Firestorm viewer seeks volunteers

Are you a little bit crazy? Have a slight taste for personal suffering? Have you ever wondered what it’s like to develop a personality tic? You might be perfect for our team!

– From the Firestorm blog post on volunteers

This is light-hearted start to a blog post by Firestorm’s Jessica Lyon that has a serious intent: a call for assistance from Firestorm users willing to give some of their time to help support both the Firestorm viewer and the Firestom team’s other activities in Second Life.

As the most popular Second Life viewer (and a viewer with a strong following in OpenSim), Firestorm actually requires a lot of upkeep; not just in maintaining and extending the code either by exposing debug features provided by Linden Lab or through the provision of dedicated code contributions, but also in ensuring the viewer is fit for purpose ahead of any release and in providing that same vast user community with ongoing support and assistance.

As such, Firestorm is looking for volunteers willing to join the following teams:

  • Firestorm Support: helping residents solve problems they may encounter with installing and using the Firestorm viewer through the in-world support groups and by filing support tickets on the Firestorm Jira (bug-reporting system).
  • Firestorm QA Team: helping to ensure each viewer release is as good as it can be, by finding and reporting bugs (part of which means accepting frequent crashes). But it also means getting to see, use and test new features before the rest of the user base.

You can read more about the roles through the blog, and the Support Team Application Form.

Firestorm are also looking for people to help with work at the seven regions of the Firestorm Community Gateway

In addition, Firestorm is looking for mentors to help assist new users at the Firestorm Community Gateway. The work is rich and diverse, including providing insight, advice, and direction, responding to questions of every possible variation on the viewer and Second Life, helping new residents learn about the viewer and interact with the virtual world, and more.

Those interested in the role are invited to visit the Social Club at the Firestorm Gateway in world, where a red box can be found, offering an application form, which should be posted back to the box when completed.

Find out more via the official Firestorm blog post.

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Firestorm fund-raiser

Firestorm fund-raising market

The Firestorm team has launched a fund-raiser, primarily to help cover the cost of a new main server, used to host the team’s JIRA, web site, wiki, code repository, and so on. However, as the Firestorm blog post on the matter also notes, the team also have recurring costs involved in the license they have to pay in order to use the Kakadu codec for rendering in the viewer, and costs involved in running the land costs (albeit subsidised by the Lab) involved with the Firestorm Community Gateway.

To this end, the new fund-raiser is planned as a hopefully long-term event, and also designed to help people get rid of their unwanted gacha items.

Located over the Firestorm gateway regions is a “Firestorm market” featuring stalls and vendor boards where visitors can purchase collected and donated gacha items. Note that despite the confusing blog title, this is not itself a gacha event – there are no machines, just the opportunity to buy individual items and complete sets previously sold via gacha vendors, which the Firestorm team have collected or have received as donations.

The prices of items vary throughout, and many of them might well be offered under the acronym WTGTG – when they’re gone, they gone.

Firestorm fund-raising market

Anyone wishing to donate items can do so by contacting Kio Feila in-world.

In addition, those wishing to help the Firestorm team but who don’t find anything of interest on sale, can make direct L$ donations, or flow links to the Firestorm listings on the Marketplace, which male and female Firestorm Jackets can be purchased, with all funds also going towards helping cover the team’s costs.

All funds raised will be used directly and solely towards  the Firestorm operating costs and overhead; all Firestorm team members are volunteers who receive no financial or L$ compensation.

Kokua update, MetaChat issues and Firestorm version block

A quick round-up of news relating to a handful of viewers and clients.

Kokua

Kokua 64 bit (Windows, Mac and Linux) updated both the RLV (5.1.7.43693) and non-RLV (5.1.6.43692) flavours of the viewer on Sunday, August 11th. I’ve not had time to drive the update – and my not be able to, due to other commitments. However, the core of the update brings the viewer to parity with the SL viewer 5.1.7 code base, and offers some updates from the Kokua team, described in the release notes as follows:

In addition the options for configuring the chat range rings and colours move from the Kokua General preferences tab to Kokua Chat which as well as being more logical also frees up space needed in the RLV version for a new option on the General tab.

