Category Archives: Veiwers and tech stuff

You May Resume Your Second Life


The Excessive Bandwidth Issue has been resolved.

This problem first appeared after the rolling restarts of August 8th and was reported in great detail to the jira the next day.

Considering that many people with metered or limited bandwidth internet connections were unable to access SL without running up overages with their isp, over one month was too long!!

If you have been waiting this out, Welcome Back, we missed you!

May you live in interesting times.

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Bandwidth and Notices. A Tale of Communication.


The bandwidth issues of the last few weeks continue.

As seen from my home region of Brocade:

In the South West corner, where the diagonal region, Taeniatum is running LeTigre, last week’s Release Channel rollout partly fixed the problem, this weeks rollout returned it. This is a complicated problem to understand. With a very short draw distance it seems to be confined to just the immediate (50M) area of the 0,0 corner (that is the part that was fixed). With longer draw distances it effects much of the region (that was never fixed).

In the South East corner, the diagonal region is Epirrita, running Magnum RC. There I see a different problem. Epirrita often does not rez at all from Brocade until I fly into an adjacent region. While the region is not there my bandwidth is high if I am within draw distance of it. This is probably a different issue from what I see in the SW corner, although it still effects bandwidth.

The problem with bandwidth issues is that they can have disastrous implications for anyone whose isp limits their monthly bandwidth! There are reports of people using up their entire allowance in a day or 2!

What you can do:

  1. Open the Statistics floater (ctrl+shift+1) and leave it open! Travel around SL a bit to get an idea what your normal bandwidth is (around 100kbps or less for me).
  2. Whenever you find your bandwidth is high, reduce your draw distance. And/or-
  3. Move to a different place within the region, toward the center of the region or north, whichever works best for you, all the time keeping your eye on the statistics floater.
  4. Install a bandwidth monitor like BitMeter OS (a word of caution, SL measures in kbps – kilo-bits/sec; most monitors use kBps – kilo-Bytes/sec. Basicly 1 Byte = 8 bits).

What Linden Lab Should Do:

Communicate! Back in the olden days of SL we got pop up notices in world. That system became unreliable and unwieldy as the number of residents grew. It is imperative that LL develop a way to inform it’s customers when there is an issue that is going to effect them RL like this does for many people. The old system will probably never come back, but email still works, they can sure find me that way whenever they want to promote something! A word of apology, some helpful advice like I give above, and a link to a web page where residents can keep updated would go a long way. The way it is now, the Lindens seem to rely on the bloggers to get the word out. The simple fact is the majority of SL residents just want to enjoy their second life, they do not want to read about SL on a blog or in forums. When there is an important reason for them to be informed about something they need a heads-up.

Kudos to the Phoenix/Firestorm Team. They discovered a problem in the 4.2.1 release on Monday; pulled the download later in the day even though the problem was purely esthetic; released a corrected 4.2.2 on Tuesday along with a post taking ownership of the error. Are you listening LL? Regardless of the scale or complexity of the problem, this is an example of how to handle it!

May you live in interesting times.

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Phoenix/Firestorm Expands Support


I visited the new Phoenix Firestorm Support island yesterday. I am impressed! I am reminded of the old Welcome Island from 2006; there is a path from the landing point with signs and a few playful challenges. There’s no beach ball but there is a fence to jump over and a kind of a tunnel to fly through.

The central island has a live helper. Several existing help groups will be assisting Phoenix/Firestorm support personnel.

They are still finishing things up and are open to suggestions so of course I had a couple of minor nits to pick 🙂 – – Say “region” or  “region (sim)” not just “sim”. Just because we get lazy and use the wrong word is no excuse for not teaching newbies the right way. – – We can no longer say “everything is built in world” mesh and most sculpties are made outside SL.

It looked to me like it would work for someone on the LL default viewer and if it serves as a gentle promotion for Firestorm so much the better.

This is a big step in the right direction. I will be sending newbies there. You should visit, add your 2 cents worth before they finish. Take a moment and talk to the Phoenix then stop at the center island with some encouraging words.

I hope they soon have a standard notecard and LM giver that we can put out pointing newbies there when we are off line.

May you live in interesting times.

