SL project updates week #50: server, viewer

Groenland Kangamiut; Inara Pey, November 2017, on Flickr Groenland Kangamiutblog post

Server Deployments

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

  • On Tuesday, December 12th, the Main (SLS) channel was updated with the server maintenance package previously deployed to all three RC channels. 17#17.12.01.511131 comprises “internal improvements”, which should not result in visible changes for users.
  • No deployment is anticipated for the the RC channels on Wednesday, December 13th, leaving them on server package 17#17.12.01.51131. A potential deployment to the BlueSteel RC was cancelled, “I found a nasty little bug nest late last night,” Mazidox Linden reported at the Simulator User Group meeting, “Had to halt the move to RC.”

SL Viewer

Two viewers were updated by Linden Lab on Monday, December 11th, 2017:

  • The Alex Ivy 64-bit RC viewer updated to version 5.1.0.511248.
  • The Animesh project viewer updated to version 5.0.10.330058.

The Alex Ivy RC viewer release notes contain the following information, worth reproducing here:

Windows: there are now separate 32-bit and 64-bit builds for Windows.

  • If you use an HD 2000 or 3000 series video card on Windows 10, choose 32 bit
  • Otherwise, choose the one that matches your copy of Windows

If your computer can run 64bit, and most can, you will get better performance and fewer crashes running a 64 bit Windows and Viewer. If you chose the wrong one, the viewer will upgrade you again the first time you run it to the correct one (if you think it made the wrong choice, please file a bug in jira). This build further refines the determination of what is “the best” platform for your system.

Mac:  the Mac build does not support 32-bit Macs (this is permanent, and not really a change since it’s been some time since LL supported OS X versions that would still run on a 32-bit system).

  • This build shows two icons on the Dock when running. The first one is a new launcher/monitor process (SL_Launcher) that checks for updates; the second is the viewer itself, but both are labelled “Second Life Viewer”. If you are going to pin the icon on the Dock, pin the first one or you’ll get a warning each time you launch. We hope/plan to get this sorted out so that only one shows.
  • Video media (QuickTime) usually does not play (the media handling is now the same as the Windows viewer).
  • The volume of web based media (e.g. YouTube) doesn’t change based on your distance from the source.

Linux: there is no Linux viewer yet. We hope to begin work on addressing this with the community after the release of the Mac and Windows versions.

The release notes for the Animesh project viewer include a summary of the key changes from the previous version of the viewer:

  • Animesh objects should now display correctly as impostors, using the same rules that avatars do currently.
  • Fix for a crash triggered by unchecking the animated mesh check box for an Animesh attachment.
  • Fix for Animesh attachment getting removed after teleport.
  • Fix for some of the cases where animesh graphics state could get corrupted.
  • Various clean-ups and optimisations.

The rest of the SL viewer pipeline remains as per the end of week #49:

  • Current Release version 5.0.9.329906, dated November 17, promoted November 29th – formerly the “Martini” Maintenance RC
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Wolfpack RC viewer arrived, version 5.0.10.330001, released on November 30.
    • Voice RC viewer, version 5.0.8.328552, October 20 (still dated Sept 1 on the wiki page).
  • Project viewers:
  • Obsolete platform viewer version 3.7.28.300847, dated May 8, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

 

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SL Project Updates 49/2: Web User Group

Grumpity and Alex Linden host the Web User Group meetings on alternate Fridays at Alexa’s barn

The majority of these notes are taken from the Web User Group meeting held on Friday, December 8th, 2017. These meetings are generally held on alternate Fridays, and chaired by Alexa and Grumpity Linden at Alexa’s barn. The focus is the Lab’s web properties, which include the Second Life website (including the blogs, Destination Guide, Maps, Search, the Knowledge base, etc.), Place Pages, Landing Pages (and join flow for sign-ups), the Marketplace, and so on and the Lab’s own website at lindenlab.com.

