Exciting Newness in the Works for Second Life from Linden Lab

So today upon doing my daily email check I noticed a new one from Second Life, it looks like some exciting changes are in the works for this new along with added support from our friends at Linden Lab.

 

Dear Second Life Residents,

It’s been an exciting summer at Linden Lab. Second Life celebrated its 14th anniversary, and shortly thereafter we also opened Sansar’s creator beta to the world. In addition, we are thrilled to announce a set of investments into Second Life and its communities that will include enhancements to our engineering support, customer support, billing systems and upgrades, and customer acquisition outreach. In all, we’ve budgeted many millions (USD, not L$…) in the coming year to make SL even better, and we’ll keep everyone up to date on improvements as they roll out (or sooner).

This summer’s milestones have given us all another opportunity to reflect on just how strong the Second Life community is, what an incredible history SL has had so far, and what an amazing future lies ahead for the virtual world and its Residents.

For more than 14 years, you’ve created memorable experiences, diverse communities, close relationships, thriving economies, engaging art, exciting events, and amazing creations of all kinds. You’ve made the world, and we’re proud to provide the platform and tools that help you to do so. We at Linden continue to be impressed by what we witness from Residents every day, and we want you to know that we share that commitment to and love for Second Life.
Here are a few of the things you can look forward to soon:

• We are hard at work upgrading all of the SL infrastructure and moving it to the cloud, which will bring a wealth of opportunities to Residents near and far, and allow us, among many other things, to make SL more performant for Residents across the world from us. It may also allow us to introduce new products with more flexible pricing.
• We’re working on several features to increase the value of Premium subscriptions. Most recently we gave Premium members priority access to near-full events, and shortly, we’ll be ready to unveil another bit of exciting news for subscribers.
• We’re building out a series of great extensions to Windlight (code name: EEP!), which will give value, flexibility, and new marketability to land, and will make Windlight settings tradeable assets.
• We have an extension to the animation system in the works (code name: Animesh) that will allow non-avatar objects to use more powerful and efficient skeletal animations the way avatars can today, and even more changes planned for creators and merchants later in the year.
• We’ve also got new experiences and events coming. An exciting new grid-wide gaming experience is coming soon! The team can’t wait to share the details with you in just a few days. Also in the works for this fall is an updated Halloween Haunted Tour, with new spooktacular events to celebrate. Not to mention, we’re turning 15 next year – SL15B, baby! That’s an incredible milestone and we are looking forward to collaborating with you to produce an amazing celebration.

Long live Second Life and long live the creative process in the amazing worlds that you’ve trail-blazed! Thank you for filling SL with your creations and communities all of these past 14+ years, and here’s to many, many more together.

Best,
Ebbe Linden, CEO & the Second Life Team

DoublePulsar: The Undetectable Backdoor

Second Life as we know seems to be hard to hack, But is becoming more evident it’s an open source for hacks and Malware as much as just surfing the Interwebs. Our advice is, NEVER EVER click on links sent to you In World! Sure your friends could send you a seemingly harmless link they found and just have to have you see it, and BAM! you are now paying a ransom to get your computer back.! So folk’s just DON’T!

While everyone was preoccupied with the Wannacry ransomware epidemic that began in mid-May, a bigger threat was secretly spreading through tens of thousands of computers. It locks up files and demands a ransom, too, but that’s just a smoke screen designed to distract victims from what this sneaky malware is really up to. Here’s what you need to know about DoublePulsar…

What is DoublePulsar?

There are lots of movies that deal with the theme of “lab experiment gone wrong.” In Jurassic Park, for example, the dinosaurs created by well-meaning scientists escape from the lab and wreak havoc on the outside world. A similar thing has recently happened, but in the digital world this time.   

The U.S. government’s premier spy agency created a program called DoublePulsar that enables undetectable infiltration of a target computer. Then someone stole DoublePulsar and a bunch of other NSA spying tools. A hacker group known as the Shadow Brokers posted the NSA tools online, and they were immediately exploited.

