On Saturday, April 25th, we hosted our first in-world meeting for users and potential users of the Bright Canopy meeting.
The meeting, which was held in text to assist those preferring to access SL using SL Go, was very well attended, and generated a lot of questions. Given the nature of how things unfolded, with several questions being asked a number of times at various points in the meeting due to people arrive and leaving and having additional thoughts on things, rather than provide a straight-forward transcript, the following report reflects the answer to the most frequently asked questions, before moving on to individual questions and answers.
Attending the meeting from Bright Canopy were Chaos Priestman and Bethsael Robbiani, and from Frame, who provide the environment in which the Bright Canopy service runs, Carsten at Frame (Carsten Puls). Inara Pey attended in her role of blog admin support. The meeting opened with a brief statement from Chaos Priestman (CP):
I’m Chaos Priestman, Bill Glover in real life, and I’m the founder of Bright Canopy, a streaming service for virtual worlds. Carsten here is with Frame, the company which supplies the technology BC is built on top of – our platform, essentially.
This all started with a post by Inara Pey, about doing something to continue after the closure of SL Go. I was intrigued by the idea and worked on a solution. Interest grew, Frame took notice and in a few days we had a working beta. We’ve been testing that beta and it’s working well.
I wanted to put this together as the first of many sessions to let you ask questions make suggestions and generally participate in solving our common problem. With that I’ll open the floor for questions.
Questions On Bright Canopy Availability
When will Bright Canopy launch?
CP: Right now, we’re in beta. After the beta phase, We will be moving to an invitation only pre-launch next. We don’t have a date for that just yet, but that will happen very soon. We will work out any billing and operation kinks then launch. Out timeline is “as fast as possible while maintaining quality”, so I can’t say exactly when but very soon.
As soon as we have the payment and management pieces in place, we will be available for pre-launch. When the bugs are solved, we will launch. I want that to be as fast as possible.
For some idea of our timeline, this all started a week ago last Thursday, and it already works.
Will the pre-launch come out before the end of SLgo ends?
CP: I hope so, but there are things I need to be sure of first, mostly around billing and management._
Is the Beta accessible at the moment?
CP: The Beta is closed at the moment. We will be starting a pre launch test very soon. Several people here have worked on the Beta, but we don’t want to open it up to wide until it’s ready.
Will you be doing a beta for OpenSim? If so how do we get on?
CP: The current beta is open and can access OpenSim [and there are several OpenSim users testing it].
Will Pre-launch be only on invitation from Bright Canopy to a certain group of users?
Questions on the Service
Will an NVIDIA 860 graphic card be sufficient to run the service?
Carsten at Frame (C-at-F): You don’t need a graphics card at all on your device. For example, a Chromebook is fine.
CP: As I’m using right now, at ultra graphics settings.
Which browser will it be running on?
CP: Chrome for the start, but it works on others. For pre-launch we will be targeting non-mobile Chrome [support for other browsers will follow for the launch].
What are the differences between Bright Canopy and SL Go?
CP: The differences from SL Go are mostly evolutionary. We are using new technology, flexible cloud hosting, we can do uploads, downloads, interface with Dropbox and Google drive and there are some more features coming.
Will it run on a laptop?
CP: It runs great on a laptop, chromebook, Mac, Windows Linux. Carsten reminds me that iPad support is coming.
C-at-F: Essentially, if your device can run a modern browser and is capable of viewing a streamed video – then you’re good to go.
Can I use Bright Canopy with my Alts?
Inara Pey (IP) – originally answered in IM to the questioner: Bright Canopy is like SL Go; you will have an account to access the service, but when you launch the viewer, you will be able to use any of your avatar accounts.
Will Bright Canopy work with OpenSim grids too?
CP: It already does.
Will people be able to configure viewers in Bright Canopy to use specific grid URIs? To access standalone grids, etc. on OpenSim?
CP: Yes. That is supported now.
What lines of support will be on hand for users?
CP: Bright Canopy will maintain this group, and email support. We have an arrangement with Groove for managing our support load.
Any forums or FAQ/Ticketing pages in the pipeline?
CP: There will be a knowledge base online and a ticketing system. Well there already is if you go to the website now. We just haven’t added articles yet. Look for the orange form at the bottom right on brightcanopy.com.
There are several companies involved in this, with yourselves, frame and the support company too, what assurances do we as users have from you that it will remain a collaborative effort and not go breaking up on us in 6 months time?
CP: There’s not an escrow for that sort of thing, but believe me, nobody expects that to be a problem.
Should some other large company come in and want to buy up bright canopy, will they be mindful of their customer base, unlike SL Go and put provisions in for us?
Questions on Accessibility and Performance
Will the service be usable globally, including countries like Germany which were previously unable to use SL Go?
Legal issues for Germany may remain. We will do everything we can to support users anywhere.
Will you only be hosting this service on servers based within the US or will you expanding servers into other countries?
CP: We can host anywhere Amazon has G2 instances, but at first we will be mostly in the US.
C-at-F: Some examples of data centres outside the US include Ireland, Tokyo, Sydney, Singapore.
IP: I’ve been using Frame’s services with Firestorm and the SL viewer for my own purposes, and found it to be satisfactory, given what I’ve been doing is far from optimised.
