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Linden Lab

New Voice Improvements!


Tools & Technology

Happy Wednesday everyone!  

Today we released the latest Maintenance Viewer Build.  Among a slew of fixes and improvements is a key feature we want to highlight: ability to tweak your Voice Activity Level. Lately we’ve had increasing problems with voice cutting out, at events or just talking to friends nearby.  With these changes you will have a way to easily manage the problem. It’s been working seamlessly in our internal testing, including large events. 

Voice Activity Detection
This Viewer exposes 3 VIVOX VAD (Voice Activity Detection) variables via Debug Settings and disables the (previously enabled) automatic mode. By making changes to these variables, we should be able to come up with a collection of settings that we can base new default values on in settings.xml.

The Debug Settings are:

  • VivoxVadAuto
    • Enable (1) or disable (0) automatic VAD - you will almost certainly want this set to 0 [off] and change things using the other settings
  • VivoxVadHangover
    • The time (in milliseconds) that it takes for the VAD to switch back to silence from speech mode after the last speech frame has been detected.
  • VivoxVadNoiseFloor
    • A dimensionless value between 0 and 20000 (default 576) that controls the maximum level at which the noise floor may be set at by the VAD’s noise tracking. Too low of a value will make noise tracking ineffective (A value of 0 disables noise tracking and the VAD then relies purely on the sensitivity property). Too high of a value will make long speech classifiable as noise.
  • VivoxVadSensitivity
    • A dimensionless value between 0 and 100, indicating the ‘sensitivity of the VAD’. Increasing this value corresponds to decreasing the sensitivity of the VAD (i.e. ‘0’ is most sensitive, while 100 is ‘least sensitive’)

The default values (updated) are (using VIVOX names):

  • VivoxVadAuto: 0 (disabled)
  • VadHangover(s): 2000 (Valid values are 1 - 60000 milliseconds)
  • VadSensitivity: 0 (Was 43 - valid values are 0 - 100)
  • VadNoiseFloor: 576 (Valid values are 0 - 20000)

Early testing suggests that VivoxVadNoiseFloor can only be changed by restarting the Viewer or teleporting away and coming back (needs a new voice connection) but the other 2 work in real time as you change them. After some initial testing with VIVOX, we have settled on starting from VivoxVadSensitivity set to 0. This will result in no dropouts because the microphone is sending everything to the voice channel. However, in a noisy environment (talking in background, vacuum cleaner, TV on etc.) it will also transmit that too. With modern microphones with built-in noise cancellation, sending everything may be a good thing as the microphone may have done all the heavy lifting of noise cancellation first.

Please try it out and let us know what you think!  If you’re experiencing any bugs, please let us know!

Linden Lab

A Light in the Cloud: A Migration Update


Tools & Technology

A Light in the Cloud - A Migration Update.png

Hi Residents!

I’ve come to ask for a favor.

We’re in a really exciting time in the history of Second Life. We’re in the home stretch on moving the grid to the cloud. We hit a fun milestone a few days ago, and now there’s over 1,000 regions running in the cloud!

Everyone in the Lab is working hard on this project, and we’re moving very quickly. I just got out of a leadership meeting where we went over what’s currently in flight, and there’s so many things moving that I lost track of them all. It’s amazing!

The favor I’ve come to ask you for is your patience.

We’re doing our very best to fix things that come up as we go. This means that we might need to restart regions more often than you’re used to, and things may break just a little more often than we’ve all been accustomed to.

In order to get this project done as fast as possible and minimize the time (and resulting bugs) we have to spend with one foot in our datacenter and the other in the cloud, we don’t want to limit ourselves to restarting regions just once a week. We’re ready to get this project done! We’ve seen how much better Second Life runs in the cloud, and we’re ready to have everyone on the grid experience it.

I’m sorry that things might be a little rough over the next few weeks. It’s our goal to finish the cloud migration by the holidays, so that everyone, Resident and Linden alike, can have a nice quiet holiday with our friends and families.

We can’t promise we’ll make it by then, but we’re sure giving it all we’ve got. The mood around the Lab is really positive right now, and we’re all working hard together to make it happen. I’m really proud to be a part of the team that’s transforming Second Life as we know it.

Thanks so much for hanging in there with us. We know it’s frustrating at times, but it won’t last for too long, and there’s a better future on the other side of this. We truly appreciate your understanding and patience as we finish up this project.

