Lab Chat #2: Ebbe Altberg – Concerning Second Life

Lab Chat, January 21st, 2016: Jo Yardley, Ebbe Altberg and Saffia Widdershins
Lab Chat, January 21st, 2016: Jo Yardley, Ebbe Altberg and Saffia Widdershins
Introduction Concerning Sansar

This page is a part of a transcript of the Lab Chat interview with Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg (in his alter ego of Ebbe Linden) held in-world on Thursday, January 21st, 2016. It focuses on those questions selected from the Lab Chat forum thread which are directed towards Second Life. Each question and response is supplied with an accompanying audio extract. Use the following links to jump directly to a topic of particular interest (use the Back button of your browser to return to this list):

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Links to Other Topics

Use the links below to jump directly to any other questions and answers from the session.

Lab Chat #2 Introduction

Concerning Sansar

Additional Questions

Closing Comments

Project Bento

How will creators make poses and animations for the new bones (wings, fingers, facial expressions, etc)? In the past on the SL Wiki, was a downloadable figure rigged for Poser. There are also programs like QVimator.

What tools will creators have for Bento to make content? Will there be any in-world tools for Bento pose/animation creation? Will animations for Bento have the ability to animate (or pose) separately? Example: A Bento facial smile that affects no other body part; a wing animation that only animates the wings; a finger pose that only poses the fingers. Also, will poses and animations for Bento have the option for full body animation? – Devin Vaughn

In relation to that, would it be possible to record face/hand performances on the server-side to store as a reusable animations– without the need to use a 3rd party recording tool– being able to record a performance in-world (and in context) is key? – NVZN

Abramelin Wolfe demonstrates a mocap of finger movements rigged to a mesh avatar using the Bento skeleton extensions

Wow!  That was a mouthful! (laughs).

So, let’s start with tools. you’ll be able to use similar tools – external tools. We’ve been working with Avastar, Mayastar from earl on in the project, so those tools will be ready as Bento – well, they’re ready now, and they’ll continue to work with us as Bento takes its final shape. So you can basically use similar tools you’ve used to date.

There’s question about …. the wiki download. It’s already on the wiki now, and it will obviously continue to update as the Bento project progresses and as changes are made. So more complete information will be available on the wiki as changes are finalised.

In-world tools? No current plans. If we make new default avatars that take advantage of Bento, then we might make it that you can slider control whatever new bones that we introduce into those default avatars[1], but there’s nothing specifically planned there yet. The first step is to just get Bento to final state.

There’s been questions that I have in my notes here … about translation of bones. Originally that was disabled because it caused various bugs and side effects. For now it’s been re-enabled, and creators seem quite excited about that, but that means we actually have to chug through some of the implications of that, including bugs and potentially some content breaking issues.

So I don’t know if the team has finalised a decision on whether that can work out. The intent of the team is to make it work, and that’s why they’ve re-enabled translation of bones, so hopefully we can get that figured out, but Bento is still “in progress”, and it will take as long as it will take to get it to a good state[2].

Gaia Clary demonstrates a new face rig under development by Avastar to speed up creating facial expression animations using the Bento skeleton

What did I miss from what you said?

YW: Well, there was a question about being able to record them. you know, you can make an animation and then record it so you can use it as an in-world performance. so I assume that they mean you  create this entire Bento animation for a dance, for instance, and then record it, and they can play it, just like you do with animations. If I understood correctly.

I don’t know that there will be any difference from what you can do today. Pretty much everything else remains the same, if you will.

SW One bit that was asked was will they have the ability to animate or pose separately? The facial smile that affects no other body part; I know that I have one casually raised eyebrow!

I actually don’t know; I’d have to ask someone. I’ll see if anyone answers here on my private Slack channel. I don’t know enough about that, so we’ll have to take that off-line.

SW: I think that’s given people a lot to think about, which is really great.

We’ve already seen some really fascinating work by people, and more and more keeps happening as people understand how to take advantage of this, and as we fix bugs and make things work right, and the tools come along with it, then there’s going to be a lot of interesting, creative experiences out there.

The following comments from Oz Linden about Bento were also relayed via Saffia Widdershins a little later in the show, but are included here for ease of reference:

We don’t have a recording capability now, and don’t plan to add one as part of Bento. Animations can already affect only specific bones, and there’s a priority scheme for which one works, and that won’t change with Bento.

In-world Grid Status Notifications

Up until a few years ago, if there were serious problems occurring with any of the SL services, the Lab would issue an in-world warning to residents, advising them to refrain from actions which might result in inventory loss, account balance errors, etc., providing those logged-in with the most direct means of knowing when problems were occurring. Given the events of 9th / 10th January and similar situations, could the Lab again look at re-implementing these advisories to users, rather than relying on us keeping one eye on the Grid Status Page when in-world? See: – Inara Pey.

If someone is going full-dive, they’re not going to be checking Twitter or the Grid Status blog. And if they’ve already logged in, they’re not going to see a warning that only appears on the login screen. – Crap Mariner.

