SL project updates week 49/1: server, viewer, issues

Pinoy Hideout, Lions Hill; Inara Pey, May 2014, on FlickrPinoy Hideout, Lions Hill (Flickr) – blog post

Server Deploys for Week 49

  • There has been no deployment to the Main channel, following-on from the lack of any deployments to the RCs in week #48.
  • On Wednesday, December 3rd, all three RC channels should receive the same server maintenance package, comprising the following updates:
    • A fix for BUG-7515 “Restarting region turns off ‘block parcel fly over’”
    • A fix for BUG-4949 (non-public) “Cannot manage block list with certain object names”
    • A fix for BUG-7850 “Experience tools: ‘Script trying to teleport other avatars!’ script error” appears incorrectly
    • A fix for BUG-6789 “Spelling mistake in llGodLikeRezObject”
    • Minor server change to help configure the texture and mesh CDN.

A question was asked at the simulator User Group meeting on Tuesday December 2nd, whether the fix for BUG-4949 would also address SVC-7550, relating to previously blocked avatars reverting to being blocked after someone has cleared them from their block list. Simon indicated that while BUG-4949 would not fix this issue, it is being addressed, but requires further back-end work.

SL Viewer

On Monday, December 1st, the de facto release viewer was updated to version 3.7.20.296724, formerly the Snowstorm RC viewer, which includes update for Japanese input; improved rendering of projectors; fixes for object editing bug when rotating and for crash on exit on OS X Yosemite in full screen mode, and more – release notes.

This viewer edged-out the current Maintenance RC viewer (version 3.7.21.296734) in terms of promotion. However, the latter has had a growing list of  issues, most of which are related to fitted mesh, and which may be addressed by the attachments update viewer (RC version 3.7.21.296904).

Experience Keys / Tools

There have been a lot of requests and ideas around expanding / improving the upcoming Experience Keys / Tools (for example: BUG-6912). Commenting on the general status of the project, Simon Linden indicated he’s doing some work related to attachments – although he wasn’t able to go into specifics. However, commenting on the ideas put forward a JIRAs submitted in general, he said:

To put things in perspective, this release is the first one for this feature.   I’d really like to see it succeed and have us move on to an update that adds more features like these. And while they aren’t going into this first release, the JIRA’s aren’t being ignored … we’ve gathered them and had to pick an choose what we could release with and without.

Oz also added, in response to, and alongside of, Simon’s comments:

Exactly. There will doubtless be many ways to improve and expand the experience concept. We want to get more applications built with it and see which are the best ways to invest in it further.

Other Items

3D Connexions Support

3D Connexion is the brand name for the space Navigator range by Logitech. As has been reported through this and other blogs, and also on the forums. More recent versions of the 3D Connexions drivers have been causing some problems on installation. The API support for these devices within the viewer is also quite old (although Linux has been recently updated), and Cinder Roxley is working to try to improve things in this area. However, updating to the newer API support may force things to be platform-dependent, and so take longer to implement, but it might result in the support of more 3D connexions devices.

Hair Base Cloud Issue

Some users are encountering issues of seeming themselves rendered as a cloud in their own world view. This may be connected to them where a hair base with a missing texture (essentially a bad asset), which causes the server to reject the hair base when worn. The result leaves the avatar as a cloud in the user’s own view, although to everyone else they appear to be rendered correctly. An error message is actually generated on the matter:

newview/llvoavatarself.cpp(2273) : 2014-12-01T15:32:45Z INFO: LLVOAvatarSelf::getIsCloud: Self is clouded because of no hair texture

However, this only goes to the viewer log, and is not made visible through the UI. As the viewer thinks you’re wearing the hair base, the problem is not obvious to many users. So, should you find this happening, try replacing it with a different hair base.

Current Outfit Folder Issues

When Server-side Appearance (SSA) was being deployed in 2013, some users on certain TPVs encountered issued with duplicate current outfit folders being generated – see SUN-99. A fix was made to prevent this from happening, however, there have been a couple of recent reports that it is occurring one again (see BUG-7880 and BUG-7920 – interestingly, the latter case appears to have had all system folders duplicated). The cause of these problems isn’t currently known, but requests to support for tun the SUN-99 inventory fix does appear to resolve problems, once the user has cleared cache locally and re-logged.

