April 2021 SL Web User Group summary

The Web User Group meeting venue, Denby

The following notes are taken from my recording of the Web User Group (WUG) meeting, held on Wednesday, April 7th, 2021. These meetings are generally held on the first Wednesday of the month, with dates and venue details available via the SL public calendar.

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 if 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, any audio comments related to that topic that might be included in these reports will be concatenated into a single audio extract).

Web Properties Updates

  • General post-Uplift internal work is continuing, particularly the fine-tuning of various web services.
  • The secondlife.com home pages have received a “spring refresh” with new images. etc..
  • A general clean-up of web pages is in progress. This includes things like:
    • Enabling unicode support in the DMCA complaint form (important for those with accented letters in their names).
    • Web profile fixes: removing a bug that prevented interests from being deleted on web profiles;  correcting an issue that caused an error to appear at the top of the About section of a web profile; (finally) removing the link to “Open Groups in the sidebar” that hasn’t existed in the viewer for almost a decade…
  • A  number of the Lab’s own tools for managing / maintaining the Marketplace were also worked on, but no details supplied.
  • Resident search has been updated to ensure all those who should be showing in searches are showing in searches.
  • Additional work on Search in general is still on-going.
  • The problem people are having in being suddenly logged-out of Marketplace for no accountable reason (such as going from browsing to the check-out page or when editing a listing) is still being looked into.

Marketplace – The “Catwa Incident”

At the end of March, Catwa ran a Marketplace-only promotion for a fully feature Bento Head priced at L$1. The resultant demand overloaded the Marketplace system. The outage lasted several hours, causing considerable upset, some of which was exacerbated by the poor quality error message that was given to those trying to reach the MP, and which included commentary on the state of the infrastructure in being unable to scale with the load placed on it.

  • In terms of the error message, this has apparently been updated to give more meaningful information should a repeat situation occur in the future.
  • As a result of that situation, the Lab has now implemented changes that should allow the MP to better leverage the AWS environment and correctly scale to meet similar massive increases in demand, should they occur in the future.
  • The was the first time the MP had faced such a massive demand, one which far exceeded anything previously seen the the MP’s history.

Mobile Client

  • iOS Version:
    • The app didn’t make it back to Apple for further evaluation before the end of March, but is now “very close” to being ready to go.
    • The Lab will be running an internal test with the updated app during the upcoming week or so.
    • Assuming no issues are found as a result of this testing, the app will be passed to Apple once more for their evaluation.
  • Android: nothing to report.

In Brief

  • Linden Homes: the Chalet theme (see: Lab announces Linden Homes Chalet Theme released) is now regarded as “mostly released”. The total volume of available Linden Homes means that the Lab is no longing “selling out” of new homes immediately on a release or batch release.
  • Last Names: at the start of April, the Lab introduced a couple of “limited time” last names to the Premium Name Changes capability. The two names, UwU and OwO, were introduced specifically for the furry community, among whom they have apparently proven popular.
    • According to a tweet from Soft Linden on April 8th, the two names will be removed from the active list “shortly”. So, if you want either one – now’s the time to grab it.
Twitter comment from Soft Linden on the two “limited time” last names for Premium members.
    • At the WUG meeting, Keira Linden indicated that the Lab is considering doing more such “limited edition” last name options from time-to-time and that may be geared towards particular events or holidays, or towards a particular community. The next example of these “limited offers” is liable to come around the time of the Second Life Birthday celebration in June 2021.

Next Meeting

  • Wednesday, May 5th, 14:00 SLT.

March 2021 SL Web User Group summary

The Web User Group meeting venue, Denby

The following notes are taken from my recording of the Web User Group (WUG) meeting, held on Wednesday, March 3rd, 2021. These meetings are generally held on the first Wednesday of the month, with dates and venue details available via the SL public calendar.

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 if 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, any audio comments related to that topic that might be included in these reports will be concatenated into a single audio extract.

