A musical [Smash] in Second Life

[Smash]; Inara Pey, July 2018, on Flickr[Smash] – click any image for full size

A good, good while ago now, reader Alana Onyett suggested I might like to take a look at [Smash], a region designed by Zoe Jimenez. At the time I did – although I’m ashamed to admit I then filed everything away without getting around to blogging about it. So this piece comes with an apology to both Alana and Zoe.

For those who like music – notably electronic dance music and indie (but by no means limited to these to genres) – [Smash] could well be the place to spend a little time sounding out (if you’ll pardon the pun!). Where one region may boast one or two venues for music, this is a region that boasts a good dozen different venues, indoors and out, set within and over what might be described and something of a post apocalyptic environment with twists of steampunk and sci-fi.

[Smash]; Inara Pey, July 2018, on Flickr[Smash]

Such is the number of venues within the region – which forms part of a larger grouping of sims – that the easiest way of getting around, particularly from the landing hub, is to use the provided network of teleport discs. These allow rapid transit between the different clubs. Alongside of these – for those arriving at the landing hub – there is also a teleport experience.

To use this, touch any of the individual signs scattered next to the landing point and which advertise the various club venues. You’ll be invited to join the region’s experience and on acceptance, will be transported to the destination advertised by the sign you touched. Thereafter, you’ll be automatically transported to any of the venues on touching the applicable sign (unless you remove yourself from the experience, in which case you’ll have to re-join it).

[Smash]; Inara Pey, July 2018, on Flickr[Smash]

However, while the teleport systems are convenient, when you’re on the ground I recommend wandering on foot, as there are plenty of opportunities for exploration and photography – although do note there are private rental homes scattered around the outer edges of the region as well. There are also stores to be found among the taller buildings, clustered towards the centre of the region, offering an excuse for shopping.

Events wise, this is a busy location – as the [Smash] website schedule quickly reveals, with around 40 DJs hosting sets through any given month, with up to seven sessions per day. Times are slightly biased towards the American side of the Atlantic, but there’s enough spread across sets for most people to manage at least one or two sets through any given week.

[Smash]; Inara Pey, July 2018, on Flickr[Smash]

Each of the venues within the region has its own uniqueness / quirks, all of which again offers a good excuse for exploration. I admit to finding The Pool a particularly novel location for a night club, given there is still water in the pool and very imaginative use has been made of the diving boards. Similarly, the Steamport, with its two venue areas – indoors and out (hit the teleport board to get into The Globe)  – sitting over the landing hub, is both imaginative and eye-catching.

My own musical preferences perhaps run in a slightly different direction to those on offer at [Smash], but that doesn’t stop me from appreciating the amount of work that has gone into the design – which really is nicely done – or the amount of effort all concerned put into bringing it to life as a centre for DJ-led music in Second Life. So, even if EDM or indie or techno aren’t to your particular taste, I’d still suggest that if you enjoy exploring places with a difference in SL and which offer opportunities for photography, you find time to hop over to [Smash] and discover it for yourself, if you haven’t done so already.

[Smash]; Inara Pey, July 2018, on Flickr[Smash]

And again my apologies to Alana and Zoe for taking a fair while to get this post out!

SLurl Details

  • [Smash] (Whiskey Smash, rated: Moderate)

2018 Sansar product meetings week #28: July release preview

The Art of Drew Struzan: The Studio Experience blog post

It’s been a while since my last Sansar product update. This has been in part due to the fact that for a time they seemed to vanish from the Sansar events listing (they’re back, but under the more generic title of “Community meet-ups”). However, the following is a summary of the meeting held on Thursday, July 12th, 2018, which was particularly focused on many of the features and updates in the upcoming July Sansar release, due in week #29 (commencing Monday, July 16th).

July Release

Custom Avatars

It will be possible to upload custom avatars to Sansar, with skeletons and avatar meshes available through the knowledge base.

  • Custom avatars have a maximum tri limit of 40K (compared to 16K for the default avatars).
  • It will not be possible to clothe custom avatars or add attachments, etc., via the LookBook – they must be outfits prior to upload, hence the higher tri limit compared to the default avatars.
    • The option to change outfits on custom avatars through LookBook might be added in the future.
  • The base tri count limit is seen by the Lab as being for testing purposes, and to potentially allow custom avatars to be dressed, etc., using the LookBook and clothing from the Sansar Store in the future, hopefully without their overall tri count becoming exorbitantly high.

