A baker’s dozen in Second Life

At home, December 2019

December 5th is my SL rezday anniversary and this year marks 13 years since I arrived back in Second Life as Inara Pey. Thirteen years is actually the 2nd longest time by which I’ve called a single place my home, given a lot of my childhood and teen years saw my family moving around a lot in the physical world, and my early adult life was similarly marked by semi-regular relocations due to the annoyance of careers.

I was delighted to be featured in the May 2019 edition of Eclipse Magazine

As I noted in my 2018 piece Twelve years in Second Life, I really didn’t expect to still be logging-in to the the platform after so long, given that a few years ago, I sort-of agreed with myself to hang up my SL hiking boots on the occasion of my 10th anniversary as Inara in-world.

In that piece, I noted three major reasons for still being around now: fun, discovery and freedom. I’m not going to re-tread those reasons here and now; suffice it to say that they do still hold true. I’m still having fun with SL sailing, boating ad flying as well as still enjoying my time kitbashing and scratch building (I’m still very much a prim person for building, never having really got my head around Blender, but also enjoy taking mesh bits and re-purposing them).

I’m still out and about visiting SL regions and appreciating all the art that is offered through the platform, and I’m obviously still captivated by the freedom Second Life offers all of us to be who and what we want to be (within the boundaries of the Terms of Service and Community Standards, of course!) regardless of race, religion, gender species or ability.

There’s also the fact that the technical complexity of Second Life continues to fascinate me, and I still enjoy trying to dig into things and understand them, be they genuine technical developments or updates, or more esoteric issues such as the SL economy, what’s going on at Linden Lab, and so on.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of of my Second Life time is maintaining this blog. What started as a fairly narrow-focused and perhaps lopsided projects has grown over the years, has become something that I’ve striven to make into not only a journal of my SL travels and appreciation of art in Second Life, but which can also be a useful resource for other users – hence the menu system at the top of each page (if you’ve not used it before, I do encourage you to do so!).

While I’ve never sought recognition, I am flattered and honoured by the fact that over the years, this blog has been recognised, from topping a poll of New World Notes readers’ favourite blogs, through to this year being awarded the Blogger and Vlogger Network (BVN) Founders Award, while I was also flattered and honoured to be made an Amica honoree by the Virtual Existence Society (VES). MY thanks again to both organisations for these honours.

This year has seen this blog and myself honoured twice – and for which I’d again like to sincerely thank BVN and VES

This year has been interesting blog-wise, given the changes that have popped-up within Second Life, such as the arrival of the new Premium Linden Homes and their continent, there have been the various fee changes that have taken place, the arrival of Animesh and more – all of which have kept me busy. Sansar has also kept me engaged – to a degree, although I admit that the uneven pace of development with that platform and the unevenness of the same has caused a lessening the time I’ve been spending there.

Right now, I don’t see my blogging journey coming to and end – but we really can’t guarantee what the future may bring; so rather than prattling on, I’ll simply say another “thank you” to all of you who continue to read this blog, who support me via social media with re-tweets, likes, etc.. You as much as anything keep me engaged in Second Life. My thanks as well to Brett Linden at the Lab for continuing to put up with my questions and requests for information. And most of all, my thanks to Caitlyn and all my friends who continue to make my explorations and time in SL fun.

The “Victorian” Linden homes theme and a chance to win one

 

Linden Reveal and the 4th new Linden Home theme

On Thursday, December 5th, Linden Lab unveiled the promised 4th theme of Premium Linden Homes that will soon be made available on the Bellisseria continent, alongside the existing Traditional, Houseboat and Trailers & Campers themes.

The preview has been made available as a part of the American Cancer Society  / Relay For Life of Second Life 2019 Christmas Expo, (and I’ll have an article on that event available shortly), with the preview also offering the chance for one Second Life user to win a special Premium Subscription / Linden Home auction package featuring one of these new homes.

