New SL viewer release notes pages: an overview

Update, May 21st: The Alternate Viewers wiki page has been retired and replaced by a new Alternate Viewer page, which follows the same broad format as the Release Notes page (making the two slightly confusing, as they both reference recent RC viewers. However, this new page also draws a distinction between RC and project viewers, thus overcoming some of the concerns voiced in the second half of this article.

As noted in my week #20 SL Content Creation summary, Linden Lab have unveiled their new viewer release notes pages.

At the time of writing, the new pages are focused on the release candidate (RC) viewers that are in development and currently available as download cohorts in place of the de facto release viewer. It is not currently clear if project viewers will be included in the new format or not.

As Steven Linden from the viewer team notes in a Tools and Technology blog post on the subject, these new pages are part of a new website for viewer release information. This website comprises a dedicated home page with an introduction to viewer release notes. together with links on the left side to:

  • “Recent viewer releases”: a clickable list of the most recent RC viewer updates, provided as viewer version numbers. These are provided in release date order, with the most recent updates at the top.
  • Additional links to viewer-related support information:
The new Release Notes home page – access specific viewer release notes via the version numbers outlined in red on the left

Individual viewer release notes can be accessed by clicking one of the the listed version numbers, which will open a page specific to that viewer. These pages comprise:

  • Icon links to the available OS versions (Windows 32/64-bit, Mac OS).
  • The general release notes (description, etc.).
  • A list of resolved issues.

A significant change in these pages is that, where relevant, Jira links in the Resolved Issues section now, wherever possible, reference “public” bug reports (e.g. BUG-XXXXXX), rather than the Lab’s internally cloned versions of such bugs (e.g. MAIT-XXXXXX).

Currently, the new pages can also be accessed from the existing Alternate Viewers wiki page, (click the Release Notes link for an RC viewer on that page). However, whether this page will remain relevant if the release notes for project viewers are also converted to the new format, remains to be seen.

An example of the revised release notes for a viewer (in this case the Teranino Maintenance RC) – note the use of “public” Jira numbers where relevant, in the known issues list

The new pages are a lot easier on the eye, although I have a number of reservations at this time.

  • While I understand understand why version numbers are used to reference individual viewers (they are URLs and so can be dropped into the pages without necessarily requiring human intervention), they are less user friendly to those wishing to quickly look-up the specifics on a viewer.
  • The “recent Viewer Releases” lists can include links to multiple versions of a given viewer (at the time of writing, two versions of the EEP and Teranino RC viewers are listed, for example). This might cause a degree of confusion for some users, who may mist he “most recent at the top” arrangement of the list.
  • If project viewers are to be added to these pages, I would hope there will be some form of clearer distinction between them and any listed RC viewers, other than just a top-down list of version numbers, again for ease of user reference.

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Gone in 27 minutes in Second Life

Motoring through some of the new houseboat regions

A total of 709 new Linden Home houseboats were made available on Wednesday, May 15th, 2019, after a build-up of expectation.

I had wondered if the new regions, that arrived alongside Bellisseria, the Linden Homes continent might see one more move prior to being opened, but as was quickly shown, this wasn’t the case. This does leave the new regions supporting the houseboats looking – at this point in time at least, but who knows what might come in time – looking like a bit of an after-thought bolt-on to the continent, but there can be no doubting their popularity: all 709 were gone in just 27 minutes.

(l) the line-up before the release of the new houseboat regions; (r) the situation a few minutes after the launch with people at their new houseboats, even as the regions were being restarted (those in red)

The release saw a huge build-up along the north-eastern side of Bellisseria, the closest point to the new region, with two regions in particular – Graff and Dorma – bearing the brunt of the interest, each having in excess of 50 avatars in them in the hours leading up to the release. A lot of this saw social interactions, although I opted to watch via the Map while paying a visit to another region.

The Houseboats are available to select as we release them via the Linden Homes Land selection page, and access to the continent addition is open. We will have a set of region restarts to go through, so please bear with us as that happens if you enter the regions right away.

We know they will go very quickly, but as time goes on we will get more out, and hopefully faster.

Our next focus will be to bring more Traditional Homes plus more Houseboats in another smaller launch while working in parallel to a larger launch and an exciting new theme.

As usual, stay tuned here for more updates!

Patch Linden’s forum announcement that the houseboats were available

The Squishy Pickle bar: the social hub of the new regions

The houseboats were released via the Linden Homes web page at 10:00 SLT, together with a warning that some of the regions were being restarted. But the latter didn’t dampen any of the desire to obtain one of the new units: within seconds of the opening of the doors, people were literally pouring into the regions to see their new houseboat – and fortunately Caitlyn was among them as well.

