2021 SUG meeting week #9 summary

Ambient Hideaway, January 2021 – blog post

The following notes were taken from the Tuesday, March 2nd, 2021 Simulator User Group (SUG) meeting.

Server Deployments

Please refer to the server deployment thread for the latest news and updates.

  • Tuesday, March 2nd saw a rolling restart of servers on the SLS Main channel as a refresh, but no deployment.
  • Wednesday, March 3rd should, if the notes are comments have been understood, see the following:
    • Server update 2021-02-17.556138 will be deployed to the Oranges RC channel (formerly part of the BlueSteel channel said).
    • “A couple more region tests” (per Rider Linden) planned for LeTigra and Magnum.
  • In addition, a fourth mini-RC channel, called Ferrari has been set-up.

Restarts are described as still having the kinks worked out within the new environment.

SL Viewer

On Tuesday, March 2nd, the Simple Cache project viewer, version 6.4.14.556088, dated February 22nd 2021, was promoted to de facto release viewer.

The rest of the current pipelines remain as:

  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Love Me Render (LMR) 5 project viewer, version 6.4.14.556118, February, 23, 2021.
    • Custom Key Mappings project viewer, version 6.4.12.553437, January 7, 2021.
  • Project viewers:
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version 6.4.11.550519, October 26.
    • 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.
    • 360 Snapshot project viewer, version 6.2.4.529111, July 16, 2019.

In Brief

  • “Good progress” continues to be made on fixing the Map tile update issue, including the map stitching when zooming out (which was seen as the last problem to be resolved), but there is still no date as to when a fix may be deployed.
  • An extensive discussion took place regarding a delay in scripts starting in rezzed objects which can be variable for reasons unknown – other than the fact the delay seems to be minimal when a region has been recently restarted, but grows in time to 2-3 seconds the longer the region is up. However, the delay does not appear to relate to the usage of the region or its complexity (scripted objects within it).
    • Some appear to believe the delay is related to changes made in 2019 to try to improve script performance in general (and thus can be “easily fixed”).
    • Others have suggested the issue could be the result of some for of throttle being triggered.
    • The problem is having something of a “knock-on” effect in that some users have taken to pre-rezzing items and having them in an alpha / transparent mode around their avatar until needed – which is impacting region performance further.

Rapid update: Kirsten’s Viewer & Speedlight

Isla Caitinara via Kirsten’s Viewer

While viewer updates are always in process across the available TPVs and clients, I thought I’d take a brief delve into recent updates for a couple of those I tend to routinely follow – Kirsten’s Viewer and the Speedlight Browser / Android / iOS client.

Kirsten’s Viewer

Late February and early March have seen a burst of activity from KirstenLee Cinquetti, with three versions of the Kirsten’s Viewer being released in a rapid-fire succession, started with S23.6.1500 on February 23rd and running through S23.6.1525 (codenamed Valkyrie, dated February 27th) and then S23.6.1533 (also, I gather, Valkyrie, released on March 2nd).

Give it’s been getting close to a year since the last update (see Kirsten’s viewer: a return to active duty and Kirsten’s Viewer gains the client-side AO), these releases do not focus on new features so much on both catching-up with the Lab’s core code base (which appears to be currently still in progress) and a lot of under-the-hood house cleaning.

In particular, the code clean-up means that as from the S23 release, Kirsten’s Viewer discontinues support for Linux /Solaris/ OSX, and the viewer will be Windows-only. The reason for this is simple: time.

Why would I do such a thing? Its simply the realisation that keeping this thing maintained takes time, which is a rare commodity and focusing on a pure windows based solution without sifting through endless defines and endif’s not to mention the triple whammy cmake files or anything else for that matter makes life a heck of a lot simpler.

– KirstenLee on why Kirsten’s Viewer is now Windows-centric

A further benefit of this move, as Kirsten goes on to note, is that it also streamlines the Windows built process itself, through the integration of some of the build libraries into Visual Studio 2017 (now the core build tool for the Windows flavour of viewers), rather than relying on third-party libraries.

