2018 SL UG updates 46/1: Simulator User Group

Malaika Park; Inara Pey, October 2018, on FlickrMalaika Parkblog post

Server Deployment Plans

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

  • On Tuesday, November 13th, the SLS (Main) channel was updated with server release 18#18.11.01.521329, previously deployed to the Magnum RC, and comprising a fix for Animesh land impact calculations – see below – and also internal logging fixes.
  • On Wednesday, November 14th, 2018, the three main RC channels should be updated with the same server update, 18#18.11.09.521593, comprising internal fixes.
  • There is no planned simulator update for EEP.

Land Impact Calculation Revision

The Land Impact update deployed to the SLS channel this week (and to the RC channels in week #45) is to correct an error in the Animesh code. In short, if an Animesh object has a conventional prim as its root, the required 15 LI for the Animesh skeleton is not applied.

This 15 LI is an aggregate value for Animesh arrived at during testing Animesh performance across a range of systems. It has also been subject to some alarmist blog posts about unexpected prim returns, but given Animesh products are not generally available as yet, this is unlikely.

SL Server

On Tuesday, November 13th:

All other viewers remain as per the end of week #45:

  • Current Release version 5.1.9.519298, dated September 5, promoted September 26. Formerly the Rakomelo Maintenance RC viewer – No change.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Animesh RC viewer, version 6.0.0.520636, dated October 18th.
    • Estate Access Management (EAM) RC viewer, version 5.2.0.520057, dated September 28th.
    • BugSplat RC viewer, version 5.1.9.519462, dated September 10th. This viewer is functionally identical to the current release viewer, but uses BugSplat for crash reporting, rather than the Lab’s own Breakpad based crash reporting tools.
  • Project viewers:
    • Environmental Enhancement Project (EEP) viewer, version 5.1.10.521312,  dated November 2nd.
    • Bakes on Mesh project viewer, version 5.1.10.520711, dated October 29th.
    • 360 snapshot viewer, version 5.1.6.515934, dated June 6th.
  • Linux Spur viewer, version 5.0.9.329906, dated November 17, 2017 and promoted to release status 29th November, 2017 – offered pending a Linux version of the Alex Ivy viewer code.
  • Obsolete platform viewer, version 3.7.28.300847, May 8th, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

Recalling Viewer 2.0

There is one thing I’d like to mention, and that today is the anniversary of a very special moment in Second Life history. November 13th is V2 Day. Nine years ago we released version 2 of the viewer, which many people mark as the beginning of the end of Second Life.

– Simon Linden, Simulator User Group

While I’d possibly dispute the date – I have blog posts from March 2010 marking the release of Viewer 2.0 as the “default” viewer available from the Lab, prior to that it was a Beta viewer (remember those?) – so perhaps “first issued” might have been a better term, it is nevertheless true that viewer 2.0 was subject to a lot of sturm und drang; I wasn’t a great fan when it arrived, although as it developed and improved, I did become something of a convert over time, and I also agree with Simon’s summation of the early work:

I know the intentions of V2 were good … the old SL viewer UI was a crazy mess of things patched on by engineers with no overall design. But personally I think they made the mistake of trying to meet a schedule date and not waiting until it was right.

And again, as Simon notes, at the end of the day and despite all the pronouncements of Viewer 2.0 heralding the end of SL, here we are, nine years later, still SL-ing!

Fake Firestorm Website

There are in-world IMs / notices, doing the rounds pointing to a fake Firestorm website. for details, please refer to my blog post here.

 

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2018 SL UG updates 45/2: CCUG summary

Frog Hollow; Inara Pey, September 2018, on FlickrFrog Hollowblog post

The majority of following notes are taken from the Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meeting, held on Thursday, November 8th, 2018 at 13:00 SLT. These meetings are chaired by Vir Linden, and agenda notes, meeting SLurl, etc, are usually available on the Content Creation User Group wiki page.

SL Viewer Updates

The Spotykach RC viewer updates to version 5.1.10.521459 on Thursday, November 8th, 2018. Otherwise, all other viewer remain as per part #1 of these weekly updates.

Environmental Enhancement Project (EEP)

Project Summary

A set of environmental enhancements allowing the environment (sky, sun, moon, clouds, water settings) to be set region or parcel level, with support for up to 7 days per cycle and sky environments set by altitude. Uses a new set of inventory assets (Sky, Water, Day) that can be stored in inventory and traded through the Marketplace / exchanged with others, and which can additionally be used in experiences. A new set of render shaders to support atmospheric effects such as rainbows, crepuscular rays (“God rays”), better horizon haze and fogging (but will not include rain / snow). The ability to change the Sun and Moon and cloud textures with custom textures.

