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So, it's been revealed that Linden Lab is working on a new, next-gen virtual world, to some extent compatible with Second Life, but without that as a confining criterion. Overall, I'd say this is a very good development, as trying to maintain compatibility seems like a very easy means to swamp the new project with hacks to try to make it behave like the current world, rather than being able to learn from experience. Importation appears to be an intent, where practical - I know I'm quite attached to my av, though I suppose I could be won over. There've been other leporine avs since the Kani, of course, but there's just something about that look which.. feels like quite a part of me, by now. (Kudos to Ebbe, CEO of the Lab, for actually joining in the discussion!) Perhaps most significantly, for me, is the intent to head away from a land-based economy, where (almost) all sims cost $299/mo, leaving purely social venues or artistic projects in an awkward position, dependent on someone being able to shell out that much every month. If the simulator becomes more dynamic, only being required when necessary (an SL sim is always running, regardless), it's conceivable the cost could drop dramatically. Concurrency, of course, remains a tricky subject - WoW goes with shards, with its own issues, whereas an SL location is shared by everyone, making for very modest numbers - from 40 up to maybe 100 - possible before the lagmonster grips everyone.

I really hope Resan Till Fjäderkungens Rike receives English subtitles! What's not to love about seafaring bunnies, pirates, and a travelling circus? And all starring bunnies. ^_^

In CSS colors, from now on, rebeccapurple means #663399. Not that anybody wishes it'd been this way.

Double Fine's Broken Age: yea or nay? OS X or iPad? The latter version being about 1/3 the price, so, I'm not sure if I'll get significantly more or less between the two versions.

Yay, tickets booked for a return to my previous haunt next weekend. ^_^ First, stopping off overnight to visit Mum and take her out for dinner somewhere, before meeting up in town for an afternoon/evening of chatting, drinking, and generally enjoying the wonders of the locality. (And for the second time ever, I'm taking First Class. ^_^ Not that it's a long trip for the main leg, but still, FGW's seats there are rather nice, plus tables for everyone, and much quieter, plus the freebies - not much of a price difference, either. Indeed, cheaper than the South Western route I was originally intending on the way in, until I read of what weak sauce their First Class offering is - possibly a different design seat, and that's it, if anything)

Here's rather a good discourse on the value of Sailor Moon in feminism. Its image may be humble in some eyes, but, you might be surprised at how game-changing it actually was.

So, I'll be heading down to the old bunspot today, with the rental lens in tow. (At least, if the weather doesn't threaten to turn dramatically rotten) 'Course, buns are dreadfully unpredictable sorts, so I might well wind up looking at a meadow all evening, but they usually tended to be in evidence, particularly as the day drew on. Much as I'd love to visit the cider Mecca, the timing wouldn't really work, and the lens kit is enough to haul around. ^_^; Ah, someday. Definitely something I miss from living thereabouts, but there are always gains and losses wherever I move - I love the Bay Area, but there are precious few wild buns to be found, even in Tilden or San Bruno Mountain. Even as fond as I am of Bath, again, very little by way of wildlife, though I did finally twig that they were simply laying in wait on campus, until the afternoon stretched on, in a couple particular spots.

As for the buns - here's one of the recent shots, courtesy of said monster: "The art of the stretch", taken at improbable distance. I was absolutely delighted to find it hit Flickr Explore, resulting in around 7,000 views, and about 120 faves. Yay! All the better to spread the word of lapinity. =:)



(Interesting - looks like they've rejigged the layout again, this time for the better! Now, there's the photo, all the comments, the tags, the groups, all visible at the same time. Much as it had originally been, but still, if that's how Flickr's heading now, I'm all for it)

I noticed some welcome tidbits in the recent LJ News posting: LJ friends pages will remain in your journal style, with the new "feed" being another option (just use /feed instead of /friends), and that comments in new-style pages once more have subject lines.

SF Pride is next weekend, and yes, there will be a furry float. ^_^ If anyone's going along, I'd love to see photos!

Bounce Below "is a network of trampolines and slides mounted to the walls of an abandoned slate mine at heights of 20 feet to 180 feet off the ground. Visitors are welcome to climb, bounce, slide, and jump in the netting amidst a technicolor light show." - so, if North Wales is within reach.. !

Did you know it's International Red Panda Day on September 20th 2014?

