FJ Linden departs

Frank Ambrose, Senior VP of Global Technology, departed Linden Lab last week (with thanks to Hamlet Au for the pointer).

Known in-world as FJ Linden, Frank Ambrose joined the Lab in 2008, and while rarely seen in-world, he was responsible for instigating a major overhaul of the grid’s hardware infrastructure, work that resulted in both some bumpy times – but also in very welcome and continuing overall improvements.

I’ve personally long been a fan of FJ – his blog posts were always honest, open and articulate, and gave valuable insight into the operation of the platform and the goings-on at Linden Lab.

The reasons behind Mr. Ambrose’s departure are unclear, but he is the second member of the senior management team to depart LL in recent weeks, following on the heels of Kimberly Salzer.

Whether their departures are in any way linked in terms of either the overall direction the company is taking or as a result of Rod Humble “cleaning house” ready to appoint his own team, is entirely speculative at present.

Wheatever the reason, Frank Ambrose’s departure from the Lab is sobering and a little sad. I’d like to pass on my best and good wishes for his next endeavours (which aren’t currently listed on his LinkedIn page).

Last names back in January?

Dec 13 22:45: post updated with new information at the end.

Well…here’s interesting – and with thanks to Daniel Voyager, who is ever-vigilant on so many fronts, for picking-up on it and relaying the news.

It seems that the campaign to see a return of the last name option has gained traction in Linden Lab. As pointed out by Daniel, Rodvik commented on the last name situation via his web profile feed, thus:

This is excellent news – not only do last names seem set to return, Rodvik has gone so far as to indicate a planned implementation of early in the new year (albeit with the caveat of “hopefully”) – see update at the end.

This revelation is excellent news and demonstrates that in some areas, LL are still quietly listening and taking things on-board – so kudos to them.

What is especially interesting in Rodvik’s post is the comments on identity – these would seem to suggest that the new last name facility might be free-format (rather than selecting from a proscribed list that changes periodically, as with the “old” last name system), or that it might include an option for people to use their real name as their avatar name on signing up. If this is the case, then Rodvik’s comments on identity make perfect sense – people need to understand that providing their real life name as their avatar name is not a requirement of SL, or those that do need to understand the possible implications of doing so.

So – last names are set to return – good news indeed!

Update: 22:45 BST, 13 Dec

As this news has been spreading, Rodvik has made a further post on the subject:

Just to be clear Jan is when we will be giving a timeline/ plans on what we will be doing 🙂 Expect Q1 2012 for it actually to be done.

So the actual change will be later in Q1 2012 (quite possibly mid-to-later Q1, I suspect, given Rodvik’s clarified caveat).

Dolphin 3.2 gains the FUI – and more

dolphin-logoThis is turning in to the week I catch up on Viewers!

Lance Corrimal has released Dolphin 3.2 (, which sees his Viewer move to the new Flexible User Interface (FUI), and gain a few choice goodies as well.


Installation was smooth with the Windows installer, although it was interesting to see the a copy progress pop-up appear as files were extracted and copied to my install directory.

FUI and Updates

At first glance after installation, this would appear to be a simple adoption of the FUI with various other TPV updates. But if you think that – best look again. There may not be mesh upload in this release, but there’s more going on than meets the eye here.

Like Niran’s Viewer, Dolphin 3.2 tweaks the FUI a little – only rather than providing an area at the top of the screen where buttons can be added, Lance has incorporated additional buttons into the Button Toolbar:

  • AO ON/OFF and AO SETUP – for quick access to the Viewer’s animation override functions
  • AREA SEARCH – accesses the Area Search for Objects floater (WORLD->AREA SEARCH or CTRL-SHIFT-A)
  • ENVIRONMENT, provides quick access to the Environment Settings panel floater, otherwise accessed by WORLD->ENVIRONMENT EDITOR->ENVIRONMENT SETTINGS.
New button options in Dolphin 3.2

Note that by default, all four buttons are active when you launch Dolphin 3.2 from a fresh installation (all on the left side of the Viewer window), I’ve shown them in the toolbar floater out of convenience.

Providing buttons for the Viewer-side AO makes perfect sense, as does including Area Search (something not everyone is aware exists in  and keyboard shortcut notwithstanding) and quick access to environment settings, which itself is an option people twiddle with a lot.

Dolphin 3.2 also gets the new snapshots floater, complete with the option to upload to your web profile feed. According to Lance’s notes, he’s also working on porting the option to upload snapshots to Flickr to the new floater, but will probably be a while before it appears in the Viewer.

This release also gains

  • The ability to turn your avatar around when walking backwards, again a popular viewer-side feature among TPVs
  • Firestorm’s texture refresh, which forces a re-fetch of the textures for an avatar or object which remains stubbornly grey on your screen (right-click & select from the context menu)
  • Firestorm’s object particle editor, which may yet be the subject of a separate blog post here
  • The latest RLV updates from Marine Kelley
  • The STORM-1713 fix, which corrects the issue of the mouse pointer flickering over UI elements that has been seen in V3.x.


Overall, performance on my system is comparable to the official SL V3.2 averaging in the mid-20s when I’m in a sim on my own, and dropping to around the mid-teens when sharing a sim with 5-6 others. All comfortable enough. With shadows enabled, this falls to an average of 6-8 fps, again pretty much in line with official V3 performance on my PC.


Frankly, another robust Viewer from Lance that again builds on V3 to present a nice, tidy alternative with a good crop of additional features and options. The fact that it doesn’t have mesh upload shouldn’t be any hindrance to most – mesh rendering in the Viewer is fine. And one cannot blame Lance for wanting more time to consider what is the best fit for his Viewer when it comes to incorporating an uploader, rather than rushing to add the first that comes along.

If you’re looking for something that offers the V3.2 FUI, together with a good, solid selection of popular items from TPVs – radar, area search, Viewer-side AO, together with Lance’s own mods to the Viewer (including these excellent 3.2 FUI tweaks), then Dolphin is very much worth a look.

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