Avatar Draw Weight on Caturday

For a while I’ve been lusting after the Static Holophase mod for the Blue Galaxian Feline so when I saw it cost below sticker price I leaped. The mod process is easy and I was very pleased to find that textures for Materials (bump and shiny!) were included. It occurred to me when I was running amuck in the finished avatar on Linden Realms yesterday that the Materials textures might be adding to lag by increasing my Avatar Draw Weight (AKA Avatar Render Cost or ARC). This is a number that indicates the strain your avatar puts on the viewer – yours and the viewers of others – to render your avatar.

Left: With Materials. Right: Without Materials (Full Bright added per mod maker's instructions).

Left: With Materials. Right: Without Materials (Full Bright added per mod maker’s instructions).

So I hit the Sandbox this morning and removed the bump and shiny maps then made the comparison above. Both avatars are in the red, which means that they are a high load on the graphics processors, but removing the eye candy saved a mere 840 points. At this level, I don’t see that as significant.

The appearance difference is substantial, though. I rather like the Full Bright, particularly in dark places like Linden Realms. I can see myself using both. Now the big question:

Keep the extra, non-Material parts in my Inventory, thus giving it a bit more bloat or ditch them and put up with the inconvenience of editing the Material parts to be Full Bright as desired?

Both the avatar and the mod kit can be found in the Blue Galaxian region (SLurl).

Variable Views

While driving a boat from Rizal to Abbotts it seemed that every time I crossed a region line, the water changed. The water was set to Default in the Environment Settings and the sky was set to [TOR] MIDDAY – Salmon without change at any time. Here’s what it looked like.

In Kapor nearly at the region line with Rosedale.

In Kapor nearly at the region line with Rosedale.

And across the line. This is Rosesdale. Perhaps that explains the rosier color.

And across the line. This is Rosesdale. Perhaps that explains the rosier color.

Again, this happened with every region crossing I remember. Dark, light, dark, light, etc., regardless of orientation on my travels south. I’ve seen it before but never really thought about it. I’ll have to investigate more. Maybe try other viewers and certainly other Windlight settings.

Watermelon Here

Watermelon Here_001

Lately I’ve been tip-toeing through My Outfits, the saved outfits folder in your Inventory and in the Appearance pane of many Second Life viewers. A few outfits have been deleted and  some have been tweaked. This is my Torley Tribute outfit. The big adjustment with this one was making sure that the HUDs for the hairband, the skirt textures, and the shoe colors would load when the outfit was added. This is because I often use these items with other outfits in different colors. For example, the hair also goes with a pink/blue retro swimsuit outfit. Loading the HUDs right away means that I don’t have to right-click the related item in the Appearance window then choose Show Original then find the HUD. Time saver.

For the fashionistas, the hair is from Wasabi Pills, the shoes and skirt are from HOC, PrimOptics made the eyeglasses, and shirt is an oldie. SLink hands, UnBra skin, R.Icielli lipstick, Alyce fingernail polish (optional .. not shown), a BoHo HoBo bracelet and some really old earrings. Ibanez eyes and a shape I made myself complete the set. Sometimes I add nail polish by Alyce.

The location for the shoot is Here (SLurl), the region set up by Torley Linden so that anyone can practice terraforming.

Proper Inventory Tools

Zyx Flux’s Inventory

While fishing my butt off at FFF 2014 I was lamenting my poor Inventory. More than a hundred prizes were dropping into my Objects folder like rain in Seattle. “This mess will take me more time to clear up than it took to create,” I told myself. Rapidly dropping select transferable items on friends, relatives, and alts wasn’t helping. It made me seriously wish for offline Inventory management. Strictly speaking, having to log into my account and be in-world isn’t necessary for basic maintenance. And if I could do it from my iPad, all the better.

Sure, if I want to box up for storage items that I seldom use I need to be in-world (Or do I? Read on!), but transferring items to other avatars or moving things between folders only needs access to the Inventory Window and maybe a couple extra buttons.

The Close All Folders button in Alchemy’s version of the Inventory window (shown above with it’s annoying “A” folders) is a step forward. Other third party viewers have this feature, too, and it is one that The Lab should adopt (currently you need to use a menu). Better yet, let’s have true windowing like desktop operating systems have. Highlight an object and with one button Properties pop up. A set of buttons to change from a directory tree view (so DOS 1.x), to list view, to columns view, or even a Cover Flow view that would present thumbnail renderings of objects, textures, and note cards. Or instead of needing to box items to store for later use [See the “Objects (Storage)” up there? I wrote about it here.] items could be sent to a secure backup folder. Only Linden System folders can’t be deleted so if I accidentally hit the Delete key with my storage folder highlighted and I zip past the warning (don’t ever tick the “Never Show Again” option), I’m fairly up a creek.

Offline management would require synchronization, but the extra few moments would be well worth the time. It isn’t like we aren’t used to the idea now, anyway. Apps sync between all my devices all the time: Messages, email, documents, password vaults, file storage, etc.

After all, our digital stuff in Second Life is just a bunch of files, right? We should be able to manage them as such.

