Of flying and forests

I had intended to write-up my most recent experiences with region crossings and vehicles; some of which were a tad bizarre following yesterday’s RC deployments, which should have seen the fix for vehicles reach the entire grid. Things were initially a lot better today – until Firestorm decided it was going to repeatedly crash on me due to texture memory errors (likely down to my poor old GPU struggling), and then the official beta viewer repeatedly refusing to render worn attachments / attach additional items (like my flight HUD).

Chakryn Forest
Chakryn Forest

In these circumstances, there is only one of two things you can do. Rant at the screen or go seek something more calming. While I’m getting rather good at the former (my PC and I are going through the “adversarial” stage of our relationship at the moment), I opted that this time I’d do the latter and visit Chakryn Forest.

This is a region which at first glance lives up to its name: it’s a sim and it’s a forest – but it is also much more than that. It’s a collaborative effort by Bettina Tizzy, Thomtrance Otoole (who provides the Homestead region), landscape / sim artist Andrek Lowell (who has a store in the forest) and Eshi Otawara. It’s also a natural work of art.

Chakryn Forest
Chakryn Forest

You arrive amid stunningly tall redwoods and, if you have sound on (and I recommend you do), the sounds of a forest – and more. Here you can wander between the tall trees and admire the flowers and other flora or you can find places to sit and watch the world go by.

Floating on the water / among the trees are Elementals, some of which may have a communications orb floating nearby. Click on this, and the Elemental will task you with a quest which will see you roaming the forest in search of certain items which, once gathered, must be returned to the Elemental.

Chakryn Forest
Chakryn Forest

For those not given to quests, there are caves to explore and hidden places to find. The latter may be as simple as a hammock nestled in a rocky dimple, or as encompassing as and entire underground room by Eshi Otawara. There are also other lovely “finds” to discover.

Object entry is open (although auto return is set to one minute), so if you’re minded to put down a blanket you can; just make sure you’re sitting on it before the minute expires – and remember to pick it up.

Chakryn Forest
Chakryn Forest

For those who enjoy photography, this is another of those regions which encourage toying with windlight. I seriously doubt I’ve done the forest any justice at all; but for those who enjoy their SL photography, there is also a Flickr group.

Andrek Lowell is responsible for a number of forest themed regions across Second Life, including: Fruit Island’s Tropical Rain Forest, the Enchanted Unicorn Sanctuary and Magical Forest, and Brooks Forest, a part of Indigo Mertel’s marvellous East River Community (and adjacent to the airport there (see how I cleverly circled the subject back to the theme of my opening comments? 🙂 ).

And speaking of flying – region crossings can wait another day. I’m just going to sit under a tree here and ponder for a while…

Chakryn Forest
Chakryn Forest

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“Missing” prims: collaboration confirms viewer issue

As noted in my week 14 (2) update, prims missing from linksets  / builds is not a new issue, it’s been going on for some months now. In my own case, I’ve found that on teleporting to my home, an internal wall I’ve added to the build is routinely missing from my view. Right-clicking on the area of the wall has caused it to immediately render. As the wall in question tends to rez OK when I log-in to SL, I’ve tended to look on the matter as a viewer issue.

However, following the week 14 deployments, the incidences of missing linksets seems to have both risen in both numbers and size of “missing” prims. There have been numerous reports on the deployment discussion thread, including questions as to whether it is a viewer issue or server issue, and things seem to have become a lot more visible.

My Linden Home and "missing" prims on Wednesday 2nd April
My Linden Home and “missing” prims on Wednesday 3rd April. House is located on the SLS (Main) channel

My personal experience has been that things are worse – as shown in the image above. Prior to the April 2nd, The wall on the far side of the house, with the two pictures and turning to run under the bedroom balcony rails, would fail to render following a teleport. Since the Main channel deployment on Tuesday April 2nd, that wall now renders flawlessly – but a huge section of the linkset for the house itself is almost constantly missing following a teleport home. Camming around my home region reveals other houses in the same condition.

Such has been the level of discussion on the thread about the matter, lead by Wolfbaginski Bearsfoot and others, that Maestro Linden stepped-in and posted some pointers to help people determine if they have a viewer or a server-side issue, stating:

Hi Wolfbaginski, I would do the following to determine whether objects are missing due to a server bug or viewer bug:

1) Note whether the missing objects are whole linksets or only certain prims in linksets.  Interest list issues would generally affect whole linksets.  A viewer rendering issue or maybe a message-packing/decoding issue would seem more likley if only certain prims in linksets are affected.  It sounds like you’re seeing at least part of the linkset, since you’re able to select it.

