Firestorm Viewer Contact Sets

Did you know you can sort, list, categorize, organize and colorize your friend list, and even non-friend lists? This is especially helpful for business and region owners, group moderators, people with big friend lists, or just folks with lots of friends! The folks at Firestorm posted this video for their Tool Tip Tuesday this week. The video covers the basics but if you would like to learn more, Firestorm offers a contact sets class! Click on this link for more information on their in-world classes: Firestorm Viewer Classes

I remain respectfully yours,
~ Suzanne Piers, ZI Social Media

Firestorm Viewer’s Auto Replace Feature

For Tool Tip Tuesday, the folks at Firestorm have created this video on how to best use the Auto Replace feature in the preferences for the viewer. This is a great tip, and I had absolutely no idea that the viewer could do this. This tip is especially useful for club or venue owners or hosts, or anyone who has to type the same information over and over. And the cool thing is, once you customize your auto replace, you can download it to an Excel spreadsheet and share it with others, and they can import it into their viewer! There is a lot of great information on the Firestorm website. You can find it by clicking here: Firestorm Viewer

Watch and learn!

I remain respectfully yours,
~ Suzanne Piers, ZI Social Media

Update: AMD/ATI Graphics Card Fix for Firestorm Users

A quick update for Firestorm Users. Firestorm’s staff have posted in their Wiki their recommendation on how to fix the various issues caused by driver updates for those graphics cards. If you have an AMD/ATI graphics card then you may need to do these steps (ATI drivers don’t seem to support OpenGL graphics very well, and SL viewers use OpenGL, as opposed to DirectX). Residents are reporting issues such as rigged mesh not showing up, the world is pink, everything goes black, repeated crashing, etc.

If you are a Firestorm viewer user and are experiencing these issues, please take a look at the following article (this is a clickable link to the Firestorm Wiki): AMD/ATI Worn Rigged Mesh Goes Invisible.

I hope you are finding these tips helpful!

I remain respectfully yours,
~ Suzanne Piers, ZI Social Media

SLGo Now Compatible with Firestorm!

Onlive is pleased to announce that SLGo now offers you a choice between Linden Lab’s SLV or the popular Firestorm viewer on PC and Mac. If you’re already a subscriber, simply launch SL Go on a PC or Mac, and you will be presented with a choice of viewers.

Onlive is a pay-as-you-go or monthly subscription service that allows you to access Second Life from a PC or Mac and have a high-fidelity Second Life experience with amazing graphics quality, full shaders, shadows and full motion capability. This allows people with older or low-powered computers to be able to access Second Life, where they may not have been able to do so before.

Now, SLGo on PC and Mac offers access to the full Firestorm Viewer interface, including edit menus, inventory, preference settings and chat management. All viewer customizations are saved from session to session, even if played on a completely different device or platform.

SL Go is offered via a monthly subscription at $9.95 USD per month for unlimited access. You can also choose to purchase by the hour. OnLive does not associate any SL Go information with Second Life. Second Life users, personas and avatars remain private. OnLive values your privacy in Second Life.

SLGo also allows you to access Second Life from your tablet, although the interface is significantly different.

If you’re not a subscriber, get started with a 7-day free trial here. (the orange word is a clickable link).

I remain respectfully yours,
~ Suzanne Piers, ZoHa Islands Social Media Manager

Reducing Viewer Crashes

Firestorm viewer smallestIt’s the bane of everyone’s existence in Second Life… the dreaded viewer crash. Naturally, viewers don’t crash at opportune times; they wait until you’re getting busy with someone, or in a wedding, or doing a crucial final touches on a build you hadn’t saved. Sometimes they crash and all of a sudden the viewer just disappears. Most times, however, you suddenly can’t move, then all sound disappears and then the screen dims, accompanied by the endlessly rotating circle, and the dreaded words “Not responding” appear at the top of your screen. Since oftentimes people use the excuse “Oh, I crashed!” when trying to get out of an uncomfortable circumstance, it never fails that the viewer will crash during something critical, like your partner telling you they love you for the first time, or something equally important, and that inopportune crash looks suspicious.

The causes for these crashes vary. Sometimes if you simply cam around too much, it causes the crash. Sometimes the sim is too full, a griefer is on the sim and unleashes a graphics crasher, or computer system is out of date and doesn’t have the resources necessary to run Second Life smoothly.

Click to make larger

Click to enlarge picture

I use the Firestorm viewer, and it asks to collect crash data each time you crash. You can either choose to do this manually, or changes the settings in preferences to allow the viewer to send crash reports automatically.

