Archive for the ‘Software’ Tag

Viewer 2 Beta is Updated

For those who say Linden Lab doesn’t listen or respond to the comments and critiques of its one major product, I hope you’ll reconsider your statements.  The Lab kicked out an update on the 15th to the Viewer 2 beta, with some needed fixes and other tweaks, and promise more in the weeks to come.

I have not yet installed this, as I’m still assessing how well my desktop is working after this latest trip into the shop and return; but I’ll attack that tonight and see what’s what.  Comments from me to come on this critical software.

Initial Thoughts on Viewer 2 Beta

After making sure that the new beta for Viewer 2 installed into a different directory than the main viewer, I finally gave it a spin over the past two days.  It’s proved interesting — not perfect, and to say it’s an improvement is subjective to how you feel about the layout changes.  But it’s a piece of software that should not be discarded out of hand.  If nothing else, I suspect that we’ll all be using this to navigate the Grid within a year at the most.

Screenshot for Viewer 2 Beta, (c) Linden Lab

You can see some of the basics here.  Before I logged in, I first hit Ctrl-P to get the Preferences, the same combination as Viewer 1, and the first thing I noticed was a lot fewer tabs on the screen.  Some of the functions have been consolidated or eliminated.  Most interesting, I couldn’t find a checkoff to let me set a custom preference for the graphics, so I could increase or decrease draw distance.  With trepidation, I logged in.  (Update:  I’ve found the button since; it’s at the bottom of the Preferences window when you open Graphics.)

And found that I didn’t need to fiddle with the graphics particularly.  Rezz time is pleasantly quick for my computer, and navigation seemed fairly rapid using standard keyboard controls.  This does slow down, of course, as region load increases.  Don’t expect to never want to diddle settings when you go in for Tuesday Carraig at Fibber Magee’s or a dance at Frank’s Place; that is a perfect world hope, and we aren’t there yet.

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Emergency Sim Update Last Night

Lil Linden reported on the Big Blog yesterday that there would be an emergency rolling server update,  starting last night.  Apparently some bug had crept into the code, and carried the potential of crashing a sim.

I wonder if that was what was happening to me yesterday.  I landed in my house to try out some skin changes for my exploration of the Insilico cyberpunk regions, and then I was thrown out suddenly, and could not log back in, either as myself or my alt trying to travel to the sim.  I did manage to log in to Mont Saint Michel region finally — thank you, Emerald and your “Teleport to this location” option on the splash screen! — walked south to the next region down (which contains the “causeway” that runs off the Mont), and did my changing behind a handy trailer.  All else seems to be fine, no inventory was lost; but I haven’t tried to go home yet.  This may explain why.

Connie Arida Picture Part of SIGGRAPH Presentation

I forgot about this when I was told; now I’m making up for my silliness.

Connie Arida — Connie Sec on Flickr — informs me that one of her photos was chosen for inclusion in a presentation at the 2008 SIGGRAPH conference in Los Angeles back in August.  The presentation, by Sarah Tariq and Louis Bavoil of NVIDIA, focused on “Real-Time Hair Simulation and Rendering On the GPU.” Basically, it was a discussion of the progress made in simulating the texture and movement of hair in 3-D environments such as game platforms; and Connie’s photo was used, I gather, as an example of hair in Second Life.

The session was sponsored by NVIDIA; and Tariq has also posted a video online talking about the subject, possibly from the above session.  Connie says that the pair are “evangelising” their technology to Linden Lab at the present time.  Who knows, but that we may see technology like this simulating our favorite coiffures in the future?

Photos used by permission of Connie Arida.

Connie’s picture used by Tariq and Bavoil is photo 1 above; she remarked to me that she finds it curious they chose that particular photo, as it is one of her retouched portraits, and therefore not a very accurate portrayal of what actual hair texture in SL is like.  A more normal picture is number 2 above, which she calls Inner Life on Flickr.

Linden Viewer 1.20: Sic Transit Gloria Ruthie….

…which I hope means, “Thus passes Ruth-ly glory.”  Of course, it could mean that as much as “Ich bin ein Berliner” (allegedly) means “I am a jelly doughnut.”

In any case, most of us should have the 1.20 viewer release by now.  (It’s an optional download, but I’d encourage it; more later.)  Linden Lab is touting 1.20 as the most tested and commented viewer to date; and they’re probably right, as this has been in development since the release of version 1.19 sometime early this year.  In their announcement back on July 24, Ramzi Linden suggested that reliability (based on crash reports) is improved by 20% — a boon to many folk, of course, and far better than at one point when I was crashing every time I tried to teleport into a full region.  (That was back in the early 1.18 days, I think.)  There are a slew of bug fixes, several Open Source inclusions, and the inclusion of the controversial Dazzle viewer skin as an optional use.  Torley is already doing tutorial rundowns on 1.20; his first is here.

