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.

August 2020 Web User Group: updates & upcoming attractions

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, August 5th, 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. However, other work is continuing as an when possible, and in the last month this has meant:

  • The new Second Life logo (see: Out with the green, in with the blue) continues to be rolled out across the various services – in this case, notably the Cashier pages – as the team get to them. This is a relatively low priority item so it will still be a while before the logo is consistent across all properties.
  • UTF-8 will now be accepted in response to security questions.
  • Additional back-end work on Name Changes was implemented, mainly tools used by the Lab but also some changes that may allow for some possible future features related to the capability.
  • The secondlife.com log-in page images received a refresh.
  • Fixes:
    • Marketplace: received a fix for images not showing correctly.
    • Events: fixes for images not showing with posted events; for multiple pages of hosted events not working and for the language picker drop-down not working on exiting events pages.
    • Place Pages received a number of fixes.
    • Land Auctions received a fix for beta lifetime users being unable to bid on auctions.
    • A back-end issue with Premium acquisition was fixed.
    • Viewer download page: now includes a link for Mac OS X Catalina (and later) users experiencing problems installing the Mac flavour of the viewer, and that takes them to the Troubleshooting Second Life Installation on Mac OS X page.
Viewer installation help for Mac OS X Catalina (or later) on the viewer download page

Mobile Client

  • The iOS version has been in a closed alpha for 2+ months. These is now a build destined to go to Apple’s App Store.
  • Work continues on the Android version, but is currently some way behind the iOS work.
  • See for more.

Post-Uplift Work

Note: the following is a general list of work LL are looking at, post-Uplift to the cloud, however, it is still subject to change, and none of it should be taken as a firm commitment for carrying out the work or any indication of the order in which it might be carried out:

  • Marketplace: variances for listings (e.g. one listing for an item offering it in different colours).
  • Events: bug fixes, category  and search refinements.
  • Names Changes: further tweaks.
  • Web properties in general: better optimisation for display on mobile properties.
  • Further work still to be added to the list.

Marketing Brief

  • Following the presence of Gen Con in Second Life (see: Coming to Second Life: Gen Con “the best four days in gaming”, Gen Con: sneaking a peek in Second Life and Gen Con in Second Life: let the games begin!), LL have had a debriefing with the VRazeTheBar team, and the hope is it will pave the way for further displaced conferences to be held within Second Life.
  • There are potential opportunities in the offing for a further media presence for Second Life which may be akin to the CSI:NY episode Down the Rabbit Hole (2007), or SL’s appearance in the US version of The Office. Details still TBA.
  • There is also an upcoming partnership with the Peale Museum in Baltimore, so the latter can bring their exhibits and events in-world with a reproduction of the museum building (itself a National Historic Landmark in the United States) and special virtual open house as part as the museum’s August 15rh Founder’s Day event.
  • These styles of events are seen as a way to broaden awareness of Scone Life and its potential.

Premium Plus

  • Still on hold.
  • May be revisited at some point.
  • May also be revised before being released.

Next Meeting

Wednesday, September 2nd, 14:00 SLT.

May 2020 Web User Group

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, June 3rd, 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).

Account Self-Reactivation

  • Previously, if a user left Second Life and asked for their account to be de-activated, it would require a support ticket to have the account re-activated at a future date, should the user wish to return to SL and to that account.
  • Users can now re-activate their account directly.
  • This is seen as a way to help people returning to Second Life as a result of the SARS-CoV-2 situation to be able to resume using their “old” accounts, rather than having to fully start over without having to soak up support personnel time in re-activating an account.
  • To work, a returning user must know both the account name / password and the e-mail address used to create the account.
  • This method doesn’t replace raising a support ticket for account re-activation, so people can still file a ticket if they do not have all the required information.
  • Details on account reactivation can be found here.

Mobile Client

  • The iOS version is now in a closed alpha featuring some residents.
  • In keeping with the Lab’s plans, this version offers the ability to communicate via IM, and has a basic Friends listing.
  • Further updates will follow  – the next being the addition of Abuse Reporting support and improved management for the Friends list.
  • Once the Lab believe the client has an initial set of functions to make it useful as a communications tool, it will will move to a beta phase and made available to a wider cohort of users for further testing.
  • Work is progressing on an Android client, but it will take time for it to reach a point where it is ready for testing. When it is ready, it will likely follow a similar Alpha / Beta test process to the iOS version.
  • Additional work on SL web properties is also being carried out in relation to the Mobile client.