Given this focus, it appears the viewer has yet to get some of the more recent updates from the Lab, including:

  • Camera Presets (contributed to the Lab by open-source developer Jonathan Yap).
  • Mesh Uploader updates (contributed by open-source / Firestorm developer Beq Janus, with further modifications by the Lab).
  • Avatar “jelly doll” rendering improvements (via Vir Linden).

That said there are a couple of new additions to be found in preferences:

  • The return of the Midnight UI skin (Preferences → S23 Features → S23 UI Selection).
Kirsten’s S23 see the return of the purple “Midnight” UI skinning (viewer restart required)
  • The inclusion of the Controls Tab from the Lab’s Custom Key Mappings RC viewer, which allows users to assign specific key mappings to a range of viewer functions (Preferences Controls).
S23 incorporates the Lab’s custom key mapping options, which at the time of this review, were still at viewer release candidate status in the official viewer.

As  noted, these recent releases are more along the lines of maintenance work and under-the-hood changes that are vital to the viewer’s longevity and future ease-of-update, rather than intending to present significant user-facing updates.

But that said, and with this work now completed, it hopefully won’t be too long before options such as the jelly doll updates and Camera Presets appear within Kirsten’s Viewer  and it continued to recover greater parity with the Lab’s code base and releases.

Details on KirstenLee’s recent work on the viewer can be found on her blog, and the viewer can be downloaded here.

Speedlight

Speedlight, the browser / android / iOS client updated in mid-February, with updates for both Basic and Gold users.

Core updates (Basic and Gold):

  • Places search has been added.
Speedlight now includes the ability to search via region / parcel name (subject to location’s search listing)
  • SLURLs are now clickable with an ability to teleport.
  • Avatar maturity can be changed via the Settings → Maturity tab.
  • The Avatars page (dashboard) now displays the current location of your avatars.
The location of your avatar(s) is now listed on the Avatar dashboard page

3D World View Updates:

  • Walk auto-pilot: right-click or long touch on device screen at location to the walked to, then select Walk Here from the pop-up menu.
  • In-world object interaction (Touch): right-click or long touch object, and select Touch from the pop-up menu.
  • Revised interface for the world view, with improved rendering.
  • Gold 3D Word View Updates:
    • While in low-poly mode, touch any object to load a high LOD model.
    • Holding ALT+mouse will rotate camera around avatar (as with a viewer).
    • On-screen joystick can be turned on in 3D settings.
    • Stick avatars size adjusted to fit with real avatars in preparation for avatar rendering).

The core updates noted above further tune Speedlight’s ability to meet with many use-cases for those needing to access SL while away from a full viewer. As noted last time around, however, my personal view is that the 3D world view remains hit-and-miss – even on my PC using a browser, objects frequently fail to fully render and avatar movement can be unpredictable.

Whether this is just done to my being Basic / have a bad connection to the rendering pre-processing server, I’ve no idea; but if these issues are more endemic, then perhaps they might suggest that more more needs to be tweaked before full-scale avatar rendering is attempted.

In the meantime, Speedlight can be run via any browser via the Speedlight Website, or downloaded from either Google Play or the Apple Store (fee payble for the latter, with automatic Gold lifetime subscription).

2021 viewer release summaries week #8

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

Updates for the week ending Sunday, February 28th

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 viewer: Project Jelly viewer (Jellydoll updates), version 6.4.13.555567 and dated February 5th, 2021, promoted February 17th – NEW.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Love Me Render (LMR) 5 viewer updated to version 6.4.14.556118 on February 23rd.
    • Simple Cache project viewer updated to version 6.4.14.556088 on February 22nd (dated February 19th).
  • Project viewers:
    • No updates.

LL Viewer Resources

Third-party Viewers

V6-style

V1-style

Mobile / Other Clients

  • Lightsight – currently unavailable on Google Play; at the time of writing, it is unclear if this is temporary or permanent.

