Play Linden Realms in the cloud and help the Lab

Linden Realms is now running in the cloud – on the beta grid. Image courtesy of Linden Lab

Linden Realms was the first Linden Lab developed game using experience tools. First introduced in 2011 (see: The Linden Realms game: Rock on!), the game has been updated numerous times over the years, the last time in 2018 (see: The further revamp of Linden Realms in Second Life).

It is now the next major element of Second Life (after the core Blake Sea regions) to be cloned to Aditi, the beta grid, and uploaded to the cloud – and Linden Lab are asking users to give it a go, so they can further test region  / simulator operations under load when running on AWS services.

The request for assistance came via a blog post on Monday, September 15th, which reads in full:

As you may know, we are in the process of moving Second Life to the cloud! Our first ever cloud simulators, on the beta grid, have been uplifted, and we can use your assistance. Here’s your opportunity to be among the first Residents to test the performance of uplift.
Log in to the beta grid (click here for instructions) and start at the Aditi Portal Park to try out Linden Realms in the cloud. Bring your friends and spend some time engaging in the virtual experience produced and provided by Linden Lab. You may even run into the often unseen technical Lindens working away. Don’t forget to ask them for their Linden bear, and beware of the rock monster!
If you find any issues with Linden Realms on the beta grid, please file a BUG jira at https://jira.secondlife.com, and make sure to include the time, date, region you were in when you found the issue, and a description of what happened, as well as what you would expect to happen in a similar situation on the Main Grid today.

We Need Your Help Testing Performance on Uplifted Simulator – Linden Lab, September 15th, 2020

Linden Realms. Image courtesy of Linden Lab

So, if you want to help speed the cloud uplift process, why not follow the instructions contained in the links in the Lab’s blog post, log-in to Aditi and hop over to the beta grid and spending a little time playing Linden Realms – even if you don’t find anything to report, issue-wise, your time playing the game is still helping the Lab gather data on region and simulator performance.

Announcing the Second Life Endowment for the Arts

via Linden Lab

In August 2019, and after an eight-year run (it’s first public exhibitions coming in 2011 after initially being announced in late 2010), the Linden Endowment for the Arts (LEA) closed, the organising committee having decided to step away from managing it (see: Linden Endowment for the Arts to officially close, LEA: more on the closure, and a move to save it and Linden Endowment for the Arts: update).

Following the announcement, there were numerous discussions on how the work of the LEA might be continued. In particular, artists Tansee Resident and Riannah Avora launched an in-world group specifically with the aim of gathering ideas and viewpoints on how the work of the LEA – and Linden Lab’s involvement in the body – might be continued.

At the time, a lot of discussions were held and a considerable number of ideas put forward (I was happy to play a small background role in advising both Tansee and Riannah in a number of areas, including potential discussions with Linden Lab). Ultimately, both went on to found groups operating on similar principals to LEA, with Tansee co-founding the Hannigton Endowment for the Arts (HEA) along with Hannington Xeltentat, and Riannah co-founding United Artists of SL.

However, the idea of a Lab-supported facility to help promote arts in Second Life never entirely went away, and Tansee continued to pursue ideas, refining a proposal originally created from the ideas gathered after the LEA had closed down. Then, in June 2020, a conversation with Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg at the SL17B event opened a door of opportunity. This in turn lead to a series of meetings with senior staff at the Lab, including Patch Linden, Vice President of Product Operations, and Brett Linden, the Lab’s senior Marketing Manager. After several such meetings, which included reviews of, and updates to, the proposal, Linden Lab indicated a willingness to support a new body similar to that of the LEA, but operating on a more modest and flexible footing.

Announced today, and starting an January 2021, the Second Life Endowment for the Arts (SLEA) will operate across seven regions supplied by Linden Lab, and managed by Tansee and Hannington supported by a Board of Advisers (the full list of whom is yet to be announced), and a team of volunteers to help in the day-to-day operations, once the new regions are open.

