Lab updates SL system requirements

(Copyright Linden Lab)
(Copyright Linden Lab)

Update: the requirements for ervice pack installations has been revised following clarification from Tankmaster Finesmith – see comments below.

Linden Lab has updated the Second Life system requirements page to better reflect the current status of the Windows and Mac OSX operating systems.

The new requirements list Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8 as the minimum OS requirements for Windows systems and Mac OS X 10.7 or better for Mac systems.

While there are no moves to actually block older operating systems from accessing Second Life, the Lab notes that assistance will no longer be given to users accessing Second Life on unsupported operating system version. Additionally, the Lab is updating the Windows installer so that it will verify whether the latest Service Packs for Windows XP versions have been installed, otherwise viewer installation on XP will be blocked until such time as the relevant service packs have been installed. This means that the 32-bit Windows XP will be checked for the presence of Service Pack 3, and the 64-bit Windows XP will be checked for the presence of Service Pack 2.

The blog post announcing these changes reads in full:

We have made some changes to the Second Life System Requirements to bring them more up to date, and are making some related changes to the Viewer:

  • We have removed Windows XP and Mac OSX 10.6 from the list of supported operating systems. Microsoft has announced the end of support for XP, and it has been some time since Apple has released updates for 10.6. For some time now, the Viewer has been significantly less stable on these older systems, and the lack of security updates to them make them more hazardous to use. We have no plans to actually block those systems, but problems reported on them that cannot be reproduced on supported systems will not likely be fixed.
  • The Windows installer has been modified to verify that the system has been updated with the most recent Service Packs from Microsoft. While we will not block installation on Windows 8 at this time, we strongly recommend upgrading to 8.1 for greater stability. Our data shows that the Viewer is significantly less stable on systems that have not been kept up to date, so the installer will now block installation until the updates have been applied. This change will be effective in a Viewer version to be released in the next few weeks, so it would be a good idea to get your system up to date before then. You can find information on how to install the latest updates at the Microsoft Windows Update page.

Firestorm implemented a similar policy where windows is concerned with release 4.6.1, and STORM-1966 (from Tankmaster Finesmith of the Firestorm team) has been put forward as a means of enforcing similar controls in the Lab’s Windows installer. This code is due to appear in the upcoming STORM viewer release candidate.

For details on the availability of the STORM RC, please refer to my Current Viewer Releases page, where I list it as it becomes available.

My blogging journey

typing_001 Berry posted another of her Monday Memes on (oddly enough!) Monday April 28th. This one, called “my blogging journey“,  is a follow-up to her “Why do I blog?” meme from 2013. As I responded to the latter a little late in the day, I thought I should also respond to “part 2” – and get it done a little earlier this time!

Which electronic devices do you use to blog with? Primarily my PC, but I also use my Nexus 7 HD when away from home. You can generally tell when I’m using the latter, particularly if I’m using the on-screen keyboard, as the Kween of TpyolandTM strikes again…

Do you have a mission statement for your blog, if so, what is it? Not really. I just try to be open and honest in my writing, whatever the subject of an article.

How do you feel about blogs that use their platforms to spread negativity? It depends. Those that have a completely myopic view of things or seek to be deliberately and negatively confrontational on matters, I ignore. However, there are some which are predisposed to lean towards the negative (notably when writing about LL) or which may proceed from a false assumption or carry misconceptions that I do read,  because they challenge me to try to look at issues more broadly.

Are you a grammar junkie? Do you thoroughly check your blog for errors before posting and/or do you judge other people’s posts if they contain errors? I am the world’s worst when it comes to checking my own my own writing. Send me yours with a request to edit it, and I’ll go through it tooth and nail and correct, offer alternatives where meanings might be confused, provide grammar hints and tips. My own? I’ll run it through a spell-checker, I’ll read it 2-3 times, that’s it. Then I’ll generally go bonkers with myself when someone else picks up a typo I should have seen, or when I spot a grammar error. When reading other blogs, I can’t help picking-up on typos and grammar errors, but I rarely poke the writers concerned, as I’m so aware of the huge plank in my own eye …

If you could switch blogs with another blogger who would it be? Not sure about “switch”, but there are two bloggers in particular I admire and I’d name here: Honour McMillan and Tateru Nino. Both have a wonderful capacity for insight and observation and beautiful word craft. I also envy Honour’s eye for photography (and Ziki’s, and Bear’s, and Berry’s, and Loverdag’s, and Derry’s, and Asa’s, and Thorin’s, and Miles’, and ….).

