Phoenix gets set for Direct Delivery

Phoenix 1.6.1.1691 has been released today. This has been expected since the recent updates to the TPV Policy required the removal of the on-line truth status from the profile floater.

More importantly, the update prepares Phoenix for the forthcoming roll-out of Direct Delivery, scheduled for this Wednesday, the 21st March. As such, it is very important for Phoenix users to upgrade to this release if they wish to be able to use the SL Marketplace to receive items once Direct Delivery is launched and merchants switch over to it. Additionally, the Viewer includes the V2 inventory fetch system.

Other updates include:

  • RLV updates (Kitty Barnett)
  • Optional support group viewer version identification (Zi Ree, Kadah Koba)
  • GPU table updates (TankMaster Finesmith)
  • Added CHOP, MAINT, EXP, SINV, PATHBUG, and DOC to jira parser (TankMaster Finesmith)
  • Option to show script time in either ms or µSeconds (Kadah Coba)
  • Allow /me’ when using viewer prefix (Inusaito Kanya)
  • Support for CreateInventoryCategory capability (Henri Beauchamp)
  • Backport of V3 inventory loading at login (Henri Beauchamp & Singularity Viewer)
  • Additional fast timers from V3 (Henri Beauchamp)

It is recommended that a clean install is performed for this release.

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Phoenix goes mesh

Yesterday, the much-anticipated release of Phoenix was made. Version 1.6.0 1591 brings with it the ability to render mesh objects.

This means that the majority of users in SL are able to see mesh objects rendered correctly in-world, if not import them. However, the release announcement from Jessica Lyon is liable to make difficult reading for some:

“We stated some time ago our active development commitment is now focused on the Firestorm viewer and that continues today. We still feel strongly that the end of V1 functionality is an inevitability, so it is more important to develop an alternative viewer for our users they will enjoy for when that time comes than to spend our efforts on a dying viewer and then leave our users with no alternative once it’s gone. However, we also promised we would try to keep the phoenix viewer alive for you until it is no longer feasible to do so. As you can see, we are not walking away from that promise, but it is important to understand that Phoenix is no longer our top priority. When necessary we will continue to keep it up to date with advances/fixes from other third-party viewers and provide them the credit they deserve for that work. But ‘we’ are no longer actively developing Phoenix on our own steam.

“Any future releases of Phoenix will be sparse and only if needed. I will not commit to saying this is the last Phoenix Viewer Release, but I will also not commit to saying it isn’t the last either. I will say… this is one of our last. As time passes we will determine if another release is absolutely necessary and/or sensible and make a decision then on whether another update is mandatory in order to keep our promise to you.”

While it may not be a popular move, one can hardly blame Jessica and the team for taking this position: maintaining an aging code base which itself is built on something LL no longer maintain (Snowglobe) is liable to become harder and harder as time goes on, and for a Viewer to remain functional and relevant, it needs to keep pace with the evolution of the grid and as the Phoenix / Firestorm project has made the step of producing a V2/V3 hybrid, it makes sense for them to focus on that work in order to do so, rather than splitting efforts (and doubling the workload) to try and maintain two sets of code.

As well as mesh rendering, this release also brings with it:

  • The Firestorm 3.2 log-in / splash screen options
  • Contact Sets
  • Removal of the Google chat translation API options from Preferences
  • A host of “small” fixes and changes

A signficant element not updated was that of RLVa – it was decided that Kitty’s time and focus is better spent on the numerous projects with which she is already fully engaged: her own Viewer (Catznip, reviewed here), working on bringing the spell checker to Viewer 3.x, her continuing support of RLVa for other V2/V3 TPVs, and so on). In the release blog, Jessica suggest that those wishing to update to the latest RLVa implementations should give either Firestorm or Catznip a try.

In the meantime, and if you haven’t already, you can grab Phoenix 1.6.0 1591 directly, or go to the Phoenix home page and use the Quick Download links.