Web Properties Updates

  • General post-Uplift work is continuing, much of it internal to the Lab. This means that it is likely to still be a while before new features and capabilities (including the Marketplace) start to be worked on again, although issues will continue to be addressed.
  • Name Changes: the next refresh of Last Name options will likely be in June 2021, around the time of the Second Life birthday. This should also see the list of last names put into alphabetical order.
  • As noted in my UG meeting summaries in week 8, the Land Store was re-enabled after encountering post-AWS transition issues. Further problems were encountered over the last weekend of February 2021, but is believed these have now been fully resolved.
  • A new link has been added to the secondlife.com home age + related pages. T-shirts and Gifts will take people directly to the Lab’s physical world merchandise store hosted by Red Bubble.
The new link to the SL / LL merchandise on Red Bubble can be found in the footer of secondlife.com and associated pages.
  • There have been non-user visible updates to the back-end of the communities services pages, and the World API has been updated to correct an issue with information being fed to the viewer splash screen.

Marketplace

  • A lot of work has been put into the Marketplace back-end systems.
  • This work includes:
    • Correcting the delivery delay issues that were being encountered.
    • Fixing a 404 error appearing on some pages.
    • Fixing a error with store managers being unable to open the correct management page.
    • Correcting the need for Support to clear Unavailable Item errors.
    • Updates to the French language pages.
    • Fixing an issue with new users being unable to log-in to the MP.
  • MP updates used to be published to the forums, but it has been suggested making them available more as release notes might be beneficial. This will be looked into.
  • BUG-230262 “Marketplace Website Bug/Error” causes people to be randomly logged-out of various web properties (notably the Marketplace). It is not clear if this is related to single sign-on confusion or a problem that is more generic or browser-specific.
  • It has been suggested that reviews on MP purchases be subject to a timed delay (e.g. you cannot leave a review for, say 24 or 48 hours following an MP purchase), to allow the purchaser time to contact the creator in the event of problems / confusion, etc., and act as a deterrent against bad reviews airing from simply misunderstandings, etc. The Lab have requested this be made as a formal feature request so that it can be properly reviewed / considered.

Single Sign-On

  • Single sign-on is now in place across many of the Lab’s web properties.
  • This means users with multiple accounts cannot have different accounts signed-on to these pages at the same time.
  • See Single Sign On, Coming Soon for more.
  • This should not be confused with Two-Factor Authentication (2 FA), which is still in development / discussion and no deployment date is currently available.

Premium Plus

  • Roll-out of Premium Plus was delayed in 2020 for a number of reasons, including the AWS migration work and the impact on the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.
  • The feature is currently being re-evaluated, including whether it should be rolled-out as originally planned.
  • In addition, further work may be required as a result of the migration work.
  • In short:
    • Work on the feature will be resumed in due course.
    • There is no identified date for when this might be, or when roll-out may commence.

Mobile Client

  • iOS Version:
    • Issues resulting from the last round of Apple Store testing (apparently related to how chat / communications are handled) have been addressed.
    • These fixes are currently subject to internal testing at the Lab. Providing this is successful, the app will be passed back to Apple for further testing at their end.
    • It is hoped the latter will occur towards the end of March 2021.
  • Android:
    • Development is still behind that of iOS.
    • However, the Lab now has devices to allow internal testing of the Android flavour of the app, although it will still be a while before anything becomes visible for users to test.

In Brief

  • User-created grid-wide experiences are still on the cards, but again, the capability is not being worked on at present, and there is no available time frame on when work will resume nor any indication of potential deployment.

Next Meeting

  • Wednesday, April 7th, 14:00 SLT.

February 2021 WUG summary

The Web User Group meeting venue, Denby

The following notes are taken from my recording of the Web User Group (WUG) meeting, held on Wednesday, February 3rd, 2021. These meetings are generally held on the first Wednesday of the month, with dates and venue details available via the SL public calendar.

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 if 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, any audio comments related to that topic that might be included in these reports will be concatenated into a single audio extract.

