Monday, February 18, 2013

Smart people, share the fun

Do you know this feeling? you wake up and instantly get the feeling, your local water supply has been infected with "weirdo bacteria" s everyone around you acts up strange? Here, some IMs of only one day. I swear, this was just one day...

And yah, i have them anonymized, although some clearly don't deserve that.

[3:22] user: I BOUGHT your mamaallpa on market place an wante to sen it to my brother user2 and it came to me and i already have it, thats y i ordered it..sux
So, what "sux" here? That my product name is not one word but two? that "y" is a letter and not a word? Or that people make mistakes and tell me then that it "sux" that they mistakes?

[10:15]  user3: the mommay alpha does not give the person your haveing intercouser with the notice shes preg can u help ?
Uhm, huh?

[1:18]  Y.T. : 1. do not yell at me
[1:18]  userxx1: ASSHOLE
[1:18]  Y.T. : 2. apologize, in this instant
[1:18]  Y.T.  : ok reported
[1:18]  userxx1: FUCK YOU CUNT
[1:19]  userxx1: FUCKING FINE
[1:20]  userxx1: YOU WERE WATCHING CHAT
[1:37]  userxx1: now the crazy whores are gonnna gloat
[1:38]  userxx1: fuck up nazi bitch
[1:40]  userxx1: fucking coven of nazi bitches
[1:40]  userxx1: look at them they're so proud and they have you to protect them
[1:42]  userxx1: coven guard
[1:43]  userxx1: now they're going go on to do the exact thing i was banned for, for the rest of the day
[1:43]  userxx1: nazi bitch
[1:44]  userxx1: i just typed lol they went on and on and on and on
[1:44]  userxx1: you're just a nazi bitch
isn't he sweet?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Cutting Edge

I have read it somewhere recently, and i can only agree:
In technology terms, Second Life is so far advanced, that "cutting edge" is nothing more than a silver lining at the horizon behind us.
Yes, agreed, it has imperfections and flaws. Yes, one can debate to no end about all of these.. but, try simply this, what you see now, with any other internet application:

This is a lifestyle magazine  about SL. If you still do not get it, why this is outstanding: It is a magazine  with pictures, and stories about a whole virtual world. The sole fact that there is such a publication, is already something that would put any other "social web blahblah" application into their places. The professionalism of the publication just adds to this, more.

It is published since years, by the way.

Friday, February 8, 2013

How to make your SL faster! Part 3: Graphics within the viewer

In part 1 you have learned how to identify your speed in graphics, in your viewer. In the second chapter, you have seen what you need to do before you actually start fine-tuning inside SL. The second chapter is essentially helpful also for NVidia owners.

Now we will look into options you can use within your viewer to speed up your SL. Basically, you will have to find a balance between "Looking good" and "Being fast". As we saw in Chapter one, comparing bandwidth usage and FPS, the more information is there that needs to be computed, the slower your FPS is.

We will start with the Graphics menu in the "preferences". As mentioned in previous posts, i am using the Firestorm viewer. So the menu is under "avatar - preferences - graphics", most viewers also respond to CTRL-P for preferences and then select the "graphics" tab.

click to enlarge

You see a slider and a button "advanced". Click the "advanced" button. If it has been clicked already earlier by you, the window might right away look like this, otherwise, it should do so now:

click to enlarge

The top slider "Render Quality (lower is usually faster)" is a quick way that changes some of the options, that you can alter individually, after you opened them with the "advanced" button. We will focus on the individual settings.

It is always good if you have the statistics bar open (see chapter 1), when playing with this window, so you can see the effect right away.

The most obvious fast effect you will see when you toy with the "draw distance". Draw distance tells the viewer, how far away your horizon is, until which you want to see things and people. In my picture, that is 256 meters. And that, is way too much for most uses. Reduce it to 96 and watch the statistics bar. Set it up to 512 and watch the bar. Play with it. In most environments, you are fine with 96 meters.
(Quick tip for firestorm users: you can also type in chat "DD 64" to set your Draw Distance to 64 meters, or DD 128 to set it to 128, etc.)