2) While the prims are missing, enable Develop -> Render Metadata -> Bounding Boxes, and see what bounding boxes appear.  You should see a prim-aligned bounding box for each prim, as well as a world-aligned bounding box that covers the linkset.  If you see a bounding box where a missing prim is located, or if the linkset bounding box extends to include the missing prims, then it’s almost certainly the viewer’s fault.  

3) While the prims are missing, enable Develop -> Show Info -> Show Updates to Objects.  With this setting enabled the viewer will render a particle from each linkset/prim that it got an update for:

  • Red means a full update was received from the server (which has a full description of the object’s visual parameters)
  • Blue means a terse update was received (which only includes information about a few properties, such as position and velocity)
  • Green means that an ‘objectdelete’ update was received (meaning that the object was either derezzed or is out of range for the viewer)

If you enable this feature, and observe that the missing prims appear without a full object update being sent, then it’s probably a viewer bug (in that the viewer knew about the missing prims the whole time, but initially failed to render them).

 4) If you leave a region, then return to it, the viewer will load cacheable objects from the local cache, instead of getting the object details from the simulator.  If the object was loaded from cache and the appearance has been either fixed or broken since the last time you saw it, this would indicate a viewer bug.  You can verify that an object was loaded from viewer cache by enabling Develop->Rendering Metadata->Update Type; objects loaded from cache are shaded blue, with this mode enabled.

Continue reading ““Missing” prims: collaboration confirms viewer issue”

Pixieviewer Updated

Thomas Buchauer continues to work on Pixieviewer the in-browser viewer he’s developing for OpenSim use. The new release still sees the viewer restricted to his own Pixiegrid environment – which has also been updated – and brings with it changes to the UI and promises of things to come.

The new version surfaced at the end of March, together with a blog post from Thomas outlining the updates and looking ahead to what he’s planning to add to the viewer. The latter items Thomas lists as:

  • Private Messages and  User Profiles
  • Media Tools which will allow the display any Document (ppt, pdf, doc, xls etc) or any Image directly in-world without converting them first, and which will also will support video streaming
  • Guest Logins which will allow logins directly from a link without any questions and registration – clicking the link will open Pixieviewer and deliver a user to the desired destination.

Updated UI

Logging-in to Pixieviewer remains unchanged. However, once in-world the updates to the UI are immediately clear. The somewhat bland UI I critiqued in terms of viewability in my original look at Pixieviewer has been replaced by a series of coloured buttons which do much to improve using  the viewer when using it on smaller screens.

The updated Pixieviewer UI
The updated Pixieviewer UI

The buttons at the foot of the window are divided into three groups – what I’ve mentally labelled “personal”, “tools”, and “system”.

  • On the left are the “personal” buttons:
    • A “Home” button for teleporting you home (which currently returns you to the default Welcome area of Pixiegrid
    • A “User Profile” button – which will eventually provide access to … user profiles
  • In the centre are the “tool” buttons:
    • Chat
    • IM
    • Find Places – list and visit other locations
    • Media tool – not yet active
    • Build – the in-world building tools
  • On the right are the “system” buttons:
    • File a bug report / suggestion
    • Open the Pixieviewer blog (in a separate browser tab)
    • View statistics on the current scene
    • Log-out of Pixieviewer

There is one additional button, located in top left corner of the screen. the Audio / Video Conferencing button. According to the blog entry for the update: “If a Place has Conferencing enabled, you will see a blue conference icon that allows you to join or create a realtime Audio Video conference with unlimited number of users.”

The initial Audio / Video Conference window and activating camera / nictrophone access
The initial Audio / Video Conference window and activating camera / microphone access

The option is currently being tested, and the Welcome Area has conferencing enabled. Clicking on the button opens a window which includes a an option to allow Pixieviewer to grab control of your microphone / camera, together with options for accessing camera and microphone set-up. There are also buttons to log-out of a conference and hide the conference window (handy if you are engaged in voice-only conferencing while doing things). It currently appears as if anyone clicking on the Audio / Video Conferencing button will join an existing conference.

All of the buttons are labelled with icons, but rolling the mouse pointer over them displays easy-to-read hovertips.

Places

PixA2-3The Places button allows users to teleport elsewhere on a grid. Clicking it opens a floater listing the available places, complete with an image of each. Clicking on the blue arrow iconed button to the right of a place in the list will teleport you there.

Currently, Pixie grid has three available areas: Welcome Area (to which you can also return by clicking the Home button on the bottom left of the screen), a sandbox and a “Mirror Island” region.

The sandbox region is obviously an area designed to encourage people to try-out Pixieviewer’s build tools (which remain unchanged in this release), although all three regions are at present all build enabled. Given the sandbox is available, people are encouraged to us it when trying the viewer, rather than cluttering-up the Welcome area.

Continue reading “Pixieviewer Updated”