Damn, that so much fun.. saw Avenue Q for the second time. =:D Even if you've heard "The Internet is for Porn" a thousand times, to actually see it performed in front of you is quite an experience. I'm deeply impressed by all the performers, bringing such life to their puppets - it feels oddly almost shameful to admit they are such. ^_^;
 
 
 
 
 
 
So, it's been revealed that Linden Lab is working on a new, next-gen virtual world

Interesting. I suppose we'll see what comes out of this; let's hope it won't be "the demise of Linden Labs" (and hence SL).

head away from a land-based economy, where (almost) all sims cost $299/mo, leaving purely social venues or artistic projects in an awkward position

That's only $299/mo if you want a full sim, though. You can always a) rent a parcel from someone else; or b) buy land on the mainland continents (admittedly you need a Premium account for that, and depending on how much land you want to own, you'll have to pay tier, but these aren't prohibitively expensive).

If the simulator becomes more dynamic, only being required when necessary (an SL sim is always running, regardless), it's conceivable the cost could drop dramatically. Concurrency, of course, remains a tricky subject - WoW goes with shards, with its own issues, whereas an SL location is shared by everyone, making for very modest numbers - from 40 up to maybe 100 - possible before the lagmonster grips everyone.

Funny coincidence — I just had a conversation with some friends about this a few days ago. Now, I don't know much about SL's grid architecture, but from what I understand, the grid consists of a number of (physical) servers, each running up to a certain fixed number of sims, right?

We were talking about lag (there's a lot of that to be found in the SL11B sims), and I observed that it might be better to have larger systems (physical or virtual) with some sort of dynamic resource allocation so that resource-intensive sims could have more CPU power, RAM etc. thrown at them, while little-used sims would be put on the backburner until they needed more power again. (Virtualization would further allow the Labs to migrate running sims to different hardware without interruptions in service, and other nice things.)

I imagine that might help with the lag. 100 people? I think you're going to get a "sorry, the sim is full" error long before that. :) In practice, ~70 seems to be about the maximum, and even then the lag will be unbearable. It's possible to support that sort of load, but you'd need to drastically cut down on scripts, both in your builds and (crucially) on your visitors. And really, that's a stopgap solution, isn't it? Scripting is one of the things that makes SL nice, and it should remain possible to make use of SL's facilities.

Scripts, BTW, are also the reason you'll never be able to power down sims entirely, even when there's noone in there. (Unless perhaps you had a sim that had literally no running scripts in it, but that's extraordinarily unlikely in practice.) I think it was in one of the Labs' own presentations that SL was once described as a world of interacting scripts occasionally visited by avatars: a spot-on observation.

Sharding (for public spaces, rather than databases) is evil and needs to go. It's also a public declaration that your company has been unable to design/code a proper solution, and instead decided to capitulate. :) It may work for games like WoW, GW etc. where having everyone in the same location isn't that important to begin with, but for SL it would be deadly — not to mention that if you have, say, five instances of a region each comfortably holding 20 people, there really is no reason why you couldn't have one comfortably supporting 100. And dynamic resource allocation and deallocation would ensure that you're still making good use of your iron even without spawning/despawning instances of regions as people come and go.

I do wish the Lindens well for their new endeavor, in any case. But I also hope that this won't spell the end of SL, because let's face it, a) there's nothing like it, b) the new project likely won't replace it, c) people have invested a lot into SL (financially, creatively, socially, emotionally etc.), and d) even if all that were no concern, if LL were willing to shut down SL in favor of a new project, who's to say they wouldn't shut down the new project the same eventually? LL would be well-advised to build a reputation as honoring commitments they made, explicitely or implicitely.

(cont'd)

Edited at 2014-06-26 11:42 am (UTC)
It'll be very interesting to see how the new simulator is designed - hopefully Ebbe will let the simulator team write up a White Paper on the topic. Dynamic allocation seems like an obvious (but not simple, when you start considering the details) potential win, though I also wonder if they might try for a different basic architecture, perhaps more based around avatars, which could then be split across multiple machines, reducing possible bandwidth or disk bottlenecks. Of course, this is all purely speculative - just, interesting to ponder, with them freed of the existing constraints.

Indeed, the current setup has something like one or two sims per CPU core, for full sims, as I recall.

Scripts - that's one of those interestingly fiddly problems they'll be wanting to address, I suspect. Conceivably, many could be suspended without effect - they might then provide an API to either expressly permit or forbid suspension, or hint that if necessary, this bit of code can indeed be safely suspended if required. Who knows? Perhaps part of the charging mechanism would then be resource usage, to encourage script frugality.