Teleport Queueing

A feature request (BUG-7945) for a teleport queueing feature to be implemented to ease access into very busy regions. As noted during the Simulator User Group meeting, such an automated queuing system as proposed might be labour-intensive to implement and also be open to exploitation. However, commenting on the idea of improving how teleport queues and notifications might be better handled, Simon Linden said:

I was talking with someone about the incoming TP queue yesterday. It seems like it needs some attention. I don’t think we’d build a queue and later TP anyone, but it’s doing too much work before it decides you can’t get in.

 Whether this will result in some clean-up to the current process of handling teleports into busy regions remains to be seen.

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SL project updates week 48/1: server, viewer, Experience Keys, Cocoa bugs

It All Starts with a Smile, March  2014It All Starts with a Smile, March 2014 (Flickr) – Blog post

Server Deployments – Week 48

On Tuesday, November 25th, the Main channel received the server maintenance package previously deployed to the release candidate channels in week 46. The update comprises “minor improvements” to help configure the texture and mesh CDN, by allowing the Lab to reconfigure the CDN URL if they need to, with the intention of the of making it a more dynamic host name in the future.

There are no deployments to the release candidate channels this week, due to the Thanksgiving no change window opening, which runs from Wednesday, November 26th through until start of business on Monday December 1st.

Server Beta Meeting – Thursday, November 27th

Just a reminder, there is no Server Beta group meeting this week, due to Thanksgiving in the USA. Happy Thanksgiving, all of you in the States!

Viewer Updates

The Attachment RC viewer was updated on Tuesday, November 25th to version 3.7.21.296904. This release adds fixes for two additional problems compared to the November 12th release of the RC:

  • MAINT-4537 “Change in Maintenance Viewer breaks my joint rigged mesh avatar”
  • MAINT-4687  “Petite” avatars render deformed for the wearer but not for observer.

Saving and Loading Graphics Settings

The option to save certain graphics settings in the viewer (STORM-2082) is moving forward; there is currently an initial test viewer undergoing trials, but things are in a state of flux.

The idea behind this change is to provide a means by which users can quickly switch between two sets of graphics pre-sets they have created and saved locally, allowing them to quickly adjust the graphics setting to assist with performance as they move around the grid (so a user would have a set of “low” graphic settings they could switch-on in order to maintain performance in busy regions, and a set of “high” graphics settings, with as many bells and whistles turned on as they like, for use in quieter regions).

As noted in my week 46 report, the initial work saw a “Quick Preferences” floater added to the viewer, which allows users to set various settings and would likely include options to save said settings.

Initially, this was accessed via the Setup tab in the official viewer’s Preferences, but a suggestion has been made to keep everything accessible under the Graphics tab to prevent unnecessary fragmentation of options. A suggestion has also been made to change the name of the floater, as “Quick Preferences” is a term used by several TPVs, where it has a different context.

Experience Keys / Tools

Progress continues with the Experience Keys (Tools) project. The project viewer hasn’t been updated in a while, but work has apparently been going on elsewhere  – including a decision on what the charge will be for an Experience Key, although this has yet to be made public.

As a quick recap on this, and from my original overview on Experience Keys / Tools:

Every experience using the Experience Tools capabilities must be governed by an Experience Key supplied by the Lab – think of it as a licence applied to the experience and to all control scripts used within that experience, and which directly links the experience / experience scripts directly back to the experience owner, providing an audit trail of accountability.

Thus, the Experience Key allows the Lab to instantly revoke all permissions used by a given experience, stopping al the scripts associated with it, in necessary. This is intended to reduce the risk of people using Experiences as a means of griefing. As a further deterrent, the Lab will be charging some form of fee for the “licensing” of an Experience Key.

The cornfield, revamped in July, still provides a taster for SL Experiences - access it via the Portal Park
The cornfield, revamped in July, still provides a taster for SL Experiences – access it via the Portal Park

Apparently, Experience Keys / Tools were supposed to be released this quarter. However, with the Christmas season fast approaching, it seems questionable as to whether this will be achieved. As Oz Linden said in the Simulator User Group meeting on Tuesday, November 25th, “wish me luck”!

As previously noted, the initial release of Experience Keys / Tools will not support grid-wide experiences – although this is still on the Lab’s list for future enhancements to the platform.

Other Items

Cocoa Bugs

Many Mac users are still experiencing Cocoa-related issues, finding them something of a bone of contention as the Lab doesn’t regard some of the issues being experienced (such as excessive typing lag) as specific to the viewer, but rather endemic to the OS X operating system. All told, here is quite a wide range of issues, and TPV developer Cinder Roxley is attempting to resolve a number of them.