Not all of these topics will be discussed at every meeting, however, the intention within the group is to gain feedback on the web properties, pain points, etc., and as such is very much led by comments and input from those attending. Along with this are two points of note:

  • Specific bugs within any web property  – be it Marketplace, forums, Place Pages or anything else), or any specific feature request for a web property should be made via the Second Life JIRA.
  • Alex Linden provides routine updates on the Lab’s SL-facing web properties as and when appropriate, which can be found in the Second Life Web thread.
  • Note that the SL forums are not covered by the Web User Group, as the management of functionality of the forums falls under the remit of the Support Team.

General

  • Work continues on improving Place Pages. One forthcoming update is support for 360 snapshots captured with the 360 viewer (still at project status at the time of writing), including support for 360 images as the hero (top) image on Place Pages, and gallery views support.
    • The 360 snapshot viewer is in the process of being updated to support higher resolution images, fix issues with level of detail loading for objects behind you, etc. It will include support for direct upload to Flickr as well as to Facebook. This update should be appearing “in the next couple of weeks”.
  • Web properties as a whole are also being examined as a part of the overall project to move Second Life to the cloud for delivery. Some services are already managed via the cloud (at least in part), but there is still considerable work to be done and significant infrastructure changes to be made to SL’s web properties, so this is going to be some long-term work.
  • Some are reporting that some Mainland Welcome Area now have Voice chat disabled – some of which might be intentional, due to people abuse Voice within these areas. However, if it is believed Voice has been disabled in error, the advice is to raise a bug report, using the LPDW (Linden Department of Public Works) reporting category, and indicate the affected region and the lack of Voice capabilities.

No Copy Exploits / Illegal Sales of No Copy Items

As I’ve previously reported, one area of concern / upset for content creators has been the use of server exploits to generate copies of No-Copy items, which are then placed for sale, generally through the Marketplace. A long-standing problem, this is now hitting some gacha creators. While the Lab is working to technically address such exploits, some of those experiencing frustration for what they perceive as a lack of action on the Lab’s part procedurally to remove content from the Marketplace / responding to reports of the illicit sale of goods.

These frustrations have most visibly been brought forward at in-world technical meetings – such as recent Simulator User Group meetings and the Web User Group meetings. While the Lindens chairing these meeting are prepared to discuss some options for dealing with such issues  on a technical level (with obvious caveats around discussing the specifics of exploits, fixes, etc.), they cannot speak to issue of Governance, or on matters which may cross into legal areas. This means they cannot respond to questions about specific abuse reports, associated actions / investigations relating to them, or even how governance issues are managed.

While it does not provide an easement for the frustrations that are being felt, it does mean that such forums as the Simulator User Group, Server Beta User Group, Open-Source Dev Group, and the Web Group are not suitable venues in which to seek feedback on governance matters.

DMCA Update

Somewhat related to the above is the informal announcement that the Lab will be changing how people can file infringement notices (DMCA take-down notices) in the near future.

Currently, the Lab’s Infringement Notification Policy requires that such notices are filed with Linden Lab via mail or fax. Once this update has been implemented – possibly around January / February 2018, it will be possible to file notification with the Lab via an on-line form. I’ll hopefully have a full report on this when the forum has been deployed for general use.

Marketplace

  • It is believed that the underlying cause of items being de-listed from the Marketplace has been fixed, and there have been no further reports of new cases where de-listing has occurred. The Lab is continuing to work with those creators who have been affected to ensure all of their affected listing are recovered.
  • Blocking purchasers: some creators would like a means to block people they see as troublesome from purchasing their creations via the Marketplace (just as they can block people from their in-world stores). This is something the Lab is looking at – but again, it is difficult to implement / enforce because of the ease with which alt accounts can be created and used.
  • Marketplace facts: a couple of Marketplace-related facts:
    • There are around 40,000 unique monthly sellers using the Marketplace per month.
    • There are around 150,000 unique buyers using the Marketplace per month.

