New SL viewer release notes pages: an overview

As noted in my week #20 SL Content Creation summary, Linden Lab have unveiled their new viewer release notes pages.

At the time of writing, the new pages are focused on the release candidate (RC) viewers that are in development and currently available as download cohorts in place of the de facto release viewer. It is not currently clear if project viewers will be included in the new format or not.

As Steven Linden from the viewer team notes in a Tools and Technology blog post on the subject, these new pages are part of a new website for viewer release information. This website comprises a dedicated home page with an introduction to viewer release notes. together with links on the left side to:

  • “Recent viewer releases”: a clickable list of the most recent RC viewer updates, provided as viewer version numbers. These are provided in release date order, with the most recent updates at the top.
  • Additional links to viewer-related support information:
The new Release Notes home page – access specific viewer release notes via the version numbers outlined in red on the left

Individual viewer release notes can be accessed by clicking one of the the listed version numbers, which will open a page specific to that viewer. These pages comprise:

  • Icon links to the available OS versions (Windows 32/64-bit, Mac OS).
  • The general release notes (description, etc.).
  • A list of resolved issues.

A significant change in these pages is that, where relevant, Jira links in the Resolved Issues section now, wherever possible, reference “public” bug reports (e.g. BUG-XXXXXX), rather than the Lab’s internally cloned versions of such bugs (e.g. MAIT-XXXXXX).

Currently, the new pages can also be accessed from the existing Alternate Viewers wiki page, (click the Release Notes link for an RC viewer on that page). However, whether this page will remain relevant if the release notes for project viewers are also converted to the new format, remains to be seen.

An example of the revised release notes for a viewer (in this case the Teranino Maintenance RC) – note the use of “public” Jira numbers where relevant, in the known issues list

The new pages are a lot easier on the eye, although I have a number of reservations at this time.

  • While I understand understand why version numbers are used to reference individual viewers (they are URLs and so can be dropped into the pages without necessarily requiring human intervention), they are less user friendly to those wishing to quickly look-up the specifics on a viewer.
  • The “recent Viewer Releases” lists can include links to multiple versions of a given viewer (at the time of writing, two versions of the EEP and Teranino RC viewers are listed, for example). This might cause a degree of confusion for some users, who may mist he “most recent at the top” arrangement of the list.
  • If project viewers are to be added to these pages, I would hope there will be some form of clearer distinction between them and any listed RC viewers, other than just a top-down list of version numbers, again for ease of user reference.

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2019 SL User Groups 20/2: Content Creation summary

Grauland; Inara Pey, March 2019, on FlickrGrauland – blog post

The following notes are taken from the Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meeting, held on Thursday, May 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.

New Viewer Release Notes Pages

The Lab’s RC viewer releases / updates all have shiny new viewer release notes pages on the web. These move the notes away from the old wiki pages, and into a new format that provides:

  • The release notes can be accessed via a new home page, with links to recent SL viewer releases – that is, the current RC viewers.
  • The release notes for a specific viewer, with new icon links to its respective download versions (Windows 64 / 32-bit and Mac OS).
  • There are also links to support information: a new Repositories overview page; an explanation of the viewer version numbering system; a link to the Viewer Support Policy.
  • A significant change is that many of the Jira links in a release page reference the public Jira bug reports, rather than the Lab’s internal MAINT clones. This should make specific bugs addressed in an update more visible to interested users.
  • These pages can also (for the time being at least) be accessed from the existing Alternate Viewers wiki page, when clicking on the release notes link for a specific RC viewer.

 

The new format viewer release notes pages for SL release candidate viewers (using the EEP viewer as an example)

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 EEP viewer updated to version 6.2.3.527250 on Thursday, May 16th. This update should include a number of bug fixes and shader updates that will hopefully improve things “considerably”.
  • Graham Linden continues to work on the remaining shader / graphics issues.

