Archive for the ‘Third Party Viewers’ Category

Today, Thursday 26th January, we are delighted to have three keynote interviews with leading Second Life residents with two sessions of Meet the Designer and then Meet the Community Talks in the Auditorium on SL11B Fascinate (either Stage 1 or Stage 2).

Meet Jessica at 1pm!

Meet Jessica at 1pm!

First of all, on Stage 1 at 1pmSLT we have Jessica Lyon, the Project Manager of Firestorm. Jessica will be talking with Saffia Widdershins about the recent announcement by Ebbe Linden that Linden Lab are working on a new platoform, designed as a successor (but not a replacement) for Second Life. Jessica will be talking about the meeting where thios was first raised, about some of the misconceptions that have arisen, and about her vision for the future of Second Life.

She may also be sharing a few thoughts on ways in which the Lindens could avoid some of the problems they have faced in Second Life!

Meet Beq at 2pm!

Meet Beq at 2pm!

Secondly, at 2pmSLT, Beq Janus, the award winning designer who has created, among other things, a restruction of the famous Maison Horta, an award winning build at Relay for Life 2013, the steampunk fantasy of Asperatus for Fantasy Faire 2014 … and who is currently rebuilding the sewers of New Babbage in mesh (and tremendous detail) will be talking to Saffia Widdershins on Stage 2. We’ll also be talking about Beq’s work as a writer and photographer, and her work as a machinimist. It’s a chance to hear from an extraordinary talented creative.


Finally, at 5pm, Saffia will be talking on Stage 2to Jo Yardley of 1920s Berlin, who will be talking about her re-creation of a real historical community, and the challenges – and triumphs – this has entailed – as well as her role on the Drax Radio Files, and her plans for the future. And I daresay we’ll also be talking about the topic of the hour – the announcement of the new platform!

How do I find out more?
You can find out more by following the official blog, and by following on Facebook and Twitter.

There is also a Flickr page where you can paste your own images when the sims open. You make see some sneak images from the team before that so keep watching!

Or you can get the Guide – on the web or inworld.

Main site: http://slcommunitycelebration.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/SLBCommunity
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SLBCommunityCelebration
Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/groups/sl11b/


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Don’t miss the recent Designing Worlds show exploring the phenomenon of the most popular viewer for Second Life – Firestorm.

How and why has Firestorm achieved its pre-eminence? What is the relationship between Firestorm and Linden Lab, makers of Second Life?

We talk to Jessica Lyon, the overall Project Manager, Lette Ponnier, the English Support Lead. and Ed Merryman, Support Manager and teacher as we trace Firestorm from the early, rocky days of the Emerald browser through its rebirth as Phoenix to its present huge popularity as the most used viewer on the Second Life grid.

Firestorm - symbol and classroom, photographed by Wildstar Beaumont

Firestorm – symbol and classroom, photographed by Wildstar Beaumont

And we look at how the team develop the features that make it so popular – and above all its famous training and support – including their own training path for newcomers to Second Life. Does this offer a model for Linden Lab as they move forward?

People who want to learn more about Firestorm (or download the viewer for themselves) should visit the Firestorm website.

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Firestorm - symbol and classroom, photographed by Wildstar Beaumont

Firestorm – symbol and classroom, photographed by Wildstar Beaumont

Join us today, Monday 2nd June at 2pm SLT at the Designing Worlds studio in Garden of Dreams for a viewing party of our latest episode. This week, we’re not visiting a place so much as we’re looking at a phenomenon – the Firestorm Viewer.

We’ll be talking to Jessica Lyon, the overall Project Manager, Lette Ponnier, the English Support Lead. and Ed Merryman, Support Manager and teacher. And we’ll be tracing Firestorm from the early, rocky days of the Emerald browser through its rebrth as Phoenix to its present huge popularity as the most used viewer on the Second Life grid.

Firestorm training path, photographed by Wildstar Beaumont

Firestorm training path, photographed by Wildstar Beaumont

And we’ll be looking at how the team develop the features that make it so popular – and above all its famous training and support – including their own training path for newcomers to Second Life. Does this offer a model for Linden Lab as they move forward?

