Firestorm Q&A Meeting Summary

Object Export

You may remember that Phoenix 1185 has a feature to export your avatar shape as an OBJ file, Wavefront. When mesh was added the feature broke. I’m not clear why. But, this feature allowed SL users to export shapes they owned for use in Blender. It was/is the only free way to get shapes into Blender. This feature is on the list to be added to FS. Jessica says we may see it in one of the next couple of releases… I suspect with all they are doing it will take longer. But, since the Mesh Deformer is held up, there is no rush.

Temporary Textures

The feature used in FS and Phoenix to upload texture for temporary use will break with the activation of SSB. There is the new feature that allows the use of textures on your hard drive. But, those are not ideal for cooperative building. Only you can see them, where with the PH and FS temp textures everyone could see them.

But so goes life.

Stale Attachments

You no doubt have noticed Group Notices go stale. Meaning you get a notice of something with a landmark or notice and then find the landmark won’t work or you cannot open the attachment. There is a work-around. Open attachments and notices through the contacts/groups panels. That works in most cases.

The problem has something to do with region servers only holding the attachment for an hour.

Miss Scaled Avatars

There is a problem where people see avatars either too small or too big. That is a known bug and has its very own JIRA… but we don’t know the number and if we did, you couldn’t read it anyway… Whatever, it is a server thing and the Lab is working on it.

New FS Skin

A new color scheme and new skin are going to be available for one of the next releases. This is going to be complicated for the next couple of releases as so many parts of the User Interface (UI) are changing.

I suspect all the UI changes are hard on viewer skin makers.

New Blue Sky

FS is going to have some new Windlight settings that are said to be awesome. A Vincent Nacon has contributed his cloud normal maps and a mass of his Windlight settings specially made for them. This changes the sky appearance significantly. No one had images. So, we have to wait to see it.

Default Viewer Settings

In this area the FS Team and the Linden Team disagree on how to handle the viewer’s default graphics settings. Jessica is concerned that the less techie are in for some surprises. She feels those surprises will be a deterrent to adoption of new viewer version.

Seven Step Slider for Graphics Settings

Seven Step Slider for Graphics Settings

Here is how this goes. Deferred Rendering or Lighting & Shadows, as it is now labeled in the SL viewer, requires a better graphics card. Even with a modern card the feature can slow down the viewer. So, some new consideration of which video card you are using has to be taken into account. If you have a newer card, like nVidia 400 series cards, Deferred Render is not that big a deal. So, the Lab feels it can be turned on by default.

Another factor enters in. The graphics slider that has ranged from Low to Ultra, in five steps, now has seven steps. That has necessitated having the viewer take a new look at the graphics settings. So, if you have your viewer running on High without Lighting & Shadows (Deferred) and update the viewer, it may switch to High-Ultra, the between High and Ultra setting, with L&S enabled. You could see a big decrease in your Frames per Second (FPS) rate. Many users will not know why.

The FS Teams thinking is the new default settings should not enable L&S. The Lab’s thinking is the default settings should enable L&S, if the card will handle it. So, we will see different default settings in FS and the SL Viewer.

If you don’t know, Invisa-Prims are broken by L&S (Deferred). But, it is going to be needed for the Materials System to work.

So, to see Materials in the FS viewer the settings will need to be changed.

In the SL Viewer you may see a decrease in your FPS rate and not know why… well you will now.

The label on the setting Lighting & Shadows is changing to Advanced Lighting. It is still going to be the Deferred Rendering process. Having the word Shadows in the label seems to have caused some confusion.

Firestorm Viewer Classes

Ed Merryman plugs the FS viewer classes toward the end of the meeting. Some don’t realize that there is a Q&A session after every class. People can ask whatever they want, about Firestorm, SL, or whatever. I suspect their answer to what is the meaning of life, the universe, and everything is still 42.

Whatever, the classes are well done. You will learn things about the viewer and SL that you never knew. If you haven’t taken one for a few months, spend some time in a class. Become a power user.

