Firestorm Viewer Beta 4.0.1.27000 Review

Yesterday the new Firestorm and Phoenix viewers were released. I think with this release the Phoenix viewer is pretty much dead. On March 21, when Direct Delivery goes live on the Second Life grid, the Phoenix 1600 release will be noticeably broken, at least the inventory panel will be. So, Phoenix users will need to upgrade to the version 1.6.1.1691.

HOWEVER, Firestorm has a Phoenix mode, soon to be named V1 mode, that is almost an exact Viewer 1.23 interface. But, with the new SL and FS features. Before you download Phoenix 1691, watch the video and then decide which viewer you want to download. I am encouraging you to go with Firestorm and click on the Phoenix mode. I’ve reached the point that I’ll soon uninstall my copy of Phoenix and I won’t be upgrading to Phoenix 1691. Firestorm is the future.

Download & Install

Simple download, quick. Install is the basic SL Viewer install. It installs over the top of your last install. They usually have one do a clean install. They did not say anything about that in the release announcement as they usually do. I tried installing over the top. It seems to work. I hate the idea of re-downloading a 9gb cache…

I think this install wipes some of the potentially problem files or otherwise handles some install issues. Some of my common settings seemed to disappear… or I hadn’t reset them in the previous version. Hard for me to know, I jump from viewer to viewer.

Experience

First thing after login, you are greeted with one of the responses to the TPV Policy Changes: a dialog asking you whether you want to display your viewer version when chatting in the FS/PH Support group. PLEASE, click YES. That will make life for everyone much easier.

New Permission Request

What this does is prefix each line of chat you type with the viewer version ID. This ID is only appended when you are in the FS/PH Support group chat.

REMEMBER. FS/PH Support is going to be busy answering questions and solving problems. Avoid using the group to complain, commend, flame, or just chat. If you don’t have a question, stay out, at least for a few days. Asking questions like, (said in ahigh, trembling, whinny voice) ‘What did you do to my Firestorm?’ is counterproductive and only broadcasts your [place whatever pejorative here you want].

If you are frustrated, visit the FS Forum and vent. When you are sane again, ask for help in support.

 Buttons

You have to watch the video, I’m not going to rewrite what the deal is when Jessica does such a good job in the video. Some of what found that is not in the video follows. Also, know that I use the viewer in V3 mode. I think this will be the default mode for Firestorm as it eases the shock to new users coming from SL Viewer 3, which makes sense to me.

New Button Style

There is a new kind of button. It is a sort of button within a button. I think it is a great space saving feature. The example I have is the AO, Animation Override. The smaller button turns the AO on and off. The larger one opens the setup panel.

There are some new buttons in the main Toolbar Buttons panel; Statistics, Web Browser, and Debug Settings. I’m so used to using Ctrl-Shift-1 for Viewer Stats I don’t need the Stats Button. Having the Debug Settings on a button while setting up the viewer could be a big help, if I can just remember there is such a button when I start making changes.

Button behavior changes a bit. In previous versions if I minimized a panel and clicked a button, it first closed the panel then a second click would open it. Now a minimized panel is opened, saving a click.

FS

Quick Preferences

The Firestorm button opens a handy quick settings panel. It has the most commonly changed settings. I am hoping the camera settings eventually made it out of Debug Settings. My changed rear view settings often do not work well in an auditorium setting. I need to change them and doing via Debug is a bit of a pain.

World Map

In the upper left of the World Map is a chevron type icon that hides and reveals the Legend, Find, and Teleport controls.

There is some problem with the map-tile server. A fix was recently added. It is better about providing tiles at extreme zoom out. But, I found some titles still missing until one zooms in close.

There seems to be more people on the map than I am used to seeing. My counter only shows 48,000+ online. May be it’s a bot invasion… or they are breeding and the kids never have to login, so the count is off… and… and…     I prolly should find my meds.

Anyway, the point is: if you have missing tiles, it is likely the LL server at fault.

Settings

In a new viewer I tend to go through the settings and get my favorites enabled and disabled. Changing the Rear View camera position is now a must for me.

Color

In Preferences->Colors there are a load of color choices. Only Nirans out does Firestorm’s ability to choose colors. I had an easier time setting colors for FS.

Graphics

All the TPV’s do these differently. The settings are complex and all developers have their ideas of how to make it easier. It isn’t. But, Firestorm has a nice layout and it makes sense.

In Preferences->Graphics->Rendering (tab) there is a setting for Alpha Mask Rendering. Most us know this as invisiprims. So, I think this setting will be confused with Alpha Layers. It could be better named.

Sound & Media

The Media Filter feature is enabled by default. This is still the most horribly annoying feature to ever hit a viewer. I would love to see stats on how many people turn it off. It is one of the first things I disable. Preferences -> Sound & Media->General tab.