As a part of the overall work on avatars – but not part of the July release – the Lab is trying to improve face deformations, etc., to allow for more realistic facial moments when mimicking mouth movements, etc., when speaking.

Experience Interactions Changes

The July release should enable experience creators to define smoother interactions with objects in their scenes.

  • Dynamic objects / bodies will be completely responsive to physics; however, if multiple avatars are interacting with the same object  / body, it might vacillate between them.
  • With scripting, physics will be immediately applied in the client, so there may be an increase in perceived lag, as interactions make the client-server-client round trip.
  • These changes will be iterated upon and improved in future releases.

Scene Editor Updates

  • Selecting an object within the scene editor will display the triangle count for the object in a display similar to the diagnostics tool.
    • This may eventually be expanded to display further information – creator, etc.
  • The Scene Settings panel should no longer conflict with the Properties Panel.
  • It will be possible to select multiple objects in the scene editor, and apply something like an audio material across all of them, rather than having to apply it individually to each one.

Auto Decimation Changes

The June release included automatic decimation, which was later disabled. With the July release, it will be re-introduced, but made optional.

  • By default, any scene object (static or dynamic) being imported into Sansar will be set to auto decimate.
  • This can be disabled via a drop-down panel option.
  • The auto decimation will not apply to clothing or avatar attachments.

Script Updates

  • New scripts added to inventory: further scripts will be available in inventory by default (exact scripts TBA). Some of these will be packaged with the client, other may only be in specific folders (e.g. the Script API folder).
  • “Simple script examples”: a small library of approximately a dozen script examples designed for use by non-scripters to allow them to achieve object interactions, etc., and which can be stacked together within objects to achieve combined results.
    • These include things like a mover script (for opening / closing doors, moving platforms, etc.), a switch script (for light switches, etc.), a sound management script, etc.
    • They will be in the drop-down menu of an object-properties.
  • HTTP API: an http: API will be included in the July release. This will mean that data such as avatar name, avatar UUID, an avatar’s location within an experience, will be shareable with external databases.
  • .FBX animation imports: .FBX files with multiple animations can be imported and have scripts applied to them.

In Brief

  • Avatar comfort zones: The July release will include comfort zones, allowing people to define how close other avatars can come to their own avatar, depending on whether or not the other avatar is a friend or not.
  • People Search Update: the ability to search for other avatars within the People app is currently limited to using the Avatar ID. With the July release, this will be expanded to allow searches by avatar name, and using partial avatar IDs.
  • Copy chat: it should be possible to copy text from the chat window with the July release.
  • Panel positioning persistence: the client should remember the placement of any re-positioned panels between sessions, and re-open them at the “last used” position, rather than at their default screen location.
  • Bug fixes: the release will of course include a range of bug fixes.

Other Items

The following were discussed at the meeting, but are not part of the July update.

  • Hand Controller / Keyboard Mapping: further work is to be carried on custom keyboard mapping, which will hopefully encompass headset hand controllers, allowing experience creators to define custom operations to keys and buttons (e.g. for use in games, etc.).
  • Events: there will at some point be an update (or updates) to Events to add many of the requested functions to events management (e.g. set recurring events, etc.).
  • Permissions system: this is still being worked on, with the Lab getting “closer” to having something ready to present, but no time frame on when it will appear.
  • User-to-user S$ transfers: this is also being worked on, and it is hoped to will appear “pretty soon”.
  • Aspirational roadmap: it’s been suggested that Linden Lab might follow the example of other platforms and provide an “aspirational roadmap” – a guide to what they’d like to achieve with Sansar’s capabilities over a broad range of periods (e.g. “short term”, “medium term” and “longer term”) which are tied to specific date ranges / time frames. This idea is being taken back the Sansar marketing and product teams for discussion.

Sansar Dollar Bundles

A relatively recent (I believe) update is the addition of purchasable Sansar dollar bundles, available at fixed prices, and which will be immediately delivered to your account on payment, rather than waiting for Sandex orders to be filled.

