Category Archives: V4-Style

Catznip R12: a peek at upcoming inventory management improvements

I recently received an IM from Kitty Barnett recently, asking me if I’d be interested in taking a look at some new features she’s been working on for the upcoming Catznip R12 release which is Coming Soon™.

Obviously as someone who has followed (and uses) Catznip (although not as frequently as I use Firestorm, admittedly), I was delighted to take a look. Nor was I alone, Kitty also put together a couple of articles on the features on the Catznip blog, (which you can find under the titles Three Days of Teasers Day #1 and Day #2 – a third part was planned but that pesky thing called the physical world got in the way of Kitty’s plans), and invited Catznip users to have a look.

With Kitty’s approval, I’ve summarised those two articles here – and if you are a Catznip user already, and haven’t seen Kitty’s original documents – please hop over to the Catznip blog, have a read & offer feedback.

Inventory Management

Catznip has tended to position itself as the viewer for shoppers, and with the upcoming R12, Kitty offers some enticing new features to make shopping and inventory management a lost more pleasant. She introduces the basic concept thus:

Whenever you buy or grab something you have to click that “Buy”/’Pay”/”Keep” button anyway so wouldn’t it be great if we could just do some pre-sorting right then and there?! It wouldn’t really interrupt the flow of going to an event and hovering up demos or buying things you’re sure you want since you don’t actually have to go to your inventory while you’re at the event and you’d be able to teleport home with an inventory no worse off then when you arrived.

And so with this in mind, Kitty has revised the Buy / Pay floater and the Accept Inventory floater so that they offer you the ability to select where incoming items are going to be stored in your inventory.

Catznip R12’s upcoming options to select where items your buy / receive go in your inventory. Credit Kiity Barnett / Inara Pey

The options should be fairly self-explanatory. Check Accept in and the remaining options are activated. The drop-down will display a list of folders you have opted to allow incoming items to be delivered (show in the image on the right), the browse button allows alternative from you list of folders in the drop-down to be selected, and the spanner button allows you to establish your list of destination folders. The roadmap of these various options is shown below.

What the options do. Note they are available in both the expanded floater view (centre) and the collapsed view (left) – click for full size, if required. Credit: Kitty Barnett

Not only can you select the folders into which you want incoming purchases to go, you can also set Catznip R12 to dynamically create new folders in which to place incoming items. This means, for example, that if you got to a big shopping event at one location, you can set the viewer to deliver all the demo you obtain / items you purchase into folders define by – say – the month in which you got them, and the location where they were obtained.

So, for example, if in April you go to shopping event X on region YYYY, and grab a load of demos, and then later in the month go to event A on region BBBB and grab more demos, you can have them delivered to sub-folders in your “Demos” folder, respectively labelled “April 2017 YYYY” and “April 2017 BBBB” – both of which are dynamically created by Catznip as they are needed. So even if you don’t get around to trying them for days after your visit, you can quickly and easily locate the demo items without have for fiddle around searching for folders and objects.

The panel for setting folders into which incoming purchases can be received, and the option for setting dynamically created sub-folders within that folder. Credit: Kitty Barnett

Inventory Searching

Inventory searches can be a pain. Even with the search filters, things are hardly ideal. To help improve things, Kitty has in the past added additional search options to Catznip such as Open Folder In, which considerably eases the pain for further refining searches / making items visible in folder which might otherwise remain hidden as a result of the search term / filters initially used to try to find things.

With Catznip R12, she further improves things by adding a new Contents In capability. Rather than displaying the results of a search in a separate tab, this option displays the folder(s) matching your search criteria with all of the contents visible, rather than just the items which might match your search criteria, making it much easier to see if the folder(s) contain what you are looking for (particularly where some / all of the items in the folder might not be consistently named, and so might otherwise be masked from view after a search).

The New Show Contents In presents a more refined way to see all of the contents in a folder when they might otherwise be masked by the search criteria / filter you have set. Credit: Kitty Barnett.

Finally – and not a part of the two articles by Kitty linked-to above – Catznip R12 will see further refinements to the inventory search features themselves, and highlighted in the set of images below. I’ll have more on this when the viewer is ready for release.

The Advanced Inventory filter floater for Catznip R12 in its expanded and tabbed forms.

Feedback

I’m not the world’s greatest shopper in many respects. In the physical world, I’ve reach that point in life where I know what I like to wear and am happy wearing it; shopping for fashion or trends passes me by. This is reflected in my SL time as well; I don’t go to the major shopping events, be they fashion or the gacha events. I tend to be targeted in what I’m buying.

But, that said, there are times when I can hit a store and go demo-mad, and I find it annoying that depending on how they are delivered, demos can end up anywhere in the top-level of my inventory when delivered as a folder, or get rudely shoved in Objects. I’m also slightly OCD in my inventory management and ordering.

Both of these being the case, I’ve long wanted to have the means by which I could better control what goes where when entering my inventory, rather than having to set aside time after (say) an infrequent demo splurge shunting folders and boxes around my inventory. So the new destinations options get a big thumbs up from me. Similarly, inventory filtering and searching has long been in need of refinement, so I’m looking forward to having a play with kitty’s updates in more detail when R12 surfaces.

