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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Tales from the Hypergrid Nights

Vector's Vortex

This is a story I've been struggling to find my way into telling. The usual travelogue doesn't suit what this is. This is more than tourism. It's a magic carpet ride. The sort of magic carpet that might manifest as a bubble, or a flying book, or even as dragons.

Outworldz: Dragons
Next Reality

Can you imagine? But it is more than imagining. It is immersing. It is more than following a guide and listening to the spiel. It is a group immersion. Where the travel group learns to act as a whole and make things happen. One is the head another the feet. If you lose someone the team works together to get them back. We have gone from separate curious avatars to being able to dance together as one body of many unique beings. We dance together every chance we get.
Vector's Vortex

Dark Shadows

Yo Frankie

We are the tales we will tell you. We are a shape-shifting crew of travelers,
Vector's Vortex pic by Karima Hoisan

 in an invisible boat sailing through Arcadia Asylum's imagination with Virtual Christine as navigator.

Spirit of Arcadia

Spirit of Arcadia

We are stalking the Gorillas in the Mists of Virunga with our cameras.

Virunga Mountains

Virunga Mountains

We have a need for speed. Be it by motor cycle, tiger, or cow.

Motopolis Opensim Speedway

Pantherian Swamp

Yo Frankie MooFerd Track
We take our hunts beyond the plains and swamps to search for treasure at Winter,


Winter Hunt

search for romance at The Valentine Hunt/Ball,

Truelie Telling at the  Coca

Shannans World
Shannans World

and search for each other across intricate and beautiful regions at Ekisaito


Meeting Ekisaito creator Oopsee Joseppe (blue dress)

Celebrating Mardis Gras at the French Quarter and Meddlesome Roleplay.

French Quarter

Meddlesome Roleplay

We have a need for story be it a reading at Seanchai, visiting the ghosts of Hypergrid Tales lingering at the Redlight Club, or touring the World of Turia built as a tribute to the 33 novels of John Norman's Gor series?
Seanchai Library on Kitely Grid

Redlight Club Next Reality Grid

Turia at Counter Earth Grid

During our tenth journey on the magic carpet of the Hypergrid Nights. We wandered through the interactive educational builds at VIBE grid. 


 Then our sleepless and winter-weary band of explorers made the last hop of the evening to The Library of Alexandria region.


The oracle asked what I was looking for.

Me: Sleep.

Oracle: Sorry I can't find that.

Me: That's okay. Neither can I.

I asked for romance instead.

She carried me off in a bubble to an island in the sky.


The library delivered a book to my inventory. The Little Princess.  Girls where I come from don't get to be princesses. I've always been down with that. I'd rather ride dragons than be rescued from them. But maybe you shouldn't write off the princess life until you've looked it over.

Talia Sunsong

Would it be so bad to twirl around a ballroom in the arms of a dark-eyed prince. Isn't that what stories are for, a way to try a thing on before you buy into it? 

Our adventurers have spent ten different nights trying on unique realities. May there be many morenights, at least a hundred times that, plus one more.

Perhaps with Osgrid returned we can visit 1001 Nights region. The Mysts of Devokan are waiting our arrival and I  believe we'll be surfing in Hawaii and tubing down the lava tubes.  There's is an opening day at the ballpark in Dankoville and, and... You will have to come and see. We're always plotting fun.

List of sites we visited the first ten weeks:

grid.kitely.com:8002:Seanchai Library
Next Reality-- login.nextreality.biz.:8002
Virunga Mountains-- www.outworldz.com:9000

Spirit of Arcadia 1-13 on Sanctuary:
Turia-- jand.dyndns.biz:7002:Turia 2
grid.kitely.com:8002:French Quarter:
grid.kitely.com:8002:Vector's Vortex:
grid.kitely.com:8002:Meddlesome Roleplay:
Yo Frankie-- www.outworldz.com:9000
 Ingen-lab.com:8002:Motopolis Opensim Speedway

VIBE-- vibe.bio-se.info:9000
world.narasnook.com:8900:Pantherian Swamp:
world.narasnook.com:8900:Shannans World
world.narasnook.com:8900:Selkie Island:
world.narasnook.com:8900:Siobhan Muir 1:

Saturday, February 7, 2015

In the wake of our second huge event turn-out in less than a month, and in the wake of the chaos caused by three of the 30+ users attending, it's time to discuss the issues and the choices event hosts have to make as the party slows to a crawl. You know who is lagging you. You don't want them to have to leave. You stay silent and the whole thing comes apart. You say something to save the event but it ruins it for you because you turned out someone you care about.

