Second Life News 2013-27

As you know the Materials System has been released by the Lab. The third party viewers are picking up the project and adding it to their viewers. Cool VL Viewer and Niran’s Black Dragon have Materials. Firestorm 4.4.1 does not have Materials yet but, 4.4.2 is nearing release and will have materials.

There are fixes for problems in Materials System that are in the pipeline. One of those has to do with Ambient Occlusion on large objects. That is unlikely to be in Firestorm’s 4.4.2 release.

SSA

Server Side Appearance (SSA baking) is planned for the release the week of July 7-13. The Lab is expecting it may be on the 8th or 9th.

Firestorm and Phoenix users will see a huge notice on the viewer’s splash screen that they need to update. If you have not yet updated to 4.4.1, avoid the rush and do it now.

The Lab is experimenting with a new internal statistics system. A new report is being built that will advise Lindens on how quickly SSA enabled viewers are being adopted. That adoption rate will likely affect the SSA release date.

The entire grid is not going to see SSA hit in one swoop. Regions in the release channels will start being enabled first. The software was rolled across the grid a short time ago. So, it is on all the region servers. Now it is just a matter of throwing a switch in each region to enable it.

Once the stats show a sufficient level of viewer adoption and if the loading from the test regions matches with prior testing, we will likely see the feature move across the grid rather quickly. So, we may well see this feature on a 100% of the grid in the week 7-13 or week 28. If there are problems, then it will be slowed down.

It is known there are problems and minor fixes to the Sunshine Project (of which SSA is a part) needed along with some features to be added. Those changes are not to the point they can be released to users… meaning in this case beta viewers. So, my guess is we won’t see them until week 29 and probably later.

Late Friday a FS Dev and I were having heart attacks over SUN-74 in Firestorm 4.4.1. It took some time to establish that it was NOT a SUN-74 repeat. This SUN-74 is the bug where the viewer kills a skin texture on the asset server. It is forever screwed.

With some testing we figured out a viewer side bake fail was causing what looked like an asset corruption. But, it was only the composite baked appearance texture in the old viewer side baking that got corrupted. It was exceptionally confusing because the corruption carried  over to other viewers and users seeing it. Once we got the system to redo the composite texture, which was difficult for some reason, everything cleared up.

For those testing SSA ADITI is currently up to date and the AGNI SSA test region is behind.Of course that can change at any time.

Vivox

Vivox Upgrade is in the viewer pipeline. That will go into a viewer once the new viewer pipeline is in motion. That pipeline is ready to go but still inactive because of the 4th of July holiday a no-change window is in effect. So, the new viewer pipeline will NOT go active until week 28. Nor will there be any server rolls next week… this week… sheeesh! Week 27 or 6/30 to 7/6.

According to Vivox they have another update coming out. So, even when we get ‘our’ latest Vivox update in SL we will be one update behind. No one is sure when the Lab will move on to the latest Vivox release. However, the Lab does say they will be looking at that latest update and deciding if it is of benefit to SL.

Interest List

Interest List changes are still in a private repository. So, third party viewers have not been able to get to that code. The repo is expected to go public and an Interest List Beta Viewer to appear in week 28. But, without the TPV Dev’s having had a chance to see the code, that could fall apart. The TPV Dev’s often find bugs or problems the Lab’s Dev’s did not see or think of. Of course the same thing happens when users get the beta version. No programmer thinks of everything. Only those with keen hindsight can do that after the fact.

Group Bans

This is a project of which Baker Linden has been on and off. As of last Friday, Baker has completed all his other work and is now officially assigned to work on Group Bans as his primary task. Thank you management.

We hear that viewer side changes will be needed to address the new Group Ban features. In week 28 Baker will talking with TPV Dev’s about that, provided things go well… and may be even if not so well.

So, I would guess we are 4 to 6 weeks out on Group Bans becoming operational.

ALM Active

ALM = Advanced Lighting Model. Last stats say a little less than 30% have it enabled, as of last check. The Lab believes 75% of users could enable ALM and have reasonable performance. In this case reasonable is way subjective and poorly defined.

The Lab is looking at the shaders in ALM and making a second round of performance improvements. It will be some time before we see those arrive in a viewer near us. We will hear more as it gets closer.

Viewer Settings

You have probably changed to a viewer Beta and had that viewer wipe out all your viewer settings. That is because each viewer is using its own settings file. I thought that was a pretty good idea, because adding and removing settings from viewer update to update seemed to mess up viewers.

But, it is possible to read a settings file that has settings a viewer doesn’t need and is missing settings a viewer needs without reeking havoc. It seem the Lab is upgrading how the viewer handles settings and will soon eliminate multiple settings files. All versions of the SL viewer will use the same settings control file.

It will be interesting to see how TPV Dev’s handle that change. Several TPV’s have settings not found in the SL Viewer. So, I doubt TPV’s are going to share that settings file.

As it is now some Firestorm users in a seemingly random fashion have a problem upgrading to a new viewer if they do not wipe their settings file. That is part of the reason the FS Team suggests a clean install, which has its own problems. See: Firestorm Considerations.

But, new code from the Lab may help with that problem. We can hope.

Mesh and HTTP

It seems Monty Linden is looking at how mesh and the HTTP protocol used for its download are working. There is some type of update planned for that. So, it is some as yet unnamed project that follow on after Sunshine.

Summary

We should see lots of new stuff in the week after next. This coming week is an off week because of the holiday.

3 thoughts on “Second Life News 2013-27

  1. “The Lab believes 75% of users could enable ALM and have reasonable performance.”

    Yeah… only if they unlocked the 512mb VRAM limit. Then newer cards won’t be throttled and have more overhead for other stuff like ALM in OpenGL shader.
    Silly Lindens.

  2. Firestorm 4.4.2 won’t have materials either. That’ll be in 4.5.x. 4.4.2 will consist mainly of whatever SSB and interest list fixes come out before we release 4.5.

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