Web Properties Updates

  • Core work remains clean-up post the transition to services to AWS.
    • Most of the issues arising from the Uplift project for the various web properties (e.g. Marketplace, Destination Guide, etc), appear to have been resolved, although the destination Guide still has a couple of issues to be fully resolved.
  • Once this has been completed, work will resume on sorting through the web “to do”list (which includes incoming bug reports and feature requests in readiness to start working through items.
  • There have been some additional non-user visible updates to some web properties.
  • As of the end of December 2020, there were three software toolsets LL use in relation Second life (none of them user-facing) awaiting a transition to AWS, as of the start of February, one of these has yet to be transitioned.

Single Sign-On

  • Linden Lab is starting to roll-out single sign-on for web properties (not to be confused with two-factor authentication, which is still being planned, but is not ready for deployment).
  • This will mean that users with multiple accounts will only be able to sign-in to different properties on a per account basis.
  • There will be a formal LL blog post to explain this further in due course.

Mobile Client

  • Linden Lab is dealing with some bugs, so no significant news arising from the past month.

Last Names

  • The Lab is hoping to have a new batch of Last Names available for around Valentine’s Day, which will include Valentine’s-themed last names.
  • There is some talk of also providing “normal” last names (for some definition of “normal”, given the likes of  “Aphelion”, “Birdwhistle”, “Dankworth”, “Izzard” and “Posey”, among many others are all considered “normal” where I come from!).
  • For new batches of Last Names, LL tend to select from the list of suggestions that came about from the 2019 Last Names competition, then add a mix of names they’ve selected.
  • It is also hoped that Last Name updates will happen more “regularly” in the future.

In Brief

  • There has been intermittent delays in getting items delivered from the Marketplace ( which can last up to several minutes) over the last week(ish). The issue has been hard for LL to reproduce, although they have been aware of it and had tried to make adjustments.
  • BUG-229713 “Marketplace listing status updates are not being updated between the web and the viewer” and BUG-230107 “Marketplace Listings window in the viewer does not update” have been confirmed by LL as an issue, and the issue is to be investigated.
  • Profile feed: there had been a series of issues of late (images failing to upload, posts failing to appear, etc.), but as of February 2nd, these should have been resolved. Anyone still experiencing problems should contact support / raise a bug report.
  • LL are continuing to consider how to improve the new user experience, and have been seeking feedback on what established users see as the “main” problem new users face. In addition, it was notes that in order to better understand new user problems when on-boarding, the Lab:
    • Has regular internal workshops where staff go through various aspects of being a new users (e.g.building an entire mesh-based avatar from scratch) to better understand the complexities lies, and where particular pain point might be.
    • Has staff spend time within new user environments (the learning / social islands, etc.)..
    • Has some of the user-led mentor groups to assist with the on-boarding process through the social and learning islands.

Next Meeting

  • Wednesday, March 3rd, 14:00 SLT.

November 2020 WUG summary

The Web User Group meeting venue, Denby

The following notes are taken from my recording of the Web User Group (WUG) meeting, held on Wednesday, November 4th, 2020. These meetings are generally held on the first Wednesday of the month, with dates and venue details 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 if 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, any audio comments related to that topic that might be included in these reports will be concatenated into a single audio extract.

Web Properties Updates

  • The SL Marketplace is again being transitioned back to AWS services, having been rolled back the the Lab’s co-lo after the initial migration. This work has been causing some hiccups in Marketplace service delivery.
  • For those will using the old style Linden Homes, the web-based control panel pages for these (controlling decoration, door locks, window blinds,, etc.), have now been transitioned to AWS.
  • The Destination Guide pages (world.secondlife.com) have been transitioned to AWS.
  • Tools and web pages related to the support teams have been migrated to AWS.
  • It is possible that by the next WUG meeting, all Uplift work related to the Lab’s web properties will have been completed.
  • Once the migration work has been completed the web teams will start reviewing their backlog of work and prioritising items for actioning.

Mobile Client

  • The iOS version of the mobile client is now with the Lab’s QA team who are testing the changes made following the initial rejection by Apple.
  • Once QA are satisfied, the app will be re-submitted to Apple for acceptance into their app store.
  • The Android version remains under development, but still “some way” behind the iOS version.

Please also refer to my periodic SL Mobile updates, which are made as and when there are significant updates in the status of the client.)

