Lab Gab episode 2 with Reed Linden – a summary

Image courtesy of Linden Lab

The Second episode of Lab Gab streamed on Wednesday, September 11th, hosted by Xiola and Strawberry Linden, and featuring special guest Reed Linden.

Running to just under 44 minutes, this was an informative segment, although there were a number of questions asked that where outside of Reed’s specific remit and which he was only able to answer in general terms (Land, Linden Homes, pricing, etc.). Most of these are not summarised below, and I refer people to the embedded video for comments.

About Reed Linden

Reed Linden, aka (at present) Penguin Fabuloso, has been with the Lab for just over eight years, having joined in August 2011. He started in the support team, serving there for three years, then moving to the Engineering team for a time. While there, Grumpity Linden, Director of Product for Second Life, selected him to join the Product team.

As a Product Manager, Reed has particular responsibility for the Lab’s web infrastructure –  the Marketplace, Profiles, main domains like secondlife.com) and so on. He’s also been involved with Bakes on Mesh, and has knowledge of account management (including Premium), billing,  and – given his time there – support.

Reed Linden (c), flanked by Xiola (l) and Strawberry (r)

He views his progress through the Lab as uniquely reflective of the manner in which knowledge of the platform is distributed: those who potentially know the most about SL are the users who put it to work every day, coding, building, uploading, texturing, creating, and so on. The next level of knowledge below that is the support teams who handle hundreds of user requests on a daily basis, and get to use the broad spread of the platform’s tools and capabilities. Then, after support come the engineering and product teams, who have sharply defined focuses on Second Life.

From this is should come as no surprise that he sees the community as his favourite aspect of the platform, together with the manner in which it can bring people together from around the world, and help them find a voice or outlets or connections – and even to find love. In this latter regard, he reveals that not only have SL residents built their physical world relationships out of a Second Life meeting (a-la the Love Made in SL series), but also that some LL staff have met their physical world partners through SL!

Web Properties – Project and Updates

  • As a part of his web infrastructure responsibilities, he has been running the work to bring Profiles back into the viewer. This involves two key elements:
    • Moving user profiles back to their own floater in the viewer, rather than pulling in the web profile. This element of the work is currently available for testing in the Legacy Profiles Project Viewer, which can be found on the Alternate Viewer Page.
    • A further aspect of the work is to move Profile Feeds into a dedicated tab within the Profile floater.
Left: SL Profiles will be returning to a dedicated floater (rather than using a panel to display the web-base user profile). In the future, Profile feeds will also become a part of this floater with their own tab. Right: recently delivered to the Marketplace (among other updates) is the ability to list all the gifts you have received (MP → Account Name → My Account Page → Received Gifts)
  • Reed also highlighted three recent updates to the Marketplace:
    • Notification of purchase – when you visit a Marketplace listing for an item you have previously purchased with the account you are using, the date purchased is displayed at the top of the listing.
    • The gifts received listing (see above).
    • The ability for store owners to nominate store managers.
  • Some of the upcoming Marketplace features touched upon include:
    • Optimising the Marketplace for mobile use.
    • Purchase notifications: store owners will receive a viewer notification of purchases made through their Marketplace stores. This will be an opt-in capability, so as to avoid those with popular brands from being constantly spammed with purchase messages.
    • Refunds: the ability for Merchants to offer refunds through the MP is being looked at.
    • Continuing work on quality-of-life capabilities within the MP, together with bug fixes.
  • Search is being strengthened right across all of the Lab’s web properties.
    • For the Marketplace, this will include listing top-selling products first within search results
    • Better granularity on searches will potentially be supported, together with better filtering
  • There are also projects in progress or on the horizon related to improving the Destination Guide and for Events (this has been mentioned in one or two technical user group meetings, but again without specifics being given).

Bakes on Mesh

  • As a Product Manager, he is very pleased with the take-up of Bakes on Mesh (BoM) – as is the Lab.
  • LL have been tracking take-up among mesh head / body makers, etc., and the gradual adoption of the BoM viewer code by TPVs.
    • There is an unofficial list for BoM support (last updated at the end of August) which may help those interested.
  • The hope remains that BoM will encourage more lightweight content in terms of graphics resources (e.g. less complex Mesh heads and bodies, plus the ability to bake down multiple textures into a single composite).

General Q&A

  • As a hobby, Reed enjoys painting model miniatures (D&D being specifically mentioned) and building dioramas.
  • Work on an iOS client was re-iterated. No new updates, as this is not one of Reed’s areas of work, so those interested can refer to a summary of comments by Kiera and Oz Linden on the work (including a link to a transcript of the comments), and my July mini-update on this project.
  • Last Names: yes, still being worked on, but a complex project. Again, see my June update, which includes the most relevant comments from LL.

