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Technology Improvements for Q1 Including Raising Group Limit to 42

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FJ Linden

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As we begin 2011, I want to share the progress that we’re making on several important technology enhancements that I discussed in my last post.  As I mentioned, we are focused on improving the overall performance of Second Life while addressing some long standing limitations such as  raising group limits, improving the chat system, and reducing lag.

Group Limits Raised to 42 Today

In October, we committed to increase group limits from the current 25 up to 40 in the first quarter of 2011. As of today, group limits have been raised to 42! To add groups beyond the previous limit of 25, you must be using Viewer  2.4 (or a more recent version). And if you’re still using Viewer 1.23, or a third-party viewer based on Viewer 1.23 code, then you can add more groups in Viewer 2.4 and they will still be accessible when you switch back to Viewer 1.23.

That said, if there is an unexpected load, then we may need to lower the group limitation to maintain acceptable performance levels across the grid. If we decide to do that, then any Residents who have up to 42  groups will not lose their memberships. But, other Residents will not be able to exceed the new limit.

Group Chat System Will Launch Gridwide By March 31st

We were set to deploy a prototype of the new group chat system in December, but last minute licensing issues were found with our chosen open source library. Now that a solution is in place, we expect to have the prototype available by the end of this month and an industry standard and high performing group chat system available by the end of this quarter.

Performance Improvements When Teleporting and Crossing Regions

As you teleport, or cross regions, all of your avatar data (often a very  large amount of data) needs to be processed by both source and destination regions. In order to streamline this process, we are now compressing avatar information, making your teleports and region crossings faster and more reliable. In fact, we’ve found that teleport failures, due to avatar complexity, have dropped 40%. See the graph below for a more detailed view showing how much we’ve shortened region crossing time.

region_crossing_compression_2011_01_11.jpg

Viewer 2.5 Beta Releasing Soon

We will soon launch the latest version of the Second Life Viewer -- Viewer 2.5 Beta. In addition to more performance and stability improvements, we’ve added enhanced web-based profiles, accessible both on the web and in the Viewer. And, if you wish, you can even connect your Second Life profile to other social identities including Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn! You will also have the option in Preferences to choose your first inworld destination from the saved Landmarks in your Favorites Bar. This is very handy when you need to get to a specific destination quickly.

Also, one of the most important new features added to Viewer 2.4 was the auto-updater capability. If you're using Viewer 2.4 or higher, then you won’t be inconvenienced by the notification and download process when we release a new Viewer.

Planning to Implement Significant Grid Infrastructure Enhancements in 2011

We’re planning significant grid infrastructure enhancements throughout the year including technologies to speed server-side rendering (SSR) and server virtualization (web and simulator services). We are also exploring new storage and asset delivery systems. Some of the benefits will not always be noticeable, but they are foundational platform changes that set the stage for rapid performance and scalability improvements. We will continue to keep you updated as we roll out these systems.

I’m pleased with the progress that we made across the platform last year and I'm looking ahead to newer technologies that we will deploy in 2011 to enhance your Second Life experience. As always, I'll be watching for your feedback and thank you for making Second Life such an amazing place.

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Well, lets see.  I have been in Sl for 4 years and belong to 12 groups. Hmmm. 42? Prolly won't use that but thank you :-)

Teleport and sim crossings finally fixed?  well that's good, and about time too.

Viewer 2.5? 5 different versions in less than a year and it still isn't the most popular client. Might be a reason for that. If LL had any confidence in V2 they wouldn't have kept 1.23 as an alternative. Also after the Emerald fiasco most companies would have banned  all TPV, if they had confidence in their new flagship product....All different versions of old viewer soon made the previous ones redundant. and yet a year after V2  the old viewer and it's offspring still dominate... Hmmmmm  can you say "Edsel?"

 

Group chat easier?  99% of it is annoying and I have opted out of all of it. Joining a group just invites endless spam to comon down and hear DJ Somesuch at club Somewhere.

 

And lastly, Facebook, My Space Et all.  Never been there. Couldn't care less about them. Twitter? why would anyone care that Joe is eating a sandwich and watching football ATM? Why would I want to go to Twiter to see that Joe's avatar is dancing at club Somewhere and he is eating a sandwich?