As an aside, for those who point to the likes of Lumiya and its capabilities and ask why the LL client isn’t offering the same right from launch, it’s worth remembering that Lumiya took several years to develop its capabilities  iteratively – it wasn’t launched with all of its features fully-fledged.  This is the route the Lab is trying to take with their mobile client.

Marketplace

  • Some have noticed that they are no longer receiving e-ail notifications when they have a sale on the Marketplace. The Marketplace team are aware of this issue and are investigating.
    • Those who do encounter the issue are asked to contact support and let them know, and the details will be passed to the MP team.
    • Re-verifying your e-mail address is also suggested, just in case.

In Brief

  • LL is liable to release a new batch of last names for Premium Name Changes during the winter months. this will likely see the removal of some of the lesser-used last names that are currently in the list, as happened with the first set of updates, as well as the “limited offer” SL birthday related last names.
  • There are currently 11 themes for the “new” Linden Homes that are either available or in planning, with a possibly farm-ish teaser  (note the hay bales) of the theme that will follow the Stilt Homes.
  • Premium Plus remains under discussion internally at the Lab, but no information on possible deployment dates or fees, etc., are available at this time.

Next Meeting

  • Wednesday, December 2nd, 14:00 SLT.

October 2020 WUG summary with SL Mobile news

The Web User Group meeting venue, Denby

The following notes are taken from my recording of the Web User Group (WUG) meeting, held on Wednesday, October 7th, 2020. These meetings are generally held on the first Wednesday of the month, with dates and venue details 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 if 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, any audio comments related to that topic that might be included in these reports will be concatenated into a single audio extract.

Web Properties Updates

The primary focus remains on uplift work, and while there have been updates to some of the user-facing web properties and image updates for web pages to reflect the season, and some new pages for events such as the September Titmouse event (see: Second Life to have a smashing time with Titmouse) there was not much to report.

There should be more news on web updates available at the next WUG meeting in November.

General Uplift Notes

See also my recent TPV Developer meeting and CCUG meeting notes.

In general, the Lab’s aim is to have all uplift work completed by the year-end.

  • This is getting all services and properties running via cloud services without additional work on making improvements (unless it makes specific sense to make changes as a part of the uplift process, as we saw with region crossings recently).
  • Improvements will follow-on from the initial uplift work as the Lab gains greater familiarity with running services in the cloud.
  • Similarly, there are no plans to offer new land products or alter the capabilities of the existing region types on completion of the uplift (although it has been indicated elsewhere these may come over time in the future).
  • There will obviously be a resumption in region availability once the uplift work has been completed.
  • The end-of-year target is a fairly “hard” target, with the caveat that the unexpected can happen to delay things – although that doesn’t appear to have happened thus far.

Mobile Client

iOS

  • The iOS version of the mobile client was submitted to Apple for review – and was rejected. LL is currently working to address the issues as a part of Apple’s review.
  • Once this has been done, the app will again go through LL’s QA process and then be re-submitted to Apple for evaluation / App Store listing,
  • The version currently remains available to those on the closed Alpha only.
  • Interestingly, the Lab’s data suggests to them that the number of users with iOS is slightly greater than those with Android, although it’s not clear had this data is derived.

Android

  • The android version is still being developed, but remains “some way” behind the iOS version.
  • Currently it is not ready for any user-based testing.

General Points of Note

Please also refer to my periodic SL Mobile updates, which are made as and when there are significant updates in the status of the client.)

  • It is initially intended to be a communications app, aimed at allowing those who are away from their their usual means of access Second Life to communicate with friends via IM.
  • This means that the initial release will not have capabilities such as world rendering, support for making sales / purchases through it, etc.
  • However, the client will be enhanced over time.
    • Group and group chat functionally were specifically mentioned, so might be the first set of enhancements.
    • Inventory management was also mentioned, as is apparently being considered, but is described as having its own “own bucket or twelve of worms”, so no decision on if / when it may appear has as yet been made.

