Category Archives: Firestorm

Firestorm 4.7.7: get ready to update!

firestorm-logoThursday, March 17th saw Firestorm release version 4.7.7.408706 of their viewer. Coming four months after the last release, this update is slightly later than planned, but includes a number of important updates from the Lab as well as a good mix of updates, improvements and fixes directly from the Firestorm team and contributors.

As per my usual MO, what follows is an overview of the release, highlighting some of the more significant / interesting changes, updates and  fixes to be found in the release, and which I feel will be of most interest to users.

For full details of all changes, and all due credits to contributors, etc., please refer to the official release notes.

The Usual Before We Begin Notes

For best results when installing this release:

This update means that Firestorm 4.6.9 will be blocked in approximately 3 weeks time.

Lab Derived Updates

Firestorm 4.7.7 brings the viewer up to parity with the Lab’s 4.0.1 code base, and so includes the TH” 1.2 and CEF changes. These and other Lab derived changes are outlined below.

TLS 1.2 and Viewers

The reason this release might be regarded as becoming a mandatory update for Second Life users is the integration of TLS1.2 into the viewer – and by “viewer”, I mean all current or upcoming viewer releases, LL or TPV.

TLS, the successor to Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), is a cryptographic protocol for communications security intended to provide privacy and data integrity between two communicating computer application (such as the viewer and the Lab’s servers).

TLS 1.2 is currently being implemented by Linden Lab under the umbrella of their work of fiscal compliance, This involved changes to both the viewer and LL’s servers, the upshot of which means that, once TLS 1.2 has been fully implemented, any viewer that does not support TLS 1.2, will not be able to do any interactions with cashier or anything that involves L$. While there is no precise time frame for this work to be completed, indications from the Lab are that it will be sooner rather than later.

Again, this is not an arbitrary decision on the part of either the Firestorm team or Linden Lab; the work is being carried out as a compliance requirement.

Chromium Embedded Framework

Firestorm 4.7.7 includes the Lab’s implementation of Chromium Embedded Framework (CEF) for media management (and more). CEF completely replaces the old llQTwebkit for media management within the viewer, replacing it with current web technologies such as HTML5, CSS3 support and WebGL, which can allow direct manipulation of objects on a browser page displayed in-world with ease.

CEF should also enable things like viewing PDF files in-world, editing PDF documents via Google Docs, etc. See the CEF forum thread for more.

CEF integration into the viewer means that Flash and QuickTime content require third-party support (see this Knowledge Base article on enabling Flash support for CEF viewers, for example). However, because they do rely on plug-in support, there is no guarantee given by Firestorm or Linden Lab that either will work, and are regarded as unsupported.

Other Updates from the Lab

Materials (texture / diffuse, bumpiness / normal and shininess / specular) in the Build floater Texture tab can now be selected via radio buttons, rather than picking from a drop-down list, to make locating and selection them easier (see BUG-10149).

Firestorm replaces the materials drop-down selection menu (seen in version4.7.5, left) with the radio buttons for materials types (right), as also seen in the official viewer

Firestorm replaces the materials drop-down selection menu (seen in version4.7.5, left) with the radio buttons for materials types (right), as also seen in the official viewer

  • A fix for ALM enabled + full bright + shiny objects failing to display texture on Mac (see FIRE-12681)
  • A fix for activating Show Avatar Complexity disabling all llSetText (hovertext) viewer is restarted (see BUG-10488)
  • A fix for show land owner colour overlay is only visible where there is water in deferred rendering (see FIRE-11654)
  • A fix for a black screen if ALM is enabled while in wireframe mode and then wireframe is disabled (see BUG-4543)
  • A fix for rotating an object that is used as grid reference going crazy (see FIRE-2593 and BUG-9419)
  • A fix for “Ban Member” in the group chatters list context menu being greyed out (see FIRE-16160 and BUG-10500)
  • A fix for animated agents at high altitudes randomly showing up at 0,0,0 (see bug FIRE-14439 and BUG-6648)
  • A fix for having to open ‘About Land’ twice to get parcel ban timings to load in the parcel ban list when banned names are not cached (see bug FIRE-17408 and BUG-10831)
  • A fix for a stuck freeze frame state if snapshot floater is closed with freeze frame left enabled and the viewer window is subsequently resized (see FIRE-16739 and BUG-9952)
  • A fix for opening a note card with the same name as one already open failing to work (see  VWR-2981)
  • A fix for replacing current outfit with contents of a non-outfit folder creates a folder link in the Current Outfit Folder (see BUG-11274)
  • A fix for opening an experience compiled script in an object in an adjacent region failing to show the script is compiled with an experience in the script editor (see BUG-8980).