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42? Isn't that the answer to the question of Life, The Universe & Everything ? This is a joke, right? InWorlds allow 50 groups and have done since day 1. Oh I get it! So many people have given up on SL that there is now server space to allow the upping of groups listing?

Quote: "As always, I'll be watching for your feedback and thank you for making Second Life such an amazing place..."

.....despite LL doing it's best to ruin everything.

While you're at it, maybe you can tell me why I have no groups, music streams don't work for me and why I can't TP anywhere? Why I can no longer place HUDs and Group Chat is a dismale fail. You'd be better employed upgrading Customer Service than worrying about Groups.

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Expected: If I click on an avatar name not in my friends list and click through to invite to group, I should be able to invite the avatar to the group WITHOUT RETYPING THEIR NAME
Actual: I have to retype their name every time

im sorry i dont know if this feature is in the sl viewer, but in phoenix if you open up an avatar's profile and look next to their groups, there is a plus sign.. you can click it and a popup will show with all of your groups that you have rights to add new members to.  then you just click the group and accept.. and tell it what role you want them to have.. and youre done.

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And then there were Display Names - a huge, costly project in terms of time and money... and yet hardly anyone seems to use or care about it. 

lol i love how people think that just because they dont use or care about something, that hardly anyone else does either.  at least 75% of the avatars i see (and almost everyone on my friend list) use the display names. i love them - i hated being forced to choose a last name from a list when i signed up, and have hated my last name since the beginning.

also, i think that cost-wise, it was probably one of the lower cost things they have done.

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The improvements in sim crossings are welcome (even with the deceptive graph axis), but we are still sticking to the same outdated notion of group membership and virtually unusable UI for inviting people to groups.

Once again, here is my proposal:

  • a group owner defines people as having PERMISSION to be in the group
  • if the group owner revokes the permission, the person is ejected and can no longer rejoin
  • with permission to be a member, the person can join and leave and rejoin whenever they want...
  • ...and decide whether they want to be in group chat for a given group
  • ...the limit on the number of group chats you can have active at a given time can be varied by Linden Lab without affecting the number of groups you are allowed to be a member of
  • the group owner can give and revoke group membership permission and change roles from a website as well as inworld. In fact I'd take website instead of inworld.
  • fix the UI to work with the minimum number of steps and in the same way irrespective of the person's online / offline status and membership of your friends list.
Here once again are the issues with the current group invite UI:
  • Expected: If I click on an avatar name not in my friends list and click through to invite to group, I should be able to invite the avatar to the group WITHOUT RETYPING THEIR NAME
  • Actual: I have to retype their name every time
  • Expected: I can copy and paste their name into the group inviter UI
  • Actual: When the group inviter UI opens YOU CLOSE THE IM WINDOW
  • Actual: If you reopen the window or try to copy the name before inviting, its much harder than it used to be (i.e. in V1.23) to select the name from the IM window and you may get the timestamp as well
  • Expected: the person succeeds in joining the group
  • Actual: nearly every time the person fails to join the group and I have to go through the whole rigmarole again.
  • Expected: I can see who has an outstanding non-accepted invitation to my group
  • Actual: I can't.
  • Expected: If I accidentally mistype a name on a group invite and send it, I can rescind the group invite before the person accepts
  • Actual: I can't.
  • Expected: I can send a group invite using a mobile client
  • Actual: FAIL. It takes too long for the group info to load over wireless - for example, tried for 20 minutes, did not succeed.
Invite me to a group FJ!!! Invite me to a group Amanda!!! Using your iPhone from an airport!
Please fix this.

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InWorlds allow 50 groups and have done since day 1.

lol its easy to allow 50 groups to drag on the server when there are only a few hundred users tops online at the same time.. a little harder when there are 70k.  just saying

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The real test of sim crossings is high speed high prim vehicle crossings. I took one of my rideable sailboats out last night at high speed, notice little bumps at sim crossings but only one occasion where the boat flew up for a while.

Any reports from pilots?

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well this is all well and good but there is one very serious problem ...........viewer 2 doesnt work ive treid 4 different times and its always the same i cant log in...and i dont have a phone to call in to LL to find out why

so therefore if 1.2 is going away and you still want people tpo log in fix the problem.