Additional TPV Resources

Related Links

Kokua: catching up to release 6.4.13

I hadn’t actually realised until this past weekend, but I’ve let my coverage of the Kokua slip by a fair few releases – my apologies to Chorazin and the Kokua team for allowing this to happen.

However, given this is the case, and given Kokua 6.4.13 has recently been released, I thought I’d run through a quick round-up of the changes since 6.4.2 and 6.4.14, with a focus on the most recent release.

Menus

Since Kokua 6.4.9, any clean install of Kokua will result in the viewer displaying an updated menu structure that comes closer in layout to the official viewer. It see the removal of the Edit and View menus. This sees the more popular options from these menus moved to the Me and Command menus.

The old (top) and new (bottom) Kokua menus. Note the new menu will be used following a clean install of Kokua.

Note that the menu can be reverted via the last option on the Advanced menu  – a restart will be required, however for the change to take effect.

Rapid Update Round-Up

  • 6.4.4:
    • New licensing of KDU for better rendering and LL Havok third party extensions.
    • Parity with the official viewer release 6.4.3 (FMOD studio update).
    • Implemented the Firestorm feature show the parcel boundary highlighting up to 4,000m (Build floater → Advanced Build Options → check Show parcel Selection Outlines and “…up to maximum build height”.
Enabling parcel boundary highlights to maximum build altitude

In addition, these updates incorporated all RLV updates from release 2.9.28.1 to 2.9.20.0, together with multiple improvements from the Kokua team for RLV functionality, and also assorted general bug fixes and improvements.

Kokua 6.4.13

Jelly Doll Improvements

Jelly Dolls old (l) and new (r). Note the colour and rendering of attachments on the left – the latter of which adds to the cost of rendering the Jelly Doll. This is no longer the case with the new Jelly Dolls

The 6.4.13 brings Kokua to parity with the official 6.4.13 Jelly Dolls viewer, revising how “Jelly Dolled” avatars are rendered.

  • Originally introduced in 2015 (and with various updates since) Jelly Dolls is a means for users to reduce the avatar rendering load on their systems, by having any avatars around them that exceed a certain complexity value (set via a slider) render as a solid colour and minimal detail.
  • There have always been a number of visual and technical issues with the manner in which these avatars have been rendered.
  • The new Jelly Doll updates now included in this release of Kokua improves how avatars are “jelly dolled”, by a) rendering them as a simple grey shape (rather than a solid colour) and avoids attempting to render attachments.
  • In addition it also improves to how avatar imposters are rendered and updated.

These changes should result in demonstrable improvements in view performance in environments where there are a large number of avatars, and the capability is sensibly used.

Group Updates

Kokua 6.4.13 adopts Kitty Barnett’s (Catznip) improves to accessing  / display Group related information.

Previously Group information was presented as one tab within the People floater. Accessing any elements of Group information – such as notices – was presented in the same floater. This meant information on only one Group could be opened at a time,and made actions such as viewing or creating a group notice somewhat complex.

With these changes, Kokua now:

  • Presents the Profile of a selected Group in a separate panel – this allowing multiple Groups to be viewed.
  • Similarly breaks out the Group notices creation option as a separate panel – which can also be accessed from the Conversations floater.
The new break-out Group floater and options available in the People floater (and via the Conversation floater)  for creating / viewing Group notices (which may be subject to permissions)

The new behaviour is enabled by default but can be switched back to the former behaviour by unchecking Preferences → Kokua → General → Group settings open in a new floater rather than within the People floater.

Block List, Object Derendering and Avatar Rendering Exceptions

Also ported from Catznip is a new floater that combines Block / Mute operations and Derender / Avatar Rendering options into a single place, allowing them to be viewed / reviewed / unblocked. The floater include options to add avatars / objects to the block list and also unblock avatars / items on the list.

Note that:

  • When a derendered object is removed from the list, it may not immediately be re-drawn, but may require a TP  away / back or a re-log to make it visible in your view.
  • A facility to block/mute objects has been added to Sound Explorer however there are some caveats to be aware of due to differences between sound and object handling:
    • Blocking/muting will generally not work if an object is in a different region or is beyond draw distance.
    • A sound may continue to play even after blocking/muting the object responsible. This typically happens when several objects are all playing the same sound – each object playing the sound must be blocked/muted before the sound will stop. The Sound Explorer has a facility to pause the listing which can be handy when trying to select several items.