In Brief

  • The Adult Swim event held in May heavily involved the web team, and similar events are apparently being planned for the future.
  • Name Changes:
    • In response to requests, the list of last names provided on the Name Change page can now be seen by Basic members, so they can review the currently available names without have to upgrade first.
Basic users can now see the list of available last names on the Name Change page, so they can check to see if there is a name they’d like before they upgrade to Premium to use the capability.
    • No indication of how frequently the list of last names will updated, but plans remain to change out names once they reach a certain point of use and / or fail to gain traction and use.
    • There will be a blog post ahead of any update to allow people who what to take a name before it might vanish from the list can do so.
  • Work continues on deploying the updates Second Life logo / font (see Out with the green, in with the blue) across web properties as they are naturally updated for other reasons.
  • There was a reminder that user in Norway and Australia must now pay VAT or GST is now applicable on Linden Lab products services (see VAT & GST on Lab products & services for Norway & Australia).
  • Feature request and bugs discussed:
    • To help with EEP asset merchandising, the following feature request has been filed: BUG-228856 “EEP Category in Marketplace”.
    • BUG-228845 “Marketplace Edit Item Listing loses Image Upload option” has been accepted by the Lab for cloning to their internal Jira system.

April 2020 Web User Group: Name Changes et al

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 1st, 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).

Name Changes

  • Deployment of the Name Changes capability is now “really, really close”.
  • As of the meeting, all of the major elements for Name Changes are with the Lab’s QA team for testing.
  • IF no significant issues / showstoppers or the like are uncovered by QA, it is probable that Name Changes will launch before the end of April.

Premium Plus

  • All of the required / update workflows for managing Premium Plus are in place, and the various web pages that will need to be refreshed with updated information have been prepared ready for the eventual Premium Plus launch.
  • All of the back-end work is in place.
  • LL are still “sitting on” all of the various values (fee, benefits, etc.), that are associated with Premium Plus.
  • No release date but said to be be “closer” – however, as I’ve previously noted, it will not come until some time after Name Changes have been made available.

Marketplace

  • Keywords and unlisting: if an item is unlisted from the MP for keyword use issues, the merchant will now get an automated e-mail notification.
  • Further improvements to the keyword system will be made over time.
  • There have been multiple fixes to the Marketplace, including:
    • Corrections for translations for non-English languages and alternate language descriptions on listings being incorrect or not displaying correctly.
    • Fixes for issues with the transaction e-mail settings.
    • Correcting the issue of some listings failing to appear in search results on Merchant’s Manage Listings pages.
    • Cleaned up the behaviour of received items.
    • Single sign-on session handling between the viewer and the Marketplace has been improved to prevent the system getting confused between which account a user was using to make a MP purchase if they were logged-in and using the MP from two accounts.

SL Marketing

  • Work has been put into refreshing a lot of the Second Life landing pages as a part of promoting Second Life.
  • This work includes the development of the enterprise / business micro-site, including the new explore page for the (at present) seven turnkey solutions.
    • I’m currently discussing with LL a possible article on this aspect of Second Life that will present a walk-through of the micro site and how interested parties can use it to engage with LL and progress through to using one of the region types.
    • The global MuseWeb 2020 conference is in progress at the time of writing, and has moved to an entirely on-line status as a result of the current pandemic. Portions of this event are being presented in or relayed through Second Life, using one of the enterprise turnkey solutions – see: MuseWeb: utilising Second Life in support of a global conference).
  • Internally to the Lab, one of the new consumer campaigns (yet to launch at the time of writing) is called the Comfort Campaign, promoting Second Life as a virtual social environment where people can meet, share times, enjoy the company of others (pretty much in keeping with the ideal of “stay safe, stay virtual”) during the current crisis, whilst at the same time avoiding the appearance of being in any way exploitative.

Two-Factor Authentication

  • Still being worked on.
  • First step will likely be sending out an e-mail notification when an attempt to log-in to a Second Life service is made from an unrecognised device.
  • More robust 2FA controls will be added, and will initially be opt-in before eventually becoming required.

It’s a very serious topic that we are working on in parallel to AWS work. Which means it made the cut of “what can we stop working on to make AWS go faster.

– Ekim Linden

In Brief

  • Website polls. People visiting Second Life web properties such as secondlife.com and the Marketplace may have noticed a pop-up poll appearing when they do so, asking if they would recommend SL to others.
    • Apparently, those responding at largely indicating they would (although obviously saying and doing aren’t the same).
    • At the same time, the poll also received a lot of negative feedback due to the annoyance factor (it would keep popping up on a user logging into any Second Life web property until responded to), and so has been turned off.
    • However, there are more such polls being planned, although how they are being presented might be reconsidered.
  • Web profiles and legacy profiles viewer: there are further fixes awaiting before this profile can roll forward, and these are queued behind other work at present.
  • Forum spamming. There has been an upturn in new accounts spamming the forums. It is possible that if this continues and gets worse, LL may consider some form of throttling / limits on the volume of posts that can be made by an individual account at a given time.

