Deja Vu?

•November 4, 2019 • Leave a Comment

Just recently, and despite my not having taken any formal part in SL Ponyplay for several years now, I have been following a fierce row over the use of Alt accounts in pony polo. That there is a schism in SL pony polo anyway is plain for all to see with adherents to the “old” classic style of field at odds with those adopting the “new” sloped field (the logic behind which I still fail to see after reading many articles on the subject).
But recently a strange row blew up and in the midst of all the pompous invective, the identity of some of the “alts” was publically announced. Now that, as I understand it is a slam-dunk ToS infringement. However negatively one might feel about such accounts it is not permitted to “out” such folk. It is clumsy at best and seriously offensive at worst. I wrote an article about Ponyplay etiquette some time ago, but it bears re-reading in the light of recent developments:

Maybe I AM old-fashioned, but what I said there is every bit as relevant here. It is long past time that SL Ponyplay drew back from this confrontational drama. If it does not, it will wither yet further.

Inventory Issue

•November 3, 2019 • Leave a Comment

Last weekend saw SL hit by a vicious outage to the inventory servers, unattributable, for once, to the Lab themselves. On Friday many folk founds themselves unable to remove attachments or rez objects from about 1pm SLT, at that point logins seemed to be affected too and few were able to log in.
It took a good hour before LL officially recognised the issue in a post on the Grid Status page and a further hour before they reported the issue at least temporarily fixed.

The next evening the issue returned with a vengeance and this time the issue resisted being fixed for many hours, resulting in inworld numbers plummeting to under 20K (at which point I must wonder just WHAT this buffer of 15-20K is). I was one of many unable to login for over 12 hours.

Linden Lab published an explanation of the outage in a Blog post a couple of days later: It transpired that connectivity issues within SL’s own network but not run by themselves was at fault. Now for many that was an end to the issue but for some it was not. Subsequent to this outage many folk, using all types of viewers, found their inventory either corrupted or missing to a variable extent. Now LL are slowly correcting (or attempting to correct) these errors, since they are demonstrably NOT viewer cache issues. I know of a friend who is missing some 20K items from her inventory and this is identical on both Firestorm and on the LL viewer. We must wait and see how LL deal with this issue. My friend has raised a ticket on the matter and must await LL’s response.

Script Woes

•November 2, 2019 • Leave a Comment

For the past few weeks we in SL have been suffering various script communication issues. Ironically the root cause of many of these woes is LL’s attempts to improve script scheduling and thus increase the percentage of scripts that can run in each frame of a simulation (ideal running is 45 FPS).
It would be silly to BLAME LL for these issues as it was a genuine attempt on their part to improve matters, though just what changed in the first place to cause the drop in script run no-one seems to know. We have been bemoaning the apparent drop in script run over the past two years now and various abortive attempts to improve affairs have been undertaken; net result no change.
Rider Linden and others have mounted a recent and more aggressive attempt at solving this issue and unfortunately the results were equally aggressive …and negative! Now no matter where in SL one is, the likelihood of a script resetting to its default state has become significantly higher, coupled with a marginal, and I DO mean marginal (c5%) increase in overall script-run performance.
The changes have been to script-scheduling on the server/simulator and the scripts are now prone to miscommunication, most obvious to those running remote scripted attachments (usually in RLV(a)) when moving between regions. The worst of this occurred a little over two weeks ago and thankfully the code responsible was withdrawn by LL since there were additional most undesirable side effects. Some folk were a little disappointed with the “roll-back”, since it had been accompanied by a noticeable increase in script run performance (c25%); that this was obtained at the cost of certain scripts no longer communicating AT ALL did not, apparently, bother them!
Now Linden Lab’s finest coders are trying again to effect a rescheduling of script events and just what the resulting effects will be we must wait and see! ‘ee innit fun!

Firestorm 6.3.2 Bo(o)M

•October 13, 2019 • Leave a Comment

Well, Firestorm’s Bakes on Mesh viewer is here. There are many other updates, tweaks and minor changes since the last one, not least some further upgrades to the mesh-rendering process, gleaned from LL’s latest version of the “Love Me Render” code. It’s worth pointing out that the viewer has been available for well over a week now so this is a comment after a fair spell of use.

Now personally I can’t get excited about BoM, I don’t use tattoos and the constraints of not having specular- or bump-mapping on baked textures seem a retrograde step to me. Others may well differ in their opinions, but until I am using the updated Maitreya body (coming “soon”) I am holding my opinion.
All I will say is that this update seems to render mesh bodies faster than the last viewer, which itself was a BIG improvement. I have been able to lower my routine object LOD now to 3.0 and to 3.25 in places with a lot of complex sculpts. Up until now I have needed 3.75 or thereabouts to achieve satisfactory rendering, with all the attendant load on my GPU and resultant lower frame rates, so that is a win in my book. Other details are to be found in Inara Pey’s more in depth assessment:

It’s important to mention that Inara’s blog routinely gives an insight into current LL programmes and projects and if you want to get a handle on how LL is actually working to improve our Second Lives, I heartily recommend her Blog.

