Singularity 1.8.7

singularityThursday, June 16th saw the first full release of Singularity in almost two years, with version offered for download.

As the release notes explain, the delay in updates for the viewer have been due to a number of reasons – not the least of which was the sad passing of Latif Khalifa (to whom this release is dedicated), and also the departure of one of the viewers core developers for pastures new. There have also be various infrastructure and hardware issues which have frustrated attempts at update.

The new release is currently for Windows 32-bit and 64-bit, and Linux 64-bit only, The team hopes to get the Mac version back on track as well, and are currently seeking a Mac developer to help with this.

Given the length of time since the last full release, there have obviously been a lot of changes, including getting back towards parity with many of the Lab’s own updates, as well as singularity’s own bug fixes and the adoption of elements from Alchemy.

As usual, I don’t propose giving an in-depth review of all the changes to the viewer here, but will attempt to highlight some of the more significant.

Lab-derived Changes

Tool Chain Update

Perhaps the most significant change with this release is under-the-hood. Singularity is now built using the latest tools and libraries recommended by Linden Lab. For Windows, this means that with the 1.8.7 release, the viewer no longer supports Windows XP. It also means that when the Mac version of the viewer is updated, Singularity will no longer support anything earlier than OSX 10.7 going forward.

TLS 1.2 Support

Singularity 1.8.7 is TLS 1.2 complaint, meaning you can use the built-in web browser to make LindeX transactions or SL marketplace purchases if you so wish.

Hover Height

The Hover height slider is available via the Quick Prefs panel
The Hover height slider is available via the Quick Prefs panel

The Lab’s Hover Height functionality has been added to the Singularity Quick Pref panel (click the UP arrow button, lower right-hand corner of the viewer window). As per the official Hover Height it works to a range of +/- 2 metres.

Independent of Hover Height, but a little similar in nature and so worth mentioning here is a new /hover command, which is described as “supporting values of -50 through 50”, however, during testing on Aditi, I found that the maximum height by which I was moved was around 5 metres, regardless of anything set above that. I therefore assume the release notes should read “supporting values of -5.0 through 5.0” – although admittedly I’ve not referred this back to the Singularity developers for confirmation.

Other Lab-Driven Updates

  • Latest inventory protocol (AISv3) support has been merged in to maintain future SL inventory handling compatibility
  • QtWebkit browser has been replaced with a Chromium variant
  • The SLVoice plug-in (Vivox) has been updated to parity with the SL viewer
  • Server-Side Baking (avatar appearance has been updated
  • Avatar rendering information is now reported to the simulator (although the local complexity limit slider has not been implemented in Preferences > Graphics) so this is not a full Avatar Complexity implementation).

Preferences Updates

Input and Camera

For combat enthusiasts, Preferences > Input and Camera includes two new options:

  • Display targeted avatar’s name under the crosshair
  • Display position and avatar health (your own avatar, in damage-enabled regions)
The new Mouselook options in Preferences > Input & Camera
The new Mouselook options in Preferences > Input & Camera

Communication Chat Preferences Updates

  • Preferences > Communications: you can now select which conference calls to accept / block (Accept all, accept Friends Only, Block all)
  • Preferences > Adv. Chat > Chat UI allows you to select displaying user names, display name, display name with user names or user names with display names from a drop-down list
  • Preferences > Adv. Chat > Autoresponse now splits auto response options into separate sub-tabs. Also, autoresponse options can now be selected via the World menu > Status sub-menu
Revised auto response options layout
Revised auto response options layout
  • Adv Chat > Spam includes a new option to block LM offers.

Continue reading “Singularity 1.8.7”

Singularity provides update to address AMD Catalyst driver issues

singularityUpdate, March 21st: AMD have release a new set of Catalyst™ drivers, version 15.3 beta, which include a potential fix for the rigged mesh issues – see my notes here.

As I’ve previously reported in this blog, recent AMD Catalyst™ driver updates have resulted in numerous issues for SL users running AMD graphics cards and attempting to use the latest driver updates. These started with the 14.9.1 drivers, but which became particularly pronounced with the  14.9.2 drivers failing to render rigged mesh unless hardware skinning is disabled (see: BUG-7653), problems which increased with AMD switched yo automatic updates with the release of their 14.12 drivers.

In December 2014, Yoho Waco offered a workaround for the problems affecting more recent drivers (e.g. 14.12) using the 14.9 DLL files to overcome some of the issues presented by those drivers, and which should work for most viewers. With Yoho permission, I offered his workaround as an article in its own right, and DMC Jurassic reported the same approach could be used with 1.4.4 driver DLL files to resolve issues caused by both the more recent driver updates and those cause by the 14.9.2 driver update.