Will it be possible to access the service from Japan, unlike SL Go?
CP: I’ll need to understand more of what kept SL Go out of Japan. If it was a legal issue as in Germany, it will be more difficult.
IP: I believe OnLive were unable to support Japan as they didn’t have a point of Presence there.
C-at-F: My understanding is that OnLive did not have a data centre in Japan. We have one in Tokyo – so from a technical standpoint the service can be supported there.
What are your minimum recommended requirements in terms of bandwidth / computer specifications to be able to use this service?
C-at-F: A bandwidth of at least 3 Mbps and latency of under 100 ms (Latency is primarily based on your distance from the nearest data centre). Another note on minimum requirements: performance does depend partly on the size of the stream. We can dynamically scale all the way to 2048×1600, but you’ll need more bandwidth as you scale up.
CP: As Carsten mentioned, this gives you some knobs to turn for your own best performance.
If it is only US servers to start, how does latency effect users who are elsewhere, e.g. the EU?
CP: Latency matters. We will host as close to you as we can.
As things stand right now, how many users could you comfortably handle?
CP: We are not limited by the number of users really. IT will be a matter of support and the experience. We want you to love this. We can scale up on the same sort of cloud that runs Netflix if that helps you imagine the scale.
C-at-F: Scale is one of the benefits of running on a multi-use public cloud. Fortunately, in our case the cost of scaling does not involve buying any hardware, and since we are running on top of a public cloud, we can rely on their (e.g. AWS) hardware investments. And other public clouds will become capable of supporting this service as well.
If someone else’s hardware goes tits up, how are you placed for resolving those issues quickly?
CP: We roll over and over and if the whole cloud goes, so does civilization!
C-at-F: Indeed – if the cloud we’re running on fails — then there will be far more dire issues! ;) . But because of this, there are a lot of back-up capabilities in place. There are countless businesses that rely 100% on the same cloud services we are on, so the infrastructure is arguably the best in the world at this point – and we are able to leverage it.
Questions On Pricing
How much will Bright Canopy cost per month?
CP: We honestly can’t tell you yet. It will be enough to keep the lights on and less than a new computer. On the back-end, we will be paying frame and they have to pay Amazon for hosting. It will be as reasonable as we can make it and still be sustainable. We will charge as we go, and we must be profitable, yes. We have some ideas to make that work.
What payment options will you offer?
CP: We will have bitcoin payment for pre-launch, Lindens will follow for launch. And of course credit card for both. [So] Bitcoin, Credit Cards, and Lindens eventually.
Will you be set-up to accept international payments/currencies before full launch?
CP: The back-end payment processor is Stripe which is spreading to new countries fast.
Will PayPal be a payment option?
CP: Paypal may be an option, but not at pre-launch.
Maybe you could offset costs with ads?
I prefer to avoid ads. We hope to charge as we go.
Question for clarification–The pre-launch can only be paid with bitcoins or L$ if you get invited to participate in the pre-launch?
Questions on Using the Viewer Through Bright Canopy
Will Bright Canopy run Firestorm?
CP: Firestorm works great with the service. I’m using Firestorm right now on a chromebook.
Will you be able to copy and paste into it? [SL Go did not support copy to a clipboard from it]
CP: Yes, you can cut and paste now, and upload and download notecards textures etc.
Will it come with a native translator or will you need to still use marketplace items?
CP: That’s something we will have to address as we can. For now it’s a stock Firestorm or LL viewer that you can configure.
Will any menu options be disabled in the viewer? [SL Go disabled the Advanced and Develop(er) menus]
CP: We have not disabled any so far, but may have to for security or usability. We will have to see.
Will the keyboard settings be English only as in SLGO, or will we be able to change to other languages?
CP: That’s our top priority right now. We’ve been working on it. I know it’s been an issue for other services. I can’t promise it, but we want very badly to provide that ability.
C-at-F: I’ll add that from the Frame side we are committed to local language keyboard support – so I expect this to be in place at launch.
What rendering quality can we use in the viewer?
CP: Ultra works great.
Will voice work?
CP: Voice works, but it breaks up right now.
Will we be able to use an external editor for scripting?
CP: For scripting you will need to paste or upload. We may find a way to integrate with external editors eventually, but not at launch.
Will Bright Canopy offer a back door into SL like SL Go has done for those on banned computers?
CP: We will have to monitor for griefers and respond. It will take work [Keeping in mind that Bright Canopy will not have access to the details of any bans put in place by Linden Lab.]
Will beta testers get any perks after the service goes public? :P
CP: Yes, there will be perks for both beta and pre launch and even launch day customers!
Will you have posters we can place in world?
CP: Posters are a great idea. I’ll get on that.
Will we continue to Slack for communicating until the official launch? [Slack is used for group chat and direct messaging among the beta testers & Bright Canopy, and will be used for the pre-launch]
CP: We’ll keep using slack for now. We ma scale to something more open like IRC.
CP: Thank you all for your enthusiasm and support. We’re going to do this together. I’ll ask each of you to sign up at the website and spread the word. We will need critical mass to make this work. Time to give the neighbours back their sim! We should have our own island by next meeting.