I wonder if the Lab uses, or may intend to use, SSDs in the servers? Thinking that might be a good boost toward rapid sim spin-up, given PCIe flash can be quite speedy - the drive inside Hazel manages in excess of 900MB/s, f'rex, so Ubuntu or Windows take only a second or two to resume.

I just hope they're really thinking ambitiously. ^_^ There are so many hacks we can do without, like a far better base av, intrinsic support for replacing limbs, four (or more!) legged avs without the current hackery, sim topologies other than square and flat.. let alone new enhancements like real water that could emit from a fountain, and run down a hillside, or real waves to surf.

As for scripting, I read somewhere that the current thinking is along Mono lines. They do seem keen to facilitate bringing the old world over, presumably insofar as it's sensible and feasible - no point having a fresh start, after all, if all the old inefficiencies remain. I dare say there'll be a great deal of discussion on such topics - it'd be great to do away with unnecessarily huge textures on objects which don't need it, and thereby contribute to perceived lag, but the gain would have to be communicated well. Potentially, maybe that too could come at an additional cost, to encourage more of a clean break, whilst still permitting objects of great personal significance that may never see an update. Updates too could be highly encouraged, possibly even partially funded by the Lab, to reduce the impact of moving.

All quite exciting. ^_^ Really looking forward to the beta, especially if, as seems highly likely, there'll be an iPad client.
I also wonder if they might try for a different basic architecture, perhaps more based around avatars, which could then be split across multiple machines, reducing possible bandwidth or disk bottlenecks.

Interesting idea, yes. Might be worth investigating, though I'd imagine one of the advantages of (indeed, reasons for) keeping avatars close to the sim itself (the actual process, not the region) is the desire to make interaction quick, easy and painless. If you'd need to do a remote procedure call/method invocation every time you wanted to have a script interact with avatars, or an avatar interact with an object (say, for a collision check), I imagine you'd quickly reach the point where even a very fat, multiply redundant backplane providing high bandwidth and short paths between any two nodes would quickly reach its limits. Bandwidth and latency can both be addressed, of course, but doing so comes at a price.

Scripts - that's one of those interestingly fiddly problems they'll be wanting to address, I suspect. Conceivably, many could be suspended without effect - they might then provide an API to either expressly permit or forbid suspension, or hint that if necessary, this bit of code can indeed be safely suspended if required. Who knows? Perhaps part of the charging mechanism would then be resource usage, to encourage script frugality.

An API to permit/forbid suspension might work (though you'd have to count on script authors getting it right, and then being honest and not defaulting to "never permit suspension, après moi le déluge"). Perhaps the Lindens could also look into provable suspension-safety; this could even be baked into the script compiler, marking provably suspension-safe script regions as such without any runtime overhead. (Doing this would again be non-trivial, though... I imagine it might be easier in a language like Haskell or Curry, but OTOH I'm fairly sure most scripters would balk at having to employ a functional language. Certainly it would be a radical change compared to LSL! :))

Charging per resource usage sounds like worthwhile. Users might actually appreciate a more flexible pricing model, and the Lindens already have a working, proven solution for micropayments in place as well (L$). I wonder how this would affect users, especially non-Premium ones, but perhaps there'd be a "resource allowance" — 50 LRUs (Linden Resource Units) for free accounts, 500 LRUs for Premium accounts, additional LRUs available for a fee. :) This would have the added benefit of incentivizing creators to make scripts use fewer resources — thus creating competition that would in turn benefit LL again, by optimizing resource usage and thus reducing the number of servers required for the grid.

I wonder if the Lab uses, or may intend to use, SSDs in the servers?

No idea. :) I imagine they've crunched the numbers and figured out at which point it'll become cost-justified to do so. If I had to make a guess, I'd say they're probably equipping new servers with SSDs, while not upgrading older ones with HDs until they're replaced. But that's just a stab in the dark.

I just hope they're really thinking ambitiously. ^_^ There are so many hacks we can do without, like a far better base av, intrinsic support for replacing limbs, four (or more!) legged avs without the current hackery, sim topologies other than square and flat.. let alone new enhancements like real water that could emit from a fountain, and run down a hillside, or real waves to surf.