Phoenix 1.5.2.1185 out

Phoenix have released the latest maintenance update to the Viewer. This comes with a number of bug fixes, including:

  • Phoenix appends (PH) in official support groups, with an option to disable
  • Fix for crash on changing shape and sometimes on appearance (fixes PHOE-59, and part of PHOE-3002)
  • Fix for crash when an animation is played on another avatar with an unknown joint
  • Partial fix for crash when script error buffer is overloaded by only displaying your own script errors by default.
  • Webkit related updates and fixes.
  • Linux Webkit updated to 4.7.1 (to same as windows and mac)
  • Fixes showcases not working for regions with a space in the name
  • Add Plugins and Javascript settings to web preferences
  • Add ability to disable SSL certificate errors in LLQtWebkit.
  • Add ability to add certificates.
  • Fixed Mac OSX Lion error messages about missing files
  • Updated bridge to prevent other objects from making your av move
  • Added option to disable server version change notifications, and set notifications to a lower priority
  • Updated copy paste code in build floater and fixed position on attachment
  • Avatar physics fixes – pie menu detach works, as does setting beer belly bounce on male
  • Handle llRegionSayTo() messages sent to local chat properly. Fixes PHOE-2998.
  • Webkit related upgrades and fixes
  • GPU list corrections and additions.

Of particular interest to many is the inclusion of the following functions:

  • The new Parcel Privacy options, and the ability to mute avatar sounds (generated by gestures) have been backported from Viewer 2
  • The “official” code for sharing region environment settings has been incorporated
  • STORM-1037 compliance has been added, and the redundant “hide URL” checkbox removed (redundant, as there are other means to obtain the URL even when the checkbox is ticked).
  • Viewer 2’s capability to mute avatar sounds at the parcel level
  • Phoenix can now detect whether a region supports the upcoming new maximum prim size of 64x64x64 (which will be introduced alongside mesh, as is currently available in the mesh-enabled sandboxes and private sims that signed-up to the Mesh/Live Volunteer program). This option will obviously become redundant once mesh is rolled out across the main Grid, but for now is useful, as it gives Phoenix users the opportunity to find a suitable sim and play with the new prim sizing capabilities.

Jessica also appears to have been following me around the mesh-enabled sims on both agni and aditi, as she also supplies a series of images showing mesh when seen in a mesh-capable viewer and a non-mesh viewer!

Phoenix gets jiggly

In something of a surprise move, Phoenix have released version 1102 of the Viewer. While an update was anticipated following the Ogg Vorbis Library files issue, the extent of this update took many by surprise, including as it does the Viewer 2 Avatar Physics code.

Yes, bouncing bewbs (and bums and bellies) using the official Linden code within Phoenix.

However, this isn’t a fad release: there have been reports that Viewers not using the LL Avatar Physics code are failing to render avatars that are using the Physics Layer correct (remember, Avatar Physics is a worn layer, like clothing, Alpha and Tattoo layers). So this inclusion of the code is as much about fixing this issue within Phoenix as it is about giving people bouncy bits.

To further encourage people to upgrade to 1102, the Phoenix team are including a set of pre-defined Physics Layers, each created by a different member of the team, which are ready-to-wear for both male and female avatars (yes, men can have wobbly bits as well!). For that want to make their own, there is an easy-to-follow tutorial from Phoenix.

Other fixes with the release include:

  • Removal of old Breast physics code as it is now obsolete and no longer compatible
  • Addition of further user-created WL Presets
  • Set “Let Scripts Control My Play Button” to OFF by default. Prefs> Audio & Video>
  • Fixed local lights issue for Mac users (could only see 2 local lights rather than the default 6)
  • Security fix with OGG Vorbis Library (see above)
  • Addition of Linden chat color options in Prefs>Text Chat>“Color text for linden text chat”
  • Open buttons for logfiles, Chat logs etc on Linux and Mac fixed. Prefs> Network & Folder>
  • Further sculpt fixes
  • TP Failure crash fix
  • Blank media texture crash fix.

Performance on this release (for me) appears somewhat better than 1050, and on a par with 977 Beta (which I had to roll back to following the 1050 release). However, given the Ogg and Avatar Physics “fixes” this is really a necessary upgrade than an optional one.

Phoenix .1050 goes “final”

Phoenix .1050 was issued as a Release Candidate on the 21st April, and slightly surprisingly made the jump to a Final release on the 26th, without requiring any further downloads. The decision to flip the status of the Viewer to Final was bashed on a combination of reduced reported crash rates and generally good user feedback.

