2019 TPVD meeting week #46 summary

Unconditional, October 2019 – blog post

The following notes are taken from the TPV Developer meeting held on November 15th, 2019. A video of the meeting is embedded below, my thanks to Pantera for recording and providing it. As always:

  • Time stamps are given with links that will open the video at the appropriate point in a separate browser tab for reference.
  • Core points of the meeting are listed below. Other subjects of lesser import may have been discussed, please refer to the video.

Simulator Script Management Improvements

[1:25-2:35]

These continue to be deployed across the grid, with the Lab believe the results have been “mostly good”, but noting that there may still be some scripts that may be affected by the changes (and some have been reported – such as BUG-227864).

Those that are experiencing issues are asked to file a bug report, as the Lab is willing to offer assistance. Note that example scripts may be requested as a well.

SL Viewer News

[2:45-6:33]

  • On Friday, November 15th:
    • The Maintenance RC viewer updated to version 6.3.5.532739.
    • The Copy / Paste project viewer updated to version 6.3.5.532780.

The rest of the current viewer pipelines remain as follows:

  • Current Release version 6.3.4.532299, formerly the Ordered Shutdown RC viewer, dated November 4.
  • Release channel cohorts:
  • Project viewers:
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version 6.3.2.530836, September 17th. Covers the re-integration of Viewer Profiles.
    • Project Muscadine (Animesh follow-on) project viewer, version 6.4.0.530473, September 11th.
    • 360 Snapshot project viewer, version 6.2.4.529111, July 16th.

General Viewer Notes

  • A further update to the Legacy Profiles viewer is close to being made available. If the comments from the Web User Group are correct, this will see Profile Feeds appearing in the Profile floater, presumably in a new tab on that floater.
  • The first of the viewer builds using the updated Visual Studio 2017 / Xcode 10.3 (?) that had been anticipated as appearing “soon” at the last RPVD meeting apparently did not pass QA testing, and is now subject to debugging code changes that were made to some of the coroutines in the viewer.
  • It appears that work has resumed on the contribution towards viewer camera presets (STORM-2145), with “good progress” being made, but no indication on when a project viewer will surface.
  • The Lab is trying to generate bandwidth to implement mesh uploader improvements (these are most likely based on the Firestorm improvements to the uploader, the code for which has been contributed to LL).

Two-Factor Authentication

[15:43-16:46]

Two-factor authentication for log-in has been s subject of comment and requests from some time. Linden Lab is actively working on it, noting it is “firmly on the roadmap”. However:

  • There is no time frame at present on possible deployment.
  • The work is dependent / linked to other work, requiring things are approached in order and care is taken to ensure that in making all the collective changes, nothing is broken.

SL Share

[16:50-18:55]

SL Share, the capability for sharing SL snapshots to Facebook, Flickr and Twitter via LL server-side support, is to be discontinued.

  • The Facebook upload capability was removed some time ago after Facebook made changes to their API that broke the ability for the viewer to share to their platform, and did not implement any fix.
  • More recently, the Flickr and Twitter uploads have suffered issues (the Flickr upload is currently broken in viewers using the Lab’s upload back-end).

The reason for discontinuing SL Share is due to Flickr and Twitter making frequent changes to their connecting APIs without any notice that require LL to update their back-end support, which is regarded as a “big distraction” from other server-side work.

TPVs are free to continue to offer their own viewer-side means of uploading to the likes of Flickr that do not require LL’s back-end support, if they so wish. Firestorm has already done this.

In Brief

  • Singularity is apparently “very close” to a formal release to bring it up-to-date with current viewers.
  • [7:22-15:15] There is a discussion on region issues that are specific to the London City regions. Whilst somewhat outside the normal remit for TPVD meetings, it might be worth listening to by region / estate owners who may have experienced recent restart issues.
  • Emojis are coming to the viewer, courtesy of a code contribution that’s heading to Linden Lab.
The emoji capability is being contributed by the Catznip viewer team
  • Next TPV Developer meeting: Friday, December 14th, 2019.