That would be cool. Personally, I'd also like for the ocean between regions/estates/continents to be swimmable – a sea of void sims, in essence, unbuildable but crossable. Since these would never contain any permanent objects (just avatars and vehicles passing through), you could keep a pool of these available at any time that would dynamically pose as whatever position on the grid is required at the moment. :)

This would really bring the whole SL world together and allow you to e.g. cross a continent on foot on the Linden roads, then swim or take a ship to the next one, and so on, something I'm very much missing in SL.
I'm not so sure about the cost-effectiveness of SSD for servers running the sims. Linux will utilize whatever free RAM is available for disk cache and RAM is of course many times speedier than SSD. Has much drastically changed in terms of sim architecture in the last 6 or so years, since LL swapped in the Havok physics engine? Have they increased the allowance for physics, prims or running scripts on on a sim? Or are they now sticking 8/16 sims on a rack server now instead of the 2 before?

I'm really interested in the new project by the founder of LL (whats' his name?), that uses P2P networking. I've actually long thought of this so it's nice to see it happening, and they have a github to try it out and contribute code. Sims are hosted on owner's hardware. Clients that connect assist in distributing objects, therefore the more avatars visit your sim, the more bandwidth available to stream objects.

Scripting gets a bit tricky with a limited uplink but I've always thought one of the missed opportunities of Second Life was allowing client-side scripts. What do most scripts do on a server? Cause branches to sway? Change textures in a wall frame? Door open/close animations? Why not put these in a client where they never run if nobody is there to watch them? Why push all those rotation changes to clients if they don't see then - or when they can, do it within the client at full framerate.

In order to do this, there needs to be a robust time sync system in which animations can be driven by global clock rather than states. For instance, math function that drives the complex animation of waves on a beach - so animation can be fluid, in sync and with very little or no data to transmit. This is how animations are presently handled.
I suppose here we're rather in the dark, given the Lab doesn't tend to let the server team speak in public very often. I'd certainly expect a server to have at least 32-64GB, though again, quite how much actually tends to be used in a busy sim, I'm not sure. (Perhaps OpenSim usage is roughly comparable?) AFAIR, it's long been either one or two sims per physical core, so with octo-core processors, we might well have 8 or 16 on a server. (Hence why I'm tempted to wonder if the new architecture might be more avatar-centric than land-centric, so the load is much more spread out: CPU, memory, disk all)

You're thinking of Philip's Hi-Fidelity. ^_^ It's got some very interesting concepts, but I'm not quite sure he's in a position to make it all gel into a place people will find irresistible. But, early days yet.

Indeed, I was just pondering being able to idle scripts automatically, in my musings with Schnee above. There, though, I'm thinking of server-side. Maybe we can have both? There would seem to be a place, after all, for both - server side for actual features belonging to the land (or rather, installations on it), client side for things like animations. Either way, though, sync is definitely the tricky problem. I suppose what you want to wind up with is a setting where everyone's time isn't in global sync (ie at 2349.30:00 UTC, people may see the swinging pendulum at a different point in its swing), but in contextual sync (ie when the pendulum reaches the edge of its swing, a bell is rung). Wah! Are we getting into OOO execution logic? =:D Say there's a maze, with various controls - the actual, global state relies upon actions undertaken by both of the two parties running through it together.

That'll be some fun architecture to design. ^_^; I've no idea how to go about solving that optimally. I suppose one initial question I'd have would be whether lag varies much between av A, av B, and the sim. If it's prone to fluctuate, I wonder if it might work to have the same script being fed with data, and returning its results, at more than one location? Wherever the script runs, whether on a client, a sim, or some intermediate server, each result would be tagged with a serial number, so only the first result would be accepted by each client, with the earliest results coming from potentially different locations, for different clients.

Still, I suppose that's getting rather deeply into implementation specifics. For now, I'm more inclined to wonder about things like the land model, if indeed there is one, given Ebbe's clearly stated a preference to shift away from the high rents, and toward more of a sales tax. If the Lab can work out how to accomplish that, they could be onto something - sims like Taco wouldn't need to close, nor AM Radio's creations. Maybe we'll wind up with something of a hybrid, with central simulators still coordinating things, but much more running locally? Maintaining security would have to be central, of course, including anything currency based.

I really hope we get fluids in NeXTWorld. ^_^ I'd love to see, say, fountains in a garden, where the water can be led away down a gentle slope. Or even real surfing! And NPCs - that's long been a very weak area in SL. Would be so neat to have RP venues where there could be many NPCs simply adding to the atmosphere of the area, without the hackery of having to set up accounts for bots, and then run them as puppets. Similarly, it could be much easier to have wildlife in a forest, with all those wonderful sounds encountered in nature.
(cont'd)

(Interesting - looks like they've rejigged the layout again, this time for the better! Now, there's the photo, all the comments, the tags, the groups, all visible at the same time. Much as it had originally been, but still, if that's how Flickr's heading now, I'm all for it)

Indeed! Not as good as the "old" layout, still; I'd prefer if the photo wasn't a) on black and b) so large, and there's a lot of wasted screen real estate etc., but it's an improvement over the previous iteration.

