My friend Ana Lutetia has invited me to write something about lag on her blog. Since lag was what we mostly got this weekend, I hope you’ll appreciate an update on what I had written about the subject over a year ago.
Here’s something I haven’t seen in many, many years. Yesterday, with Hair Fair hitting the grid as one of the most desired places to visit, and hundreds of exhibitors working hard to get their builds finished for SL6B, the grid suddenly started to misbehave, in a quite serious way (note: probably there is no correlation): logins failing, unusual high sim time dilation, and textures utterly failing to rez, to say the least.
Regions started to go down on their own and not get up automatically. This forced Linden Lab to get their teams working hard to restore around 8000 failed regions, with low rates of success. 6000 were brought up again, until only 2000 remained to get restored, and then another 6000 failed once more… and so on.
The result? Well, it was as bad as jumping to a brand new sim, with only a hundred prims in it, completely empty except for myself, and still watch time dilation floating around 0.4-0.7, and sculpty textures totally unable to rezz even after half an hour of patient waiting.
You can imagine how things looked back at Hair Fair, then — which was totally crammed full with avatars hopelessly trying to see anything. The usual Lag & ARC Nazis blamed everyone of bringing in their primmy hair and contributing to lag, while completely failing to understand that things yesterday were simply extraordinarily bad. Things were so bad, in fact, that I believe we had the lowest simultaneous number of avatars on the grid in the past year — since people were not only unable to log in, but they also quickly dropped out when it was clear that nothing would rezz, teleports would fail, and Group IM Chat was way more erratic than usually.
Linden Lab thus decided to bring in their emergency response team to deal with the issue. In an unusual feat of boldness, a decision was made to shut half the grid down at 11 PM yesterday. Now oldbies might remember the days when the grid, for “maintenance work”, was shut down several hours in a row — sometimes even taking days to get opened again. These days have been gone since Linden Lab introduced the Het-Grid — pretty much two years ago (the content of the original post is missing) — we now get “rolling upgrades” instead of a full grid shutdown. So an announcement that Linden Lab would shut down half the grid was quite unexpected!
And it’s definitely more serious that even they thought. After several hours have passed, at the time of writing this, a lot of regions are still down. It’s not been a nice weekend for most of us.
A big hug to the Linden Emergency Response Team as they delve deep in the code and probably in the dark corners of one of their main co-location facilities and work hard to get everything working again as it should!
Second Life’s Annual Hair Fair has launched a few days ago, and naturally enough, I couldn’t resist to drop by and have a look at it. After all, it’s just once per year that Six Kennedy and my good friends Washu Zebrastripe, Paisley Poindexter, Mikayla Kohl, among many others, put up this amazing (and rather unique!) fair up and running, showing off the best of the best of what has been done in the hair department lately.
Sponsored by Rezzable, Hair Fair 2008 proudly features four full sims, packed with the major movers and shakers of the SL industry. The architecture shows the hallmark of Washu’s “dream team” builders: rising from the hot sands of a desert, strange pyramids and ruins emerge from the ground, in a mix of Mayan, Aztecan, and fantasy architecture. Ruins of an ancient civilisation that now features as their most precious treasure… hair. It’s the El Dorado of hair!
Most hair designers give half of the proceedings to a charity (Locks Of Love) which provide hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children in the United States and Canada under age 18 suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis. Thanks to the incredible volume of sales on the first few days, I’m sure that a lot of children will smile happily at their new hair, although they might find it very strange if they’re told where the money actually came from!
Quite a few residents of the Second Life® virtual world tend to comment that a lot of restrictions in SL are, in fact, artificial, to create a false sense of limited resources. They are usually talking about things related to land, namely, how Linden Lab can artificially flood the market with more regions to drive the prices down (or do the reverse, when the prices are too low). There is no “physical reason” why the prices are at the level they are — beyond supply, demand, and the desire of a quick turnover and make a nice profit — except for Linden Lab’s release (or withholding) of more simulators.
However, there are quite a lot of “other” limits, many of which artificially imposed — specially on the programming side, but also on the building side — which might have made some sense in the past but that are just plain cumbersome these days. And we are living in Second Life assuming that these are part of the physical laws of our (virtual) universe. As we will see, some of them are far from “laws” but rather just “whims” of Second Life’s designers.
Fashion shows have always been popular in Second Life, and with the current generation of highly talented fashion designers bringing a unique — and very realistic! — touch to high-quality clothes in SL, it’s interesting to see how, in a little less than a week, people have been talking about “rules of conduct” on a fashion show.
In fact, they’re much less “rules of conduct” but guidelines of what you’re allowed to wear or not when attending those shows. So far, so good (fashion shows in Maoist China weren’t a pleasure to attend…), but strangely enough, those “guidelines” are based on an incorrect perception of the hugest problem on those shows: lag.
While it’s undeniable that all highly attended events are laggy — it’s a limitation of the technology — I was surprised to see that almost all “rules” are based on very old limitations of the SL technology, which plagued us in 2003-2005, but that have since then be “fixed” by Linden Lab, as both the client and the server software have dramatically improved.
Improved, yes, but the lag is still with us. And, in a desperate attempt to fight down lag, people are coming up with ancient “recipes” for fixing lag — unaware that they’re not really helping out, but just repeating old myths, that simply don’t reflect the state-of-the art of LL’s technology these days. Lag will remain with us for many more years, but not for the same reasons we had it in 2003-2005.
Read Brace Coral‘s, Hamlet Au‘s or Ana Lutetia‘s blog posts on fashion show lag… and then let’s take a look at those myths, why they are still popular enough to be part of the “rules of conduct”, and, well, what we can really do about fighting lag using the technology of 2008.
And let’s enjoy those fashion shows! Read More