The seven SLEA regions

The seven regions, which are currently being set-up, will comprise the following:

  • A  central hub (SLEA7). This will likely include:
    • A landing point.
    • Facilities for SLEA coordinators, advisers and volunteers.
    • An education centre.
    • A events centre to support arts activities and events across Second Life.
    • A teleport hub serving the SLEA grant regions and information on the artists currently exhibiting.
    • The SLEA Theatre for mounting art-related and special events.
    • An art Challenge corner.
  • Four Full regions (SLEA1-3 and SLEA6) for region-wide art installations ranging from 1 to 6 months duration.
  • A single region (SLEA4) providing four quarter-region installation spaces.
  • A sandbox region. This will include an artist hangout and club for events and parties along with a new underwater building area.
The planned SLEA 7 hub region

As  noted above, SLEA will formally début in January 2021. Between now and then, the plan is to release information over a period of time, starting in October. These activities will include:

  • Providing information on:
    • How those interested to volunteer to help run SLEA, and on specific volunteer roles that are available.
    • How artists will be able to apply for grants, and requirements / guidelines for exhibiting through SLEA.
  • Updates on region design status.
  • Detailed information on the SLEA website, social media channels, etc.
  • The opening of the first round of applications for artists.

The reason for not having the website / social media presence in place alongside of this announcement was explained by SLEA co-ordinator Tansee Resident as follows:

We intentionally do not have a Website or a FB page or any of the essential networking tools. The reason for this is we truly want to include the artists in building this community from the ground up. In order to build a solid foundation it is imperative that we establish a Volunteer base and find people who are willing to share their area of expertise.

Tansee Resident, SLEA Co-ordinator

Proposed time line for SLEA development

So, in the interim period, those interested in SLEA as artists and / or as potential volunteers are asked to join the SLEA in-world group, which will be the primary channel of communications for the next few weeks. Also, to help promote SLEA, there will be a special Designing Worlds show featuring Brett and Patch Linden, together with Tansee and Hannington, which will be show at 14:00 SLT on Monday, September 14th via the Designing Worlds website and channels.

You can also read the official SLEA announcement from the Lab.

I’ll also continue to provide updates through these pages.

Second Life to have a smashing time with Titmouse

logos © and ™ Linden Lab, Titmouse and Lightbox Expo

On Tuesday, September 8th, Linden lab announced their latest partnership event intended to offer fun for existing users and to encourage those why may not have tried the platform or who have been absence a while to have a go in a party-like environment.

For this latest event – which will take place on Saturday, September 12tth, the Lab has teamed up with animation studio Titmouse Inc., to host the virtual equivalent of the Titmouse Smash Party, to be held in conjunction with the 2020 Lightbox On-line Expo.

Titmouse, Inc., is a North American animation studio operating out of Los Angeles, New York, and Vancouver. Since 2000 they have been producing animated television programmes, feature films, music videos, title sequences, commercials, and short films for clients like Nickelodeon, The Cartoon Network, Disney, Netflix, Adult Swim and most recently, CBS Television for whom they have been working on the Star Trek: Lower Decks series others. However, for 20 years they also gained a reputation for hosting an annual Smash party.

The party allegedly started as an experiment in catharsis for Titmouse employees, after one of the founders of the company heard about a Japanese restaurant that offered clients an unusual service. To help diners get over the cost of their expensive meal, diners could, let off steamby going to a room in the restaurant and smashing a US $1,000 vase to pieces. True or apocryphal, I’ve no idea – but Titmouse reproduced the idea by setting up a basement room for staff where, if they were feeling stressed or suffering a creative block, they could go down to and smash the living daylights out of anything in the room (except other employees, obviously).

This basic idea took on a life of its own, evolving into an annual event for Titmouse staff, family and friends, with fun, music, noise and at its heart, The Cage, a place where attendees could – you guessed it – smash whatever was tossed / placed inside it to smithereens.

In the 21st century these types of activities are frowned upon. The Smash Party is a night where one can experience the visceral catharsis that our cave-person brain secretly desires without the stigma of our repressed society’s judgement.
Some companies do trust fall retreats. Some do bowling. Some do theme park trips. We, traditionally, have smashed.

– Titmouse owner Chris Prynoski, talking to WNW in 2019

Nothing is safe from The Cage – old toilets, broken (or even working TVs), furniture – anything that doesn’t constitute a serious risk or life or limb – and be placed inside and await its fate.

