2020 Content Creation User Group week #14 summary

Garrigua, February 2020 – blog post

The following notes were taken from my audio recording and chat log of the Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meeting held on Thursday, April 2nd 2020 at 13:00 SLT. These meetings are chaired by Vir Linden, and agenda notes, meeting SLurl, etc, are are available on the Content Creation User Group wiki page.

A large part of the meeting concerned options for what might be done when handling complex avatars that fall outside of what is currently being done through ARCTan, including esoteric discussions on when things like impostering should occur in the download / rendering cycle, etc. Discussions also touched on the sale of Sansar (see elsewhere in this blog) and SL’s uptick in user numbers as a result of the current SARS-Cov-2 pandemic.

Environment Enhancement Project

Project Summary

A set of environmental enhancements (e.g. the sky, sun, moon, clouds, and 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.

Resources

Current Status

  • Is caught on a couple rendering bugs related to Linden Water and how the water / things under water are rendered by EEP.
  • The plan is still to have EEP promoted before any other viewer project is promoted to release status.

ARCTan

Project Summary

An attempt to re-evaluate object and avatar rendering costs to make them more reflective of the actual impact of rendering both. The overall aim is to try to correct some inherent negative incentives for creating optimised content (e.g. with regards to generating LOD models with mesh), and to update the calculations to reflect current resource constraints, rather than basing them on outdated constraints (e.g. graphics systems, network capabilities, etc).

As of January 2020 ARCTan has effectively been split:

  • Immediate viewer-side changes, primarily focused on revising the Avatar Rendering Cost (ARC) calculations and providing additional viewer UI so that people can better visibility and control to seeing complexity. This work can essentially be broken down as:
    • Collect data.
    • Update ARC function.
    • Design and provide tool within the viewer UI (i.e. not a pop-up) that presents ARC information in a usable manner and lets users make decisions about rendering / performance.
  • Work on providing in-world object rendering costs (LOD models, etc.) which might affect Land Impact will be handled as a later tranche of project work, after the avatar work.
  • The belief is that “good” avatar ARC values can likely be used as a computational base for these rendering calculations.

Current Status

  • Internal testing is awaiting a Bake Service update related to the issue Vir identified that was causing issues in gathering data.
  • In the interim, Vir has been looking at the tools available for manipulating viewer performance (e.g. imposters, the Jelly Dolls tools, blocking, etc.). He’s specifically been looking at “peculiarities” in how the various options work and raising internal questions on possibly re-examining aspects of how they work.
  • One point with imposters / Jelly Dolls is that while the settings may be used – and as was raised as a concern prior to that project being deployed – is that rendering data for all attachments on an impostered or jelly dolled avatar is still downloaded to the viewer, which is not optimal.
    • Removing attachment data could improve performance, but would also make jelly dolled avatars in particular look even more rudimentary.
  • A bug with the  Jelly Doll code means setting an avatar to never render causes it to load more slowly than just lowering the complexity threshold so it doesn’t render. This is viewed as a known bug.
  • There have been suggestions for trying to limit access to regions (particularly events) based on avatar complexity.
    • Right now, this would be difficult, as the simulator does not have authoritative information on avatar complexity – it’s calculated in the viewer, which in turn is based on data the simulator doesn’t even load.
    • This means there would have to be a significant refactoring of code before the simulator could be more proactive around avatar complexity. Given the cloud uplift work, this is not something the Lab wishes to tackle at this point in time.

General Discussion

  • Arbitrary skeletons: The question was raised on SL allowing entirely custom / arbitrary skeletons.
    • This again would be a complex project, one that was rejected during the Bento project due to the risk of considerable scope creep.
    • There is already a volume of available humanoid mesh avatars, each operating with their own (mutually incompatible) ecosystems of clothing and accessories that can already cause confusion for users. Adding completely arbitrary skeleton rigs to this could make things even more complicated and confusing.
  • The major reason there is little work being put into developing new LSL capabilities is because the majority of the LSL development resources are deeply involved in – wait for it – cloud uplift work.

Next Meeting

Due to the Lab’s monthly Al Hands meeting, the next CCUG meeting will take place on Thursday, April 16th, 2020

April 2020 Web User Group: Name Changes et al

The Web User Group meeting venue, Denby

The following notes are taken from my recording of the Web User Group (WUG) meeting, held on Wednesday, April 1st, 2020. These meetings are held monthly, generally on the first Wednesdays of the month, with dates and details of the meetings available via the Web User Group wiki page.