Click to enlarge picture

Click to enlarge picture

So you think to yourself, why should I do that? All I want to do is get back in-world to try and repair the possibly broken relationship, broken build or continue on with what you were doing, so taking the time to send crash data just adds to the frustration of trying to get in-world. However, what you don’t realize is that the people at Linden Labs and the people at Firestorm (or whatever viewer you use) take the crash data collected, and use it to create the fixes that help reduce crashing. This means that you are helping improve things by allowing your viewer’s creators to collect the crash data. I have set mine to automatic, and it only takes a few seconds for it to collect the crash data on the next start up, and doesn’t cause any serious delays.

So that begs the question: What can we do? Many users can greatly reduce their risk of Viewer crashes by taking a few steps to update their software outside of Second Life.

Oz Linden posted in the Tools and Technology blog, offering these tips to residents some steps they can take to help reduce viewer crashes.

“The nature of Second Life as a platform for user creativity means that the Viewer faces different challenges than client software for an online game, for example, which would just need to handle the limited and carefully optimized content created by the game’s developer. This can make Second Life a demanding application for your computer and can mean that if your operating system is out of date, your Viewer is more likely to crash.

The good news is you can take steps today to help this! Here are a couple of tips:

1. Upgrade your Operating System
There is a very clear pattern in our statistics – the more up to date your operating system is, the less likely your Viewer is to crash. This applies on both Windows and Macintosh (Linux is a little harder to judge, since “up to date” has a more fluid meaning there, and the sample sizes are small). Some examples:

• Windows 8.1 reports crashes only half as often as Windows 8.0
Those of you who stuck with Windows 7 (roughly 40% of users of our Viewer right now) rather than upgrade to 8.0 made a good choice at the time; version 7 still has a much better crash rate than 8.0, but not quite as good as 8.1 (now about 15% of users), so waiting is no longer the best approach.

• Mac OSX 10.9.3 reports crashes a third less than 10.7.5
OSX rates do not have as much variation as Windows versions do, but newer is still better, and there are other non-crash reasons to be on the up to date version, including rendering improvements.

Upgrading will probably also better protect you from security problems, so it’s a good idea even aside from allowing you to spend more time in Second Life.

2, Use the 64 bit version of Windows if you can
For each version of Windows for the last several years, you have had a choice between 32 bit and 64 bit variants; if your system can run the 64 bit variant, then you will probably crash much less frequently by changing to it. While we don’t have a fully 64 bit version of the Viewer yet, you can run it on 64 bit Windows, and statistically you’ll be much better off if you do.

• Generally speaking the 64 bit Windows versions report crashes half as often as the 32 bit versions.
According to the data we collect, a little more than 20% of users are running 32 bit Windows versions; most of you can probably upgrade and would benefit by it.

If you bought your computer any time in the last 5 years, chances are very good that it can run the 64 bit version of Windows (as will some systems that are even older). Microsoft has a FAQ page on this topic; go there and read the answer to the question “How do I tell if my computer can run a 64-bit version of Windows?”. That page also explains how to do the upgrade and other useful information.

We’ll of course continue working hard to find and fix things that lead to Viewer crashes. Even as we do that, though, you can decrease your chances of crashing today by taking the steps above.”

I hope this helps with some of your viewer crashing problems. I’m sure it will probably never go away, but please help by sending your crash data to the viewer’s creators when asked. This will help all of us improve our experience.

I remain respectfully yours,
~ Suzanne Piers
ZoHa Islands Social Media Manager

Interview with Linden Labs: Keep Calm and Carry On!

I was unable to attend the live interview that Jessica Lyon held with Linden Lab staffers Oz Linden and Pete Linden this morning, but the video of their interview has already been released. I was excited to listen to what they had to say.

Jessica’s opening salvo was awesome. She doesn’t pull any punches, opening with the question of the day, which she directed to Pete Linden, Linden Labs’ Director of Communications:

Jessica asks: “Does Linden Lab have plans, either near or far, to shut down Second Life? Has Linden Labs discussed, planned, strategized on how they are going to shut down Second Life? Or even if there is any intention of shutting down Second Life? Does Linden Labs intend to shut down Second Life?”

Pete resounded with a resounding, “No! Absolutely not.”

Pete went on to say that there are plans to continue to improve it, there is not any plan to shut it down, that it is not going away. There are plans to continue to make Second Life better and better.

Jessica made a point of pointing out that Pete’s credibility is on the line as Communications Director, and that he would basically be committing career suicide if he was prevaricating.  It is fair to say that Pete is not lying. He reassured everyone that he understands this, and that he is not being deceptive.

Pete’s message to the community is that Oz and he wanted to come this morning to reiterate what Linden Labs been trying to put out there in emails and in the forums that not only is SL not going away, but they have big plans to continue to improve it,  and that it has a long life ahead of it. There is no intention of ending this amazing platform. What it boils down to, he said, is this: “It is not going away. More improvements are coming.”

You can listen to the interview in its entirety here:

Keep Calm and Carry On! is the message that Linden Labs is giving us. Second Life will continue to exist and improve.

I remain respectfully yours,

~ Suzanne Piers

Social Media Manager