How does a single user crash the system?

A high latency user is a user with a connection slower than good catsup. I know and love several users with this problem. I anticipate their arrival on my grid, savor their company, and I want to have them at the big events because they are cool and they are fun. Trouble is, once they join your workshop/grid-hop/party--other users are blocked from arriving, local chat becomes impossible, teleports grind to a halt. Under the server's hood a data tsunami is building, and when it lets go, all the avatars will go down.

Think of it this way:

My father was what I like to call a ponderer. If you wanted a banana for breakfast, you better ask the night before. Otherwise it might be dinnertime before you got approval for your breakfast. Add to that, he had nine children to care for on his own. This is a high latency responder in a high traffic situation. Kids can generate requests at the rate of about a hundred per second: Can I? Will you? Are you? How do you? What if? How does?

Multiply that by nine. Pop's mental queue was so overwhelmed that the answer to any question not involving threat to life or limb was likely to be delivered a week to a month after it was asked. RL chat lag at work. 

Basically this is the Opensim latency issue. We have have the host grid server which is spitting out requests like an impatient child to the incoming avatar: Tell me this this info. Give me that data. Do you hear me? Huh? Huh? Huh? Did you? Gimme. Gimme. Gimme. Gimme Now!

We have the high latency user answering:

Umm... Just a sec...

Where a sec=a-whole-freaking-minute-of-waiting.

Ignored, our host server melts down into an avatar-booting tantrum.

Or to be more precise about the cause, I'll quote Aine Caoimhe:

Viewer latency is an issue that we've begun to encounter in Opensim and appears to be a code bug/oversight that allows a single user's viewer to bring an entire region to its knees if a "perfect storm" of conditions occurs. This typically happens in a busy region with many concurrent users and/or a large amount of content when one of the  users in the region is on an internet connection that is slow or unreliable. This viewer "latency" can generate a bit of lag and could even snowball into what I call a "cascading latency" issue that can reach severe enough proportions to crash a simulator.

Based on our testing, it seems that what happens is if a sim doesn't receive a packet response from a viewer (usually due to latency) it immediately resends the same packet again to try to elicit a response. The simulator seems to prioritize this resend ahead of all other user traffic, too, so a highly latent viewer can rapidly fill the entire traffic queue with resends and results in all other user traffic also grinding to a halt. If this only happens briefly and then the connection is restored, the simulator can recover once it catches up with everything. In serious cases, the other users' traffic will also start to time out because the simulator doesn't know that it's being backlogged by the queue, resulting in their traffic starting to be handled as latent too. Once it hits this tipping point, it rapidly cascades into either a complete simulator crash or the sim might manage to just kick a large number of the people from the region and then recover with whoever it left. Of course everyone who got disconnected will immediately try to return which just puts it under extreme load again....

Okey-dokey. So what can we do about that?

I am going to start by dropping to my knees and begging you all to do a couple of simple things before you try to join a high-traffic event. Grid owners usually know the major sources of their latency problems. They love those users. They don't want to ask them to leave an event. I'd also like to add that it doesn't mean all events are not for slow users, only events where server resources are seriously taxed. Be kind to event hosts and check your usage.

Consider how you connect to the internet:

a) Satellite users--if it is a group of 10 or more, not gonna work. :(

b) Cell phone users--if you are using a mobile hotspot or tethering in on a cellphone it might work. It depends on a lot of things. See the pre-event speed test below to determine if it will work for you.

c) Wireless users--typically free community WiFi or hooking up at the local coffee shop is gonna be slooow. See the speed test below. Also, where possible hook up by a wire to the router. If you're using a cellphone, try USB tethering direct to computer rather than WiFi hotspot mode.

d) Throttled users--if you are over your monthly data limit and your connection is throttled. Not gonna work. :(

Pre-event speed-testing your connection:

A ping test is like ping-pong. You whack a ball (packet) of data out to a server on the internet and see how successfully and quickly it is returned. I'm pasting in Aine's description (slightly condensed) of running the test. The pics are of my test so the numbers in my test differ from those in her description.

1) Open a command prompt. Windows XP users can get one with Start > Run.  Windows 7/8 do Start and then in the search box type "cmd" which should bring up cmd.exe as on option to run. This brings up a console with a command prompt.

2) Copy and paste this in the window: ping -n 20 narasnook.com

Use the address of the grid you're going to without the port number...can be either a domain name or an IP address.
Add caption
3)You will get something like this as a result:
First thing to look at is the number and percentage lost.