When reading these notes, please keep in mind:

  • This is not intended as a chronological transcript of the meeting. Items are drawn together by topic, although they may have been discussed at different points in the meeting.
  • Similarly, and if included, any audio extracts appearing in these summaries are presented by topic heading, rather than any chronological order in which they may have been raised during the meeting (e.g. if “topic X” is mentioned early in a meeting and then again half-way through a meeting, any audio comments related to that topic that might be included in these reports will be concatenated into a single audio extract).

Name Changes

  • Deployment of the Name Changes capability is now “really, really close”.
  • As of the meeting, all of the major elements for Name Changes are with the Lab’s QA team for testing.
  • IF no significant issues / showstoppers or the like are uncovered by QA, it is probable that Name Changes will launch before the end of April.

Premium Plus

  • All of the required / update workflows for managing Premium Plus are in place, and the various web pages that will need to be refreshed with updated information have been prepared ready for the eventual Premium Plus launch.
  • All of the back-end work is in place.
  • LL are still “sitting on” all of the various values (fee, benefits, etc.), that are associated with Premium Plus.
  • No release date but said to be be “closer” – however, as I’ve previously noted, it will not come until some time after Name Changes have been made available.

Marketplace

  • Keywords and unlisting: if an item is unlisted from the MP for keyword use issues, the merchant will now get an automated e-mail notification.
  • Further improvements to the keyword system will be made over time.
  • There have been multiple fixes to the Marketplace, including:
    • Corrections for translations for non-English languages and alternate language descriptions on listings being incorrect or not displaying correctly.
    • Fixes for issues with the transaction e-mail settings.
    • Correcting the issue of some listings failing to appear in search results on Merchant’s Manage Listings pages.
    • Cleaned up the behaviour of received items.
    • Single sign-on session handling between the viewer and the Marketplace has been improved to prevent the system getting confused between which account a user was using to make a MP purchase if they were logged-in and using the MP from two accounts.

SL Marketing

  • Work has been put into refreshing a lot of the Second Life landing pages as a part of promoting Second Life.
  • This work includes the development of the enterprise / business micro-site, including the new explore page for the (at present) seven turnkey solutions.
    • I’m currently discussing with LL a possible article on this aspect of Second Life that will present a walk-through of the micro site and how interested parties can use it to engage with LL and progress through to using one of the region types.
    • The global MuseWeb 2020 conference is in progress at the time of writing, and has moved to an entirely on-line status as a result of the current pandemic. Portions of this event are being presented in or relayed through Second Life, using one of the enterprise turnkey solutions – see: MuseWeb: utilising Second Life in support of a global conference).
  • Internally to the Lab, one of the new consumer campaigns (yet to launch at the time of writing) is called the Comfort Campaign, promoting Second Life as a virtual social environment where people can meet, share times, enjoy the company of others (pretty much in keeping with the ideal of “stay safe, stay virtual”) during the current crisis, whilst at the same time avoiding the appearance of being in any way exploitative.

Two-Factor Authentication

  • Still being worked on.
  • First step will likely be sending out an e-mail notification when an attempt to log-in to a Second Life service is made from an unrecognised device.
  • More robust 2FA controls will be added, and will initially be opt-in before eventually becoming required.

It’s a very serious topic that we are working on in parallel to AWS work. Which means it made the cut of “what can we stop working on to make AWS go faster.

– Ekim Linden

In Brief

  • Website polls. People visiting Second Life web properties such as secondlife.com and the Marketplace may have noticed a pop-up poll appearing when they do so, asking if they would recommend SL to others.
    • Apparently, those responding at largely indicating they would (although obviously saying and doing aren’t the same).
    • At the same time, the poll also received a lot of negative feedback due to the annoyance factor (it would keep popping up on a user logging into any Second Life web property until responded to), and so has been turned off.
    • However, there are more such polls being planned, although how they are being presented might be reconsidered.
  • Web profiles and legacy profiles viewer: there are further fixes awaiting before this profile can roll forward, and these are queued behind other work at present.
  • Forum spamming. There has been an upturn in new accounts spamming the forums. It is possible that if this continues and gets worse, LL may consider some form of throttling / limits on the volume of posts that can be made by an individual account at a given time.

2020 Simulator User Group week #14 summary

Villa Eirini, Calas Galadhon, February 2020 – blog post

The following notes were taken at the Simulator User Group meeting held on Tuesday, March 31st.

