Author Archives: Inara Pey

About Inara Pey

Eclectic virtual world blogger with a focus on Second Life. My blog can be found below and I'm semi-active on Twitter and Plurk.

Fantasy Faire 2014: getting ready for the Faire

I’m a little behind on a number of things, including updates on Fantasy Faire 2014.

The Faire, an annual event in Second Life in support of RFL of SL and the American Cancer Society will this year run from May 1st through 11th inclusive, and the official press release announcing the event on April 1st, reads in part:

Celebrating its sixth year, Fantasy Faire 2014 is the largest gathering of fantasy designers, enthusiasts, roleplayers and performers in the virtual world. From Thursday, May 1 to Sunday May 11, treat yourself to eleven days of shopping, live music concerts, auctions, hunts and roleplaying as thousands of Second Life residents and creators bring their own visions together to support the American Cancer Society’s vision of a world without cancer.

Avatars, clothing, furnishings, gadgets and exclusive items are available from more than 150 of SL’s top Fantasy Creators across eleven stunning sims designed by some of the visionary artists behind many of the hottest spots on the SL destination guide.

Sponsors

Sponsors of Fantasy Faire 2014 include:

  • Event sponsors: Curious Kitties, Dark Goddess Designs, Epic, .Luminary., L’Uomo and Spyralle
  • Region sponsors: Cerridwen’s Cauldron, Creators of Fantasy, Dwarfins, Fallen Gods Inc., Fuubutsu-Dou, The Looking Glass, NeoVictoria, Roawenwood and Solarium.

Bloggers

Applications from people wishing to be official bloggers are currently being accepted. This year will see a change to how things are run, as the Blogger FAQ & application post explains:

This year there will be some changes to how the Faire blogging occurs. First of all, there will be no obligatory assignments. Instead there will be challenges. We do not want to force anyone to do anything, we want to inspire, dare, encourage: challenge.

It’s worth taking the time to read the FAQ in detail, as there are some important changes from previous years, including the option for people to blog for Fantasy Faire on the official blog. As it is worth reading the FAQ, I’m not linking directly to the blogger application form from here – please follow the link at the end of FAQ page.

The blogger challenges mentioned in the FAQ are open to anyone, whether accepted as an official blogger or not. These are designed to encourage bloggers to cover the event from unique perspectives. In all, there are three blogger challenges:

  • Faire Folk: bloggers are invited to create a character from the Fairelands and pick one of the Faire sims as their home, make a look mostly from Faire items, make the character come alive. Take at least one picture of that character in the chosen home sim and blog away!
  • My New Shiny: bloggers are asked to find a shop in the Fairelands they have never heard of before and blog something from the store. It’s about finding and showcasing the hidden talents, the newcomers, the surprises at this year’s Faire
  • Why I Relay: a challenge for those who have a personal reason to support Relay for Life events and who would like to share it.

As I blogged the 2013 Fantasy Faire from the perspective of a traveller passing through the Fairelands, I  rather like the Faire Folk challenge.

 Keeping up with Fantasy Faire

You can keep-up with Fantasy Faire preparations and activities a number of ways:

Related Links

Viewer release summaries 2014: week 15

Updates for the week ending: April 13th, 2014

This summary is published every Monday and is a list of SL viewer / client releases (official and TPV) made during the previous week. When reading it, please note:

  • It is based on my Current Viewer Releases Page, a list of  all Second Life viewers and clients that are in popular use (and of which I am aware), and which are recognised as adhering to the TPV Policy
  • By its nature, this summary will always be in arrears
  • The Viewer Round-up Page is updated as soon as I’m aware of any releases / changes to viewers & clients, and should be referred to for more up-to-date information
  • The Viewer Round-up Page also includes comprehensive links to download pages, blog notes, release notes, etc., as well as links to any / all reviews of specific viewers / clients made within this blog.

