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FJ Linden

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About FJ Linden

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  1. As most of you are already aware, we are beta testing a new local payments system and we’ve hit a few bumps in the road. Again, we want to apologize for any inconvenience that this has caused for Residents using the beta system and we are here to help you get your issues resolved quickly. For those who have been affected, here is some information to help you get back up and running in Second Life. PayPal is Now Available as an Option in the Local Payments Beta Last week, we introduced PayPal as a payment option to choose from. So, if you’re in the beta, and would like to use PayPal, then just go to the billing management page and click “Add PayPal.” Once that’s done, you can then choose to associate PayPal with a recurring payment on that page. If you have an outstanding balance, then we will process the payment (within a day), your account will be back in good standing, and your PayPal account will continue to be billed on a monthly basis, as expected. Customers Affected by Billing Issues Will be Automatically Migrated Back to Main Payments System on Monday We have identified a small number of accounts that are nearing delinquency, or are delinquent, as a result of the known issues with the payments system beta. While we are working on the fix, we will switch those Residents back to the main payments system by 5pm PT on Monday, June 6. That should resolve your payment issues immediately, although you will lose the ability to pay in local currencies and other payment methods. The affected Residents will receive an email tomorrow and on Monday with more information. So, keep an eye out for emails from us and you can always call Customer Support at the 1-800 numbers provided in our previous blog post. For additional information, please read the Local Payments FAQ on the SL Wiki. And, thanks for your patience as we roll out the new payments system.
  2. Thanks for raising this issue with us. Protecting our users’ privacy is of the utmost importance to Linden Lab. Based on our investigation, we have determined that the spam was not the result of a security breach or our billing partner selling Second Life users’ data to any third-party. So, what happened? Unfortunately, it looks to be a case of email addresses collected by spyware, which can happen via a third-party application or website. The advertised site is not a property of Linden Lab or any of our partners. More information about this type of activity, and how email addresses are obtained through third-party software or websites, can be found here. Again, big thanks for bringing this to our attention. 
  3. We actually have just enabled a PayPal option for international. This functionality was just activated last week, so this should now be available to you.
  4. I wanted to clarify what has happened and what we have done about it. We are continuing to work through technical and policy issues that are identified through the beta test of our new billing system. This message was generated by one of our new international payments providers as part of a procedure for requiring additional information only in the case when initial tests for a valid payment method were unsuccessful. While this occurs for a very small number of transactions, it will cause the need for further information to be requested. However, the message response that was generated, as well as the request for sensitive personal information, was not acceptable. We have worked through the policy issues with our vendor and do not expect these requests to be handled in this way in the future. There may continue to be secondary level fraud checks, but we will never request personal information to be sent to any third party, in order for residents to make payments in Second Life or with Linden Lab.
  5. We recently began beta testing a new system that enables our international customers to use local currencies and other local payment methods when purchasing Linden dollars and conducting other financial transactions with Linden Lab. We want to make it easier, and less expensive, for our international customers to shop and do business in Second Life. After all, wouldn’t it be nice to use your own currency, or PayPal, to purchase Linden dollars and also save money on fees? We think so too. Based on our beta testing to date, we’ve learned a lot and discovered a few issues that we want to change and improve. So, I wanted to share our progress and what to expect as we roll this capability out to all international users later this year. Recent Billing Issues Will Not Affect Your Account Status: For those that have run into billing glitches, let me put your mind at ease. Some international customers have tried to pay us (to keep their account current) and they were unable to complete the transaction. If you’ve encountered this problem, then please accept our apologies. Rest assured that everyone who was not able to provide payments, due to this system issue, have already had their accounts manually restored as we work to implement a fix. The affected accounts are still in good standing and these customers will not lose their status or land as a consequence. Local Payments Will be Available in all Supported Viewers: Another concern that has been raised by the community is whether users can purchase Linden dollars using local currencies in Viewer 1.23. The answer is yes, although some people using Viewer 1.23 may have run into issues purchasing Linden dollars a few weeks ago. The issue has since been fixed. Now, customers who are in this beta can purchase Linden dollars using all supported Viewers. We Need to Make the Local Payments System Easier to Use: On the usability side, we have beta tested local payments with new and current international customers and we’ve found we need some additional usability work to ensure that purchasing Linden dollars (and other transactions) is an easier, intuitive experience. While we are doing that, we will not add any new or current Residents to the beta system instead they will stay on the standard payments system. But if you have already been using the local payments beta version, then you will continue to do so while we continue getting ready for a wider roll out. In late July, we’ll be ready to provide all of our international customers with comprehensive local payment options in a system that works seamlessly and is easy to use. I’ll be updating you again as we get closer to releasing the system. Thanks for you patience as we work out the kinks. And, if you have additional questions about the system, then there’s a comprehensive Local Payments article with a Help and Frequently Asked Questions (including how to contact Support) in English, Français, Deutsch, Español, Italiano, Português, and 日本語. Note: This blog post is also available in Français, Deutsch, Español, Italiano, Português, and 日本語.
