Tag Archives: Server Releases

SL projects update 34/1: server, viewer, materials processing

L'Arc-en-Ciel, WinterFall, July 2014; Inara Pey on Flickr, on FlickrL’Arc-en-Ciel, WinterFall (Flickr) – Blog post

Server Deployments

As always, please refer to the server deployment thread for the latest news and information.

There was no deployment on the Main (SLS) channel on Tuesday August 19th. All three RC channels should receive the same server maintenance project  on Wednesday August 20th, aimed at fixing a crash mode.

SL Viewer Updates

The library refresh viewer, version was promoted to the de facto release viewer on Monday August 18th. This viewer contains an update to a large set of libraries used by the viewer to provide security, stability and consistency improvements to this and future viewers – release notes.

This leaves just the Experience Keys project viewer (due for a refresh in week 34), the Oculus Rift project viewer (due to undergo updates in the coming weeks following the Lab’s receipt of Oculus Rift DK2 headsets), and the RC / experimental log-in viewer in various visible viewer channels.

Group Ban Notifications JIRA

A couple of group ban issues have been raised on when and how notifications on ejection and banning are displayed by the viewer since the arrival of the group ban capabilities (or aren’t displayed, as the case may be) – see BUG-2054 and BUG-5928. Cinder Roxley has submitted code as a part of rectifying BUG-2054, and the Lab are looking and what they need to do to ensure consistent and logical notifications are given.

Materials and Related News

Materials Rendering via Basic Shaders

Geenz Spad contacted me over the weekend to point-out BUG-2073, a feature request that would enable all users that enable Basic Shaders to see a subset of materials functionality present in Advanced Lighting Model. Commenting on the JIRA, Geenz notes:

The performance impact won’t be noticeable on the vast majority of GPUs that support at least atmospheric shading and basic shaders, and should generally be much faster on systems that have trouble with ALM. On top of that, this should enable materials to work in water reflections and refractions to some extent.

However, he also notes a number of constraints:

  • Maximum number of lights will go unchanged
  • Projectors still will not work
  • Gamma correction will only be approximated.

In pointing the JIRA out to me, Geenz said, “A proposal has been submitted to LL regarding materials in basic shaders. I’ve started working on materials in basic shaders already, though work will be moving along slowly so definitely don’t expect this to done for a little while.”

At the same time, Geenz is also working on fixing projector reflections not respecting the environment intensity parameter (see BUG-2056). Currently, projector reflections are treated as specular reflections rather than environment reflections (see below). This fix would correct that.


BUG-2056: The image on the left shows projector reflections as they are seen today: overly brightly despite the environment intensity setting (in this case: glossiness 0; environment intensity: 20); the image on the right demonstrates how the reflections should appear with the same environment intensity (images: Geenz Spad)

Again speaking to me about the work, Geenz said, “This is something that I largely started working on while fixing the environment intensity bug on projectors.  Projectors didn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense in their previous state, and since we have enough information to actually do “glossy” reflections with projectors as it is, it made much more sense to just have glossiness tied to the existing glossiness material parameter.”

A further JIRA submitted by Geenz (see BUG-2067) proposes a means of improving the use of projectors to create surface “reflections”. Geenz provides the explanation thus:

Presently projectors have very strange behavior. Depending on a surface’s environment intensity, they get blurrier the more intense they are, and the reflections “fatten” depending on how intense the reflections on the surface are. This doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense.

Depending on how glossy the surface is, projector reflections should become sharper for higher gloss values and blurrier for lower values. On top of that, projector reflections shouldn’t “fatten” based upon intensity; this makes them unusable for decent looking reflections.

This feature makes use of the glossiness parameter to calculate the “gloss” of projector reflections.

Pojectors and glossiness: left = as things appear at present when projecting images onto glossy surfaces; right = as they would appear if Geenz's work is implemented

Pojectors and glossiness: left = as things appear at present when projecting images onto glossy surfaces; right = as they would appear if Geenz’s work is implemented (images: Geenz Spad)

Other Items

Mac Cocoa applicationShouldTerminate Issue

Cinder Roxley has pointed-out a problem with the Cocoa-specific applicationShouldTerminate function within the viewer, which she explains thus:

Say you are logged into sl, and you open appstore and there is an update that needs a restart to complete. Normally you click restart and it shuts down all apps completes the update and when you login your apps are reopened. Because the viewer is sending a bad value back to OSX, OSX will not close it, and it stops the restart from happening.

