Firestorm 4.6.1: Firestorm full-on

firestorm-logoUpdate: Shortly after release, Jessica Lyon dropped me a note to say the Vivox files didn’t actually make it to the release, but will now be made available via a separate download.

On Wednesday March 12th, the Firestorm team released Firestorm 4.6.1.40478, bringing with it a lot of features, fixes, updates and enhancements.

The complete list of changes, together with attributions, can be found in the release notes, and I refer readers to that document for specifics on contributors, FIRE JIRA, etc. The following is intended as an overview of some of the more major / interesting changes to be found in the release.

The first thing to note with this release is that it is, with the exception of the Linux 64-bit version (which is beta), a full release, not a beta or alpha or anything else.

So, if you’ve been avoiding trying 4.5.1 because it was a beta release, now is the time to consider updating. Do make sure when doing so that you take a look at the Firestorm 4.5.1 release notes, which provide a lot of information on that release as well which will of benefit to you as you gain familiarity with 4.6.1. You can also read my review of the 4.5.1 release here.

Downloading – a Reminder

This will be the first release of Firestorm following changes at Google forcing Firestorm to discontinue using Google’s download service (see the Download Server section of my Feb 15th FS meeting transcript for an explanation). This means that all Firestorm downloads starting with this release are via the team’s own download server.

As this is the only server the team has at their disposal for downloading the viewer, you may experience some delay / issues when attempting to download the viewer due to the volume of downloads the server is handling, particularly during the period following the release announcement. Should this occur, the Firestorm team request a little patience, and if you can, to consider re-trying a little later.

Installation

As always, a completely clean install of the viewer is recommended.

Windows 64-bit Installer

Those who have previously installed the windows 64-bit version will be aware that the installer could be painfully slow. With this release, the Windows 64-bit installer has been overhauled, and should be appreciably faster, and also includes some additional tweaks:

  • Added estimated installation size (200 MB)
  • Add/Remove panel icon (shared with 32bit installer for simplicity)
  • Added website URLs (shown in the bottom section of the Add/Remove panel)

Viewer and Installer Blocks

The release of 4.6.1 means that all versions of Firestorm prior to 4.4.2 will be blocked from accessing Second Life in around a week’s time. Additionally, and in reference to the Windows version of Firestorm, note that:

  • The 32-bit installer blocks the installation on any Windows operating system below Vista, except for 32-bit Windows XP with Service Pack 3
  • the 64-bit installer blocks the installation on Windows 64 bit on versions older than Windows XP with Service Pack 2.

Updates from the Lab

This release brings Firestorm to parity with many of the Lab’s more recent updates, highlights of which include:

  • Code parity with Linden Lab’s 3.7.2 code base
  • Fitted mesh support – for those unfamiliar with Fitted Mesh, I have an overview here
  • HTTP updates for improved rendering
  • Request Teleport feature
  • Region Restart updates
  • Vivox 4.6.x updates
  • SL Share (link to Facebook)
  • Temporary attachments no longer get removed improperly
  • … and more

Request Teleport

The Request for Teleport option (show from the People floater) and request.
The Request for Teleport option (show from the People floater) and request.

A feature contributed to the SL viewer by Jonathan Yap, Request Teleport allows users to pass a request to others asking that they be teleported to their location.

I covered the capability when it first appeared in an SL project viewer in September 2013, so in brief:

  • Select the person to whom you wish to teleport (from your Friends list or Nearby list, etc.), and select Request Teleport
  • Enter a message in the pop-up, if required, and click OK.
  • At the “other end”, the recipient of the request will receive the request and can either accept the request, sending a teleport offer, or reject it, in which case no message is sent
  • If the request is accepted, the sender see the usual teleport offer pop-up.

Note that Request Teleport is not a replacement for Firestorm’s “teleport to” capability, which remains unchanged.

SL Share and Facebook

The four tabs of the SLShare floater (as seen on the SL viewer), which allow those who want to to share their SL times via their Facebook account
The four tabs of the SLShare floater (as seen on the SL viewer), which allow those who want to share their SL times via their Facebook account

SL Share is a means by which those who have no issue with linking their SL account with their Facebook account can do so and send messages, photos, etc. to their Facebook account.

