL is that the issues it raises cannot be solved by dance. Well, that’s absolutely true, just as marching through the streets carrying placards and banners is unlikely to have a lasting impact on whatever it is people might be marching about.

But – like marches and protests – dance and music does serve to draw attention to matters. It provides a means by which people are encouraged to stop and think, while also providing a focal point of attention that allows information and ideas to be disseminated. What’s also important is that it’s a lot harder to see dancing as a threat than might be the case with an organised march or protest – something to take into consideration given there are countries where the right to march or protest freely does not exist. Hence why, as well, OBR in Second Life is marked each year with a dance video to the OBR theme song.

One Billion Rising, 2021

Related Links