- if all are lost (100%) then the grid server does not allow ping tests (Nara's does but some others may not)
- if 1 or more is lost, run a second test with 50 pings instead of 20 (ping -n 50 narasnook.com)
- if 2 or more of those 50 are lost (loss > 4%) then the connection is likely going to be one that causes problems. Even 2% can cause problems, in fact.
- ideally you want to consistently see 0% as was the case in my test above

Next, look at the average value (my result was 96ms which is a little slow but I had other traffic on my system when I ran it)
- typical (good) average values will be anywhere from 30ms to as much as 150ms depending on distance between you and the server and how much internet traffic (in general) is going on at this time of day. Trans-Atlantic is often in the 120-150ms range. Local is usually more 30-75ms.
- if your average is >250ms you could cause isssues...try a 50-ping test and see if that holds pretty stable and if it does, be sensitive when you go to the party. If you're experiencing chat lag (more than a second) or script lag (dialogs are slow to pop up), you're the likely cause.
- averages over 500ms are extremely likely to cause issues, and 1000ms (a full second!!!) is almost guaranteed sim death in a busy region

Finally, look at the max value (mine was 108ms)
- if max <200 you're fine.
- if you have a max value between 200-500ms take a look at the indivudual results and see how many were over 200. If it was only 1 or two you're probably fine. If it was more than that, run a 50-ping test and look at the individual results as they appear on your screen, counting how many of them are over 300ms. If more than about 10 of 50 are longer than 300ms then there's a good chance you'll cause problems in a busy sim.
- if your max value was over 500ms then you have some latency and are probably going to cause issues but run a 50-ping test just to see. If you're getting any sort of regular ping responses over 500ms you're almost certain to kill a region if it's busy.

From Nara:
Keep in mind situations are fluid and things can still go wrong even if you pass the test. We're in the wilds of a new frontier and we have to roll with the whims of technology, pipelines, and mercury in retrograde.

Things all users can do to lower stress on a server--
1) Don't stream videos, Skype, surf the web, and log into the party as three different avatars all at once.

2) Don't hypergrid in with 15,000 inventory items in your suitcase. If you're going to a high-traffic event, the only items in your suitcase should be a landmark, clothing and attachments you are wearing. Extra copies of your hair, skirt, feet--to replace those the hypergrid eats.

3) If your connection is slowish, log in an hour ahead of the event and sit your avatar and leave it sitting. It gives the server time to deal with you.

4) Set your viewer bandwidth to 500kbps or less.

5) If the event is at six, be annoyingly early or very fashionably late. Everyone logging in at 6 on the dot does not work.

6) If there should be a region crash, everyone trying to log back in immediately is not going to get anyone anywhere. Take a potty break. Fix a sandwich. Return at leisure.

Advice from Aine:
Things region/grid owners can do to help the latency issue--

1) Force HG to arrive in an "empty" region first, so their initial HG login stuff can be handled separately on a sim that isn't under stress. That way when they tp to the party region it's handled as a local tp and is far less difficult for the region to manage

2) Keep party regions as sparse as you dare...disable any unnecessary scripts, try not to have too many different/high res textures in it, etc.

3) Keep in mind that each avi increases sim load exponentially not linearly and that sitting avi (including people couples dancing or poledancing) are far less of a drain on resources than an avi who is standing (or singles dancing) since they become phantom and don't use physics.

4) For a party, change opensim.ini to disable avatar collisions (so they can't bump into each other when standing/walking) since that also reduces physics calculations

5) For a party, set/manage the per-user throttle settings of the region (in opensim.ini) to restrict general traffic levels so people with viewers set to ridiculously high traffic levels don't create issues even if they have excellent connections...if your grid admin doesn't know how to do that, ask all people who visit to set their viewer bandwidth to 500kbps or less (in user preferences)

Key "tells" that typically signal a latent viewer in the region:

>>>> console starts to flood with "resend" messages for a specific user they are probably using a high-latency connection. Keep in mind, though, that if the region reaches that "cascade" level of resends, you'll be seeing them for pretty much every user in the region. Some log levels might not show this on the console (I don't recall off the top of my head what logging level is required to display them).

>>>> in console run "show stats" and look at UnackB, as well as the two pending. High counts in any of these means that some latency has occurred but this can also be from initial tps into a region with high traffic.

