Of memes and SL helpful tools

It’s Monday, so Strawberry Singh has launched another in her series of new Monday Memes. This one is on how we make our SL experience better via the tools (viewer buttons, HUDs, etc.), we use, or as she explains it:

Share a screenshot of your viewer setup and/or a list of tools/HUDS you guys use to make your Second Life experiences better.

I’m actually totally boring when it comes to HUDs and the like, so I’m actually going to take things a little further to cover a few little things I use outside of SL which help me enjoy my SL time.

First off, my viewer-set up.  My primary viewer of choice is Firestorm. I’ve been with it since the very first iteration, and I’ve been fortunate in that by-and-large it has performed well for me across two main PCs, and also works reasonably well on my Intel ATOM / nVidia ION powered notebook.

My Firestorm UI
My Firestorm UI with the Phototools Edit Sky Presets floater open

My viewer window is pretty boring, as you can see. No HUDs are permanently attached as I utilise capabilities in the viewer for everything I routinely need. The only HUDs which get attached tend to be related to boating, flying or weapons.

For me, my Second Life experience is made somewhat easier by the tools I use outside of the viewer, These come by way of Lance Corrimal of Dolphin Viewer fame.

The SL-related search options as they appear when added to Firefox
The SL-related search options as they appear when added to Firefox

In May 2013, I picked-up on a pointer from Daniel Voyager and blogged about some Chrome browser extensions which can be used with SL. As a result, Lance tapped me about a set of Firefox Helpers he had created for Second Life. I gave them a try – and have been using them ever since.

The helpers are all search-related, and add options to the Firefox search bar which allow you to access:

  • Second Life Search
  • Marketplace Search
  • Marketplace Merchant Search
  • SL Wiki search
  • the JIRA search (search results subject to viewing permissions on the JIRA).

All of them are quick and easy to install, and all of them work reasonably well (or as well as the Second Life and Marketplace searches can sometimes be expected to work…).

The obvious beauty of these options is that I don’t need to faff around opening my SL dashboard to search the SL website or load the Marketplace and then search for something; it’s purely a case of tabbing over to my browser and selecting the helper I need.

Locate a Second Life Merchant directly from the firefox search bar ...
Locate a Second Life Merchant directly from the Firefox search bar …

Installing the helpers is a breeze. Lance has kindly hosted them in a ZIP file on his Dolphin viewer website, so it’s purely a matter of:

  • Downloading them
  • Dropping them into the Firefox browser Searchplugins folder (for Windows, this is located in either C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\browser\Searchplugins (32-bit) or C:\Program Files (x86)\Mozilla Firefox\browser\Searchplugins (64-bit)
  • Restarting Firefox to enable them.
... Or check on a JIRA (subject to JIRA viewing permissions), and more, using the Firefox Search Helpers
… Or check on a JIRA (subject to JIRA viewing permissions), and more, using the Firefox Search Helpers

If you spend a lot of time searching the SL Marketplace or website for products or information, having these helpers installed might high shave a little time off of initially launching and searching one of the websites. Kodus to Lance for providing them.

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Viewer release summaries 2014: week 3

Updates for the week ending: January 19th, 2014

This summary is published every Monday and is a list of SL viewer / client releases (official and TPV) made during the previous week. When reading it, please note:

  • It is based on my Viewer Round-up Page, a list of  all Second Life viewers and clients that are in popular use (and of which I am aware) and which are recognised as adhering to the TPV Policy
  • By its nature, this summary will always be in arrears
  • The Viewer Round-up Page is updated as soon as I’m aware of any releases / changes to viewers & clients, and should be referred to for more up-to-date information
  • The Viewer Round-up Page also includes comprehensive links to download pages, blog notes, release notes, etc., as well as links to any / all reviews of specific viewers / clients made within this blog.

Official LL Viewers

  • Current Release version updated on January 9th to version 3.6.13.284995 (formerly the PackageFix RC) – core update: fix for old versions of the viewer executables not being removed during viewer installation after the executable was remained in the 3.6.12 code (release notes)
  • Release channel cohorts (See my notes on manually installing RC viewer versions if you wish to install any release candidate(s) yourself):
    • HTTP RC version 3.6.14.285253 released January 16th – core updates: DNS look ups changed; improvements to mesh uploads / downloads (download and release notes)
    • Fitted Mesh RC version 3.7.0.285178 released January 16th – core updates: latest changes and fixes to the Fittted Mesh project plus a number of STORM contributions (download and release notes)
    • “Project Interesting” RC  updated on January 14th to version: 3.6.14.285213 – core updates: more viewer-side control of which objects are loaded in memory at any given time; more aggressive scene caching; faster scene load when visiting a region never previously visited; expanded performance metrics (download and release notes)
  • Project viewers:
    • HTTP and Fitted Mesh project viewers retired due to RC releases

LL Viewer Resources

Third-party Viewers

V3-style

  • No updates

V1-style

  • No updates

Mobile / Other Clients

  • No updates

Additional TPV Resources

Related Links

Of Montagues and Capulets and dances of desire

"O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo? Deny thy father and refuse thy name;" - Roemo+Juliet, the Basilique Performing Arts Company
“O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo? Deny thy father and refuse thy name;” – Romeo+Juliet, the Basilique Performing Arts Company

I’ve recently blogged a few times about the Basilique Performing Arts Company’s productions, both the upcoming  Paradise Lost and the current Romeo + Juliet. The latter is now into its final run for the current season, having just four more presentations to go during January and February. Lauded and acclaimed since opening in April 2013, this really is a show not to be missed, and I do encourage anyone who has not seen it to take advantage of the remaining four show dates and attend a performance; you will not be disappointed.