Join us at 2pm for the story of Firestorm, a really fascinating show.

Or – if you can’t attend in person – tune in to the web at 2pm SLT on Monday for a showing on Aview TV, on SLartist or on Treet – or catch it later in the week on our shows page on the Treet.tv web site at http://treet.tv/shows/designingworlds, on the Aview TV Designing Worlds channel – or on the Designing Worlds blog.

Firestorm auditorium, photographed by Wildstar Beaumont

Firestorm auditorium, photographed by Wildstar Beaumont

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SL Go, the system from OnLive which offers the opportunity to access Second Life on tablets, smart TVs or through the OnLive app to lower-end PCs and Macs, is announcing a new price structure and access from a much greater range of countries.

SL Go on the Android

SL Go on the Android

In a press release today, they said:

Since launching the beta of SL Go about a month ago, OnLive reports they’ve seen a very positive response to the Second Life® Viewer for Android™ that allows users to access Second Life over wifi or 4G LTE on tablets and laptops.

Today, OnLive has updated the SL Go beta with new pricing:
● Monthly unlimited-use subscription for $9.95 (USD) / £6.95 (GBP). No contract and no commitment.
● Reduced hourly rate: $1 / £0.70 per hour.
The previously available offer of a 20-minute free trial still stands.

Additionally, OnLive is expanding the regions where SLGo is available. The service is now supported in 36 countries:

Andorra Iceland Poland
Austria Ireland Portugal
Belgium Israel Russia
Canada Italy San Marino
Croatia Latvia Slovakia
Cyprus Lichtenstein Spain
Denmark Lithuania Sweden
Estonia Luxembourg Switzerland
Finland Malta Turkey
France Monaco United Kingdom
Greece Netherlands United States
Hungary Norway Vatican City

This is an exciting and pleasing development, made in response to the generally expressed sentiment that the initial pricing was set too high for Second Life users, even those who believed that they would find the system useful.

It’s worth noting the package delivers not “Second Life lite”, but Second Life with the full range of bells and whistles graphics. SL Go will show the Advanced Lighting Model, complete with materials – something that has been difficult for people accessing Second Life on some laptops and older desktops.

Nate Barsetti and Danger Linden will be discussing SL Go on today's special Designing Worlds show

Nate Barsetti and Danger Linden discuss SL Go on Designing Worlds

This is an OnLive initiative,developed in co-operation with Linden Lab, but not a Linden Lab product. When I spoke to Danger Linden, Head of Product at the Lab, he said he saw it as more analogous to Linden Lab working with a third party viewer.

You can see more about the system and its capabilities on a special Designing Worlds show.

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Living with Lag

A cool grey world.

A cool grey world.

Last night, while walking around a corner in my lovely SL home, I crashed.

And I don’t mean, like, SL logged me out. I mean, like, my computer turned itself off. And then came back on and said in several languages, basically, ‘I couldn’t deal any longer and panicked.’ Sad face.

Let me say up front that I know the reason my virtual experience is so sad and slow is that I am doing it via a 3+ year old MacBook Pro. When I started SL, my machine was brand new, the viewer was old, and everything was rather peachy. But in the new-fangled world of browser-like viewers and mesh, my poor wee machine is struggling. And while I’d love to rush out and get a shiny new one, it isn’t the right time, and I’m not going to shell out the ducats just for SL (sorry SL).

So I’ve been living with lag for quite a while now. Much of my virtual experience is grey and slow to rez, and everyone’s movements are choppy and stilted. But if I am patient and stand somewhere long enough, my world becomes lovely and vivid, and I’m pleased to be there. As such, I definitely limit my experience to places that are worth the wait, like art installations (and which are much lower lag than shopping events!)

But see, that was my SL, I didn’t know any different. That is, until this last Christmas when I had the chance to login on my dear friend (the Cheeky Pea herself) Isla Gealach’s gorgeous 27″ iMac. Isla has NO LAG. I actually had no idea that when you tp’ed somewhere, it could be instant… and when you cammed around, it could all go in a blur. I was enthralled, then I was in despair. How would my SL ever be acceptable after this?