Part of the problem lies in the way the cursor position on the screen is translated to the cursor position in-world, which is in turn very screen resolution specific. This makes bug testing / fixing particularly hard: as fixes need to be tested against multiple monitor types. Cinder has been in touch with Apple engineers and has found one of their suggested solutions –  removal of deprecated calls – hasn’t helped in resolving problems, so fixes may yet be a while off.

SL project updates week 47/2: TPV Developer meeting

The following notes are drawn from the TPV Developer meeting held on Friday, November 21st, as shown in the video below, and from the Server Beta Meeting held on Thursday November 20th. Where relevant, timestamps are included in the article to allow for referencing to the video. My thanks as always to North for the recording.

SL Viewer

[01:10] RC and project viewers are starting to stack-up once more, and further viewers are on their way. The release channel currently has four RC viewers in it: HTTP Pipeline 3.7.21.296736; Snowstorm 3.7.21.296724; Maintenance 3.7.21.296734, and Attachments 3.7.21.296729.

HTTP Pipeline RC and Texture and Mesh Fetching

The HTTP Pipeline viewer appears to be performing better with the CDN than the current pipeline code for those encountering problems. However, further updates to the RC are likely before it reaches a release status.

[05:23] In general, texture and mesh fetching via the CDN continues to work well for most people, although the Lab are still investigating why it is not working so well for some. The hope is that further improvements will be forthcoming, but at the moment the work is still very much in progress.

Attachments RC Viewer

[07:55] Vir Linden has some further updates for the Attachments RC, which should help improve the predictability of getting the right appearance as you’re going through outfit changes. This work has been tested in a closed test viewer and the results are such that Vir hopes to pull them into the RC version of the viewer as soon as possible.

Benchmark Viewer RC

[02:33] A new Benchmark viewer (removal of the GPU table) should hopefully be released on Monday, November 24th (or shortly thereafter). This includes:

  • Further improvements to how the viewer initials sets graphics preferences for some GPU types
  • Address the crash-on-start-up issue which some users are encountering in the current release viewer (3.7.20.296094), and which appears to be related to the benchmark update.

Those wishing to try a pre-RC release can do so by downloading from here.

Viewer Build Tools

[30:19] The Lab is making progress with compiling the viewer using the new build tool chains. The performance issues that resulted when building the Mac viewer (again, see my week 43 report), appear to have been resolved.

The work to build the windows version of the viewer using Visual Studio (VS) 2013 is going “really well”, with the Lab having almost all the packages ready to go – so much so that Oz believes that the Lab will have a version of the viewer built using VS2013 in week 48 (week commencing Monday, November 24th) – although this doesn’t necessarily mean said viewer will be publicly available.

As Microsoft have just issued Visual Studio Community 2013, which allows developers to create applications for free, so long as they are not intended for commercial gain (and TPVs aren’t built to be sold), it is hoped at TPV developers will in future be able to builder their viewers with exactly the same software as the Lab.

In addition, the Lab is working on an internal wiki page for building with VS2103, which will likely go public when finished to sit alongside the existing wiki page on the new autobuild process.

Viewer-managed Marketplace

The Viewer-managed Marketplace (VMM) project viewer, version 3.7.21.296858, was released on Friday, November 21st, together with information on the open beta testing for VMM on Aditi. I have provided coverage of this via a separate article in this blog, see:Viewer-managed Marketplace: beta testing and a look at the project viewer.

Continue reading “SL project updates week 47/2: TPV Developer meeting”

SL project updates week 47/1: server, viewer, RenderAutoMute functions

Nordan om Jorden; Inara Pey, November 2014, on FlickrNordan om Jorden (Flickr) – blog post

My apologies for the lateness of this update; have been busy with a variety of things, both SL and non-SL.

Server News – Week 47

There are no server deployments during the week, due to the hardware inspections taking place, which involved restarts taking place from Monday, November 17th through Friday November 21st, as detailed in the Grid Status updates (as a reminder, there is an additional period of maintenance due on Wednesday, November 18th, commencing at 13:00 SLT).

According to Simon Linden, speaking at the Simulator User Group on Tuesday, November 18th, the work on the servers requires each box being taken down, opened-up and physically inspected, and parts (unspecified) possibly being swapped-out.