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Announcements and Predicaments


It has been a very interesting week!

On Thursday the Lindens made 2 announcements:

NewOpen Source Project to Improve Graphics Rendering Performance is a project initiated by the Exodus Viewer team for which the lab will be developing the server-side code. This will use features inherent to most graphics cards to greatly improve the appearance of mesh builds. If I understand it correctly there will be very little lag or impact on your computer performance. It basically loads another texture in a similar way to what sculpties do, except this texture defines such things as reflectivity of individual surfaces and even pixels in the mesh. (The sculpty map texture tells the viewer how to distort a prim).

Second Life is Expanding to Steam pretty much says it all, although exactly how it will be implemented is as yet unclear.

One thing is for sure, these 2 announcements taken together with implementation of pathfinding and gaming tools mark a clear bid for hard-core gamers to at least give Second Life a look.

I hope the next group the Lab looks to is the tired, poor, huddled masses who frequently find solice in Second Life using computers and connections that are near the low end of what LL defines optimistic as minimum. I know the Lindens wish it was otherwise, but these people are the core of Second Life; it is time for a viewer and/or service that will allow them to enjoy SL with modestly priced equipment and connections.

Recent bugs have also been interesting:

Account recovery questions are now useless is a gem! You will have to read it. No way you would believe me if I just told you!

I recently discovered why my framerate was lagging so badly at the Cafe`. I had put a “dark prim” (a complex sculpty) under the water layer of the pool to simulate water. Once I picked it up my framerate went back to normal. SL Water prim and Anti-water prim is a jira post requesting a water prim, probably one of the oldest feature requests in SL. It is a technological challenge but I have no doubt the guys in the back room could come up with a fix if they were properly motivated. (Just say “yes Ma’am” and get to work boys).

Excessive “ParcelOverlay reliable” messages sent by regions since last rolling restart and kittycorner region is not visible both have to do with problems involving diagonally opposed regions. The first of the two is the more serious since it can drive usage rates way up for people who’s internet access is metered or capped. It is a wide spread problem that many people are not aware of. I would beware of the SW and SE corners of regions. The Lindens are WorkingOnIt. I have seen the second issue myself, with the region in question not rezing until I actually flew into it! Again the region is SE of my home region.

May you live in interesting times.

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In Retrospect – Post#50


Observations and lessons learned since I began this blog.

On the Blog:

1- Most hits via search engines: FREE SEX BED – but… Lesson learned; be careful how you use the word sex, especially in titles. This post still gets hits, almost all frivolous.

2- Most comments: There is need for a “Lite” Second Life Viewer This post is still alive in comments after nearly 8 months. The topic is as valid now as it was then. It continues to come up in other blogs and around the SL community. The fact is, most computers sold today are incapable of running Second Life at a graphics / performance level that will make a newbie want to stay. Combined with wired internet connections being something many young people consider archaic, Linden Lab has got to do Something! I am not an expert in such things, Streaming from the “cloud”? A bare bones, extremely efficient viewer? If something is not done SL will fade into oblivion.

Linden Lab:

1- SVC=7125 Bring Back Last Name Options! Is still one of the most active jira articles with new comments almost daily. In spite of the overwhelming demand for this Rod continues to stand by his whine “it’s too hard and someone somewhere will complain”. Time to grow up, admit to the mistake of removing last names and fix this!

2- Communication with the Development team, mostly via regular in world meetings has come a long way. The minutes are then hashed over and commented on in the appropriate blogs, and social media. This system seems to work!

3- Communication from the top (yes Rod, I mean you). Sucks. Occasional comments in social media is far from sufficient. Put it in your schedule: Quarterly Update in the Official Linden Blog (turn comments off so the wackadoodles do not have a chance and we will handle them in our blogs).

4- Development Direction: Project Shining lays out the next year’s work for the development and hardware teams. It is a good plan, tackling core SL problems (although see my Lite Viewer comments above). Not everything will go smoothly of course but the goals seem realistic to me.

Community:

1- SL9B was a rousing success in spite of LL pulling out at the last minute. The organizers and participants deserve hero status! In the future it is unfair to rely on sim owners to donate the land. LL should contribute the regions to a development group, then get out of the way and let them organize and run it.

