2018 SL UG updates 46/1: Simulator User Group

Malaika Park; Inara Pey, October 2018, on FlickrMalaika Parkblog post

Server Deployment Plans

As always, please refer to the server deployment thread for the latest news and updates.

  • On Tuesday, November 13th, the SLS (Main) channel was updated with server release 18#18.11.01.521329, previously deployed to the Magnum RC, and comprising a fix for Animesh land impact calculations – see below – and also internal logging fixes.
  • On Wednesday, November 14th, 2018, the three main RC channels should be updated with the same server update, 18#18.11.09.521593, comprising internal fixes.
  • There is no planned simulator update for EEP.

Land Impact Calculation Revision

The Land Impact update deployed to the SLS channel this week (and to the RC channels in week #45) is to correct an error in the Animesh code. In short, if an Animesh object has a conventional prim as its root, the required 15 LI for the Animesh skeleton is not applied.

This 15 LI is an aggregate value for Animesh arrived at during testing Animesh performance across a range of systems. It has also been subject to some alarmist blog posts about unexpected prim returns, but given Animesh products are not generally available as yet, this is unlikely.

SL Server

On Tuesday, November 13th:

All other viewers remain as per the end of week #45:

  • Current Release version 5.1.9.519298, dated September 5, promoted September 26. Formerly the Rakomelo Maintenance RC viewer – No change.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Animesh RC viewer, version 6.0.0.520636, dated October 18th.
    • Estate Access Management (EAM) RC viewer, version 5.2.0.520057, dated September 28th.
    • BugSplat RC viewer, version 5.1.9.519462, dated September 10th. This viewer is functionally identical to the current release viewer, but uses BugSplat for crash reporting, rather than the Lab’s own Breakpad based crash reporting tools.
  • Project viewers:
    • Environmental Enhancement Project (EEP) viewer, version 5.1.10.521312,  dated November 2nd.
    • Bakes on Mesh project viewer, version 5.1.10.520711, dated October 29th.
    • 360 snapshot viewer, version 5.1.6.515934, dated June 6th.
  • Linux Spur viewer, version 5.0.9.329906, dated November 17, 2017 and promoted to release status 29th November, 2017 – offered pending a Linux version of the Alex Ivy viewer code.
  • Obsolete platform viewer, version 3.7.28.300847, May 8th, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

Recalling Viewer 2.0

There is one thing I’d like to mention, and that today is the anniversary of a very special moment in Second Life history. November 13th is V2 Day. Nine years ago we released version 2 of the viewer, which many people mark as the beginning of the end of Second Life.

– Simon Linden, Simulator User Group

While I’d possibly dispute the date – I have blog posts from March 2010 marking the release of Viewer 2.0 as the “default” viewer available from the Lab, prior to that it was a Beta viewer (remember those?) – so perhaps “first issued” might have been a better term, it is nevertheless true that viewer 2.0 was subject to a lot of sturm und drang; I wasn’t a great fan when it arrived, although as it developed and improved, I did become something of a convert over time, and I also agree with Simon’s summation of the early work:

I know the intentions of V2 were good … the old SL viewer UI was a crazy mess of things patched on by engineers with no overall design. But personally I think they made the mistake of trying to meet a schedule date and not waiting until it was right.

And again, as Simon notes, at the end of the day and despite all the pronouncements of Viewer 2.0 heralding the end of SL, here we are, nine years later, still SL-ing!

Fake Firestorm Website

There are in-world IMs / notices, doing the rounds pointing to a fake Firestorm website. for details, please refer to my blog post here.

 

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Firestorm: fake website and downloads warning

There are always certain risks involved in on-line living. With Second Life, we’ve all likely seen or heard of various scams and attempts to either data-scrape or gain people’s account details through phishing and other means.

Another area of risk is using viewers from untrusted sources, making a careful checking of linking to TPV sites mandatory (e.g. by checking them through the Third Party Viewer Directory page on the SL wiki) – particularly when they appear in note cards or pop-up in group chat sessions, and so on.

I raise this because Firestorm has been the subject of fake accounts posting links to a completely fake Firestorm viewer website.

Group and individual IMs have been circulating from fake “Firestorm” accounts, pointing to a fake Firestorm website & viewer downloads – with the Windows download link infected

The website – note the addresses arrowed above – is a scam site that is particularly nasty, as the Windows download link is infected – see virustotal.com – and so should not be used.

For clarity, Firestorm’s actual web address is: http://www.firestormviewer.org/ – no “pro” or anything else in the URL. Furthermore, outside of their own support and test groups, Firestorm do not spam other groups or individuals with links for downloading their viewer.

Currently, the Firestorm team is trying to get the false site taken down, and Linden Lab are working with them to ban the fake accounts.

However, if you do receive an IM similar to the one shown above, fielding fake website URLs, or see a similar message in a Group IM or notice, please don’t simply dismiss it. Linden Lab have requested those in receipt on such messages / notices should file an Abuse Report.

When filing a report, make sure you take a screen shot showing the message / notice displayed in your viewer – the abuse report screen shot feature will automatically capture open IM windows, etc. Reports can be filed under the Harassment category.