>>>> general chat lag that persists/occurs when a sim isn't in the process of handling an inbound tp (the initial arrival in a busy region will usually cause a bit)

>>>> slow response (or completely stoppage) of script dialog boxes appearing since that uses region chat too

>>>> if you have direct system-level access, run a per-user level test for packet resends and response times...when a latent viewer is in a region it can generate 60k+ resends in less than 5 minutes!!! If it manages to queue up enough resends, it will also start to make your other users appear latent and they'll start to rack up resends too. Compare total resends against time present in region to get an average resend rate...a latent viewer will have a very high value

Back to Nara again:

Bottom line here for event hosts-- if you have a high latency user dragging the whole thing down, you have to tell them what is going on and ask them to log out so the region won't crash. Up to this point I've let the crashes come where they may and hoped for the best--but that isn't fair to everyone who worked hard to prepare the event and all the people who made time to join you. Hopefully sharing this explanation of the situation and how to avoid it will limit the number of times you find yourself in that situation.

Last words from Aine:

At Refuge grid we're actively collecting and providing detailed data to the Opensim developers to help them track down and eventually eliminate the issue. Until then, there's no way to either prevent a high-latency viewer from disrupting everyone else's experience, nor is there any "fix" for someone who has such an issue (although perhaps the Sl on Go (http://www.firestormviewer.org/firestorm-on-sl-go/) service would work?) except to be sympathetic to region owners and other users and not go to regions that have high traffic. A sim-owner can take steps to make a region more "volume-friendly" but of course this may defeat the entire purpose of having the sim in the first place.

I hope this helps :)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

If we can't warm it up, we'll at least try to keep you so intellectually engaged that it'll seem like spring arrived in a blink.


This Sunday is the winter solstice. If that's something you celebrate , you can visit our Winter Wiccan Circle and dance with the NPCs or possibly catch some of us there. We decorated an evergreen with pretty dance balls and supplied it with NPC partners. This will also be the location of our Next Book Birthday, January 2nd, starting 6 pm grid time. world.narasnook.com:8900:Series 

There is a dance ball over the fire for NPC dance/skating. There are book boys, satyrs, snow fairies and ice demons loaded for you winter celebration delight. We plan to leave the circle in place until Candlemas in Feb.

Moonlight Safari

Wednesday night will be the last Moonlight Safari launching from the Nook. We will still have an evening  hypergrid event but it will no longer be a mirror of Safari and they will no longer be scheduling events for us, so given that our original name was a hat tip to all they do for us, the name will change to Hypergrid Nights to reflect that we are no longer a jointly managed event. We still love and support HG Safari and you will see me on safaris. We'll still network and share our finds for great region visits with each other.

This week we will be visiting Senchai Library in Kitely where Shandon Loring will be doing a reading of A Christmas Carol. Put a swim suit in your suitcase or wear it under your winter woollies because after that I'll be hopping to a beach party and anyone who wants to join me is welcome.

Hypergrid Nights

We'll be taking a break from our grid hopping for the holidays as next Wednesday is Christmas Eve and the following Wednesday is New Years Eve. Starting January 7th we'll launch again with a Yacht party in the water regions at Mike Hart's Next Reality grid. Same time, 9 pm EST. Same launch place world.narasnook.com:8900 Greyville. We will also switch from three scheduled hops a night to one hop, dropping that time commitment from three hours to one, though I expect some of you will want to keep playing past the official timed visit and that will be fine.

Our focus will likely shift a bit to reflect the unique interests of our group and to activities that are friendly to our US-based team members time zone. If you have a region you'd like us to spotlight, contact Nara Nook at Nara's Nook. You can reach me as Nara Malone on G+ and @nara_malone on Twitter.

Tattoo Workshop

This Thursday, Dec 18 at 4 pm grid time, John Sheppard will be leading a tattoo making class at the Nook. Meet up by the fire circle. world.narasnook.com:8900:Greyville

Book in A Year

Author Shannan Albright will be leading a writer's workshop with the goal of finishing a book in a year: From beginning to end learn the tips and tricks to put that novel in your head on paper. This year-long workshop covers from the very basics to advanced tools to craft your book. Then covers the aspect of marketing and publication. From the dreaded synopsis to branding. How to get your book in front of readers. This workshop is for all from beginners to advanced.
Participants can interact at in-world meet-ups and/or via forums on the Nook website.

