Category Archives: Firestorm

April 12th Firestorm meeting: video, transcript and notes

firestorm-logoOn Saturday April 12th 2014, the Firestorm team hosted a meeting and Q and A session to discuss a number of issues, including the OpenSSL issue and how it affects SL / Firestorm, Firestorm blocking, the next Firestorm release and more, and answer audience questions.

While the meeting was recorded, the Firestorm team are aware that many of their users have hearing difficulties, and / or prefer to read text, so this transcript has been supplied on their behalf.

When reading, please remember:

  • This is not a word-for-word transcript of the entire meeting. While all quotes given are as they are spoken in the video, to assist in readability and maintain the flow of conversation, not all asides, jokes, interruptions, etc., have been included in the text presented here
  • In the interests of readability, topics in the transcript are not necessarily presented chronologically compared to the video. For example: specific topics of interest raised in the Q&A session, and which are self-contained, are presented under their own heading outside of the Q&A section.
  • If there are any sizeable gaps in comments from a speaker which resulted from asides, repetition, questions to others etc,, these are indicated by the use of “…”
  • Timestamps are provided as guidance should anyone wish to hear the comments in full from any speaker on the video
  • Questions / comments were made in chat while speakers were talking. This inevitably meant that replies to questions would lag well behind when they were originally asked. To provide context between questions and answers, questions in the transcript are given (in italics) at the point at which each is addressed by a member of the Firestorm team, either in voice or via chat.

Please note: This transcript is provided for informational purposes only. I am not an official member of the Firestorm team, and technical or support issues relating to Firestorm cannot easily be addressed through these pages. Such requests for assistance should be made through the in-world Firestorm Support groups or at the Firestorm support region.

With thanks, as always, to North for the video.

The TL;DR Summary

The following is a brief summary of topics discussed. Timestamps in braces refer to times in the video where the relevant commentary can be heard. All sections are expanded upon in the main transcript – click on the timestamp to go to them.

  • 0:00:15 Ebbe Linden – a review of Ebbe Linden’s (LL CEO Ebbe Altberg) presentation and Q&A at the VWBPE conference on Friday April 11th (video and transcript)
  • 0:05:15 Firestorm 64-bit download: an issue with the certificate for the 64-bit Firestorm expiring meant the download had to be temporarily pulled. It has now been restored.
  • 0:08:22 Firestorm DUI: the dynamic User Interface is very proof of concept and requires a lot of work and if it is developed, will possibly require as much as a year before it is remotely usable, and this with the collaboration of over TPVs and developers. Right now, it doesn’t require bug reports.
  • 0:23:04 The Heartbleed SSL bug: a error in versions of an OpenSSL extension called Heartbeat can be used to expose server-side information to attackers. The SL servers are safe, the Firestorm server is safe, however, people can be at risk when connecting to external sites using MOAP or the built-in web browser. Firestorm 4.5.1 and 4.6.1 use OpenSSL, but the chances of them being vulnerable are negligible, and because of the log-in hash, users names and passwords are secure. The very, very small risk will be removed in the next release.
  • 0:39:21 Firestorm blocking: older versions of Firestorm are blocked to try to encourage users to keep reasonable pace with the latest updates and capabilities in the viewer, and to meet with LL’s requirement that as many users as possible are on up-to-date viewers. It is not a Trojan, backdoor, spyware or malware. Log-in IDs, etc., are not compromised, nothing is passed to the FS server. Period.
    • 0:56:19: Why Firestorm doesn’t use an auto-update process and the pain of clean installs
    • 1:02:00: Due to a coding error, Firestorm 4.4.2, 4.5.1, 4.6.1 will be blocked from accessing OpenSim when the time comes to block them. This is not deliberate; it is the result of the code required to limit blocking to Second Life not making it into the viewer, which will be rectified with the next release. Firestorm remains committed to support OpenSim.
  • 1:09:30 Due to the use of automatically-generated SLurls with images uploaded to Facebook accounts using SL Share to Facebook, the snapshot upload capability was blocked by Facebook. This situation has now been resolved between the Lab and Facebook, and photo uploads work once more.
  • 1:14:05: The Next Firestorm release hopefully will be available in early May, and will include updates, fixes and new features, including some Mac updates, the new Vivox files, etc.
  • 1:31:36: bugs don’t get fixed in either Firestorm or the LL viewer without people filing bug reports via the JIRA. Please help in making Firestorm, the SL viewer and SL better
  • 1:36:25 Oculus Rift is coming, but it’s coming via Linden Lab. If you want to have a play, join the closed LL beta, or try CtrlAltStudio (just make sure you have a headset!)
  • 2:02:02 a look at the SL Share 2 capabilities, and why they won’t be in the next release of Firestorm
  • 1:51:06 Ed’s reminder about Firestorm Classes
  • 1:28:36 Start of the Q&A seesion

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Firestorm 4.4.0 blocking to commence

firestorm-logoThe Firestorm team have announced that version 4.4.0.33720 of the Firestorm viewer will be blocked from accessing Second Life and OpenSim starting on Thursday April 10th.