STORM-2053, submitted by Cinder provides a fix for this problem.

Mirror Reflections

Work is continuing to refine the SL mirrors project (see my report and JIRA (BUG-2055  initiated by Zi Ree of the Firestorm team). There has been some lively lively debate on the JIRA over the course of the last week. The more recent progress has been focused on getting mirrors to work with the Advanced lighting Model (ALM) active.

On top of everything else he’s doing, Geenz Spad has been providing pointers for some the work as well as demonstrating how mirror surfaces could benefit if they are made to work with materials, as shown in the images below.

How mirror reflections might benefit when working with materials: (L): A mirror sphere with a normal map applied; (c) a mirror sphere Mirror reflections and an environment mask applied; materials

How mirror reflections might benefit when working with materials: (L): A mirror sphere with a normal map applied; (c) a mirror sphere with environment mask applied; (r) the sphere with both a normal map and an evironment mask applied (images: Geenz Spad)

There is still a fair amount of work still to do before it is likely that the Lab look at any proposal arising from this. I’ll continue to update on progress as it is made, as I also hope to with Geenz’s work with projectors and materials as noted earlier in this report.

SL project updates week 33/2: server recap, inventory, region crossings

Le Botanique, Mirriam Brown; Inara Pey, July 2014, on FlickrLe Botanique, Miriam Brown, July 2014 (Flickr)

I’m busy playing catch-up due to a number of things going on at the moment, so my apologies for late-running reports. The following notes were taken from the Server Beta meeting of Thursday August 14th.

Server Deployments week 33 Recap

  • On Tuesday August 12th, the Main (SLS) channel was updated with the server maintenance release previously deployed to the RC channels in week 32, so placing all four channels on the same simulator version
  •  There were no RC deployments for the week.

HUDs Detaching / Reattaching Following Teleport

Following the week 32 report on HUDs detaching / reattaching following a teleport and issues with attachments scripted to use llDetachFromAvatar to detach on a region change being reported as “worn on invalid attachment point” by the viewer, JIRAs have been raised on both issues (BUG-6925 and BUG-6908 respectively). Maestro Linden has been looking into both, with mixed results.

Maestro has difficulties in reproducing the HUD detaching / reattaching issue (BUG-6925) and so is working from logs supplied by the reporter. However, one line of thinking is that higher ping rates to the server might be indicative of the problem – those who have high ing rates (and those “longer” update times seem to be more readily able to reproduce the issue than those with lower ping rates.

The belief at the lab is that the BUG-6908 issue is likely to be a race condition, and investigations are continuing.

Gestures, Calling Cards and Region Crossings

During the discussion about BUG-6925, Maestro pointed-out that having a large number of active gestures associated with your avatar might be a contributing cause of region crossing issues. This is because the information on each active gesture has to be handed-over from one simulator to the next, and this might slow things down / interfere with things, possibly exacerbating things like HUDs dettaching / reattaching during a region crossing, etc.

While there was a degree of uncertainty as to whether it is the case or not, Calling Cards might also contribute to region crossing problems as they are updated between regions with the online / offline status of other avatars. Simon Linden is best placed to speak to whether this is the case, but he is currently on vacation.

Large numbers of active gestures (and Calling Cards) can also slow-down the log-in process (hence the often-given advice to delete unwanted Calling Cards from inventory).

 Inventory and Inventory Updates

A correlation between large “flat” inventories (i.e. inventories with relatively few folders beyond the system folders,  and each folder containing a lot of items) and log-in issues has been recorded. Oz Linden’s recommendation to reduce such issues is to have a relative deep tree of folders, with each folder containing fewer items.

As the inventory “skeleton” (which contains your inventory folder hierarchy) is only fetched by the viewer when you log-in, “flat” inventory structures don’t impact regions crossings. However, if you do feel you are experiencing a long log-in period, and you have a large, relatively flat inventory structure, you might want to consider re-organising things and seeing if that helps to improve matters.

