Daily Archives: January 4, 2013

When griefing crosses the line

It’s a fact of life that griefing is part of the subculture of Second Life. It’s not necessarily an agreeable subculture or one we particularly want or need, but it is there all the same. I say this not to excuse what goes on, but to underline the fact that right or wrong, most of us in hearing about it tend to shrug our shoulders and then carry on with our lives.

There are times, however, when griefing – which is actually crossing the line each and every time it occurs – crosses a the line not only in terms of resigned acceptance, but also in terms of criminal behaviour.

The fashion world in SL has recently been subject to this latter situation. This saw an SL user  already complicit in copying skins and shapes, and whose profile boasted they had scant regard for the ToS together with outright threats against content creators, start to use griefing as an attempt to extort money from others. They did so by crashing large fashion events and then demanding payment in order to not crash future events.

extortion

Much of what happened in this matter appeared to go unreported outside of fashion circles – few blog (this one included) reported on the matter, despite the problems apparently occurring over a span of months. The Lab also appeared unwilling to engage in the matter, despite extortion being a criminal act. In the end, many of those affected by the situation saw no other choice than to themselves disrupt in-world user group meetings in order to try to voice their concerns and frustrations directly (if unfortunately inappropriately) to the few remaining Lab employees users can actually contact nowadays.

(I say “inappropriately” not as an admonishment here, but because those who were confronted by this extortionist were demanding direct action from those Lab personnel the least well equipped to provide meaningful feedback on matters.)

In the end, the approach did appear to work, inasmuch as the account of the individual concerned was banned from Second Life and all content relating to it (apparently ripped from other merchants) was removed from the Marketplace.

Of course, in an age and situation where alt accounts are freely available, the removal of a single account is no guarantee the individual responsible has actually been removed from SL – or more particularly that their modus operandi will not be repeated elsewhere by others.

Yordie Sands brings word that the latter appears to have happened, and the use of extortion has been taken up elsewhere. Writing yesterday, she details a situation where Junkyard Blues, a renowned SL blues club run by Kiff Clutterbuck and Dina Petty, has been recently subjected to repeated griefing attacks which comprised, in Kiff and Dina’s words, “Multiple griefers with blinding graphics card attacks and sim lag/crashes … In some instances the computers of many staff and patrons actually shut down or rebooted as a result of the attacks.”

Such was the frequency of the attacks that patrons began staying away from the venue. However this was not an “innocent” (if such a term can be used with any form of griefing) attack. Junkyard Blues were contacted and informed that if they handed over cash, the attacks would stop.

This is again extortion, plain and simple.

As a result of both the threats and the attacks, Junkyard Blues has been forced to resort to restricting access to their club to “members only”, which impacts both their business and their customers.

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SL project news: week 1, 2013: forthcoming RC releases, viewer, and new work

RC Deployments for Week 2

The Lab is still getting back up to speed following the Christmas / New Year break, so expect further information to be forthcoming on Main and RC releases for week 2, 2013 via the Server topic of the Technology Forum.

However, as it stands, there are two projects which it is hoped will reach RC channel release in the week commencing Monday 7th January, 2013. These are Caleb Linden’s threaded region crossing code and Andre Linden’s interest list code.

As I’ve previously reported, the threaded region crossing code was subjected to a pile-on test on Aditi towards the end of 2012. The results were, on the whole, a little disappointing for those taking part – although expectations may have been set a little high. While there were some improvements noted – particularly when travelling between regions on foot and with a heavy script load – overall, there were sill issues with crossing between regions in vehicles (particularly ground vehicles).

Airbourne antics: vehicles still exhibited region crossing issues duing the threaded region pile-on test in December 2012

Airbourne antics: vehicles still exhibited region crossing issues duing the threaded region pile-on test in December 2012

Issues arising from the pile-on test are still being looked at, and Caleb repeated his request that anyone noting specific issues should raise a JIRA directed for his attention. For those wishing to try out the code, the GC Test regions are still available on Aditi.

The Interest List code is still subject to receiving an OK from the Lab’s QA team. There will doubtless be an update on this – and on the planned RC releases in general – at the Simulator User Group meeting on Tuesday 8th January, 2013.