Official LL Viewers

  • Release viewer: updated to version 37.5.288464 (formerly the Google Breakpad RC) April 7  (download page, release notes)
  • Release channel cohorts (See my notes on manually installing RC viewer versions if you wish to install any release candidate(s) yourself):
    • Sunshine / AIS v3 RC updated to version 3.7.5.288822 on April 11 – Stability and performance improvements for SSA; Stability and performance improvements for SSA (download and release notes)
    • Interest List RC updated to version 3.7.6.288879 on April 11 – improvements to how the viewer and server work together to know what scene objects to draw (download and release notes)
    • Maintenance RC viewer version 3.7.6.288799 released on April 9 – some 54 MAINT fixes (download and release notes)
    • VoiceMO RC viewer version 3.7.6.288881 released on April 9 – combines the Voice RC viewer and the Merchant Outbox RC viewer (download and release notes)
    • Voice RC and Merchant Outbox RC removed as a result of the VoiceMO RC release
  • Project viewers:
    • No updates

LL Viewer Resources

Third-party Viewers

V3-style

  • No changes from week 13.

V1-style

  • Cool Viewer updated on April 12th to the following versions: Stable: 1.26.10.18; Experimental: 1.26.11.18; Legacy: 1.26.8.55 – core updates: ALL: backport of Firestorm feature to prevent your avatar from turning around when selecting an object; bug fixes, code clean-up; Stable & Legacy: Backported the AISv3 protocol from Experimental; Ecperimental: AIS v3 code enabled by default; new XUI-based file (and directory) selector (release notes)

Mobile / Other Clients

  • No updates.

Additional TPV Resources

Related Links

SL projects updates week 15/3: TPV developer meeting: webkit, Cocoa, Oculus

A TPV developer meeting took place on Friday April 11th. The core items discussed in the meeting are reported below, with timestamps in the relevant paragraphs indicating the point at they are discussed in the video embedded here. My thanks as always to North for the latter.

Release Candidate Viewers Status

[00:34] The VoiceMO RC (version 3.7.6.288881) combines the former SL Voice RC (3.7.5.288516) and the former Merchant Outbox RC (3.7.5.288408), both of which have now been withdrawn from the release channel. Both of these RCs were performing well, and it is hoped that by combining them, they’ll both have an accelerated path through to formal release status.

The Lab is keen to see the Vivox updates for voice gain wider traction in viewers, as these not only improve people’s voice experience, they also lighten the load on the back-end servers.

The Interest List RC updated to version 3.7.6.288879 and the Sunshine / AIS v3 RC updated to 3.7.6.288822, both dated April 10th, and appearing on the wiki page on April 11th.

These, together with the Maintenance RC (version 3.7.6.288799), released on Wednesday April 9th, are now the four remaining release candidate viewers in the release channel. As these are all recent updates, data is still being gathered on all four, so it is unlikely that any of them will be promoted to the de facto release viewer in week 16 (week commencing Monday April 14th).

Google Breakpad Reporting and Issue

[01:40] The Google Breakpad changes mean that all viewers with the updated Breakpad code have the marker files for crash reporting created much sooner in the initialisation process and deleted much later in the viewer shutdown process. This means that more crash stats are being collected, but it also means that the crash rate measurement has gone up slightly as a result.

[03;30] Whirly Fizzle has identified an issue occurring with both the Maintenance RC and the current viewer release (3.7.5.266464) which appears to be linked to the Google Breakpad updates. BUG5707, “While logged in, crash reporter pops up, sends in a crash report but the viewer does not crash”. Whirly describes the issue in part as:

The crash reporter window does not just sometimes flash up briefly at viewer launch or viewer close, the crash reporter stays on-screen and appears to be actually sending in crash reports – I see the “Sending to server…..” window, which stays onscreen for some time.
Often I have more than one “Sending to server….” window open – often as many as 3 of them will all open at the same time.

This is happening on viewer launch, on viewer close and even while logged in.
When it occurs while logged in, the viewer does not crash, I am still logged in and the viewer appears functional.

Commenting on the situation, Oz Linden said, “Yeah, we’ve got people looking at some of the Google Breakpad crash reporting issues … I’m not really sure what that’s about … we’ll see if that can get some refinement.”

Oculus Rift

An update to the Oculus Rift project viewer, currently on closed beta, is expected in the next week. The lab is still accepting applications from those who have the hardware to join the closed beta the requirement being that applicants actually have the Oculus hardware. Applications should be addressed to sl_oculus_beta@lindenlab.com.

Further updates to this viewer are expected, particularly once the Lab received the SDK2 headsets, although these are not anticipated to be arriving for another couple of months. The viewer most likely won’t be opened-up publicly until after these latter updates have been made, so TPVs will not be able to integrate the code for some time to come.