2019 Content Creation User Group week #46 summary

Kinglet Sound, September 2019 – blog post

The following notes are taken from my audio recording of the Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meeting held on Thursday, November 14th 2019 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.

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.

Due to performance issues, the initial implementation of EEP will now likely not include certain atmospherics such as crepuscular rays (“God rays”).

Resources

Current Status

  • Merging with the last set of viewer releases has caused issues, and these are currently being addressed.
  • Beyond the above issue, clearing the remaining EEP bugs is “a priority focus”.

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).

Current Status

  • Vir is working on providing a means for data collection across a range of different viewer-side hardware specifications.
  • His previous work on textures and texture handling / loading have revealed it is hard to quantify in terms of accounting for performance impact, as textures don’t result in the same kind of impact as mesh triangle complexity.
    • With mesh, there is a clear complexity correlation between the number of triangles and performance /  complexity hits.
    • The number of textures on a object don’t behave the same way, other then during initial loading or if they push against memory limits, so, there’s no gradual degradation in performance with texture that can be seen with mesh, making it harder to produce accurate calculations.

Avatar System

The avatar system has become considerably more flexible over the years, but also far more complexity to use. Given this, Vir put out a question on whether there is anything creators would like to see Linden Lab do in terms of managing the avatar behaviour and configurability.

For example, one aspect of avatar system management is HUDs, which can be impactful in a number of ways  – resources simulator side, texture use viewer side; general ease-of use. Discussion on this raised some suggestions ideas:

  • Presenting them through (if possible) a dedicated floater in the viewer that could be dragged around like any other floater, minimised, etc.
  • Possibly extending llDialog to prove better support for HUD-like actions via dialogues.
  • Providing an HTML-based means for HUD-style interactions.
  • Having a “favourites” inventory folder sub-set, floater and toolbar button, a-la Firestorm that users could use for their various HUDs and (hopefully) encourage them to only attach (via the toolbar button / floater) when required – thus assisting with reducing VRAM usage for users / eases resource loads when avatars move between simulators. This idea has been discussed at the Lab.

A further discussion on this involved avatar shapes and applying / managing parameters.

  • Currently the body shape is a “container” for all body parameters (head shape, body size, leg length, torso dimensions, etc).
  • This can make it hard when trying to carry out localised modifications to a part of a body (e.g. applying head parameters to a “preset” shape designed for a specific head brand).
  • There have been suggestions to help improve this, including:
    • Providing a means of exporting specific shape parameters for making new body shapes (see feature request BUG-216131).
    • Manipulating the shape via LSL (not seen as necessarily user-friendly).
    • Having some form of wearable that can be associated with specific body area parameters so that when used, would cause the currently worn body to adopt those parameters.
    • Provide a means to support some kind of “mask list” that just governs which bones they affect. This would allow for quite arbitrary sub-sets (as defined by the shape creator), but is seen as not that user-friendly, and potentially introducing added complexity into shape manipulation.
  • Some of these suggestions have a potential hit with increased UI complexity, but the idea of having explicit sub-set of shapes (e.g. one for the head, one form the upper body (or torso), etc.,) that have an obvious link to the sliders they would affect / be affected by, would seem to be the easiest for users to understand.
  • To address the head issue noted above, the most direct solution would be to separate the head shape from the body.

Other Items in Brief

  • Rider Linden is working on the texturing download and caching updates for the viewer, but these have run into merging problems with the current release viewer, so there is nothing available for public consumption on this work.
  • Several creators have noted issues with Bakes on Mesh and the left arm / leg, Universal wearables, tattoos and skins (see this forum post as an example, together with this feedback thread post). No precise solution has been offered (there has been a suggestion for LL to provide a means to convert existing skins to universals for left arm and left leg, but it’s not clear how well this would work in practice).