This was a feature released by Linden Lab again in September 2013, and I provided an overview at that time. however, it is probably worth repeating a couple of core points:

  • The feature is opt-in, and available to those who have no problem linking their SL identity with that of their Facebook identity
  • It has proven very popular among many users who have no problems doing so
  • It’s not about the “Facebookisation” of Second Life or trying to “make” SL users also use Facebook.

Region Restart Updates

The region restart updates comprise two main elements:

  • The new on-screen region restart warning, accompanied by a sound and camera shake
    The new on-screen region restart warning, accompanied by a sound and camera shake

    A new region restart warning notification, which is displayed in the centre of the viewer window every minute, on the minute, for the last five minutes prior to the region restarting, and which includes a countdown (in seconds) until the regions restarts

  • A camera-shaking warning which occurs every minute, on the minute for the last five minutes prior to the region restarting, causing the world view to shake., and which is accompanied by a region restart sound.

Note that both the new format notification and the camera shaking can be disabled / enabled as follows:

  • New region restart notification: Preferences > User Interface > Toasts > Use new region restart notification
  • Camera shaking: Preferences > User Interface > Toasts > Don’t shake my screen when region restart alert message is shown.

In addition, teleports to regions which are in the final 60 seconds before a restart will be prevented and the viewer will display a message in the format: “The region you’re trying to enter is about to shut down”.

Phototools

Phototools is updated to version 1.2, bringing with it a lot of enhancements, including:

  • An option to enable / disable screen space reflections (when shadows options are enabled)
  • The removal of legacy specular highlight and camera aspect ratio controls
  • Additional sliders/spinners and controls for RenderShadowBias, RedershadowBiasError,  CameraMaxCoF, FSRenderShadowSplitExponentY, FSRenderShadowGaussianX, FSRenderSSAOEffect and FSRenderShadowGaussianY
  • Increased editable value ranges for many spinners allowing greater control
  • Numerous other updates and amendments.

Details on the Phototools floater can be found here.

In addition, William Weaver, who first developed Phototools, has produced a series of video tutorials on using the floaters, the latest of which is provided below, which also looks at some of the most recent updates:

Contact Sets

Contact Sets, which allows Firestorm users to group their friends / contacts into groups or categories (friends, business contacts, members of s specific RP group, etc.), has been completely revised with this latest release of Firestorm.

Contact Sets now form an additional tab in the Conversations / Contacts floater, and as well as the familiar means of accessing it (via the Contact Sets toolbar button, or by Comm > Contact Sets or by pressing CTRL-ALT-SHIFT-C), it can now be displayed by any of the following methods, and then clicking on the Contact Sets tab:

  • Via Comm > Conversations / CTRL-T or via the Conversations toolbar button
  • Via Comm > Contacts / CTRL-ALT-SHIFT-F
  • Via Comm > Friends / CTRL-SHFT-F  or via the People / Friends toolbar button
Contact Sets is now integrated into the Conversations - Contacts floater (image courtesy of Firestorm)
Contact Sets is now integrated into the Conversations – Contacts floater (image courtesy of the Firestorm team)

The new layout is tidier and more integrated into the Firestorm UI, although a couple of options – such as the Rolodex functionality – are no longer present. New buttons provide a more intuitive approach to managing Contact Sets, and include the able to display friends and contacts using their Display Names or even set your own aliases for them (only visible in your Contacts Sets tab).

An overview and instructions on using the new Contact Sets can be found here.

Animation Explorer

Firestorm 4.6.1 now includes the Animation Explorer from Phoenix. This can be accessed from the menu bar via World > Animation Explorer,  and lists the animations which are (or were) active on you avatar.

The Firestorm Animation Explorer (image courtesy of the Firestorm team)

When open, the left-side pane of the floater lists the current / previously active animations. Clicking on a listed animation will display it in the right-side pane on a “Ruth” avatar model, which can be zooming in / out on and rotated using the mouse. At the bottom of this pane are a number of buttons and a check box:

  • Stop: stop the selected animation.
  • Stop and Revoke: Stops the animations and revokes animation permissions from the object that was granted them.
  • Revoke: Revokes animation permissions from the object that is controlling the selected animation.
  • No Owned Animations: This filters out animations that are owned by your avatar, like AO and system animations.

