Category Archives: News

Lab: 360 panoramic image capture coming to the viewer – soon!

It All Starts With a Smile; Inara Pey, October 2016, on Flickr The ability to take 360-degree panoramic shots is to be integrated into the viewer, with access via the snapshot floater (Image location: It All Starts With A Smile  – blog post – static image produced with the Illiastra Panoramic Camera HUD) – click the image to see it in 360-degree format

Just as I was working on an article about  the Illiastra Panoramic Camera and producing static / interactive 360-degree images of Second Life, I attended the Third Party Viewer Development meeting on Friday, October 7th. During that meeting, Troy Linden announced that the Lab are working on incorporating the capability to generate 360-degree snapshots directly into the viewer.

The new capability is to be called 360 Snapshot, and will be integrated into the snapshot floater (alongside of additional snapshot improvements contributed by TPV developer NiranV Dean – although these sit outside of the 360-degree feature).

In essence, the snapshot floater will act as a 360-degree camera rig, allowing you to position your avatar almost anywhere in-world and capture a full 360-degree image, stitched together by back-end processing by the Lab. The image will then be shareable via the SL Share feature, and should be available for download to your local drive.

The work is far enough advanced such that a test viewer (not a project viewer) will be appearing sometime quite soon, with the Lab being keen to get it capability out into the hands of users to try. However, the important thing to note is that it will be a test version – it will not be a final, polished solution right out of the gate. The idea is to give users an indication of things like picture quality, approach taken, etc., and allow the Lab to examine exactly how much additional functionality they need to consider / include in the capability.

Initially, the stitching element will be absent; users will have to take care of that themselves after saving the image set to their local drive. There are also some potentially significant issues the Lab want to look at in detail through the use of the test viewer.

In particular there is the question of how the capability will interact with the simulator Interest List: will items effectively behind your avatar’s field of view update correctly in order to be properly imaged by the system? If not, the Lab will need to look in to how things might be adjusted. The idea here is that by carrying out such tests publicly, the Lab can work with interested users and photographers to identify potential limitations and problem areas in the approach, and so hopefully address them.

In commenting on the project, Oz acknowledged that there are HUD systems available which have been inspirational, and much of the driver behind this capability is the desire to give users a simple “point and shoot” interface.

There is no indication yet on limitations which might be placed on the system, such as image resolution, etc. Hence again why the capability will be appearing in a test viewer when it emerges, rather than a project viewer. The Lab also isn’t committing to any kind of time scales for this work, other than the test viewer is liable to appear reasonably soon; or how long the project will take to reach a release status once a test viewer does appear. The focus is on a step-by-step development of the capability.

Note: the audio clips here are extracts of salient points from the discussion on the 360 Snapshot capability. To hear the full discussion of the capability, please listen to the video of the Third Party Viewer Meeting video, starting at the 08:49 point.

AMD & Nvidia drivers resolve Win 10 OpenGL issues in Second Life, et al

win10-logoIn September I blogged about the OpenGL issue affecting many Windows 10 users, including some using Second Life. An intermittent problem, not encountered by every Windows 10 user, the issue results in exceptionally low FPS rates (on the order of 1 or 2 fps) when experienced.

The root cause appears to be the Cumulative Update for Windows 10 (KB3176938) released at the end of August 2016, intended to fix a lot of issues encountered with the Windows 10 Anniversary update, However, since its release on August 31st, 2016, KB3176938 has given rise to renewed Windows 10 / OpenGL issues  which have been impacting a number of games – and also affecting Second Life.

However, it now appears as if the problem has been resolved. As indicated by reader Lee McKay, both Nvidia and AMD have released new drivers which should address the problems Windows 10 users have been experiencing as a result of this issue.

The two drivers are:

As I’m not a win 10 user, I cannot verify if these drivers (or at least the Nvidia driver, as I’m a GTX 970 user) do fix the problems, but Lee indicates they have been tested and verified as correcting the problems.

So, if you are a Windows 10 user with an AMD or Nvidia GPU, and you’ve been experiencing fps issues of late, you might want to try downloading the relevant driver and giving it a try.

With thanks to Lee McKay for the updates on this situation.

Celebrating the Moon Festival in Second Life

Fellow blogger and Second Life traveller Annie Brightstar directed my attention, through Twitter, to Moon Festival 2016 in Second Life. A region by Heike Kitsuyagi (Kathrine Hoxley), it offers a glimpse into the Mid-Autumn Festival, also referred to as the Moon Festival, celebrated in many parts of the far east.  Given my love of all things oriental, I decided to hop over and take a look.