February 2020 Web User Group: Name Changes, MP updates and 2FA

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 5th, 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).

Cloud Uplift

  • The work transitioning SL services to the cloud is very much a daily task for the Web Team, who appear to be the focus at the moment in the drive to get SL-related web properties and services transitioned to provisioning by AWS.
  • This work is also impacting a lot of cycles of QA and engineering work.
  • It is believed that the initial benefit for SL web services following their transitioning will be in performance.
  • It was reiterated that the focus of the work is just on making the transition to AWS provisioning; and other work (such as possible regional localisation of servers where it makes sense to do so) will not come until much later.

Name Changes

  • Still no confirmation of likely deployment date. However, and as per my week #6 Simulator Group summary, the necessary server-side support for Name Changes is being deployed to the grid.
  • The final tally of entrants in the Last Names competition is 2,300, with the majority all entering their allowed three choices, so somewhere in the region of 6,900 suggestions (some of which might be duplicates of one another).
    • Work is in-hand to select the winners that will be included in the first batch of available last names.
  • Some additional blockers have been encountered that are delaying the deployment of the capability.

Marketplace

  • End-to-end Localisation of Marketplace pages is continuing, with the side bar now being shown in Spanish for users selecting that language, and with all the categories, etc., displaying correctly.
  • Landmarks can once again be included in land sale listings.
  • Ongoing back-end work to support the upcoming new Premium Plus subscription option.
  • It has been noted that the new search filters (demos and limited items) has highlighted a large number of demo items on the MP that are not linked to actual products – which is against the listing guidelines. Those coming across such items are asked to flag the items, and if no action is seen to be taken after a period of time, to raise a support ticket.
  • There are reports that some who have items de-listed from the MP are not receiving an advisory e-mail that their items have been de-listed.
    • Should it be noted that this is the case, make sure the any supplied e-mail address you use with Second Life has been correctly verified (see Important: verifying your e-mail address with Second life).
    • If the e-mail is apparently verified, the advice is to contact support, who will try to help determine why e-mails are not being received.
    • Additionally, the Web Team are going to follow this up to see if there are any reasons which the notifications are not being sent from their end.
  • There has been an issue of items No Copy items being wrongfully obtained / re-sold via the Marketplace. Accounts found to be doing this are held for assessment, but it is hard for LL to arrange the return of the items to the original creators, as very often the items are moved between multiple accounts, requiring extensive and time-consuming back-tracking through MP listings, etc.
    • However, it is acknowledged that the assessment process is unfair to merchants using the MP, and the process is under view with the aim of the Lab trying to “do better” for merchants hit by these issues.

Two-Factor Authentication

  • Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) – this has oft been requested for Second Life log-in processes, and it is on the road map. However, there are “many hurdles” in implementing such a system, which LL are trying to overcome.
    • For those unfamiliar with the concept of 2FA, it is a method of confirming users’ claimed identities by using a combination of two different factors, e.g. something they know, something they have, or something they are. For example, using a bank card (something a person has) and a PIN number (something they know) to withdraw money from an ATM¹.
  • Whilst the complications of 2FA are being investigated / addressed, the Lab may implemented additional account security safeguards in the nearer-term road map, which are seen as easier to achieve
    • An example of this might be a user receiving a notification if a log-in to their account is made from a new location or from a different device / computer.
  • It is expected that when initially introduced, any 2FA process is introduced for Second Life will be opt-in by users.

In Brief

  • Details of the Premium Plus offering are unlikely to be made available until such time as Linden Lab is ready to make it available, and this will not be until some time after Name Changes has been deployed.
  • Recurring Events has seen good take-up among Premium users, and further updates are in development.
    • Adding the ability to include events in your personal on-line calendar (e.g. Outlook, Google, etc.), is currently targeted for a Q2 (April – June) or Q3 (July-September) deployment.
  • Password Reset Changes  – whenever a user changes their SL password, they will now get a full notification e-mail about the change.
  • The site defender used to protect Second Life web properties was updated during January 2020. A side benefit of this work is that various web pages from the Lab – notably those on the Marketplace – load faster. The Web Team estimate the performance gain to be at least 11%.
  • There is no date for when resident-to-resident Mainland land auctions will be returning. These were suspended in 2019 fulling the system being abused.
  • Linden Homes:
    • The “collection page” (the page seen when you have selected a Linden Home through the web and which provides the SLurl to the house) has been updated to obfuscate the personal e-mail address, which had been previously exposed in full. This is part of a on-going effort to prevent user’s personal data from being exposed in the event of someone else accessing their account.
    • The “next batch” (presumably a new type, given all current variations are now part of the weekly “rolling” deployments) of Linden Homes is being targeted for the end of Q1 (so late March), barring any unforeseen issues.
  • Windows 7 has been removed from the Second Life System Requirements page, following the official ending of support of that version of Windows by Microsoft on January 14th, 2020.
    • As I noted in Linden Lab announce end of support for Windows 7, users can still use systems running Windows 7 to access Second Life if they so choose, but will not receive any support from the Lab for issues directly related to that version of the OS.