Seller Verification

: the idea of “verifying” or of at least having some means to control listings on the Marketplace (particularly scam listings / those trying to sell illicit items) was initiated at the inaugural WUG meeting as part of a wider discussion on Marketplace management.

The Lab is looking at various options which might be implemented to help with this, although nothing has been decided as yet. One idea put forward – and again, has not been adopted as something that will happen – is that of applying a listing fee,  potentially tied to a benefit for Premium members (e.g. no fees, or X number of free listings). Given changes to fees for cashing-out will be made in January 2018, and LindeX fees were recently changed, this did not go over well with some at that meeting, although others seemed in favour, although it does potentially represent a higher barrier to entry into selling content.

A resident-voiced proposal is for those using the Marketplace to supply some aspect of their physical world information as a means of verifying who they are (already required for those cashing-out L$ balances to fiat money)  – something which may discourage content copiers and MP spammers, but which might again discourage other who sell on the MP, but who don’t necessarily cash-out (they use the L$ income to support their in-world activities) from continuing to participate in the MP.

This approach might also allow those merchants who have verified their accounts with the Lab to have some form of “verified” / “trusted” icon displayed within their listings, although the legal ramifications for the Lab in doing this would likely have to be investigated (for example, how vulnerable might the Lab be to legal action should a so-called merchant “verified” as “safe” by them start selling illicit goods at another’s expense?).

In terms of stolen / copybotted goods on the Marketplace and scam accounts, Grumpity Linden stated the Lab’s broader aims:

Meeting Contents

It has been noted that Marketplace-related items are dominating the two WUG meetings held thus far, leads to some concerns that other web-related topics may get pushed out of meetings. Of all the Lab’s main user-facing web properties, the Marketplace is probably the most visible, and carries the largest potential impact with people, therefore a focus on it is to be expected (particularly given the Commernce Team abdicated their own in-world meetings around 5-6 years ago and have shown no willingness since to re-engage in them). However, Grumpity and Alexa acknowledged the wider purview of the WUG meetings, and suggested that a portion of future meetings might be set aside to discuss non-Marketplace web topics.

Date of next meeting: Friday, January 5th, 2018.

SL project updates week #49: server, viewer, e-mail verification

Borneo; Inara Pey, November 2017, on FlickrBorneoblog post

Server Deployments

  • On Tuesday, December 5th, the Main (SLS) channel was updated with the server maintenance package  17#17.11.17.510835, previously deployed the three RC channels. This comprises:
    • IMs sent to an off-line resident will only be sent to verified email addresses.
    • Internal Changes to Outgoing Emails.
  • On Wednesday, December 6th, the three RC channels should be updates with a new server maintenance package, 17#17.12.01.511131, comprising “internal improvements”.

E-mail Verification

The Main (SLS) server deployment sees a further step in the Lab’s plan to reduce the volume of e-mail traffic it generates by only sending e-mails to those addresses Second Life users have actually verified as being valid with Linden Lab (see Making Email From Second Life (More) Reliable).

With this deployment, and if you have not verified your preferred SL-related e-mail address with Linden Lab, you will no longer receive off-line IMs as e-mails. So, if you haven’t already done so, ad wish to continue receiving off-line IMs as e-mails from wherever they originate in-world, make sure you have verified the e-mail address recorded in your viewer  with Linden Lab. Should you require detailed instructions on how to do this, please refer to my blog post Important: verifying your e-mail address with Second life.