According to statistics from Linden Lab, there are some 5,500 people still using Firestorm 4.4.0.33720, which lacks support for many significant features, including Sever-side Appearance, Materials Processing and Fitted Mesh. Nor does it include support for many of the server / viewer improvements released over the course of the last year, including interest list updates and HTTP improvements.

Those people still running 4.4.0 are being strongly urged to update their Firestorm viewer to 4.4.2 or later prior to the block commencing on Thursday (no actual time is given in the blog post). Those already running 4.4.2 or later need not take any action – this does not affect you.

The block is being implemented as a part of Firestorm’s policy to, as far as is possible, only have three active versions of the viewer accessing Second Life at any given time. Unfortunately, OpenSim is also affected as the team do not currently have the means to selectively block older versions of the viewer from accessing individual grids at this time. However, this is expected to change when the time comes to block another release in the future.

 

Firestorm Dynamic User Interface (DUI): it’s a real prototype

firestorm-logoOn April 1st, the Firestorm team released and April Fools video in the spirit of their 2013 “Firestorm Mobile” hoax.

As fun it was, there was a secret within the joke which many – including me – missed at the first watching of the video, largely because we didn’t follow the suggestion and manually type the URL at the end of the video into a web browser.

For those who may have missed things, and to provide a frame of reference, I’m including the video in this post as well.

Jessica Lyon contacted me just after I’d published a post on the Firestorm and Catznip April Fools and gave me a proper “Gotcha!” So, having taken the time to stay quiet on the matter, as Jessica requested (and in order to go wipe the egg from my face!), I’m here to say, as many Firestorm users have been poking me about over the last 24-hours, that the Firestorm Dynamic User Interface isn’t a joke. It’s here. I’m using it. What’s more the Firestorm team have now blogged to confirm it.

The viewer,Firestorm 4.6.1.40484 is available for download for Windows only, and will run on both Second Life and OpenSim.

It really isn't an April Fools - Firestorm 4.6.1.40484 really does allow you to move some floaters outside of the viewer window!

It really isn’t an April Fools – Firestorm 4.6.1.40484 really does allow you to move some floaters outside of the viewer window!

Now, the viewer – as Jessica and the team wish to express loud and clear – isn’t the finished article. It’s currently experimental, and as such, subject to unpredictable behaviour. It is not recommended for use as a primary viewer.

There are also some other points to note:

  • Not all of the floaters in the viewer may be capable of being pulled out of the viewer window. Those that can appear to float “above” the viewer window, rather than “in” it
  • Not all of thefloaters work smoothly at this time, and may be subject to jumping and / or, flickering, and options on menus associated with them may not be accessible as a result. There may be other issues, such as:
    • You cannot drag / drop items from the Inventory floater in-world
    • Conversations in the communications floater tabs may not scroll soothly
  • Floaters outside of the viewer window cannot be resizedYou cannot resize those floaters which can be moved outside of the viewer window
  • Torn-off menus cannot as yet be floated
The conversations floater can be pulled out of the viewer - but if you detach a specific IM tab, it will bounce back into the viewer window and cannot currently be dragged back out

The conversations floater can be pulled out of the viewer – but if you detach a specific IM tab, it will bounce back into the viewer window and cannot currently be dragged back out

Discussing the viewer with me after pointing out I’d been had with the April Fools video, Jessica said:

The intention is that we want to release this code in the hopes that ALL open-source developers out there, TPVs included, will pick it up. fix it, improve it, expand its capability and most importantly SHARE it with one another. It is my hope that this may become a catalyst to renew interest in viewer development among inactive developers and that ultimately this will open a whole new realm of possibilities for SL viewer technology moving forward.

We will not be assigning the gentleman’s agreement on this… it’s too important to make this about credit. I don’t care who releases it first as long as the code is shared equally. We will also work on improving it, but I think this should be a community effort.

