In late February problems in ADITI were slowing down Third Part Party work on SSAB (Server Side Avatar Baking). Nyx Linden explained that some of the problems in the SSAB pile-on test were caused by inventory failures. The problem then becomes sorting out what is an ADITI Inventory issue and what is a SSAB issue.
In any event, some significant changes have been made to ADITI Inventory. Unfortunately the changes may not save you from problems if you change your password to trigger an inventory refresh. My experience has been to keep changing your password until it corrects. But, with these changes the Lindens are saying if a password change breaks your inventory, contact them and they will fix it.
New SSAB Pile-On
Two new pile-on tests are planned for this week. There will be a test using the SSAB Project viewer, which you can download now. That test will be after the Server Beta meeting Thursday in Morris, ADITI. The meeting starts at 3 PM SLT. The test will start whenever the meeting ends, scheduled for 4 PM. But, meeting do end early. So, be early.
This test is ONLY for those using the SL Project Viewer. No TPV’s for this test.
If you are one of the people that had problems at the last pile-on test, get the new viewer and see if you have a working inventory now. If not, ask that it be fixed. Also, try a TPV and see if your inventory works using it. This should tell you if it is a SSAB problem in the project viewer or an ADITI Inventory problem.
The other pile-on test is for Firestorm Viewer developers and beta testers. This pile-on will be done ONLY with people using the Firestorm Viewer. No SL Viewer versions are invited. The FS team will be contacting the people that need to be there. If you are a FS Beta Tester you may want to contact the team. If you are not sure if you are a tester, I suspect you aren’t.
Apparently this will be a bit complex. The service cannot rollout until the Lindens are sure they have enough ovens, meaning avatar baking hardware. Also, like Havok updates, there is a problem mixing SSAB enabled regions with non-SSAB regions.
It seems a condition sets in when the SSAB backend bakes an avatar. An SSAB region and viewer know how to handle an SSAB or viewer side baked avatar. But, regions that do not have the SSAB code, won’t know how to handle the SSABaked avatar for a viewer without the SSAB code. So, older viewers are going to see gray avatars for any avatar using the new SSAB code and coming from an SSAB enabled region.
So, how main grid testing is to be done is still being worked out. We can expect some small RC test region on the main grid to rollout ahead of the regular RC testing.
There is a user work-around. Once an avatar is server baked the user will have to change their outfit in some way to trigger non-SSAB bake to clear the SSAB bake. Or because the forced rebake (Ctrl-Alt-R) is going to remain and be useable, one should be able to use that and not have to change their outfit.
When I wrote in an earlier article that much of the first pile-on test was about load testing to scale the backend, I was right, yay! They are working to get a sense of how many ‘ovens’ are needed for baking.
The Order of Things
Limited resources are creating a bit of a bottle neck. CHUI (Chat Hub Unser Interface) is now moving through the Dev and Beta versions of the SL Viewer. It has priority. But, along with CHUI are other infrastructure changes that have been integrated.
For Third Party Viewer (TPV) Developers the integration has complicated things. I’ve written about the complexity of merging code from development various projects previously. The infrastructure changes being mixed in with CHUI have complicated things. It seems parts of the Materials System and soon SSAB will be mixed in with CHUI. This helps the Lab with their development process. But, it is a problem for TPV Dev’s that expected to integrate CHUI as a single project.
I’m not clear on what all has been or is being integrated by the Lab. But, development teams were surprised that some of this stuff was mixing in now. For one the Firestorm team was planning to focus on SSAB and get it working because that is a change that can definitely wrinkle your SL experience. After putting out an SSAB release the FS Team would move on to CHUI then Materials. But, now some of the Materials System is getting ahead of SSAB and winding its way through the viewer QA. So, this is wacking out the FS schedule.
The FS Team does amazing things, so we can’t say what will happen with any certainly. But, the guesses right now are that the Materials System will be a late arrival in Firestorm.
Also, the big things, like CHUI and SSAB, are plugging up the pipeline for other items like FMOD EX (viewer sound) updates, the Vivox updates (the viewers voice system – it will get better sound quality with this update and hopefully improve connection stability, which has apparently been a problem recently) and some Linux and Apple improvements.
So, once some of the bigger projects get through, we should see a series of quick steps forward on several fronts. We will see CHUI first, the Apple Cocoa updates and then SSAB or Materials. We still are not sure which of those last two will make it through first.
The Materials System has a serious problem or two. The Lindens believe they understand and will soon have working fixes for the problems. So, a Materials Project Viewer coming real soon now.
CHUI is going to see at least one more new release on the Lab side. Also, some TPV’s are going to hold off on merging in CHUI to their viewers until after SSAB rolls out. We may well see SSAB in TPV’s before we see CHUI in TPV’s. But we will see CHUI before SSAB in the SL Viewers.
You can read about what Cocoa is here: Cocoa Overview.
The SL Viewer will adopt the Cocoa frame work… I think adopt is the right word. I’m not sure what exactly the level of integration is to be or what it means for Apple users. But, Apple OS dependencies using the old API 10.6 stuff is changing to newer calls. The newer 10.8 stuff will be replacing it. There is apparently some backward compatibility to Apple’s OS 10.6… I am way fuzzy on this Apple stuff and even worse I’m not interested in it. So, talk to your favorite TPV Apple Developer about what is coming and what it means.
Linux is getting some updates. Cleaning up of parts of the code is making for better compiles. Apparently there is some 64-bit stuff. Again talk to your TPV Linux Developer.
The Vivox plugin update includes some security updates, improved voice quality, is backward compatible, and has better echo cancelation.
Vivox voice is going to work better for those using proxies.
This Vivox update does support Linux and even 64 bit Linux.
The Lab will be dropping OpenAL from the Linux versions.
Ban Tools for Groups has apparently been coming up from time to time, like years. The request is coming up again.
The idea is a number of businesses and support groups need to have groups with open enrollment. When the group moderator ejects someone, they only need to logoff and back in to get back in the group chat. So, it is far too easy for griefers and spammers to be a nuisance.
Also the current mute in group is not persistent across sessions. FS has a Bot chases though group user lists and ejects people on a custom ban list. The problem is, it is a bit slow. So, the spammer/griefer has a minute or two to spam away.
A bit of trivia came out. On an average day there are about 1,700 different brands and versions of viewers in use. There is some speculation as to what that number will drop to when SSAB rolls out and old viewers and obsolete versions no longer render the avatars.
The server side of HTTP updates is past internal QA and is going to rollout to test regions in the ADITI (preview) grid. They hope to setup 3 channels. One with regions with texture counts, 6.500+. Another with high mesh object count and another with a mix of textures and mesh. Plus a few plain sandbox regions.
There is a problem were people are seeing the error: user is off line in chat, when they just spoke to you. It is a known problem. The Lab has people on the problem. Hopefully we will learn something more at Tuesday’s Server-Scripting meeting and something will roll to the Magnum RC Wednesday. They think they have fix for it.
Another Odd Problem
Avatar visibility is behaving strangely. Seems in some cases one can see an avatar that is 4,000m away (vertically) even when the avatar is on a parcel with privacy enabled. This is probably an Interest List change problem.
Others are reporting that the Interest List is working well for tp’ing. But, not so good when one is walking around. People are seeing some odd behaviors. Often some odd things happen when one turns around (180).
It may take some time to get all the kinks out of the Interest List.