A love-struck romeo - Romeo+Juliet, the Basilique Performing Arts Company
A love-struck Romeo – Romeo+Juliet, the Basilique Performing Arts Company

Those familiar with the filmography of Baz Luhrmann may spot from the production’s title that it carries something of a hat-tip towards his 1996 cinematic piece starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Clare Danes. However, this isn’t merely a transcribing of Luhrmann’s cult classic; this production more than stands on its own as a slick and creative retelling of the tale of tragic love and star cross’d lovers.

With a costume style carrying a distinctly mid-1940s USA look, complete with sharp suits, fedoras, brogues and automatic handguns but with a distinctly renaissance-inspired feel to the sets, the production has been beautiful conceived and directed by Canary Beck (who is also the narrator) and produced by Harvey Crabsticks. Dance and music lay at the heart of the production, the latter from the likes of Nat King Cole, Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman, Michael Buble, Jack Black, Carl Douglas, Moby, Duran Duran, The Indigo Girls, and Queen.

Unrequited love: : Paris dances with Juliet, Romeo+Juliet. the Basilique Performing Arts Company
Unrequited love: : Paris dances with Juliet, Romeo+Juliet. the Basilique Performing Arts Company

This eclectic soundtrack brilliantly enhances each scene, bringing to each a sense of mood which is very cleverly conceived and, in places, not a little mischievous.  At the start of the performance, for example, Mercutio, standing-in for Benvolio,  has his view that love is a simple matter of sexual appetite engagingly underlined in the opening number, Straighten-up and Fly Right as he seeks to lift the spirits of a downcast Romeo. Later, his showdown with Tybalt is played-out to Carl Davis’ Kung-Fu Fighting, which, despite the tragic outcomes of that confrontation and the one which immediately follows it, again underlines Mercutio’s irreverent outlook on life.

One also cannot mention the music within the play without mention of the choreography. This is simply exquisite, the dances clearly conceived and executed to suit the numbers to which they are danced, further lifting Romeo+Juliet into the realm of the extraordinary. Through the combination of dance and the accompanying soundtrack, the audience experiences the range of emotions reflected in the tale, such as both the passion Juliet and Romeo feel for one another, and the pain of unrequited love Paris feels towards Juliet. In the case of Paris in particular, the use of music and dance further serves to make him more of a sympathetic character than perhaps the original play allows.

Romeo and Paris confront one another outside the tomb where Juliet lay - Romeo+Juliet, the Basilique Performing Arts Company
Romeo and Paris confront one another outside the tomb where Juliet lay – Romeo+Juliet, the Basilique Performing Arts Company

The nods towards Luhrmann’s film are not limited to the name of this production, either, but are cleverly carried through several scenes. Note Juliet’s costume for the Capulet feast, for example, and the use of television sets between each set, which are reminiscent of Luhrmann’s use of news broadcasts to convey the broader strife between the two families. Other motifs from the film are also used with great effect in the production, most notably, perhaps, during Act V.

All told, the Basilique Performing Arts Company’s Romeo+Juliet is a remarkable piece which substantially raises the bar for performance art and drama in Second Life. Aso noted at the top of this article, if you’ve not already seen it, I cannot recommend it highly enough nor urge you strongly enough to make sure you do. Full kudos to all involved.

"O my love! my wife! Death, that hath suck'd the honey of thy breath, Hath had no power yet upon thy beauty" - Remeo+Juliet the Basilique Performing Arts Company
“O my love! my wife! Death, that hath suck’d the honey of thy breath, Hath had no power yet upon thy beauty” – Romeo+Juliet the Basilique Performing Arts Company

The last four presentations for the current run of the production will be:

  • Saturday, January 25th, 13:00
  • Saturday, February 1st, 13:00
  • Saturday, February 8th, 13:00
  • Friday, February 14th, 13:00

All performances take place at The Basilique Playhouse. Please refer to my earlier article on the production for notes on how to enjoy it to the fullest.

A Sneak Preview

Paradise LostFollowing the performance of Romeo+Juliet on Sunday January 19th, Canary and Harvey generously invited me backstage to the rehearsals area for the Company’s upcoming new production Paradise Lost: The story of Adam and Eve’s original sin, which opens in Spring 2014, and which currently has an open casting call for a number of roles.

While backstage, I was privileged to see a performance of three scenes from the new production. Sadly – although fully understandably – I was asked not to take any pictures while the cast were performing, so I cannot visually share just how impressive Paradise Lost will be. However, I can say, with hand firmly on heart, that the production further builds on the incredible work that has gone into Romeo+Juliet, and promises to be something extraordinarily special in Second Life when the curtain rises this spring.

It is evident that considerable effort has been put into refining and improving the techniques used within Romeo+Juliet, and an enormous amount of care and attention has again been put into developing choreography which carefully and precisely matches Mozart’s Requiem. This will definitely not be a production to miss, and I’m already keenly anticipating its opening.