This past Friday was the Third Party Developers meeting. Chakat NorthSpring has a video of the meeting: Second Life: Third Party Viewer meeting (21 November 2014). These meetings are consistently getting shorter. This one is down 30± minutes or so.
A couple of extra Linens were in attendance Friday; Brooke, Xiola and Bazz.
Oz Linden did his usual recap of viewer devlopment. He says they have lots of stuff in progress.
Pipeline Viewer version 22.214.171.1246736 – This version has been updated to fix a time out problem with CDN, which is now working better with this fix. There may be more changes in this area. But, this version is a definite improvement.
Maintenance Viewer version 126.96.36.1996734 – This one is a collection of fixes. OZ said nothing else about this one.
Snowstorm Viewer version 188.8.131.526724 – This one is the Open Source changes collection.
Oz says a new RC Viewer is to come out Monday (11/24). It has a GPU benchmark start up crash fix and gives better graphics settings answers. It seems some systems are/were being given a lower graphics setting than they should have been. They hope that is fixed and these are the final changes.
Project Oculus Rift Viewer version 184.108.40.2065296 – No recent updates. It looks like this version is lagging behind. As Oculus Rift is not retail yet, this version is waiting for other changes coming from the Oculus people.
The Verge people are reporting as of 11/4: A consumer Oculus Rift is still ‘many months’ away. (additional links to sources quoted are in the article) They point out that at various industry meetings the Oculus people keep saying, close – only months, not years away. They have said that for how long now?
The Oculus people may have finally decided on a first version feature set. If that is true, they have moved out of dreaming into moving toward production. But, rumors are pushing release dates into 2016. The hope is we will see something in less than 12 months, meaning late 2015. But, anything up to 23 months from the September statements fits ‘not years, months away’. So, no breath holding.
With the money being supplied by Facebook, this is a less hungry company with fewer concerns about competition grabbing income. I expect to see the competition taking huge bits of the HMD market before Oculus Rift goes commercial retail.
Project Experience Tools Viewer version 220.127.116.113901 – This viewer is also falling behind. Effort is currently in the server side of the project. The Lindens have said they are getting close to initial release. We might still see this release this year. But, I will not be betting large sums that it will happen.
Project Managed Marketplace Viewer version 18.104.22.1686858 – This RC Viewer is new on the Second Life Alternate Viewers page. This is the viewer you need to try out the new Viewer Managed Marketplace (VMM) feature. The new features will ONLY work in the preview grid, ADITI.
I am assuming this grid wide in ADITI. I haven’t seen any list of regions running the software. So… I am guessing. I haven’t dug deep enough to know and I want to do other things this morning.
Brooke spoke about the beta Viewer Managed Marketplace (VMM). She pointed everyone to the Lab’s announcement and basically repeated that announcement.
Oz says, speak soon if you want changes. That means file JIRA reports and feature requests. From past experience we know the commerce team needs help. I am hoping they have done a better job this time.
For the related API information see: Linden Lab Official:Inventory API v3. In Chrome the page is a bit messed up, but the wiki in general is messed up when viewed with Chrome. These would be a good pages to view with Firefox.
Group Chat Changes Continue
There is still something killing chat. This past week the Blood Letters game (by Mad Pea) has seen their group chat go down several times for extended periods.
Oz tells us the chat cue gets overloaded and the server gets so far behind it stops sending. From the user side of things this problem has gotten better and then worse. On Friday it seemed to be getting better. But, problems were spotty so it is hard to tell.
Ed asked if the week’s maintenance (Week of Restarts) caused the group chat failures. Oz commented on the hypothesis that because the servers were restarting they threw extra load in the group chat servers from people logging in and out. But, the Lindens haven’t been able to verify that. Nor do the Lindens see any reason that regions restarts would affect the chat servers this way. Rollout starts don’t seem to create more chat problems, so…
The chat servers are different hardware and unrelated to the hardware changes affecting region servers.