Recent AMD Catalyst™ drivers ( onwards) have been problematic for Sl users, presenting a series of mesh rendering problems as a result of changing openGL support within the drivers (image courtesy of Maestro Linden, click for full-size)
Recent AMD Catalyst™ drivers ( onwards) have been problematic for Sl users, presenting a series of mesh rendering problems as a result of changing openGL support within the drivers (image courtesy of Maestro Linden, click for full-size)

Now the Singularity team have stepped up, offering their users who use AMD graphics cards and who have particularly been affected by the rigged mesh issues found when using the more recent Catalyst™ drivers.

Version of the viewer, released on February 27th, 2015, is labelled as a “supplemental” update to the viewer because, as the release notes state, it only provides a fix for this particular set of problems, and offers no additional updates to the viewer as a whole.

Therefore, if you are not affected by the Catalyst™ driver problems, there is no need for you to update. However, if you have been affected by the problems, then this update could well be for you.

Related Links

With thanks to Maya Rosenstar for the pointer.

Radegast: “Road’s End”

On November 5th, Latif Khalifa posted a notice to the Radegast blog that he is ending development of the Radegast viewer, and ceasing work on other virtual worlds open-source projects in which he has been engaged. Citing health reasons, Latif stated:

It saddens me to have to inform you that I won’t be able to continue work on Radegast or my other opensource projects. My health has been deteriorating over the past few years to this point where my use of computers is down to just a few minutes daily. Not being able to work for several years bring its own set of problems.

This isn’t necessarily the complete end for Radegast – as Latif notes, the code is open-source, and as such will remain available should anyone wish to continue with its development.

Radegast is a lightweight virtual worlds client that offers considerable flexibility of use for users, including the ability to render in-world scenes in 3D, thus enabling avatar movement and interactions. Almost all of the core capabilities found in a the full viewer are available within  Radegast, including inventory management, the ability to change outfits, chat, IM, teleport, undertake group management activities, manipulate objects and their contents, script, use voice (local chat) listening to music streams, use avatar gestures, and more.

Radegest gives you almost all the capabilities of a full viewer in a lightweight package (image courtesy of Radegast)
Radegest gives you almost all the capabilities of a full viewer in a lightweight package (image courtesy of Radegast)

Radegast has particularly seen considerable use with visually impaired users, offering speech recognition for controlling UI and entering text in chat and text-to-speech for reading out loud incoming messages, and a special accessibility guide has been written in support of this.

As Latif has kept the client up-to-date with all major SL and OpenSim changes to date (including mesh rendering, server-side appearance for SL, etc.), there is no danger of it suddenly ceasing to work in the immediate future for those who do use it on a regular basis; so there is no need to immediately abandon it, even if the option to continue developing it isn’t taken up by another developer.

Radegast takes mesh and sculpt rendering in its stride in the 3D scene view
Radegast offers a full 3D rendering view. While it might now have ALM, windlights and all the intensive bells and whistles, it takes avatar movement and rendering mesh and sculpts in its stride (click for full size)

Latif himself has been a towering force within the open-source community, working on a number of viewer projects, including Singularity and, most recently, Replex, and he has been heavily committed to the support of the OpenSim community as well as working to improve the user experience in Second Life. He is the founder of the Advanced Worlds SL group in support of  the creation, design and development of technologies for virtual worlds, and the promotion of open standards and open-source software.

While there has been no similar notice on the Replex blog, that Latif has indicated a withdrawal from his open-source projects suggests that work on this viewer may also be suspended unless someone else is steeping into the breach. However, I am still awaiting confirmation on this.

There is little doubt that his presence, if he is forced completely away from virtual worlds, will be very much missed – as the comments following the announcement on the Radegast blog demonstrate. In the meantime, my personal message to Latif – someone I’ve been privileged to call a friend for a good while now, and who has always been a huge amount of fun, even when we’ve bumped heads on occasion(!) – is simply this: look after yourself, and am hoping things  improve in the future.

Related Links

Replex updates to version 1.0

Replex-logoFollowing the release of Singularity 1.8.6 on Thursday September 4th, Replex, the viewer led by Latif Khalifa and based on Singularity, updated on Saturday September 6th to version, the first full release of the viewer.