After a manic episode of almost ordering a Mac mini on the spot (I’ll be a Mac user til I die, so I’m not having that debate here, to each their own), I came to my senses. I’ve been living with lag for a while now, and I would certainly survive it.

But since the new year, it’s been particularly bad… and I was somewhat relieved this week to learn that I wasn’t alone. On Tuesday, when I went to preview Bryn Oh’s wonderful new exhibit ‘Imogen and the Pigeons’, SL was entirely borked for all of us… it’s been a mess since, and then last night, the computer thing. When I restarted, Firestorm wouldn’t start AT ALL. So I said f*ck it and loaded up the SL viewer.

Guess what? I’m sort of ok.

PJ and I went back and finished Bryn’s exhibit (and you HAVE TO GO IT IS AMAZING), and it was FINE. I was even able to navigate some of her trickier paths (because when you are regularly laggy, sharp turns and curving stairs are a bitch!). So now I’m suspicious that the problem is Firestorm for Mac, and this isn’t the first time I’ve heard that.

I’ve had other random issues, such as mesh walls not rezzing until I uncheck basic shaders in my graphics (and then check again and it’s fine). But this wee ramble which is in service of not a lot is basically just to make a plea for content creators: please remember those of us who live with lag?

For example, I am wandering around a major and popular store right now which will not let me fly or tp from A to B in their HUGE store. I get that you want me to walk by all your stuff, but 1) it isn’t rezzing fast enough for me to see, and 2) I just get frustrated when I have to walk back through, downstairs, and around to the next store when I’m even a bit laggy.

Please, remember and be kind to those of us who live with lag.

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by Saffia Widdershins and Lette Ponnier

Linden Lab have today announced some changes in their Third Party Viewer Policy.

You may remember that the Policy was originally initiated in response to the “rogue” viewers that were causing enormous problems on the grid.  Developed by various people, they were widely used by griefers to violate intellectual property rights on an industrial scale.  There were also problems with the Emerald viewer, one of whose developers launched a denial of service attack on someone he disliked, using the Emerald viewer capabilities. At this point the Lab banned some people, laid down strict policy guidelines (which some of us had been begging for) and general took a proactive stance that led to the development of Phoenix, Firestorm, Dolphin and the other viewers that people know and love.

Today, Linden Lab have announced changes to the policy.  The changes are as follows:

2.a.iii : You must not provide any feature that circumvents any privacy protection option made available through a Linden Lab viewer or any Second Life service.
2.i : You must not display any information regarding the computer system, software, or network connection of any other Second Life user.
2.j : You must not include any information regarding the computer system, software, or network connection of the user in any messages sent to other viewers, except when explicitly elected by the user of your viewer.

This changes relate to privacy and address problems that people have identified with some of the TPVs.  For example, some will tell you what viewer other people are using.  Some people find this intensely annoying; others find it useful. When we’re trying to set up the TV shows, it’s useful to use to quickly identify which viewer our guests are using so that we can advise them how to get voice working – so we’re definitely in the finding it useful camp!  But … you know, no biggie.

However, the final item is the real problem.

2.k : You must not provide any feature that alters the shared experience of the virtual world in any way not provided by or accessible to users of the latest released Linden Lab viewer.

This is potentially the dealbreaker.  It appears to means that any TPV working to bring in new features would either have to develop them in conjunction with the Lab, or risk having the viewer disabled.

But the whole part of the TPVs is that they lead the way in adding new features that viewers vote for with their mouseclicks.  They’ve been responsible for introducing and testing a range of new features, some of which have gone on to be a major part of residents’ Second Life experience, and some of which have sunk without trace.  Different viewers have been enthusiastically adopted by different groups within the community; photographers adore Kristen’s, with its use of shadows and depth of field; builders love Firestorm; Exodus (which is actually NOT a Linden Lab approved viewer) was developed initially for the roleplay communities etc.