Firestorm 6.2.4

•July 17, 2019 • Leave a Comment

There is a new version of Firestorm available now. This version is not a quantum-leap in any particular direction and is unlikely to sway users of other viewers to the cause, were it not for the woeful issues that have hamstrung Singularity users recently. There is a fix for an issue afflicting users of Intel integrated graphics as well.

The update is more maintenance than anything else apart from some significant changes to Estate Management tools (EAM) and the incorporation of the changes to render pathway introduced by LL in their “Love Me Render” RC viewer. (Why do they do that, their sense of humour is worse than mine, if that is possible). The changes are not immediately obvious to me after several hours of use, apart from that it seems mesh attachments go immediately to where they ought to be attached, rather than orbiting the avatar for 30 seconds or so, after entering a parcel/region. I assume this indicates better sim to client communication.

The long-awaited Bakes on Mesh seem to be no nearer and EEP bugs are still to be cured so LL are not issuing these for mainstream operations yet. Vision-spheres are still not incorporated and I rather get the impression from the accompanying changelog notes that Kitty Barnett is becoming short-tempered about the issue, pointing out yet again that her interpretation of vision-spheres is done but is awaiting some greater project’s completion. Frankly I have stopped waiting for that. If you MUST have vision spheres, the best solution would be to use either Marine Kelley’s RLV or the Kokua TPV. If there are other solutions I do not know of them.

All in all FS 6.2.4 is a competent update and I found it easy to install despite the certificate issue causing my Firewall to flag up doubts about the source. As ever use the official FS website to download.

“Give me wings to Fly….”

•May 26, 2019 • 1 Comment

With apologies to Les Holroyd of Barclay James Harvest.
I recently took to the air with a glider from Rene Marine and have had much enjoyment leaning to fly (and Land) it, when LL’s issues with sim crossings permitted. However I have more recently found another way to fly in SL…with wings. Now I know we can all fly in SL, but to be blunt it looks pretty naff. At a recent music show I saw a beautiful pair of Bento animated wings and decided to try them for myself. They are Avia wings from M.O.R. – Murder of Ravens and while not cheap are the best that I have seen to date.
See for yourself below.
While messing about with the wings (which by the way are low complexity and need only 3 scripts), I realised well, with a pair of wings, do you really need arms? So far as I know hexapods are not common in SL, so a little inventiveness I got them out of the way!
At almost the same time I was put on to the new Avara Hood, from Kyrah Abattoir’s KDC. Kyrah has been around SL since it pretty well started, like Marine Kelley and her creations are always well made, although not everyone will like her “Touch-Bound” scripting. Like many other things, it is an acquired taste. The Avara is very editable, so that while it may not be rigged to mesh heads, it is possible (though not easy) to get a very good fit. Judge for yourself below how the “Falcon” style works. It seemed appropriate with wings like these!

Who needs Red Bull?

Wings in “Tucked” position

Wings, Avara Hood and Insanya’s new catsuit

While SL may not be in its best condition, it is still possible to have a little fun and to be inventive, if not original. It is worth noting that the Avara automatically adapts to the open mouth state when a gag is worn, though as I say above you do have to edit it to get the best fit. Also as I said, it is not easy, you MUST read Kyrah’s extensive and easy to follow online instructions for the Hood. With the Avara it is possible to get really good results, but it is also not difficult to get into a right mess if you don’t read the notes!

The TP bug saga

•April 22, 2019 • 2 Comments

I’ve posted before about this: but the issue is not by any means close to a solution. There is a thread on the Server Forum that contains the most recent comments by one or two folks who “know about these things” and also a few rants from me (Yes Aishagain Resident is me, my current account in SL).

This is the place where, until there is more “official” news from LL, which I’d expect in their technology blog, but some pertinent comments have been made by those whose knowledge of the soft-and-hardware behind SL is much greater than mine: (we’re up to page 6 by now).

Now some folks still seem to think that there’s not much going on and we should “buckle up or just read a book”. It seems that a month of troubles is not significant to some! I WAS around in 2008 and I do recall the tribulations SL had back then, but I had hoped we had moved a bit beyond that sort of clueless blundering.

This is in fact quite a serious issue. It will take some concerted effort on the part of LL to fix this, but for the sake of SL’s future, fix it they must.

ETA Wednesday April 24th, 8pm BST:
By now all SL is on LL’s second attempt at a grid-wide bug-fix. So far the results are promising, but apparently only if you use Firestorm! No idea why that should be. Keep watching that thread above.