Date of Next Meeting

The next Web User Group meeting will be on Wednesday, March 4th, 2020, commencing at 14:00 SLT.

¹ Note that this example should not be taken to mean it is how any form of 2FA implemented by the Lab will be implemented; it is purely an easy-to-understand illustrative case. 

January 2020 Web User Group: Events, Name Changes & Marketplace

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, January 8th, 2020. 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 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).

Recurring Events

Recurring Events launched on Monday, January 8th, allowing Premium members to set a recurring events in the Upcoming Events lists available via users dashboards at secondlife.com.

In brief:

  • Premium members will be charged L$10 for listing one-off events, or L$50 for filing an event that can recur up to 12 times (weekly or monthly).
    • Basic members are charged L$50 per event listing.
  • Recurring events are events that share the same location, time, duration, and description but occur on a weekly or monthly basis.
  • Recurring events are largely set-up exactly the same was as individual events:
    • Go to your dashboard at secondlife.com and select Events from left side menu to open the Events listing page.
    • Click on Create A New Event directly below the top left calendar on the page, then read and accept the Event Posting Rules to display the new Event Creation page.
    • Complete all the fields on the page.
  • For Premium members only, the page now includes two new drop-down options:
    • Repeating – allows you to select whether the event is a one-off (No Repeat) or should repeat on a weekly or monthly basis.
    • Number of Repeats (only available when either Weekly or Monthly is set from the Repeating options) – allows you to select the number of times the event is to be repeated, to a maximum of 12 weeks or months (so for a single L$50 fee you can schedule a monthly event to recur on the events listing page for up to an entire year, or a weekly event for up to 3 months at a time).
The new Recurring Events drop downs (arrowed) for Premium Members only. Note that when either is set, the event fee (highlighted in red under the form) changes from L$10 (the cost for listing a non-recurring event filed by a Premium member) to L$50.
    • When selecting an event to repeat either weekly or monthly, the fee charged to your account (displayed at the bottom of the form) change from L$10 to L$50.

There are currently some minor adjustments required for monthly recurring events, as events recurring right at the end of a month may give some incorrect dates for months of different lengths. Such areas can be corrected manually, but updates to be deployed in the near future should correct the problem. In addition, LL will be monitoring the recurring events capability now it is live in order to identify and address any other issues that may arise now it is live.

Future Events Listings Work

Further improvements to events are planned (e.g. better searching for events), but these are dependent on other work being completed first.

This work may include things like being able to push events to your personal calendar (Google Calendar, Outlook, etc.).

Name Changes

  • No final confirmation on release date (although the hope has been for a mid-Q1 2020 release). The exact release time frame is dependent upon final checks on the capability being completed.
  • Even if delayed, Last Names will still be deployed before any release of the Premium Plus subscription package.
  • Over 2,000 entries have been received as a part of the (now closed) Last Names Contest, totalling some 6,000 last name suggestions in all, and LL have started going through them.
  • It is likely that when Name Changes is launched, users will be able to pick last names from a list of around 20-30.
  • One of the approaches being considered for changing the available last names is for:
    • Popular selections being removed from the list and replaced on reaching a certain number of people selecting them.
    • Having selections that appear “unpopular” (i.e. they are rarely / never selected) replaced if they fail to achieve a certain threshold of use over an (unspecified) period of time.

Marketplace

  • The new Marketplace limited quantities and demo items search filters options

    Marketplace search has been updated with options to exclude / include limited quantity items and / or demo items.

    • The check boxes for excluding (ticked) or including (unticked) such items can be found at the bottom of the Search Filters panel displayed on the left of Marketplace pages when either Search is used or See All Categories is clicked.
    • Both options can be found below the search by permissions options.
    • By default, both options are unchecked, so that searches will include either limited quantity or demo items in their results results.
  • Work is being put into performance improvements which, as Grumpity noted at the meeting, tend not to be noticed right up to the point where something goes wrong.
    • An example of this is the ability for merchants to search their invoices should be a lot faster following back-end updates.
  • There are still “quite a few” things the Lab have queued up to do in relation to Marketplace search, but no specific details are available as yet on what might surface when.

In Brief

  • This issue with Destination Guide submissions is believed to be resolved.