Sansar dollar bundles are available for purchase by those who do not wish to use the Sandex. This list of available bundles can be access by clicking on your account balance when logged-in to the Sansar website (arrowed, top right).
  • Click on your account balance (top right of the Sansar web pages when you are logged-in) to display a list of available bundles.
  • Click on the relevant red payment button to buy  a bundle – if you don’t have a payment method on file, you’ll be asked to provide one.
  • Note that the prices for bundles are not necessarily as competitive as buying through the Sandex, as the bundle prices are static.
  • A link at the bottom of the list of available bundles will take you to the Sandex (which is no longer listed in the website’s top menu).

Starz Art Corner in Second Life

Starz Art Corner: Sisi Biedermann

Starz Art Corner is a Mainland boutique art gallery operated and curated by StarZ (StarZ33 McCullough). at the time of my visit, it was hosting four exhibitions: the three lower floor display areas offering works by DJ Silky (Sandralee Palianta), Baub Alred (Baub Clarity), and Sisi Biedermann respectively; the upper floor devoted to a special and personal display of art by StarZ herself.

I’ve always enjoyed Sisi’s art within Second Life; her paintings are always engaging, rich in colour and pleasing to the eye. At Starz Art Corner she presents what is probably my favourite among her many exhibitions: Wild Animals in Art. It’s an exhibit that presents exactly what it says on the introductory poster: wild animals as the subject of art. It does so in the most endearing and eye-catching of ways: the animals presented against – or as part of, in some cases – tiled mosaics of the most vibrant colours.

Starz Art Corner: Sisi Biedermann

In viewing these paintings, it’s tempting to use the phrase, “lions and foxes and bears, oh my!” (in difference to the fact there’s no painting of a tiger here), but this runs the risk of trivialising the sheer beauty of the pieces on offer, which fully deserve to be seen first-hand. They are truly marvellous pictures in which the animals and birds come across as very much alive even when – as with the wolves and the elephant – seemingly a part of the mosaic background.

Flanking Sisi to one side is Baub Alred, a digital artist who uses physical world people as the inspiration for his art, which can tend to focus on ” the area of magic, mythos, & the macabre”.

Starz Art Corner: Baub Alred

For Starz, he presents some 13 pieces which definitely – thanks to the frequent inclusion of a little ghost, as well as the appearance the odd skull and foggy backdrop – have a decidedly Halloween feel to them. These are again marvellous pieces, beautifully executed, each with a sense of fun that is often finely juxtaposed with a more serious leaning title.

To the other side of Sisi’s exhibition is DJ Silky, who presents 19 pieces of 2D part and one 3D element – a large vase with an animated texture. There is a rich variety of styles and subject here: with five monochrome pen-and-ink pictures face off against coloured painting comprising acrylics on canvas, vector paintings, house paint on plywood and a set of very unique 2D representations of scenes painted inside wooden wine boxes.

Starz Art Corner: DJ Silky

There is a richness and depth to all of these pieces that is again incredible and which definitely holds the eye; the monochrome drawings and two vector painting in particular captivating me.

Dark Times is offered at the title for StarZ’s exhibition on the upper floor of the gallery. It’s a deeply personal exhibition with a series of dark themes:  verbal abuse, depression and alcoholism – but it is also about happiness and survival, as StarZ notes. As such, she offer the pieces within the exhibition as both a means of reflecting on her own dark times, and also to offer those who are facing their own struggles and demons a sign that life can move beyond what might seem to be the most insurmountable barriers and horrifying depths of pain and depression.

Starz Art Corner: Starz

The dark sounding theme of this exhibition contrasts strongly with the rich use of bold and primal colours in many of the images presented. However, colour can often be a means to define moods, emotions, feelings – love, anger, hurt, pain, resentment – that the depth of colour in these images is entirely appropriate, both in terms of giving voice to those emotions and responses felt by the artist and, conversely, as a means to demonstrate that even in our darkest moments light – as exemplified by colour – can prevail.

Abstract and expressive, Dark Times is a powerful display of art, one that hold a person within a personal mix of emotions and responses which can in turn further draw them deeper into the substance of this exhibit.

Starz Art Corner: Starz

Individually and collectively, these four exhibitions make for an engaging and provocative visit without the visitor being necessarily overwhelmed by any one of them. All of which makes time spend at Starz Art Corner very worthwhile.