Resources

Current Status

The new simulator update deployed to the Snack channel on Wednesday, November 7th, 2018. This allows environment information to be pulled from the parcel or region, and further scripting work is due in time. There will also be further updates to the viewer in due course.

There has been a request to allow parcel owners set the transition time for EEP settings when moving between parcels, rather than just using the fixed (roughly 10-second) transition time. This is something Rider is reluctant to consider for the first pass of the EEP work, as it is a complex matter to tackle, and constitutes the kind of scope creep he’d rather avoid in trying to get the first pass of EEP out of the door. However, it is among the items to be considered as a part of any EEP follow-up project.  This said, it will be possible to set the transition time on EEP settings directly applied to avatars (once the scripted EEP support is available).

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.

Resources

Current Status

The Land Impact fix for Animesh is now deployed to the RC channels – this ensures that Animesh objects with a regular prim root (rather than a mesh root) should have their default 15 LI including in land impact calculations. If all goes according to plan, this fix will hopefully be deployed to the main (SLS) channel in week #46.

There are no specific updates in the works for the viewer at present, so the simulator update might see Animesh go to release status in the immediate future.

The meeting covered a lot of ground covered in the previous meeting – performance / bound box fixes; avatar shapes for a follow-up project, etc., so please refer to my notes from that meeting for details.

Bakes On Mesh

Extending the current avatar baking service to allow wearable textures (skins, tattoos, clothing) to be applied directly to mesh bodies as well as system avatars. This involves viewer and server-side changes, including updating the baking service to support 1024×1024 textures, and may in time lead to a reduction in the complexity of mesh avatar bodies and heads.

This work does not include normal or specular map support, as these are not part of the existing Bake Service, nor are they recognised as system wearables.

Resources

Current Status

Work is continuing with fixing the Bake Service / appearance service. Some of this work is currently with the Lab’s QA team. Anchor is also working on some viewer-side issues as well.

Normal and Specular Maps Support?

By default, Bakes on Mesh will not support normal and specular maps. This is because the Bake Service managing the avatar appearance does not recognise normal or specular maps, and updating it to do so is seen as a major task in terms of software and hardware.

However, in examining the issue, Cathy Foil has put forward a way to allow Bakes on Mesh to indirectly support normal and specular maps using a combination of three additional bake channels within the Bake Service and a scripted “applier” option, similar to current skin and clothing applier mechanisms.

Would this conflict with mesh body parts that already have a specular or normal map already assigned? While she’s not tested the idea in practice, Cathy believes not, as the additional Bake Service channels are not actually applied to the avatar,  they are simply a means to communicate what should be applied.

However, Graham Linden believes that even this approach would still require alterations to correctly composite the normal and specular maps. It would also likely need some kind of alpha masking capability to ensure odd outcomes are avoided (such as a normal or specular map for, say an underwear layer bleeding through to a skirt layer of clothing).  Cathy has indicated she’ll try doing some testing ahead of the next CCUG.

If nothing else, the provision of further Bake channels that might be seen as for “general purpose” use could lead to creators using them in a variety of ways, leading to further consumer confusion simply because there is no standard approach to how each auxiliary Bake channel is to be used.

2018 SL UG updates 45/1: Simulator User Group

Florence Bay; Inara Pey, September 2018, on FlickrFlorence Bayblog post

Server Deployment Plans

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

  • On Tuesday, November 6th, the SLS (Main) channel was updated with server release 18#18.10.25.521081, previously deployed to the BlueSteel and LeTigre RCs, and comprising internal logging fixes. It is hopped that these updates will help with some crashing, particularly some regions that get into a crash loop.
  • On Wednesday, November 7th, 2018, the RC channels should be updated as follows:
    • BlueSteel and LeTigre will update to server maintenance package 18#18.11.01.521328, comprising a fix for Animesh land impact calculations – see below.
    • Magnum should be updated to server maintenance package 18#18.11.01.521329, also comprising a fix for Animesh land impact calculations – see below –  and also internal logging fixes.
    • Snack should also receive another iteration of simulator EEP support, release 18.11.02.521379.

RC Land Impact Calculation Revision

The Land Impact update being deployed to the RC channels is to correct an error in the Animesh code. In short, if an Animesh object has a conventional prim as its root, the required 15 LI for the Animesh skeleton is not applied.