Animesh Follow-On

  • Vir continues to work on adding visual parameter support to allow shape adjustments to be made to Animesh.
  • This work has new reached a point of being able to store visual parameter information relating to Animesh objects, and to be able to send it to viewers.
  • The next stage of the work is to get to get the viewer to understand what it is supposed to do with these messages.
  • Vir hopes to have an internal prototype for this running in the next few days. If successful, this should pave the way towards a project viewer being made available down the road.
    • It will initially focus on using list-based LSL input to set individual shape parameters.
      • These will probably be throttled to prevent over-use (e.g. to prevent the capability being used as a high performance cost alternative to animation).
    • Once this is working that shapes can potentially be added for manipulation.
    • Obviously, this will require simulator updates to be able to support the LSL commands, as well as the updates required for the new message types, etc.

Animesh as NPCs

  • There has been a lot of forum discussion on using Animesh as non-player characters (NPCs).
  • A limitation here is that a decent-looking NPC, suitably clothed and ready for use can too often have a huge LI (into the 100s).
    • Part of the problem is that until Animesh,  is there was no real incentive to optimise rigged mesh, as being worn by an avatar, it never really had a “Land Impact” per se, and a lot of clothing has an “insane” triangle count (e.g. 21,000 for a tank top).
    • As Animesh calculations do try to allow  for the cost of rigged mesh, such high triangle counts are (simply put) converted in LI, driving up the LI for any Animesh character on which it is used.
  • It is hoped that as the ARCTan project comes to pass, it will offer some form of incentive that will encourage those clothing makers who may not consider optimisations to do so, which will help improve things for both Animesh using wearables and also help reduce some of the performance overhead overly complex avatars can cause.
  • Another alternative would be to (at some point) extend Bakes on Mesh to include Animesh objects, allowing them to be clothed using system layers.
  • In the meantime, the suggestions is that those wishing to create NPCs perhaps consider doing so entirely in Blender (or similar), and not rely on using clothing and attachments that might be available in-world as a means of clothing / equipping them.

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

  • There is a simulator change pending. This includes a means of accessing BOM UUIDs.
    • These were changed in the last back-end update as a result of underlying asset property issues. If there is BOM content using the old UUIDs, this will have to be updated.
    • The simulator update is intended to allow access to the texture UUIDs without having to do so numerically, as is currently the case. This should re-enable the ability to access them via their name abbreviations.
  • There is also a further Appearance Service change pending, designed to correctly handle tattoo layer with partial transparency (currently, if a tattoo with partial transparency is sent for baking via the new BOM channels without any underlying opaque layer, then the alphas are not correctly resolved).

Shattered Egos in Second Life

Lin C Art Gallery: Matt (Thompson)

Shattered Egos is the provocative title of an exhibition of art by Matt (MTH63), which opened on May 11th at the Lin C Art Gallery, curated by Lin Carlucci.

Also known as Matt Thomson in the physical world, Matt is a professional abstract artist and digital designer who, as well as producing some truly fabulous abstract pieces also has a quirky sense of humour, as witnessed by his bio liner notes:

Matt Thomson … approaches his art with innovation, fun and breakfast cereal. Matt believes that art should please the eye and make you feel like a man can paint in a straitjacket. He doesn’t take himself seriously, and his art shows a sense of fun and over dependency on sprouts and curry powder.

– Matt Thompson, describing himself

Lin C Art Gallery: Matt (Thompson)

To use a truism, the beauty of abstract art is oft in the eye of the beholder; or to put it another way, it’s not everyone’s cup of hot brown milky beverage. However, it is among the art forms I particularly enjoy, and I seriously doubt those visiting Shattered Egos will not be captivated by the 20+ pieces Matt presents here.

Rich in colour and contrast, these are pieces that demand exploration and appreciation. Each has a story to tell  – and I urge those visiting to allow each picture to tell its story  as they see it, before using mouse hover / a right click to reveal the name of each piece. By doing this, the manner in which the narrative may suddenly morph – or perhaps be confirmed – is as remarkable as the shifting, swirling colours present within the art.