Has your blog/blogging style evolved over the year(s)? How? I hope so. I started blogging on a specific subject (drawing on articles I’ve had published elsewhere & then re-wrote to give them an SL focus). Then I started writing more widely on subjects, and as my ignorance of certain aspects of SL became increasingly apparent, I tried to educate and inform myself. I hope that’s reflected in my writings here over the past few years.

What is the most extraordinary thing that has happened to you because of blogging? I got indirectly retweeted by Drew Carey. Seriously. Both Dennis Harper at OnLive and Peter Gray at Linden Lab e-mailed me when it happened. The tweet was actually from Indigo Mertel (so she has some pretty awesome followers!), and referred to a piece I wrote about OnLive’s SL Go service. No idea if Drew actually read the article (or if he did, whether he comes back and reads more), but still …

Almost famous: Drew Carey re-tweets from Indigo (who is famous!) mentioning my blog ...
Almost famous: Drew Carey re-tweets Indigo (who is famous!) mentioning my blog …

When it comes to Second Life blogs, there are different styles: Fashion bloggers, Lifestyle & Travel bloggers, Informative bloggers, and more. Which style do you prefer and where do you feel your blog fits in? I hope my blog covers a number of these areas. The only things I’ve made a conscious decision not to blog about are fashion, product reviews and in-depth content creation pieces. I’m not particularly fashion conscious in RL & I’m not the world’s greatest creator of content. So in both of those instances, anything I blog would be a grandmother and egg-sucking scenario. While I have been known to review products, with one exception, I’ve only done so for items I’ve purchased and really liked for myself. That exception was a review of Erick Gregan’s Spitfire Mark IX. That did come to me as a gift from Erick, but not in any expectation of me blogging about it; it was purely a “thank you” (and quite unexpected) for some assistance I gave when poking at some region crossing issues in 2013. And even then, I wrote the review because I love flying it in SL!

What has blogging taught you? Consideration and forethought. I hope.

Share your top 3 tips for new bloggers. Write about what interests you. Don’t be afraid to buck the trend; just because people are all blogging on X or with opinion Y, doesn’t mean you have to as well – just be true to yourself and speak from the heart. Don’t be afraid to admit mistakes, and take the time to understand a point-of-view or a topic before you blog.


Top image with thanks to Alina Lyvette

Calling time on Whiskey’s shots

Whiskey Monday
Whiskey Monday, The Viewing Room

I’ve made a number of mentions in this blog on the subject of Whiskey Monday’s remarkable imagery, which has been displayed through various galleries,  has been featured in SLB celebrations and is even available in RL.

Her work is thought-provoking, intelligent, evocative, mischievous, fun, pointed, and more – and all of it is certainly some of the finest expressions of art as a medium for social and general commentary I’ve ever seen. It’s also deeply personal, much of it reflecting on Whiskey’s real life and times in a frank, honest way free from pathos while laying bare her mindset and emotions.

Whiskey Monday
Whiskey Monday, The Viewing Room

For some time now, Crap Mariner has hosted a collection of Whiskey’s pieces, both her art and her Tweets as Picture series, located at The Viewing Room on his region of Edloe, and which sits directly under The Listening Room. However, Whiskey herself has been absent from the virtual for some time now – her last blog post having been made in November 2013, while she ceased activity on Twitter and Plurk some time before that.

While it is hoped that Whiskey will make a return to Second Life, time does march ever onwards, and Crap has been contacting those who knew Whiskey to let us know that he’ll be closing down The Viewing Room in the very near future as a part of some redevelopment work on Edloe.

Whiskey Monday
Whiskey Monday, The Viewing Room

So, if you’ve not seen Whiskey’s work there in a while, or haven’t had the chance to see her work up close, now is very much the time for making sure you hop over to The Viewing Room before it is too late.

Alchemy: cooking up a TPV

Alchemy-logoSovereign Engineer poked me about the beta release of a v3- based third-party viewer going by the name of Alchemy, which was announced to the world on Saturday April 26th, 2014.

Now the name might be familiar to some, give that the pot has been simmering away on this one since around the middle of 2013, and there have been a number of blog posts on the associated website and some discussion over at SL Universe. However, it can take time to pull a viewer together – not to mention maintain it – so much so that Shakespeare himself couldn’t have put it better when he wrote Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and caldron bubble, even if the meaning is a little reversed in this case, and the doubling of toil falls onto the alchemists who are bringing this latest TPV to life.