Simulator Deployments

Please refer to the simulator deployment thread for updates.

llTargetedEmail() Concerns

The llTargetedEmail() function has caused concern among users, partially due to a lack of any forewarning to users.  Specific concerns that have been raised since the deployment thread was published, with concerns such as the following being raised:

Example then. If someone make 10 alts, then get an item created by me that is modifiable (from Marketplace for example) and drop a script with TARGETED_EMAIL_ROOT_CREATOR in it that sends mails in loop… Even with 20 seconds delay that’s 3 emails per minute. 180 emails per hour. Per user. With 10 alts it’s almost 2000 messages per hour on my mailbox. Because owner of said alts can spam my mailbox via Lab’s servers without even knowing my SL-only email address for getting emails from grid.

In response to seeing these issues, Oz Linden stated at the SUG meeting:

That function was added as part of an ongoing effort to clean up how we send emails from SL… we wanted a way to send some of the emails that creators might want without having to have people put email addresses into scripts. It sends to whatever address you’ve verified. The concerns about the ROOT_CREATOR version are being discussed; exactly what we’ll do about that remains to be seen, but we’ll try hard to make it difficult to abuse.

In Brief

  • BUG-228399 “Script deletion disables vehicle controls until re-rez” appears to be an issue arising from a recent simulator update. The cause for the problem isn’t currently known, but the report has been imported by the Lab to their internal Jira for investigation.
  • BUG-228405 “Residents attempting to log into any region which use an SL Experience for access (Key Experience) get sent to welcome hub despite having allowed the SL Experience”. This appears to be the result of a region /parcel with access control via an experience removing an avatar that is being logged-in prior to all of the avatar’s data (including its permission to be in the region / parcel) having loaded – thus causing the region to assume avatar is not supposed to be there. It is an issue known to the Lab.

2020 viewer release summaries week #13

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

Updates for the week ending Sunday, March 29th

This summary is generally published 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 for purposes of length, TPV test viewers, preview / beta viewers / nightly builds are generally not recorded in these summaries.

Official LL Viewers

  • Current Release version  version 6.3.8.538264, dated March 12, promoted March 18th. Formerly the Premium RC viewer – No Change.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Camera Presets RC viewer updated to version 6.3.9.538729 on March 25th.
    • Love Me Render RC viewer updated to version 6.3.9.538760 on March 25th.
  • Project viewers:
    • No updates.

LL Viewer Resources

Third-party Viewers

V6-style

  • No updates.

V1-style

Mobile / Other Clients

  • No updates.

Additional TPV Resources

Related Links

2020 Content Creation User Group week #13 summary

Lakeside, February 2020 – blog post

The following notes were taken from my audio recording and chat log of the Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meeting held on Thursday, March 26th 2020 at 13:00 SLT. These meetings are chaired by Vir Linden, and agenda notes, meeting SLurl, etc, are available on the Content Creation User Group wiki page.

SL Viewers

Following the promotion of the Premium RC viewer in week #12, the following viewers were merged up to that code base on March 25th:

At the time this report was written, the rest of the SL viewer pipelines remain as:

  • Current Release version  version 6.3.8.538264, dated March 12, promoted March 18th. Formerly the Premium RC viewer.
  • Release channel cohorts):
    • EEP RC viewer updated to version 6.4.0.538823, March 20.
    • Zirbenz Maintenance RC viewer, version 6.3.9.538719, issued March 19.
  • Project viewers:
    • Copy / Paste viewer, version 6.3.5.533365, December 9, 2019.
    • Project Muscadine (Animesh follow-on) project viewer, version 6.4.0.532999, November 22, 2019.
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version 6.3.2.530836, September 17, 2019. Covers the re-integration of Viewer Profiles.
    • 360 Snapshot project viewer, version 6.2.4.529111, July 16, 2019.

Environment Enhancement Project

Project Summary

A set of environmental enhancements (e.g. the sky, sun, moon, clouds, and 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.

Resources

Current Status

  • Is now “really close” to be ready for release, with all of the graphic team working hard to eliminate the last of the issues that have been seen as blocker to moving the project to formal release status.
  • There  may only be two remaining blockers that need to be cleared.

ARCTan

Project Summary

An attempt to re-evaluate object and avatar rendering costs to make them more reflective of the actual impact of rendering both. The overall aim is to try to correct some inherent negative incentives for creating optimised content (e.g. with regards to generating LOD models with mesh), and to update the calculations to reflect current resource constraints, rather than basing them on outdated constraints (e.g. graphics systems, network capabilities, etc).