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Firestorm 4.7.1 to be blocked from January 7th

MadPea and Firestorm: working in collaboration to enhance the experience those new to Second life have with the platformFirestorm have announced that as from Thursday, January 7th, Firestorm viewer 4.7.1 is to be blocked from accessing Second Life, and those using 4.7.1 are being encouraged to update to a more recent version (or revert to 4.6.9 for the time being if using Windows XP or Mac OS X 10.6) ahead of the block coming into force.

The move is in keeping with Firestorm’s commitment to Linden Lab to only have 3 versions of their viewer (allowing for specific issues which might otherwise come us, as has been the case for Mac users, who have had to face a series of (apparently) Cocoa related issues impacting their ability to use viewers incorporating these updates) active at any given time.

As noted in the announcement, this means that only Firestorm 4.6.9 will remain available for those still using Windows XP or versions of OS X older than 10.7, and this will be blocked some time after the next release of Firestom, which currently looks to be set for some time in February.

Those needing help in updating their version of Firestorm can find it on the following Firestorm wiki pages: backing up and restoring your settings and Updating Firestorm.

Examining Firestorm’s landing pages for Second Life

MadPea and Firestorm: working in collaboration to enhance the experience those new to Second life have with the platformUpdate #3, January 9th, 2016:  The testimonials on the landing pages have now been updated with genuine comments and images from Second Life users.

Update #2: I’ve further been informed that the testimonials are intended to the express the sentiments of SL users and are based upon feedback. expressed by SL users. Similarly, the images are in fact stock Internet images. A footnote to the effect that “The consumers above are not actual consumers of the advertised product.” has now been added to each of the landing pages.

Update #1: I’ve been informed by various third parties that the testimonials on the landing pages may not in fact be genuine. I’ve therefore revised this post until I hear further on this matter.

On Monday, December 28th, Friestorm announced the arrival of their Gateway landing pages, and asked Firestom users for their assistance in helping to spread the word about Second Life.

The Landing pages are an integral part of the Firestorm Gateway, which itself forms a part of the upcoming trail Gateways Programme I previewed back in September, and which hopefully will be officially announced as up and running by the Lab in the near future.

In all, six landing pages have been produced, each one of which is intended to showcase a specific aspect of using Second Life, and encourage those new to Second Life to sign-up and log in to the platform. To help with this, Firestorm is asking SL users to share those pages they feel their non-SL friends and contacts would find to be of the most interest and thus sign-up.  The six pages have the following topic descriptions:

While one might quibble over the subject titles (role-play and exploring might seem to exhibit a high degree of cross-over, for example), the pages themselves offer a crisp, clean approach to present Second Life, including endorsements from (and photos of) actual SL users.

Each of the pages includes a series of sign-up buttons which carry those interested to the initial phase of sign-up: creating an account – providing a user name, etc.

The sign-up form

The sign-up form using the Lab’s API

It’s probably worth pointing out here, and before the conspiracy theorists reach for their tin-foil hats,  that this sign-up process uses an API supplied by Linden Lab. This means that, just like all third-party TPVs, none of the gateways in the programme – Firestorm or anyone else – is storing or accessing the sign-up information a new user provides. The information is strictly between the user and the Lab. The only part of the sign-up information which can be accessed is the e-mail address: and that only for as long as it takes for an automated welcoming e-mail to be sent.

Providing the fields are correctly filled-out  – error messages will be displayed at the foot of the input fields, although you may have to use the vertical slider to bring them into view thanks to the API – clicking Get Started will move you on to the next page, intended to step the user through downloading, installing and launching the viewer.

The Firestorm instructions page

The Firestorm instructions page

To me, this page presents some issues which perhaps need to be dealt with if it is to be as effective as might be hoped – I’ll come back to this a little later.

One thing established SL users are bound to note is that nowhere is there any opportunity for the new user to select an avatar.

This isn’t an oversight on the part of the Firestorm team – it is a result of having to use the “old” user sign-up API, which doesn’t have any hooks into the Avatar Picker seen on the Lab’s own sign-up pages.  Thus, the first opportunity new users get to picker the gender of their avatar is after they have logged-in – and even then, they only initially get either the male or female default Character Test avatars which (a long while ago) replaced the infamous “Ruth”.