Before encrypting an infected computer’s data, this malware scans documents, email, browser histories, and other targets looking for login credentials. With credentials, hackers can infiltrate an entire enterprise network and work all sorts of mischief. Data can be stolen; operations disrupted; and computers turned into slaves to hackers’ other projects.

NSA DoublePulsar hacking tool

For consumers on home networks, being enslaved as part of a botnet is the most serious danger. Some bots are being used to launch spam campaigns. Others are being exploited to “mine” cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, creating wealth for hackers from the computing resources of others.

The galling thing about this malware is that it uses a sophisticated hacking tool developed by the National Security Agency (NSA). DoublePulsar allows malware to enter target systems undetected by 99% of commercial security software. The malware can be injected into the kernel, the heart of an operating system, where the malware will have the highest system privileges.

Conscientious consumers can protect themselves. Microsoft has issued two sets of Windows patches designed to ward off the stolen NSA hacking tools. But the NSA has not been forthcoming about all of the Windows vulnerabilities it has discovered, prompting Microsoft president Brad Smith to blast the NSA and other government agencies that don’t share knowledge that could improve everyone’s security.

Undetectable malware is on the rise. In mid-June, 2017, a new technique called “fileless malware” was used to infect the point-of-sale systems of several hundred restaurants. This type of malware is never written to a disk; it is injected into RAM and does its dirty work there. Most anti-malware software scans for “signatures” in executable files, and overlooks fileless malware.

In the past, only governments had sophisticated hacking tools like these. But now, Shadow Brokers is offering subscription access to NSA tools, and a user interface called Metasploit that makes child’s play of plotting and executing a global ransomware or credential-stealing attack. Anyone with a few hundred bucks can wreak global havoc.

The biggest fear among security experts is that DoublePulsar and other NSA tools have been used to compromise the computers that run critical infrastructure such as power grids, hospitals, railroad systems, traffic lights, and so on. Lives could be at risk.

The best that consumers can do is keep their systems up to date with security patches. I mentioned earlier that Microsoft has issued Windows patches designed to ward off the stolen NSA hacking tools. Those patches were released back in March. So it was failure to apply security patches in a timely manner that allowed WannaCry and DoublePulsar to attack and spread widely.

If you’re not already configured for automatic Windows updates, you really should be. Here’s how to do it:

In Windows 7, click the Start button and enter “windows update” in the search box. Open Windows Update from the search results list. In the left sidebar, select “change settings.” Under “Important updates,” select “Install automatically” from the drop-down menu. Pick a convenient time for Windows to install updates and restart your PC, if necessary. The default is 3:00 a.m.

Windows 10 installs updates automatically by default. To fine-tune Win 10 updates, enter “windows update settings” in the search box on the taskbar, and click on that phrase in the search results. Next, click the Advanced link, and check the box next to “Use my sign-in…”. This allows Windows 10 to complete the installation of updates that require a restart. When this option is checked, Win 10 will log you out, restart and install updates, then log you back in.

If you use Microsoft products such as Office, check the box that enables updating of those as well as Windows. The rest of the options should be left as they are unless you have a compelling reason to change them.

I’d like to Thank Bob Rankin for Sharing his expertise in computer security and how to stay safe.

Have a Happy And Safe 4th of July

Deuce Marjeta

Linden Lab Special Interactive Gift for 14th Birthday

To celebrate, Linden Lab has put together a special (and somewhat mysterious) gift set.

We’re not entirely sure what a Sananok is, but the Moles assure us they are friendly creatures that tend to keep to themselves and need a good home. Each Sananok avatar comes with a mysterious egg, which is  in fact so mysterious, not even the Moles know what it will hatch into.

Sananok Avatar

SL14Blog.png

A wearable avatar that includes a shape and an alpha layer.

Mysterious Egg  (Rezzable or wearable)

Egg.png

Things you can do with the egg:

  • Rez it out your parcel, make it feel at home.
  • Add it to your avatar to carry it around with you (perhaps for a night on the town?).
  • Have a tea party with it, it’s all good.

Keep an eye on your Egg as it will, from time to time, tell you things (like when it’s getting ready to hatch!).

Stop by the SL14B Birthday Regions and grab this gift from any of the gift kiosks available!