  6. During the last few days, we have heard many concerns regarding some issues with our billing system. We are currently beta testing a new system that will ultimate make it easier, and less expensive, for customers to shop and conduct business in Second Life. As is true with any large-scale beta, we have run into a few bugs and system issues. The most important of which has been that some customers have tried to pay us (to keep their account current) and they were unable to complete the transaction. If you’ve encountered this problem, please accept our apologies. Some are concerned that their accounts will go delinquent and that they will lose their membership and/or their property. Rest assured that everyone who was not able to provide payments, due to this system issue, are having their accounts manually restored as we work to fix the larger issue. Those accounts are still in good standing and these customers will not lose their status or land as a consequence. We will soon publish a blog post that provides additional detail about this program and what to expect going forward. Thanks to everyone for your patience as we roll out updated billing systems.
  7. 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." Its pretty clear that a single UI to serve all residents doesn't work. You are thinking in the right direction here, as we need to be optimizing for classes of resdients with our UI. The underlying codebase needs to be unified, but that does not imply forcing residents to an experience that does not work for them. This is part of what the Snowstorm team is working through and has received tons of great feedback from the resident community. This is also where TPV's can really help to extend and customize experiences. Content creators will have very different interface and tools capability requirements than a resident who just wants to explore and experience Second Life's content.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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. 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.
  12. Responding to a couple of comments. Lag is not "fixed." I don't think I ever implied that in the post. I spoke of a single pain point (among many pain points) that comprise "lag." (For Nimh20 Vandeverre: I actually received feedback from Simon before posting this update, and he indicated that I might find lots of pushback, specific to that part of the blog, however I still believed it was important to call out this work.) There are plenty of areas that need to be fixed to help kill lag, I was just discussing one of them. Having a good set of sim performance profiling tools was also important to point out. Those tools will help us find the biggest contributors to lag and attack them in priority. On the group limits increase, the number 40 was not just arbitrary. We've done some testing and profiling to deterime how high we feel that number can be increased without reducing performance. I certainly don't want to be in a position to have to roll back to a smaller number (its not lost on me the disruption that causes residents), but changes to these limits require us to touch both viewer and server code (not simple nor quick). If we could just do a quick configuration change, then gradually moving the group limit number higher would have made sense.