November 2019 Web User Group: Premium Plus & Events

© and ™ Linden Lab

The following notes are taken from my recording of the Web User Group (WUG) meeting, held on Wednesday, November 13th, 2019. These meetings are held monthly, 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 when 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, the audio comments will be concatenated into a single audio extract for that topic).

Premium Plus

  • Premium Plus is now to be the official name for the upcoming new Premium subscription level, this having changed from “Elite” following feedback from users.
  • It will not be ready for deployment until after Name Changes has been deployed, and the Lab is currently aiming for “early 2020”.
  • Full benefits for Premium Plus subscriptions have not been disclosed, however it has been indicated that:
    • “A lot” of the current Premium benefits are going to be “even better” for Premium Plus.
    • There will also be benefits that are obviously exclusive to Premium Plus.
    • There will be Marketplace benefits available to merchants upgrading to Premium Plus – but again, what these are has not been disclosed.
  • Despite a rumour being dropped into a public meeting that the new subscription will be “three times” the current Premium subscription, no official word on the pricing for Premium Plus has been given, other than it will be available on a monthly or annual subscription basis (see: 2019 Web User Group week #40: Name Changes and new Premium option).

Events

  • The Second Life Events service is being overhauled.
  • The first pass of this work is to clean-up the service to prevent event spamming.
    • This will involve levying a fee for events to be listed.
    • The fee will be in Linden Dollars. However, it will not be “prohibitive”, but rather enough to “incentivise better event content”.
    • The fee will be lower for Premium accounts compared to Basic accounts.
  • The follow-on work will include providing the means for Premium account holders to set recurring events.
  • Beyond this, there is a much larger tranche of work to overhaul what events look like and the events functionality, which is targeted for an early 2020 deployment.

Marketplace

  • A range of fixes and general code clean-up.
  • New notifications options now available via Marketplace → Account → Notification Options.
    • The options displayed are split between Shopping and Merchant notifications, with the latter obviously only available to those actually selling through the Marketplace.
The new notifications (shown side-by-side for convenience). Note the Merchant options will only be displayed for those selling through the MP. Click for larger size, if required.
  • The Place Order button has been moved to the top of the advert listing page when ordering L$0 items, to make completing the order quicker.
  • Filters for removing demo and / or limited items / gachas from Marketplace searches are very close to being ready for deployment.
    • This work is part of an overall refactoring of the Marketplace search that will continue to see incremental changes and improvements to the search functionality.

In Brief

User-to-User Land Auctions

  • User-to-user land auctions have been suspended due to instances of “abuse” (no specifics provided) that require the Lab to make changes to the system.
  • There is no indication as to when user-to-user auctions will be re-opened, as the Lab has to consider how best to change the system to prevent similar misuse in the future.

Other Notes

  • There has been a general clean-up of the secondlife.com pages.
    • For example: the Account → Contact page has been removed from users’ dashboards as it provided redundant information (your own user name and e-mail address) – this does not impact the Change Password option.
  • Recent general work on all SL web properties has included updating the servers to a new operating system and installing a new site defender that can respond faster to attacks.
  • Release notes for updates to the web services (similar to those for simulator and viewer release notes) are in the works, and could be ready for deploy before year-end.
  • The official viewer log-in splash screen now includes a section for the SL Blogger Network, as well as now displaying the current Second Life time.

2019 Simulator User Group week #46 summary

Hazardous, September 2019 – blog post

Simulator Deployments

Please refer to the server deployment thread for news and updates:

  • The SLS (main) channel on Tuesday, November 12th, leaving it on server release 2019-11-01T18:02:37.532376, previously deployed to an RC and comprising: internal script improvements. internal logging changes and improvements to simulator state saves, which should make rolls smoother.
  • On Wednesday, November 13th, there will be two RC deployments

SL Viewer

The Ordered Shutdown RC viewer, version 6.3.4.532299 and dated Monday, November 4th, has been promoted to the de facto release viewer.

The Maintenance RC viewer updated to version 6.3.5.532631 on Tuesday, November 12th.