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There is a way to control your personal data in Facebook, and that is to use a fictitious name. That way, you connect only to the people you really want to connect with, and not to random, barely remembered people from your past.  No one needs to remember that "Dale Evans McGillicuddy" is your alias if you're in their friend list... especially if you put a real picture of yourself.

Above all, your personal data is perfectly safe, and you have all the facebooky connectedness with the people you really care about.

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Fantastic news.  I'm glad to see some improvements in the grid.  We've been struggling with these problems for a long time.

And those of you complaining that new improvements aren't being reflected in 1.23 viewers -- deal with it and move to a 2.4 or newer viewer if you want the new tech.  1.23 is obsolete and slowly disappearing, just like the Pontiac Fiero.  And while you may insist upon driving the Fiero, as time moves on you'll have more and more trouble with it.  At some point you have no choice but to retire the old vehicle and get a new one if you want the improvements of a new vehicle.  If you insist on using old stuff then you resign yourself to that level of tech and no better.  And that's nobody's fault but yours.

Just take a day and get used to the new 2.4.  It's not the piece of bovine excrement that 2.0 was, and if you have 22" or bigger monitors the sidebar isn't even an issue.

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The improvements in sim crossings are welcome (even with the deceptive graph axis), but we are still sticking to the same outdated notion of group membership and virtually unusable UI for inviting people to groups.

Once again, here is my proposal:

  • a group owner defines people as having PERMISSION to be in the group
  • if the group owner revokes the permission, the person is ejected and can no longer rejoin
  • with permission to be a member, the person can join and leave and rejoin whenever they want...
  • ...and decide whether they want to be in group chat for a given group
  • ...the limit on the number of group chats you can have active at a given time can be varied by Linden Lab without affecting the number of groups you are allowed to be a member of
  • the group owner can give and revoke group membership permission and change roles from a website as well as inworld. In fact I'd take website instead of inworld.
  • fix the UI to work with the minimum number of steps and in the same way irrespective of the person's online / offline status and membership of your friends list.
Here once again are the issues with the current group invite UI:
  • Expected: If I click on an avatar name not in my friends list and click through to invite to group, I should be able to invite the avatar to the group WITHOUT RETYPING THEIR NAME
  • Actual: I have to retype their name every time
  • Expected: I can copy and paste their name into the group inviter UI
  • Actual: When the group inviter UI opens YOU CLOSE THE IM WINDOW
  • Actual: If you reopen the window or try to copy the name before inviting, its much harder than it used to be (i.e. in V1.23) to select the name from the IM window and you may get the timestamp as well
  • Expected: the person succeeds in joining the group
  • Actual: nearly every time the person fails to join the group and I have to go through the whole rigmarole again.
  • Expected: I can see who has an outstanding non-accepted invitation to my group
  • Actual: I can't.
  • Expected: If I accidentally mistype a name on a group invite and send it, I can rescind the group invite before the person accepts
  • Actual: I can't.
  • Expected: I can send a group invite using a mobile client
  • Actual: FAIL. It takes too long for the group info to load over wireless - for example, tried for 20 minutes, did not succeed.
Invite me to a group FJ!!! Invite me to a group Amanda!!! Using your iPhone from an airport!
Please fix this.

 

So you want groups to be invite-only? No open memberships? That won't go over well, trust me.

As for LL setting an arbitrary limit on open group chats.. COME ON. You want LL to start telling us how much chatting we can do?

Not sure why you have to type a name twice to invite. Are you trying to find them in search first or something? Go into group profile, click invite to open up the people chooser, select the search tab, and look them up once.

Using a mobile client to access SL is fairly new and limited. With all the issues that SL on a desktop has, you expect SL on a mobile to be a priority?

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There's nothing the lab won't do to try to coax users to switch to the crappy V2.

Except actually fixing the crappy V2.

QFT.

Any "improvement" that requires the use of V2 is a step further down a blind alley, IMO.

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I detested 2.0 with passions normally reserved for crooked insurance companies.

I like 2.4 and it is my viewer of choice.  This doesn't mean it's perfect; but neither was 1.23.

