Author Archives: Inara Pey

About Inara Pey

Eclectic virtual world blogger with a focus on Second Life. My blog can be found below and I'm semi-active on Twitter and Plurk.

Firestorm 4.6.7: rolling forward

firestorm-logoOn Sunday August 17th, the Firestorm team announced the release Firestorm 4.6.7.42398. As with the 4.6.5 release in May, this is far more of a stability and bug addressing update more than it is a release of major new features, although it does contain a lot of updates which most Firestorm users will find to their liking.

As always, the complete list of changes, together with attributions, can be found in the release notes / change log, and I refer readers to that document for specifics on all contributors, FIRE JIRA links, etc. The following is intended as an overview of some of the more major / interesting changes, updates and  fixes to be found in the release.

The Before We Begin Notes

For best results when installing this release:

Firestorm Blocking

Note that as a result of the Firestorm team’s policy to keep only 3 versions running, version 4.5.1 beta will be blocked in the coming weeks. The advice from the team is that If you are on 4.5.1, to please update now. Version 4.4.2 will continue to remain for Mac users until all the major Cocoa Mac bugs have been resolved. However, if you are not a Mac user, then there really isn’t any reason for you not to have updated, and the team again ask that you update as well

Mac 64-bit Version And Mac Fixes

This release of Firestorm sees the arrival of a Mac 64-bit version. As with the original windows and Linux 64-bit versions, this first release of the Mac 64-bit variant of the viewer is regarded as a beta release. However, the Firestorm team fully expect it to have far greater stability than the 32-bit version, and better performance, so Mac users in a position to do so are encouraged to download it and try it.

Blog posts on the 64-bit version can be found on Tonya Souther’s blog and in my blog.

As a heads-up to Mac users, please note that this release of Firestorm also includes a couple of partial fixes for known issues:

  • Alt-clicking while moving the mouse moves the camera significantly (see STORM-2041 and FIRE-12241) has been partially fixed by Linden Lab
  • The Firestorm team have implemented a partial fix for the keystroke entry lag issue (see FIRE-12172).

These may not entirely solve the issues to which they relate, but hopefully they’ll give at least some Mac users a degree of improvement.

One thing those experiencing the typing lag, and who are in a position to do so, might like to try is to create a clean virtual desktop in Spaces, switch to it and then start Firestorm, pinned it to that desktop, and make it full screen (see the suggestion from Spikeheel Starr here).

Lab Updates

This release sees Firestorm reach parity with LL’s 3.7.8 code-base, together with cherry-picked updates from later releases. Updates and fixes directly from the Lab include, but are not limited to) the following.

Project Interesting Scene loading Updates

Project Interesting has been a part of the Lab’s long-term Project Shining updates which were recently officially drawn to a close. The interest list work, primarily led by Andrew Linden prior to his departure from the Lab to join High Fidelity, is a set of improvements to how the viewer and simulator work together to know what information the viewer has or needs in order to render the world around your avatar.

The interest list updates provide more predictable and faster scene rendering, such as large objects and those closest to you appearing first, rather than at random. More use is also made of the viewer's cache (so the warning for not clearing cache as a first action in "fixing" issues becomes even more important

The interest list updates provide more predictable and faster scene rendering, such as large objects and those closest to you appearing first, rather than at random, as with the scene shown here. More use is also made of the viewer’s cache (so the warning for not clearing cache as a first action in “fixing” issues becomes even more important

The work has seen several server-side and viewer updates, and the updates included with this release of Firestorm enable the viewer to more intelligently store and reuse scene data, helping to make regions you’ve previously visited load faster (as long as you don’t clear cache!), and help improve viewer performance.

Further information on the project interesting work can be found in the following blog posts:

Google Breakpad Updates

Google Breakpad is the tool used in gathering information used in reporting underpinning reasons for viewer crashes to help with tracing causes, etc. Linden Lab have been engaged in a programme of improving when and where Google Breakpad becomes active as the viewer starts, and ceases reporting as the viewer shuts down. This release of Firestorm sees the most recent updates and improvements made to Google Breakpad integrated into the viewer, allowing the support team to improve the triaging and debugging of issues.

Other Updates of Note

  • Added a viewer check box to extend parcel entry limits to a higher ceiling (World > Region Details > Region > Block parcel fly over): when checked, extends access checks vertically to prevent parcel flyover
  • Opening large chat histories from conversation log no longer eats huge amounts of memory resulting in a viewer crash (see: BUG-4517 and FIRE-12242)
  • Searching inventory for “online” now correctly returns online friends calling cards in search results (see BUG-4409 and FIRE-12178)
  • Merchant Outbox fixes: includes fixes for accurately detecting Merchant status and improves recovery for Merchant Outbox errors
  • Improved discoverability of the Region Debug console has been moved to Develop > Consoles > Region Debug Console. Also added to World > Region Details > Debug > Region Debug console
  • Having a space after your cursor and pressing return to add a new line no longer forces an extra space to be made in the next line in notecards and script editor
  • Opening square textures now sets the 1:1 size constraint.