The Shelley

The new theme is called “Victorian”, and as with previous releases of Linden Homes offers Premium members a choice of four individual house styles within each parcel, all selectable as required from the “mail box” fronting each parcel. As with the Traditional homes, this new theme features wooden-clad houses, with the styles as follows:

  • The Shelley: a two-floor Queen Anne style house, complete with circular turret and a covered porch on three sides of the house with rooms laid out in a 3 down, 2 up configuration.
  • The Doyle: the one single-storey home, offering four rooms.
  • The Hardy: a two-floor house that might be considered a folk-style house, offering a large front-to-back through room that could easily be split into two individual rooms, and two smaller rooms on the ground floor and three rooms upstairs.
  • The Verne: a two-storey house with an octagonal turret (were it complete on all sides) which is suggestive of Gothic Revival (but could also fall into Queen Anne), comprising two ground floor rooms (one of which could easily be split into two) and two rooms at the top of a circular staircase.
The Doyle

Those of a literary bent might also note the houses are named for period writers: Sir Percy Shelley, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Thomas Hardy, and Jules Verne.

The preview region for the homes also gives a sense of the region layout that will accompany the theme (see Bellisseria extension: new homes theme takes shape(?) for more on the regions). Commenting on both the houses and the region layout, Patch noted:

I left the design and structure, floor plan choices to be faithful period reproductions based on the research done, and that even extends to the layout of the regions for the era.

– Patch Linden, describing the new theme to me.

The Hardy

There is currently no official release date for these new homes beyond Very Soon™ – a clue to their approaching availability might be when the regions see in the SSP continent are cloned at Bellisseria.

Note that these Victorian theme house are available within the current Premium subscription packages they are not anything to do with the Premium Plus subscription offering that will be coming in 2020.

Those who would like to both support the American Cancer Society and the RFL of SL 2019 Christmas Expo and win one of the new Victorian theme Linden Homes in a custom designed parcel can enter the One Of A Kind Linden Homes auction via the 2019 SL Christmas Expo website. The auction is open to Premium and Basic users, and the complete prize package comprises:

  • A 6-month Premium subscription package (the 6 months will be added to any existing membership for those who are already Premium).
  • A Victorian Themed house.
  • A parcel custom designed by the LDPW moles.

SLurl Details

Snowed in at Zom’s in Second Life

Snowed in at Zom’s, December 2019 – click any image for full size

Occupying a quarter Full region with the 10K land capacity bonus, Snowed in at Zom’s has been design by Exde and LexxiHudson on behalf of parcel holder Zomborg Vollmar. Originally intended to be a private space, Zom notes:

After being told this was too pretty to keep all to myself I have decided to share my winter wonderland with everyone for a limited time! Plenty of hang out spots, and perfect set-up for winter photography! Hope you all enjoy it as much as I do.

– Zomborg Vollmar

Snowed in at Zom’s, December 2019

The parcel is beautifully decorated as a winter setting – but this can come at something of a performance hit for some due to the volume of mesh snow within the setting. As such, some might find it easier to disable shadows for ease of walking around, but this is the only issue that might be found here.

That point aside, the snow and the parcel’s sound scape really make this a place where on arrival, you physically feel you need to wrap up warm in order to explore. Not only is the snow falling, there is also what seems to be on first hearing, the sound of a cold wind blowing  through the dense woodland of the setting and over / around the rocky backdrop to the parcel.

Snowed in at Zom’s, December 2019

From the landing point with its steam locomotive, a single path winds towards a cabin sitting on elevated ground. The cabin connects what appear to be the only obvious paths through the setting, so don’t be afraid to step inside whilst exploring. With a north-to-south line, the cabin includes an large wooden deck overlooking a river gorge and snowbound beach (reached via stone steps leading down from the deck), while on its east side, a second path runs between the trees to where more stone steps climb a broad table of rock overlooking the train sitting on its tracks.

The cabin is delightfully decorated and offers a warm, welcoming feeling. A fire burns in the modern fireplace tucked into a cosy lounge space, the kitchen is filled with food, complete with freshly made toast in the toaster, while a large picture window overlooks the deck and the cold river below, adding to the sense of warmth and comfort of being indoors.

Snowed in at Zom’s, December 2019

The path to the steps climbing up to the top of the rocky table will also take you past a little garden gazebo, while the plateau itself is home to a rectangular ice rink, complete with the offer of hot chocolate, although as far as well could tell, no ice skates are offered to visitors, which is perhaps a shame.

Elsewhere waiting to be found, is a little outdoor sitting area that can be accessed via a stone arch alongside the waiting train. It is set as an outdoor film space, complete with brazier keeping a meal and drinks hot (and which is also the reason for the wind-like sound that can be heard when first arriving, and is in fact the hissing of liquids being heated and the first itself). Walk out among the trees close to the cabin, and you might also find an old cable car re-purposed as a blanket-laden cosy snug, while the snow-covered beach offers a place to wrap up warm and watch the icy waters of the river flow by.