This 15 LI is an aggregate value for Animesh arrived at during testing Animesh performance across a range of systems. It has also been subject to some alarmist blog posts about unexpected prim returns, but given Animesh products are not generally available as yet, this is unlikely.

SL Viewer

There have been no viewer updates from the Lab at the start of the week, leaving the various pipelines as per the end of week #44.

  • Current Release version 5.1.9.519298, dated September 5, promoted September 26. Formerly the Rakomelo Maintenance RC viewer – No change.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Spotykach Maintenance RC viewer, version 5.1.10.520686, October 30.
    • Animesh RC viewer, version 6.0.0.520636, October 18.
    • Estate Access Management (EAM) RC viewer, version 5.2.0.520057, September 28.
    • BugSplat RC viewer, version 5.1.9.519462, September 10. This viewer is functionally identical to the current release viewer, but uses BugSplat for crash reporting, rather than the Lab’s own Breakpad based crash reporting tools.
    • Love Me Render RC viewer, version 5.1.8.518751, released on August 20.
  • Project viewers:
  • Linux Spur viewer, version 5.0.9.329906, dated November 17, 2017 and promoted to release status 29 November – offered pending a Linux version of the Alex Ivy viewer code.
  • Obsolete platform viewer, version 3.7.28.300847, May 8, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

In Brief

HTTP “throttles”: there have been questions on what any  throttles on incoming / outgoing HTTP communications might be. In reply,  Simon and Oz Linden stated:

We don’t want to block any “reasonable” use of http in with throttles, for whatever that really means. Don’t expect to write anything fast and high-load with http in, however. I’d just generally say “keep it slow”. I think the original idea for http in (and out) was it was going to be web-page speed, not a twitch game.

– Simon Linden

The amount of impact incoming http has can also vary depending on what else is on the system your region(s) are shared with (which you can’t easily determine). We have had times when we have asked users to modify how they use http-in to prevent problems.

– Oz Linden

Key binding: there have often been requests for broader / more configurable options for key binding within the viewer / SL, a subject raised at the meeting, with Oz Linden again commenting:

I have a standing offer to accept a contribution that will provide a complete key binding editor for the viewer.

Scriptable UI: another long-standing request is for a more scriptable UI for SL.  This could help with a range of capabilities – such as the viewer taking over actions that are currently dependent on simulator intervention, which and slow things down. However, viewer-side scripting support brings within it a number of issues – such as the code being unprotected, for example. So, not something liable to happen in the foreseeable future.

2018 SL UG updates 44/2: TPV Developer meeting

Zone One; Inara Pey, September 2018, on FlickrZone Oneblog post

The following notes are taken from the TPV Developer meeting held on Friday, November 2nd, 2018. A video of the meeting is embedded below, my thanks as always to North for recording and providing it.

This was again a short meeting.

SL Viewer

The EEP project viewer updated to version 5.1.10.521312 on November 2nd, 2018. Otherwise, the current viewer pipelines remain unchanged since my initial week #44 update:

  • Current Release version 5.1.9.519298, dated September 5th, promoted September 26th. Formerly the Rakomelo Maintenance RC viewer – No change.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Spotykach Maintenance RC viewer, version 5.1.10.520686, October 30th.
    • Animesh RC viewer, version 6.0.0.520636, October 18th.
    • Estate Access Management (EAM) RC viewer, version 5.2.0.520057, September 28th.
    • BugSplat RC viewer, version 5.1.9.519462, September 10th. This viewer is functionally identical to the current release viewer, but uses BugSplat for crash reporting, rather than the Lab’s own Breakpad based crash reporting tools.
    • Love Me Render RC viewer, version 5.1.8.518751, released on August 20th.
  • Project viewers:
  • Linux Spur viewer, version 5.0.9.329906, dated November 17th, 2017 and promoted to release status 29th November – offered pending a Linux version of the Alex Ivy viewer code.
  • Obsolete platform viewer, version 3.7.28.300847, May 8th, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

Animesh

It is likely – but not certain – the Animesh RC viewer will be the next viewer to be promoted to de facto release status, being slightly ahead of the Bugsplat RC viewer in terms of readiness for promotion.

As per my last Animesh update, a simulator bug has been found. In short, if an Animesh object has a conventional prim as its root, the required 15 LI for the Animesh skeleton is not applied. This 15 LI is an aggregate value for Animesh arrived at during testing Animesh performance across a range of systems. It has also been subject to some alarmist blog posts about unexpected prim returns, but given Animesh products are not generally available as yet, this is unlikely.

The fix is now working through the simulator release cycle.