As of January 2020 ARCTan has effectively been split:

  • Immediate viewer-side changes, primarily focused on revising the Avatar Rendering Cost (ARC) calculations and providing additional viewer UI so that people can better visibility and control to seeing complexity. This work can essentially be broken down as:
    • Collect data.
    • Update ARC function.
    • Design and provide tool within the viewer UI (i.e. not a pop-up) that presents ARC information in a usable manner and lets users make decisions about rendering / performance.
  • Work on providing in-world object rendering costs (LOD models, etc.) which might affect Land Impact will be handled as a later tranche of project work, after the avatar work.
  • The belief is that “good” avatar ARC values can likely be used as a computational base for these rendering calculations.

Current Status

  • Vir is still trying to resolve the appearance  / Bake Service issue he thought he might have a fix for.that has been causing problems with ARCTan testing. This has yet to be QA tested. Should it pass, then it will mean internal testing can resume.

Project Muscadine

Project Summary

Currently: offering the means to change an Animesh size parameters via LSL.

Current Status

  • Still technically on hold, but Vir has been looking at what will be required to get what had been worked up back up-to-date This work, when it can be tackled will include:
    • Merging the project viewer up to the current release viewer / EEP.
    • Updating the server code with all of the updates made to the simulator code, which is described as a “fairly major” piece of work.

General Discussion

  • LL is continuing to see a rise in Second life use as a result of SARS-Cov-2, and the majority of the services are handling things well.
  • There is a report that larger Animesh objects do not LOD (level of distance) swap gracefully if the viewer cache has been heavily used (e.g. as a result of going to an even), even if the Animesh has been previously cached. The only ways to clear the issue appear to be re-logging or clearing cache.
    • This is not a known issue or something LL have seen, and a Jira has been requested on the problem.
  • There is an issue with the LL viewer getting confused between RC viewers when updating to a more recent RC update. This is a known issue and is being investigated.
  • There was a discussion over animation priorities and expanding the current range of priorities (with one suggestion they should go as high as 15!).
    • An advantage with a greater range is that in theory allow for more granular control of animation types (e.g. 0-1 for default system animations; 2 for general AO animations (standing, walking, running, flying); 3-4 for common AO animations (e.g sitting); 5 for “speciality / custom” AOs; 6 for “must run in all cases”.
    • The flip side to this is the issue of creators just opting for the higher-end settings “because they are there”.
  • The ability to dynamically set animations via LSL was also re-mentioned and discussed.
  • Vir noted that were LL to look at implemented the dynamic application of animations, they might also look at priorities and priority ranges.
  • A further request was made for a “standalone”alpha channel for materials (separate to the one pre-baked into the diffuse texture channel. This is something that has been requested in the past (e.g. see: BUG-224928), and something not under current consideration.

2020 Simulator User Group week #13 summary

Kindred Spirit, February 2020 – blog post

The following notes were taken at the Simulator User Group meeting held on Tuesday, March 24th. Not a lot to report as an equinox party took priority at the meeting.

Simulator Deployments

Please refer to the simulator deployment thread for updates.

  • On Tuesday, March 24th, the majority of the grid (the SLS “main” channel) updated to simulator version 538605, containing fixes for object_rez timing in scripts.
    • This update does not change the on_rez delay, but adds code that will ensure that the object_rez messages are not lost.
  • An RC deployment is pending for Wednesday, March 25th, but details were TBA at the time of writing this summary, so please refer to the deployment thread for updates

SL Viewer

There have been no viewer updates to mark the start of the week to leave the official viewer pipelines as follows:

  • Current Release version  version 6.3.8.538264, dated March 12, promoted March 18th. Formerly the Premium RC viewer.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • EEP RC viewer updated to version 6.4.0.538823, March 20th.
    • Zirbenz Maintenance RC viewer, version 6.3.9.538719, issued March 19th.
    • Love Me Render RC viewer, version 6.3.7.536179, February 10th.
    • Camera Presets RC viewer, version 6.3.6.535138, January 24th.
  • Project viewers:
    • Copy / Paste viewer, version 6.3.5.533365, December 9th, 2019.
    • Project Muscadine (Animesh follow-on) project viewer, version 6.4.0.532999, November 22nd, 2019.
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version 6.3.2.530836, September 17th, 2019. Covers the re-integration of Viewer Profiles.
    • 360 Snapshot project viewer, version 6.2.4.529111, July 16th, 2019.