Building and Scripting Updates

LSL Functions for Materials

Firestorm 4.6.7 sees the addition of LSL support for materials capabilities. Materials can be added to object faces with llSetPrimitiveParams() and llSetLinkPrimitiveParams functions using the following parameters:

  • [PRIM_SPECULAR, integer face, string texture, vector repeats, vector offsets, float rotation_in_radians, vector color, integer glossy, integer environment]
  • [PRIM_NORMAL, integer face, string texture, vector repeats, vector offsets, float rotation_in_radians]
  • [PRIM_ALPHA_MODE, integer face, integer alpha_mode, integer alpha_cutoff]
    • Valid alpha_mode options are PRIM_ALPHA_MODE_NONE, PRIM_ALPHA_MODE_BLEND, PRIM_ALPHA_MODE_MASK, PRIM_ALPHA_MODE_EMISSIVE
LSL support for materialsarrives in Firestorm with the 4.6.7 release

LSL support for materials arrives in Firestorm with the 4.6.7 release

Materials can be read with  llGetPrimitiveParams() and llGetLinkPrimitiveParams functions using the following parameters:

  • [PRIM_SPECULAR, integer face] returns [string texture, vector repeats, vector offsets, float rotation_in_radians, vector color, integer glossy, integer environment]
  • [PRIM_NORMAL, integer face] returns [string texture, vector repeats, vector offsets, float rotation_in_radians]
  • [PRIM_ALPHA_MODE, integer face] returns [integer alpha_mode, integer alpha_cutoff].

For further information, please refer to the relevant LSL documentation as linked-to above.

In addition:

  • CTRL + mouse grab of objects is now disabled by default in all of Firestorm’s log-in modes other than V3. This is because the option offers no “undo” option should it be used accidentally. A toggle option has been added to Preferences > Firestorm > Build 2 (Use CTRL+mouse to grab and manipulate objects) to enable / disable the ability.
  • Clicking the area in between the Full Bright check box and the Materials drop down box no longer incorrectly opens the colour picker.

Continue reading

Transcending Borders: further entries

Further art entires have been received in the UWA’s Transcending Borders combined Art and Machinima Challenge, on which I’m privileged to sit as a member of the judging panel. The challenge is open to entries through until midnight, SLT on October 31st, 2014, and offers a combined prize pool of some L$1,030,000 for entrants, plus L$240,000 in audience participation prizes.

Android Ascension by Sheba Blitz is an abstract piece of pyramidal sections within which sits a rotating sphere displaying images of figures climbing an endless spiral stair

Android Ascension by Sheba Blitz is an abstract piece of pyramidal sections within which sits a rotating sphere displaying images of figures climbing an endless spiral stair

Entrants are invited to interpret the challenge theme, Transcending Borders, in any way they please. It might refer to transcending borders between space and time, or the past and present or the present and future, the divisions between dimensions, the borders separating nations or cultures or languages, or any one of the many borders we encounter as we navigate our physical and virtual lives.

Submissions may be either a piece of art (one item per entrant) or a short film preferably no longer than 4 minutes and 30 seconds (as many films as entrants wish to submit, as long as they have been filmed specifically for the challenge). All submissions should allow casual viewers to interpret how the theme is represented, or provide a means by which the piece can be understood in the context of the challenge theme.

Dusty Canning presents The Yeellow House, which converts van Gogh's famous painting of the house he rented in Aries, France, back into a 3D model visitors can walk around

Dusty Canning presents The Yellow House, which converts van Gogh’s famous painting of the house he rented in Aries, France, back into a 3D model visitors can walk around

The most recent entries in the art section of the challenge are shown here, and comprise pieces by Sheba Blitz, Dusty Canning,  Ginger Lorakeet and Spiral Silverstar.

The challenge is sponsored by  Tom Papas & SciFi Film Festival; LaPiscean Liberty & SL Artists; AviewTV, Taralyn Gravois and Arts Castle Gallery; TheDoveRhode and Peace is a Choice and S&S Gallery of Fine SL Art; Jon Stubbs & UWA Student Services; and  the UWA Virtual Worlds Project.