Feedback

An informative segment, with Reed providing a lot of hints  – he touched very loosely on possible new Premium account options, for example – as well as outright information for those who do not attend the various in-world user group meetings or follow summaries of said meetings as provided on this blog and others of a similar nature.

Some of the questions did hit on the issue of keeping people aware of a specific guest’s area of expertise; even when warned Reed is not directly involved in viewer development, land management, etc., a number of questions on those subjects came up (and were dutifully asked). However, these fortunately did not interrupt the overall flow of the session to a great degree.

Voice quality continues to be an issue; I assume the participants are using the SL voice binary rather than hooking Skype or an alternative service into the mix. Hopefully this is something that will be addressed once the upcoming voice update viewer goes into circulation and Lab staff can use it.

No details on what the next segment will be about – so it’s a case of watch the official blog posts.

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Lab Gab episode 1 – a summary

Strawberry and Xiola Linden with “Gabby”the cat (name TBC) on the Lab Gab set

The first episode of Lab Gab streamed on Wednesday, August 28th, hosted by Xiola and Strawberry Linden, and drew a comfortable audience. I intentionally stayed out of the chat but saw a few familiar names there.

Running to 35 minutes, the programme was not deeply revelatory with regards to Second Life news – that will likely be for future segments of the show. However, it did offer a comfortable, if slightly frustrating start – I say frustrating because the broadcast gremlins raised their little heads to try to keep Strawberry from being heard over the stream.

The first few minutes  – up to around the 9 minute mark – of the show covered Xiola and Berry’s roles at the Lab, and folded in notes on the Lab’s various social media presences and also the Destination Guide for finding places to visit.

Bakes on Mesh (BoM) then got a plug, being the latest update from Linden Lab. Berry attempted to clear-up confusion as to what it is (simply put: a means to apply system avatar wearables to suitably prepared mesh bodies and heads in a manner somewhat akin to how they used to be used with the system avatar, albeit with the option of supporting high resolution textures than available for the system avatar).

The official blog post on the release is available here, and I attempted to cobble together a basic primer on the subject (although I suspect that in part might also veer a little too close to the technical).

In talking Bakes on Mesh, Berry underlined at that BoM will require mesh body and head creators to provide updates to their offerings that are correctly flagged to use Bakes on Mesh natively. She also noted to the experimental Omega Bakes on Mesh applier system that I also referenced in my primer article. This is available from the Omega in-world store. However, I was interested to note that it did not work for Berry  – and I actually found it less than satisfactory when testing. Overall, the results seem variable, with some having absolutely no issues with it, and others (like Berry and I) encountering problems – hence, again, why it is called “experimental”. For those who wish to try it out, step-by-step instructions, courtesy of Theresa Tennyson (who is not associated with Omega, so please don’t crowd her with questions if you do have issues!) are available here.

Additionally, Berry pointed to an alternative HUD (L$125) which apparently works just fine, although I’ve yet to try it myself.

One of the key points with Bakes on Mesh is that it should enable body / head creators to make their products less complex, simply because they do not need to include so many onion skin layers, hence why the release advantage with BoM really lies in updates to existing bodies and heads, as the various creators will hopefully make available in the coming weeks (Slink has already updated). Thus, even for those who don’t use applier systems for clothing that mush, Bakes on Mesh is important, as adoption of updated bodies / head can have the potential to help reduce general rendering load for everyone.

Around the 14:40 mark, Xiola indirectly replied to some speculation on my part (raised when writing about Lab Gab ahead of the show), when I wondered:

I also admit to being curious as to whether the show might at some point down the road – depending on its longevity – also occasionally “hop over the fence” into Sansar or even perhaps take some “behind the scenes” (desires for things like privacy allowing among staff) looks at the Lab itself. “Lab Gab” seems to be too broad a title to remain purely about Second Life (although there is a lot to explore on that subject alone), even allowing for it being intentioned as a “catchy” name for the show.

By way of “reply” (I’m not sure Xiola’s comment was driven as a result of my speculation or not) Xiola noted:

I know the name of our new show here is “Lab Gab” – we just really likes how that sounded … but currently, short-term, our plans are to definitely focus on Second Life, although obviously we work for Linden Lab and Linden Lab also has Sansar … but the focus of this show is, initially and short-term, Second Life and the Second Life Community.