Exactly what amount of work (if anything) is required on each server may vary, making the process something of a piece of string when it comes to how long it will take per box.

What prompted the work isn’t clear, but there was muted speculation that some servers may need a physical update of some description to avoid the potential of failing due to a defect. Whether this means one of the Lab’s suppliers altered them to a problem or not or something else has come up, isn’t clear.

However, none of this work should, outside of the rolling restarts, affect the performance of any regions.

SL Viewer

HTTP Pipelining Viewer

A new HTTP Pipelining RC viewer appeared on Monday, November 17th. Version 3.7.21.296736, see a “reduced pipelined texture and mesh fetching time-out so that stalled connections fail quickly allowing earlier retry. Time-out value changed from 150 seconds to 60 seconds.”

It is hoped that this viewer fixes the following issues:

  • BUG-7686 – “Avatars are not coming on viewer”
  • BUG-7687 – “Nothing is rezzing in SL,, av’s are all gray and textures will not rez”
  • BUG-7688 – “Since the last restarts I cant seen to see things I rez from my inventory or wear mesh in my inventory. I have done numerous clean installs of the latest LL viewer. I have also made sure I am not running the beta version of the AMD CCC”
  • BUG-7690 – “Textures and Meshes abruptly stopped rendering”
  • BUG-7691 – “Won’t rez properly”
  • BUG-7694 – “Textures and meshes loading slow or refusing to load”
  • BUG-7698 – “Textures much slower to load on a CDN region then on a clone of the same region not running CDN”

See the release notes for further details.

Maintenance RC Viewer

There are reports that the Maintenance RC viewer currently in the viewer release pipeline (version 3.7.21.296734) contains a number of regressions for joint position bugs. These issues are apparently known by the Lab, which hopes to have them corrected before the code merges with anything else.

Group Chat

There have been various reports of further group chat issues doing the rounds. On Monday, November 17th, for example, it was noted through Firestorm Support chat that at least two group chat server were down. Asked about this during the Simulator User Group meeting, Simon Linden replied:

Yes some of the chat servers have been having troubles in the last few days.   I’ve been looking into that … the code running there isn’t super new, and the outages might be timed with some of those restarts. In any case, there is an update soon for the chat servers, and already another in the pipeline.

Experience Keys

No major news here, other than those trying the Experience Keys in the current beta are being urged to file any additional issues they may have found as BUG reports as soon as they can. Simon Linden added to the request, “we’re trying to finish off the last few issues and have that Real Soon Now (sometime in the future, no promises).”

As previously indicated in my coverage of Experience Keys, the first release of the capabilities will not allow for grid-wide experiences, although this is something that is on the Lab’s list. Commenting on the plans, Oz Linden said:

The first general release of experiences won’t include being able to get a grid-wide key. It’s not so much that as there are more issues for us to deal with for grid-wide experiences, and we don’t want to make people wait for the ones …. Being able to do grid-wide experiences isn’t going to fall of the to-do list or anything.

As Oz was speaking, Simon Linden added:

We’ve talked about it before, and having a widely available data system like the key-value store would be really great, but there are a ton of issues with that being available, scaling it to cover the full SL population and all that. So we’re going ahead with a more feasible sized feature set.

RenderAutoMute Functions (Avatar Complexity)

One of the heaviest impacts on viewer performance comes not from issues with the SL servers or in rendering the contents of the the region you’re in, but from avatars themselves, particularly in crowded or busy regions. The Avatar Imposters option within the view can help with this, however, the Lab is looking to bring a debug setting to the fore within the viewer’s UI to further help users control their viewer’s performance.

The setting in question is RENDERAUTOMUTERENDERWEIGHTLIMIT, which is somewhat tied to the Avatar Render Weight (once aka Avatar Render Cost), the colour-coded render value assigned to avatars which can be displayed over their heads via the Advanced menu (CTRL-ALT-D to enable if not visible): Advanced > Performance Tools > Show Draw Weight for Avatars.

Essentially, the idea is that by entering a value against this setting, you can define a limit above which the viewer will cease rendering avatars fully, and instead will render them as a sold colour imposter, regardless as to how near / far they are from your point-of-view, reducing the rendering load on the viewer / your computer.

