A wander beneath autumn’s golden boughs

The Sanctuary by the Sea, Brysk; Inara Pey, November 2014, on FlickrThe Sanctuary by the Sea, Brysk (Flickr)

Brysk is a homestead region currently shared between Nailah Carrlucci and Armon Aeon. While the two halves of the region may be independent of one another in terms of ownership, Nailah and Armon have worked to present their lands as one, bringing us a public place caught in an Indian Summer as the trees turn to gold, inviting visitors to explore and relax which winter slowly takes a grip on regions elsewhere…

Nailah’s portion of the region, The Sanctuary by the Sea, features a large stone church with cobbled paths beyond its low surrounding walls. A small tavern – more a converted stone out-house – offers visitors a choice of local wine or ale, both served by the chubby monk in attendance. A towered stone house, one of Maxwell Graf’s beautiful mesh creations, is open to visitors, offering a place to relax and chat with friends. A short distance away and reached either via tree-lined track or across stone bridge, is the landing point, surrounded by trees touched by the changing seasons. This offers another invitation for visitors to sit for a while and pass the time: chairs and loungers from Cory Edo, warmed by a fire pit and with a large stone fountain splashing water nearby.

Sanctuary Falls, Brysk; Inara Pey, November 2014, on FlickrSanctuary Falls, Brysk (Flickr)

Beyond the low line of craggy hills which divide the land, lies Sanctuary Falls, Armon Aeon’s land. This is altogether more rural, a place where red and gold leaves float on an ocean of white-tufted grass and deer wander among grazing horses, while tall trees mix greens and yellows against the backdrop of snow-capped mountains that surround the region. Water is a feature here, with falls, streams and ponds. A touch of fantasy is also caught within the landscape, as tall carven figures stand on either side of one of the waterfalls, and further afield, under the shade of a gnarled tree, an elven couple lay in and eternal stone embrace.

Both The Sanctuary by the Sea and Sanctuary Falls offer visitors a restful visit, and lend themselves to a broad range of windlight settings for photographers. Given their complimentary nature, I couldn’t help but combine them into a single little machinima, which I hope you enjoy (if it doesn’t play at 720p automatically, click the gear wheel and select)!

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My thanks to MorganaCarter Resident for the pointer to Brysk.

Bay City 2014 tree lighting fundraiser and request

Christmas is a time for giving, and on Saturday, December 6th, 2014, Bay City will be hosting their annual Christmas Tree Lighting and fundraiser.

Activities will commence at 13:00 SLT and run through until 16:00 SLT, taking place at the Bay City fairgrounds. On offer will be:

  • Live entertainment, music and dancing
  • A skating party
  • A silent auction
  • refreshments and fun.
Christov Kohnke

Christov Kohnke – performing at the 2014 Bay City tree lighting fundraiser

This year will see Christov Kohnke take to the stage to provide the live music, and GoSpeed Racer will be spinning the tunes as the event’s DJ.

The silent auction will take place throughout the afternoon, and will conclude at 16:00 SLT, when activities officially draw to a close. All proceeds from the silent auction and from donation bins at the venue will go to Child’s Play Charity, a 501c3 non-profit organisation offering on-line communities such as the Bay City Alliance an opportunity to help seriously ill children around the globe during their hospital stays with the purchase of games and gaming equipment.

Request to Second Life Designers and Artists

To assist with the fund-raising auction, the organisers of the tree lighting are asking that SL designers and artists to consider donating fun, interesting, unique, or other transferrable items (or a no-copy object that an auction winner can use to redeem their prize in the case of no transfer items) which both reflect well on Second Life and which can be offered as auction items.

If you are willing to provide one or more items, please contact Marianne McCann in-world for details on how to participate.

About Bay City and the Bay City Alliance

Bay City is a mainland community, developed by Linden Lab™ and home to the Bay City Alliance. The Bay City Alliance was founded in 2008 to promote the Bay City regions of Second Life and provide a venue for Bay City Residents and other interested parties to socialize and network. It is now the largest Bay city group, and home to most Residents of Bay City. To find out more, contact Marianne McCann in-world.

Xmas 2014

SL project updates week 48/1: server, viewer, Experience Keys, Cocoa bugs

It All Starts with a Smile, March  2014It All Starts with a Smile, March 2014 (Flickr) – Blog post

Server Deployments – Week 48

On Tuesday, November 25th, the Main channel received the server maintenance package previously deployed to the release candidate channels in week 46. The update comprises “minor improvements” to help configure the texture and mesh CDN, by allowing the Lab to reconfigure the CDN URL if they need to, with the intention of the of making it a more dynamic host name in the future.

There are no deployments to the release candidate channels this week, due to the Thanksgiving no change window opening, which runs from Wednesday, November 26th through until start of business on Monday December 1st.

Server Beta Meeting – Thursday, November 27th

Just a reminder, there is no Server Beta group meeting this week, due to Thanksgiving in the USA. Happy Thanksgiving, all of you in the States!

Viewer Updates

The Attachment RC viewer was updated on Tuesday, November 25th to version This release adds fixes for two additional problems compared to the November 12th release of the RC:

  • MAINT-4537 “Change in Maintenance Viewer breaks my joint rigged mesh avatar”
  • MAINT-4687  “Petite” avatars render deformed for the wearer but not for observer.

Saving and Loading Graphics Settings

The option to save certain graphics settings in the viewer (STORM-2082) is moving forward; there is currently an initial test viewer undergoing trials, but things are in a state of flux.

The idea behind this change is to provide a means by which users can quickly switch between two sets of graphics pre-sets they have created and saved locally, allowing them to quickly adjust the graphics setting to assist with performance as they move around the grid (so a user would have a set of “low” graphic settings they could switch-on in order to maintain performance in busy regions, and a set of “high” graphics settings, with as many bells and whistles turned on as they like, for use in quieter regions).