Ginger Lorakeet's whimsical 3D diorama "In a dream somewhere between real life & second life"

Ginger Lorakeet’s whimsical 3D diorama “In a dream somewhere between real life & second life”

Art entries for the challenge are on display in the Transcending Borders gallery area above the UWA’s home regions. Machinima entires will be listed on the SLArtist website as they are received.

Full details on the challenge, including all rules and details on how to submit entries can be found on the UWA blog.

Spiral Silverstar's rotating fractal kaleidoscope

Spiral Silverstar’s rotating fractal kaleidoscope

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The serenity of Sarawak

Sarawak; Inara Pey, August 2014, on FlickrSarawak (Flickr) – click any image for full size

I finally made it to Sarawak, the home region of outstanding SL photographer Ermandalee. I’d actually been intending to visit since around the end of July, but time and tide have been keeping me away; as did the fact that many of SL photographers and bloggers have visited; I scarcely feel any pictures I take do justice to the region compared to their work.

But, time smiled favourably upon me, and with an hour or so on my hands I jumped across for a visit, and I have to say I’m glad I did. Given Ermandalee’s eye for detail and expression, which can clearly been seen throughout her Flickr steam, it will come as no surprise that Sarawak is beautifully conceived and presented; the camera can scarcely be turned without a picture being framed.

Sarawak; Inara Pey, August 2014, on FlickrSarawak (Flickr)

Predominantly rural in nature, Sarawak presents what might be a coastal scene, a flat headland with mountains rearing beyond and cut through by water to form a small series of islands linked by bridges, both stone and wooden.  A house is built out over the waters of one of the inlets, a sign welcoming visitors to Ermandalee’s home, which doubles as a small gallery presenting some of her photographs. Just across the water are signs of a farm or small holding: a barn where horses can be found, bales of hay and the rounded form of a stone windmill. The soil here is obviously rich, as a scarecrow stands guard over a field of yellow flowers.

The pastoral feel to Sarawak continues through the wildlife to be found across the region. Ducks swim in some of the inlets or waddle on the shorelines, geese rise from one of the smaller islands, gulls circle overhead while deer roam the grasslands, birds sing against the backdrop of flowing water and the gentle ringing of chimes caught in the breeze.

Sarawak; Inara Pey, August 2014, on FlickrSarawak (Flickr)

But there is more here than a simple country scene; I understand that Ermandalee originally had it in mind to build something more towards the fantasy side of things. Eechoes of this can be found as one wanders the region, mixed with a touch of ancient mysticism.  A tall tower stands to one side of the region; close to a set of falls stands a statue and pavilion of distinctly elven look and feel, while on the shoreline sits a circle of mossy standing stones.

The combination of elements within Sarawak is enticing; inviting one to try to define where it the world it might reside. To me, parts of it suggest the great outdoors of Canada (or at least, how I imagine them to be): lakeshore cabins, rich forests, tall mountains. At the same time Sarawak speaks of being more European in nature, while the fjord-like channel to the north-east suggests something slightly Scandinavian.

Sarawak; Inara Pey, August 2014, on FlickrSarawak (Flickr)

However you see Sarawak, and whether you witness it in the default windlight setting, suggestive of a cool late summer evening (or perhaps early morning, depending on your mood), or whether you opt for one of your own (as I did), it is a beautiful place to visit and explore.  With its many offerings of places to sit, down on the ground and up in the trees, it offers an open invitation to visitors to stop and rest a while.

Given the serenity one feels when wandering through the region, it is an invitation easily accepted.

Sarawak; Inara Pey, August 2014, on FlickrSarawak (Flickr)

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Of murders, aliens among us and getting bullish

It’s time to kick-off another week of fabulous story-telling in Voice, brought to Second Life by the staff and volunteers at the Seanchai Library.

As always, all times SLT / PDT, and unless otherwise stated, events will be held on the Seanchai Library’s home on Imagination Island.

Sunday August 17th, 13:30: Tea-time at Baker Street: The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes

Caledonia Skytower, Corwyn Allen and Kayden Oconnell once again open the pages of The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes, the final set of twelve Sherlock Holmes short stories first published in the Strand Magazine between October 1921 and April 1927.

This week: The Problem of Thor Bridge.

“The faculty of deduction is certainly contagious, Watson,” Holmes informs his good friend one October morning after Watson had arrived for breakfast expecting to find Holmes in a depressed mood, wanting for a good, solid case, but finding him instead practically full of the joys of spring.

The comment comes in response to Watson’s observation that such a good mood could only mean that Holmes did indeed have a case. Even so, it is not until after breakfast that the Great Detective reveals the situation.

“You have heard of Neil Gibson, the Gold King?” he said.

“You mean the American Senator?”

“Well, he was once Senator for some Western state, but is better known as the greatest gold-mining magnate in the world.”