Now this ability is to be removed and only elements that are provided by or accessible to users of the latest released Linden Lab viewer will be permitted – which rather kills the ability of the TPVs to create and test the features that residents really love.

The press release from the Lab continues:
We encourage Third Party Developers to continue innovating with unique user interfaces, niche features, and ways of interacting with the virtual world, and we look forward to working in partnership with developers on ideas they have for new or improved shared experiences for all of Second Life. We want to incorporate more innovative new features into Second Life to improve the experience for all users, and we encourage TPV developers to submit proposals through our standard process.

However, one of the features that users of the TPVs love is their ability to respond and develop with flexibility (as we saw with the AngusGraham Ceawlin case). Long term residents have voted with their feet, and headed for new viewers, partly because the universal dislike there was for the original Viewer 2, which gave a massive impetus to the development of TPVs.

One viewer that might have looked likely to be significantly affected is the RLV (Restrained Life Viewer), a viewer that is popular in BDSM communities as it allows one person to control another’s viewing experience.  In addition to the BDSM communities, it has other applications for gamers, who have developed applications for the viewer (whose key features have been developed as an add on in other viewers such as Firestorm and Imprudence) for games that have no sexual connotations whatsoever.  It would have been ironic if this feature were to be removed at a point at which the Lab is pushing gaming development so heavily – but it seems that because RLV is specifically opt-in (the person chooses to have their viewer controlled, and who it will be controlled by), it will be unaffected by the policy change.

Although this will doubtless affect the future of TPV development and the introduction of new features, Oz Linden reassured developers at the TPV meeting that  they would not have to release newly modified viewers in a hurry to remain in compliance with the new policy. Some of the features that will be affected, such as Phoenix’s true online status and the viewer tag system used by the majority of TPVs, will be disabled server-side in the near future. Those that are not controlled from the server end, such as the text tags used in Phoenix/Firestorm’s inworld support groups to display a chatter’s viewer and version, will need to come into compliance with the viewers’ next releases, whenever those might be.

Why announce these changes now? Perhaps it’s been decided – belatedly – to tighten up and make sure that a situation like the Emerald problem never occurs again.  Perhaps it’s actually a slightly ham-fisted invitation to TPV developers not to forget that they can work more closely with the Lab.

Or perhaps this is part of a movement towards viewer strandardisation to work with the new tools/games that the Lab is developing,

Time will tell.

Some of the other posts that have come out on this issue:
Linden Lab’s Official Announcement
Inara Prey’s Living in a Modem World
Dwell On It
The Tigress’ Second Den
Phoenix Viewer
Second Life News
Nalates’ Things & Stuff
Andromeda Media Group
Daniel Voyager’s Blog
Sand Castle Studios
Second Thoughts
Salome says

and, of course, Second Lie is having a field day!

We’ll add more as they come in.

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Froukje Hoorenbeek of Dutchie released her first Mesh furniture set on Friday – a kitchen table arrangement – and she sent me a copy to have a look at.

Dutchie's new kitchen table set

Dutchie's new kitchen table set

I think Froukje should be very proud of this – the design is great – as one would expect from her – and the texturing is lovely – I particularly oooh’ed over the folds of the tablecloth (which, by the way, you can colour-adjust).  It weighs in with a prim equivalent cost of 20 – well, I’d certainly expect something like that to gobble up twenty prims (not even counting the beautiful tulip (a very nice Dutch touch!) so it seems fair enough.

To view it, I had to abandon my usual Imprudence and Phoenix and come in on the latest SL client.  Not a huge hardship – I like the new viewer and see it as an enormous advance over the clunky and counter-intuitive Viewer 2.  There are still a few things I haven’t figured out – when Music AND Media are set on a parcel, how do you listen/watch one and not both at once?  Is it possible to do it without going in to Preferences (clunky)?