Having detachable floaters like this has been one of the Holy Grails for the SL viewer, and has long, and oft been requested. However, the Lab has generally taken the view that to get something like this working would take a considerable amount of effort. The Firestorm’s team work is therefore very much pre-proof-of-concept, as their blog post on the matter indicates:

Firestorm DUI is little more than a very early proof of concept that a dynamic user interface is in fact possible with Virtual World viewers … our very own Nicky Dasmijn managed to come up with this in a relatively short amount of time, and we hope that it will translate to this functionality being available in a reasonable amount of time …

So, if you haven’t already taken it for a test-drive, and remembering the Firestorm DUI isn’t a release, and there may be issues with using it, and that it is not supported by Firestorm at this point in time. So again, when using it, please do not use it as your primary viewer.

Please don’t report any issues with the viewer here; I’m not a part of the Firestorm team, and cannot help you. As mentioned above, the DUI viewer is currently unsupported!

March 15 Firestorm meeting: video, transcript and notes

firestorm-logoOn Saturday March15th 2014, the Firestorm team hosted a meeting and Q and A session to discuss the recent 4.6.1 release, provide updates on a number of issues, and answer audience questions.

While the meeting was recorded, the Firestorm team are aware that many of their users have hearing difficulties, and / or prefer to read text, so this transcript has been supplied on their behalf.

When reading, please remember:

  • This is not a word-for-word transcript of the entire meeting. While all quotes given are as they are spoken in the video, to assist in readability and maintain the flow of conversation, not all asides, jokes, interruptions, etc., have been included in the text presented here
  • In the interests of readability, topics in the transcript are not necessarily presented chronologically compared to the video. For example: questions asked during the various updates, etc., are presented in the Q and A section of the transcript, rather than at the point at which they were asked (unless directly relevant to the topic being discussed). Similarly, topics of discussion which came up during the Q and A session, but which were not tied to specific questions, have been placed under their own subject heading outside of the Q and A section
  • If there are any sizeable gaps in comments from a speaker which resulted from asides, repetition, questions to others etc,, these are indicated by the use of “…”
  • Timestamps are provided as guidance should anyone wish to hear the comments in full from any speaker on the video
  • Questions /comments were made in chat while speakers were talking. This inevitably meant that replies to questions would lag well behind when they were originally asked. To provide context between questions and answers, questions in the transcript are given (in italics) at the point at which each is addressed by a member of the Firestorm team, either in voice or via chat.

Please note: This transcript is provided for informational purposes only. I am not an official member of the Firestorm team, and technical or support issues relating to Firestorm cannot easily be addressed through these pages. Such requests for assistance should be made through the in-world Firestorm Support groups or at the Firestorm support region.

The TL;DR Summary

The following is a brief summary of topics discussed. Timestamps in braces refer to times in the video where the relevant commentary can be heard. All sections are expanded upon in the main transcript – click on the timestamp to go to them.

  • [0:0015] viewers are often subject to flase flagging by anti-virus programs as carrying a potential virus / Trojan. With the Firestorm 4.6.1, Norton anti-virus in particular had issues with viewer, prompting a positive response from Norton’s support
  • [0:14:32] Mac issues update: work is being done on some Mac issues within the Lab, but there is no major project to address problems some users are having. Firestorm are somewhat stymied in dealing with issues due to both a lack of developers  / developers with free time and because some of the issues are beyond their ability to resolve
  • [0:31:00] Windows XP officially reaches its end-of-life on Aprial 8th, 2014. What does this mean for users on XP using Firestorm?
  • [0:38:25] Even running a 32-bit viewer on a 64-bit OS yields stability improvements, although if you have a 64-bit version available, it’s obviously preferable to use that on a 64-bit OS
  • [0:57:40] Firestorm are often critiqued on the frequency of releases. The team are moving to imporve things to a 3-monthly cycle, and there are reasons why a more frequent cycle may not be feasible
    • [1:21:05] It remains that Firestorm will not offer nightly or weekly builds, because there are significant support issues
    • [1:27:32] The team already try to release based on feature sets, however, a time-based cycle offers potentially better management of releases in keeping with the needs of the developers, QA and support
    • [1:35:21] The target will therefore be a 3-monthly cycle of major releases, with possible interim releases with bug fixes or for special features, such as might be the case with the group ban functionality
  • [1:58:53] With a target of a 3-monthly release cycle, it is probable that the next 2-3 releases are going to be primarily focused on incorporating features and capabilities coming out of the Lab, simply because there are so many of them: group bans, SSA updates, AIS v3, interest list, voice updates, etc.
  • [2:01:55] The new download server has performed admirably with not craches or other issues.
  • [1:55:40] Firestorm classes – with a new release just out, don’t forget there are Firestorm classes which cover all the new features, including things like the updated Contact Sets
  • Questions and Answers: including information on clean installs / re-installs; using settings back-ups; troubleshhoting issues; the status of voice improvements; why group limits are unlikely to increase in the near future; helping Firestorm support, etc.

With thanks, as always, to North for the video.

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