A forthcoming viewer update, STORM-2034, contributed by Jonathan Yap, will provide support for “older than” inventory filtering, allowing users to filter their inventory either before or after a given age. This should make locating older inventory items a lot easier when it comes to wanting to delete or box items which are no longer used. There’s currently no ETA on when this change is liable to appear, but there is another Snowstorm viewer iteration due, so it might be in that, depending on the code’s current status.

The existing inventory filter options (l) and the proposed update to the time-based filtering option (r)

The existing inventory filter options (l) and the proposed update to the time-based filtering option (r)

Other Items

Avatar Bakes and  Rigged Mesh

A question was asked at the Server Beta meeting on whether it would ever be possible to apply to other objects, which quickly focused-down on using them in conjunction with rigged / fitted mesh. Responding to the question, Maestro Linden said:

It would be cool if you could stack layers of diffuse textures on objects, but it would be a pretty big project. Hmm. I guess that would depend on how it’s implemented … If you just had a way for an attachment to reference its owner’s currently baked texture, then that may not be too difficult, but I think that if you were to say “any object face can have multiple textures, which use the baking service, such that you can have up to ~150k baked textures in a region”, that would be a whole other beast :).

A suggestion was made to limit the number of bakes that could be applied, in the same way as texture layers are constrained on the avatar at the moment, prompting Maestro to agree, “if the object faces are just referencing the same textures which are already baked on an avatar, you could even implement that as a viewer-side change: ‘if object diffuse texture is $magic_uuid, render its owner’s upper-body baked texture on it (or maybe default to grey if the bake is unavailable)’.”

Avatar bakes are currently limited to 512×512. Whether that would be regarded as sufficiently high enough for use on rigged mesh is open to question. n the meantime, a JIRA proposing something similar, aimed at the removal of scripted appliers (BUG-5893) has already been triaged and accepted by the Lab for further investigation.

SL projects update week 33/1: SL news and BCU exploit

Server Deployments

As always, please refer to the server deployment thread for the latest news and information.

It’s another lightweight week in terms of deployments.

  • On Tuesday August 12th, the Main (SLS) channel received the server maintenance package deployed to the RC channel in week 32, which primarily includes the JSON issue “Valid JSON numbers like 0e0 no longer valid after″ (BUG-6657).  As noted in week 32’s report, this “fix” in fact roll backs the fix for an earlier JSON issue (BUG-6466) which appears to have triggered the more recent issue. A fix for both problems is now currently in the works
  • There are no RC channel deployments for week 33.

SL Viewer

As I reported here, a new version of the experimental log-in viewer arrived on Friday August 8th. Version has yet to appear on the Alternate Viewers wiki page, but displays a revised log-in screen which has the log-in credentials moved to the top of the screen.

The new log-in splash screen sees the removal of the Create Your Account option and the placement of the log-in options at the top of the screen in a new header area

The new log-in splash screen sees the removal of the Create Your Account option and the placement of the log-in options at the top of the screen in a new header area

In addition, for users logging-in to Second Life for the very first time using the viewer (or who have performed a completely clean install), a very simple log-in screen is displayed, which explains to users that they’ll be logged-in to a Learning Island, where they’ll have to find their way to the exit portal in order to proceed to a Social Island (both the Learn Island and Social Island being elements introduced to the new user experience in July 2013).

All other SL viewer versions remain as per the Alternate Viewers wiki page  / my Current Viewer Releases page.

Simulator User Group Meeting

There was no Open-source Development meeting on Monday August 11th or Simulator User Group meeting on Tuesday August 12th, as the Second Life technical team are all attending a planning / brainstorming session. These meetings will resume as usual in week 34, with the Server Beta meeting on Thursday August 14th the next scheduled User Group meeting.

Other Items

Windows BCU Exploit

This isn’t a project update or notification from Linden Lab. I’m including it here for ease of reference.

A note card is circulating from the United Content Creators of SL relating to an exploit using the  Browser Configuration Utility (BCU) which can be found on Windows systems.

BCU is described as a “Search Hook Addin is an Internet Explorer URL search hook that redirects search results when an address or search keyword is entered into the web browser.” Among other things, it is sometimes bundled with Gigabyte motherboards, although there have been reports that it can also be shipped with Asus and other main boards. It’s been a known source of potential annoyance since mid-2009.