  13. As we head into the fourth quarter, I wanted to share some of the progress that we’ve made since we realigned engineering and created our Platform team. The team is comprised of simulator, services, and viewer developers and testers (Platform Development), as well as our operations, IT, data warehouse and customer support teams (Platform Operations). The focus of the teams will be to drive “back to basics” improvements across the grid and evolve our current architecture into a scalable set of services and APIs. Let’s take a look at our progress over the last few months, delivering against the goals that Philip set at the Second Life Community Convention (SLCC), in August. I’m happy to report that we have already delivered on a number of those, and are making good progress toward the rest. A few of them may take longer than we’d originally anticipated, but we plan on completing all of them. Below you’ll find a list of projects and initiatives we’ve delivered on in the two months since SLCC, as well as some back-up performance data. A number of these projects will have a major impact on the Second Life experience, as we currently know it. Expect to see further posts from some of the Platform team, focused on how we are improving Second Life in terms of faster performance, increased stability, and a generally smoother experience for all. Reduced Lag Here’s an interesting factoid: there are about two million teleports in Second Life every day. Previous to our recent release of Server 1.42, when an avatar teleported or crossed into a new region, everyone on the destination sim would experience a “lag” event as the simulator stalled while processing the incoming avatar. This was often experienced as “jitter” on the sim, especially evident when many avatars arrived at the same time, such as for a live event. In the new simulation code, this slow point has been moved to a separate thread. Our simulator performance profiling tools show that this lag pain point is almost entirely gone, greatly improving performance for highly trafficked regions. Faster Texture Loading In August, we made some changes that improve the speed with which textures are loaded in a scene. Our release of HTTP Textures changed the way textures are delivered to, and loaded in, Viewer 2, resulting in less waiting around for the scene in front of you to come into focus. This change will also serve as the foundation for a series of bigger improvements, including the deployment of a new asset system, which will improve texture loading and object rez times even more. For the real techies, here’s the back story: Last month, we moved away from the Isilon storage clusters, as our primary storage for assets. Most assets are now stored on Amazon’s S3 platform, and we have deployed a “middle-layer” caching service, which is where most asset calls will be served from. The time to complete asset “puts” and “gets” (the times that the viewer requests assets and times those assets are delivered) has improved significantly. We reduced the average PUT latency by over 60%, from 1.3 seconds to 0.6 seconds, and our GET latency by 20%, from 0.25 seconds to 0.20 seconds. What does this really mean? Well, when you add up the cumulative time saved in asset latency across the millions of requests a day, there is a net savings of over 4,000 hours of time shaved off of asset latency per day! That translates into less load on the simulator processes and better rez times in Viewer 2. The next step here is to get the simulator out of this process, and that will happen in early 2011. At that point, we’ll have extended our asset services and can begin enabling a content delivery network (CDN), bringing latency-sensitive assets (objects and textures) closer to Residents for even faster rez times. New Chat Service Coming Soon We’re finally going to tackle the group chat problem that has been a Resident complaint for a long time. Group chat can often be confusing, with “chat lag” causing responses to appear late, or sometimes not at all. You should start to see real improvements in this early next year. Over the last few months, we’ve completed a number of development sprints to prototype an XMPP service and have decided to move forward with an ejabberd deployment. We’re targeting to have a test deployment of the new group chat service by the end of this year, and full production deployment in early 2011. Group Limits Will be Raised to 40 Another big pain point for Residents is the current limit that lets you be a member of only 25 groups. We plan to raise this limit to 40 by the end of this year. In the past, our biggest concern about raising group limits was potential performance degradation, with additional stress placed on our central database. After completing some internal analysis, we now feel comfortable enough to extend group limits up to 40. I’ll put a qualifier on the group limits increase, however, and state that if we see a decrease in performance (i.e., more lag), then we may decide to roll back to the 25 limit again. Snowstorm Driving Viewer 2 Improvements At SLCC, we announced Project Snowstorm, our new open development program for Second Life’s Viewer 2 client software. Snowstorm is already incorporating Resident input, particularly around a more customizable user interface, has produced a number of beta releases, and is deploying daily open-source code releases. You’ll see the first fruits of their efforts in production very shortly, with the release of Viewer 2.2. New Main Grid Deployment Process It was pretty clear that if we were going to make velocity improvements, then we needed to be able to update our server software more than three to four times per year. As Lil Linden discussed last month, we have significantly changed our deploy process and are now deploying code on a weekly basis to the main grid (Agni). This means that bug fixes will be deployed faster and new features and functionality don’t have to pile up and wait for the next major “release train.” It also means that if we do encounter problems, then we are able to quickly back out the changes, without affecting other code that is working properly. This process also works much better with the agile development practices that we have formalized internally over the last three months. Display Names and Mesh Public Betas Available Today While we’re focusing our resources for the moment on platform improvements designed to make Second Life faster, easier to use, and more fun for all Residents, we are also testing two new features that had been in development for some time before SLCC. The new Display Names feature is in public beta, and will enable more freedom of expression in Second Life. We have also just launched the public beta of Mesh Import, which will revolutionize content creation in Second Life. So I encourage you to download the Project Viewers and share your feedback. I’ll share more with you on our “back to basics” technology projects in coming weeks and months. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts on our recent progress in the comments below. And, as always, thanks for all of your passion and participation.
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