The RLV version gains an option on the Kokua General tab which allows @standtp to be disabled. This has been added because @standtp tends to operate in various counter-intuitive ways despite operating as intended.

Here’s one scenario that illustrates the problem:-

  • @standtp is applied to the avatar.
  • The avatar hitches to (sits on) a cart.
  • The avatar pulls the cart from location A to location B.
  • The avatar is unhitched from the cart (stands up).
  • At that point @standtp teleports them back to location A.

Links

MetaChat

MetaChat the iOS client  is having problems courtesy of Apple. The app was removed from the iStore on August 9th, as part of a purge by Apple on “gambling apps”.

Enquiries have been lodged with Apple on when / if the app will be allowed to re-list, but thus far, no response has been given.

In the meantime, versions already downloaded  / downloaded and installed will still work, this move by Apple only affects the client’s listing on the iStore.

iOS / MetChat users can read more on the MetaChat blog, where updates will also be posted.

Firestorm Version Block

A reminder to Firestorm users, Firestorm 5.0.1.52150 (released December, 2016) will be blocked from Tuesday, August 14th, in keeping with the Firestorm team’s policy of only allowing the current, and the two version immediately prior to it.

This means that if you are still used Firestorm 5.0.1, you need to update to a more recent version: 5.0.7, 5.011 or the current 5.1.7 release.

To find out more about why Firestorm versions are blocked, please read this blog post from the Firestorm team.

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

Firestorm 5.0.1 demand: “please be patient”

firestorm-logoUpdate, 11:23 SLT, Wednesday, December 14th: The mirror sites are now available – the links are available here.

On Tuesday, December 13th, Firestorm released the much-anticipated Bento update, Firestorm 5.0.1 – which you can read about here.

HOWEVER, such has been the demand for the update, the Firestorm servers have been overloaded, a situation which has left Firestorm without the ability to  provide their download and web services.

“This is an unprecedented situation for us,” Jessica Lyon, the Firestorm project lead informed me. “While we have had download problems in the past, we’ve never seen demand on this scale before. It’s repeatedly taken all our servers off-line with the load.”

Because of the demand is preventing people from even accessing the Firestorm web services – the blog, JIRA, etc., – the Firestorm team is asking that people hold-off if they cannot obtain a download or access the Firestorm website, and not to keep repeatedly trying.

Jessica added, “Please, just be patient. Our servers need the breathing space. We are working on adding additional capacity to meet the demand trough mirror sites, but this does take time.  When we have these up and running, we’ll let people know through the in-world Firestorm support groups and social media.”

In the meantime, and in an attempt to alleviate the lack of downloads, some people have placed the Firestorm 5.0.1 installers on cloud servers, dropboxes, and other network file sources. While the effort to help meet the download demand is appreciated, the Firestorm team ask that people do not do this, but to wait until Firestorm’s own mirrors are up and running.

“With the best will in the world, not all networked download sites are secure, and there is a chance that by going to some, users could inadvertently expose themselves to the risk of viruses or Trojans,” Jessica said. “At the end of the day, we can only guarantee our download service and its mirrors are secure, and we’d prefer that people wait a little while, rather than expose themselves to any such risk.

“Again, we will notify people via the in-world support groups as the situation improves, and also via Twitter and any other medium we can use.”

Seanchai and Firestorm announce spoken word venture in Second Life

As well as helping incoming new users get started with the viewer and learn the basics of Second Life, the Firstorm Gateway offers them the opportunity to explore many of the activities available in-world - with storytelling, hosted by Seanchai Library, set to become the latest
As well as helping incoming new users get started with the viewer and learn the basics of Second Life, the Firestorm Gateway offers them the opportunity to explore many of the activities available in-world – with storytelling, hosted by Seanchai Library, set to become the latest

On Monday, July 18th, Seanchai Library and the Firestorm team announced a joint venture which will see Voice-based activities take place on the Firestorm Gateway regions as a further step in helping incoming new users understand the breadth and depth of opportunities and activities within the platform.