SLurl Details

Second Life land auctions get a face-lift

As promised in the Second Life roadmap blog post of March 2018, the land auction system has been revamped, and is now live – although only for Linden Lab held Mainland at this point in time.

The announcement came via a blog post, A Face lift for Auctions, on Wednesday, July 11th. As per that announcement, the new auction system leverages Second Life Place Pages as the medium for presenting land up for auction and for placing bids, together with a new “cover page” listing available parcels up for auction. which can be found at https://places.secondlife.com/auctions.

As per the official blog post, there are a few things to note with the new system:

  • Currently, it is for Linden-held land only – Mainland parcel owners will be able to add their own parcels for auction soon.
  • Auctions of group-owned land are not supported at present.
  • When bidding, you must have the funds available in your account – under the new system, your maximum bid amount is immediately taken out of your account and held in escrow until you are outbid, or win the auction.
  • Winning bidders will generally be notified within one hour of an auction closing.
The new Places/Auctions page. Clicking on the link for a parcel available for auction will initially display a brief summary of the parcel (bid end time and current leading bid amount) before taking you to the auction page for the parcel – click to enlarge, if required

To help people get started with the new system, the Lab have produced an Auctions Walkthrough document, together with an Auctions FAQ – both of which should be read by those interested in place their parcels up for auction (when the system is open for people to do so) or who wish to bid on the parcels currently being auctioned.

Those wishing to offer their own land for auction (when possible) and who are not familiar with using Second Life Place pages, may want to read through my Place Pages tutorial. I will be updating this tutorial to additionally include information on how to create your own parcel auctions in due course.

A parcel auction page – note the image on the right is a placeholder; those auctioning their land can include a photograph of it, taken from the parcel’s Place Page


On Strawberry Lake in Second Life

Strawberry Lake; Inara Pey, July 2018, on FlickrStrawberry Lake – click any image for full size

Strawberry Lake is a public / residential Full region designed by Neva (Mirias) and Shay McAuley. it’s a picturesque place with a charm of its own, perfect for exploring and photography – providing the privacy of the local residents is respected.

There are nine residential parcels to be found here, the majority of them placed around the outer edges of the south, west and north sides of the region, with one sitting amidst the public areas, which lie across the middle of the region and to its eastern side.

Strawberry Lake; Inara Pey, July 2018, on FlickrStrawberry Lake

A visit begins in the south-east, where a small built-up area sits, suggestive of a corner of a town. Cobbled streets sit alongside an open square bracketed by a gymnasium on one side and a little parade of shops on the other. The landing point isn’t on this square so much as under it, on a subway station platform that helps add to the illusion that this is the place sitting at the edge of a town somewhere.

Teas and cakes can be enjoyed on the square, but visitors are liable to be drawn to the cobble roads leading the way further into the region. One of these offers – by way of a bridge spanning the deep but narrow gorge of a stream – to the rural heart of the region. The second road points north to where the glass and concrete bulk of a great conservatory sits, and impressive structure that can also be reached via the wooden board walk that runs along the high cliffs of the eastern edge of the region, to where a little summer house nestles close to the conservatory, but separate from it.

Strawberry Lake; Inara Pey, July 2018, on FlickrStrawberry Lake

Even with the private residential parcels, a lot is packed into Strawberry Lake. There are public places to sit and cuddle, paths to follow, little corners to find. The centre of the region is naturally rugged, the landscape cut by water formed into small streams which, but for a couple of tables of rock, would allow it to become an island. Decks vie with camp sites and shaded swings to offer places to sit, while rowing bows bob on the waters for those who prefer.

To help people find their way, lamps light board walks and paths, while lanterns float serenely overhead. Even so, parts of the region can be a little difficult to get around and some scrambling over rocks may be required. It’s also worth noting that a couple of the streams should be regarded as natural boundaries between public and residential areas, so wading across them isn’t advised.

Strawberry Lake; Inara Pey, July 2018, on FlickrStrawberry Lake

Strawberry Lake can be a little eclectic in some of the choices made with the broader décor of the region. Skeletons lie outside the conservatory building (although not without a sense of romance), some of the images to be found in the public areas are of a distinctly adult lean, when found, as is at least one statue; and there is also something of a religious lean in a lot of the statuary which is one place interestingly juxtaposed with the adult images. .There are also little touches of humour scattered around as well.