2- SL Community Convention: Another case of LL effectively pulling out at the last minute. This time there is no way the residents can step in, they probably never will be able to. Maybe LL could set up a smaller “traveling road show”. Smaller events could be set up by residents in their RL communities and 1 or 2 Lindens could come, give a talk and share a meal. That might actually work better than a huge convention.

My Second Life:

We now own all of Brocade (except the road) and about ¼ of Herald. There is the Cafe` of course and 6 little gathering places for people to sit around and socialize (ideal for guiding newbies through their first steps). Also our unique shooting range and the little Pandora Mall. Stop by and look for the “touch for Region Information” (Brocade in a box) sign for a note card with pictures and LMs.

Have you checked out “petite” mesh avatars? While these tiny avatars lack appearance customization they allow you to do an awful lot on a very small amount of land, especially when combined with well made mesh and sculptie furniture etc.

All in all we have been having fun in our second lives, I hope you have been too.

Shug.

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Re-assessments at the Highest Level


As I sit here Monday afternoon waiting once again for Unscheduled Maintenance” to allow me access to Second Life I am looking through the blogs and seeing a pattern.

At this blog There is need for a “Lite” Second Life Viewer (posted January 8th) has come back to life in comments. Activity at this page has never died; people are really wishing for a more efficient / equipment tolerant way to enjoy SL.

Nalates most recent post speaks (near the end) of problems with the avatar mesh that no deformer will ever be able to overcome. The avatar mesh itself was pretty good for 2004 technology but the world of 3D graphics has come a long way baby. Unfortunately any attempt to “correct” the avatar we have now will break existing content.

Thinking back to past blog posts and MetaReality Podcasts there has been steady, if unfocused, chatter about LL complicating the server and viewer code in order to maintain backward compatibility. Obviously this can not keep up forever.

It is time for LL to split off a team to do a feasibility study looking forward toward a true Second Life II. Essential to this team’s job would be inclusion of carefully selected long time residents; there are many intelligent, insightful and discrete residents available to choose from. They should start by fearlessly looking at past decisions and how they have impacted SL (both the community and the business). Then look forward, how will people access SL 10 years from now? What new technologies are on the horizon that SL could be ready for? Lastly, how much of today’s SL can move forward to the new version and how much must be left behind in the dust of progress?

I would not advocate abandonment of what we have now. Done right people will want to move over to the new world. Perhaps it would even be possible to “jump” between them.

The only sure thing is that something like this will happen, if not by LL then eventually by some competitor. LL should make a move while they still have our attention, and our inventories 🙂 .

Like everyone else I have some ideas, but what do you think?

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Accountability, Responsibility and Patience


Last Thursday’s Grid Crisis was trying for us all, most of all for the Lindens. I can only imagine the scramble by those directly involved, first just to understand what was going on, then to find and implement a solution.

I suspect most of us have “been there”. I have worked much of my life around the hardware end of computing and know the terror of downtime, especially with customers and bosses breathing down your neck. I also remember my Windows 9x days when any install or update came with the possibility of having to reinstall the OS and start from scratch when things went horribly wrong. Shit still happens!

It is really not surprising that communication during the crisis was pretty much “We know! We’re working on it!”. It should not however have taken until the end of the day Friday for LL to post any kind of explanation.

The Lindens deserve high credit for including a warning that when they try to fix the underlying problem Monday we may be going through the same thing all over again. Fore warned is fore armed. As Inara Pey points out though, both LL and the SL community would be better served if maintenance announcements were pushed out to all residents on line, especially if they come with a warning like “Please save all builds and refrain from rezzing no copy objects or making inworld L$ transactions.”

We, the residents, need to be patient during a crisis. Fixing things is the top priority, we need warning that things are broken and to be careful, but formulating explanations can wait until the fire is out.

If all goes well Monday I think we have a right to expect a full explanation at the Official Linden Blog where it belongs. Comments closed would be understandable, there are lots of blogs and forums where we can discuss it to exhaustion.