Once you have set your draw distance right, have a look at "max particle count". For this, find also a source that emits "particles". What are particles? These are textures, that change in size, and move, and then vanish again. You will find particles for example for achieving effects like:

  • snow
  • rain
  • chains (from cuffs to collars, or cuff to cuff, or pet to owner....)
  • foam (waterfalls, mist etc)
  • fire (smoke, flame)
  • dust
and many more.

Particles cause some load on your system. If you set ""max particle count" to 0, all the above mentioned effects will be invisible to you. So, for example, if others see snowflakes, you don't. But in return, your system is faster. Reasonable particle count is 512. Good is 1024. And totally pampered is 4096.

The next option to check is "basic shaders" and "atmospheric shaders" and "Lightning and shadows". I could write at length what they do. But most likely you will see it immediately on your screen when you toggle them on and off. The more are on, the more beautiful it is. And the slower.

These effects are, from what i experienced  the most effective ones in speeding up or slowing down. All other settings have an effect too, of course. But lighter in their impact. You are encouraged to read the help there, and most sliders are then easy to understand.

Two hints now at the end of this chapter:
1. Firestorm users can also activate a quick-menu for these settings.  
Search this button:

If you can not see this button anywhere, click any other button on your Firestorm viewer with the right mouse, so you get this menu:

Then select "toolbar buttons" and drag and drop the Firestorm button into the other existing ones. There you go.
Once clicked the Firestorm button, your quick menu comes like this:

2, As i wrote above, the "Draw Distance" is telling, how far away around you, details are rendered. One of the major projects in 2013 for SL is the so called "Interest List". This means, your viewer will try to render only things, that you can really actually see and which are not hidden by other obstacles like a large house. (yes, that is very simplified as explanation, i know, dear techies.). If you are interested in details, a good read is here:

More about how to speed up your SL comes in the next chapters.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

How to make your SL faster! Part 2: the graphics

Imagine your computer like a sandwich, in how it works:

  • Hardware
  • Operating System
  • Drivers
  • Software
What you see, is the result of all components playing together, but the "Software-Layer" in this sandwich is actually then producing the result. For example, the letter in a word processing system, or the 3D World of Second Life. Two components in this layer are pretty much set in stone for most of us:  the hardware layer, as we simply don't buy new computers on a whim but when our budget allows. And the operating system layer, as most of us are not that tech savvy to switch from one System to another.
The Driver Layer is the one that, in my opinion  almost never got the attention that it deserves, when it comes to "how to optimize SL". The Driver connects your application (SL) with your Operating System (Windows, Linux, Mac...), virtually. 
If your driver is bad in performance, you can tweak in SL all you want - it won't lift off. Now, before you take care of your driver, first check what driver you actually need. That is simple and even to figure out within the SL viewer:
Go in your SL viewer to "Help - About..." where the ... is then whatever viewer you are using. In my example for this blog, i am using the Firestorm viewer. But it is less crucial than many think, about performance, what viewer you are using. A list with all viewers can be found here, by the way:

When you selected "Help - About..." you get a window like this:
click to enlarge
I have highlighted for you the important part already: i, on my computer, want to look for NVidia drivers for my operating system. The update processes for drives on your operating system vary too much as that i could cover them here in an efficient way. Google for example for "NVidia driver update Windows 8" or whatever, and make sure, you always get the original driver from the website of the maker! Do not download third party drivers as these would be an ideal way to infest your computer with malware.

Once you updated your driver, i found a very interesting and helpful article about drivers and Second Life. It is a bit older, refers to 1.X viewers still, but all of the statements there are valid also today. So, here is the source:

I have worked through the above blog entry and adjusted the screenshots to my driver, my OS and my viewer, and have experienced a boost in performance of 50%. So, i trust, you want to check that out.

This was all very techie, i agree. However, it is the foundation  and if your computer sucks here.. you can not succeed in any later move. Now, how can you measure your performance gain? read the previous article again and compare the FPS results.

I trust, you are busy for the day with this information bit, so more to come the other day... stay tuned

Monday, February 4, 2013

How to make your SL faster! Part 1: FPS and Bandwidth

Today i am going to explain some simple basics that may help you, in speeding up your Second Life. Maybe i will do it in chapters, through several days. If you find links in this article, you are encouraged to follow them, if you want to get the full picture of what i am talking about.