Currently, you can use the RENDERAUUTOMUTERENDERWEIGHTLIMIT option within the viewer to set a limit on rendering high-ARW avatars as solid colours in your viewer. You'll need to have RENDERAUTOMUTEFUNCTIONS set to 7 for it to work smoothly, and should note
Currently, you can use the RENDERAUUTOMUTERENDERWEIGHTLIMIT option within the viewer to set a limit on rendering high-ARW avatars as solid colours in your viewer. Note how the debug setting doesn’t correlate with the ARW for the avatar – something that will be fixed when the setting becomes a UI option (which will also see the dependency on setting RENDERAUTOMUTEFUNCTIONS removed – see the notes below)

I used the term “somewhat tied” above, because there is currently no obvious correlation between a number set within the debug setting and Avatar Render Weight, which is a figure that is in turn impacted. A further problem with the setting as it currently stands is that it is actually calculated by multiplying the number you enter against RENDERAUTOMUTERENDERWEIGHTLIMIT by a certain LOD (level of detail) factor (so if you set RENDERAUTOMUTERENDERWEIGHTLIMIT to 60,000, the actual figure being used might be 92,000 – 60K x the LOD factor).

Both of these points of confusion will be addressed by the Lab in making the option directly available through the viewer UI, so that there is a much clearer and obvious correlation between the setting and ARW.  Oz Linden is also working on colour-coding the resultant solid avatars so that it is possible to determine those avatars which are just over any limit set in the viewer and those which are well over the limit, allowing users to further fine-tune their settings according to needs / circumstance.

The two debug settings: you'll need to set RENDERAUTOMUTEFUNCTIONS to 7, and then experiment with RENDERAUTOMUTERENDERWEIGHTLIMIT
The two debug settings: you’ll need to set RENDERAUTOMUTEFUNCTIONS to 7 in order to experiment with RENDERAUTOMUTERENDERWEIGHTLIMIT

The option can actually be experimented with at the moment, although it currently has a dependency on another debug setting – RENDERAUTOMUTEFUNCTIONS - which must be set to 7 in order for any of the RenderAutoMute functions (5 in all) to work. Again, the Lab indicate that this dependency will be removed when RENDERAUTOMUTERENDERWEIGHTLIMIT becomes a UI option.

Again, the emphasis is on “experiment”, simply because of the lack of a direct correlation between values entered into the debug setting and the ARW values of surrounding avatars.  However, if you do want to have a play with the setting as it is at the moment, Oz Linden suggests starting with a value of around 60,000 and working up or down from there, depending on your needs / circumstances.

There’s no time frame as to when this work may find its way into a viewer, but Oz is actively working on it, following a prompt from third-party contributor, Jonathan Yap.

SL project updates 46/2: viewer updates, miscellaneous news

Collins Land; Inara Pey, September 2013, on Flickr, on FlickrCollins Land, September 2013 (Flickr) – blog post

The following notes are drawn from the Server Beta user group meeting held on Thursday, November 13th, the transcript for which can be found here.

Server Deployments Week 46 – Recap

As always, please refer to the server deployment thread in the forums for the latest information and updates.

  • There was no deployment to the Main (SLS) channel on Tuesday, November 11th.
  • On Wednesday, November 12th, all three RC channels received the same server maintenance package, which comprises “minor improvements” to help configure the texture and mesh CDN, by allowing the Lab to reconfigure the CDN URL if they need to, with the intention of the of making it a more dynamic host name in the future.

SL Viewer

Snowstorm RC Viewer

A new Snowstorm contributions RC viewer arrived on Thursday, November 13th. Version 3.7.21.296724 promotes the viewer from project status, and brings with it the following contributed updates:

  • OPEN-215 kCGLRPTextureMemory is a deprecated function as of Mac OS X 10.7, replace with kCGLRPTextureMemoryMegabytes
  • OPEN-268 FFLOAD_XML missing on linux and darwin, FFSAVE_XML missing on darwin
  • STORM-2053 applicationShouldTerminate function returns NSApplicationDeligateReply when it should return NSApplicationTerminateReply
  • STORM-2056 Projector reflections do not respect the environment intensity parameter
  • STORM-2067 Glossy Projectors
  • STORM-2069 Delete key doesn’t delete first character of marked text on OSX
  • STORM-2070 Sticky modifier keys after OS window comes up on OSX
  • STORM-2071 Unwanted InputWindow comes up when typing Japanese on OSX
  • STORM-2072 Bad behavior of Input Window
  • STORM-2078 Editing an objects rotation with the rotation rings often causes the object to jump to position <0,0,0> on the region and rotation changes to <0,0,0>
  • STORM-2080 Dresses purporting to be Fitted Mesh stretch to 0,0,0
  • STORM-2081 Second Life 3.7.18 (295539) Oct 16 2014 08:19:54 (Second Life Release) crashes every time upon viewer Quit under OS X Yosemite 10.10