For those unfamiliar with it, the Mid-Autumn Festival falls on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month. For 2016, this put it at September 15th, while for 2017 it will fall on October 4th. Simply put, it one of the most important dates in the lunar calendar, and is celebrated by Chinese people the world over. It’s a time when families get together to make offerings of wine flavoured with osmanthus, pears, grapes, pomegranates and mooncakes to the heavens, to express gratitude for a bumper harvest as well as enjoy a reunion with relatives who live far away.

Moon Festival 2016, which opened on October 1st, both celebrates the festival and offers a shopping event to visitors. The rural-style traditional Chinese and Japanese buildings contain little stores, with more open-air market style stalls offering goods, games and refreshments. As the Moon Festival is celebrated so widely (China, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, and Vietnam in particular, with Japan and Korea having similar harvest celebrations of their own), this blending Chinese and Japanese styles in the buildings is not the least bit jarring; rather the reverse: it feels appropriate.

It’s a place where wooden buildings sit on the banks of a river, with dirt tracks for streets running under strings of lanterns, golden-brown leaves falling from the boughs trees. The entire setting, bringing together traditionally style building with modern lighting, gacha machines and vendors, helps to give a sense of the long history of the festival.

Within a small garden in the town sits a dragon, reflecting one of the popular elements of the festival, the Fire Dragon Dance, a tradition dating back to the  19th century, when the people of Tai Hang village were said to have miraculously stopped a plague with just such a dance. Games are a popular part of the Moon Festival – I can still remember playing the “King Toad” game with other kids in our quarters in Hong Kong (which was really an excuse for us to play with water and get soaked!) – and games are to be found within the region as well.

Beyond the town, the track rises up a sudden slope to a small temple where thanks can be offered, while between the trees little houses sit in quiet solitude. Wander down to the river and you’ll see lanterns floating on the water and surrounding little sampans as a harvest moon slowly rises from behind tall peaks, brightly reflecting the light of a setting sun.

There’s an ancient Chinese song-poem, the Shuidiao Getou, the final stanza of which can often be quoted in full or in part during the Mid-Autumn Festival. Given my visit to Moon Festival 2016, it seems appropriate to close this piece by quoting that final stanza in full.

People experience sorrow, joy, separation and reunion,
The moon may be dim or bright, round or crescent-shaped,
This imperfection has been going on since the beginning of time.
May we all be blessed with longevity,
Though thousands of miles apart, we are still able to share the beauty of the moon together.

SLurl Details

Be a part of the Lab’s 2016 Halloween events

secondlifeThe latest in the Lab’s social meet-ups in-world with residents is currently in the planning stages. Given the time of year, the Lab have decided to mix the Halloween season into things and hold a “travelling meet-up”. They’re also putting together the Halloween Shop ‘Til You Drop event, as a blog post from Xiola explains.

Following the success of the 2015 Creepy Crawl, the Lab are looking to do the same in 2016: spend time in-world hopping from venue to venue, spending time with residents at each, dancing chatting and generally having a good time. The event will take place on Monday, October 31st, and the full details for those just wishing to hop along and join the fun will be announced in due course.

However, for those who wish to offer their venue / place as a possible stop along the way, there are some simple instructions to follow, as Xiola states in the blog post:

  1. Make sure your place is listed in the Destination Guidehere’s how to submit.
  2. Hop over to this form and fill it out before October 20th – we’ll start selecting the venues after that!
  3. Keep an eye out for an email and/or notecard after the 20th to let you know if your venue was selected.

So, if you fancy hosting a little Linden Halloween fun, make sure you get your venue in the DG (if it isn’t already) and fill-out the application form – do keep in mind that preferred venues should be

Shop ‘Til You Drop is a Halloween-themed shopping event taking place between Friday, October 21st and Monday, October 31st 2016.

If you’re a Merchant who specializes in costumes and other Halloween-themed items and would like to participate, the Lab invites you to fill-out and submit the Halloween Shopping Event form – keep in mind the event will be open to a General-rated audience. Selected Merchants will be offered a booth to display and sell some of their items at a special discounted price to shoppers. Given the time frame, Merchants are advised to submit the form sooner rather than later, and to keep in mind that not everyone may be successful in applying.

Again, for those wishing to attending the event, further details will be forthcoming from the Lab nearer the date.