2020 Simulator User Group week #7 summary

La Clef des Champs, December 2019 – blog post

The following notes were taken at the Simulator User Group meeting held on Tuesday, February 11th.

Simulator Deployments

As always, please refer to the week’s deployment thread for updates.

SL Viewer

On Monday, February 10th, the Love Me Render RC viewer updated to version, 6.3.7.536179.

At the time of writing, all remaining viewer pipelines remain as follows:

  • Current Release version 6.3.6.535003, formerly the Xanté Maintenance RC, dated January 22nd, promoted January 27th – No Change.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Yorsh Maintenance RC viewer, version 6.3.7.535996, February 7th.
    • EP RC viewer updated to version 6.4.0.535668, February 4th.
    • 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.

Brief Notes

  • Work is continuing to try to clear the last blockers staying in the way on the Name Changes deployment.
  • BUG-228162 “Issue with experience_permissions_denied() and XP_ERROR_NOT_PERMITTED triggered when experience permissions are granted by more than one person” – appears to report an issue in granting permissions if dialogue requests are simultaneously open.

2020 TPVD meetings week #6 summary

Greenhouse, December 2019 – blog post

The following notes are taken from the TPV Developer meeting held on February 7th, 2020. 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.
  • Core points of the meeting are listed below. Other subjects of lesser import may have been discussed, please refer to the video.

This was a relatively short meeting, information-wise, with much of the actual meeting time given over to general text chat.

SL Viewer News

[0:27-2:21]

  • The Yorsh Maintenance RC viewer updated to version 6.3.7.535996 on February 7th.
  • The Love Me Render RC viewer updated to version 6.3.6.535087 on February 6th.

The remainder of the current SL viewer pipelines are as follows:

  • Current Release version 6.3.6.535003, formerly the Xanté Maintenance RC, dated January 22nd, promoted January 27th.
  • Release channel cohorts:
  • 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.

General Viewer Notes

  • The three potential candidates for the next release promotion are quoted as being the Yorsh Maintenance RC, the Love Me Render RC and (even though it is still a project viewer at the moment) the Legacy Profiles viewer.
  • The Camera Presets RC viewer is experiencing a higher than average crash rate, with investigations on why still ongoing.
  • [19:47-20:30] As noted in my week #6 CCUG summary, EEP is now in burn-down mode – which means more bugs are being fixed than are being reported. It is anticipated that the formal deployment is now weeks, rather than months, away.
  • [28:06-28:41] The cache replacement viewer project is once more making progress, but there is no date as to when a public version of the viewer is likely to surface.

In Brief

  • [2:46-11:30] The new Premium Plus subscription level requires viewer-side changes. These predominantly relate to logging-in, where a user’s account level (Basic, Premium and – in the future – Premium Plus) is obtained from the back-end via a received block of LLSD code containing benefits tags and values.
    • This code is now in a public repository, and will be seeing some changes to various values specified within it prior to Premium Plus being launched.
    • The server-side code supporting the new LLSD code block will be made available on some Aditi servers soon, so TPVs can ensure the code doesn’t interfere with their ability to connect to the SL servers with their current viewer versions, and to start testing the viewer-side code in non-public versions of their viewers in preparation for the launch of Premium Plus.
    • At some point the server-side code will be deployed to the main grid, where it should not impact current viewer versions.
    • As side notes to this:
      • Once Premium Plus has been launched, the new code will refuse to connect if the required data is missing, but the system will let a viewer that ignores it to connect.
      • However, under the current roadmap, Premium Plus will not be going live until some time after Name Changes has been released (as per statements made at the monthly Web User Group meetings).
  • [14:42-14:50] Work on migrating viewer repos from Mercurial to Github is progressing.
  • [21:38-26:08] The SL system requirements page no longer references Windows 7 as this is no longer a supported operating system version. However, a broader update to the requirements page is being considered, as the current information is considered “woefully to aged.”
    • As part of this discussion, it was reiterated that when EEP does go live, it removes the option for turning off basic shaders, which will prevent systems than cannot support basic shader operates from accessing Second Life. The fixed function OpenGL code that supports the disabling will then be removed as a part of a future viewer code clean-up pass.
  • [15:19-17:20 (incl. text chat)] Both Singularity and Alchemy have been working towards making formal releases Soon™. Singularity has an up-to-date beta available to users, and Alchemy is close to making an updated beta available as well.

2020 Content Creation User Group week #6 summary

The Rusty Nail, December 2019 – blog post

The following notes were taken from my audio recording of the Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meeting held on Thursday, February 6th 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.

Note: this meeting was called at short order after the the usual start-of-month Linden Lab internal All Hands meeting was delayed a week. This means that a) the meeting was slightly shorter than usual; b) there will not be a CCUG meeting on Thursday, February 13th.

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

  • EEP is now in burn-down mode – which means more bugs are being fixed than are being reported.
  • Again, as this project is drawing ever closer to a possible full deployment, now is the time for those who use windlights for photography or within their regions to test the EEP RC viewer and see if they can identify any potential issues / bugs.