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Important meeting Wednesday


This is something new and profound, there will be a meeting / discussion / interview with Jessica Lyon and Oz Linden at Wednesday, March 7th at 3pm SLT. The meeting will be broadcast live over Treet.tv and questions will be accepted from the audience! To my knowledge nothing like this has happened before. Hopefully it is the first of many such attempts at interactive communication between the community and Linden Lab.

The full announcement from the Phoenix Viewer blog is copied below:

LL&TPV’s – The Interview

Mon, 05 Mar 2012

This Wednesday, March 7th at 3pm SLT. I, Jessica Lyon will be interviewing Oz Linden from Linden Lab about the third party viewer policy additions and related concerns. I will be representing the Third Party Viewer Community and the resident community during this interview, not specifically this project. This is not a Phoenix Office Hour and is very likely a one time thing.

During the first half hour of the show I will be asking Oz questions based on input I’ve received from third party viewer projects and the SL community. During the second half of the show I will ask Oz your questions providing they haven’t already been answered.

The interview will take place in a private region that will not be open to the public, however you will all be able to participate and watch on the live stream here. http://treet.tv/live.Ask your questions on the live stream and they will be forwarded to me, then I will ask them for you to Oz during the second half of the show.

This is a very rare and in many ways historic event that will hopefully answer all your questions and concerns in regards to the new policy changes. The policy affects you! so be informed! Mark your calendars, invite your friends and spread the word.

Who: Jessica Lyon and Oz Linden
What: Interview with Oz linden for clarifications on the new policy additions and how they effect you and the Third Party Viewers you use.
When: Wednesday, March 7th, 3pm SLT
Where: http://treet.tv/live
Why: Because it’s important!

Hope to see you on the stream!

Jessica Lyon
Project Manager

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A Surprising Leap-Week in Second Life


You may not have noticed it, but there has been some pretty amazing stuff going on in and around Second Life this week.

Last Thursday there were new rules for Third Party Viewers announced. That had the blogs churning over the weekend. Surprisingly the articles themselves and the comments to them were mostly constructive, trying to understand what it all meant. I saw very few flame-out rants or end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it predictions.

By Monday afternoon Oz Linden was answering questions, in detail and officially!! He was even agreeing with some of the objections and promising to make things whole again when possible. He even delayed action on part of it so they could find a better solution! Just as importantly he explained why the policies were changed! There is no need of me going into detail here, but suffice it to say there were legitimate problems to be resolved. The methods may have been heavy handed, but much of the vital functions that were lost can be recovered by doing things a different way, either in world or by LL in server code.

The “shared experience” part of the new rules can be hard to understand. It is very vague as written. Two important points: 1- LL is primarily concerned with TPV features that break on the official viewer. Features that do not work on other viewers (even LL features) are a concern of the effected viewers development team and users. 2- Oz suggested that Test Viewers, even on the main grid, would be okay; so long as the default download met the TPV requirements. This is a huge relief! TPVs have been the testbeds for several ideas that LL would never have approved in advance (avatar physics among them).

The whole air of communication and cooperation around this change has been something new in Second Life. I give a lot of credit to Oz for his efforts.

Then —— Rodvik announces a decision on last names. Basically – NO.

The new thing is that he explains why – at length. Personally I do not agree, but at least I know why the decision is as it is (for now, he dangled a carrot at the very end of his post).

If all this communication and cooperation keeps up we may get Second Life back on track!

Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.” Benjamin Franklin

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Sometimes it is just no fun being right


As I posted in an article on December 20, Linden Lab is no longer offering Viewer 1.23, the download is gone from the official download page. Thanks to Tateru Nino for spotting this notification from Oz Linden (I am unable to find where Oz posted it). LL is deploying changes to the inventory backend that will need a patch in all viewers and they have made the decision not to include this patch in 1.23.

If you are using Viewer 1.2.3 you will have serious inventory problems beginning some time in the next few weeks when this change is deployed into the asset servers.

If you use a Third Party Viewer (including V1 based ones) you can expect an update very soon with the necessary patch.

My suggestion to those using V1 viewers is to bite the bullet and switch to a V2/3 viewer, this is only the first in a series of updates that will eventually break V1 for good.

I wish there were better alternatives for those of you who struggle in SL with V2/3 viewers 😦

Update: Nalates has a very good explanation of this at her blog.

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