8 Things You Should Know About Support Tickets

8 Things You Should Know About Support Tickets

No one wants to have to deal with issues in Second Life, but we all face them. It is the nature of the game. All kinds of things pop up here and there and luckily, with ZoHa Islands, you have Support on your side to help with these things. By following the list below, you will find you can get your issues taken care of very quickly, and move on to the real reason for being in SL… to have fun!

1. YOU MUST OWN ZOHA LAND.

This might sound a little obvious, but you would be surprised at the number of people that submit tickets each day, that are no longer ZoHa residents. They have moved to another estate that does not provide support, so they come to us asking for help. Sorry, we only have time for our residents. Best of Luck to you.

2. DOUBLE CHECK YOUR USER NAME.

Use your USER NAME. Again, you would be amazed at the number of tickets we get that either use a display name or have a typo in the user name. There is no way to search for display names especially when special characters are involved. While we are good at quite typonese in writings, we simply have no way of finding you if you don’t spell your user name right. By the way – These same people, generally speaking, are the ones who jump in group chat and complain about not receiving a response to their ticket. We don’t have a database of “possible variations” of your name. Please take a moment to double check your name, so we can find you.

3. EXPLAIN THE ISSUE IN DETAIL.

If all you have in your ticket is “I need help.” or “I have questions” then your ticket falls to the bottom of the list – we need details to better assist and investigate prior to contact. When we get over-loaded with tickets we take the highest priority first.  You are going to have to type out an explanation/question sooner or later. By explaining in the ticket, you only have to do it once and we can be ready with answers when we contact you.

4. YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY TICKET.

ZoHa Islands has approximately 4500 residents at any given time. Please, please, please do not assume you are the only one that is having a problem. We have several tickets running at all times. Long-term residents that remember the old way of getting support simply did not know how many times people sent an IM directly to an Estate Manager and never asked in group for help. The group chat has ALWAYS reflected a mere small percentage of the support issues we address each day.

5. GRIEFER:

If you have a griefer, you do not need a ticket. Simply say so in group. “I have a griefer on White Marsh” we will come running. Starting off with “hello” or “can I speak to someone?” will not get you the attention you need quickly. Tell us what you need!

6. LAND SALES DO NOT REQUIRE A TICKET.

We have Sales Agents on duty 24/7 with that being their responsibility. Just say in group that you want to get new land. Whether it be additional land, or upgrade/downgrade.. just say so in group. “I need a Sales Agent” or “I want to buy new land” anything like that you are comfortable saying.

7. NO RESPONSE!!

If you do not get a response to your ticket by the time you log off, please be careful of your incoming IMs the next time you log on. Many times people are not online when we respond. Usually, it is due to them crashing about the time we respond. Please do not assume you were ignored. If it has been several HOURS, you may want to resubmit your ticket. See #2 and #3 above!

8. ADD SUPPORT TO YOUR ORB:

Support ZoHaIslands is the user name of the support avatar. Adding Support to your orb is not mandatory, but it is helpful to quickly address issues.

Please remember, we are coming to help YOU. We want for you to have an enjoyable SL experience. We are on your side.

 

Thank you for your Valued Business

ZoHa Islands Support

The Down and Dirty Truth on Lag and How You Can Improve Your Viewer’s Performance.

Been awhile since we covered this on the ZI Blog – So here goes for an UPDATE!

Much original credit to original posting:

The Second Life Wiki has a plethora of information for SL Residents — from answering frequently asked questions, to how to manage private regions, to improving viewer performance.

For those of you using the SL viewer, I thought I would share some good information that can be found in the Wiki regarding how to get the most out of your SL experience by a few tweaks of the viewer. The full article can be found by clicking here: How To Improve Viewer Performance.

Linden Lab suggests always maintaining your computer to run at it’s optimal performance. This can be achieved by following these simple steps:

• Routinely removing unwanted files and programs from the system.
• Defragmenting your disk drive regularly.
• Using anti-Malware software to remove spyware, virues, and other malware.

Follow the recommendations here to improve overall performance of Second Life and to address many common lag problems.