In commenting on the state of play, Patch noted that there was some churn during the 27 minutes: people grabbing a houseboat, checking the location, then abandoning it in the hope of getting a better spot. How many may have missed out on an opening as a result is hard to say, it’s possible some people may have come away a little disappointed – hence the comment from Patch of the focus on making a further “smaller launch” of houseboats and houses.

The new houseboat regions and landscaping

There had also been some churn in the lead-up to the release with some people with Traditional Homes abandoning them in favour of being ready for the houseboats, as was noted on various forum threads.

I took a boat ride through the new regions following their release, and the level of activity was pleasing to see as people set about decorating their new homes, together with a large uptick in conversation and activity in the Bellisseria in-world groups – and the founding of a residents newspaper The Bellisserian – of which more anon!

In the meantime, congrats to all those who snagged one of the new houseboats!

Linden Homes houseboat expansion arrives off Bellisseria – but may yet move?

The “houseboat expansion” regions, still with test elements in place, appeared off the north-eastern coast of Bellisseria on Monday, May 13th

Update #1: ah well, was a nice idea, but apparently, it’s been confirmed the new houseboat regions are in fact in their intended location.

Updates #2, via Patch Linden: Howdy everyone! While I’d love to give more notice than this, it is looking like we will have another batch of Houseboats ready for release within the next 24 hours.  This is as much of a forewarning I can provide, because of the complexity behind the work that is going into these releases.  Each release requires the coordination of several teams, and having all of the resources line up to hit the “go button” is pretty organic.  As soon as we are able to do so, I will post another update [in the forum thread linked to above].

The “houseboat expansion” regions appeared off the eastern coast of Bellisseria on Monday, May 13th, sparking speculation that the new regions could be made available “this week”.

However, while they might be made available soon, I’m not convinced that where they are currently sited will be their final resting place (so to speak).

The new 48-region houseboat expansion appears off the north-east coast of Bellisseria.

I say this because – as others have pointed out* – the “houseboat expansion” appears to be fairly identical in shape to an existing part of the the completed Bellisseria continent, as seen with the overall SSP region design on the world map, as shown below.

The new houseboat regions collectively share the same shape as a part of the completed Bellisseria continent as represented by the current SSP test / development regions

As such, it would seem possible that the new regions will yet make a further move prior to being make available.

Such as move would both allow Bellisseria to remain true to the original design of the continent, as presented by the the SSP test and development regions (as per the image below), and provide a far more natural location for the new regions, rather than simply “bolting them on” to the side of Bellisseria.

Bellisseria (l) showing how the houseboat regions might “slot in” to the continent, compared to the overall layout of the continent as seen in the develop SSP regions

The coming days will obviously reveal whether this will be the case, but given the overall size and shape of the “houseboat expansion”, I’d be surprised if we didn’t see something along these lines. Something which in turn begs the question as to how soon might it be before we see an expansion of “central” Bellisseria to match the SSP regions?

In the meantime, those interested in obtaining a new Linden Home houseboat should keep an eye on the development at Bellisseria, the Linden Homes forum category, and the Linden Homes selection page.

* I cannot provide full credit for this image, as the link to it was supplied to me sans context of posting, etc. If anyone does know who posted it and where, I’ll be happy to update this piece with proper credit.

SL Maintenance reminder: May 13-16th 2019

Just a reminder (or advanced warning for those who may not have seen it): Second Life will be subject to up to 4 days of network maintenance, commencing on Monday, May 13th. This work may possibly run through until Thursday, May 16th.

The details are available on the Second Life Grid Status pages, but are reproduced in full below:

Our engineers will be performing maintenance on the Second Life network May 13 – 16. We hope to perform most of the maintenance early in this window, but it may extend several days if needed.

Residents may experience problems connecting to, being disconnected from, or an inability to log in during this time, as well as possible issues rezzing objects, teleporting, or crossing regions. We hope to keep these disruptions to a minimum and greatly appreciate your patience during this time as we work to make Second Life more robust.

We will resolve this status once the maintenance has been fully completed.

So, if you do experience issues at the start of, or during the week, be sure to keep an eye on the Grid Status pages for updates to this announcement.