Network & Cache

The default minimum cache size is set. With HTTP Get Texture you’ll want to up this. I max mine. Preferences->Network & Cache.

While you are in there make sure you are using the separate caches a clean install sets up by default. The default for Firestorm is a folder in the path named Firestorm.

There is a radio button for internal or external web browser use. Neither was selected. I suppose that could be from installing over the top of a previous install. I know this is a setting I always change to external.

Move & View

The control to enable a chat range circle in mini-map is in this section. Preferences->Move & View->Firestorm tab.

Privacy

General has the auto-accept settings. I’m not sure how these will change with the coming roll out of Direct Delivery.

The ‘Look At’ controls are here. These are the controls for how Look At Targets are shown and whether your Look At info is broadcast. You can use these settings to see who is perv caming you and hide when you are perv caming.

Advanced

This is mostly empty now. The control to allow/show other grids at login is here. The viewer carries a warning that it may not be usable on other grids. I suggest you check with other grid operators before using it on a grid other than Linden Lab’s grids.

User Interface

Lots of control here. Some are looking for away to move the IM Notice buttons to the bottom right. They default in V3 view to the upper right as in SL Viewer 3.

Firestorm – General

This panel has the unique Firestorm feature controls and a number of tabbed pages.

RLVa is here. Disable teleport screens is here. Enable or disable the Firestorm Bridge here. If you want to try this viewer on OSGrid, be sure to disable the bridge before logging in. The place gets cluttered up with bridges that fall off.

Firestorm – Protection

Spam protection is here as are several other features; block sit, revoke permissions, texture lag, and a couple of notifications.

Firestorm – Avatar

Avatar head movement and selection beam controls are here.

Firestorm – Windlight

This section has lots of Windlight settings that are not available in the SL Viewer. They make for a nice experience when exploring.

Firestorm – Tags

This is another casualty of the TPV Policy change. You can however change tag colors that you see. So, you can change tag color based on whether they are in chat range or not. You can also set the height that a tag is above avatar heads. This is great for combat where some players try to obfuscate there meter text by hiding it in the tag text.

Speed and Stability

In general it is the same speed as the LL viewers. I get around 12 FPS set on HIGH with L&S, AO, and S/M shadows on.

I used the viewer for a couple of hours. Made it through a user group meeting and survived Mayfair (a mostly all mesh region).

No crashes. I am running nVidia driver 296.10.

I’ll have to try it in Phoenix mode next.

6 thoughts on “Firestorm Viewer Beta 4.0.1.27000 Review

  1. Interesting that you turn the media filter off, Nalates; the fact that Exodus and Niran’s don’t have it is a major barrier to me adopting either of them full time. I guess I’m just more paranoid than you.

    • Possibly… but being paranoid don’t mean they aren’t after you.

      I just can’t stand the continual pop ups.

  2. When using the new Firestorm 27000 my voice does nott work. All others hear is static whenever i click the mic to talk.

  3. Nalates — new reader to your blog here. Thanks for posting your views and thoughts on Firestorm 4, which seems like an exciting new advance. I’m downloading it now, and I appreciate the insights you’ve given, which will come in handy for me trying to get the best out of using it!

  4. Hi:

    I’ve tried the viewer Firestorm 4 and there is nothing new in this viewer, as it is a mixture of the viewer 1 and the viewer 3, for example, the section to see the profile of other users is the same that in the viewer 1 and the principal interface (hated by almost everyone) is the interface of the viewer 3 of Linden Lab amended.

    The behavior of viewer on my PC that is it a Core 2 Duo E7600 (3.06GHz) with 8GBs of RAM is bad and very slow in comparation with others viewers of the competition (Exodus Viewer, Dolphin Viewwer or Nirans Vewe)

    Sometimes the Viewer is closed without no reason, appearing the message that Phoenix Firestorm has detected a problem and cannot continue.

    In short, Phoenix Firestorm v4 is nothing new and should improve the performance and stability already that previous versions of the viewer in comparation are best that this version

    • Don’t confuse items in the user interface with the technology behind the viewer.

      As to ‘almost everyone hating V3,’that just isn’t so. Right now it is about 50%/50%. Even Maria Korolov is adapting to the V3 UI. More and more TPV’s are adopting the V3 UI.

      I do speed checks on all the viewers I review. I can get any results I want for any viewer just by changing settings and testing in different regions. I try to get the settings as close to a standard as possible and test all viewers in the same region. Right now all the viewers have similar FPS rates. If you are finding Firestorm significantly slower than the others, I suggest you contact FS/PH support.

      The Linden code used by all the viewer dev’s has memory leaks. All the viewers crash in my experience. I won’t say which I think is the worst for crashing, because it changes so quickly and varies by the hardware and drivers used. But, FS 1691 is not that bad.

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