As noted in my week 46 report, the initial work saw a “Quick Preferences” floater added to the viewer, which allows users to set various settings and would likely include options to save said settings.

Initially, this was accessed via the Setup tab in the official viewer’s Preferences, but a suggestion has been made to keep everything accessible under the Graphics tab to prevent unnecessary fragmentation of options. A suggestion has also been made to change the name of the floater, as “Quick Preferences” is a term used by several TPVs, where it has a different context.

Experience Keys / Tools

Progress continues with the Experience Keys (Tools) project. The project viewer hasn’t been updated in a while, but work has apparently been going on elsewhere  – including a decision on what the charge will be for an Experience Key, although this has yet to be made public.

As a quick recap on this, and from my original overview on Experience Keys / Tools:

Every experience using the Experience Tools capabilities must be governed by an Experience Key supplied by the Lab – think of it as a licence applied to the experience and to all control scripts used within that experience, and which directly links the experience / experience scripts directly back to the experience owner, providing an audit trail of accountability.

Thus, the Experience Key allows the Lab to instantly revoke all permissions used by a given experience, stopping al the scripts associated with it, in necessary. This is intended to reduce the risk of people using Experiences as a means of griefing. As a further deterrent, the Lab will be charging some form of fee for the “licensing” of an Experience Key.

The cornfield, revamped in July, still provides a taster for SL Experiences - access it via the Portal Park

The cornfield, revamped in July, still provides a taster for SL Experiences – access it via the Portal Park

Apparently, Experience Keys / Tools were supposed to be released this quarter. However, with the Christmas season fast approaching, it seems questionable as to whether this will be achieved. As Oz Linden said in the Simulator User Group meeting on Tuesday, November 25th, “wish me luck”!

As previously noted, the initial release of Experience Keys / Tools will not support grid-wide experiences – although this is still on the Lab’s list for future enhancements to the platform.

Other Items

Cocoa Bugs

Many Mac users are still experiencing Cocoa-related issues, finding them something of a bone of contention as the Lab doesn’t regard some of the issues being experienced (such as excessive typing lag) as specific to the viewer, but rather endemic to the OS X operating system. All told, here is quite a wide range of issues, and TPV developer Cinder Roxley is attempting to resolve a number of them.

Part of the problem lies in the way the cursor position on the screen is translated to the cursor position in-world, which is in turn very screen resolution specific. This makes bug testing / fixing particularly hard: as fixes need to be tested against multiple monitor types. Cinder has been in touch with Apple engineers and has found one of their suggested solutions –  removal of deprecated calls – hasn’t helped in resolving problems, so fixes may yet be a while off.

Rock-paper-scissors at HiFi, with thanks to SL’s Strachan Ofarrel!

HF-logoDan Hope over at High Fidelity has provided  a light-hearted blog post on using the Leap Motion gesture device with the High Fidelity Alpha.

The blog post includes a video showing Chris Collins and Ozam Serim in-world in High Fidelity playing a game of rock-paper-scissors. The intention is to provide something of an update on integrating Leap Motion with High Fidelity.

Both Chris and Ozan’s avatars have intentionally-oversized hands, which although they look silly / awkward, help emphasise the  dexterity available in the High Fidelity avatar. Not only can avatars mimic user’s gestures, they can mimic  individual finger movements as well (something Dan has shown previously in still images).

Dan also points out the work to integrate Leap Motion hasn’t been done internally, but has  been a contribution from CtrlAltDavid – better known in Second Life as Strachan Ofarrel (aka Dave Rowe), the man behind the CtrlAltStudio viewer. As such, Dan points to it being an example of the High Fidelity Worklist being put to good use – although I say it’s more a demonstration of  Dave’s work in getting new technology into virtual environments :).

A lot of people have been fiddling with Leap Motion – including fixing it to the front of an Oculus Rift headset (as noted in the HiFi blog post) in order to make better use of it in immersive environments.Having it fixed to an Oculus, makes it easier for the Leap Motion to capture gestures – all you need to do is hold your hands up in your approximate field-of-view, rather than having to worry about where the Leap is on your desk.

Mounting the Leap motion to the front of Oculus Rift headsets is seen as one way to more accurately translate hand movements and gestures into a virtual environment. Perhaps so - but a lot of people remain unconvinced with gesture devices as they are today

Mounting the Leap motion to the front of Oculus Rift headsets is seen as one way to more accurately translate hand movements and gestures into a virtual environment. Perhaps so – but a lot of people remain unconvinced about using gesture devices as we have them today

Away from the ubiquitous Oculus Rift, Simon Linden did some initial experiments with Leap Motion with Second Life in early 2013, and Drax also tried it out with some basic gesture integration using GameWAVE software, however the lack of accuracy with the earlier Leap Motion devices didn’t easily lend their use to the platform, which is why more recent attempts at integration didn’t really get off the ground. However, Leap Motion have been working to improve things.

That said, not everyone is convinced as to the suitability of such gesture devices when compared to more tactile input systems such as haptic gloves, which have the benefit of providing levels of feedback on things (so when you pick a cube up in-world, you can “feel” it between your fingers, for example). Leap certainly appears to suffer from some lack of accuracy  – but it is apparently getting better.

Given a choice, I’d probably go the haptic glove + gesture route, just because it does seem more practical and assured when it comes to direct interactions. Nevertheless, it’s interesting to see how experiments like this are progressing, particularly given the Lab’s own attempts to make the abstraction layer for input devices as open as possible on their next generation platform, in order to embrace devices such as the Leap Motion.

Related Links