Snowed in at Zom’s, December 2019

I’ve no idea how long Snowed in at Zom’s will remain open to the public – but while it is available, I do suggest those who like seeing and photographing winter settings take the time to drop in sooner rather than later to avoid disappointment.  It is more than worth the time – and our thanks once again for the pointer from Shawn and Maxie.

SLurl Details

December 2019 Web User Group summary

© and ™ Linden Lab

The following notes are taken from my recording of the Web User Group (WUG) meeting, held on Wednesday, December 4th, 2019. These meetings are held monthly, with dates and details of the meetings available via the Web User Group wiki page.

When reading these notes, please keep in mind:

  • This is not intended as a chronological transcript of the meeting. Items are drawn together by topic, although they may have been discussed at different points in the meeting.
  • Similarly, and when included, any audio extracts appearing in these summaries are presented by topic heading, rather than any chronological order in which they may have been raised during the meeting (e.g. if “topic X” is mentioned early in a meeting and then again half-way through a meeting, the audio comments will be concatenated into a single audio extract for that topic).

Premium

Winter Promotion

  • As many have already seen, the winter Premium promotion is currently open through until the end of the month.
  • For the first time, the promotion applies to Annual plans (previously, any discount on Premium subscriptions have only applied to Monthly and Quarterly plans), with an offer of 10% off of the cost of the annual subscription (normally US $99) when an account is upgraded to Premium.
  • It is likely that, as with the mid-year Premium fee increase, there will be an opportunity for Premium users to pre-pay a further year’s annual premium membership “locked in” at the discounted price.

Other Premium Notes

  • There is no further news on Premium Plus or its benefits.
  • There are no plans at this point to add other levels of Premium either “above” or “below” the current Premium + benefits. This might change at some point in the more distant future.

Legacy Profiles Viewer

  • The Legacy profiles viewer has cleared the last issue blocking it from update, so a new version of the viewer should be appearing soon. This update will include the profile feed embedded in the viewer.
  • Once this viewer reaches release status, the web profiles are to be retired.
  • The removal of the web-based profiles means that things like the privacy settings (which only worked for the web anyway), will no longer be available. However (and if I was understanding Grumpity correctly), at some point the profile viewer will include the ability for a user to determine what information within their viewer profile is visible to others who view it.

Marketplace

  • Store De-Listings:
    • The Lab is work to fix the issue of Marketplace stores being de-listed as a result of using banned keywords.
    • It was re-iterated that, for a number of reasons – including people attempting to game it – the banned keyword list will not be made public.
    • Instead, the Lab has been working to make the algorithm used to scan for keywords is being made “smarter”, so it more correctly identifies banned words, which will hopefully reduce the number of unlistings occurring. There is still more work to be done on on this.
  • Improvements to the Marketplace search (demo items, gachas, etc), is now “very, very close” to being ready for release.
  • BUG-9984 “blank folder names” (in inventory) is another issue that has been looked into a number of times, but again, the Lab has been unable to determine the cause. However, they will give it a further pass in an attempt to find a cause or provide a workaround.
  • Feature requests BUG-227919 “Marketplace Sales Function” and BUG-227072 “Ability to give specific marketplace customers discounts” are both being considered by the Lab (but no commitment at this point in time that they will be implemented or when).
  • Overall, the Lab feel that the last 12-18 months have seen significant improvements to the Marketplace when compared to prior years.

In Brief

  • The last blocker for an update to the legacy profile project viewer has been cleared, and an update to the viewer, which will include support for the profile feed within it, should be surfaced for users to test Soon™.
  • As noted in my November summary, user-to-user land auctions will remain on hold for the time being, as the Lab is focused on other web-based work.
  • BUG-11555 “Setting certain characters in Display Name results in DN changing twice within minutes and resulting DN changes to Korean.” is a long-standing issue, and while it has been looked at, the Lab has yet to work out how to fix it.

Raging Graphix Gallery in Second Life

Raging Graphix Gallery, December 2019

Raging Graphix Gallery is a newly-opened gallery curated by artist Raging Belles and Jimbo Neximus with a mission “to promote these amazing artists and inspire those who appreciate their talent with monthly events … featuring well-known and new artists on the scene.”