After 20 years, the real-life Titmouse parties were “retired”, Prynoski and his teams deciding they would rather end on a high and have people talking fondly about past parties, rather than responding to the news of the next party with, “What? Is that really still a thing?” or similar.

However, the company has found new ways of hosting the parties – through VR and now, thanks to Linden Lab, within Second Life.

Anything can (and probably will) happen at this virtual world gathering where participants are invited to smash, bash and crash one of the hottest parties of the year held by independent award-winning animation production company Titmouse.
Attendees of the Lightbox Expo and the Second Life community are invited to attend this year’s festivities, which include a combination of music, art and overall anarchy. At the centre of the event is an interactive smashing cage where attendees can smash objects with a variety of different weapons. You can also meet and take a photo with Titmouse mascot, Mr. Chirps.
Rumour has it that the region is filled with more than a few Easter eggs so don’t be surprised when you encounter everything that is weird and wonderful — all springing from the imagination of the Titmouse team.

– from the official Second Life blog post

Those interested in  finding out more can do so via the official blog post, which includes a link to a FAQ written specifically for those new to Second Life to help them get started and find their way to the event.

Be sure to save the date – Saturday, September 12th, and catch the promo video below as Patch Linden gets an early start on having a smashing time.

 

April Linden reports on the weekend’s connectivity issues

via Linden Lab

Sunday, August 30th saw some hiccups in people’s ability to connect to Second Life, with users either unable to log-in or, if already logged, abruptly found themselves abruptly disconnected and unable to log back in.

For some, the issues were relatively transitory (I was logged out and unable to log back in  for about 20 minutes) whilst others were subjected to longer periods of frustration being expressed at the lack of any immediate status feed updates.

On Monday, August 31st, April Linden blogged as to why this was the case.

In short, the issue wasn’t with Second Life; rather, US-based CenturyLink/Level(3), a global supplier of Internet bandwidth providing Internet services via their Tier 1 network to Internet carriers in Europe, Asia, and North America, suffered a significant outage. As a result of this many services and users around the world suffered issues in network connectivity / their ability to connect to the Internet. However, from the Lab’s operational perspective, nothing initially appeared to be wrong: all services were running, no alerts were received, and no alarms triggered. However, as April notes in her blog post:

Of course, from the Resident point of view, Second Life was effectively down in some parts of the world, and that’s really what matters.
To help us react quicker in the future we’ve made a few changes.
Yesterday evening we added a new monitoring service that checks on some of Second Life’s core systems from all around the globe. It’s a service that a lot of other companies use too, so we’ll get alerted better in the future. When Internet-scale events like yesterday happen there’s not a lot we can do about it, but we can post on the status page quicker to let our Residents know we’re aware things aren’t right.
We’re sorry for the lack of communication yesterday. We know how important Second Life is to our Residents, and we’re taking steps to increase our visibility into issues outside of our servers. It’s our hope that these steps will enable us to communicate better with y’all in the future.
See you inworld!
April Linden
Second Life Operations Manager

I’ve long appreciated April’s blog posts, as not only do they help explain the complexities of Second Life and when things can go wrong as and when they do, they also help to remind us that using Second Life isn’t simply a matter of the viewer and the simulator it is connected to. There are a lot of intermediary services and steps that can also cause problems for users, and which lie well outside of Linden Lab’s sphere of influence and ability to rectify. In this particularly case, April’s post also shows that even when the latter is the case, it doesn’t stop her team from trying to tweak / improve things so they can be better informed about potential issues in the future.

So thank you again, April, for keeping us informed and educated!

YavaScript Pods: situation resolved as Lab to work with Yavanna – UPDATED

Yavanna’s pod tours: agreement reached between Linden Lab and Yavanna that will see normal operations resume

Updated, August 25th: following Patch’s forum post, Yavanna issued a note card through the in-world Pod Riders group stating her pleasure with the outcome, and I’ve quoted it at the end of this piece. 