 

Do not think that the current viewer is no different than the ****-on-a-shingle V2.0.  It is a lot better and has been very reliable on my new computer.  Saying all V2 viewers are garbage because the first one was is no different than saying all Fords are garbage because the Model T couldn't drive up a hill forwards -- you had to back up over it (gravity feed tank).

For me, a perfect Viewer would have all the under the hood fixes in 2, but the UI of 1.23.  I keep hoping Phoenix will do that, and someday they might.  I'll move to that TPV as soon as they do so.

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On the one hand, the increased group capacity is lovely, and welcome. I've been juggling my "active" set of groups too long, and though I'm sure I'll get into that same juggling act soon, it won't be nearly as painful with 42 as it has been with 25.

Teleports is what I want to rave about though. I am one of those people who cheers when a teleport actually works. Between my collar, pony tack, etc. (all locked on, so advice to reduce my script load is pointless), I am heavily loaded with scripts and it's dismaying to have to spend 15 minutes just trying to get to the stables. Since the compression rolled out, I haven't had a single failure (and I'll be honest, I've been trying to make it fail). Yes, I'm well outside the "normal" curve for script loading, but I'm not all that unusual and I can say this: To my mind, teleports are now fixed, and the single biggest irritant in my SL experience has been corrected at last.

Well done, LL, very well done!

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I still don't get why some people get so uptight about being able to connect SL to Facebook. I have no issues about others finding out who I am....its not like I have anything to hide or have anyone to catch me cheating on them with an SL pixel. The way I see it, the only ones who feel the need to hide in SL are either RL cheaters, criminals, crazy people or sex offenders.

So yeah, great feature, the whole Social Network thing. Kudos.

That's an unfair generalisation. There are a lot of legitimate reasons for not wanting to use Facebook.

I personally never intend to have a Facebook account although I'm a happy Twitter user.

I do agree with you that it's nothing to get uptight about as ... and this is the important point ... it's all about choice! Want to link with FB - you can. Don't want to - that's fine too!

A lot of what LL are doing lately is all about choice, and that is great!

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Very nice to hear more in detail what the plans are, but had to make some remarks:

1. Group increase, great idea, I personally know people who are at the max and would like to have more.

2. Group Chat, I couldn't care less, most of the time it is nothing else then a bunch of spam for events. Personally I was thrilled with the option in Phoenix to disable group chat.

3 TP's improved, mmm,,haven't really noticed any improvement yet.

4. Viewer 2.x, I really would like to see a full 64-bit client 1st, instead of useless options like link to facebook and other social websites. Improve speed and stability 1st before even thinking of adding more futures.

Just my 2 cents.

Rhett

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I don't agree, A lot of people like SL, because it is their Second Life, here they can be or do what they might not be able to do in their other life.

Remember the words Second Life, Second. That says it all.

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I don't have an issue with SL being Optionally linked with facebook or whatever.  So long as I can choose to have nothing to do with FB or it's ilk, I'm fine.

The reason a good number of us don't want anything to do with a hookup between Facebook and SL is that this is called SECOND life.  It's not called FIRST life with lousy graphics.  I don't want to give Facebook any data on my life whatsoever, be it what I enjoy or what movies I go to.  And I certainly don't want them selling my marketing data to Thoroughbred Adult Novelties Corp (of burbank Ca.) because I happen to have a BDSM outfit in my groups (because I was hired to build something on their sim).

If I want Facebook to have my comings and goings in RL or SL, I'll give it to them.  If not, that doesn't mean I'm a philandering child pervert who has something to hide from the world.  It means that I didn't come to SL to be on Facebook -- I came to SL to get away from RL garbage like Facebook.  If I wanted to be in Facebook, guess where I would be?

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@Adam Spark :

I was discussing problems with usability for Group Invites. Obviously open access groups are not subject to these problems and my comments do not apply to open access groups.

If you could be in an unlimited set of groups and choose at any time which 40 of them you could chat in simultaneously, wouldnt that be ok? And if LL had to reduce that 40 to 35 next month, that would still be ok.

When someone IMs me who is not my friend, I want to be able to click on that IM and invite to group. Count the clicks and keystrokes to find and open the group profile and retype their name there. The system is already showing me the name, I should not have to retype it at all.