Bakes On Mesh

As noted in my initial week #44 update, the Bakes On Mesh project viewer updated to version 5.1.10.520711 at the start of the week. Simulator support for the service should now be grid-wide. However, as reported in my most recent Content Creation updates, the Bake Service itself is still awaiting update.

Non-HTTP Asset Fetching / UDP Path Deprecation

Vir referenced the deprecation and removal of simulator code support for UDP asset fetching. This means that from around January 6th, 2019, any viewers still fetching the affected asset types via UDP will not longer work correctly.

The specific asset types affected by this change are: system body parts, system clothing, gesture, animations, sounds, landmarks and textures (textures have been HTTP for some time, along with mesh and avatar appearance, but the UDP support for textures has thus far not been removed from the simulator).

A region will be set-up on Aditi without the code to allow TPVs to test against it ahead of the switch-over.

TPV Developer Meetings to Year End

There should be three more TPV Developer meetings prior to year-end:

  • November 16th 2018
  • November 30th, 2018
  • December 14th, 2018 – although this is subject to further confirmation.

2018 SL UG updates 44/1: Weekend issues

Little Havana; Inara Pey, September 2018, on FlickrLittle Havanablog post

Unfortunately, the clock change in the UK / Europe meant I was unable to make the Simulator User Group meeting on Tuesday, October 30th.

Server Deployment Plans

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

  • There was no deployment to the SLS (Main) channel on Tuesday, October 30th, nor was the channel restarted. It remains on server release 18#18.10.04.520268, comprising internal fixes.
  • On Wednesday, October 31st, 2018, the RC channels should be updated as follows:
    • BlueSteel and LeTigre will update to server maintenance package 18#18.10.25.521081, comprising internal logging fixes.
    • Magnum should be updated to server maintenance package 18.10.25.521075, also comprising internal logging fixes.
    • Snack will be updated to EEP release 18.10.24.521013.

SL Viewer

There have been two SL viewer updates to start the week:

The remaining viewers in their pipelines remain unchanged from week #43:

  • Current Release version 5.1.9.519298, dated September 5th, promoted September 26th. Formerly the Rakomelo Maintenance RC viewer – No change.
  • Release channel cohorts (please see my notes on manually installing RC viewer versions if you wish to install any release candidate(s) yourself):
    • Animesh RC viewer, version 6.0.0.520636, October 18th.
    • Estate Access Management (EAM) RC viewer, version 5.2.0.520057, September 28th.
    • BugSplat RC viewer, version 5.1.9.519462, September 10. This viewer is functionally identical to the current release viewer, but uses BugSplat for crash reporting, rather than the Lab’s own Breakpad based crash reporting tools.
    • Love Me Render RC viewer, version 5.1.8.518751, released on August 20.
  • Project viewers:
    • Environmental Enhancement Project (EEP) viewer updated to version 5.1.10.520819, on October 19th.
    • 360 snapshot viewer, version 5.1.6.515934, June 6th.
  • Linux Spur viewer, version 5.0.9.329906, dated November 17th, 2017 and promoted to release status 29th November – offered pending a Linux version of the Alex Ivy viewer code.
  • Obsolete platform viewer, version 3.7.28.300847, May 8th, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

Weekend Issues

Shug Maitland kept an eye on the ups and downs of log-ins during the DDOS attack via https://etitsup.com/slstats/ through Sunday, October 28th, 2018 and into the early hours of Monday, October 29th, sending me this above capture

As most are aware, Sunday saw some significant issues with Second Life, with users in particular have log-in issues.

It appears the problems were directly the result of a prolonged / vicious distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack, as April Linden confirmed in the forums, stating:

Heya Folks.

I can confirm it was a DDoS attack, and yes, the folks on my team had a rough weekend.

We do our best to fight DDoSes, but this one took quite a bit more effort than normal.

I’m sorry people’s plans got interrupted over the weekend. It was a rough weekend for all of us… including those of us on this side of the grid, too.

I’ve no idea if there will be a more formal blog post on the matter or not.

2018 SL UG updates 43/2: CCUG summary

Alexa Linden’s Funky Love EEP sky

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.

Resources

Current Status

Land Impact: a simulator bug has been found that is being fixed. In short, if an Animesh object has a conventional prim as its root, the required 15 LI for the Animesh skeleton is not applied. This LI is an aggregate value for Animesh skeletons during testing Animesh performance for a defined set of test Animesh objects across a range of systems.

