Return to Radegast

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It’s been over two years since I last looked at Radegast, the lightweight virtual worlds (SL and OpenSim) client for Linux, Windows and Mac. However, given it has just had two short-order updates, it seemed appropriate that I also bring my coverage of it a little more up-to-date.

Given so much has gone on with the client since I last blogged on it, this isn’t so much a review of the recent updates – or any updates – but more of a quick reminder of what Radegast is and what it can do.

For those unfamiliar with Radegast, it is a feature-rich client, offering almost all the functionality of the actual SL viewer, with the core functionality perhaps summarised as:

  • Chat (local, IM, group, friends conference)
  • Inventory management (manipulation, deletion of the items, moving them around, sending to other people by dropping item on their profile)
  • Manipulation of object contents, notecard and script editing
  • Ability to wear/take off clothes and attachments from the inventory
  • Avatar appearance – others using 3D client will see you appear correctly, and will not be able to tell that you’re using a text client
  • Backup of all scripts and notecards from the inventory
  • World map
  • Object finder – list objects nearby, sort them by distance, name, see details
  • A.L.I.C.E AI chat – turn it on in tools menu and have fun with automatic responses to chat/IM generated by a built-in Artificial Intelligence
  • Radar functionality
  • Movement controls
  • Support for activating gestures from the inventory
  • Streaming music
  • Accessibility improvements for visually impaired users, including speech recognition for controlling UI and entering text in chat and text-to-speech for reading out loud incoming messages
  • Experimental voice support for local chat
  • Partial RLV support
  • Group management
  • 3D scene rendering for Windows and Linux
Radegast provides a 3D scene rendering in which you can interact with others and object, move around, teleport, move your camera ...
Radegast provides a 3D scene rendering for Windows and Linux in which you can interact with others and object, move around, teleport, move your camera …

All of this makes it an extremely powerful client, and one which can offer significant advantages over some of the more traditional text-based clients for SL power users who may have a need to access SL from a computer other than their usual system – such as a low-powered laptop while on the move (an option which could also potentially be more cost-effective for such users when compared to SL Go).

Since my last hands-on review of Radegast (version 2.2), there have been a series of updates which have ensured the client has kept pace with developments within SL. These mean, for example, that Radegast supports Marketplace Direct Delivery, Server-side Appearance, interest list updates and support for the recent server-side HTTP protocol improvements. In addition, bugs and issues have continued to be addressed, there have been further improvements to inventory handling, attachment point updates, rendering improvements (including some I encountered very early on and which are now long-since fixed) and a whole lot more.

Radegast takes mesh and sculpt rendering in its stride in the 3D scene view
Radegast takes mesh and sculpt rendering in its stride in the 3D scene view

One area in particular that has been focused upon with Radegast is that of accessibility by the visually impaired and audio gamers. Roxie Marten and Celene Highwater have written a comprehensive Accessibility Guide to help people get started with Second life through Radegast (and which also serves as a very good introduction to the client for anyone who has not used it before), and Latif has done a considerable amount of work on improving the Radegast speech plug-in.

If you’re looking for a means of accessing Second Life from something like a low-end laptop while on the move, and would prefer to be able to see what’s going on in-world (on Windows and Linux) rather than relying on text only, or if you have an old computer you’d like to occasionally use for SL access but which labours under the load of running a full-blown viewer, then there is little doubt that Radegast offers a very capable alternative. And as nice and shiny as SL Go is when on the move, it’s also nice to remember that there are alternatives, particularly if you have to take the old laptop with you …

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Viewer release summaries 2014: week 10

Updates for the week ending: March 9th, 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 Current Viewer Releases 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:  no change
  • Release channel cohorts (See my notes on manually installing RC viewer versions if you wish to install any release candidate(s) yourself):
    • Maintenance RC updated to version 3.7.3.287491 on March 6th – core updates: assorted MAINT fixes (download and release notes)
    • Voice viewer RC version 3.7.3.287288 released on March 5th – core update: Vivox 4.6.x update for improved voice stability and to address Mac Mavericks issues (download and release notes)
    • Sunshine / AIS v3 RC version 3.7.3.287158 released on March 5th – core updates: removal of old viewer-side baking code, stability and performance improvements (download and release notes)
    • Merchant Outbox RC version 3.7.3.287344 released on March 3rd – core updates: fixes for accurately detecting Merchant status and improves recovery for Merchant Outbox errors (download and release notes)
  • Project viewers:
    • No updates.