Another Important Maintenance Tip: CLEAN THE DUST FROM YOUR PC TOWER OR LAPTOP REGULARLY!

THE BASICS
• Make sure your computer meets the minimum system requirements. (Click here: SL’s Minimum System Requirements). It’s best to exceed them to prevent bottlenecks, since they are the bare minimum required to run Second Life. A slower processor, older video card, or low memory can contribute to slow framerates.

• Make sure you have working drivers for your video card. Search the SL Forum for posts on your video card. The latest driver is not always the best.

• Make sure your firewalls are properly set up. Click on the following link for firewall information: Using Second Life with a firewall.

• Check to see if your hard drive light is showing a lot of activity. If it is, your system may be running low on memory and using hard drive swap space instead, which is significantly slower.

Based on statistics collected by Linden Lab:
• Make sure you are the latest Windows Release – do regular updates!

• If you are using Mac OSX, upgrade to 10.9 or better, always use the latest releases.

• Use a 64-bit version of Windows if you can.

Second Life Third Party Viewer Directory – we recommend Firestorm.

Important: Second Life allows but does not support wireless connections. Always use a hardwired connection if possible.

OPTIMIZE YOUR DISPLAY PREFERENCES
Optimize your preferences to help Second Life run more efficiently. Try the following:
• Choose Me > Preferences
• Click on the Graphics tab.
• Move the Quality and speed slider to Low.
• Click the Advanced button
• Move the settings on the Mesh detail sliders to “Mid” or “Low.”

In general to improve performance set the Draw Distance to 128m. Depending on the region you are in the SL environment may be overloading the render process. This is the number one cause of poor performance on high-end gaming rigs in SL.

Set the Avatar Complexity Information to 350k or lower. This setting will render 90+% of all SL avatars and engage the video crasher protection. Avatars over the maximum avatar complexity will appear in various colors “Jelly dolls” resembling giant gummy avatars, (NO this is not a joke)

Set your Max Bandwidth to 80% of your download speed or 1500, whichever is less. The tells the server how much ‘update’ data to throw at you. This controls ONLY the UDP protocol, which has no error correction. Lost packers are lost damaging performance.

Set avatar impostors at 12 or 14. This setting stops the viewer from fully rendering avatars further away from your avatar. It reduces the render load with little if any visible change in your scene.

If you are on a laptop, make sure your system is using the video chip. The chip pulls power and a laptop in power saving mode will turn off the chip and render everything by CPU.

Check the Speed for your CPU – SL Viewer performance is very sensitive to processor speed. Core speed is more important than the number of cores. CPU and memory speed can kill viewer performance.

Autoplaying your music and media can be very demanding on some PC equipment. Use manual play instead:
• Choose Me > Preferences > Sound & Media
• Deselect Allow Media to auto-play.

Review the rest of your preference settings disable any unused features:
• Choose Me > Preferences or press Ctrl-P).
• Try disabling settings such as Play typing animation, Name tags, and Arrow keys always move me.
• Even minor items can add up to significant improvements in performance.

The skin on your viewer can also cause lag – pink or red skins will be more visually demanding – always choose a simple skin.

For more information, click here: Setting your preferences.

DON’T DISPLAY EXTRANEOUS THINGS
Make sure your Viewer is not displaying unnecessary information that may reduce performance:
• Choose World > Show> Advanced Menu.
• Choose Advanced > Highlighting and Visibility.
• Select Hide Particles.

Also to improve performance by gettngn rid of visual noise:
• Choose World > Show
• Disable Property Lines and Land Owners.

 

TROUBLESHOOTING TIPS
If you followed the advice above and are still experiencing performance problems, try the following.
• Exit and restart Second Life. This often is enough to fix the problem.
• Clear the cache. The cache is where the Second Life Viewer stores data on your hard drive for later retrieval.
To clear the cache:
1)  Choose Me > Preferences.
2) Click the Advanced tab.
3) Click Clear Cache.
4) After you’re prompted, restart the Viewer.