After some general chit-chat around giveaways, the show turns to a mini Q&A session from around the 19:15 mark, some of which are summarised below:

  • Linden Lab is currently working on an communications / companion app for iOS
  • When are last names coming back?
    • Still being worked on, have a lot of variables involved in terms of back-end systems and complexity.
    • Again, those interested can catch the last formal update I have (including comments from Oz Linden) in the First and last names section of my coverage of Oz’s appearance at SL16B with April Linden in June 2019. This also addresses a number of questions on the topic.
  • Linden Homes:
    • There is now a weekly roll-out programme (Mondays, Wednesday, Fridays) when homes are made available through the Linden Homes web page.
    • New types and styles of Linden Homes are still in the works, but no release dates.
    • Best way to stay up-to-date is to keep an eye on the official blogs and on the Linden Homes update thread on the forums.
  • Will Lab Gab include interviews with Lab staff? – Yes.
  • Upcoming major updates:
    • Bakes on Mesh is now out, per above.
    • The Environment Enhancement project (EEP) is progressing towards release – but no definite time frame other than Soon™ as bugs are being stomped on.
    • Not directly mentioned in the show is the new Animesh enhancements work (Project Muscatene) and also back on the horizon is the restarting ARCTan (two name but two of the more user-facing projects – there is also a lot of under-the-hood work going on).
    • Details on projects like this can be found in my (generally) weekly Content Creation User Group meeting summaries and also my other SL tech summaries.

An interesting start to the series, nicely relaxed, and a segment where the voice issues didn’t spoil things too much. Some nice teasers were dropped on future shows and direction which suggest Lab Gab will be a good option for tuning into every couple of weeks. In the meantime, you can catch the entire first show below.

Innfest: celebrating Innsmouth and Lovecraft in Second Life

InnsFest 2019 official banner

I almost missed this – largely because no PR material seems to have been sent out (or at least in my direction), but currently in progress through until the end of August 27th, 2019, is InnFest, a special celebration.

2019 marks the 129th anniversary of the “Grandfather of Cosmic Horror and Weird Fiction”, H.P. Lovecraft, and the 10th anniversary of the founding of Innsmouth, the region dedicated to celebrating the genre Lovecraft created. Thus, InnFest is a double celebration of both Lovercraft’s birth and Innsmouth’s 10th anniversary.

Innsmouth

The festival takes place on and over the Innsmouth region, which itself in modelled Lovercraft’s famous setting as it appeared in his 1931 novel The Shadows over Innsmouth, written in 1931, and which opened on August 20th, 2009, the 119th anniversary of Lovecraft’s birth.

Originally founded and operated by Darmin Darkes and her team, Innsmouth ran successfully for a number of years before hitting some financial difficulties that threatened it with closure (see: A new shadow looms over Innsmouth, September 2014). This prompted AriktheRed – who in 2012 had started organising the annual LoveFest in celebration of Lovecraft’s birth – to launch the Save Innsmouth campaign, which was both successful and saw Arik take over running the Innsmouth region.

This year’s very special celebration take place both on the ground at Innsmouth, and at various locations in the sky over it, and has featured / will feature both SL DJs and live entertainers, including: Archangelo Hellmann, AngelKitty Skizm, Bloodwain Arun, Rosedrop Rust, Larree Quixote, Wald Schridde and Vampink Cuddihy. Films are being shown at the region’s Arkham Theatre, and others evens featuring the likes of Seanchai Library and DRUM, at the Innsmouth Opera House and Miskatonic University (which forms the main lading point for the event). The festival will close with a Masquerade Ball on August 27th at 9:00 pm SLT.

Innsmouth

For details of all events at the festival, please refer to the InnFest event calendar and also to the new festival website.

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Second Life Hair Fair 2019

via Hair Fair

The 2019 Second Life Hair Fair is currently open, and runs through until Sunday, September 1st, 2019. As with previous years, is being run to raise money for Wigs for Kids, with every purchase seeing a percentage donated to the cause, with the Bandana booths and Donation kiosks donating 100% of all proceeds received.

The event this year comprises six regions, three of which – Noirette, Redhead and Blonde – contain participating vendor stores. The remaining three, Foils, Perms and Streaks, are designed for those who prefer to shop by camera rather than walking (and are thus referred to as the “cam sims”).

The shopping regions are (wisely) lightly decorated in order to minimise viewer-side lag that might otherwise be created by having a significant amount of extra object and texture rendering.  Stores are easily identified by the large signs located on the paths leading around the regions.

The list of participating merchants can be found on the Hair Fair website. This year as well as hairstylists, the event features a selection of accessory creators that have also made items to adorn hair purchases. Further, there is a demo group so people can try the styles at home before venturing to the event. Simply paste the link below into local chat in your viewer and click the link to open the group’s information panel (you’ll also be invited to join the demo group on arrival at any of the event’s landing points):

  • secondlife:///app/group/2e30d166-f3e5-e2de-ff72-b3da2d06ded2/about.
via Hair Fair

About Wigs for Kids

For more than thirty years Wigs for Kids has been providing hair replacement systems and support for children who have lost their hair due to chemotherapy, radiation therapy, Alopecia, Trichotillomania, burns and other medical issues at no cost to children or their families. The effects of hair loss go deeper than just a change in a child’s outward appearance. Hair loss can erode a child’s self-confidence and limit them from experiencing life the way children should. With an injured self-image, a child’s attitude toward treatment and their physical response to it can be negatively affected also.