Nevertheless, the beta release – version – is now out for Windows, Mac and Linux (all, I believe, 32-bit). I’m not entirely sure which LL code base the viewer is built upon as there is no indication in either the About floater or on the website, but I’m guessing it’s probably the 3.7.4 or 3.7.6 code base, given the presence of things like the recent HTTP updates.

The overall aim of the viewer, according to the website, is to provide: “A Second Life Protocol compatible viewer targeted at stability, performance, and having a well thought out skin and feature set”.

Currently, three active members of the team are listed on the website: Sovereign Engineer (aka Drake, the project lead), Luminous Luminos (aka Cryo) and Inusaito Kanya (aka Lirusaito), all of whom have worked on / contributed to other TPV projects. The viewer also lists Miguael Liamano (aka Tarnix) and Captains Ghost, both of whom (or one or the other) appear to be taking care of the website.

So, what of the viewer itself?

Well, first off, this is a beta release, so don’t expect it to be all bells and whistles and how-do-you-dos. In terms of menus and Preferences, it has everything you’d expect of a v3-based TPV aimed at Second Life, including Havok sub-licensing support (which means this isn’t a viewer aim towards OpenSim as well).

The UI is a clean slate grey colour, slightly darker than the LL viewer, but with opacity set to 0.95 by default for the active floater, and inactive floaters at 0.55. In terms of size and general presentation, many of the floater panels appear more-or-less as they are rendered within the official viewer, although there are some shaper colour contrasts apparent, which can deceive the eye and brain into thinking some of the panels are more cluttered in Alchemy than is actually the case.

An example of this is World Map. There are no significant differences between it and the LL World Map. However, the flatter colours in the Alchemy world map, perhaps aided by the black / dark background to input and check boxes, tricks the eye into seeing the map as being somewhat more crowded than is actually the case when first opened.

Which is not to say all of the floaters are untouched. The build floater, for example, has been reworked to include popular open-source additions – notably Qarl Fizz’s prim alignment tool – and has been reorganised somewhat. The result, assisted by the subtle use of shading, is a more regimented feel to the floater which naturally helps the eye in locating options and option groups.

The Alchemy build floater (r) compared to the original LL viewer build floater: the former has a more regimented, easy-on-the-eye approach to its layout  without making significant changes
The Alchemy build floater (r) compared to the original LL viewer build floater: the former has a more regimented, easy-on-the-eye approach to its layout without making significant changes

When it comes to Preferences, Alchemy again doesn’t stray too far from the LL “norm”, although there are a number of TPV-specific additions, and there are hints of the Things to Come. The latter takes the form of an additional Preferences tab called Interface, which currently comprises three sub-tabs: General, Inventory and Status Bar, all of which have but one or two options for the time being, although more will doubtless follow as the viewer progresses.

Some of the tabs have been re-worked from the LL original; a good example of this is the Chat tab, which both splits-off the notification options into a sub-tab while adding a number of additional check-box options (turning off the typing animation, etc), which are again popular in TPVs. Chat also includes sub-tab for popular chat shortcut commands which Firestorm (and before it, Phoenix) made popular.

Alchemy's updated chat tab in Preferences
Alchemy’s updated chat tab in Preferences

Performance-wise, the view is slick and fast, easily on a par with all current v3-based viewers in terms of fps when running on my primary machine; I was getting 70+ fps at ground level in a region with five other avatars and a lot going on, which was more than adequate for my needs, and even when visiting The Golden Age of Russian Avant-Garde, I found my fps up in the 50s, which kept me perfectly happy during my explorations there.

In support of the viewer, the team have started on a wiki – although this still in the very early stages of development; there is also a JIRA, and the source is available through BitBucket – all of which can be accessed via the Alchemy website, or through links in the Help menu of the viewer itself.

As a beta version of an emerging viewer, anyone trying it out shouldn’t expect it to be packed to the gills with the more common-or-garden open-source / TPV additions (there’s not RLV / RLVa, and no media filter, for example), but as noted above, capabilities will doubtless be added over time as the dev team further refine the direction in which they want to take the viewer. In the meantime, this is a good start, and it’ll be interesting to see how Alchemy develops – and both the pace at which it develops and the direction it takes in terms of its own feature set.

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