SL Viewer News

Not a lot to report on here at present. The Beta viewer reached the 3.4.4 code base Just before Christmas 2012, (3.4.4.268497, December 20, 2012). There may be a rendering issue which may require addressing and might lead to a slight delay in releases; apparently, not all tests are giving the same results, so LL are still investigating the matter. Work is continuing to update the GPU tables for the viewer; further cards have been added to the table, and several blanket entries have been removed (such as all unrecognised nVidia cards being detected as nVidia Ion GPUs).

As reported over Christmas, CHUI rolled through a number of rapid releases in its development version, and the main project version rolling to 3.4.3.268587 on December 22nd. Both the development and project versions of the viewer are on the 3.4.3 codebase, and the most recent development release was made on January 4th (3.4.3.268703). Both versions are available from the Alternative Viewers download page.

While the core of the Mac version of the viewer is built using OSX 10.7 (with Xcode 4.3.3), work is progressing in moving the viewer to OSX 10.8 Mountain Lion, which is expected to happen “very soon” according to Oz Linden, although no date is available as to when.

New Pathfinding Capability

VoidPointer Linden is working on a new flag for pathfinding characters. STAY_WITHIN_PARCEL is designed so that when set, pathfinding characters will only set goal points during wander, evade, pursuit, etc that are within the parcel they get created in. If the parcel is a non-regular shape, it is still possible a character will cross between it and neighbouring parcels (unless the navmesh is cut through the use of an exclusion volume), but goal points will only be set within the originating parcel. The code is still in development, and so the constraints on where a character can wander when it comes to irregular parcel shapes, but VoidPointer is not making any promises on this.

He's completely batty! - Voidpoint Linde at the Server Beta UG meeting, Jan 3rd, 2013

He’s completely batty! – Voidpointer Linden’s avatar at the Server Beta UG meeting, Jan 3rd, 2013

There is no stated delivery time for this new feature, other than it is currently being worked on.

Server Object Rezzing Code

Baker Linden has been looking to improve how objects with large file sizes are handled by the simulator software when being rezzed. He describes the work thus, “What I’ve been working on is hopefully significantly decreasing lag spikes when rezzing large, complex objects. Large does not necessarily imply size, but size of the files being read. When an object is rezzing, we have to parse the object / mesh files and create our in-world objects with that data.”

Until now, reading and parsing of any files related to objects which require rezzing has been on the main thread. When several such objects requiring rezzing at the same time, the simulator stalls. Baker has been moving the reading / parsing operation to a background thread in the expectation that rezzing multiple “large” (again, in terms of file size, not the size of the object itself) objects will not choke the simulator.

The key point about this work is that it is specifically aimed at preventing the simulator processes from choking and a region stalling when there are a number of large object files being read / parsed, not at actually “speeding up” the physical rezzing process. As such, it is unlikely that objects will appear any faster in people’s in-world view as a result of this work. However, what it does mean is that the simulator code will be better able to handle rezzing multiple “large file” objects without the attendant region lagging which can occur as a result of the simulator being unable to process messages from viewers and other simulators, etc.

Information Sources

  • Opensource Developer meeting, Wednesday 2nd January, 2013
  • Beta Server meeting, Thursday 3rd January, 2013.

Related Links

The obsession returns…

In 2012, the first part of my SL year was spent re-working my take on Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous “Fallingwater“, which eventually wound-up in a quarter-sim in-world for a few weeks.

That build is now boxed for a rainy day, but as I indicated later in the year, I’ve reproduced Fallingwater in Kitely, where it has a full region of its own, allowing me to develop a landscape more in keeping with that of the original. Since then, I’ve been tinkering around with it, adding a region windlight and generally tightening things up. There are still some parts I want to rework, once I have better source material by way of photos (most notably Bear River and the falls), but for now the house is just about done.

With the Second Life build, I produced a modest video; however the result wasn’t overly brilliant – largely because I didn’t really appreciate what I was doing in terms of the technical side of producing the video. Recently, I’ve had some good advice and help from Fuzonacid via YouTube, prompting me to have a further go, this time focusing on the Kitely build.

As it is the start of a new year, I could hardly let it pass without reference to my obsession :), so I hope you enjoy the video (and the Flickr slideshow has also been updated!).