According to the UCCSL note card, some people are using BCU as a phishing exploit using profile weblinks, streaming media, media on a prim and perhaps even via bots wearing transparent prims with streaming media. To quote the note card:

This Exploit redirects your Viewer to another website other than SL that will display the normal SL login screen, then tell you that your login credentials are incorrect.   while it is telling you that your login credentials are incorrect, it is collecting your login data. At this time we have found hundreds of web resources that are transmitting this infection, and a large number of user profiles with these links in them.

Apparent signs of infection are that the viewer takes a lot longer to initialize when you try to start it, and it fails to recall your user name, if saved, and the note card refers to an EULA being displayed, which I assume is a reference to the ToS.

The recommended means of dealing with the issues is to:

  • Use the Windows Task Manager’s Process tab to see if your computer is running BCU.exe*32 and BCUService.exe (make sure you use Show Process from all users if more than one person uses your computer)
  • BCU can generally be removed from a computer without affecting its performance or use, so you may want to check your system and remove the utility altogether, either via the Control Panel > Programs and Features or manually (the utility should be around 356-357 KB in size according to DirectVM)
  • Go to the SL website at http://www.secondlife.com, and use the account section of your dashboard to change your password. Logout and log back into the website to confirm your updated password

As further precautionary measures, disable your viewer from playing media automatically and from playing media attached to other avatars (both under Preferences > Sound and Media). Also, if you have a viewer with the media filter installed, make sure you have it enabled so you can check audio streams – but remember the filter doesn’t provide any safeguard against media on a prim, so always be wary of untrusted MOAP sources. Finally, don’t click on links in the profiles or people you don’t know / trust.

SL Projects update week 32/2: server, viewer, issues

Beeswing, Banana Island, May 2014; Inara Pey, on FlickrBeeswing, Banana Island, May 2014

Sever Deployments – Week 32 Recap

  • There was no Main (SLS) channel deployment on Tuesday August 5th
  • On Wednesday August 6th, all three RC channels received the same maintenance update, which addresses some miscellaneous bugs, and fixes the JSON issue “Valid JSON numbers like 0e0 no longer valid after″ (BUG-6657) and includes changes from the current Main channel release.

The “fix” for the JSON issue was to in fact roll back the fix for an earlier JSON issue (BUG-6466) which appears to have triggered the more recent issue. A fix for both problems is now currently in the works.

SL Viewer

  • The Library Refresh viewer was updated on August 6th to version on August 6th. This viewer contains an update to a large set of libraries used by the viewer to provide security, stability and consistency improvements to this and future viewers (download and release notes)
  • As anticipated, the Zipper Viewer, intended to improve the viewer’s installation speed, has been removed from the viewer release channel. The reason for this is an incompatibility between the archive format used to zip the viewer skins for faster installation and older operating system versions.

Other Items

Maestro Linden is back from his 3-week vacation and revealed he and Caleb Linden have been working on ‘infrastructure’ updates recently, for some of the central services, which has mostly involved making sure they still work properly after a big OS update which is in the works.

HUDs Detaching / Reattaching Following Teleport

There has been a report that HUDs are acting oddly following a teleport, apparently detaching and then reattaching, but showing as “worn on invalid Attachment Point” until clicked upon. The issue seems to be primarily experienced by people using viewers with the AIS v3 updates, but it may also occur on other viewers.

These issues are somewhat similar (in part to problems previously reported with avatar attachments failing to behave as expected when using the inventory WEAR command ((see BUG-6487 and my notes here). The Lab is going to take a poke at things.

Soul Seize

There have been further reports of the “soul seize” griefing tools doing the rounds. These are objects (both in-world and possibly HUDs worn by others disguised as greeters) which offer to animate your avatar (e.g. hug you or allow you to sit), but which are intended to take control of animating your avatar.

This issue has been around a considerable time (see JIRA VWR-13228). However, a year ago in Agust 2013, the Lab deployed a partial fix for the problem. This was change to the Stop Animating Me option in the viewer (found under the Me / Avatar menu in v3 viewers), to cause it to send a message to the simulator so it revokes all animation permissions for all objects in the region.

The solution isn’t perfect – it doesn’t work where animation has been initiated by a HUD, and at the time the update was made, concerns were raised that griefer might work around it. Whether these latest reports refer to a new flavour of the tool which does get around Stop Animating Me update is unclear.