As the gateway has to use the "old" SL registration API, users do not get to select the gender of their avatar until after they log-in (left), and are then defaulted to either the female or male Character Test avatar

As the gateway has to use the “old” SL registration API, users do not get to select the gender of their avatar until after they log-in (left), and are then defaulted to either the female or male Character Test avatar (click to enlarge, if required)

Obviously, this is far from ideal. First impressions count, and many people seeing their avatar for the first time and comparing it to the glossy images on the landing pages could end up feeling a tad bit aggrieved or disappointed and might even simply log off.

This issue has already been raised with the Lab, so hopefully, something can be done about it,  either by providing the updated API with the avatar picker to those involved in the gateway programme, or by the Lab finding the means to present new users coming into SL via these gateways with at least one of the new “Classic” avatars instead of the Character Test versions.

Once they have selected their gender and have seen their avatar appear, the new user will find they’re starting at the start of the Firestorm’s orientation island, where they can start learning to use the viewer, before progressing on to finding out more about Second life in general through the various activities and events operating within the Firestorm gateway regions.

Given that new users are confronted with the Character Test avatars on first logging in (and allowing for the fact this will hopefully be changing), I did find myself wondering if a short lesson couldn’t be provided showing the new user how to access the Avatar Picker and quickly create an alternative look, just to reassure them that avatars in SL really don’t all look like they first see themselves.

The Firestorm Gateway incorporates their viewer orientation island and includes social areas for users

Once new users have progressed through the Firestorm landing / sign-up pages and have installed the viewer and logged-in with it, they’ll be delivered to the orientation island in the Firestorm gateway regions

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Firestorm’s Xmas party and the Ghost Town in Second Life

Image courtesy MadPea Games

Saturday, December 19th, 2015 marks Firestorm viewer’s official 2015 Christmas Party, and with it comes the opening of The Ghost Town, the first in a series of free-to-play games developed by MadPea Games. These games are intened to give new residents coming through the Firestorm Gateway a means to become more familiar with Second Life through active game play.

The Christmas party will kick-off at 14:00 SLT, which will also see The Ghost Town open its gates to players, features entertainment from Mankind Tracer, Changhigh Trinity Sisters Fireshow and DJs. The entertainments area has been arranged so that around 200 people should hopefully be able to access the party, with three points of entry provided:  Region 1, Region 2, and Region 3.

FS-MP-Party-Poster2015

The Ghost Town sees players tasked with  investigating the recent disappearance of local fisherman Big Jimmy. Guided by his journal and equipped with a special camera, players follow the clues left by a mind gone mad and discover the terrible truth behind Big Jimmy’s recent activities.

“New residents who stay and play in our virtual world are essential to the continued success of our grid,” MadPea say of The Ghost Town. “Whilst Linden Lab continue to work to attract new residents once they join and enter the world, we will be doing our part to ensure that they realise the rich, user-created content that is on offer. We hope that by playing our games new residents will learn skills that will help them over the steep SL learning curve while having some fun and collecting some prizes.”

What is the dark secret behind "Big Jimmy's" disappearance - and where will his journal lead new users in Second Life?

What is the dark secret behind “Big Jimmy’s” disappearance – and where will his journal lead new users in Second Life?

As with all MadPea games, The Ghost Town is HUD-driven, and as with their most recent games, utilises experience keys to make game play easier. Gameplay takes place within the Firestorm Gateway regions, where they have to collect the images of 20 “ghosts” using the camera (HUD). Once all 20 have been imaged, players are eligible to claim their prizes.

The prizes on offer have been selected on the basis of being of value to new users and helping them enhance their Second Life experience. They have been provided by creators representing the rich choice of content available in Second Life: abranimations®, Apple Fall,, Black Pearls, Bryn Oh, Cheeky Pea, Deadwool, Elikatira, junk. Lapointe and Bastchild, Lilith’s Den, Plastik, Pose O’Clock, Sn@tch, Snowpaws, The Little Bat, TrAsHeD, United Color, WarBug and zombie suicide.  The MadPea and Firestorm teams both extend their thanks to all of those who came forward with the offer of prizes.

The Ghost Town awaits players new and old

The Ghost Town awaits players new and old

New players will be drawn into the Firestorm gateway through a series of dedicated web landing pages that are in developments (Linden Lab, and quite separately to the gateway trial programme, also use targeted landing pages to attract new users from specific audiences, so it is an approach which seems to yield results). Obviously, existing users are also able to play the game – hence the launch alongside the Firestorm Christmas party.

So, if you’re in the mood for a party, and fancy a spooky new game – hop over to the Firestorm Gateway regions using the region links towards the top of this piece.