Viewer Use

Jessica says the stats are showing 9 of 10 Phoenix users have switched to FS. Twice as many are on FS now than are using Phoenix. Those that change over and try it for a few days tend to stay with FS.

Things did move around from the Phoenix UI to the Firestorm UI. One is going to have deal with some relearning. But, it is worth it. Phoenix is going to die the Day SSAB is activated.

The Phoenix and LL viewers are neck and neck. But, each month fewer people are using Phoenix. Soon there will be fewer people using Phoenix than use the LL viewer.

Those leaving Phoenix and not moving to Firestorm appear to be mostly moving to Singularity.

The Phoenix-Firestorm Team has made the Phoenix code available to anyone that wants to take it over. However, while a few have thought they would, no one has taken over development of the  Phoenix

Jessica believes anyone smart enough to accomplish the work needed to develop Phoenix, is smart enough to know it is not worth the effort.

http://letteponnier.blogspot.com/

64-Bit Viewer

This is the geeks holy grail. While FS will not have an official 64-bit viewer, according to Jessica, there are and will be 64-bit versions around. Contact Techwolf Lupindo for information on building your own Linux 64-bit version. You best be a serious techie if you plan to contact Techie.

The reason there will be no official version is the support factor. The Team does not want to place that burden on the support people. Nor do they want to be pushed to deal with the three main Linux versions.

So, you can have a 64-bit Linux version if you want it bad enough.

Rez to Last Position

Restore or rez to Last Position is broken. This was a Linden Lab feature. But, people were permanently losing content via use of the feature and filing JIRA’s and support tickets. The Lab killed the feature because the fix was too complex. Word is it is even more broken in the SSB versions of the server. Plus griefers found ways to exploit the feature. With rez rights at 0,0,0 and the FS viewer you can use rez at last. But, it is feature that will eventually go away and it is not coming back.

Conclusion

I left the meeting at about the 90 minute mark. The above is a summary of what I heard in the meeting. If you find something irritating in this, wait for the video that the Team plans to have up in a day or two. Listen to that and then react.

I think this shows the concerns the FS Team has for the coming months. For a time now the Lab has been putting new features into SL in the early part of the year and then working on performance and bug fixes in the last half of the year. This year is shaping up that way.

We are going to see lots of problems as these new features roll out. Some of them are extensive changes to a highly complex system. No one is going to get everything right in that complex a system. If you expect perfection and no problems with Second Life, you are likely going to be a disappointed and frustrated person.

It looks like the next few months will require some patience.

15 thoughts on “Firestorm Q&A Meeting Summary

  1. Like I’ve said before, while I appreciate what the FS team has done for SL, not having a business model will eventually kill the viewer. Making money is not evil. It makes things sustainable. Plus, I’m sure FS could show LL how to make money with a viewer. I’m not saying charge people for using it. I’m saying charge for advertising in an exclusive FS feature. Possibly a working search engine. I’d pay for that. Yeah, I already pay LL for that, but they obviously have no idea what the purpose of a search engine is.

    • A viewer with pop-up ads? Or taking up space inserting ads into specific features of the UI? Gick! What a horrid idea! Whatever the feature was that the ads were associated with would be the LAST feature I’d use. That idea needs to be killed with fire!

    • Viewers are made by people who do not like the limitations of a vanilla browser/client/etc. If they no longer enjoy SL and prefer to stop playing, then they should stop bothering with said client. However, if they still enjoy their game then they will likely continue to work on a viewer that meets the needs they’ve set for themselves.

      But Advertising and charging? GFYS. Advertising is the Devil and I’d like to eventually have one thing that I don’t have to deal with ads or the effort involved in blocking ads across the board.

      And further suggesting that FS could teach LL how to make MORE MONEY? It’s about time we stop giving LL any money at all. All they’ve done is break shit each and every time. I think I’m still waiting for Havok to be fully functional and even after 11 years they STILL CAN’T FIX random crashes or my personal favourite; crashing TPing elsewhere.