Attachment Fix and Maintenance RC Updates

The current RC viewers – the Attachment fix RC viewer and the Maintenance RC viewer both updated on Wednesday, November 12th as a result of the Benchmark viewer promotion to release status. The updates were as follows:

  • Attachment Fix RC viewer updated to version 3.7.21.296729. This viewer adds some fixes to previously released changes in the way joint offsets in rigged meshes are handled & fixes some issues found with adding and removing attachments after the recent AISv3 deploy, and improves the status information shown in inventory for attached objects
  • Maintenance RC viewer updated to version 3.7.21.296734. This viewer offers a broad range of fixes for voice, privacy, rendering, texture animation, avatar distortion, inventory management, sounds, Mouselook in Mac, multiple UI fixes in script editor, Pay flow, chat, stats floater, edit menu, etc.

Release Viewer VFS Failure Issue

It’s still not clear how widespread the VFS failure issue on the current release viewer extends (see part 1 of this week’s update, and BUG-7776).  As noted in the first part of this report, I’ve managed to resolve such problems by manually deleted the viewer cache, and this worked for me in this case. Whirly Fizzle posted the same advice to the bug report, but at least one person has indicated it didn’t resolve the issue for them.

“Fast Pipe” Viewer

Monty Linden is working on further viewer-side updates to address reported problems being experienced in region rezzing times (such as reported in BUG-7698). There’s an initial release of the viewer available to those who can self-compile, and Whirly Fizzle reports that the fixes appear to work, commenting that, “Fast-pipe with pipelining enabled def works better for me on CDN regions. The long texture loading stalls have pretty much stopped.” There’s no date as to when this viewer will publicly appear as an RC or project viewer.

Other Items

Viewer Stats Ping Sim Data

There have been a few question in both meetings and in the forums about what the Ping Sim data in the viewer’s statistics bar actually represents. According to the wiki page:

Ping Sim: How long it takes data to go from your computer to the region you’re currently in. This is largely dependent on your connection to the Internet. If Ping Sim is high but Ping User is not, the server might be having problems.

However, this doesn’t paint a complete picture, as there can be a noticeable difference in the ping sim value given in the statistics bar of the viewer compared to pinging a simulator host directly. Responding to a question during the Server Beta meeting, Maestro Linden said:

As I recall, the ping number is your actual network round trip, measured by the UDP connection to the sim, *plus* some other time, like the time required to render the frame… So if you’re only getting 10FPS, that’s an automatic +100ms on top of the actual network round trip time… That ping time may also include the sim’s frame time (22.2ms if running at 45fps).

Answering a similar question through the forums in October, Oz Linden offered further clarification:

Looking at the code (I had not had occasion to look at this before), the Ping Sim measure appears to be based on a separate Ping message (our own message type transmitted over UDP, not ICMP). Those messages are mixed in periodically with the other UDP messages that are more or less constantly flowing between the viewer and the simulator. Because it’s the application that is turning that message around rather than a low-level part of the network stack, the fact that it is consistently higher than ICMP ping to the same host isn’t surprising. 

[ICMP, or Internet Control Message Protocol is the protocol generally used by ping operations.]

A couple of upshots of this is that if there is packet loss as a result of packet loss with increase ping rates as seen in the viewer, while no actual increase is occurring in the network connection itself, while increasing traffic within in region will cause higher ping rates within the viewer, simply because of the resultant UDP packet queuing in the server (hence a possible reason for BUG-7797, where the ping increase is seen as causing an increase in “lag”, rather than being indicative of an increase traffic load occurring). As such, Maestro commented that the viewer’s ping data is, “probably a more useful measure of latency than network ping.”

SL project updates 46/1: server, viewer + issues, misc items

Small Town Green; Inara Pey, February 2014, on FlickrrSmall Town Green, February 2014 (Flickr) – blog post

Server Deployments Week 46

As always, please refer to the server deployment thread in the forums for the latest information and updates.