The Grid Status page (when updated!) is an excellent means of tracking what is happening with issues on the grid - unless you are already in-world, where flicking back and forth to see if anything has occurred isn't always welcome, and some form of in-world notification might help people's situational awareness
The Grid Status page (when updated!) is an excellent means of tracking what is happening with issues on the grid – unless you are already in-world, where flicking back and forth to see if anything has occurred isn’t always welcome, and some form of in-world notification might help people’s situational awareness

So the team talked a little bit about this to keep me informed about what we could do here, and Oz made a point that as soon as you want to do something in-world to notify people, you’ve got to make sure you’re not dependent potentially on the parts that are actually broken. So, the nice thing about having a status outside of the viewer or in-world is that you can mostly isolate those two channels of communication so that if Second Life does have an issue, you can still get notifications out; which may not be true if you;re trying to notify in-world.

Recent issues were Amazon had issues with their networking, and that would have potentially made it completely impossible for us  to actually communicate through the client. so I don’t know how high a priority the team can make this effort, to try to do some in-world notifications of issues; normally the team tries to focus more on making sure there are no issues. So I can’t promise anything in-world, but Oz says the team will noodle on it.

JY: I’m one of those people who doesn’t notice there is anything wrong until it is too late, because I am in too deep, as someone says. So it would be nice to  have as many warnings as possible.

And the timing of getting these out can be tricky too; because if something goes wrong, usually the team will focus their energies on solving what’s wrong. and depending on the time of night and the amount of staff you have, just trying to dig in and solve the problem can sometimes make it difficult to communicate clearly about the state of things. but we’ll think of ways to be more informative about issues, but not sure what we can do and when.

Lab Chat, January 21st, 2016: Jo Yardley, Ebbe Altberg and Saffia Widdershins
Lab Chat, January 21st, 2016: Jo Yardley, Ebbe Altberg and Saffia Widdershins

Credit Processing

A few times last year you’ve mentioned the possibility of faster credit processing, same day even. Any update on whether that can still happen and when? – Ashur Constantine

Would this apply to Paypal? – Alexxis DeCuir

PayPal is kind-of an independent thing … Right now, all requests flow through, I think it’s a four-day waiting period for us to make sure it’s completely legit to make that payment. and we’ve come a long way in trying to automatically determine whether a payment request can pass on through without any human inspection or intervention.

Lots of rules need to go into place, you know there’s certain amounts, or sometimes someone will trip a threshold that needs some additional information, and we’ve got to make sure that those are cleared away.

We do have this automated process in place,  and a high percentage of all requests go through what we call “auto approved”. The compliance team will actually go and inspect if they are 100% certain that all those things that our code determines to be auto approved are completely legit so that we don’t make payments that shouldn’t be made  without some sort of human intervention.

Once they are comfortable that those rules are 100% certain, then it should not be much work for us to be able to fork the queue so that people who can be auto approved could pretty much within hours just go through the process of getting payment.

Now, you always have whatever time PayPal takes or anybody else takes, that we have no control over. but at least we can initiate the payment pretty much right away, and it doesn’t sound like that’s a huge amount of work, it’s a fairly simple task. So it’s mostly about reviewing our rules set to make sure the computer makes the right decision on whether we can or cannot pay someone without further review.

I hope we will figure this out in a few weeks, and I’ve said this before and I’m sorry, we dropped the ball on this; we had this in process, and then there were some changes in responsibility, and so it fell on the floor. and when the question cam in here, I was, “What the hell is going on with this issue?” and dug around a bit, and no-one was actively chasing it, so the team is on it now and hopefully we can get this done pretty soon.

Although if they discover the process of auto approving someone has lots of issues, it might take quite a while to sort those out to make sure we get the rules set cleared. there might also be the option of manually white-listing certain  accounts, but that’s not something you can do at massive scale, so it would only impact a few key accounts. but hopefully the auto rules are pretty darn close to perfect so that we can just roll this out.

JY: So if all goes well, in a couple of weeks, with some luck, we can have our payments within hours. That’ll be fantastic.

The other thing that we noodled on, to be honest, is whether this warrants is do we want to charge for this, and if we roll it out for free and if we start to charge for it later. In a previously place where I used to work, we charged a couple of extra points on this and people happily paid for that.

Because – and maybe this is a different  topic I’m not sure we’ll get on to today – we want to think about how we can reduce land cost, which means we have to pick it up somewhere else.  no necessarily all of it, but some of it; and this might be one place where we could pick up something.

JY: It could be something for premium members, an enticement.

That’s an interesting idea. So that might mean the scope of this thing might expand a little bit, and it might take a little bit longer. Because it might be painful to roll-out something for free and then start charging for it later.

Introduction Concerning Sansar


  1. It should be noted that where possible, the Bento skeleton extensions have already bee rigged to respond the shape sliders, although at the time of writing, this is not always ideal (see Shape Slider Limitations in this Bento update).
  2. You can read more about the rotation vs. translation of bones issues here (Bone Translation as Well as rotation) and here (Translation vs. Rotation).