“Yes, I know of him. He has surely lived in England for some time. His name is very familiar.”

“Yes, he bought a considerable estate in Hampshire some five years ago. Possibly you have already heard of the tragic end of his wife?”

“Of course. I remember it now. That is why the name is familiar. But I really know nothing of the details.

The details are that the wife of the aforementioned J. Neil Gibson had been most cruelly murdered by none other than the family’s governess, Grace Dunbar. The evidence in the case couldn’t be more clear, nor Miss Dunbar’s guilt more sure.

So the letter Holmes has received protesting her innocence despite all the evidence indicating otherwise, sets the Great detective a pretty riddle. Particularly as it has been written by none other than J. Neil Gibson himself …

Monday August 18th, 19:00: Far From Home: The People: No Different Flesh

the peopleZenna Chlarson Henderson was one of the first female science-fiction authors, having started reading publications such as astounding Stories from the age of 12, and becoming a popular author in the 1950s and 1960s.

She is perhaps best known for her The People stories, which focus of a race of human-like aliens forced to flee their homeworld due to a natural disaster, and some of whom arrive in the American southwest shortly before the start of the 20th century.

The People have the very best of human qualities: love, gentleness, spirituality; and also special powers of healing, levitation, telekinesis and more, who wish only to preserve their home culture and beliefs amidst a world which, despite their human appearance, does not understand them.

Henderson’s tales about The People ran to some 17 stories which examined the lives of The People, their past on their homeworld, their attempts to live quietly on Earth, their interactions with their human neighbours,  all told in a beautiful, moving style. Why not join Gyro Muggins to learn more as he commences reading The People: No Different Flesh?

Tuesday August 19th, No Reading

The Library will be dark.

Wednesday August 20th, 19:00: More Selections from Chestnut Street

Maeve Binchy, journalist, columnist, playwright and author, began her writing career by accident, thanks to her father sending the letters she wrote to him while on a kibbutz in Israel during the 1960s to a local paper in Ireland, which subsequently published them. This in turn led to her being offered a job with The Irish Times on her return home, thus starting her on the road to becoming one of Ireland’s most successful and internationally recognised writers.

chestnut streetThrough her writings, she would often jot down short stories about an imaginary street in Dublin, where people would constantly come and go and experience the most diverse of times and situations. Once written, these stories would be put away for “the future”. That imaginary street was called Chestnut Street, located not far from the setting of her 2010 bestseller Minding Frankie.

In 2014, these tales of the folk who live along, or visit, Chestnut Street were gathered together in a single volume and published posthumously under the title Chestnut Street.

Join Caledonia Skytower as she delves into the rich diversity of stories to be found inside the covers of this book. Perhaps you’ll meet Bucket Maguire, the window cleaner, who finds himself going to extraordinary lengths to protect his son; or hear all the local gossip from Melly, and see how it helps a local fortune-teller for the good of all; or maybe you’ll find yourself sympathising with poor Nessa, whose summers are blighted every year by the arrival of her aunt from America on a vacation sure to turn Nessa’s life and home upside down. Chestnut Street is inhabited by the most colourful characters, and their stories are lovingly and humourously told; so why not join Caledonia as she pays them a visit?

Thursday August 14th

16:00: First Nation Tales

Caledonia Skytower and Dubhna Rhiadra sit down to bring us more native tales from the first peoples of the North American continent.

Drawing on  number of sources and resources, Cale and Dubna have, over the years, drawn together collections of stories and legends from across a number of First Nation tribes, including the Zuni, Omaha, Paiute, and Hopi as well as legends from Kwaikutlsome in Western Canada. Some of these stories have been published, others of which have come from the long tradition of the spoken word, with archetypal tales handed down through successive generations.

“We have everything from Raven stealing the moon, to how Winter and Summer came to be, and the Creation of Corn,” Cale says of the stories. “The thing I like about them, is the imagery and the “themes” are almost Aesopian. They are all lesson/moral/cautionary tales.”

Join Cale and Dubhna as they delve into this treasure chest of tales and legends.

19:00: the Minotaur

Join Shandon Loring as he plunges into the labyrinthine tale of queeny seductions, kingly puzzle gardens, monsters in the maze and young Athenian heroes all wrapped-up in a tale of strife, romance, torment and triumph!

21;00: Seanchai Late Night

Caledonia and Shandon present One Night with the Fae.

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Please check with the Seanchai Library SL’s blog for updates and for additions or changes to the week’s schedule. The featured charity for July-August is WildAid: seeking to end the illegal wildlife trade in our lifetimes by reducing demand through public awareness campaigns and providing comprehensive marine protection.

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