The rest of the current viewer pipelines remain as follows:

  • Release channel cohorts:
  • Project viewers:
    • Project Muscadine (Animesh follow-on) project viewer, version 6.4.0.531949, October 28.
    • Copy / Paste viewer, version 6.3.3.531844, October 21.
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version 6.3.2.530836, September 17. Covers the re-integration of Viewer Profiles.
    • 360 Snapshot project viewer, version 6.2.4.529111, July 16.

In Brief

  • There is a relatively new member of the Lab’s QA team for Second Life: Johngalt Linden.

2019 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 10th

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 6.3.3.531811, formerly the Voice RC viewer, dated October 18, promoted October 31 – NEW.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Maintenance RC viewer updated to version 6.3.4.532422 on November 7th.
  • Project viewers:
    • No updates.

LL Viewer Resources

Third-party Viewers

V6-style

V1-style

Mobile / Other Clients

  • No Updates

Additional TPV Resources

Related Links

2019 Simulator User Group week #45 summary

Whimsies and Dreamscapes, September 2019 – blog post

Simulator Deployments

Please refer to the server deployment thread for news and updates:

  • The SLS (main) channel on Tuesday, November 5th, leaving it on server release 2019-10-26T00:06:48.532192, previously released on October 30th and comprising:
    • A previously released hotfix to fix teleports being 5%-7% less reliable.
    • A change that makes the simulator take a little bit longer to report as “Up” to the Lab’s internal tools to more accurately reflect when residents can actually access a region.
  • There is a single RC deployment planned for Wednesday, November 6th: version 2019-11-01T18:02:37.532376, which is essentially a rebuild of 532143, originally deployed on Wednesday, October 30th and containing the above updates as well. No release had been released at the time of writing.

Note: a second RC deployment, 532377, comprising an internal update and a script to monitor additional region data during rolls was cancelled after it was discovered in QA it broke script uploading. 

Linden Lab request that if anyone sees messages about “Unable to upload 12345678-90ab-cdef-1234567890ab due to the following reason” on a version that isn’t 532377, could they please file a bug report and provide full information of when, where and how they encountered the message. 

SL Viewer

The Ordered Shutdown RC viewer was updated to version 6.3.4.532299 on Monday, November 4th. At the time of writing, the rest of the viewer pipelines remain as follows:

  • Current Release version 6.3.3.531811, formerly the Voice RC viewer, dated October 18, promoted October 31 – NEW.
  • 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:
    • Project Muscadine (Animesh follow-on) project viewer, version 6.4.0.531949, October 28.
    • Copy / Paste viewer, version 6.3.3.531844, October 21.
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version 6.3.2.530836, September 17. Covers the re-integration of Viewer Profiles.
    • 360 Snapshot project viewer, version 6.2.4.529111, July 16.

Simulator Performance

There are continued reports of simulator performance issues – notably with Mainland regions. The most common description of the problem is that over time, script performance on Full region simulators declines to the point where only around 20% or so of scripts are running per cycle, and the simulator has no spare time, forcing the region holder to submit a ticket requesting a move to a different server. This tends to resolve the problem – at least until the next rolling restart, when the performance degradation starts again.

There appears to be no discernible reason for this. Rider Linden has been making improvements on how scripts – particularly idle scripts – are handled, and at the meeting, Simon Linden noted:

We’ve been looking at scripts and performance and there are some changes in the works that will hopefully help … those are on about 15% of the regions now, and will expand to about 20% tomorrow.

…Rider’s work looked at a bunch of the event distribution code like that, and he made it faster with re-writing it and getting rid of brute-force searching and so on. Of course, that changed some script timing and killed some kittens and pot plants. Sometimes it really hits me what a strange job this is.

The issues have led to speculation that the Lab might be stacking more regions on their servers or are reducing the server resources available to each simulator. Responding to an enquiry on this, Simon indicated that the Lab have not changed either for years. However, he did note the fact that the servers the Lab uses do change, so something may have been introduced to impact performance.