SL Share

[05:26] Merov Linden was on-hand to talk about the recent changes to the SL Share capability in the SL viewer – notably the updates which allow people to post pictures to Flickr, post text and images to Twitter and once again post images to Facebook. It is likely that this viewer will be progressing to release candidate status in week 16.

As I’ve previously noted, an important thing to remember about SL Share is the all of the capabilities are opt-in. No-one is forced to use them, and the Facebook option in particular has nothing to do with trying to “push” SL users to Facebook, and while Facebook may not allow people to have accounts in their avatar names, there are a lot of people who are happy using it to connect their SL account with their real life account on Facebook.

One issue that did cause a problem was the inclusion of SLurls with photos being uploaded to Facebook, which caused the image upload capability to be blocked by Facebook. The SL Share updates have removed the “include location” option in the photo upload tab of the Facebook floater, and as a result, Facebook have removed the block once more.

The SL Share photo upload panel as it was prior to the change (l) and as it appears in the SL Share project viewer and some RC viewers since the change

The SL Share photo upload panel as it was prior to the change (l) and as it appears in the SL Share project viewer and some RC viewers since the change (r)

The issue here was not so much that SLurls were being included in uploaded photos, but the fact that they were being added automatically as a part of the automated processing of snaps during the upload process. Apparently, a requirement in using the Facebook API is that all text uploaded or appended to images must be manually entered by the user …

As well as restoring the upload capability, Facebook also restored photos with SLurl include which had been uploaded prior to the block coming into effect, again apparently because of the SLurls being automatically added.

One of the most interesting parts of the new capabilities is that of the preset filters within the upload panels for Facebook, Twitter and Flickr, and the ability for people to create their own filters.

When SL Share 2 appeared, questions were asked on various blogs on whether the filter capabilities would be added to the viewer’s snapshot floater, so that they could be used with the snapshot options there – most notably with the profile feeds option.

A preview example of a snapshot using one of the SL Share built-in filters

A preview example of a snapshot using one of the SL Share built-in filters

I took the opportunity at the TPV developer meeting to ask, and Oz Linden replied:

The SL Share project doesn’t include putting the filters in to the snapshot floater, but Niran [NiranV Dean, creator of the Black Dragon viewer] is working on that. So we may get that as another open-source contribution.

Merov then added:

It’s not overly difficult to do that. Actually, I did it for a demo once, so it’s pretty easy to add. I didn’t do it because the snapshot UI on the official viewer has plenty of … how can I put this nicely? …. Oddities, let’s say … so if I really wanted to do it, I’d have to re-do everything …. so I went to the designers and said, “You know, we should really re-do all this,” and they said, “Yes, but not now.” so I’m not working on that just now. but yes, it’s possible … so if you want to put it into your own snapshot floater, I won’t be offended!”

One of the aspects of the SL Share 2 capability that didn’t get to be in this initial update is a filter editor capability such that the filters can be more easily combined to create custom filters. Oz invited any TPV developers who might like to take this on to do so and to consider contributing it back the Lab should they do so.

The authentication aspect of the SL Share capabilities is all handled by the Lab’s back-end to the capability, so that the viewer-side code can be taken by TPVs and amended without any risk of users’ private information being leaked or tracked.

Webkit Woes

Monty Linden

Monty Linden

[15:48] Webkit is a third-party library used within the viewer for a number of tasks. For example,  it powers the built-in web browser, and is used to display profiles (unless you’re using a viewer supporting legacy profiles). It is also used with like Media on a Prim (MOAP) and many in-world televisions.

There have been an increasing number of issues with webkit. The libraries used within SL are out-of-date, for example, something which has caused the Lab and TPVs a considerable amount of pain (see BUG-4763 and FIRE-12642, and FIRE-11057).

Monty Linden has been poking at the problems, and gave a further update on his work:

I’m doing a bunch of damage, and then trying to move forward, just to get to 4.7.4 first, and then the 4.8 a little bit later on. I’m just about at the end of that … my goal is to kill the current third-party lqtwebkit library repo and I’ve created a new one that’s a little healthier and working a little bit better.

