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I write about the changes in Second Life that interest me and/or that I think will be of general interest. Most of the recent changes have been boring bug fixes and tedious changes to the SLV2 user interface. Things like making this or that button transparent when the panel loses focus. Mostly stuff everyone wants done, but doesn’t really want to read about or at least, I don’t. But there are a bunch of those tedious changes, which I’m skipping, and few interesting ones I’ve touched on here.

Mesh

Throttling has been added to mesh to prevent using mesh animations. You may or may not know that sculpties are animated by changing the sculpty map a prim uses. It took no time at all for that idea to come those using meshes as a similar process  is used. However, there is a drastic difference in the load mesh animation throws on the viewer and server. Throttling mesh changes will prevent the use of mesh swapping for animation and lagging the region. 

Nyx & Runitai Linden are looking to custom skeletons for mesh animations. The status of when we will get those is the still the same, Not in the Initial Release.

Mesh information in the wiki is being updated. There is a pretty steady stream of updates to the wiki. If you have not yet played with mesh, the SL wiki is a good starting place. The information there is as current as you will find outside the office hours of the mesh team. Chatter in the forum has slowed but there is great information there too.

Mesh Cost is still being refined. The equation for figuring the cost has again been updated in the wiki. See: Mesh Streaming Cost. The Lindens are trying to allow artists as much freedom as possible and still strongly encourage those building meshes to create efficient models that produce less lag.

How mesh objects will affect prim count and tier is still being figured out, as is the upload cost. This is an old song and we will likely hear it until the Lindens are ready to release mesh on the main grid, Agni.

Physical Mesh, those meshes that will be set to physical are now limited to a physics resource cost of 32. This is very much like the 32 prim limit for vehicles.

The Lindens are still trying to find people interested in filling up a region with mesh.  Get a free parcel there.

KDU Upgrade

KDU is the third party proprietary software used to handle compression and decompression of JEPG2000 images. JPEG200 is the format used for image storage in SL. Linden Lab is working toward getting the viewer updated to KDU 6 something.

The KDU code is being adapted and optimized for the data load of Second Life. Current work is on the compression process. Reading the daily scrum leaves me confused as to exactly what that is, other than ‘compression’ in a very general sense, that is taking up development time. I suppose that since this is a major performance item for SL they will optimize the heck out of it.

Scripting

There are a bunch of new scripting functions. Others are being updated or changed. They are starting to appear in the SL Wiki. Things like:

llGetLinkNumberOfSides(, llGetLinkPrimitiveParams(, llRequestDisplayName(, llGetUsername(, llRequestUsername(, llSetLinkPrimitiveParamsFast(, llSetLinkTextureAnim(, and llSetPrimMediaParams.

Another pending change is Falcon Linden saying, “…Then you have until mesh is released to come up with some good reasons and let me know. Otherwise, thereafter (float)”NaN” and (float)”Infinity” will cause the script to crash with a Math Error.” So, if you’re a scripter and you have good reasons for casting strings to NaN/Inf, get them to Falcon.

Viewer

A nifty change coming to the viewer is STORM-34 – Provide a list of recent SLURL’s that one has visited at logon to allow one to travel directly to a previously visited region. This should be implemented as a separate list for each logon ID.

Groups

We have been hearing that the groups limit is going to 40. The change is in the 2.4 Beta viewers, I think. But, part of the change is on the server side. Until they rollout that change we are still stuck at 25. Even when the code is fully rolled out the limit will be 25 for a time as the new system is tested for actual load on the servers. Then they plan to try 40 and lower it if it causes too much load. These Linden guys are so hip on PR… (that’s cynicism, if there is any doubt in your mind).

Changing between series 1 and 2 viewers can create some confusion. The older viewers will show 25 groups max. The newer viewers will show your active groups and automatically detect the servers that can use large groups. So, the plan seems to be to have the viewers using 25 until the turn the feature on for the entire grid. This is likely to cause some residents to think they have lost some of their groups.

So, this limit change is coming. It is going to be awhile.

Region Crossings – Server Changes

Updates to region crossings are in testing on the Release Channel regions in Blue Steel. This doesn’t mean a region in Blue Steel will have it turned on. They will be implementing it on a region-by-region basis. One of the current ideas is to compress an avatar’s information sent to the receiving region to speed up the data transmission.

Threaded Rez is disabled as there were unexpected problems. It is back in the shop for repairs and modifications. This will apparently take some time to fix. So, that performance improvement is a ways off.

As of December 17th all changes to servers will stop until after the holidays, sometime in January.

Packet Loss

Several of the more geeky people attending office hours have commented on higher than normal packet loss. I’ve seen some of that on SL and bunch on Facebook. Both my AT&T DSL and Cox Cable have been experiencing it. They are hooked to different machines and OS’s but I can swap them around. It is the network.

Market Place

The good news is Makai Linden says the Market Place team is opening their Office Hours… I plan to have a vending machine there to sell body armor.

The Market Place is a really tender point with resident merchants. It’s too bad the Lindens have not been staying in front of this. Most people do not understand what the Lab is trying to accomplish or why it is so complicated, so they have little patience or reason to have patience with the process.

If you haven’t read through the wiki on Market place in awhile, you will find lots of new information. To find most of the Market Place information look in: Category:Marketplace. There are several things in Open Issues you will probably want to vote on.

Search

Big news here… not. It still sucks.

Inventory

The new API for inventory is being rolled out to the beta grid soon, may be this week. I am unclear whether it is on by default or is turned on as the Lindens get to the regions. The tech stuff about it is here: Inventory API. This change should reduce inventory problems and improve loading speed. I expect this to help reduce avatars rezzing as particle balls.

This API is backward compatible. So, if you are still using 1.23 or other series 1 viewer, you will still see the improvement.

This change does not affect asset rezzing, it’s only an inventory thing, as best I can tell.

Chat XMPP

The new chat process is ONLY being rolled out on the Preview Grid, Aditi. This is a big change for SL. Hopefully it will work well and make it to the main grid soon. However, during testing one will need a Project Viewer to use it. Those on XMPP will not be able to group chat with those not on it. So, the Release Channel rollout should be interesting…

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