At the time of our visit, a photography competition was under-way – although the given closing date was Sunday, July 15th. Full details are available from information boards within the region – notably at the landing point. However, and in short for those wishing to hope over an participate before the competition closes: the region should be a feature of entered photographs (up to two per entrant, posted to the region’s Flickr group with the title “Photo Contest”), and there’s a crash prize pool of L$3,500 to be divided between the top three entries. None competition images are also welcome within the Flickr group.

Strawberry Lake; Inara Pey, July 2018, on FlickrStrawberry Lake

Picturesque, eclectic, and potentially offering a nice little corner of Second Life for those looking for a home, Strawberry Lake made for a relaxing visit.

SLurl Details

2018 SL project updates week 28/1: simulator user group / EEP

Aphantasia; Inara Pey, June 2018, on FlickrAphantasiablog post

Sever Deployments

Please refer to the server deployment thread for the latest updates.

  • There was no SLS main channel deployment on Tuesday, July 10th, 2018, leaving regions on that channel running on server release 18# However, due to the “14 day rule”, region on the main channel were restarted.
  • On Wednesday, July 11th, the release candidate channels should receive server update package 18#, comprising “additional internal tweaks”.

Both of the RC updates will include changes to the Animesh code currently deployed to the RC to allow better logging of Animesh related activities.

SL Viewer

At the time of writing, there had been no SL viewer updates to mark the start of the week, leaving things as follows:

  • Current Release version and dated June 15, promoted June 21 – formerly the Pálinka Maintenance Release Candidate – No Change
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Quinquina Maintenance RC viewer, version, released on June 22.
  • Project viewers:
  • Linux Spur viewer, version, 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, May 8, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

Environment Enhancement Project (EEP)

This is the project to introduce a set of environmental enhancements. Rider Linden is now engaged in internal testing a viewer supporting the new EEP capabilities, together with the server-side support. During the July 10th, 2018 SUG meeting, he provided a brief summary as to how the basics of EEP will work:

You can create what are called settings objects in your inventory. These settings objects [they are not prim-like not can they be rezzed in-world] represent either a water, a sky or a complete day cycle. We are providing interfaces that will let you set the parameters for each of these types of settings. (Very similar to the existing WL editors).

[Then,] from the context menu for a setting object you can apply it either to yourself, the parcel you are in or the region you are in. (The last two if you have rights to do so; you may also open the editor and a button there will let you apply to region or parcel as well).

Scripted support for EEP will be provided for agents (avatars) in experiences, but as I’ve noted in previous EEP updates in these pages, this scripted support will not be part of the initial EEP release, but will be added later.

Will there is now the ability to present different windlights at pre-set altitudes (to to 1,000m, then 1,000m up to 2,000m and then 2,000m up to 3,000m and 3,000m+), this may be seen as a less flexible approach that can be achieved through some third-party viewers, which allow much closer altitude zoning of windlight settings (e.g. have a windlight from, say 22m to 500m, another from 500m to 1,000m, etc.). .

The bar at Holly Kai park exemplifies a potential limitation of EEP. The bar is built-in to the base of a rock plateau, and currently, it is possible to define a viewer-side windlight that applies purely to the bar’s interior (i.e. up to a height of 32 metres above the sea floor). Above that limit (“above ground” so to speak), the parcel uses the same daylight windlight as the rest of the region. EEP’s 1,000 metre altitude zoning effectively prevents this.

How big an issue this might be remains to be seen – but it is not unfair to say there is a reasonable number of regions scattered across the grid where EEPs altitude zoning could force a repositioning of different sky builds using local windlights, should it become the only means of applying localised windlight – which might not be initially popular.

In Brief

Retrieving Grid Statistics Page via llHTTPRequest (see BUG-216320): trying to retrieve grid statistics via a script results in a 499 error, although queries via web browsers will still succeed. No remedial work has been done on this.

JIRA Bug report fields issue (BUG-1074): the fields used in the Create form for a bug report do not use the same titles as the fields seen in a filed bug report, nor are they in the same order. This makes submitting a bug report confusing for anyone not used to the SL JIRA (they can’t even look at a filed report to easily see what they sound be entering in the fields of the submission form). This is something the Lab might fix following the deployment of an upcoming JIRA update.