If you need assistance with raising an Abuse Report, please refer to my Abuse Reports tutorial, written with the assistance of Linden Lab’s Governance team.

2018 viewer release summaries, week #45

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

Updates for the week ending Sunday, November 11th

This summary is generally published on 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 test viewers, preview / beta viewers / nightly builds are not recorded in these summaries.

Official LL Viewers

  • Current Release version 5.1.9.519298, dated September 5th, promoted September 26th. Formerly the Rakomelo Maintenance RC viewer – No Change.
  • Release channel cohorts (please see my notes on manually installing RC viewer versions if you wish to install any release candidate(s) yourself):
  • Project viewers:
    • No updates.

LL Viewer Resources

Third-party Viewers

V5-style

  • No updates.

V1-style

  • No updates.

Mobile / Other Clients

  • No updates.

Additional TPV Resources

Related Links

2018 SL UG updates 45/2: CCUG summary

Frog Hollow; Inara Pey, September 2018, on FlickrFrog Hollowblog post

The majority of following notes are taken from the Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meeting, held on Thursday, November 8th, 2018 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 Updates

The Spotykach RC viewer updates to version 5.1.10.521459 on Thursday, November 8th, 2018. Otherwise, all other viewer remain as per part #1 of these weekly updates.

Environmental Enhancement Project (EEP)

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. Uses a new set of inventory assets (Sky, Water, Day) that can be stored in inventory and traded through the Marketplace / exchanged with others, and which can additionally be used in experiences. A new set of render shaders to support atmospheric effects such as rainbows, crepuscular rays (“God rays”), better horizon haze and fogging (but will not include rain / snow). The ability to change the Sun and Moon and cloud textures with custom textures.

Resources

Current Status

The new simulator update deployed to the Snack channel on Wednesday, November 7th, 2018. This allows environment information to be pulled from the parcel or region, and further scripting work is due in time. There will also be further updates to the viewer in due course.

There has been a request to allow parcel owners set the transition time for EEP settings when moving between parcels, rather than just using the fixed (roughly 10-second) transition time. This is something Rider is reluctant to consider for the first pass of the EEP work, as it is a complex matter to tackle, and constitutes the kind of scope creep he’d rather avoid in trying to get the first pass of EEP out of the door. However, it is among the items to be considered as a part of any EEP follow-up project.  This said, it will be possible to set the transition time on EEP settings directly applied to avatars (once the scripted EEP support is available).

Animesh

Project Summary

The goal of this project is to provide a means of animating rigged mesh objects using the avatar skeleton, in whole or in part, to provide things like independently moveable pets / creatures, and animated scenery features via scripted animation. It involves both viewer and server-side changes.

Resources

Current Status

The Land Impact fix for Animesh is now deployed to the RC channels – this ensures that Animesh objects with a regular prim root (rather than a mesh root) should have their default 15 LI including in land impact calculations. If all goes according to plan, this fix will hopefully be deployed to the main (SLS) channel in week #46.

There are no specific updates in the works for the viewer at present, so the simulator update might see Animesh go to release status in the immediate future.

The meeting covered a lot of ground covered in the previous meeting – performance / bound box fixes; avatar shapes for a follow-up project, etc., so please refer to my notes from that meeting for details.

Bakes On Mesh

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, and may in time lead to a reduction in the complexity of mesh avatar bodies and heads.

This work 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.

Resources

Current Status

Work is continuing with fixing the Bake Service / appearance service. Some of this work is currently with the Lab’s QA team. Anchor is also working on some viewer-side issues as well.

Normal and Specular Maps Support?

By default, Bakes on Mesh will not support normal and specular maps. This is because the Bake Service managing the avatar appearance does not recognise normal or specular maps, and updating it to do so is seen as a major task in terms of software and hardware.

However, in examining the issue, Cathy Foil has put forward a way to allow Bakes on Mesh to indirectly support normal and specular maps using a combination of three additional bake channels within the Bake Service and a scripted “applier” option, similar to current skin and clothing applier mechanisms.

Would this conflict with mesh body parts that already have a specular or normal map already assigned? While she’s not tested the idea in practice, Cathy believes not, as the additional Bake Service channels are not actually applied to the avatar,  they are simply a means to communicate what should be applied.

However, Graham Linden believes that even this approach would still require alterations to correctly composite the normal and specular maps. It would also likely need some kind of alpha masking capability to ensure odd outcomes are avoided (such as a normal or specular map for, say an underwear layer bleeding through to a skirt layer of clothing).  Cathy has indicated she’ll try doing some testing ahead of the next CCUG.

If nothing else, the provision of further Bake channels that might be seen as for “general purpose” use could lead to creators using them in a variety of ways, leading to further consumer confusion simply because there is no standard approach to how each auxiliary Bake channel is to be used.

2018 SL UG updates 45/1: Simulator User Group

Florence Bay; Inara Pey, September 2018, on FlickrFlorence Bayblog post

Server Deployment Plans

As always, please refer to the server deployment thread for the latest news and updates.