This has led to some alarmist blog posts about prim returns, following a (somewhat sensationalist) forum post on Animesh being delayed by 2 weeks (itself guesswork) on the matter. Given that Animesh hasn’t reached release status, and there are few (if any) commercially-available Animesh objects at present, it’s not unfair to say both the blog posts and the forum thread are something of an over-reaction.

Performance Impact: (see BUG-225584 and forum thread). This is related to the new dynamic bound box used with Animesh. Beq Janus from the Firestorm team has been involved in investigations as to the degree of potential impact, and has discovered a potential baseline performance impact of around 8-10% between an Animesh-capable and non-Animesh viewer, regardless of the presence of Animesh.

The latest update to the Animesh viewer (version 6.0.0.520636 at the time of writing), should mitigate a lot of the performance impact resulting from the dynamic bounding box.

Animesh vs. Avatars: while there will be a baseline impact for Animesh objects, this should be less than the baseline impact seen with avatars, which not only have a skeleton, they also have a shape and appearance elements associated with them. The the complexity of a mesh body to an avatar (with a baselines of around 400 faces, plus mesh clothing, attachments, etc., and avatars tend to be a lot more complex than most considered Animesh should be.

Animesh follow-up: there has been a lot of talk about a follow-up project for Animesh since the project started. These include adding a body shape (allowing Animesh humanoid objects to gain slider support), which is viewed by the Lab as being possibly the preferred follow-on project, although it is acknowledged given the wide variety of arbitrary mesh forms that could be converted to Animesh, slider use might be limited. However, it is unlikely any follow-on project will be an immediate follow-on to the current work, as there are several other projects currently in the pipeline awaiting attention.

Animesh attachments: another long-term request has been to attach objects to Animesh creations. A problem here is that attachments are managed by the simulator-side avatar agent – and Animesh objects do not have an avatar agent associated with them, so they don’t have the back-end support for tracking attachments. This is an issue that needs to be solved before attachments on Animesh can be handled – and even then, there is the question for potential performance impact. Various alternative ideas have been suggested to allow for attachment support n Animesh, but these may also have their own issues, and are unlikely to be adopted.

Animesh “assembling” issue?: we’re all familiar with the way mesh bodies “assemble” when logging-in / teleporting to an occupied region: the various mesh elements stack-up, usually at their default attach points, while some may appear offset or oversized, then the position, rigging, LOD, etc., data is received by the viewer and things “assemble” into an avatar. This behaviour can occur with multi-part Animesh objects as well, and there is a report that sometimes the Animesh “assembling” can leaves parts floating around for up to a minute before “snapping into place”.  Thus far, the problem has only manifested with one creator using the pre-release of the Firestorm Animesh viewer, so it’s not clear whether there is an underpinning issue with Animesh or not.

Environmental Enhancement Project (EEP)

Project Summary

A set of environmental enhancements allowing the environment (sky, sun, moon, clouds, water settings) to be set region or parcel level, with support for up to 7 days per cycle and sky environments set by altitude. Uses a new set of inventory assets (Sky, Water, Day) that can be stored in inventory and traded through the Marketplace / exchanged with others, and which can additionally be used in experiences. A new set of render shaders to support atmospheric effects such as rainbows, crepuscular rays (“God rays”), better horizon haze and fogging (but will not include rain / snow). The ability to change the Sun and Moon and cloud textures with custom textures.

Resources

Current Status

As per my week #43 SUG update, a simulator update has been updated to fix the issue of racing skies when EEP-enabled regions are seen on non-EEP viewers. In addition, Rider is working on the first pass of the LSL support for EEP.

Bakes On Mesh

Work is continuing with fixing the Bake Service issues. however, as Anchor Linden, the lead for the project, is on vacation, this work will likely remain open until his return.

Other Items

  • Animations: there have been multiple requests for improvements to the animation system, including: allowing animation constraints to be set; extending the .ANIM format, animations by .DAE file and support for animation scaling. The Lab is aware of the requests being made, although not formal project has been defined at this point.
  • Morph Targets: there have been requests to allow morph targets within the avatar shape so that the shape sliders can be manipulated via LSL (so an avatar “gorging” itself at a scripted meal gets fatter, as a simple visual example). There are concerns that opening the body shape parameters to LSL manipulation could result in over-use and performance impact (e.g. rapid LSL adjustments to “animate” an avatar rather than using an actual animation), but some ability to allow morph targets is seen as potentially “interesting” – although this is not to say it will become a project.
  • Date of next meeting: due to the start-of-month internal meeting at LL, the next CCUG meeting will be on Thursday, November 8th, 2018.