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 has been working on the apparent Bake service issue noted in my last CCUG summary. Unfortunately, while he has ascertained it is something that can occur, it seems to do so entirely randomly and with no real consistency, making reproducing the issue in order to track down probable causes very difficult.

In Brief

  • BUG-228153, “FAO Vir: Possible cause of greyness in bakes” reports a Bake Service issue, which is due to be looked at by the Lab. This is probably not related to the issue Vir has been seeing with complex attachments.
  • A side on on the Bake Service: it is not only responsible for handling appearance bakes (textures), but also include calculations on shape, vertical positioning, etc., some of which must be calculated regardless of whether or not wearables are being used, and which can be affected by attachments containing position offsets.
  • There have been a number of feature requests for follow-up Bakes on Mesh work. Some of these have been accepted. However, there are no plans to re-open BoM for further work in the immediate future.

February 2020 Web User Group: Name Changes, MP updates and 2FA

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, February 5th, 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).

Cloud Uplift

  • The work transitioning SL services to the cloud is very much a daily task for the Web Team, who appear to be the focus at the moment in the drive to get SL-related web properties and services transitioned to provisioning by AWS.
  • This work is also impacting a lot of cycles of QA and engineering work.
  • It is believed that the initial benefit for SL web services following their transitioning will be in performance.
  • It was reiterated that the focus of the work is just on making the transition to AWS provisioning; and other work (such as possible regional localisation of servers where it makes sense to do so) will not come until much later.

Name Changes

  • Still no confirmation of likely deployment date. However, and as per my week #6 Simulator Group summary, the necessary server-side support for Name Changes is being deployed to the grid.
  • The final tally of entrants in the Last Names competition is 2,300, with the majority all entering their allowed three choices, so somewhere in the region of 6,900 suggestions (some of which might be duplicates of one another).
    • Work is in-hand to select the winners that will be included in the first batch of available last names.
  • Some additional blockers have been encountered that are delaying the deployment of the capability.

Marketplace

  • End-to-end Localisation of Marketplace pages is continuing, with the side bar now being shown in Spanish for users selecting that language, and with all the categories, etc., displaying correctly.
  • Landmarks can once again be included in land sale listings.
  • Ongoing back-end work to support the upcoming new Premium Plus subscription option.
  • It has been noted that the new search filters (demos and limited items) has highlighted a large number of demo items on the MP that are not linked to actual products – which is against the listing guidelines. Those coming across such items are asked to flag the items, and if no action is seen to be taken after a period of time, to raise a support ticket.
  • There are reports that some who have items de-listed from the MP are not receiving an advisory e-mail that their items have been de-listed.
    • Should it be noted that this is the case, make sure the any supplied e-mail address you use with Second Life has been correctly verified (see Important: verifying your e-mail address with Second life).
    • If the e-mail is apparently verified, the advice is to contact support, who will try to help determine why e-mails are not being received.
    • Additionally, the Web Team are going to follow this up to see if there are any reasons which the notifications are not being sent from their end.
  • There has been an issue of items No Copy items being wrongfully obtained / re-sold via the Marketplace. Accounts found to be doing this are held for assessment, but it is hard for LL to arrange the return of the items to the original creators, as very often the items are moved between multiple accounts, requiring extensive and time-consuming back-tracking through MP listings, etc.
    • However, it is acknowledged that the assessment process is unfair to merchants using the MP, and the process is under view with the aim of the Lab trying to “do better” for merchants hit by these issues.

Two-Factor Authentication

  • Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) – this has oft been requested for Second Life log-in processes, and it is on the road map. However, there are “many hurdles” in implementing such a system, which LL are trying to overcome.
    • For those unfamiliar with the concept of 2FA, it is a method of confirming users’ claimed identities by using a combination of two different factors, e.g. something they know, something they have, or something they are. For example, using a bank card (something a person has) and a PIN number (something they know) to withdraw money from an ATM¹.
  • Whilst the complications of 2FA are being investigated / addressed, the Lab may implemented additional account security safeguards in the nearer-term road map, which are seen as easier to achieve
    • An example of this might be a user receiving a notification if a log-in to their account is made from a new location or from a different device / computer.
  • It is expected that when initially introduced, any 2FA process is introduced for Second Life will be opt-in by users.

