This past Friday was the Third Party Developers’ User Group meeting. This one was longer than recent ones and lots was discussed. Video:
Project Managed Marketplace Viewer (VMM) version 22.214.171.1248865 – A new version of this Project Viewer was released Friday. A blog post about it was being prepared Friday (2/13). A feedback meeting is planned. Brooke sounds like a politicians when talking about the meeting. It is going to be about explaining the feature and getting feedback.
Brooke says there is currently one significant issue they are looking into. Resolving this issue could take a month to 3 months. The timing is an issue on several fronts. Users of the Marketplace are affected by the release. Those using 3rd party viewers have to know whether their viewer will handle the changes and allow them to make their transition to VMM. The viewer developers need to know when they are going to have stable code to look at and implement in their viewer projects.
RC Experience Viewer version 126.96.36.1998001 – this release is questionable too. The Lab may or may not have Experience Tools ready by the end of February. Which means FS may not be able to include the feature in their next release.
Oz tells us the current issues they are working with in regard to Experience Tools are in the server. As it was as of Friday (2/13), Oz believed the viewer side was ready to roll out. But, there would be features in an Experience Tools enabled viewer unsupported by the servers. That is not a functional problem for the viewer. Illustration: pushing the ‘detonate’ button doesn’t blow things up, the button works just no explosion. The viewer doesn’t crash or break. The viewer does its part. The feature just doesn’t work because there is nothing on the server side to respond. No big thing for the SL system. However, it would be a problem for support people. They would be explaining why the feature doesn’t work.
Along that line of support people explaining things… I was pointing out in Avatar Render Cost 2015-07 a problem with educational efforts in Second Life. I asked Ed Merryman if the Firestorm Support people knew how many people using the Firestorm Viewer had taken any of the classes the support team offers. They don’t have hard data, meaning they are aren’t tracking the people taking FS Classes. But, they feel the percentage of their users taking the classes can be measured in single digits… the low single digits.
This suggests educational efforts in Second Life tend to provide a poor return on investment. I suspect this is the reason that the Lab only expends minimal resources on educational efforts, they cherry pick the easy-to-do efforts (or read that as: cheap) with measurable results. One of the aspects of a free market is having to pay for things causes resources to be used wisely.
Project Hover Height Viewer version 188.8.131.528129 – User of this version are providing some good feedback. Some bugs have been found that the Lindens are working on. These bugs are ‘corner cases’. When those are resolved we will see the Project Viewer promote to RC. Soon…
Project Tools Update Viewer version 184.108.40.2068862 is going mainstream… this is a slower process than I imagined. For now an RC viewer is the experiment of how well viewers built with the Build Tools are working. The Lab is in the process of changing over to compiling the new viewer and server releases with the new tools. I’ve been thinking this would happen quickly and already be in place. But, it looks like it is not quite there. But, probably this month (Feb).
Visual Studio 2013 Express is not going to be supported by the Lab. For non-profit/commercial work a user can get and use the VS2013 Pro that the Lab is using and it is free.
What we know now is that viewers built with the new Build Tools do not run on Windows XP anything. The Lab is resolute that they DO NOT support Windows XP. A patch is being added to the Viewer Installer to warn that XP is NOT supported and stop the install.
Up in the air is whether the new builds will run on Vista SP2. Anecdotal information is that Vista SP1 cannot run the SL Viewer.
This change to the new Build Tools will push those users to Third Party Viewers.
Tank advises that the Firestorm Viewer is going to get the same installer patch and then refuse to install on all Windows XP machines and Vista SP1. I expect to see this roll out in the next few weeks. There will be warnings posted by the Lab. So, people will have the time needed to change to a newer operating system.
Windows users definitely need to get upgraded to at least Windows 7. That is a reasonably cheap upgrade and it gives you a free upgrade path to 8.1 and the coming Windows 10. So, that is 3 upgrades for the price of one, and on eBay that is a cheap price.
Prepare for the coming ‘drama cycle’ (Oz’s term) when the new viewers fail on XP and Vista SP1. As I mention above, few people are paying attention to announcements and educational channels for Second Life. So, a significant portion of the user base will be walking into a wall and being totally surprised it is there. Expect to hear people ranting the Lab should have told them… few of those people will be taking any personal responsibility for their problem.
Project Importer Viewer version 220.127.116.118441 – Oz is advising Third Party Dev not to merge this project’s code with their viewers. He says they are getting lots of feedback from those testing that viewer. Lots of bug reports and tweak requests, which is the point of having a Project Viewer out.