Additional Updates

Two further ports from Firestorm;

  • Configuration options for chat message toasts: a new options panel has been added in Kokua / Preferences / Chat to allow many parameters relating to chat toasts to be tweaked, including their width.
  • Active Gestures: a new option on the Gestures floater to only show those currently active, originally.

The release also includes a number of fixes from the Kokua team – please refer to the release notes.

Feedback

There are three third-party viewers I’ve tended to use in Second Life: Firestorm, Catznip and Kokua. All three offer a different emphasis for users,and Firestorm has tended to be my first choice.

However, both Catznip and Kokua have their own attractions, and with the recent progress with Kokua in particular, coupled with its higher cadence of updates, it is fast becoming a viable alternative to Firestorm, particularly as tends to offer a slightly higher frame rate. Certainly, for those who are looking for an alternative that offers a similar menu layout and largely comparable capabilities in terms of commonly-used options, Kokua is very much the viewer to consider.

Links

2021 SUG meeting week #8 summary

Beneath a sky created by Whirly Fizzle, people gather to say farewell to Oz Linden ahead of his retirement (see below)

The following notes were taken from the Tuesday, February 16th, 2021 Simulator User Group (SUG) meeting.

Server Deployments

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

  • Tuesday, February 23rd: no deployment to the SLS Main channel.
  • Wednesday, February 24th: all RC channels should receive server release 556138 (or a variant thereof). This release was originally deployed to the Apples test RC channel, and contains performance optimisations and internal fixes.
An Omnibus of Oz’s: to mark Oz Linden’s coming departure, several people – including Whirly Fizzle (l) and Alexa Linden (r) and Kyle Linden (pictured) – attended his farewell party as lookalikes. That’s the real Oz in the middle, seated on the Iron Throne.

SL Viewer

  • On Monday, February 22nd, the Simple Cache viewer updated to version 6.4.14.556088 (dated February 19th).
  • On  Tuesday, February 23rd, the Love Me Render (LMR) 5 viewer updated to version 6.4.14.556118, February.

The rest of the current pipelines remain as:

  • Current release viewer: Project Jelly viewer (Jellydoll updates), version 6.4.13.555567 and dated February 5th, 2021, promoted February 17th.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Custom Key Mappings project viewer, version 6.4.12.553437, January 7th.
  • Project viewers:
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version 6.4.11.550519, October 26th.
    • 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.
    • 360 Snapshot project viewer, version 6.2.4.529111, July 16th, 2019.
At its peak, the farewell party for Oz Linden saw around 60 people in attendance.

In Brief

There wasn’t really a meeting, and for a special reason: as he announced earlier in February, Oz Linden, the Lab’s Vice President of Engineering, is retiring at the end of the month with Friday, February 26th marking his last day with Linden Lab.

As such, the meeting was given over to a farewell party, with around 60 people in attendance. I  managed to get a few shots of the event, as shown here. For those interested, I wrote something of a look back at Oz’s time at the Lab in Oz Linden announces his forthcoming departure from Linden Lab.

2021 viewer release summaries week #7

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

Updates for the week ending Sunday, February 21st

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 viewer: Project Jelly viewer (Jellydoll updates), version 6.4.13.555567 and dated February 5th, 2021, promoted February 17th – NEW.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Love Me Render (LMR) 5 project viewer updated to version 6.4.13.555871 on February, 18th.
    • Simple Cache project viewer updated to version 6.4.13.555641 on February 16th.
  • Project viewers:
    • No updates.

LL Viewer Resources

Third-party Viewers

V6-style

  • Kokua updated to versions 6.4.13.46998 (No RLV) and 6.4.13.50041 (RLV variants) on February 20th – release notes.

V1-style

Mobile / Other Clients

Additional TPV Resources

Related Links