In Brief

  • Details of the Premium Plus offering are unlikely to be made available until such time as Linden Lab is ready to make it available, and this will not be until some time after Name Changes has been deployed.
  • Recurring Events has seen good take-up among Premium users, and further updates are in development.
    • Adding the ability to include events in your personal on-line calendar (e.g. Outlook, Google, etc.), is currently targeted for a Q2 (April – June) or Q3 (July-September) deployment.
  • Password Reset Changes  – whenever a user changes their SL password, they will now get a full notification e-mail about the change.
  • The site defender used to protect Second Life web properties was updated during January 2020. A side benefit of this work is that various web pages from the Lab – notably those on the Marketplace – load faster. The Web Team estimate the performance gain to be at least 11%.
  • There is no date for when resident-to-resident Mainland land auctions will be returning. These were suspended in 2019 fulling the system being abused.
  • Linden Homes:
    • The “collection page” (the page seen when you have selected a Linden Home through the web and which provides the SLurl to the house) has been updated to obfuscate the personal e-mail address, which had been previously exposed in full. This is part of a on-going effort to prevent user’s personal data from being exposed in the event of someone else accessing their account.
    • The “next batch” (presumably a new type, given all current variations are now part of the weekly “rolling” deployments) of Linden Homes is being targeted for the end of Q1 (so late March), barring any unforeseen issues.
  • Windows 7 has been removed from the Second Life System Requirements page, following the official ending of support of that version of Windows by Microsoft on January 14th, 2020.
    • As I noted in Linden Lab announce end of support for Windows 7, users can still use systems running Windows 7 to access Second Life if they so choose, but will not receive any support from the Lab for issues directly related to that version of the OS.

Date of Next Meeting

The next Web User Group meeting will be on Wednesday, March 4th, 2020, commencing at 14:00 SLT.

¹ Note that this example should not be taken to mean it is how any form of 2FA implemented by the Lab will be implemented; it is purely an easy-to-understand illustrative case. 

2020 Simulator User Group week #6 summary

Tonarino, December 2019 – blog post

The following notes were taken at the Simulator User Group meeting held on Tuesday, February 4th.

Simulator Deployments

As always, please refer to the week’s deployment thread for updates.

  • A single RC channel deployment is planned for Wednesday, February 5th. Server update 2020-01-30T23:51:10.535702 should comprise support for the upcoming Name Changes capability.
  • All other channels and simulators should remain on server update 2019-12-04T20:29:26.533447.

Linden Lab is considering dropping the date / time stamp from simulator update references, and just leaving the version number (the last 6 digits of the reference – so 535702 and 533447 in the releases above).

SL Viewer

On Tuesday, February 4th:

At the time of writing, all remaining viewer pipelines remain as follows:

  • Release viewer,version 6.3.6.535003, formerly the Xanté Maintenance RC, dated January 22, promoted January 27
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Camera Presets RC viewer, version 6.3.6.535138, January 24.
    • Love Me Render RC viewer, version 6.3.6.534234, January 9.
  • 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.

Brief Notes

  • Rider Linden is working on trying to improve avatar and vehicle region crossings by reducing some of the overheads involved.
  • It has been pointed out that with the on-going work in transitioning Second Life to the cloud, parsing http-in urls is not a good idea.
  • Simulator host names are still liable to include “agni” and “aditi” following the cloud transition, but they will not be at “lindenlab.com”.

2020 Content Creation User Group week #5 summary

The Isle of Cezanne, December 2019 – blog post

The following notes are taken from my audio recording of the Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meeting held on Thursday, January 20th 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.

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

  • EEP is now viewed as a priority for release by the Lab, with work progressing on the final bug fixes on the graphics side.
  • The biggest change recently made is to remove the option to disable Basic Shaders in the viewer, on account of this option causing problems when trying to address other issues.
    • It is not believed this will impact users, unless they are running really old graphics cards that do not support (the now 15-year-old) OpenGL 2.0.
    • Note this is not removing the ability to toggle ALM off / on.
  • Release is still being couched in terms of being in “about a month” – so possibly early March.
  • Those who use windlights for photography or within their regions are strongly urged to test the EEP RC viewer (last updated on January 9th, 2020, at the time of writing this summary).

Rendering System Improvements

Outside of EEP and in the future, the rendering team plan to spend time simplifying SL’s multiple rendering paths and options to make them easier to maintain going forward.

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.
  • 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.
  • The belief is that “good” avatar ARC values can likely be used as a computational base for these rendering calculations.

Current Status

  • Testing has suggested that when an avatar attachment has a very high number of prims, there is a chance the avatar appearance does not get baked correctly – the number of prims effectively “chokes” the Bake Service.
    • The number of prims is reported as “north of 32”.
    • It appears to be the number of prims – not submeshes – in an attachment that cause the issue, but this is by no means certain.
    • It is not something that appears to have been reported via Jira, so LL is curious whether or not it is an artefact people may have witnessed.
    • A version of the internal Jira will be filed publicly by Vir for creators to look at.

Next Meeting

The next CCUG meeting will be on Thursday, February 13th, 2020.

Brief Notes from the January 29th open-Source Developer Meeting

These notes are recorded here as they may have longer-term relevance to content creation / viewer use.

  • Linden Lab has identified improving the viewer UI / UX to be a high priority.
    • Initially, the focus will be on improving usability for users who are not yet familiar with the viewer (and/or SL in general).
    • A further aspect of the work will be making the number of choices available in many places smaller and making the terminology more uniform.
  • The UI team is said to have “quite a list” of possible changes / improvements, some of which have come directly from TPV developers and through feature requests.
    • Additional feature requests are well – including illustrative mock-ups of idea, providing these are properly documented.
    • Please see my tutorial notes on filing SL feature requests, if required.