And I wish that I could still keep Conversations and my Friends List open in the same window (maybe I can – tell me, gurus!) but I do like the increased functionality of the Friends list which brings it closer to the best of the Third Party Viewers. I am finding it much more stable, but I know that it is causing difficulty for people who have medical conditions that find flashing alerts a problem. I get the feeling there are still things that will be ironed out or improved … but essentially THIS should have been the much-heralded Viewer 2 rather than the morass we were given originally.

That viewer fed directly into the huge explosion in Third Party Viewers and, eventually, to the debacle of the Emerald Viewer when, in effect, the majority of users chose a viewer that had some very dodgy provenance. Phoenix arose from the ashes of that and is has proved itself highly popular, dedicated to meeting user needs, and far more careful of its reputation.

It also allowed a graceful retreat from those who fulminated that they would leave Second Life if Linden Lab banned the Emerald viewer. The fact that Linden Lab DID ban the Emerald viewer and people adapted does rather suggest that – far from being the hidebound Luddites that some see them as – the Second Life denizens will make necessary transitions when given reasonable options.  And the new mesh-enabled viewer is, to my mind, one such reasonable option.

So, now I am equipped with my mesh-enabled viewer, do I see Mesh as the Next Big Thing?  Well, there are a couple of things holding it back.

Many people are still wedded to the Phoenix viewer, or other non-Mesh enabled viewers, and this means that instead of seeing me elegantly seated at my new kitchen table …

Sitting at the kitchen table (in the latest Linden viewer)

Sitting at the kitchen table (in the latest Linden viewer)

they would only see this …

Setting at the kitchen table (Phoenix viewer)

Setting at the kitchen table (Phoenix viewer)

The Phoenix team is making sterling efforts to bring their mesh-enabled Firestorm viewer at least up to non-buggy, stable-as-possible standards (and there’s a little cul-de-sac working on doing the same for Phoenix itself).  Other Third Party viewers such as Cool VL and Dolphin (to mention but two) are also mesh-enabled.  And it’s all the more impressive for Cool VL and Henri Beauchamp has back-ported the mesh code from Viewer 2 into Viewer 1.23 for those who really love that version (one of whom is, not surprisingly, Henri himself).

So, soon most people will be able to view mesh without needing to desert their favourite viewers (with all their favourite add-ons).  But is Mesh still a good thing?

Firstly, I think Mesh is proving a little slow to be adopted. There are mesh homes and mesh furniture out there – early adopters like Maxwell Graf and Abel Dreamscape have been building in mesh for a while – as you can see from this Designer Challenge.  But many of the well-known designers are coming on board quite slowly; the designers are reluctant to build until they are sure they can sell; the buyers are reluctant to buy something that they are not sure their friends will be able to see.

And, for the fashion industry, mesh clothing remains a problem.  Some people bravely turn up to parties wearing what to them looks like a gorgeous dress and super slinky hair – and many people see – or rather don’t see – an invisible body and a flat round torus hovering over a bald head.  But getting mesh clothing / hair to fit until the mesh deformer has been created will be an ongoing problem – if you want to know how that’s going, you can follow the Jira that’s been created here (but don’t derail it by starting discussions, Oz Linden asks).

In the furniture business, there may also be problems for people who are used to more flexibility.  Froukje has built in some great scripts to the kitchen table and chairs so that you can subtly adjust your seating position (something that wasn’t standard in most furniture until relatively recently).  But the nature of mesh means that you can’t change the overall positioning of the chairs – the set forms a single unit, and that may be a problem for some people.  And the need for scripts to adjust is going to raise the usual problems about the number of scripts in a region … but then, let’s be honest, non-mesh products is usually pretty script intensive.

I think it’s still early days.  It’s good to see high quality work, such as Froukje’s, coming on the market, and I hope it will tempt more people into making sure they can view mesh.

Newcomers, of course, will come in seeing mesh and will probably wonder what all the fuss is about. Once, of course, they recover from the painful realisation that as far as many people are concerned, they will always be known as WhatthehellshallIcallmyself2009 Resident.  It would be really nice to see some movement on that Jira issue – the last message from the Lab (the only message from the Lab) was on 1st November.

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