Avatar Shape Export / Import

Prevously exported shapes can be imported by the Edit Shape floater
Prevously exported shapes can be imported by the Edit Shape floater

Firestorm allows you to export the avatar shapes you create as .XML files and re-import them.

A shape is exported to XML via the Develop menu (Ctrl-Alt-Q) > Avatar > Character Tests > Appearance to XML.

Shapes can be re-imported via the Import button on the Edit Shape floater.This opens a file picker window, allowing you to navigate to the folder in which the required shape has been saved and then import it into Firestorm.

When importing a shape, please note that it will replace the existing parameters for the shape you are currently wearing, and will be saved on exiting Edit Shape.

If you wish to retain the original shape, make sure you use the Save As button at the bottom of the floater, opposite the Import button, before you import a shape.

If you do forget to save your original shape to a new file name before importing a shape and replacing it, you can use Undo Changes to revert to your original shape. You can then use Save As to create a copy of it in your inventory, prior to re-importing your new shape.

Mini-map Updates

The mini-map gets a series of updates, comprising:

  • Customisable mini-map background transparency, set via the Background Opacity slider in Preferences > Colors > Minimap and addition of configurable pick radius color and transparency on mini-map Preferences > Colors > Minimap > Pick Radius
New mini-map transparceny can be set from fully transparent (top left) through the default to full opaque (top right) via the opacity slider, highlighted with the slider, in Preferences > Colors > Minimap (bottom)
New mini-map transparency can be set from fully transparent (top left) through the default to full opaque (top right) via the Background Opacity slider, highlighted with the Pick Radius Transparency slider, in Preferences > Colors > Minimap (bottom)
  • The addition of all avatar options from radar to the mini-map menu (right-click on an avatar dot to view) and the ability to mark multiple avatars on the mini-map at once (see FIRE-9938)
  • Ability to remove single avatar mark from the mini-map (as well as all marks), and to set an avatar mark to blue (right-click on an avatar dot then Mark > Choose Color / Clear Mark/s)
  • Addition of draw pick radius on mini-map (as seen in Exodus) via Preferences > Move & View > Firestorm > Pick Scale
  • Added configurable pick radius color and transparency on the mini-map
  • Protect avatar name cache lookup callbacks in the mini-map
  • Mini-map no longer displays 2 dots for agents when flying or moving quickly.

Documentation on the Mini-map can be found here.

Mouselook Tweaks

Mouselook gets a number of tweaks with the 4.6.1 release, which are mainly aimed at combat enthusiasts and which have been developed from Exodus. These include:

  • When in mouselook, the crosshairs will display the name and distance of the avatar at whom you are aiming towards as well as change colors depending on how you have them marked on your mini map.
  • The color will be chosen based on this order (in terms of priority):
    1. Mark color on the mini-map
    2. Special color based on contact set
    3. Default mini-map colors as defined in preferences
  • Additionally, tracker markers can be enabled. However, they will show for all avatars within the range defined in preferences.
  • Don’t show avatar name under mouselook target if show names are forbidden by RLV
    Preferences > Move & View > View > Enable Combat Features / Draw target markers / Range (m).

Group Members List Export

This feature allows the export of the list of group members to a .CSV file, which includes: user name, UUID and status. This is available only to users who are publicly visible in the member list (i.e. those whose role has “Reveal members” enabled).

Group lists can be exported to .csv file format
Group lists can be exported to .CSV file format

OpenSim New Features and Improvements

  • Client tags now display correctly on OpenSim (see: FIRE-10144)
  • Added osGetGridGatekeeperURI() and lsClearWindlightScene to OSSL script library
  • Hop protocol is now registered on the Windows 64-bit viewer
  • Added variable region size for OpenSim, not Aurora Sim only
  • Aurora Sim: Prevent drawing of the mini-map in the radar if mini-map is not allowed