And when might that be? Well, there is still some work to be done before the viewer is ready for a full release – but there is a chance that a preview version might be available on a limited basis in the next few days.

In the meantime, Kitty welcomes constructive input on these ideas, so again, if you have any suggestions, comments, additions, or obvious things that could be added (keeping in mind that if you’re not a Catznip user then there are already quite a few inventory/appearance features that you might not be used to) – she’d like to hear from you. Drop your comments here or  – better – on the Catznip blog posts, which I’ll again linking to below to save scrolling.

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Alchemy 5.0.0: Bento beta

Alchemy-logoOn Sunday, January 8th, the Alchemy team released a beta version of Alchemy 5.0.0, the first update to the viewer to include support for Project Bento and Avatar Complexity (although no Graphics Presets).

As well as Bento support, version 5.0.0.40120 includes several updates specifically aimed at those with estate management responsibilities, plus a range of bug fixes and improvements from both Linden Lab and the Alchemy Team. In addition, this release includes work that is ongoing to reorganise the UI.

The following is intended to be a general overview of the more visible updates to Alchemy 5.0.0, and a summary of some of the bug fixes.

Project Bento

As almost everyone in SL must be by now aware, Project Bento introduces an enhanced avatar skeleton offering greatly improved support for mesh avatars and rigged mesh attachments. It also includes a set of new attachment points to work with the new joints, although the overall limit of the number of attachments you can wear at any one time remains 38 (including HUDs).

Most of all of this work is entirely under-the-hood. However, there are two additions to the avatar right-click context menu for both your own and other avatars: Reset Skeleton and Reset Skeleton And Animations which should be noted. In Alchemy 5.0.0, they can be found in the Appearance sub-menu of the right-click avatar context menu.

They have been added because sometimes, when changing between one mesh avatar and another, the basic SL avatar can become deformed, resulting in it looking squished, stretched, caught between two looks, or something else.

The reset skeleton options should “fix” your own or other avatars which appear distorted in your view after changing looks / shape – note both options only affect your view of the avatar in question, it does not affect how others may see the same avatar

The reset skeleton options should “fix” your own or other avatars which appear distorted in your view after changing looks / shape – note both options only affect your view of the avatar in question, it does not affect how others may see the same avatar

The problem is generally the result of race conditions when the avatar’s appearance is being updated, and both of these buttons are intended to correct the problem  – the option to reset animations as well is intended to fix deformations which may be due to animations also kicking-in incorrectly / at the wrong time.

Further information on Bento (if needed) can be found via the following links:

Avatar Complexity

To be honest, I thought this had been part of Alchemy already, but looking through my past reviews and Alchemy’s release notes, I can’t find evidence of it being mentioned, and the 4.0.0.37571 release doesn’t include the Avatar Complexity options. Anyway, assuming I’m not going bonkers and thus repeating myself, here’s a rapid breakdown – please refer to my Avatar Complexity release article for in-depth info, if required.

, Avatar Complexity (aka Jelly Dolls), is in short a means to reduce the rendering load placed on your computer in having to render all the avatars around you in detail. Instead, you can set a rendering limit (aka Maximum Complexity) in the viewer. Any avatar exceeding this limit won’t be rendered in full – unless you opt otherwise – but will instead be rendered as a solid colour (aka Jelly Doll).

The revised Preferences > Graphics tab, including the Maximum Complexity slider. Setting this to high values will render avatars which may place additional rendering load on your computer, slowing your SL experience, to be fully rendered. Lowering it will cause such avatars to be rendered as solid colours, reducing their render load

The revised Preferences > Graphics tab, including the Maximum Complexity slider. Setting this to high values will render avatars which may place additional rendering load on your computer, slowing your SL experience, to be fully rendered. Lowering it will cause such avatars to be rendered as solid colours, reducing their render load on your system

With Alchemy, this means that The Preferences > Graphics tab adopts the official viewer’s approach, displaying frequently used options within it, and moving the more advanced options to a separate Advanced Graphics Preferences floater.

The newer Advanced Graphics Settings floater (accessed via the Advanced Settings.... button in the Preferences > Graphics tab

The newer Advanced Graphics Settings floater (accessed via the Advanced Settings…. button in the Preferences > Graphics tab

Avatar Complexity includes some additional capabilities / options

  • Every time you change your appearance, and thus your avatar complexity, your current complexity value will be briefly displayed in the top right corner of the viewer window
  • You can display information on your own and other avatar’s complexity by going to the Advanced menu (CTRL-ALT-D to display it, if required) and selecting Performance Tools > Show Avatar Complexity Information
  • Your own avatar will always be fully rendered in your own view
  • Maximum Complexity has a No Limit setting. It is not recommended you use this. If you wish to avoid seeing the vast majority of avatars around you as Jelly Dolls, set the slider to a high value. Setting it to No Limit can leave you vulnerable to graphics crashers.
Use the avatar right-click context menu and the Visibility options to select how another avatar is rendered during your current log-in session

Use the avatar right-click context menu and the Visibility options to select how another avatar is rendered during your current log-in session

You can also alter how you see other avatars around you without altering your Maximum complexity setting. To this, right-click on an avatar to display the context menu. Go to Visibility to display the sub-menu. This has three options:

  • Render Normally – will render the avatar in accordance with your Maximum Complexity setting
  • Render Fully – will render them fully, no matter what your complexity setting
  • Do Not Render – will render them as a grey 3D imposter, no matter what your complexity setting.