Wigs for Kids helps children suffering with hair loss look themselves and live their lives. Families are never charged for the hair replacements provided for their children; Wigs for Kids rely completely on both the donation of hair and / or money to help meet their goals.

Read more about Wigs for Kids mission, and discover how hair can be donated.

URLs and SURLs

Mysterious Paradise: Supporting World Animal Protection

Mysterious Paradise: July 20th – August 3rd, 2019

Mysterious Paradise, opened its doors on July 20th and will run through until Saturday, August 3rd in Second Life.

Featuring shopping opportunities and an entire region to explore, with days of entertainment and events as per the event website, Mysterious Paradise will see 100% of donations, including stall & performing profits go towards World Animal Protection (WAP), an organisation, that works year-round to protect animals in our communities, farmlands, the wild, and to stop animal cruelty around the globe.

Mysterious Paradise: July 20th – August 3rd, 2019

The event region has been divided into four areas, with the main shopping and entertainment venue contained in one quarter. The rest of the region offers a number of different environments for visitors to explore, photograph and enjoy – including the opportunity take a dive under the sea (just mind the great white shark!).

Within these areas you can visit Africa and Asia and a wintry world that brings together the Arctic and Antarctic and where both polar bears and penguins can be found. A further area is suggestive of Atlantis / a fantasy world, beneath which the undersea realm can be found.

Mysterious Paradise: July 20th – August 3rd, 2019

As well as making donations in-world at Mysterious Paradise, those wishing to support WAP’s work can do so by clicking the Please Donate button on the WAP website or by visiting the event’s Facebook Fundraiser.

About WAP

World Animal Protection seeks to improve the welfare of animals around the globe – wild or domesticated – through public awareness, education, animal protection, animal rescue, animal welfare, and more. Based in Australia as a registered charity, WAP operates a number of region hubs in Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe, North America and Latin America.

From these they are able to mount a range of campaigns to support and protect animals according to regional needs / situations. Their work includes better education in matters of animal welfare and husbandry, vaccination programmes, support for government programmes for more humane means of animal care and the treatment of disease, and ensuring animals are provided and cared for as a result of / in the event of, a natural or other disaster.

SLurl and Links Details

Bellisseria JulyFest in Second Life

Having been inaugurated on July 4th, 2019, the Bellisseria Fairgrounds will play host to its second major event on Saturday, July 6th, when JulyFest is held.

Running from 12:00 noon through until 18:00 SLT, JulyFest carries on something of a July 4th celebratory feel, while inviting residents of Bellisseria and their friends to come together for events and entertainment  – and Second Life residents are also invited to join in with the fun and meet those on us living on the continent.

The fairgrounds are located on an island within the eastern “bay” of Bellisseria, and can be reached via boat, using the moorings on the north side of the island, or by air using the adjoining airstrip (note that boats and planes will be auto-returned after arrival). For those who prefer, there’s the direct teleport, as given above, that will drop people at the entrance to the fairgrounds.

For the event, the Fairgrounds offers booths promoting groups active within Bellisseria, together with games and challenges (including a pole dancing challenge!), located either side of the main stage and sandy dance area. There’s also a fun fair with a Ferris wheel and other rides.

JulyFest: music, entertainment, games., information and a fun fair

As well as events on the Fairgrounds island, there will also be a parade of boats that will sail around some of Bellisseria’s waterways before arriving at the fairgrounds island.

Departing from the vicinity of the Calm Waters Lighthouse, the parade – or “floatilla”, as it is being called – will depart at 12:00 noon and proceed westwards, passing along one of Bellisseria’s main rivers before looping back to the east to anchor off the fairgrounds island. Those wishing to see the boats, the map below marks the route, and the parade will include motorboats and sailing craft.

The route of the parade of boats

Entertainment for the event will also start at 12:00 noon, and will comprise (all times SLT):

  • 12:00 noon – 13:30: DJ North Crannock.
  • 13:30 – 15:00: DJ Scottish Sarah.
  • 15:00 – 16:00: Live music with Ry Anne.
  • 16:00 – 17:00: Live music with Wolfie Starfire.
  • 17:00-18:00: DJ NoisyApp.
JulyFest offers Bellisseria residents and those hoping to move to the community the opportunity to discover the many active groups within Bellisseria, which cover a wide range of activities, including horse riding, sailing, boating, and more

The Fairgrounds aren’t the only place where events talk place in Bellisseria. There are several locations across the continent that feature music, horse riding and more. Keep up-to-date with activities via the Bellisseria Happenings events page.

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