For the opening exhibition, which runs through until the end of 2019, the gallery is featuring the work of two well-known artists, CybeleMoon and Big Zee, neither of whom need any real introduction. Both are quite modest exhibitions, between them occupying around one third of the total gallery space, and for those perhaps not familiar with either Cybele’s work or that of Zee, they offer warm introductions to their art.

Raging Graphix Gallery: CybeleMoon, December 2019

Cybele is a visual storyteller; her art steeped in narrative and beautifully layered. Here she presents something of a winter’s theme from her Song and Stories collection, with Winter Homecoming in particular standing as tale perfect for the season of the year.

Raging Graphix presents my second encounter with Big Zee’s art, coming on the heels of his exhibit at THE EDGE gallery (see Artistry at THE EDGE in Second Life), and once again the selection of pieces here – two of which can also be found at THE EDGE – demonstrate his feel for landscape images and his rich use of colour.

Raging Graphix Gallery: Big Zee, December 2019

The majority of the gallery features Raging Belle’s art, a number of pieces of which can also be seen at her selection on display at the December exhibition at THE EDGE. As I noted with that exhibition, her work presents insight into the richness of opportunity for expression in Second Life through a series of studies constructed around her avatar, together with vivid landscapes.

Compact without feeling small, with room to appreciate the art on offer, Raging Graphix Gallery is an interesting addition to Second Life’s artistic community. When visiting, please ensure you also visit the garden display of avatar studies by Strand, located to one side of the gallery building.

Raging Graphix Gallery: Raging Bells, December 2019

SLurl Details

2019 Simulator User Group week #49 summary

Butter, October 2019 – blog post

Update, December 5th: a deployment was made to an RC channel. Server update version 2019-12-04T20:29:26.533447 comprises:

  • A build of release 2019-11-15T21:13:13.532828 using new build technology.
  • Addresses some cases of scripts erroneously stopping.
  • Fixes a crash.

Hopefully, this addresses the recent issues with scripts failing until a region is restarted (see BUG-227864).

Simulator Deployments

Please refer to the server deployment thread for news and updates:

  • On Tuesday, 3rd December, the planned Main SLS channel deployment was cancelled. Had it been deployed, it would have comprised server maintenance release 2019-11-19T22:26:38.532992, built with the updated server build tools, and which includes:
    • Improved crash detection during shut-down.
    • Fixes for some race conditions with LSL scripts that could cause them to handle the same event more than once during a roll.
    • Updates to improve simulator security.
  • The planned RC deployment for Wednesday, December 4th, comprising server update has also been cancelled.

The reasons for the cancellation are related to the return of recent issues with scripts failing until a region is restarted (see BUG-227864) and which has been an intermittent issue recently, with Simon Linden noting:

We originally had planned to update the main channel regions with the version that’s on the RC channels, but held off as we are looking into issues about scripts not running. It appears to be an old issue that’s always been there but is worth investigating … we’re trying to get an update together for tomorrow morning [Wednesday, December 4th]. It was a very small percentage [of scripts affected] but that’s enough to be painful when there are millions running.

– Simon Linden

So again, keep an eye on the server deployment thread / technology → second life server sub-forum for updates.

Simulator Performance Issues

There is a forum thread concerning simulator overload issues that occurred over the Thanksgiving weekend (see: Huge intermittent sim overload). These issues were further confirmed at the SUG meeting by others seeing similar problems on other regions. Linden Lab do not currently have an explanation for the problems, but Maxidox Linden, one of the Second Life QA team members, did take a moment to address claims in the thread that LL “not caring” about issues like this:

I’m going to let the devs here handle this topic but I just want to chime in that I’ve read that thread and we absolutely do care about issues like this, and don’t put our development time solely into new feature work (I’m the one who tests a bunch of the stability and performance change.

– Mazidox Linden

The discussion on this topic raised questions on the simulator statistic Simulation Time and what it actually records, given it is often tied to simulator issues – as is the case with this issue. Exactly what it records has been a subject of discussion for around the last decade, and came up again in terms of whether it might point to a possible cause. After taking a look, Simon Linden noted:

So I did some digging. “Simulation Time” seems to be a catch-all category that includes odds and ends like dealing with terrain layers, some physics synchronization, parcel info. So not a lot to use tracking this issue down.

SL Viewer

There have been no official viewer updates to mark the start of the week.