Group Chat – The Lindens are working on reliability issues – some servers still freeze, about once per day and have to be restarted. They think they have fixes. Some servers are getting updated and more test data is being collected.
New code in the chat process sends an alert to support when the chat server locks up and then support restarts it. The Firestorm Support Team sees their group lock up and about 15 minutes latter it clears and starts working again. Oz tells us that is because support got an alert before anyone contacted them and restarted that server.
From Oz’s previous life comes the idea that the system project manager should be the first person to notice a problem. The new alerting code provides that quick notice. It takes a few minutes to collect data and clear the chat stall. (While I write ‘server restart’ that is not necessarily what is happening. Oz didn’t explain in depth.)
Overall most heavy group chat users are finding things much improved.
BUG-6925 – HUDs and attachments intermittently and randomly detach after teleports, sometimes reattaching on their own shortly after, sometimes staying detached completely, or showing as “worn on Invalid Attachment Point” while still detached.
When crossing regions several tricky things have to happen for attachments to behave correctly. Of all the things that have to happen to have SL work, teleporting/region crossing is the most complex. There are currently several variations of various combinations of those crossing things not working well resulting in attachments misbehaving in different ways.
- Attachments actually detach and everyone sees them as detached.
- You see them detached and others see them attached.
- You see them attached and others see them detached.
- And some odd variations.
To sort out these problems the Lab needs a detailed collection of information. So, report to this JIRA the following information:
- Avatar ID
- Origin Region– Target Region
- Attachment ID – Exactly which attachment and attachment point
- What the attachment did.
- The exact time it happened. Time stamps are good.
- The viewer logs.
- Must be reported at least within a couple of days of the event.
If you have a set of steps that can reproduce the problem, contact the Lindens via the JIRA. The Lindens will advise you which region to go to to try and reproduce the problem. They can collect more data from their test regions.
As you work to reproduce the problem you need to wait between attempts. Cross a region and wait a minute (at least 60 seconds). If you hope back and forth across the region boundary is can become confusing as to which crossing produced the problem. That makes it hard to narrow down where in the logs to look for the issue. It should also give you an idea of why the precise time is important.
Also, the viewer time and server times are not synchronized. I suspect they are close, within a minute. Spacing out region crossings will help narrow down time stamp mismatches due to poor sync.
The Lab’s priority for working on this problem is not yet set. So, the urgency and expeditiousness of getting these reports to the Lindens is wafflely. But, this is one of those difficult to track down problems. The Lab needs help.
There is some discussion as to whether or not the Firestorm QA people can help. While the FS Viewer is experiencing the same problem as the SL Viewer, adding data from another viewer complicates things. The Lindens are looking at whether the FS data will help or obfuscate.
Viewer Cache Clearing
To hear Oz talk about cache clearing see: YouTube Oz on Cache Clearing @ 1:01:20
Clearing your viewer cache is a bad idea. There are some rare exceptions.
Frank’s and Bogart’s are places used for testing the Render Cost muting and calculation. Apparently there are lots of bling’ed out avatars in those places.
That feature is in development and going to QA soon.
This is the feature that renders a high-render-cost avatar as a gummy-bear, a single color silhouette, to reduce the render load on your viewer.
The rumor is Linden Lab is going to abandon Second Life (#1) once SL2 is complete and force everyone over to SL2. It doesn’t seem to matter how many times the Lindens say ‘not so’. The best rebuttal to that is Oz’s words here: YouTube TPV Meeting @ 47:23. Paraphrasing loosely:
Those working on SL2 would love to say that SL2 will be so great and wonderful that everyone will WANT to move to SL2 and SL1 will become a deserted world. So deserted, that the Lab could turn it off and no one would notice. But, the SL2 design folks doubt that will be what actually happens. Oz believes people will stay in SL1 for years after SL2 is released. It is going to take some time to build SL2 to the level of SL1.
As long as SL1 has users that continue to use SL1, Oz says his job is to make SL1 BETTER. Not keep it alive, not limp it along, but to make it BETTER. (Ref: My Job, Oz’s words)
SL1 Planning Meeting
In week 6 the Lindens held a meeting about what is working, what isn’t working in Second Life and what they can do with Second Life this coming year. The Lindens were very happy with the meeting and people from all the different departments say they learned things they did not know. Excitement at the Lab about SL1 is high.