I reviewed an alpha version of Replex in June, when it slightly preempted the (then) upcoming Singularity release. This release keeps pace with the Singularity 1.8.6 release, offering the same capabilities. Replex-specific updates comprise:

  • Added new default Replex skin
  • Now provides Gemini and Silver skins
  • Windows 64 viewer now supports parcel media (QuickTime)
  • Media filter disabled by default

Replex is available in Windows and Linux 32-bit and 64-bit version, and a Mac version and is compatible with OS X 10.6 and newer, Intel CPUs. Note that the download page contain additional notes relating to the Linux version of the viewer.

I’ve not had the opportunity to take Replex for a thorough test drive, but the Alpha version was stable and nicely packaged, and I see no changes on that front with this release.

Related Links

Singularity 1.8.6: customise your toolbar and more

singularityThe Singularity team released version of their v1-style viewer on Thursday September 4th. The new release brings a hots of updates from the Singularity team, the official viewer and various TPV developers.

As well as implementing  range of new features within the viewer, the release includes various updates to the UI – Preferences panel changes, floater panel updates, etc., and offers Singularity users the option to customise the buttons the viewer displays at the foot of the window.

The following notes highlight some of the key changes to the viewer. As always, for a full list of updates and changes, and for full details on all accreditation for such changes and updates, please refer to the Singularity 1.8.6 release notes.

Customise Your Toolbar Buttons

This release of Singularity brings with it the ability to add / remove buttons from the viewer’s toolbar, a-la 3.x viewers. Obviously, buttons are restricted to the bottom of the viewer, but this is liable to be of interest to users as it allows some degree of customisation in the UI. 80+ button options are offered, providing a comprehensive range of options and possible button combinations to suit your needs.

Singularity's impressive range of toolbar buttons
Singularity’s impressive range of toolbar buttons

Adding / removing buttons is a simple matter of opening the button chooser (View > Change Toolbar Buttons) and then checking those buttons to be displayed and unchecked those which are not wanted. The range of available buttons is impressive, and includes just about everything you’d ever likely want to see as a button. However, given the nature of the toolbar area itself, things can get a little crowded if you go nuts opening a tonne of buttons!

Preferences Updates

There have been a number of Preferences panel and tabs updates with this release, including:

  • System > Security is now System > Security & Privacy, and includes the additional options:
    • Emergency Teleport (see below
    • An option to Render Muted Avatars
    • Announce in chat when people bump you
    • Lines from avatar to their Look At beacons
    • Customizable name display for Look At beacons
  • Input & Camera
    • Azerty keyboard support
    • Realistic Mouselook
  • Adv. Chat -> Chat UI
    • Format for names in lists
    • Autoscroll for automatic scroll to the bottom of chat when it gains focus
  • Graphics:
    • Hardware tab > VSync – adaptive option (providing your driver supports it)
    • Depth of Field tab added
  • Vanity->Main, Connect to neighboring regions: Save bandwidth & CPU usage by not connecting to neighbouring regions.

Floater Panel Updates

The following are either new, or changed floater panels with Singularity 1.8.6:

  • Destination Guide (World >Destinations): for OpenSim,  allow the destination guide to change when Hypergrid jumping
  • Default Avatar Picker Floater (World >Default Avatars)
  • New media filter implementation
  • Detailed Land Impact display
  • The default permissions floater has been overhauled, it now matches the one found in the official viewer, with permissions for each individual type of item are offered

Emergency Teleport

Even been logged-out of SL during a rolling restart due to being AFK, or been caught by a restart when you’ve missed the warnings? Well, neither need ever be a bother to you again with Singularity.

Version 1.8.6 see the arrival of the Emergency Teleport feature. Preferences > System > Security and Privacy includes two slots into which landmarks can be dropped. Should you be caught AFK during a region restart, Singularity will attempt to auto-teleport you to the first landmark in the final 20 seconds before the restart occurs. If that destination is unavailable, the second LM will be used in a further attempt to teleport you.

The Emergency Teleport LM slots
The Emergency Teleport LM slots

In addition, Singularity also includes the STORM-1980 screen shake and restart warnings, and there is an option to automatically minimise the latter in Preferences > System > Security and Privacy, which can be found directly above the Emergency Teleport LM slots.