On Friday, August 21st, I reported on the news that for various reasons – including her on-going recovery from being stricken by COVID-19 -, Yavanna Llanfair, had decided to suspend the automated running of her Mainland YavaScript Pod tours (see: YavaScript Pod Tours Mainland operations suspended – UPDATED).

At the time, there was a certain amount of confusion over what may have happened with regards to an account suspension she had received in late July. As I noted in an update to that original report, this matter had particularly confused Patch Linden, who commented on a forum thread on the subject, promising to look into things.

Keeping his word, on Monday, August 24th, Patch provided a further update:

Howdy everyone!
I have returned with an update!  😁  We have just met with Yavanna and I am super excited to say that we will be working more closely together going forward on not only helping to support the pod tours system as it currently exists, but also expanding it in to other areas it does not reach today.   I’m sure that as expansions and other fun add-ons unfold, there will be more updates on those as they happen.  For the immediate future, the pod tour system should be retuning to normal functionality.
Thanks to all for the feedback!

– Patch Linden, August, 24th, 2020

By “returning to normal functionality”, Patch presumably means that the automated running of the pods across the Mainland will shortly resume.

In the meantime, speculation has already started on what the “expansions” to the system might be – including suggestions such as using the pods to make tours of Bellisseria and the SS Galaxy, which as I reported in January (see: SS Galaxy drops anchor at Bellisseria), is now moored off the west coast of that continent.

Obviously, time will tell where the expansions are concerned, but for now, Patch’s immediate news is being warmly received by the majority of Mainlanders concerned about the situation, and pod users.

Update – Yavanna’s Comments on the Outcome

Following the publication of this article, Yavanna issued a note card giving her very positive reaction to the understanding that has been reached between herself and the Linden, which reads in full:

Dear pod riders,
I am very pleased to report that I’ve just had an extremely constructive meeting with Patch Linden, Derrick Linden and Tommy Linden. Hopefully I won’t get suspended for a pod crash again! (It was clearly a mistake). I have therefore removed the server block on the pods.
It’s actually better than just that though. We were able to discuss possible future joint ventures, and how they could help me going forward. So I’m very happy about the outcome of all this.
I’m extremely grateful to you all for your support. It’s not been an easy time for me lately for reasons I’ve talked about before, but your good wishes have made me feel so much better.
I’m still going to be mostly keeping out of SL for the moment, but as the winter nights draw in and I feel better in myself I hope to be working on more pod projects.

 

YavaScript Pod Tours Mainland operations suspended – UPDATED

Yavanna’s pod tours have been a staple of the Mainland for exactly a decade, but automated operations are to be suspended

August 24th: Please see my further update on this subject.

YavaScript Pod tours have been a part of the Mainland in Second Life for a decade, but news is now circulating that on the very day of their 10th anniversary, the automated element of the service is to be suspended.

Notification of the suspension was given by the system’s creator, Yavanna Llanfair, via note card, which was circulated initially through the in-world Pod Riders group, before being more widely circulated within the Second Life community.It comes as a combination of factors, including an issue related to Yanvanna’s account, and her continued need to take time in recovering from being stricken by COVID-19.

Following the start of their operations in 2010, the pod tours grew to become a staple of the Mainland landscape, following the major road systems across Sansara, Heterocera, Jeogeot, Corsica, Mãebaleia/Satori and Nautilus. In addition, they’ve also become a familiar sight at the Second Life Birthday celebrations, and others have taken to running their own services using Yavanna’s system.

The announcement of the decision to suspend the Mainland automated service reads in full:

Dear pod riders,
Today is the 10th anniversary of the first road pod – “YavaScript Pod V5.0 (MCT)” – MCT standing for Monowai Constant Tour, which I put on the road in the morning of Saturday 21st August 2010. I have set that pod running again; it will run until it is swallowed by some random event (like a sim restart or a crash).
However, I am sorry to report that it is also the last day of the pods as we know them today. I have made the decision to suspend all services as of later today. The reason is as follows:
For the entirety of the running of the pod service, I have said I will only run the service where I considered I had the approval of the Lindens and the community. Whilst there have always been a few who would criticise (sometimes quite vocally), they have been a very small minority. And I have always felt that the Lindens have tacitly approved of them, though they would never say so directly. Certainly a number of moles have expressed their approval, and to them I am very grateful.
On 27th July, my account was suspended for 24 hours because of a pod crash in Mieum (on the Wellington Road). At least, that is what I traced it to, because the Linden who suspended me would not tell me of the reason – merely that the object was returned to me. I explained that it is impossible to avoid crashes in all circumstances. I raised a ticket to the LDPW asking them to let me know if this meant my pods were no longer welcome on the roads. I said that I would take anything other than a positive to be a negative. My ticket was closed without comment.
It would have been a shame for the pods to have fallen short of their 10th anniversary, and so I have continued the service until today. And for now, I will merely suspend all operations by flicking a switch on my server. This means that the road pods will still rez, but de-rez shortly after (within 5 minutes). Pods will also still be available from the pod stations by clicking on the rezzer. But this is not a sustainable situation, as the vast majority of people come to know about the pods by seeing them pass on the road, so without that, the service is far less likely to be sustainable in the longer term.
I announced back in June that I was stepping back, due to a long Covid-19 recovery. That recovery is still not complete; whilst I have made progress, I still have some issues, mostly neurological. And stress is therefore something I have to avoid at all costs. Therefore I am not willing at present to fight anyone on this. Maybe one day I will. If the Lindens wish to get in contact to ensure me that the pods are welcome again, I will of course re-instate them. But I suspect that is not likely to happen.
I will continue to support pod owners who run their own systems.
Thankyou to each and every pod rider for coming along on the journey with me. It has been exciting and a lot of fun. It isn’t necessarily over, but for now autonomous vehicles from the YavaScript stable will no longer be on the Second Life mainland roads.

– Yavanna Llanfair, via note card

Yavanna at the Yavascript Pod centre, Castell Yavana, Monowai

In terms of the suspension, pods can still be taken from the stations manually, but they will de-rez when the rider(s) alight off, rather than continuing on their own, and will no longer be seen travelling the roads on their own.

Commenting on the situation, Asadorable Delightful (Asadora Summers), one of those who passed Yvanna’s note card to me said:

The Pod Rider’s group has been busy most of today. We have all come to a decision as a group to express our memories/thoughts and feelings on how the pods have been an integral part of our virtual lives on Mainland. We are doing this in a positive way and would like for our memories to be shared.

Those with any enquiries regarding the service suspension, should do so via the Pod Riders group. If you have any memories about the pod tours you’d like to share, please contact Asadorable Delightful (Asadora Summers).

With thanks to Asadorable Delightful (Asadora Summers), and Holocluck Henly.

Update Saturday, August 23rd

The news of the suspension of the automated pod runs sparked speculation that there has been some form of change in policy at the Lab regarding Mainland vehicles / something else internal to the Lab. In response to such commentary, Patch Linden posted the following to a forum thread related to the news:

Howdy everyone!
I am potentially as confused as everyone else.  But then again I’ve been out of town this week and I have some catching up to do.  In any case while standing in the house of mouse, this did make it to my attention to look in to.    While I’m digging in to find out what happened there are a few things I can assure everyone of:
  1. We’ve made no policy changes surrounding automated vehicles on the Mainland.
  2. We like the Yavapods system
  3. We use it in Bellisseria as the “engine” for the ferry boats, with Yavanna’s permission of course
  4. We keep having it back to SLB every year
These items do not seem like a recipe for a change in policy.  Hopefully things will unfold and we’ll get to the bottom of this in a positive manner.  I can’t really see any other way forward, and the team and I have no reason to not support or help Yavanna. 

– Patch Linden, August 21st, 2020

In terms of the order of events surrounding Yavanna’s account / support issue, Patch added:

This is where part of my confusion is. The LDPW and the Moles do not have a real ticket system. We sometimes receive JIRA’s for issues, but that’s not really a ticket and the Moles are not reachable directly through the support ticketing system. While I’m not here to dispute any of this, there also seems to be some real confusion on what or how this happened. If this took place in July, this is the first I’m becoming aware of it. There is no “fight city hall” here, again, we have no reason to do anything other than help with the system and the situation.

I’ll attempt to update this article or provide fresh input should more information / news be forthcoming.