The new partnership will see the first Voice-based event lead by Seanchai Library take place on August 7th, 2016, when the Firestorm Social Island will be host to the Storyteller’s Sandbox series. Launched during Seanchai Library’s highly successful Crazy Eights season at the Linden Endowment for the Arts, Storyteller’s Sandbox provides a forum for new stories, new storytellers, and new ways to present them.

Caledonia Skytower
Caledonia Skytower

For this inaugural event at Firestorm Social island, veteran Second Life storytellers including Caledonia Skytower, Dubhna Rhiadra and Shandon Loring will be joining forces with voice talents such as Bryn Taleweaver and Hana Hoo, who have only more recently joined the ranks of Second Life storytellers. Together, they will present a mix of original tales and short stories in a showcase of live virtual storytelling.

“We have been brainstorming for a home for this event ever since we closed Crazy Eights,” said Seanchai Lead Caledonia Skytower, announcing the new partnership. “It is a great forum for introducing new voices to the virtual spoken story community. It also provides more experienced voices a chance to explore the incredible possibilities for immersion in a virtual performance experience.  Sets, avatars, effects – there is excellent work being done in all these areas, both from the story-initiated creators, and by visual artists sharing the narratives of their work.”

The new initiative came about as a result of discussions between Caledonia Skytower, another veteran of storytelling in Second Life, R. Crap Mariner – host of the web-based 100 Word Stories Podcast series and Firestorm Project Director Jessica Lyon.

R. Crap Mariner
R. Crap Mariner

“I heard Jessica Lyon in an interview at the 13th Second Life Birthday, and she called for performers and events at Firestorm’s Community Gateway,” Crap explained. “She even invited me to perform there, but my material doesn’t quite fit the G-rating of their regions. I turned to my friend Caledonia Skytower and suggested that we put together a greater Spoken Word Project. We both look forward to bringing workshops and other events that will introduce the new users to spoken word, and introduce spoken word communities to new audiences, members, and participants.”

The Firestorm Community Gateway user base poses a new challenge for the Seanchai storytellers. Most of the audiences they perform before are established Second Life users who are both comfortable with using SL Voice and familiar enough with its foibles to deal with the frustrations it can create. “Firestorm Community Gateway introduces hundreds of new and inexperienced users to Second Life,” Caledonia said. “We’ll find ways to leverage the power of Second Life and the skill of the ever-present and patient Firestorm Support Staff to quickly diagnose and assist these users with Voice so they can enjoy these performances as part of their early Second Life experience.”

The amphitheatre on Firestorm Social Island - one of several venues on the island
The amphitheatre on Firestorm Social Island venue for the Storyteller’s Sandbox series starting on August 7th, 2016

For her part, Jessica Lyon sees the new partnership as a further significant step forward for the Firestorm Gateway project. “We really want to expose new residents to the broad possibilities of all they can be involved with in Second Life: music, role play, art. Of course, spoken word is a part of that,” she said. “Crap and Caledonia complement one another’s skills and are so well-connected in their community. They are the perfect team to be leading this. “I am really excited about what Seanchai Library can bring to our Gateway.”

As well as the Storyteller’s Sandbox series, plans for additional events focused on poetry, writing, and other spoken word and literature opportunities are in development, and I hope to cover all of the activities within this partnership through the pages of this blog.

For those interested in live storytelling can also attend Seanchai Library’s weekly series of events on the Bradley University region and through their website and /or my weekly Seanchai library updates. R. Crap Mariner will continue to produce his daily 100 Word Stories Podcast (link above)and conduct readings in-world at his Clocktree Reading Room.