      • So… if everyone stops paying the Lab any money… how do you propose we pay the developers to move the platform forward?

        Do you really think they are breaking Second Life? I think they are proceeding down the normal path of human powered advancement. SL has advanced considerably since I joined.

        If you stop advertising, advertisers will stop paying for the things we enjoy. Then how will you obtain those things they have paid for? Would you perfer to pay for them yourself? And how will you even know about them?

        I am amazed you think the tp-crash problem is caused by the same software problems as 11 years ago. You probably don’t know you only ever have a flu once. From that time you are immune to that specific virus. But, the same symptoms we label flu are cause by a new virus the next year. It isn’t that we cannot cure a specific flu, we can. But, we cannot cure the next one we don’t know about. Software is the same as it develops and changes.

  2. I’m quite a bit surprised by the argument following which RLVa would be an issue with the server side baking code !… While it is true that you must make sure that RestrainedLove restrictions are not in force when removing or wearing clothing items, it is trivial to implement the corresponding checking functions as callbacks pointers used by the llappearance library and initialized by the RestrainedLove core; this is how the Cool VL Viewer has been doing it for weeks in its server-side baking enabled branch.

    As for stability, the current sunshine-external code (with this week’s latest commits) has been largely improved and is proving quite stable (currently testing Cool VL Viewer v1.26.7.11 that is based on it and will be released today or tomorrow). As a TPV developer, I’m ready for the roll-out of the server side baking code on the main grid.

    • I haven’t been interested in viewer code for anything more than animations… and that code has been/is difficult for me to understand. I also have not looked through the FS code or tried to compile it. So, I am clueless as to what is actually going on.

      That said, I’ll suggest what was said at the meeting was a combination of actual tech and team politics mixed with Jessica’s understanding of what is happening. She doesn’t claim to be a techie, so I assume she is doing some interpreting of what the programmers are saying. Plus there is the need to placate the user base, which Jessica seems sensitive to. I imagine there is concern that when people react to what she says, it gets taken out on support people. As people’s responsibility for others increases they tend to be cautious.

      Thanks for mentioning that Sunshine code is now more stable. Jessica tends to see things as a bit dark. I too expect to see problems as new software tries to carry the load of the main channels. But, whether it is going really bad, just bad, not so bad, or just your normal SL is all opinion.

    • Two things I’ve learned over the years is that **nothing is trivial when making changes to viewer code**… and stability is a matter of being able to run, reliably, with very few crashes, across many platforms, many hardware differences, and many variations to the options built into the viewer (and Firestorm has a ponderous number of possible options). What is stable on my computer with the options I choose may be wholly unstable on another person’s computer or even on my computer with different options chosen.

      All that said I’m sure they’ll work it out in the end.

      • The Firestorm team has done an amazing job over the years. I expect they will continue to. I probably feel more appreciation and respect for the team than I do gratitude, but only because I am not a big Firestorm user.

        They do draw their share of haters. While it is possible to criticizer the team in constructive ways, self centered haters have made it hard for the team and the Lab and I believe slown the advancement of SL. I see no reason to even attempt to be PC about such people. That these idiots exist makes it that much more important that we thank the FS team and express our gratitude and thanks.

        Thanks for what you do FS Team.

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  5. Hey all! I hate to read all this slamming of the FS team. They are doing an amazing job of bringing *the best SL viewer in existence* to your doorstep ,and asking nothing in return except an occasional “thank you.” I think we owe it to them to support them, especially through these more difficult times when LL makes major changes to the SL architecture. Ed, Jessica, and the whole dev team do what they do out of love for this medium. Please.. take it easy on them, huh?

    For me, all I can say is THANK YOU to the entire team. I would probably not still be on SL were it not for Phoenix/Firestorm. I, like many others, really hated the V2 viewer.. and these guys gave us workable alternatives. Thanks again, FS team!

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