It’s Alchemy!

Yesterday, when I kept crashing each time I tried to upload a texture or save a snapshot to my hard drive, I popped into the helpful Macinrosh Users group chat to see if anyone else had the same problem. “Me, too!” I was told by some and then came the inevitable “You should use Firestorm.”

No.

That viewer has been a lag-fest for a number of years, even when I disable as many of the toys as I can and drop my graphics preferences to below system recommendations. Look, I have a Late-2009 27″ Apple iMac. It runs everything very well – especially since the last OS upgrade – but it really doesn’t like Second Life and Second Life doesn’t like it.

After making sure I was using the latest Official viewer and still having problems, I thought I’d try some other Third Party viewer. Checking the Wiki list of such I saw l no updates on some older viewers I once really liked, but I came across one I hadn’t seen before. Alchemy.

First impression: Dark. It is very dark and contrasty. Parts of it are too dark, blending into other dark parts that make them tricky to use. Like the Conversations pane.

Though on the whole, after a few hours of use, I like it. The Alchemy-logo folders in Inventory are annoying but that’s about the extent of my actual complaints. Many features are improved over the Official viewer, like the Environment Settings pane. It is much smaller and clearer than the Official viewer and you can add a tool bar button to call it up right away. Similar controls are available with a Quick Settings button.

Bells and whistles? There are a few. Your object editing beam can be a rainbow. If the Alchemy window isn’t on top then in-world notices can be sent to your desktop. Yep. Looking for a way to turn that off. Inventory has buttons for opening and closing all folders. Can’t imagine why I’d need the Open one, but the Close button is great. More goodies are buried in the menus and Preferences. None of these seem to increase lag so big “Yay!!!” there.

Right now Alchemy is missing the photo filters for all snapshots except those sent to Flickr or Twitter, but that feature is relatively new in the Official viewer so I’m sure it will show up soon. Overall, Alchemy builds on the original without getting carried away. It is low-lag, easy on the eyes, and works just fine.

Except I still crash when trying to upload textures or save a snapshot to disk. Must be an issue between Second Life and the Apple OS.

Random Thoughts

  • It has become abundantly clear to me that I blog almost exclusively on Tuesdays of late. I post my Topless Tuesday pic with a brief few comments, link to Flickr then I’m off like a prom dress. This tells me that I need to explore Our World some more, something I used to do quite a bit. Now I mostly pop into various beaches and swim around or lay on the beach while reading.
  • Swimming in SL is fun, though I miss Real Life swimming. Having to attach a separate swim HUD is annoying as is turning on/off my regular movement AO HUD when I exit or enter the water. I know that Our World is now (in some eyes) obsolete, but perhaps it is time for The Lab to re-engineer the viewer so that there are standard animations for being in water.
  • After all these years, body parts still talk. You know the ones. They are annoying at best and downright inappropriate in public places like shops, Infohubs, and the like. Why is it important that I know what one of your organs is doing at a particular moment? I’m tempted to go rogue and click away, randomly and often, until I get booted or someone leaves.
  • I find it amusing that when I cam around at home the Kennylex-made cannon I have on my porch fires without being touched. Some particle sources do this. Also, some animations. As I write this I cammed about to greet someone and a row of girls “bounced” on the beach towels from Standing to Laying, taking on the pose in the towel.
  • The User Interface of the Official Viewer still operates as if designed by engineers and not users. You would think that Third Party Viewers would fix this as they are, almost by definition, designed by users. No. In each case the designer is a geeky programmer not who tends to think in logical progressions like the ever present Directory Tree. There are too many bloody steps to change Windlights and the pop-up panels are unnecessarily large. Stop relying on “the task is done” and go for “the task is done with elegance.”
  • Sometimes if I forget to turn off my AO when sitting on furniture so the HUD’s sit animation is played. Others don’t always see it this way when I do and sometimes I don’t see the AO being dominant while others do. This applies to everyone, I suppose. Right now a girl near me is floating mid-air in a relaxed sitting pose when I know the animation in the towel she’s occupying should have her laying on her belly. Maybe SL 2.0 will address this.
  • There is so much progress with using mesh to create ultra-realistic homes, furniture, and landscaping, but it seems to me that very few creators are working to bring similar gains to the underwater realm. PADI’s Dive World sims were spectacular in their day and I’d love to see what they might look like with today’s mesh advances.
  • When I was showing off some new bedroom furniture on MySL today (see above plus here and here for more examples) I was trying to angle the shots to as the mirror wouldn’t show it was fake and thinking “I used to have a table with an animation to do this” and “I wish SL really had mirrors.” Not long after, I ran across a MySL post from Torley Linden that eventually led to the video below.
  •  I need to enjoy my home more. Finances iRL are getting tight and even the $15/USD monthly tier I pay might get squeezed. Gone are the days when I raked in tons of SpaceBux hosting events at Lesbos and handing it to my sister Threshin for rent so that isn’t an option, either. Premium membership is paid up for almost a year so I could at least have a Linden Home.