It’s not clear at the moment when Monty’s work will appear in a release stream. A further problem here is that the qtwebkit (on which lqtwebkit is based) has been deprecated by QT, so the Lab is faced with a decision s to what to do going forward. One option may be to go with CEF, but which directly the Lab will take has yet to be decided.

The Firestorm team have reported they have re-worked webkit for themselves, updating to version 5..2.1 for Windows and are looking to do the same for Linux and Mac. This work appears to have fixed issues with Media on a Prim and it is hoped it may also resolved the YouTube issue of videos failing to play on in-world TVs, etc.

Firestorm are going to liaise with Monty with regards to the work they’ve done. currently, the Windows updates are still subject to internal testing by Firestorm, although they plan to make the work visible to all once they are confident enough that it behaves as expected.

Mac / Cocoa Update

[22:45] There has been some progress in addressing the Mac / Cocoa issues, with some fixes now in the Maintenance RC release, including:

  • MAINT-3135 Cocoa Viewer: Mac: Maximizing the viewer leaves garbage on the screen
  • MAINT-3288 Mac: Fullscreen mode issue in Viewer 3.6.7 (281793)
  • MAINT-3642 Mac viewer can no longer export textures to TGA format
  • MAINT-3674 Mac: “Hide NewApplication” under Second Life menu, should be “Hide Second Life”

Referring to Cocoa issues in particular, Oz again confirmed that “all of them” are on the Lab’s to-do list, but not all of them are getting done as yet. In particular, there is no news on the long-standing ALT-cam bug.

Other Items

We’re all aware that there are options within the viewer to run more than one instance (so if your computer doesn’t grind to a halt, you can run two versions of the official viewer or two versions of Firestorm, etc). However, what some people may not be aware of is the fact that while the viewer can allow multiple instances, this is not actually a supported feature. It should also be remembered that because of the way voice is handled, it is currently not always possible to run two instances of a viewer (or two different viewers at the same time) with voice enabled without encountering significant issues and potential lock-ups (although Singularity has a fix for this).

What also may not be realised is that because some of the viewers use different mechanisms to detect how many instances they are running, it is possible to encounter conflicts and issues when running, for example, the SL viewer and the Firestorm viewer simultaneously on a computer.

So if you are running multiple instances of the same viewer or multiple viewers on the same computer, and start experiencing unexpected issues, try shutting all but one instance / viewer down and seeing if the problems go away before seeking support assistance.

Lab provides Heartbleed information

This is a little long in the tooth, but I’m caught playing catch-up on a number of things, so apologies on my part.

As most will be aware, there has been a lot of coverage about the Heartbleed OpenSSL vulnerability in the course of the last week, and the impact it may have had over the last two years in exposing what should have been secure information.

The vulnerability is so-called because it affects an extension to SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) which engineers dubbed Heartbeat. It is a server-side exploit which could affect almost any system running any version of OpenSSL from the past 2 years, and allows an attacker to gain control of up to 64kB of the server’s working memory at a time, enabling them to eavesdrop communications, steal data directly from the services and users and to impersonate services and users.

Because of the widespread nature of the issue and the concerns it raised, the Lab issued a blog post on the matter on Thursday April 10th, which reads in full:

Many of you may have read about the Heartbleed SSL vulnerability that is still affecting many Internet sites.

You do not need to take extra action to secure your Second Life password if you have not used the same password on other websites. Your Second Life password was not visible via Heartbleed server memory exposure. No secondlife.com site that accepts passwords had the vulnerable SSL heartbeat feature enabled.

If you used the same password for Second Life that you used on a third-party site, and if that third-party site may have been affected by the vulnerability, you should change your password.

Supporting sites such as Second Life profiles are hosted on cloud hosting services. Some of these sites were previously vulnerable to Heartbleed, which may have exposed one of these servers’ certificates. As an extra precaution, we are in the process of replacing our SSL certificates across the board. This change will be fully automatic in standard web browsers.

Thank you for your interest in keeping Second Life safe!

Due to the weekend, there has been no further news as to whether the Lab has completed replacing the SSL certificates for those services which may have been exposed. Hopefully there will be a further update on Monday April 14th. In the meantime, if you have used the same password for SL that you used on a third-party website and wish to change your SL password as advised in the blog post, you may want to refer to the Lab’s password protection page on the wiki.