Thanks everyone. 💜

April Linden,
Second Life Operations Manager
 

Oz Linden

Uplift Update


Tools & Technology

We've been working hard on the Uplift of Second Life. If you have not been following this project, that's what we're calling the migration of our Second Life simulators, services, and websites from a private datacenter to hosting in The Cloud (Amazon Web Services). It's a massive, complicated project that I've previously compared to converting a steam-driven railroad to a maglev monorail -- without ever stopping the train. This undertaking has at times been smooth sailing, at other times a very bumpy ride. We wanted to share some more of the story with you.

Our goal has been to move SL incrementally to give ourselves the best chance of minimizing awareness among the residents that these changes were happening. We feel we’ve done better than we expected, but of course it’s the bumps in the road that are most noticeable to our residents. We apologize for recent service disruptions, although what’s perhaps not apparent is the progress we’ve made -- and the improvements in performance that have quietly taken place.

First, the rough spots:

  • Region Crossings
    One of the first troubles we found was that region crossings were significantly worse between a cloud region and a datacenter region. We did a deep dive into the code for objects (boats, cars, planes, etc) and produced an improvement that made them significantly faster and more reliable even within the datacenter. This has been applied to all regions already and was a good step forward.
  • Group Chat stalls
    Many users have reported that they are not able to get messages in some of their groups; we're very much aware of the problem. The start of those problems does coincide with when the chat service was uplifted; unfortunately the problems did not become clear until moving that service back to the datacenter was not an option. We haven’t been able to get that fixed as quickly as we would like, but the good news is that we have some changes nearly ready that we think may improve the service and will certainly provide us with better information to diagnose it if it isn't fixed. Those changes are live on the Beta grid now and should move to the main grid very soon.
  • Bake Failures
    Wednesday and especially Thursday of this past week were bad days for avatar appearance, and we're very much aware of how important that is. The avatar bake service has actually been uplifted for some time - it wasn't moving it that caused the problem, but another change to a related service. The good news is that thanks to a great cross-team effort during those two days we were able to determine why an apparently unrelated simulator update triggered the problem and got a fix deployed Thursday night. 
  • Increased Teleport Failures
    We have seen a slight increase in the frequency of teleport failures. I know that if it's happened to you it probably doesn't feel like a "slight" problem, especially since it appears to be true that if it's happened to someone once, it tends to keep happening for a while. Measured over the entire grid, it's just under two percentage points, but even that is unacceptable. We're less sure of the specific causes for this (including whether or not it's Uplift related), but are improving our ability to collect data on it and are very much focused on finding and fixing the problem whatever it is.
  • Marketplace & Stipend Glitches
    We've had some challenges related to uplift for both the Marketplace and the service that pays Premium Stipends. Marketplace had to be returned to the datacenter yesterday, but we'll correct the problems that required the rollback and get it done soon. The Stipends issues were both good and bad for users; there were some delays, but on the other hand we sent some users extra stipends (our fault, you win - we aren't taking them back); those problems are, we believe, solved now.

Perhaps the above makes it sound as though Uplift is in trouble. While this week in particular has seen some bumps in the road, it's actually going well overall. Lots of the infrastructure you don't interact with directly, and some you do, has been uplifted and has worked smoothly.

For a few weeks, almost all of the regions on the Beta grid have been running in the cloud, and over the last couple of weeks we've uplifted around a hundred regions on the main grid. Performance of those regions has been very very good, and stability has been excellent. We expect to be uplifting more regions in the next few working days (if you own a region you'd like included, submit a Support Ticket and we'll make it happen). Uplift of the Release Candidate regions, which will bring the count into the thousands, will begin soon. When we're confident that uplifted regions are working well at that larger scale, we'll be in a position to resume region sales, so if you've been waiting - the wait is almost over.

Overall, the Uplift project is on track to be complete or very nearly so by the end of this year (yes, 2020… I know I've said "fall" before and people have noted that I didn't say what year 🙂 ; the leaves haven't finished falling at my house yet…). It's likely that there will be other (hopefully small) temporary disruptions during this process, but we promise we'll do all we can to avoid them and fix them as fast as we can. This migration sets the stage for some significant improvements to Second Life and positions us to be able to grow the world well into the future.
 

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