Not that Render Fully and Do not Render only apply to your current session. If you re-log the avatar in question will once again be rendered in accordance with your Maximum Complexity settings.

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Kokua and Restrained Love go Bento in Second Life

Project Bento - now a part of the Kokua Second Life viewer and the Restrained love Viewer

Project Bento – now a part of the Kokua Second Life viewer and the Restrained Love Viewer

Kokua and Restrained Life have become the latest viewers to update to v5.x status, with release of versions support the Project Bento code.

Kokua 5.0.0

Kokua 5.0.0..40327 for Second Life (release notes) appeared on Saturday, December 17th, bringing with it Bento rendering support, plus additional fixes and improvements:

  • FMOD Ex audio streaming libraries updated to version 4.44.64.
  • Avatar texture display now works.
  • Pie menu updates.
  • Pie menu “Sit here” response no longer ignores llSetSitText(string), and should now display the defined scripted target prompt (e.g. “Ride” or “Fly”, etc., rather than “Sit Here”).

Just in case there is anyone who missed it, Project Bento adds numerous new bones to the avatar skeleton to improve and enhance support mesh avatars (Bento does not work with the Second Life system avatar). This makes it easier to create and animate things like additional wings and limbs, and offers the opportunity for greater facial animations with mesh heads and faces, and even finger manipulation on mesh hands.

As with all Bento viewers, the visible viewer update is to the avatar menus (both right-click context and pie menu in the case of Kokua), where the Reset Skeleton and Reset Skeleton with animation options can be found.

Reset Skeleton options on Kokua 5.0.0 on the right-click context menus for other avatars (l) and your own avatar (r). With the pie menus they can be found under More > More > Reset (other avatars) and Appearance > Reset on your own avatar

Reset Skeleton options on Kokua 5.0.0 on the right-click context menus for other avatars (l) and your own avatar (r). With the pie menus they can be found under More > More > Reset (other avatars) and Appearance > Reset on your own avatar

These options have been added because sometimes, when changing between one mesh avatar and another, the basic SL avatar can become deformed, resulting in it looking squished, stretched, caught between two looks, or something else. This problem is generally the result of race conditions when the avatar’s appearance is being updated, and both of these buttons are intended to correct the problem  – the option to reset animations being intended to fix deformations which may be due to animations also kicking-in incorrectly / at the wrong time as well, which may cause an avatar to deform.

Restrained Love Viewer

Restrained Love Viewer 2.9.21 (release notes), released on Friday December 16th,  brings Bento support to that viewer as well. As with Kokua and other Bento capable viewers, this also sees the Reset Skeleton and Reset Skeleton with Animations options added to the right-click avatar context menus as the most visible sign of Bento support (outside of Bento meshes rendering correctly!).

In addition the update includes a minor change to RLV, with the “?” symbol no longer being used to identify a cheat inside emotes, as some emotes may end with genuine questions.

Additional Links

Firestorm 5.0.1: mirror sites now available

firestorm-logoFurther to my recent report, the Firestorm mirror download sites are now available, and Firestorm’s primary server has been stabilised.

With the assistance of Linden Lab, through the work of Second Life Technical Director Oz Linden and his team, one of these sites is hosted via Linden Lab, the other is a service established by the Firestorm team. All links are provided below.

Commenting on the Lab’s offer of support with the issue, Jessica Lyon, the Firestorm project lead said, “Ever since Ebbe Linden came into power we have seen huge advancements in not just features, functionality and improvements in Second Life, but also in customer relations and collaboration with their user-base.”

She continued, “Yesterday we found ourselves in a real crunch with this Bento release due to demand, and staff at Linden Lab really stepped up to help us out. They very quickly offered to set-up a mirror host, and provide downloads on their server. Even the Grid Status page was updated to point to the links!

“We thought the demand for this Firestorm update was unprecedented, but Linden jumping to help out a third-party viewer in this big of a way has absolutely been more so. If this doesn’t demonstrate to everyone just how dedicated Linden Lab is to its customers, then perhaps nothing will.

“Thank you Oz, Grumpity, April, Steven, Landon, Derrick, Alexa and all the other Lindens who were involved in this effort. You guys really came through for us and your customers!”

With the provisioning of the mirror sites and with the main Firestorm server now stabilised, hopefully the worst of the crisis is over, and Firestorm users will be able to access the new release through either the main download link, or through the mirror site links, given below. However, Jessica and the team still ask that people not all rush at once and tempt fate!

I’d also like to add my thanks to Oz, Grumpity and the team at the Lab for stepping in and providing this support.

Mirror Download Links

Please ensure you download Firestorm 5.0.1 only from the Firestorm main download page, or via the links given below.  No guarantee of security can be made if using any other download location when obtaining the viewer.

Linden Lab Hosted

Firestorm Mirrors