  • On Tuesday, November 6th, the SLS (Main) channel was updated with server release 18#18.10.25.521081, previously deployed to the BlueSteel and LeTigre RCs, and comprising internal logging fixes. It is hopped that these updates will help with some crashing, particularly some regions that get into a crash loop.
  • On Wednesday, November 7th, 2018, the RC channels should be updated as follows:
    • BlueSteel and LeTigre will update to server maintenance package 18#18.11.01.521328, comprising a fix for Animesh land impact calculations – see below.
    • Magnum should be updated to server maintenance package 18#18.11.01.521329, also comprising a fix for Animesh land impact calculations – see below –  and also internal logging fixes.
    • Snack should also receive another iteration of simulator EEP support, release 18.11.02.521379.

RC Land Impact Calculation Revision

The Land Impact update being deployed to the RC channels is to correct an error in the Animesh code. In short, if an Animesh object has a conventional prim as its root, the required 15 LI for the Animesh skeleton is not applied.

This 15 LI is an aggregate value for Animesh arrived at during testing Animesh performance across a range of systems. It has also been subject to some alarmist blog posts about unexpected prim returns, but given Animesh products are not generally available as yet, this is unlikely.

SL Viewer

There have been no viewer updates from the Lab at the start of the week, leaving the various pipelines as per the end of week #44.

  • Current Release version 5.1.9.519298, dated September 5, promoted September 26. Formerly the Rakomelo Maintenance RC viewer – No change.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Spotykach Maintenance RC viewer, version 5.1.10.520686, October 30.
    • Animesh RC viewer, version 6.0.0.520636, October 18.
    • Estate Access Management (EAM) RC viewer, version 5.2.0.520057, September 28.
    • BugSplat RC viewer, version 5.1.9.519462, September 10. This viewer is functionally identical to the current release viewer, but uses BugSplat for crash reporting, rather than the Lab’s own Breakpad based crash reporting tools.
    • Love Me Render RC viewer, version 5.1.8.518751, released on August 20.
  • 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.

In Brief

HTTP “throttles”: there have been questions on what any  throttles on incoming / outgoing HTTP communications might be. In reply,  Simon and Oz Linden stated:

We don’t want to block any “reasonable” use of http in with throttles, for whatever that really means. Don’t expect to write anything fast and high-load with http in, however. I’d just generally say “keep it slow”. I think the original idea for http in (and out) was it was going to be web-page speed, not a twitch game.

– Simon Linden

The amount of impact incoming http has can also vary depending on what else is on the system your region(s) are shared with (which you can’t easily determine). We have had times when we have asked users to modify how they use http-in to prevent problems.

– Oz Linden

Key binding: there have often been requests for broader / more configurable options for key binding within the viewer / SL, a subject raised at the meeting, with Oz Linden again commenting:

I have a standing offer to accept a contribution that will provide a complete key binding editor for the viewer.

Scriptable UI: another long-standing request is for a more scriptable UI for SL.  This could help with a range of capabilities – such as the viewer taking over actions that are currently dependent on simulator intervention, which and slow things down. However, viewer-side scripting support brings within it a number of issues – such as the code being unprotected, for example. So, not something liable to happen in the foreseeable future.

Firestorm viewer seeks volunteers

Are you a little bit crazy? Have a slight taste for personal suffering? Have you ever wondered what it’s like to develop a personality tic? You might be perfect for our team!

– From the Firestorm blog post on volunteers

This is light-hearted start to a blog post by Firestorm’s Jessica Lyon that has a serious intent: a call for assistance from Firestorm users willing to give some of their time to help support both the Firestorm viewer and the Firestom team’s other activities in Second Life.

As the most popular Second Life viewer (and a viewer with a strong following in OpenSim), Firestorm actually requires a lot of upkeep; not just in maintaining and extending the code either by exposing debug features provided by Linden Lab or through the provision of dedicated code contributions, but also in ensuring the viewer is fit for purpose ahead of any release and in providing that same vast user community with ongoing support and assistance.

As such, Firestorm is looking for volunteers willing to join the following teams:

  • Firestorm Support: helping residents solve problems they may encounter with installing and using the Firestorm viewer through the in-world support groups and by filing support tickets on the Firestorm Jira (bug-reporting system).
  • Firestorm QA Team: helping to ensure each viewer release is as good as it can be, by finding and reporting bugs (part of which means accepting frequent crashes). But it also means getting to see, use and test new features before the rest of the user base.

You can read more about the roles through the blog, and the Support Team Application Form.

Firestorm are also looking for people to help with work at the seven regions of the Firestorm Community Gateway

In addition, Firestorm is looking for mentors to help assist new users at the Firestorm Community Gateway. The work is rich and diverse, including providing insight, advice, and direction, responding to questions of every possible variation on the viewer and Second Life, helping new residents learn about the viewer and interact with the virtual world, and more.

Those interested in the role are invited to visit the Social Club at the Firestorm Gateway in world, where a red box can be found, offering an application form, which should be posted back to the box when completed.

Find out more via the official Firestorm blog post.