If you ran an SL business and were ever away from your computer you would understand why mobile group invites are important. The group invitation UI is broken and hopeless. Providing it on the web would be better for everyone and may be easier and more cost effective than fixing the client.

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FJ, while I realize that it isn't a top priority in the chat project, I am curios:

With the use of standard protocol and server, are there any plans for allowing external acces, i.e. chatting between SL and a "normal" XMPP client?

Yes, this would certainly be part of what we would do to extend this capability.  I expect it will show up on a chat system roadmap at some stage.

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The real test of sim crossings is high speed high prim vehicle crossings. I took one of my rideable sailboats out last night at high speed, notice little bumps at sim crossings but only one occasion where the boat flew up for a while.

Any reports from pilots?

This is good to hear.  I will be looking for other feedback on sim crossings.  So far this seems to be a tangible resident improvement, as opposed to foundational work that isn't directly seen by the community.

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If you ran an SL business and were ever away from your computer you would understand why mobile group invites are important. The group invitation UI is broken and hopeless. Providing it on the web would be better for everyone and may be easier and more cost effective than fixing the client.

 

@Aquarius: I ran a business for two years in here, up until almost exactly two years ago.

Mobile SL wasn't even heard of back then. Being able to do group updates via your mobile device will definately be a big boost, and it belongs on the drawing board, but I would think that it would be more logical to get the desktop client working first. Thats all I'm saying.

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Fantastic news.  I'm glad to see some improvements in the grid.  We've been struggling with these problems for a long time.

And those of you complaining that new improvements aren't being reflected in 1.23 viewers -- deal with it and move to a 2.4 or newer viewer if you want the new tech.  1.23 is obsolete and slowly disappearing, just like the Pontiac Fiero.  And while you may insist upon driving the Fiero, as time moves on you'll have more and more trouble with it.  At some point you have no choice but to retire the old vehicle and get a new one if you want the improvements of a new vehicle.  If you insist on using old stuff then you resign yourself to that level of tech and no better.  And that's nobody's fault but yours.

Just take a day and get used to the new 2.4.  It's not the piece of bovine excrement that 2.0 was, and if you have 22" or bigger monitors the sidebar isn't even an issue.

Thanks for the comments here Shockwave...

I realize that as we make improvements to the grid there will be controversy regarding client version support.  I also know that some residents will feel like this is a calculated move to force people to adopt viewer 2, but it truely is not.  However, the viewer 2 codebase (I'm not speaking about the UI) is certainly where I want us to be heading down the road, and the amount of time and effort that we decide to apply to make new feature work with the viewer 1 codebase will continue to be a challenge.

This situation (support for both codebses) will also come up with the new XMPP chat system and is something we are still deciding how to address.  Backporting this capability to viewer 1 will require development of a shim or bridge and more opportunity for bugs and performance problems.  Our direction needs to continue to be simplifying our codebase, not adding even more complexity.

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I have just recently finished 5 months of trying to give the viewer 2 interface an exclusive try, during which I used only it. The last straw for me was at the end of December, when anything I clicked on to edit turned all invisible on me under 2.4, and I could no longer see what I was working on. I re-downloaded viewer 1.x, fired it up, finished my chore for the client that day, got paid, and haven't looked back. My productivity shot back up to where it was before I determined to master viewer 2.x at the start of those 5 months.

So, I don't suppose there's a way of offering a choice of viewer interfaces: 1.x for advanced users, content creators, and 2.x for regular users, both just pasted on as skins to codebase 2.x? I've never tried a third-party viewer, but I'm given to understand that the Phoenix people are essentially doing it, or trying to....

Lots of softwares offer two versions, end-user and developer versions....

I suggest this because I totally agree, FJ, that it would be a pain in the butt to support two different codebases and really in the long run a bad use of resources that are ever more scarce, and I certainly wouldn't want to be in your shoes having to do it! Ugh.

Maybe we certify something like Phoenix (caveat as I say, I've not tried it, just an example) as the developer version, though Lord knows what the politics and legalities would be behind a word such as "certify."

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The latest build from the Phoenix repository properly autodetects 42 groups as the limit. For the latest release 818 you still have to change it manually.

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