As an aside, for those who point to the likes of Lumiya and its capabilities and ask why the LL client isn’t offering the same right from launch, it’s worth remembering that Lumiya took several years to develop its capabilities  iteratively – it wasn’t launched with all of its features fully-fledged.  This is the route the Lab is trying to take with their mobile client.

Marketplace

Demos

  • In general, demo version of items on the Marketplace should be linked to the full version.
  • There are reports that since making demo items filterable in search, there has been an increase in unlinked demo items
  • It’s not clear if this is because people are trying to avoid the filter, or that incoming new merchants simply don’t understand they can link demos to full versions, or even if it is a functional limitation of the filter to pick-up all demo items.
  • The Lab will take a look at this, and ideas on how to improve the information given on creating listing are requested via feature request.

Suggestions

A number of suggestions for the MP were put forward at the meeting:

  • Add a feature similar to see on the old XStreetSL marketplace: a request for purchasers of items to provide a review.
  • Provide a means by which creators can enable a report their last log-in date on their stores / listings. The idea here is to increase the confidence of purchasers that they will receive after-sales support, etc., should it be required.
  • An option for a “Show Only # Star Reviews” (where # is the number of stars) and / or to show a summary of star reviews by #of stars (as with Amazon product listings).
  • LL have requested these all be submitted as feature requests.

Last Names

  • Last Names are still seeing a good response from Premium users.
  • LL might opt to offer a new selection of names to reflect the time of year – but again, this would be dependent upon the current volume of uplift work.
  • Currently, the Lab has around 10,277 names that could potentially be used over time.

Next Meeting

  • Wednesday, November 4th, 14:00 SLT.

September 2020 WUG summary: uplift and SL Mobile

The Web User Group meeting venue, Denby

The following notes are taken from my recording of the Web User Group (WUG) meeting, held on Wednesday, September 2nd, 2020. These meetings are held monthly, generally on the first Wednesdays of the month, 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 if 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, any audio comments related to that topic that might be included in these reports will be concatenated into a single audio extract).

Web Properties Updates

The primary focus for the web teams remains the transitioning of services from the Lab’s own servers to AWS servers as a part of the Uplift project, although non-uplift web properties work is being carried out where possible, as noted below.

Uplift Work

  • Place Pages and the land store pages are all now running in the cloud.
  • Various support tools as used by the Lab have also been transitioned to running in the cloud.

Non-Uplift Web Properties Updates

  • The Second Life Jira has been updated, although this caused some issues for users who had not used  the Jira for some time, but who had used the Name Changes capability to change their avatar (user) name. This has now been fixed.
  • A  similar update is required for the SL wiki (for those able to edit pages). This will be implemented after the cloud uplift work has been completed.
  • The Marketplace has received a number of fixes / updates, including:
    • A fix for some users being unable to create stores on the MP.
    • A fix for some of the merchant reports hanging when run.
  • The SL web properties (including the viewer’s web search) now have a Cookies Acceptance banner, as required under Californian law.

Premium Plus

  • Currently “shelved” due to cloud uplift work,
  • It is still “on the [road] map, but just not a target right now.”
  • Will be looked at again some time after the uplift work has been completed.

Mobile Client

  • Issues arose during the QA testing of the last iOS update, these are currently being worked  on.
  • The current plan is now:
    • A further QA testing on the iOS version of the app.
    • If  this version passes QA successfully, make it available to the current closed alpha testers AND submit it to Apple for their testing / review.
  • While LL will *not* be offering the ability for using to purchase L$ or make transactions in the initial releases of the app, they are watching the escalating Epic (Fortnite) / Apple + Google situation (see: Epic suing Apple and Google over Fortnite bans: Everything you need to know) to see how this affects fees levied by both Apple and Google regarding L$ transactions, once they become available through the SL mobile app.
  • As per last month, the Android version of the apps remain some way behind the iOS version.
  • General reminder: in its initial iterations, the app will be primarily focused on communications. It will not have a full range of capabilities when initially made available to users, but will be iterated upon; this includes the app not having any world rendering capability, although this may be added in the future.
  • General updates on the app can be found in my periodic SL Mobile updates.

Next Meeting

Wednesday, October 7th, 14:00 SLT.