Other Updates of Note

  • FModEx updated to version 4.44.26
  • KDU updated to version 7.3.2
  • RLVa updated to 1.4.10, API version number 2.8.0
  • Materials:
    • Materials support has been added for the object exporter
    • Materials offsets now work correctly when “synchronize materials” is checked for negative diffuse texture offsets
    • Synchronize materials feature now works correctly for negative values of materials rotations
  • Support for uniform scaling LSL functions (llScaleByFactor(float scale_factor), llGetMinScaleFactor() and llGetMaxScaleFactor())
  • Copy and Paste object position values between 2 different viewers is now accurate
  • Floaters can no longer be moved totally underneath the bottom toolbar buttons and “lost”
  • Multiple updates / improvement to chat capabilities
  • Added a confirmation dialog when deleting notecards to prevent accidental deletion
  • Movelock improvements:
    • If a user logged out of Firestorm with Movelock still enabled and relogged with a different viewer, Movelock would still be enabled and could cause confusion for the user. With this release, Movelock will disable itself if the user is not on Firestorm
    • Movelock now tells the user in nearby chat when it is enabled at login
  • SLURL / map links now open in-world from maps.secondlife.com
  • Inventory improvement include:
    • Number of attachment slots remaining added to the edit appearance floater
    • Inventory filters now persist after relogging
    • Firestorm now allows dragging and dropping any asset type into the Landmarks folder
    • Moving a folder to a protected folder like the #LSL Bridge folder is now prevented
    • Added an option to add clothing on double-click in inventory
    • Avatar no longer falls into the ground when editing shape/wearables
    • Delete key now works when deleting object inventory
    • …and more
  • UI Improvements include:
    • Block/Mute list now has a toolbar button
    • Resync Animations now has a toolbar button.

Again, the above barely scratches the surface of the updates, and is intended to act as a series of pointers – please refer to the release notes for the full list of updates and changes.

Feedback

I’ve been running the Firestorm 4.6.1 (and before it the 4.5.2 pre-release) versions throughout the beta and smoke test phases in preparation for this release, and have found the viewer to be exceptionally stable, and with a performance easily equitable to the performance I experienced with Firestorm 4.5.1.

Installation-wise, the work carried out by Nicky Dasmijn on the 64-bit Windows installer pays off in spades – the updated installer is fast and tidy, and is generally done before I can even get to the study door on my way to make a cup of coffee, whereas previously I could not only go make the coffee but be back at my desk and half-way through sipping it by the time the old Win 64-bit installer was done…

Features-wise, this release packs a heck of a lot into it, and there should be more than enough to keep everyone happy – although it does mean that reviews such as this tend to be rather ad-hoc, simply because there is too much to cover in a single article!  As such, the easiest way to get to grips with everything is to read through the release notes, and give the viewer a go.

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35 thoughts on “Firestorm 4.6.1: Firestorm full-on

  1. I’ve poked Oz about RenderSpecularExponent (one of the two specular highlight settings that were removed from the Phototools floater) and hope to have feedback from him soon. Although it’s a strictly local effect, it can help produce some interesting SL photos without the need for post-processing. Let’s see…

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  2. Just want to say that the “tracker markers” is not how the feature was intended, in Exodus it will only show you arrows for people are behind or beside you, not in front of you. Firestorm’s makes an effective “see through walls hack” which is hard to express how bad that is for fair combat.

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    1. Unfortunately it wasn’t reported earlier, so it’s too late to change it for this release. It is already changed for the next release, so it will function the same way as in Exodus.

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  3. Thanks for the great writeup Inara.

    There are some really useful features in this release that are most welcome (group list export…. it’s about time!) but also some changes that I’m not wild about – key combinations for camera movements for example, are deeply embedded in muscle memory for me, as well as being able to simply press the up cursor key to repeat chat commands.

    However, all in all, a step forward from the firestorm team.

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  4. thank You for the great job! there are years I use only Firestorm. only a question? if I switch to the 64bit version i can backup the settings from the 32bit 4.4.2 version and restore them in the 4.6.1 64bit version? thank You in advance 🙂

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  5. My beach sand is now a different color, they look more like rocks now. And more importantly I don’t seem to be able to edit or rez megaprims. IS this a setting somewhere or is this new browser trying to kill the use of megaprims. If I want to stay with older one, how long to I have before it is killed from working? thanks

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    1. I’ve no explanation for sand changing colour, if you mean the default terrain sand colours. It’s not something I’ve witnessed myself.Are you perhaps running with some of the more advanced graphics setting senabled / under a different windlight?