FIRESTORM VIEWER EXPERTS RECOMMEND THAT USERS DO NOT CLEAR CACHE EXCEPT IN SPECIFIC SITUATIONS

Check the Lag Meter:
• Choose Advanced > Performance Tools > Lag Meter. The lag meter breaks lag down into Client, Network, and Server lag, with corresponding indicators for each lag type.
• Click >> to reveal descriptions and advice for solving any lag problems you are having.
• Try teleporting to a quieter area or one with fewer objects, to see if the situation improves.
• Disable antialising.

Check your Ping Sim and Packet Loss values:
• Choose Advanced > Performance Tools > Statistics Bar to open the STATISTICS window.
The ping values are the time (in milliseconds) it takes to reach the server from your computer. If this number is high, it could indicate a problem with your network or internet connection. If Packet Loss is a nonzero number, your network or ISP may be having issues. See Using the statistics bar for more information.

• Check to see if there is anything blocking your computer’s ventilation ports, and make sure all the fans are working properly. Laptops in particular can get quite hot when placed on a flat surface, so you may want to try propping yours on a stand to increase airflow, or consider buying a cooling device like a “chill mat or a laptop cooling mat”.

• Finally, if you’ve overclocked or made other modifications to your computer, disable them until you can attain stability. You can use tools like Prime95 to stress-test your computer independently of Second Life.

USING THE STATISTICS BAR

The statistics bar presents a detailed list of information about the performance of your computer and Second Life. While the sheer amount of information can be confusing, knowing what to look for can tell you a lot about what’s going on in Second Life. Below we will go over the most important aspects.

To view the Statistics Bar, choose Advanced > Performance Tools > Statistics Bar. Shortcut Keys: Control + Shift + 1

Basic (This is YOUR computer info not the simulator)

Displays basic information about your Second Life performance. Click on the word Basic to hide or display this panel.

FPS: The number of times per second your computer is redrawing(or refreshing) what’s on the screen. Higher numbers are better. A framerate between 15-30 frames per second (FPS) is about as smooth as broadcast television.

Bandwidth: How much data is being transferred between your computer and the Second Life world. This number varies wildly depending on what bandwidth settings you’ve used, where you are inworld, what’s going on, and whether you’re still loading some things (objects/textures/etc) that are in your field of view. If bandwidth is 0kbps, something may be wrong (you may be partially disconnected).

Packet Loss: The amount of data being lost as it travels between your computer and the server. Any nonzero packet loss is bad; packetloss above 10% is very bad. Packet loss might be caused by a dying server (in which case everyone in the region would be experiencing it), a bad connection between you and Second Life (possibly a bad router between your ISP and Second Life, or congestion at your ISP), or problems on your local network (wireless networking, or internet security or firewall software on your computer).

Ping Sim: How long it takes data to go from your computer to the region you’re currently in. This is largely dependent on your connection to the Internet. If Ping Sim is high but Ping User is not, the server might be having problems.

Simulator (This is the info for the simulator you are on!)

Displays statistics for the region (simulator) you’re currently in. Click on the word Simulator to hide or display this panel.

NOTE: an “agent” is either a user in a given region (a “main agent”) or a user in a neighboring region (a “child agent”). Any user who can see objects inside a simulator region increases the load on that simulator. The nominal values below are for simulators running on a single simulator per CPU. On other simulators (such as water simulators), these number will be different.