Mini-Map Enhancements

Singularity 1.8.6 offers a range of mini-map enhancements, including:

  • Show parcel boundaries and parcels for sale:  mini-map menu: > Show > Property Lines /  & Mini-map menu: > Show > Property Lines
The Mini-map parcel options and other menu options
The Mini-map parcel options and other menu options
  • Option to use world map textures: Mini-map menu > World Map Textures
  • Scroll zoom is now based on where your mouse is, if centering on camera is off
  • Option to show tracking circles around people selected on the radar while the radar is visible: Mini-map menu: Show > Radar Tracking Circles
  • Marking on the mini-map changes custom colouring of avatar tags (on a per session basis)
  • Implementation of the Exodus multiple selection tool:
    • On mouse-over, a circle is shown beneath your cursor, this is the effective range of right clicking to mark
    • Change the range by holding Shift while scrolling
    • Other menu functions invoked on right-click still only work on the closest dot to your mouse
  • Prim torture limits are now standardised in line with other viewers.

 Build Updates

Version 1.8.6 brings with it a number of building updates, including:

  • Avoid problems when meshes with invalid joint names are encountered
  • Prim Alignment Tool updated
  • Object Import/Export enhancements, including improvements from Cool VL Viewer – support for Materials (specular and normal maps), Object Physics and Light Image.

Continue reading “Singularity 1.8.6: customise your toolbar and more”

Replex: A new viewer for SL and OpenSim

Replex-logoLatif Khalifa is well-known if the viewer community. Not only does he maintain the very excellent Radegast lightweight client for SL and OpenSim, he has also been a regular contributor to Singularity, the popular viewer using the v1-style UI. Now Latif is working on a v1-style viewer of his own.

Replex is still very much in the alpha phase of work; as such, there is no formal release version of the viewer, but alpha builds are available for download with the caveat that there is no official support as yet. There is, however, an in-world group where questions can be asked of other users and information exchanged. There is also an IRC chatroom #replex on Freenode where the developers can be reached via an IRC client or Freenode webchat.

The viewer itself is based on Singularity, unsurprisingly, given Latif’s close ties with that team, and there is an acknowledgement on the Replex website of their role in providing the Singularity source code. The viewer is available in Windows and Linux flavours as both 32-bit and 64-bit builds, and also for Mac in a 32-bit build.

The following is a very brief overview of the viewer; I don’t pretend to have covered all the options and capabilities; rather I’m just pin-pointing some of the features it includes.

Replex is a v1-style viewer based on Singularity
Replex is a v1-style viewer based on Singularity

As might be expected given its heritage, Replex has a default skin with a decidedly dark tint to it – although not so far towards the black default of Singularity, more a charcoal colour. The Singularity dark skin is also available via Preferences > Skins, as is the classic LL  v1.x blue skin and – something I’ve not seen in a while – the equally classic LL silver skin; this brought back some very old memories, as that was my preferred viewer 1.x skin when it came out.

The Replex change log lists recent features and additions to the viewer, and these are handily split between “Common” updates, indicating they are shared with Singularity (presumably in an upcoming release of that viewer), and those specific to Replex.

Toolbar Buttons

One of the more interesting updates from Singularity which appears in Replex is the ability to add / remove buttons from the viewer’s toolbar, a-la 3.x viewers. Obviously, buttons are restricted to the bottom of the viewer, but this is liable to be of interest to users as it allows some degree of customisation in the UI.

Change the buttosn you have displayed at the bottom of the viewer window in Replex, and coming soon to Singularity
Change the buttons you have displayed at the bottom of the viewer window in Replex, and coming soon to Singularity

Adding / removing buttons is a simple matter of opening the button chooser (View > Change Toolbar Buttons) and then checking those buttons to be displayed and unchecked those which are not wanted. There are a fair number of button options available, including debug options, windlight / sky /water / post-process effects, camera & movement controls, search options, etc. This can mean the button bar can get a trifle packed and a little hard to read if you go button bananas, but the feature is certainly a useful addition to the v1-style UI. Kudos, Lirusaito for the development work!

Emergency Teleport

Oddly enough, during the Simulator User Group meeting on Tuesday June 17th, a wibni (“Wouldn’t it be nice if”) comments was made about having a viewer-side capability to automatically teleport you somewhere if you happen to be AFK when a region restart occurs, rather than being logged-out.

I’ve no idea if the comment was passed as a result of someone peeking into the Singularity repository or taking Replex for a drive, because Replex has implemented this very capability using code also from Lirusaito.

Replex includes the option to define two LMs for auto teleporting you away from a region restart, should you be AFK
Replex includes the option to define two LMs for auto teleporting you away from a region restart, should you be AFK

Continue reading “Replex: A new viewer for SL and OpenSim”