NPC Workshops

I will be leading a series of NPC workshops for Hypergrid University to be held in the Pandora region of Nook grid which contains all our demo projects on using NPCS. The workshops will be every other month on the 3rd Sunday at noon grid time. Watch our calendar link to keep up with the workshop dates. The first is January 18th and will cover basic NPC creation and animation. I will have everyone looking at their first animated NPC in under five minutes.

Other Workshops

The third Sunday of each month remains our workshop Sunday, and we are lining up other events to fill up that schedule, including a Flash Fiction workshop from Siobhan Muir and another workshop on Cross Promotions and Social Networking--skills mandatory for authors but something the metaverse residents could use as well. If you or someone you know would be interested in leading a workshop at the Nook, catch up with me. Topics of interest users have indicated they would find interesting are making clothing, animating, basic building.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Moonlight Leaders

We had some grand adventures planned for our first full-fledged safari this week. While you may know where you are going, and even if you are going to a place you've been before, the experience revolves around the people sharing the adventure with you. Six hours of grid hopping brought that point home to me.
Toboggan Ride with HG Safari
 The HG Safari group and Moonlight Safari group
Moonlight Balloon Ride
 aren't as different as night and day but their interests diverge. I think the evening group springing up from our base at Nara's Nook is more reader/writer/romance focused. Diverging interests will lead to diverging paths, but more on that later.

 I promised the Moonlight group creatively inspiring adventures. The first was in L'Hiver du Grand Nord from Dabici Straulino. It lived up to the promise, sledding being the favored pastime but the romantic call of the hot air balloon and the beautiful rural setting filled our hour with oohs and aahs. The graciousness of Dabici and Kelso Uxlay went above and beyond--it was something like 3 AM for them if I am calculating right and they stayed for every minute right up until we left. This second balloon ride pic taken by Dabici just before we hopped to our next stop. Drop by and pick up items from their Winter Market. Have tea and bring home a teapot.

Go ice skating.

 Have a toboggan ride. Or two. Or twenty. But most of all, try going during Euro friendly hours so you can meet the lovely folks who put this special region together for you to enjoy.

And then...
 There be Dragons!

A lot of times in the G+ groups or in my social media streams I'll see picture someone shares tagged inspiration. If you've ever wondered what if anything those pics that go around do inspire, you're looking at the most recent evolution of a long line of fun inspired and produced because someone shared a pic of a woman on a white tiger in G+ OpenSim Virtual. A lengthy discussion ensued as to whether that could be done in OpenSim and at the time that answer was no.Fred Beckhusen didn't let that get in his way.
Doxa demonstrates riding a halfatar.

Instead, he invented the halfatar. The first halfatar was a woman tiger combination which I rode on an HG Safari once. Later Fred made a velociraptor version. This one he is giving away at Outworldz grid Dragon region is usable by male or female riders.

The halfatar led to the creation of a ride-able tiger on land. Somewhere in the middle of all that he created shape-shifting animals, a dragon shifter, and finally this beautiful flying dragon.
Fuschia Nightfire on a Dragon
 The worlds of Phase Demesnes in SL and Dragons in Opensim were inspired by Piers Anthony's Phaze science fiction series. If you haven't seen Phaze in Second Life, do so soon because it will be closing at the end of the month.  Fred and Debbie Edwards are just getting started with their dragon build in Outworldz. Truth is when I asked Fred if  Safari could drop in and see what he was doing,  he didn't think he had enough in place to interest anyone.

Really, that's what he said. 

Drop by Dragons, have a look around. Let me know if that's what you think.

And then...
Go see Alice. It starts as a game. You land by a tree, fall down a rabbit hole and well,you may know how the story goes,but just like the Dragons of Phaze it's an adventure through a story world the way someone else saw it in their imagination. In this case, the someone was Cherry Manga.

One pill makes you taller.

One pill makes you small...
As for the ones mother gives you, apparently they do more than they used to...
At various points in the evening we had varying numbers but 14 grid-hoppers overall and 10 who made every hop. Serene Jewell who does a similar weekend event from Kitely was there to greet us when we finished. We sat at the banquet table for the unbirthday party and talked about the adventure of walking through a simulation of a book as it was experienced in another imagination--their inner-space. It's not an easy time we have of it out here exploring the frontiers of inner-space. Things crash, they burn, RAIDS fail, we are bald when we don't want to be. Yet, stacked up against adventures like these, we all agreed the negatives are trivial.

Thanks Dabici, Kelso, Fred, Debbie, and Cherry for sharing your visions with us. To get to their sims, go here:

outworldz.com:9000:Phaze-Dragons hg.francogrid.org:80:aliceinwonderland