Bazz is working on the new Hover feature. There is a change coming that gives better performance to outfit changing… I don’t completely understand. But, this change will be out in an RC Viewer soon.
It seems this change has something to do with rigged mesh and joint locations. Apparently the logic coded for this process was flaky and causing problems.
Float is what I have been thinking of as the Hover Project. But Bazz is calling it ‘Float’. Whatever it is named, this is a last stage control for adjusting avatar height. It allows users to manually adjust avatar height as a final height fix.
This work is ongoing.
Oz says CDN (Content Delivery Network) is mostly working well. The Lindens are studying cases where it doesn’t. They expect to have additional improvements that are in progress.
No Change Window
No change windows are periods of time around holidays when significant numbers of Lindens are off-work on holiday. In preparation they stop making changes to the SL system and get things running as well as possible. They stop making changes to avoid any surprises during the holiday and having to call people in.
This windows runs from Wednesday 11/26 to Sunday 11/30 in week 48.
During this ‘no change window’ the Lab asks that Firestorm not update their viewer, as it affects so many people and thus the grid. But, Firestorm is not ready for release, per Ed Merryman. So, it will be week 49 or later before they release. But, the FS members made no hint as to when the release will arrive.
Reporting Chat problems
People can call in and web submit cases on Group Chat failure, whether on free or paid accounts. Those on free accounts may get some blow back from some support people. Tell them Izzy Linden says Group Chat problems can be reported and chat server restarts by anyone. That may or may not help.
But, support personnel should be familiar with this problem and take the report from anyone and forward it to engineering.
The process of restarting a chat server is unusually slow as the engineers are collecting data before the server is restarted. So, phone and web reporting will result in a restart in about the same time, quite a while.
Don’t blame support. Engineering has made a request that support not restart group chat servers. Engineering restarts the servers AFTER they have collected the data they need to figure out a fix for the problem.
Web Support Cases are the best way to file restart requests for group chat fails. Regardless of how you go about it, it will be some time before the server is restarted. I don’t know how that will work over the holiday. I would guess poorly. But, the Lindens have surprised us a lot lately.
Izzy says there is no need to file Group Chat bug reports with the trouble/support ticket. Internally support is tying support tickets to the existing group chat JIRA’s. Oz and Izzy say support is good at getting these failures reported to engineering.
Some recent really good bug reports have helped the Lab track down some voice problems. Fixes are in progress.
The current problems seem to start when a region runs for more than a week. Once the problems start, a person that logs in starting in a region has voice problems then for the rest of their secession they will have problems, even after they travel to a different region not having problems. To clear the problems they much log into a region working correctly, a viewer restart in that region. Obviously this has something to do with getting voice properly initialized.
To clear the region problem the region must restart. So, when roll outs are not done and regions not restarted for more than a week, we start to see more voice problems. But, now you know a work-around.
Like I wrote, fixes are in progress.
Mac in-sync with Windows
Oz says they have all the Mac packages and libraries for Mac builds on par with Windows. Building Mac Viewers is being done with the new Clang and XCode 6.1.
All the Cocoa fixes to the viewer that can be made have supposedly been made. Remaining issues are on the Apple side… at least that is the Linden story and they’re sticking to it.
Switching the viewer build process for Windows versions of the viewer to Visual Studio 2013 (VS2013) are going really well, per Oz. They are almost done with all the package compiles for use with VS 2013.
A new wiki page on auto-build changes is under construction. I took it to mean this will be a how to page.
Speaking of the wiki, there is a fix going in and then the wiki should be unlocked in week 48… they hope.
VS2013 Pro is now available for free. This is the same software the Lab is using to build the viewer. But the free version comes with a different license. Using the free version you are not permitted to sell apps you build. To sell for profit you need a different license.
For those building viewers ths will let them use the exact same software the Lab uses. This should reduce problems and remove some limitations for both the Lab and TPD’s.
Oz thinks they will have a VS2013 built version of the viewer out in Week 48. I am expecting an RC Viewer. I also expect this to present additional problems for Windows XP users and probably some new bugs. But, may be not.