  • Time Dilation – The physics simulation rate relative to realtime. 1.0 means that the simulator is running at full speed; 0.5 means that physics are running at half-speed.
  • Sim FPS – The simulator frame rate. This should now always be the same as the physics frame rate — 45.0 when things are running well.
  • Physics FPS – The frame rate at which the physics engine is running. This should normally be at or near 45.0.
  • Agent Updates/Sec – The rate at which agents on this simulator are being updated. Normally 20 updates a second, this will decrease if the simulator has a large number of agents on it.
  • Main Agents – The number of agents (users) who are on this simulator.
  • Child Agents – The number of agents who are not on this simulator, but can see it.
  • Objects – The total number of primitives on the simulator. This value does not include primitives being worn as attachments.
  • Active Objects – The number of objects containing active scripts on the simulator. This value does not include scripts inside attachments, unless the attachment wearer is sitting on a scripted object.
  • Active Scripts – The number of running scripts that are currently on the simulator, including scripts attached to agents and objects.
  • Script Perf – Number of LSL opcodes being executed a second by the simulator. Note that this is the number of ACTUAL instructions executed in the last second, not the theoretical maximum opcodes/second. If your simulator is not running very many scripts, this number will be low even if performance is good.
  • Packets In – UDP packets being received by the simulator.
  • Packets Out – UDP packets being sent by the simulator.
  • Pending Downloads – Number of asset downloads to the simulator that are pending. If this is greater than 1, this means that you may see delays in viewing notecards or scripts, and rezzing objects.
  • Pending Uploads – Number of current uploads of asset data pending. If this number is non-zero, this means that there may be performance issues when attempting to teleport.
  • Total Unacked Bytes – The size of the reliable packet data sitting on the server waiting to be acknowledged. A large number may indicate a thin pipe or other possible problems between the viewer and the sim.

Time

The following are the different times listed in the Time section of the Statistics bar. Click Time to hide or display this panel.

  • Total Frame Time – The sum of all time values listed below it, this measures how much time it takes the simulator to run everything that the simulator is trying to do each frame.
    • < 22 ms – The simulator is healthy, everything is running as fast as it can, and more scripts can be added without reducing the performance of individual scripts.
    • approx. 22 ms – The simulator is healthy, but there are probably a lot of scripts and agents on the simulator, meaning that script execution is being slowed down in order to maintain the simulator frame rate.
    • > 22 ms – The simulator is experiencing severe load, either due to physics or a large number of agents, such that even by slowing down script execution it is impossible to compensate. The simulator frame rate has been reduced as a result.
  • Net Time – The amount of time spent responding to incoming network data.
  • Sim Time (Physics) – The amount of time that frame spent running physics simulations. In general, this should be less than 5 milliseconds.
  • Sim Time (Other) – The amount of time that frame spent running other simulations (agent movement, weather simulation, etc.)
  • Agent Time – The amount of time spent updating and transmitting object data to the agents.
  • Images Time – The amount of time spent updating and transmitting image data to the agents.
  • Script Time – The amount of time spent running scripts.

Please keep in mind that some of these tweaks may improve performance (i.e. reduce crashing, reduce lag, etc.) but they also may affect the visual look of Second Life. By lowering graphics settings, turning off antialiasing, etc. it will affect the quality. You will trade performance for sharp visual quality. Play with the settings until you can get a balance of performance and visual appeal.

FIRESTORM VIEWER USERS: I strongly recommend joining the in-world Firestorm Users Group. There, you can get instant online help from FS staff as well as users. Also they frequently hold in-world classes on the viewer. I highly recommend these classes. They are extremely helpful.

New Monthly Credit Process Limits Announced By Linden Labs

In case you missed it, Linden Labs announced that they were changing the LindeX billing & trading limits to help alleviate the potential for fraud back in December of 2016. Well, that time has now arrived!

The ability to purchase and “cash out” Lindens has been a big benefit to many of our fellow Second Lifers, especially those who have been able to establish thriving businesses in world. In a sense, having these regulations helps keep that benefit secured and streamlined for those of us who use it often.

The new limits are:

LindeX L$ Buy Limit (24 hr):                US $1999.00

LindeX L$ Buy Limit (30 days):            US $1999.00

LindeX L$ Sell Limit (24 hr):                 US $1999.00

LindeX L$ Sell Limit (30 days):            US $1999.00

US$ Process Credit (24 hr):                   US $999.00

US$ Process Credit (30 days):               US $999.00

 

You are able to see where you stand within those new limits at any time by logging into your account and going here.

While this may not affect many folks, this can especially impact those who generally work with a lot of L’s each month with Process Credits and may exceed those thresholds. You are able to request a case-by-case review of an increase if these limits don’t suit your needs by going here. So, it’s certainly not the end of the world for high-volume Linden earners and consumers, but just another way Linden Labs is making sure that they’re enforcing financially responsible measures!

 

Bria Oceanside

ZoHa Blogger/Social Media