      In terms of editing megaprims, it’s hard to say without more information – and given the fact I’m not a viewer support expert! However, do you mean natively-rezzed prims (which can be up to 64x64x64m), or those supplied “pre-cut” in various packs available in-world and on the Marketplace? If the latter, you may simply be encountering issues with cutting and sizing which are common to such prims (such as trying to stretch a mega and seeing it snap back to 10x10x0.5 or something), which occur as a result of them being created via an exploit in the system. I’m certainly not aware of anything that would block the rezzing of anything on land where you have rezzing rights, mega or otherwise.

      However, the best place to ask Firestorm-specific questions is via the in-world official Firestorm Support group, or by visiting the Phoenix Firestorm support island and asking volunteer support staff there (just ring the ring if no-one is there, and hopefully someone will contact you).

      In terms of blocking older versions, I understand from Jessica Lyon that any blocking of older versions will occur in about a week or so, to allow people time to download and run a more recent version. I believe, although have not had a definitive answer on this, that versions older than 4.4.1 will be blocked. Again, the best place to keep an eye out for this is the Firestorm blog, although I’ll certainly have an updated once any block does come into effect.

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  6. I have a laptop with Windows 7 64 bit — should i be using the Firestorm 64 bit or can I use either version?

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      1. Alicia, to make sure you saw this earlier topic — for Second Life,the 64 bit windows version does not have quite all the capability that the 32 bit version does. (That may not matter to you.) That’s not easily clear on Firestorm site.

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        1. As far as I’m aware, the only difference between the 64-bit version and the 32-bit version is that the latter has full Havok support, and the 64-bit version doesn’t. This should only be a major issue if someone is developing pathfinding solutions. The difference is also made clear in the release notes.

          Outside of this, there should be no difference in viewer capabilities between the two versions.

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  7. Clean install of the 64b version ( a big YAHHHHH for the fact that it works both on sl and open sim!). V3 interface being the only one i use, just messed with graphics to make them the highest wit alm on and shadows via preferences graphics panel (I dont use phototools to mess with graphic settings!)
    On debug settings changed lod factor to 14 max mesh request to 64 (yes i knowl about the msg that firestorm sends), and changed all camera settings to be like Monica’s latest ones!
    Avoid messing with all the thousands of useless for me, other options that firestorm provides!
    COULD NOT FIND A SIMPLE FPS INDICATOR on the top bar, IN NUMBERS!
    So after 30 min of setting the interface i fired it on OSgrid and noticed:
    Rezzing of the avatar was faster then ever!
    Fetching of the inventory was amazing fast!
    Used it for 5 min on my regions without any trouble !
    Then fired it for second Life on my alt and went to same place where i was with my viewer for SL, Ukando.
    Both viewers working at same time was a fight for fps, both took same quality pics to Flickr!
    As my alt has less then 1k of inventory as i only use it for testing purposes, ws pretty fast fetching!
    Was like 10 min using both viewers with the low fps it implied (both at the highest graphics specs!) but no crash and both giving the same quality snapshots to flirck!
    So to end, the 64b version feels much better then the alpha on OSgrid and for sure on the rest of the open sim grids and is my viewer of choice in there!
    For SL, even if for only a bit, it works fine and the only reason for me to not use it is simple, i do prefer another viewer, period!

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  8. Pffft. Still get continual “Textures discarded … ” and crash, frequent “ERROR: llrender/llvertexbuffer.cpp(XXXX) : LLVertexBuffer::mapVertexBuffer: memory allocation for vertex data failed” crashes, and screen lockups, all of this malarkey has been continual since the advent of SSB and the change-over to v4.xx of FS. Also, any time an avatar made of mesh or loaded down with mesh walks into my camera view down I go. NONE of the fixes given/suggested work (have tried endlessly to no avail; even changed to a better video card) so don’t bother repeating any of them — deaf ears here. It’s the viewer. So all these little cutesy bells and whistles are just meaningless fluff, not necessary to actually enjoy SL when you can’t even stay logged in for more than 10 min at a time. And forget my long-time picture taking hobby — one hi-res picture and crashola. Again, I say … pfffft.