Lin C Art Gallery: Matt (Thompson)

I’m not sure why the title Shattered Egos has been selected for this exhibition, but I suspect that it is in reflection of the fact that Matt’s work is ego-free. It’s clear from the irreverence he displays towards himself, together with the sheer expressiveness present in the images, it’s clear that each of these pieces has been created with a love of art and free expression, and not as a means of deep self-expression or personal reflection. Hence why, again in his bio liner notes, Matt quotes Oscar Wilde:

Art is the only serious thing in the world. And the artist is the only person who is never serious.

This further makes this selection of art richly engaging and well worth the time taken in visiting the gallery.

Lin C Art Gallery: Matt (Thompson)

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2019 Bid a Linden Bald for RFL of SL

A traditional event during the RFL season is the Bid Me Bald challenge organised by the Relay Rockers. As the name suggests, people are invited to bid (make donations to RFL) to see a well-known Second Life resident go bald for a period of time in-world. First held in 2007, Bid Me Bald is presented as a means to honour those who have lost their hair as a result of their cancer treatment, with those volunteering to participate going bald for one day for each L$5000 raised through donations.

In 2017, to mark the 10th anniversary of Bid Me bald, a new twist was added to the mix when three teams from Linden Lab put themselves up for bidding / donations in Bid A Linden Bald. In 2018, the Lab again put forward three teams for Bid Me Bald, with the team raising the least amount of money will once again go bald for the amount of days equal to the total of the team raising the most, with the time shared among the losing team members.

Those two events between them raised more than L$3.5 million for Relay for Life. For 2019, the Lab is participating with five teams:

  • Customer Account Operations: Dakota Linden, Theresa Linden and Vanessa Linden.
  • Concierge Support: Dottie Linden, Evie Linden, Rocko Linden, TJ Linden, Vix Linden, Volo Linden and Wendi Linden.
  • Land Operations: Constantine Linden, Izzy Linden, Kona Linden and Madori Linden.
  • Tier 1 Support: Acan Linden, Cantara Linden, Ellie Linden, Ginger Linden and Jet Linden.
  • Support Management: Ami Linden, Derrick Linden, Kristin Linden and Maggie Linden.

Bidding officially opened on Wednesday, May 15th and will run through until May 22nd, when the losing team will be up for a haircut at a special event!

Should you wish to place a bid, drop in to the Relay Rockers’ home region. You may be redirected to the main landing point, so just follow the signs to the bidding kiosks. You can make your donation based on the team you’d like to see win – or against the team you’d like to see lose!

The 2019 Bid a Linden Bald kiosks

Additional Links

Gone in 27 minutes in Second Life

Motoring through some of the new houseboat regions

A total of 709 new Linden Home houseboats were made available on Wednesday, May 15th, 2019, after a build-up of expectation.

I had wondered if the new regions, that arrived alongside Bellisseria, the Linden Homes continent might see one more move prior to being opened, but as was quickly shown, this wasn’t the case. This does leave the new regions supporting the houseboats looking – at this point in time at least, but who knows what might come in time – looking like a bit of an after-thought bolt-on to the continent, but there can be no doubting their popularity: all 709 were gone in just 27 minutes.

(l) the line-up before the release of the new houseboat regions; (r) the situation a few minutes after the launch with people at their new houseboats, even as the regions were being restarted (those in red)

The release saw a huge build-up along the north-eastern side of Bellisseria, the closest point to the new region, with two regions in particular – Graff and Dorma – bearing the brunt of the interest, each having in excess of 50 avatars in them in the hours leading up to the release. A lot of this saw social interactions, although I opted to watch via the Map while paying a visit to another region.

The Houseboats are available to select as we release them via the Linden Homes Land selection page, and access to the continent addition is open. We will have a set of region restarts to go through, so please bear with us as that happens if you enter the regions right away.

We know they will go very quickly, but as time goes on we will get more out, and hopefully faster.

Our next focus will be to bring more Traditional Homes plus more Houseboats in another smaller launch while working in parallel to a larger launch and an exciting new theme.

As usual, stay tuned here for more updates!

