Firestorm Viewer 6.4.21

The Firestorm Viewer version 6.4.21 had been out for a bit now. People are reacting to it. The thread Newest Firestorm version – lag monster popped up 8/4. Which made me curious because that is NOT my impression. So, I went and ran my tests, which I rate at one half-a-posterior.

This version is covered in detail over on Inara’s blog here: Firestorm 6.4.21. I’m not going to repeat what she has already written. I just want to consider what people are experiencing based on what I can see and measure.

My experience is: this version is better.

My Front Porch – 2021-08

The big thing is Firestorm’s viewer now uses multiple threads for decompressing textures. Decompressing is a task that has bottle-necked performance forever. But since it has had little effect on Frames per Second numbers it doesn’t seem to have been a high priority to change. The major effect of texture decompression is in scene render time. I think scene render is much faster. But actually, measuring it well is quite complicated. I suspect most of us hit a region and consider how long it takes for the place to render. A few of us may now and then even time it. Which is practical and simple. Neither is precise and measurements are highly influenced by our location in the region, which way we are looking, our cache – when did we last visit, the region’s construction, and avatar occupancy.

One thing that can affect our perception is this install clears our viewer’s cache of downloaded content. We have to reload EVERYTHING. I think this should only affect your first-time post-install-visits to places you frequent.

A while ago the Firestorm Viewer was upgraded to use the simplified cache developed by the Lab. I think this is the first release of Firestorm that has this upgrade. Beta testers for Firestorm will have had the upgrade for some time.

From the changes the FS Team has made, I would expect this viewer to be faster at rendering a scene. I wouldn’t expect a higher FPS (Frames per Second) rate. I guessed that I might even see FPS dip while textures were decompressed as more CPU cycles would be getting used by the texture processes. That is what I experience… sometimes… There are some oddities happening when one teleports. So, detecting a slowing or a speed-up due to the new multiple threads is tricky.

There are 20 to 30+ Firestorm threads running at anyone time. My four cores are all carrying about the same load but the overall use is about 50%, which is similar to past versions.

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Catznip Beta 12.1.1 vs Firestorm 5.1.7

I just noticed a post from a couple of months back on the difference between Catznip Viewer and Firestorm Viewer. Alyona Su provides a good comparison based on her experience. She switched and is now using Catznip as her primary viewer. Not my experience.

Catznip vs Firestorm September 2018 – FS on timer: 00:01:23 @ DD 256m

Those switching to Catznip experience it being faster and less crashy than Firestorm. Remember. Viewers are very sensitive to the computer they run on. What is crashy on one machine may not be on another. Viewer speed in FPS and render time is also sensitive to your hardware and connection. So, Catznip may crash more and be slower on your hardware. But, try it and know. Hopefully the chance is you’ll have good results. If not, well no one will make you use it.

The release of Catznip I last used was Catznip R12 – Dec 31 2017 12:50:12 (64bit) (Catznip Release). Visiting the Catznip website you’ll find R12.0 is still the main release, Catznip R12 – Dec 31 2017 12:50:12 (64bit) (Catznip Release). OR version No update since then. Continue reading

Black Dragon Viewer Review

Version: Black Dragon 3.7.27 (34575) May 22 2015 Review

Update: This article starts out listing a number of small problems with the Black Dragon Viewer. From some feedback I decided to add here at the beginning, this is a pretty nice viewer.

I am not into doing reviews of Second Life™ viewers like I once was. It has been a long time since I have used the Black Dragon Viewer. I often say I stopped using it because the user interface (UI) changes so fast. NiranV objects to my continually saying that. When I was using it, it was changing. But, NiranV tells me that has not been true for some time, years. And at the time I was forming my opinion he had just started work on Black Dragon and was changing it pretty fast. Fair enough. I need to update my thinking and belief about what is actually happening.


RAYNE Isles by Loverdag, on Flickr
Taken w/Black Dragon Viewer

So, I now (6/2 – week 23) have Black Dragon 3.7.27 (34575) May 22 2015 installed. I’ll be using the viewer as I write this. Then over the next few updates I’ll decide if the UI is changing so fast I can’t keep up. I’ll publish this well before I have time to decide on the rate of change. But, my experience is that NiranV is pretty factual about what is going on with the viewer. So, for now I’ll concede the point and change what I say.  Continue reading

Hippo Viewer Review – OSGrid

Hippo Viewer,OSGrid

Hippo Viewer Logo


Open Simulator Logo

I have a friend that has a couple of SIM’s in Second Life. She started looking at the cost of a build she would like to make. The pricing on the OSGrid is much lower. So she started playing on the OSGrid to see what is possible. That got me interested in my private open simulator grid (OSGrid or OSG), which broke on my last update.

Getting my grid updated and running again is another story. I was having trouble with Emerald on the OSGrid. Camera and select problems mostly and the camera zoom. (I can go change values and fix those but…) I decided to try the Hippo Viewer. Continue reading