The core changes to .1050 comprise:

  • Media filter
  • Bridge prim update (please see the Phoenix READ BLOG on this)
  • HTML link parser updates for local chat
  • Correctly identify server 2008 and 2008 R2, added detection for Windows 8 and Server 2012
  • Windows XP no longer shows as running compatibility mode in help → about
  • Added cookie support for internal web browser
  • Debug setting for making Linden chat blue (PhoenixColorLindensChat and PhoenixLindensChatColor)
  • URLs in picks and profiles are now clickable
  • Links in group charter are clickable
  • Sound fixed in Linux (no more needing to copy files from 373)
  • Sculpt rendering fixes (all those sculpts that didn’t look right should be fixed!)
  • Added more viewer tags
  • Added entries to GPU table to recognize more video cards
  • Messages that fail to send to a group now say what group it failed to send to
  • Ability to not show TP Offers (Prefs > Popups > “Show teleport offer popups”)
  • Added to windows install the ability to have this build used for handling SLURL links from web browsers.

Plus a series of bug fixes and under-the-bonnet interface improvements. From a personal standpoint, the clickable URLs are perhaps the biggest “new feature” in this release. As I run this and other blogs, having the means to direct people to them straight from my Profile without them having to copy/paste is a major boon. The same is very much true for any merchant advertising their goods on the likes of the Second Life Marketplace. If you plan to include URLs in your Profile, remember that they’ll only be active for others viewing your Profile – links will not work in your own view of your Profile.

There are still issues with 1050; many people are reporting reduced frame rates, while the amount of memory the Viewer uses appears far larger than either the last “Full” release (908) or the last Beta (977). Some have reported issues with rezzing and sculpties taking longer than expected to load as well. These last two points may be attributable to the fact that HTTP Get texture loading is now OFF by default. To turn the faster HTTP texture loading back on:

  • Preferences -> Phoenix -> Page 2 -> Advanced Graphics and check  HTTP Get Textures and then APPLY.

You’ll be prompted that you’ll have to restart Phoenix for the change to take effect. This is because your existing texture cache must be cleared. On initial re-logging, allow time for your inventory to full reload.

Another potential performance gain would be to re-enable OpenGL Vertex Buffer Objects, which are turned off by default with this release:

  • Preferences -> Graphics -> click on the HARDWARE OPTIONS button
  • Check the option to Enable VBO and optionally enable Streamed VBOs.

In order to ensure these options are benefiting you, it is best to carry them out one at a time and monitor what happens – so enable HTTP Get and see if there is any significant improvements as you use SL before you try enabling VBOs.

The Phoenix release notes suggest that, as a last resort, you perform a completely “clean” install of the Viewer. However, before you do so, I would recommend you read Nalates Urriah’s excellent blog entry Second Life Clean install – it could save you a lot of time and frustration.

From a personal standpoint, I find 1050 a mixed bag; as stated, I like the click-enabled URLs when viewing other people’s Profiles, but at the same time, 1050 doesn’t get along well with my GeForce 9800-series graphic card as well as 977 or 908, and I’m still finding myself flipping between it and 977 at times.

Phoenix media & audio security filter

The concerns about RedZone et al continue. Qie Niangao echoing my concerns over the potential impact on the in-world economy thus:

“There are, however, two other self-victimizing effects of Redzone use, besides losing one’s own customers.

“First, it’s driving everybody’s customers from LL’s grid.  As this plague spreads, the in-world consumer economy shrinks, leaving less and less room for shopkeepers to recoup the cost of doing business in Second Life.  This, ultimately, is what will doom Redzone.  Either LL acts, or there’s nothing left worth “protecting” — just a bunch of increasingly desperate Redzone users and the disposable griefer accounts that don’t have any reason to care if they’re scanned… and there’s no money in that for anybody, including Linden Lab….”

Quite. The levels of paranoia and fear – coupled with outrage and concern – potentially mean that in-world shopping will be the overall loser in this sorry mess, as I’ve previously mentioned.

However, while people are absorbing Prokofy Neva’s well-placed thoughts on the matter  – and even echoing them within the thread linked to here – Innula Zenovka relays welcome news that at least one team of Viewer makers are reacting to the the fact that a vulnerability in the Viewer code itself makes tools such as RedZone possible.

Now developers have created a a media and audio security filter which intercepts the incoming media streams and flags up unknown domains encountered with a series of options the user can take as actions. The filter is being adopted by the Phoenix team, and is available to other TPV developers.

The filter is still being worked on at present, but for those whole compile their own versions of the Phoenix Viewer, an initial patch is available. The completed version of the filter will hopefully be available in the next maintenance release of Phoenix – and again, hopefully, will be included in Firestorm.

One hopes that the code also finds its way back into Snowstorm, and that Linden Lab are encouraged to adopt it as well.

Note: updated to reflect feedback from Innula – with thanks.