Patch Linden’s forum announcement that the houseboats were available

The Squishy Pickle bar: the social hub of the new regions

The houseboats were released via the Linden Homes web page at 10:00 SLT, together with a warning that some of the regions were being restarted. But the latter didn’t dampen any of the desire to obtain one of the new units: within seconds of the opening of the doors, people were literally pouring into the regions to see their new houseboat – and fortunately Caitlyn was among them as well.

In commenting on the state of play, Patch noted that there was some churn during the 27 minutes: people grabbing a houseboat, checking the location, then abandoning it in the hope of getting a better spot. How many may have missed out on an opening as a result is hard to say, it’s possible some people may have come away a little disappointed – hence the comment from Patch of the focus on making a further “smaller launch” of houseboats and houses.

The new houseboat regions and landscaping

There had also been some churn in the lead-up to the release with some people with Traditional Homes abandoning them in favour of being ready for the houseboats, as was noted on various forum threads.

I took a boat ride through the new regions following their release, and the level of activity was pleasing to see as people set about decorating their new homes, together with a large uptick in conversation and activity in the Bellisseria in-world groups – and the founding of a residents newspaper The Bellisserian – of which more anon!

In the meantime, congrats to all those who snagged one of the new houseboats!

Visiting Rosa Scotia in Second Life

Rosa Scotia; Inara Pey, May 2019, on FlickrRosa Scotia – click any image for full size

A recent arrival in the Destination Guide is Rosa Scotia, a Homestead region designed by Pokute Burt, who describes the region thus:

Here you will find a small island filled with wonderful décor, and a great place to hangout! Lots of event treasures arranged in a very artistic way. Relaxing, good for photography, or just hanging out in a place that is peaceful.

And, I have to admit, in making our visit, this is a region that is exactly as it is described, and quiet wonderfully so.

Rosa Scotia; Inara Pey, May 2019, on FlickrRosa Scotia

The island really is quite small, a rugged postage stamp in the middle of the region, flanked to the north-east and north-west by two small islets, one of which is home to a lighthouse, the other a small, flat-topped  islet featuring what appears to be an empty, ivy-covered structure.

Small it might be, but the region packs a lot into it. The landing point sits on the west side of the island on a small wharf. Above this sits a little commercial area set out around a cobbled square. The square is in turn bracketed on one side by a truly delightful café, and on the other a bar is sandwiched between a barber’s and a pizzeria. These appear to occupy the ground floor of an old hotel – the sign is still prominently displayed – while stairs lead up to furnished apartments and a small  music club.

Rosa Scotia; Inara Pey, May 2019, on FlickrRosa Scotia

A path cuts through the middle of the island, west-to-east, providing access to a beach on the east side. Slightly tired-looking, this offers an old volleyball net, an aged pier with rickety bar at the end of it, and that might have once been a lifeguard station or fisherman’s cabin.

Between the two, sitting either side of the path are two buildings: a Tuscan-style villa and a single-room cabin with grapes growing on the vine outside. Whether the two are related to one another or not is open to personal interpretation; however, both are fully furnished and offer excellent places for meeting and hanging out or for photography – something that can also be said of the other buildings on the island.

Rosa Scotia; Inara Pey, May 2019, on FlickrRosa Scotia

With their surrounding curtain of trees isolating them from the rest of the island, the two houses have a nice clubhouse feel to them, with the woodlands offering a place for wildlife to roam. These touches help give the feeling that the island is, despite its small size, not in any way crowded.

A final feature of the island lies on the south-east, with a bridge spans the water to provide access to a tiny block of rock on which the raised hand of the Statue of Liberty, complete with torch, sits within a little walled garden.

Rosa Scotia; Inara Pey, May 2019, on FlickrRosa Scotia

Small to the point of cosiness without feeling claustrophobic and with a westward view towards Loki Eliot’s Escapades island – a place that is itself well worth a visit – Rosa Scotia is a small, pleasing destination ripe for visiting and exploration.

SLurl Details