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        1. The “textures discarded” message was talked about in yesterday’s Q&A session. Basically, it means your hardware can’t take anymore and your viewer will crash. It will crash, regardless of whether you’re using the official viewer or Firestorm – it’s just that Firestorm tells you beforehand “hey, buddy – I’m going to crash.”

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      1. Issues such as the one Caliburn describes – often referred to as texture thrashing – tend to be more endemic to hardware issues than viewer bugs. Some suggested work-arounds for those suffering the problem have in the past been:

        • Enabling texture compression can help ease the problem, as can lowering the texture memory buffer can also help
          Disabling VBO can help with memory bloat, although at a cost of FPS
        • Making sure you don’t have TextureLoadFullRes (debug) set to TRUE (as apparently recommended by some content creators)
        • If you’re on Firestorm, try setting FSDestroyGLTexturesImmediately to TRUE.

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    1. What a pleasure to need just one browser (win 64 bit) installed for both SL and Inworldz, yay! (And if / when I need the advanced Havok tools as a builder, I can just briefly use the official viewer.) Working like a charm here — thanks for the firestorm team and many thanks to Inara for all this summary.

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  9. Just wanted to report back that over the past 3 weeks, I have experienced the same consistent super lag that other people are complaining about with this release, so I may be upgrading back to the previous release.

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    1. Thanks, Chaz. I seem to be fortunate in the 98% of the time I’m encountering zero issues, although rendering my own home region seems to cause the odd upset).

      Obviously, and as I’m sure you’re aware, the best places to report back on experiences, especially if you have specific examples of issues you can point to as demonstrating problems, are the Firestorm JIRA and the Firestorm support groups. It’s always worth talking through matters with the support team prior to rolling back, as they might be able to help.

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    2. I’m experiencing so much lag. I’ve done a clean install and nothing seems to work. I’m not sure what I should do now but I’m thankful I decided to save the older version onto a usb key and I tried it the other day adn it works perfectly. Using a macbook pro from 2012 I hope its not obsolete.

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      1. Unfortunately, I cannot provide technial support here, as I’m not a member of the Firestorm team. As I’m sure you’re aware, the best places to report back on experiences, especially if you have specific examples of issues you can point to as demonstrating problems, are the Firestorm JIRA and the Firestorm support groups. It’s always worth talking through matters with the support team prior to rolling back, as they might be able to help.

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  10. Great blog with much needed information! Have you ever done a blog on the bug within SL that allows someone to attach something to you, which you allow first, that forever has permission to animate/attach to you? This is discussed here: http://community.secondlife.com/t5/LSL-Scripting/Revoking-Permissions/td-p/1112303 where it notes that “if someone clicks Yes on the permissions window, there is no way for them to EVER remove themselves from it.” FireStorm’s options to stop animating my avatar and revoke permissions do not work on this. It is acknowledged and unresolved in the JIRA: https://jira.secondlife.com/browse/SVC-1006?

    It’s just amazing to me that with the griefers on MP that take advantage of this, even to the point that the hud’s name can be changed to make someone believe they are accepting a friendly hug or kiss, this issue has gone unaddressed or fixed since 2007! I’m interested in reading your take on this subject.

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    1. Thank you for the feedback!

      The “soul seize” style of issues with HUDs and in-world objects which can “steal” permission to animate your avtar have been known about for a while, as you note. The Update incorporated into Firestorm to get the simulator to revoke animation permissions is actually an update deployed by the Lab a few months ago in an effort to address this issue. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work in all cases, as you note (HUDs which use this approach are unaffected by the update, for example, as well as some kinds of in-world objects which return themselves to the owners inventory once permission has been granted to them for animation an avatar).

      The Lab is aware that the issue still exists, although it is unclear at the moment as to what might be additionally done to combat it.

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      1. I read the JIRA on it and it appears not open to comments nor is there recent activity on it. It seems irresponsible of LL to allow these products to be sold on MP in light of this. Sorry, I’m not meaning to go off-topic here!

        Like

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