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models with mesh), and to update the calculations to reflect current resource constraints, rather than basing them on outdated constraints (e.g. graphics systems, network capabilities, etc).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 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.

 

2020 SL project updates week #12: TPVD summary

Florence at Low Tide, February 2020 – blog post

The following notes are taken from the TPV Developer meeting held on March 20th, 2020. These meetings are generally held every other week, unless otherwise noted in any given summary. The embedded video is provided to Pantera – my thanks to her for recording and providing it. Time stamps are included with the notes will only the video at the point(s) where a specific topic is discussed.

SL Viewer News

[0:07-4:35]

  • The Premium RC viewer,version 6.3.8.538264 dated March 12th, updated to de facto release status on Wednesday, March 18th.
  • The Zirbenz Maintence RC viewer, version 6.3.9.538719, was issued on Thursday, March 19th.
  • The EEP RC viewer updated to version 6.4.0.538823 on Friday, March 20th.

The rest of the upcoming official viewer remain unchanged as:

  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Love Me Render RC viewer, version 6.3.7.536179, February 10.
    • Camera Presets RC viewer, version 6.3.6.535138, January 24.
  • 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.

General Viewer Notes

Premium Viewer and Future Viewer Blocking
  • The Premium RC viewer contains new code to specifically handle benefits information related to benefits / limits applied to accounts based on subscription level (Basic, Premium or the upcoming Premium Plus).
  • Previously, this information can from a variety of sources, with some also hard-coded into the viewer, which made management of benefit changes etc., difficult.
  • With the future launch of Premium Plus and multiple benefits / limitations and associated values across multiple SL account types, all of this information will be provided directly by the server to the viewer at log-in, to make the on-going maintenance of such benefits and values (including the addition of new benefits / values) as used by the viewer easier to implement and manage.
  • Until Premium Plus goes live (there is no date at present for when this will happen, other than after Name Changes has been deployed), the changes in this viewer should not impact users. However, TPVs are being asked to adopt the code as soon as they can.
  • [0:39-0:54] At some point after Premium Plus has been implemented, Linden Lab will be blocking older viewers that do not have this code update, in order to encourage users to switch to viewer that utilise the code.
    • This step is being taken to ensure the viewer presents accurate information to users about their benefits / fees  / limitations, rather than being provided with out-of-date information that is hard-coded into their viewer.
  • [18:42-20:10] Benefits Service log-in failure messages: some people may have encountered an intermittent log-in failure messages similar to the one shown below over the past couple of weeks (I first encountered the problem on March 7th, 2020, others have been encountering it as recently as March 19th).
Benefits Service log-in failure, March 7th, 2020
    • The problems have apparently been due to “super brief” outages (and automatic recoveries) with the benefits service, which the Lab is still investigating for a root cause.
    • This is the type of message people will eventually see when trying to log-in to SL on viewers that do not have the code currently in the Premium RC viewer, once the Premium Plus service is live, and the switch to using the new benefits information service has been made.
EEP RC Viewer and Promotion

[1:03-1:50]

  • Depending on its time in an RC cohort and the nature of any issues found, EEP version 6.3.8.538264 could be the final version of this viewer, and destined for promotion to release status in the next few weeks.
  • It is unlikely any promotion will occur during week #13 (commencing Monday, March 23rd), because a) the viewer requires time in its cohort to check for issues / crash rates, etc.; and b) the week #12 promotion of the Premium RC viewer.
  • If the viewer performs well, and no significant issues are found with it or with EEP in general, it would seem likely the view will be promoted some time in the two weeks after week #13.
  • However, if problems remain with EEP, it is possible the tools update viewer (see below), when available, might be fast-tracked for promotion ahead of EEP.
  • The previous iteration of the EEP viewer reportedly had one of the lowest crash rates for any LL viewer.
Remaining RC and Project Viewers

[1:52-4:35; 7:05-7:31 and as timestamped below]

  • The love Me Render RC viewer is unlikely to be promoted until some time after EEP has reached de facto release status, so as not to have two blocks of rendering changes released one atop the other.
  • The Camera Presets RC viewer has an update, and should be appearing shortly, once merged with the new release viewer code. This will also not be promoted prior to EEP.
  • The first public viewer using the updated viewer build tools (VS 2017 and a recent version of Xcode for Mac and which uses the new Github repositories) is going through its “last massive rebuild”, and an RC version is expected to be made available in week #13.
    • This viewer will be functionality identical to the release viewer; there are no UI or other changes to it, other than bug fixes required by the move to the newer build tools.
    • This build has yet to address the notarising MAC application issue that results in warnings being issued by OS X “Catalina”. However, LL recognise this issue needs to be addressed , and will be doing so.
    • Depending on how this viewer fairs in RC compared to the EEP viewer, it might be fast-tracked for promotion to de facto release ahead of EEP.
  • [10:23-11:04] The Legacy Profiles RC viewer has a bug where under some circumstances it will display the profile web feed information in error, which needs to be addressed before the viewer progresses further (the web feed to the viewer will be turned off from the back-end once the Legacy Profiles viewer is promoted to release status).

In Brief

  • [17:15-17:36] There are some inventory operations (e.g moving a folder, renaming a folder, etc.) that are under UDP. There is a plan to move all such operations to AIS (HTTP), but this work will likely not be tackled until after the work on the cloud uplift has been completed.
  • [17:39-18:18] Because of the uplift work, and outside of major projects such as EEP, Name Changes and Premium Plus, the number of server / back-end changes that the Lab make will be “quite constrained” over the course of the next 12 months or so.
  • [20:15-21:53] The texture caching work in the viewer in on-going, alongside all other viewer-side work, as none of this conflicts with the cloud uplift work.
    • The first step will be to re-implement the VFS in a “simpler, cleaner way”.
    • After this, work will extend into revising the texture cache.
    • Also, “behind” the texture cache work, there is further work on texture fetching via HTTP2.
  • [22:02-26:25 (inlc. text chat)] BUG-227179 “All offline inventory offers from scripted objects are STILL lost” – LL are still “trying to figure out” the cause of this long-term issue. Firestorm reverted the problem, and requests have been made for LL to do the same, but the Lab would rather “fix” the problem – which doesn’t entirely help those who are victim to inventory loss resulting from it.