Celebrating Fran’s life, Saturday, May 11th 2019

Fran Swenson (Fran Seranade) and her daughter Barbara Richard (Barbi Alchemi) – image courtesy of San Diego Union-Tribune / Bill Wechter

On March 7th, 2019, I sadly wrote about the passing of one of Second Life’s most recognised residents, Fran Seranade (Fran Swenson in the physical world).

Fran, a Parkinson’s Disease sufferer, came to prominence in Second Life and in the media due to the remarkable positive effect her involvement in the platform had on her condition. I had the privilege to write about Fran’s story far back in 2013 in Of Parkinson’s, Second Life and a story worth reading, after coming across an on-line article by the San Diego Union-Tribune. Her situation became both the focal point of studies into the benefits of virtual worlds on a variety of physical and mental conditions, and was the trigger for Fran’s daughter, Barbara Richards (Barbie Alchemi in-world), with the help of her brother (AlmostThere Inventor in SL), to establish Creations for Parkinson’s, designed to  raise funds to support the work of The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research and to provide an in-world meeting place for those stricken by the illness and those seeking a sense of community and support.

Event schedule

At the time of Fran’s passing, it was noted that an in-world memorial event for her was being planned – and this has now growth into a celebration of Fran’s life and times, which will take place throughout Saturday, May 11th, 2019.

Commencing at 11:00 SLT and running through until 21:00 SLT at the Savoy Ballroom in Creations Park, the event will feature the voices and talents of some of Second Life’s best-known performers, many of whom knew Fran directly, by both performing at her 90th birthday celebrations two years ago, and in performing in support of Creations for Parkinson’s events.

As with all events at Creations Park, the celebration will present people with the opportunity to show their support for the work of the MJF Foundation by offering donations to Team Fox, the official fund-raising arm of the Foundation.

Those who cannot attend the event, but who would like to commemorate Fran’s life and the work of Team Fox / the MJF Foundation can do so by donating through any of the kiosks at Creations Park or by visiting the following web page:

In addition, and planned to be available by June 1st, 2019, a memorial honouring Fran and this celebration will be established at the Savoy Swing Era Museum, and will be available online at SavoyBallroom.org/fran.

Additional information and links to performer details can be found at: https://www.savoyballroom.org/may-11.html.

SL Marketplace: store managers introduced

On Thursday, May 2nd, 2019, Linden Lab deployed the latest updates to the SL Marketplace, chief among which is the introduction of the store manager.

A store manager is another user a merchant with a Marketplace store can designate to manage some operations of their MP store. This is a capability that merchants have long requested, both through the forums and the Web User Group meetings, and the response to the deployment has already been positive.

Key points with store managers:

  • Merchants can nominate up to five store managers.
  • By default store managers can:
    • Edit store details.
    • Edit product details.
    • List an unlisted item.
    • View store and product details.
  • In addition, merchants can optionally allow store managers to:
    • Unlist an item.
    • Redeliver items (including changing automatic redelivery status).
    • Add/remove revenue distributions.
    • Add/remove listing enhancements.
    • Change prices.
    • However,these additional permissions can only be added once for a store manager: if they are to be changed at all, the store manager must be removed, and then re-added with the changed permissions.
  • If a store manager does not have any of the additional permissions, those fields appear as inactive in the edit and bulk edit pages. Similarly, the associated controls do not appear for store managers that do not have permission to unlist items, add/remove revenue distributions, or add/remove listing enhancements.
  • Store managers can access the store using their own log-in credentials – not the merchant’s.
  • All store manager action (creation, settings permissions, removal) are set through the merchant’s My Marketplace > Merchant home options.
  • Instructions for adding / removing Store Managers can be found in the official Second Life Marketplace store managers Knowledge Base article.
Store Managers are added via the My Marketplace > Marketplace Home page (1), then clicking Edit Store Information (2) and scrolling to the bottom of the Store Information Page to click Add Manager (3). Add the name of the Store manager and setting the additional permissions for term via the pop-up (4), then clicking the ADD button when all is set (5). Remember that if permissions are to be changed, the Manager must be removed and re-added with the required permissions

In addition, and to provide merchants with oversight of the actions taken on their store:

  • All actions taken by (a) store manager(s) are logged and can be reviewed by the merchant (My Marketplace >  Merchant Home > View audit logs in the left menu.
  • E-mail alerts can also be set to be sent whenever a store manager performs an action on the merchant’s store.
  • Additionally, no store manager will be able to:
    • Archive products.
    • Add/remove other managers.

Again, full details on managing Store Managers can be found in the Knowledge Base article, and any specific issues with the system should be reported via the Jira.