  • There was no deployment to the Main (SLS) channel on Tuesday, November 11th.
  • On Wednesday, November 12th, all three RC channels should receive the same server maintenance package, which comprises “minor improvements” to help configure the texture and mesh CDN

We’re currently approaching the run-up to holidays, which means things are liable to be a little quiet on the server release front. There is usually a code freeze in effect during the US Thanksgiving week, and again over the Christmas / New Year period (which also affects viewer releases). With this in mind, and commenting on the next couple of weeks, Simon Linden commented that there is some hardware maintenance scheduled between now and Thanksgiving, and not a lot else.

SL Viewer

Release Viewer and Start-up Issues

On Monday, November 10th, the Lab promoted the Benchmark viewer, version 3.7.20.296094, to the de facto release viewer. This viewer removes reliance on the GPU table for determining the viewer’s initial graphics settings, and can be obtained from tha main viewer download page.

Some people have been reporting problems trying to run this viewer, specifically that it fails on reaching VFS initialisation. I encountered this problem myself in allowing the viewer to update from the HTTP pipelining release (3.7.19.295700) to the current release, and found that deleting my SL viewer cache ( C:\Users\[user name]AppData\Local\SecondLife) – a trick I’ve used with similar problems following a “dirty” install with Firestorm – cleared the issue for me; on restarting the viewer, it loaded OK and I was able to log-in.

However, for those who find this doesn’t work, or who have found a completely clean install (removing the viewer, the cache and local settings found in C:\Users\[user name]AppData\Roaming\SecondLife) hasn’t worked, a JIRA is open – see BUG-7776 – and specific problems should be reported there.

Group Chat

The recent round of changes to group chat, related to how the system looks-up avatars engaged in a group chat session as they move around the grid – see here – are expected to start rolling-out this week on the back-end. However, they are not expected to yield dramatically visible improvements in group chat.

Experience Keys / Tools

There’s not a lot to report On the Experience Keys project (see my overview and update), other than the Lab is “trying hard to wrap up the last few issues with Experiences so that we can make them generally available,” as Oz Linden said during the Simulator User Group meeting. As well as having the capability of allowing users to build more immersive experiences for people to enjoy, a particular interest in the Experience Tools is the key/value store, which is being seen as a potentially powerful additional capability to help with saving and retrieving data.

Other Items

Saving Graphics Profiles (/Preferences)

A suggestion was recently put forward during a Simulator User Group meeting for the Lab to allow the saving of graphics profiles (see my week 44/1 report under “Graphics Profile in the Viewer”. This would mean, for example that you could have a graphics profile where various options – the quality slider, shadows, occlusion, draw distance, etc., could be pushed towards their upper limits; and another where the setting are more conservative and less taxing on your GPU / system.

A feature request was subsequently submitted, after Oz suggested this might be a good open-source contribution, and Jonathan Yap is now working on the feature (STORM-2082), although it may be a “somewhat altered version” of the original suggestion. Currently, the work is focused on  Quick Preferences style of panel (as found in a number of TPVs),  as shown in the image below, accessed via the Setup tab in Preferences.

Jonathan Yap is working on a new "Quick Preferences" floater for the SL viewer
Jonathan Yap is working on a new “Quick Preferences” floater for the SL viewer (seen on the left in this image), access from the Setup tab in Preferences – this Quick Preferences tab will likely have options to save graphics settings once set through the sliders

Keep in mind this is very preliminary work, and things are liable to change as the work progresses.

Prim Selection Problems due to Interest Changes

An annoying issue which has been introduced with the interest list changes is the ability for them to interfere with object selection. Essentially, if an object or group of objects is selected, and camming then moves them off-screen, they are deselected, as updates from them to the viewer are culled – see BUG-7115. A fix for this should be available in the next round fo general bug fixes for the viewer released by the Lab.

It has been thought the interest list code had been altered since that there was a minimum distance before culling would be applied (e.g. so that there would be no culling on objects within, say, 30 metres of your camera position, regardless as to whether their were in your field of view or not). Simon Linden is going to take a further look at the code to see if this is in fact the case.

Script Sizes

The Simulator User Group meeting saw further discussion on script sizes (still 16Kb for LSL and 64Kb for Mono) and the viability of increasing them. Commenting on the discussion, Oz Linden observed, “Increasing script size is one of those things that must be considered very, very carefully. It would affect many, many things.” As such, it’s unlikely that any changes will be on the horizon.