Congrats on getting your photo Explore'd, too!

I noticed some welcome tidbits in the recent LJ News posting: LJ friends pages will remain in your journal style, with the new "feed" being another option (just use /feed instead of /friends), and that comments in new-style pages once more have subject lines.

Yeah. :) I have a feeling someone on the upper floors of LJ decided to position LJ as "the site that listens to/respects its users" (correctly figuring that the opposite would be LJ's death knell in the long run). One can only hope!

Did you know it's International Red Panda Day on September 20th 2014?

Heh! Didn't you use to be one?

Damn, that so much fun.. saw Avenue Q for the second time. =:D Even if you've heard "The Internet is for Porn" a thousand times, to actually see it performed in front of you is quite an experience. I'm deeply impressed by all the performers, bringing such life to their puppets - it feels oddly almost shameful to admit they are such. ^_^;

Sweet Luna's mane, I wish we had local musical productions. x.x
Mm, the original layout was quite well designed - efficient use of space, and showing all the info, including basic EXIF. That web design fad of trying to conceal things within multiple tabs and elisions drives me crazy. ^_^; The BBC adopts this to a weird extent, where a programme synopsis, which may only be three sentences in full, will always be elided after the first sentence, so you have to click to see the whole thing. Gah! Why?

Thanks. ^_^ It's really quite encouraging when that happens. I may well pop that up on 500px too, for that matter.

I wonder if LJ will offer permanent accounts again? Might be a fun experiment for them - they seemed quite popular back in the day, and I know I'd be up for never having to be bothered with a renewal, whilst still paying for the service directly, reducing the company's need for ads. (There's enough advertising in the world. We don't really need more of it here)

Indeed, I was a red panda for several years. ^_^ Still a species I have quite an affinity for, needless to say. I'd love the opportunity to photograph them in the wild, if such a chance ever arose.

I presume musicals like that are translated? Must be a tremendous challenge to translate songs, given the requirement to scan at least plausibly, but certainly possible, given the examples of MLP numbers in various languages, courtesy of YouTube. (With the explicit exception of Ukraine's.. egad!)
That web design fad of trying to conceal things within multiple tabs and elisions drives me crazy. ^_^;

Aye, same here. Sleek-looking is nice, but it shouldn't come at the expense of functionality. Form follows function: the cockpit of an A380 is by necessity gonna have a lot of controls and information, but on the upside it'll also allow you to fly the plane. A webpage providing functionality should not then hide it again in the name of simplicity.

I wonder if LJ will offer permanent accounts again? Might be a fun experiment for them - they seemed quite popular back in the day, and I know I'd be up for never having to be bothered with a renewal, whilst still paying for the service directly, reducing the company's need for ads. (There's enough advertising in the world. We don't really need more of it here)

Aye, we don't. :)

Not sure if they will; permanent accounts bring in some cash, but people will then also stop paying monthly (or not start doing so, if they were free users before). Current permies might also object, seeing their special status threatened — at least some. (No doubt it's gonna be those that bought their permanent account, BTW, rather than those who were gifted it in return for having done something important for the site.)

If I had to guess, I'd predict LJ will only do so again if they're in a dire need for cash, quickly.

I'd love the opportunity to photograph them in the wild, if such a chance ever arose.

Yup! That would be splendid.

I presume musicals like that are translated? Must be a tremendous challenge to translate songs, given the requirement to scan at least plausibly, but certainly possible, given the examples of MLP numbers in various languages, courtesy of YouTube. (With the explicit exception of Ukraine's.. egad!)

They do translate them, yes. I've never been to a musical, so I can't say how good the translations are, but given how much money musicals cost AND generate and how crucial the songs are, I'd imagine they'd put a LOT of effort into this, much more than TV shows do.

OTOH, smaller productions will be less likely to be performed abroad as a result. Starlight Express, Cats, The Phantom of the Opera, The Lion King, sure... Avenue Q, Spamalot etc.? Less likely. (Not saying they aren't done at all, though.)
I was at Pride and managed to snap this quick photo of the float while running to meet up with the Twitter contingent: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10103836454670900&l=743a43f587

It's not a very good shot. I'm sure you can find better online.

Avenue Q <3.