Also, please note: i am not a techie. SL is for me a creative outlet. I am not an IT experienced person. So, what i am doing here, is summarizing what works best for me. And the background in-formations that i can give about these topics, are exactly those background info, that you can find in the web yourself, because that is, where I found them too.

Before we optimize the speed of our SL, we need first to identify, how slow or fast it is. For that, we have the so called "Statistics Bar". Press on your computer the keys CTRL - SHIFT - 1 and you will see something similar to this:

the appearance can be a bit different. Because the words that you see there are like "chapters". If you click on "Basic", it will unfold the Basic-section. And if you click "Basic" again, it will hide the Basic-section again.

And many of the listed entries you see, once a "main chapter" opened, are again able to unfold details or to hide them, on click. Play a bit with it. And when done, try to bring the window to somewhat like this:

We are for now interested to see these details:
Basics - FPS
Basics - Bandwidth
Basics - Packet Loss
Basics - Ping Sim

When you have setup these.. try then the following steps:
TP to a really crowded spot. like a club, a Info-Hub, something with many people around. Watch the statics window.
Expected results that you can observe:
FPS going down, Bandwidth going up, maybe you will even see some packet loss. If you stay in this region a bit and do not move your cam or yourself, these values change again, FPS slowly increasing, Bandwidth decreasing, Packet Loss should go to 0.

Afterwards open the map and TP to some place that is really empty, Like, an underwater region, a spot where nobody is.
Expected results that you can observe:
You will see the same like before, but the impact a lot less, and the "normalizing" occurring very fast.

Here is now the explanation:
FPS is "Frames per second" and gives you a value how often your complete screen has been redrawn by your viewer. FPS higher than 24 are usually received as "fluid" motions. If your FPS is lower than 20, you will feel a bit like in "jelly", moves come with delay, and all is less fluid.
If you arrive in an area with a lot of other people or a lot of other buildings, trees, plants, shopping signs - any - a place with "whatever" really, your viewer needs to fetch that information first. And compute it. The more details are there to fetch, the more computation is needed. In the result, your FPS goes down.

The Bandwidth is the graph that tells you how many in formations are at this moment transported between your viewer and SL. And of course, as soon as you arrive somewhere, the flow of in-formations rises strongly. Because there is a lot of new detail to take in. The more there is, the longer this "higher bandwidth graph" will last. And in return, the FPS will stay lower too.

A packet loss can occur of these in formations simply come in way too fast over a longer time. WiFi is more prone to packet loss than wired connections. And lost packets are not always a catastrophe. But if you suffer from it permanently, even when all other values are normal, you should check your connection. The more packet loss, the more likely you will experience a lot of other errors, starting from poor appearance (cloud), up to inventory loss.

The above mentioned topics affect your SL experience. that mans, if you feel "Laggy" because of the two above mentioned things, then *you* are slowed down. The person standing nearby you can be perfectly fine.

For now, play with the statistics bar and TP around and observe the behaviors  On a later chapter, we will examine how we can adjust our settings for a better experience.

Sunday, February 3, 2013


Look at this picture. It has been taken at Zindra, which is the assembly of "adult rated" continents, where Linden Lab themselves is the Estate Manager, another term for Zindra is "Adult Mainland".
The location i am showing, hosted at the moment where i took this picture 25 residents. And they are all not on the picture, obviously.
Because they are in a skybox.
I do not tell where i took the picture  I also do not tell what this place is about. Because instead of this place, i could have also picked out of 50 other locations. The thing i want to show is the same, on all of these: the "Point of interest" moves up high into the sky. And the ground level is deserted.
The land i am showing here, has been filled with residents until 8 months ago. And i am talking about the neighbors. They all had shops or meeting points.
And now, it is dead. Because the magnet that pulled the masses in, is gone into the sky. This is maybe not the only reason, but certainly a main reason.
And again, i do not blame these people for having moved into the sky with a skybox.

However, if everyone sits in a skybox, with high walls up, then soon everyone sits on an empty spot. This is much like the castles in medieval times. Everyone locked up behind thick walls, for their own comfort, and in fact by that being more vulnerable and less connected.

Side effects are, that it is almost impossible for me to find a reason to move to mainland, or to live there. Why? Because all my neighbors are hiding in the sky? What is the bonus there  Then i can get as well a private region, or rent a spot on a private region, and be there alone for myself as well.

What are your thoughts on this?


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