SL Viewer

The Project Render Viewer updated to version 5.1.0.510978 on December 4th (although the wiki page still lists it as dated November 30th). All other viewers remain unchanged from week #48 at the time of writing:

e have been no SL viewer updates since the end of week #45, leaving the current viewer pipelines as follows:

  • Current Release version 5.0.9.329906, dated November 17, promoted November 29th – formerly the “Martini” Maintenance RC
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Wolfpack RC viewer arrived, version 5.0.10.330001, released on November 30.
    • Alex Ivy 64-bit viewer, version 5.1.0.511060, December 1.
    • Voice RC viewer, version 5.0.8.328552, October 20 (still dated Sept 1 on the wiki page).
  • Project viewers:
  • Obsolete platform viewer version 3.7.28.300847, dated May 8, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

Marketplace Listings Issues

For the last 10 tens there have been on-going issues with Marketplace items becoming unlisted/ associated with their related items. The issues have been subject to continuing investigation. The Lab has also been attempting to recover listings as investigations have continued. On Monday, December 4th, the Grid Status Page was updated:

Identified – We have identified a solution to this matter and are actively working through the support cases and JIRA tickets that have been submitted. If you have been affected by the issue (Marketplace listings unlisting) and have not reported it to us yet, please file a support case. Thank you again for your patience as we slay this dragon.

To which Oz Linden added, during the Simulator User Group on Tuesday, December 5th:

We found and fixed some problems and repaired many listings. I won’t claim we found all problems because I have no way to be sure of that (ever) … Anyone who lost a listing should file a support ticket. We have a process in place to recover the listings we can. So far I believe that’s most of them.

Enhanced Environment Project

Rider Linden is working on the Enhanced Environmental Project (EEP), which comprises a number of changes to how environmental (Windlight) settings are handle. They include the ability to define the environment (sky, sun, moon, clouds, water settings) at the parcel level; a new environment asset type that can be stored in inventory and traded through the Marketplace / exchanged with others; scripted, experience-based environment functions, an extended day cycle and extended environmental parameters.

This work, which involves both viewer and server-side updates, is generally part of my CCUG meeting updates. However, Rider is still considering how best to convert existing custom Windlight settings people have created into inventory assets. If anyone has any ideas on how to make this work, to please file a JIRA for the Enhanced Environmental Project, and ask in the description that it be brought to his attention.

SL project updates 48/2: Content Creation User Group

A rally of (Animesh) raptors on Aditi

The majority of the following notes are taken from the Content Creation User Group meeting, held on  Thursday, November 30th, 2017 at 13:00 SLT. For the purposes of Animesh testing, the meetings have relocated to the Animesh4 region on Aditi, the beta grid – look for the seating area towards the middle of the region. The meeting is chaired by Vir Linden, and agenda notes, etc, are usually available on the Content Creation User Group wiki page.

Medhue Simoni live streamed the meeting, and his video is embedded at the end of this article – thanks to Medhue, as always, for the recording. Time stamps in the body text will open the video in a separate tab for ease of reference to the relevant parts of the text. However as these notes present the meeting in terms of topics discussed, rather than a chronological breakdown of the meeting, so some time stamps may appear to be out of sequence.

Animesh (Animated Mesh)

“I like the name ‘animated objects’ because I think it’s unambiguous, but it takes a long time to type!” – Vir Linden joking about the name “Animesh”.

Project Summary

The goal of this project is to provide a means of animating rigged mesh objects using the avatar skeleton, in whole or in part, to provide things like independently moveable pets / creatures, and animated scenery features via scripted animation. It involves both viewer and server-side changes.

In short, an Animesh object:

  • Can be any object (generally rigged / skinned mesh) which and contains the necessary animations and controlling scripts in its own inventory  (Contents tab of the Build floater) required for it to animate itself.
  • Can be a single mesh object or a linkset of objects (link them first, then set them to Animated Mesh via the Build floater > Features).
  • Has been flagged as and Animesh object in the project viewer, and so has an avatar skeleton associated with it.
  • Can use many existing animations.

Note that the focus of this project is not currently about providing fully functional NPCs at this point in time, which is seen as a follow-on project.

Resources

Viewer Status

[0:13-1:06] The Animesh Project Viewer should be updated soon, bringing it into parity with the new release viewer (see below). This update will also include a couple of bug fixes.