LL Viewer Resources

Third-party Viewers

V3-style

  • Black Dragon updated to version 2.3.9.6 (incorporating 2.3.9.5) on March 6th – core updates: experimental shadow blurring enhancements, UI updates  (release notes)

V1-style

  • Cool Viewer updated on March 8th to the following versions: Stable: 1.26.10.13; Experimental: 1.26.11.13; Legacy: 1.26.8.50 – core updates: backport of LL’s sunshine / AIS v3 code; backport of potential crash fixes; backport of RLV llRegionSayTo() blocking policy; Implemented a new “ResetVertexBuffersOnLowMem” setting + more  (release notes)

Mobile / Other Clients

  • Radegast updated on March 4th to version 2.14, and was followed on March 8th by version 2.16 which addressed a couple of issues in 2.14 – core updates: catch up with Second Life protocol changes, fixes for issues in the 2.14 release, general fixes and tweaks (release notes for 2.14 and release notes for 2.16)

Additional TPV Resources

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The Drax Files Radio Hour: Second Life is Go!

radio-hourThe ninth podcast in the The Drax Files Radio Hour unsurprisingly focuses on the launch of the SL Go service (Beta) by OnLive (review here).

As most people are now surely aware, SL Go is a means of accessing the full richness of Second Life on a tablet (or mobile device with a large enough screen) via OnLive’s streaming service, with the options of also accessing it via a computer or via a television (additional hardware required in the case of the latter). The mobile offering is initially Android only, but an iOS version is also promised.

SL Go is was launched as a part of the overall re-emergence of OnLive from an 18-month, self-imposed silence following the original company getting into difficulties prior to being bought out by Gary Lauder, who was an early investor in the original OnLive through his company, Lauder Partners.

As well as releasing the SL Go Beta on Wednesday March 5th, OnLive also launched their new CloudLift games subscription service ($14.99 a month) and their OnLive Go service (of which SL Go forms a part), which is specifically aimed at getting people up-and-running with MMOs and virtual worlds.

The SL Go website
The SL Go website

A key sticking point with SL Go where SL users are concerned has been that of pricing, with the pay-per-minute (or pay-as-you-go, depending on your preference in referring to it) plan receiving a broadly negative response. During the podcast, Draxtor interviews Nate Barsetti, Senior Manager of Customer Relations at OnLive, and Dennis Harper, the Senior Product Manager for OnLive, and the subject of pricing and potential future options is raised, as I’ve commented upon in a post on the SL Go pricing model.

Nate Barsetti is very much the voice of SL Go, having appeared on both Designing Worlds during a special programme about the new service and a follow-up Q&A session, as well as spending around an hour talking to Drax about the service, much of which appears in this podcast. Again, as I’ve previously mentioned, Nate is actually in a good position to discuss both SL Go and Second Life; he is both an ex-Lab employee (Scout Linden) and a long-time and very active resident, leading a Star Wars role-play community.  As such, he offers some interesting insight into the various decisions taken vis-a-vis SL Go.

Dennis Harper’s interview is equally interesting. Not only does it echo the potential for OnLive to revisit things like pricing models (this is only a beta, after all), but also because he talks about his own exposure to Second Life, which seems to amount to being given a copy of Wagner James (Hamlet) Au’s book and being told to get on with it! Dennis also offer-up and interesting view as to how OnLive themselves might at some point get more involved in Second Life, possibly helping those new to the SL environment. He also points-out that SL Go support is actually made-up of SL residents. Also interviewed about SL Go is none other thanStrawberry Singh, who offers a balanced view of using the service.

Away from this, The Drax Files Radio Hour gained a new sponsor in the week ahead of the podcast in the form of Leap Motion. To mark this, the show is giving away two Leap Motion devices, one each in two separate competitions. For this podcast, the competition is open to those who use Facebook,  while next week a second Leap Motion device will be given away in a competition exclusively for SL users who don’t use Facebook.

Draxtor has been involved in working with the Leap Motion controller with Second Life for a while, and produced a video on his attempts. More recently, Leap Motion reached out to Linden Lab about integrating the controller with the viewer, and members of the Firestorm team are now working with Leap Motion to make this happen.

Elsewhere in the show, SL advertising is touched upon, as is more unfolding news surrounding Bitcoin, and the re-opening of the SL JIRA gets a mention.

Even if you’ve read all there is to read on SL Go, the show is worth a listen-to. Both Nate Barsetti and Dennis Harper are pretty open and honest in their comments,  and the conversations with them really do help put aspects of SL Go into perspective.