The Firestorm team is having the meetings they promised. Saturday the 14th they had a meeting Q&A. In this meeting there is lots of good troubleshooting information. There is a video of the meeting that runs 2 hours and 12 minutes. I’ll get to the link later.
I’ve paraphrased the information given in the meeting. Several subjects came up more than once. Speakers also wondered off into various subjects then come back to the main topic. That happen in a live discussion. I’ve tried to get all the information on a subject into a single section here.
Ed Merryman spoke about viewer settings. He is stressing less is more.
Bandwidth – turn down the setting if you are having problems. Often when he is helping people via in-world support when he can get them to turn down the setting, the problems go away.
Settings have impact on your performance and the servers. The affect on the servers affects everyone. This makes it important to understand what you are doing with your settings.
So, while lower is generally better, there are exceptions. One such exception is cache size, which should be as large as your disk will allow, according to Ed. I generally set mine at 4 gb. I seldom see it with more than 1 gb of stuff in it.
Note: If you use Windows 7 you may have difficulty figuring out how much stuff is in a folder. Vista is the last Windows version that adds up the amount of data in a folder and its sub-folders. For later versions of Windows get a free program named Folder Size. The pictures on site do not show the latest version. The 220.127.116.11 version I have adds up all the data in the folder and sub-folders and places the result in the left window with the folder tree.
Example: a guy Ed worked with on viewer problems had built a super computer for SL, £5,000 (about US$8,000). But he couldn’t login. His draw distance was set at 700m. Ed got him to turn the draw distance down to 128 meters, and the problem went away.
When you initially login you are going to be downloading a huge amount of information. To minimize problems, reduce you draw distance to reduce the data demand at login.
Your maximum bandwidth settings show follow these limits:
- On a good wireless connection consider the max bandwidth 500 kbps.
- On DSL wired connection consider the max bandwidth 1,000 kbps.
- On cable wired the max is 1,500 kbps.
When setting your maximum it should never be more than 80% of your measured download speed. Use SpeedTest.net to check your speed. In my Troubleshoot Your #SL Connection I recommend getting the actual address of a Second Life server you use and testing to that server.
Lette Ponnier explains computer settings this way: Instead of telling you computer what you think it should do, let it tell you what it can do.
If you think you can set the settings once and never bother with them again, you’ll miss out. The more you know about the settings the more enjoyable your experience in SL will be. If you have an $8k computer you might be able to set everything at max and forget it. But, probably not. Most of the rest of us certainly will need to change settings depending on what we are doing at any given time. If you are taking pictures you need different settings than when you are shopping in a mall.
Jessica Lyon beings up the typical complaint people have: It worked well yesterday, but not today. What’s wrong with the viewer? The answer is nothing.
If the viewer worked yesterday, it is still the same viewer, unless of course you have automatic updates turned on. You should be looking at what changed on your computer, your connection to SL, or on Second Life system. If the viewer worked fine yesterday, re-installing it today is the least likely action that will solve your problem.
Windows OS may have updated last night. Your AV may have updated. Did you install a new program or driver? Did you remove a program? Did you change your firewall? The point being the viewer is the least likely thing to have changed. Don’t look at the viewer first. Look at all the more likely problem sources before looking at a viewer that worked for your previous login.
If you don’t know, the Firestorm support team provides classes in how to use the Firestorm viewer. While these classes are Firestorm Viewer specific, what you learn is applicable to all viewers. Obviously different things will be in different places in the menu system. But, other than menu locations nearly everything pertinent to performance is in every viewer.
There are 4 classes that they offer that the team feels everyone should attend. I pretty much agree with their thinking. Exposure to the classes could save you problems and time troubleshooting time.
- Preferences II – (#1 of 4)Probably the most important class. It covers graphics settings, bandwidth, and cache. It is a problem prevention class.
- Lag Class – (#4 of 4) Related to Preferences II.
- Reporting Bugs & Requesting Features – (#3 of 4) Explains how to use the JIRA. It is actually easy. This is the last resort to getting a problem fixed. I am unclear whether they cover filing trouble tickets with Linden Support in this class.
- Basic Troubleshooting Class – (#2 of 4) Covers Viewer Statistics panel and how to find the cause of your problems. This is home remedies which is the fixes you can make.
When it comes to solving problems 90% of what people in SL know is wrong, at least that is Ed’s quantification. For instance; clearing your cache may help with inventory problems and texture issues. But it has no effect on lag, teleporting, render speed, voice, or numerous other aspects of SL. Clearing cache aggravates many problems. If you have a voice problem, clearing the cache increases you bandwidth use and that is likely to aggravate you voice problem with no chance of solving the problem. So, most of the advice to try clearing your cache is wrong.
Clearing cache for maintenance purposes is pointless. All one does is increase the load on the servers.
The Firestorm Team believes there are only three instances where a cache should be cleared:
- When making a Clean install.
- When you have a texture problem you cannot solve any other way.
- When you have an inventory problem you cannot solve any other way.
First troubleshooting step for every problem: Relog – This is the easiest troubleshooting step you can take and it is the most likely step you can take to fix any problem.
As to what people know being wrong, I agree that there is lots of bad information out there. Even in the SL Forum’s Answers Section and Knowledge Base. Some of the people with Advisor and Helper ratings have some things wrong and they repeat old out dated information endlessly. If you want to get the best information available, attend the Firestorm Classes, whether you use Firestorm Viewer or not. You’ll end up with fewer problems and spend less time fixing problems you encounter.