I’ve been using it for a little over a week now, and I’m mostly satisfied with the results.  There are no surprises; it works quite smoothly.  The most fun thing, in a weird sense, is seeing someone rezz up at login.  As noted, the well-known Ruth — the former default avatar on system entry, a sheet-steel grey with no clothes or other differentiation — has become a sparkling grey-white nimbus that is replaced by an avatar with somewhat more definition.  It’s kinda fun watching someone log in and stabilize, and it’s definitely prettier than being surrounded by Ruths.  The prettiest thing is the random screen you get when you bring the viewer up, before you log in.  Instead of one stock shot, you now have some 3-5 shots that will appear at random.  Whoever designs these landscapes for the Lab is good.  If there are any problems, I haven’t run into them knowingly yet.  I’d recommend upgrading if you haven’t already.

Having said this, I am putting together a laundry list for the first time:  things that I would like to see changed.

  • Improved Inventory management — in terms of better tools to sort/filter the tottering mountains of stuff that we all accumulate.  (How the ghost of George Carlin must be smirking at all of us on the Grid!)
  • Repositioning of minimized windows — Way back, when we minimized the inventory or chat windows, we could move them around, max them back up, then reminimize them to the same place.  Now the windows fall back to default location at the screen bottom left, no matter where you tug them.  Is there a setting to allow “sticky” repositioning, or is this something that Linden should restore?

I think there’s at least one more thing, but I can’t recall it at this hour.  I’ve been building pictures of Louis Armstrong for the store, and I need to get to bed.

Any other thoughts…?

Posted August 5, 2008 by Harper Ganesvoort in Software

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Prim Lag — Myth or Reality

I’m gradually getting over the latest virus — last week it was the stomach, this week the sinuses. While I’m doing that, I’ll catch up with an issue that was generating bytes of excitement a week or so back.

That’s a spate of recent requests by some models and designers for avatars attending fashion shows to strip themselves of “unneeded” AOs and attachments, so as to lessen the load on the server handling the event. The concept here is that, with all those attachments needing to be monitored and tracked by the sim server, it puts added strain on the technology. Higher strain, more lag, and jittery models trooping down the runway. Brace Coral published points that, while gently stated, amounted to a manifesto in her LiveJournal a few weeks ago (thanks, Hamlet Au!).

However, longtime Resident Gwyneth Llewelyn offers a polite rebuttal to this in her own blog. The upshot of her argument is that the technology has advanced beyond where attachments and prim hair have much effect on the quality of the “environment.” Read the article carefully, and the comments that follow. Though there are some dissenters in those comments, I think Gwyn’s contention has some merit. The Almighty knows that, any road you go, the first factor influencing lag will be the population density in a given sim. As example, take two places at the extremes of the prim battle, but with heavy populations for given programs: Frank’s Place on a good night, or Science Friday on Friday afternoons, when Ira Flatow (Ira Flatley in-world) runs an edition of the popular NPR program.

Any time of the day is busy for Frank’s, but the night is particularly laggy, because they average around 65-70 Residents attending, dancing together or just standing about and grooving to the great Rat Pack jazz. The lag goes even higher on nights when the house DJs are spinning music live. Moving across the floor is interesting, especially in the big ball skirts and hair favored by most women at clubs like this. (The same goes for clubs such as Cloud Nine, Casablanca Lounge, etc.)

Alternatively, Science Friday attracts some 40-60 people every Friday afternoon to lurch around and look for chairs, so they can participate at a remove in the discussion. As a rule, most people attending aren’t wearing vast amounts of junk, aside maybe from blingtards and the occasional dragon or other large avatar. Yet the region is as slow as one of the formal clubs.

Is lag with us to stay? Yes, for at least as long as current processor technology can’t keep up with the demand on it to track individual avatars. But I don’t think we have to strip down to our virtual skivvies to do anything popular yet. And things can be done on the client side to help it along: set your draw distance to no higher than 96 for duration; upgrade your hardware if you can afford it, various other items. Give these some thought; and, in the meantime, grin and bear it (grin).

Harper’s signature

Multiple Personalities on One Computer

How would you like to be two people at the same time, without having someone go and call the Civil Avatars to come and take you away in the white coat with the nice, long sleeves that tie up in the back?

“Well, get a second computer, along with an alt account, and –”


NO, ya nimrod!  You don’t need the second computer!  You just need Torley Linden!!

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