Non-Rigged Root Items

[6:25-11:12] A short discussion on the ability to include non-rigged objects in an Animesh, such as an invisible prim as the root. This ability was recently added, but hasn’t been extensively exercised as yet. It sparked a look at BUG-139336, with Vir agreeing that the proposal need to be re-examined, as he is not sure if a scripted offset is the best answer, or whether allowing a manual offset through the build tools might be better. This feeds into a later conversation [35:27] about having LSL capabilities for all edit capabilities – and the risk of over-use of options as a result, simply because they can be automated – and the benefits of only making new capabilities (such as BUG139336) only available through LSL, where it might not be obviously to many, rather than being made visible through a build option.

Mod Keys

This was the subject of extensive discussions at the previous CCUG meeting. However, Vir again confirmed that it is viewed as something outside of the immediate Animesh project.

Performance Testing

[12:00-22:00] This is also a popular topic, and Vir re-iterated that it will be done, once the Lab feels this iteration of Animesh is “feature complete”. While he believes this is pretty much the case (allowing for bug fixes), he’d still rather hold off on testing a little longer. In the meantime, there continue to be calls for the current limits on tri counts, Land Impact, etc., to be relaxed to give people greater freedom to design Animesh. Vir is hesitant to do this, as he’d rather start from a constrained baseline with more structured testing to ensure sensible limits are arrived at which can be sustained across the entire grid when Animesh goes live.  Given the way that current mesh avatars are some of the more render-intensive (and viewer performance hitting) objects within Second Life, his concern is perhaps understandable.

[36:35-46:30] Some would like to see the tri limit raised to around 50K to allow for testing of products, rather than testing Animesh itself. This seems to be a little premature. However, Vir is going to discuss the potential for an tri limit increase with Alexa.

[22:42-27:53] A discussion on Animesh scaling, animation size and LOD. If an Animesh is based around a 0.5 cube, but the associated mPevlis bone is scaled to allow a 60-metre tall Animesh, what are the LOD calculations based on: the visible size of the object / distance from it, or the size of the root prim / distance from it (which would cause the Animesh to decay faster as the camera moves away from it).  Vir believes it should be based on the displayed dimensions, but notes there are already issues with meshes load the correct LODs.  As such, he’ll look into it some more.

[28:18-30:00] Further discussion on Animesh Land Impact, the arbitrary / testing only nature of the current 200 LI limit, toggling Animesh items on / off to help reduce LI, the potential of having a separate LI for Animesh objects compared to other in-world objects, and the complexities of doing so, were it to be pursued.

[30:56-32:46] LSL function for converting objects to Animesh and back – suggested as a means of lowering LI on items (so someone could use scripted controls to switch between, say, the active Animesh animals on their land. Again, Vir feels people might be getting a little too hung-up on the LI (and other limits) too early.

[46:42-51:50] Brief discussion on model orientation. As previously noted, Second Life expects a mesh to be X- oriented, so the front of the mesh is aligned to the X-axis. Blender can sometimes orient to the Y-axis. As a known bug, Vir is hoping it can be resolved through Blender, rather than by diving into the viewer code.

Environment Enhancement Project (EEP)

Project Summary

A set of environmental enhancements, including the ability to define the environment (sky, sun, moon, clouds, water settings) at the parcel level; a new environment asset type that can be stored in inventory and traded through the Marketplace / exchanged with others; scripted, experience-based environment functions, an extended day cycle and extended environmental parameters. This work involves both a viewer updates (with a project viewer coming soon) and server-side updates.

Current Status

[1:18-409] Rider Linden is working on the server-side updates so the simulator can support the new environment settings used by the viewer. When this is done, he’ll be working on saving the environment settings as inventory objects. The first implementation of these objects will be as day cycles, skies, and water – and are set-up to be expanded in the future.

There should hopefully be project viewer available (testing most likely on Aditi) after the Christmas / New Year break.

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