As Phoenix users know it.
So Phoenix users have a new message on their login screen warning them that SSA will make Phoenix all but usable in the very near future. Just to be clear, to the best of my knowledge Linden Lab will flip the switch on at least one of the RC channels next week, and in the following weeks roll it out to even more of the grid until it is turned on grid wide. At that point anyone not on a capable viewer will not be able to render any avatars, not even their own.
We have been trying to get people to move to Firestorm or any other SSA capable viewer so that the transition was easier. Now I can understand some peoples reluctance to change viewers. I personally hated Firestorm when I first started using it, however now I cannot use any other viewer, including Phoenix, comfortably. Yes it is different, yes it will take some getting used to. It does however have almost all of the features that were in Phoenix, plus some that Phoenix never did.
If you are one of those people who choose to use or at least try Firestorm there is help available. To start with there is the Wiki which has pretty much everything you need to know about the viewer. We also have classes that cover the preferences, menus and some of the more advanced features. There are also the inworld help groups where you can ask for help. (of course there is chat lag to deal with there)
By now most of you will have heard that there will be an emergency release coming out very soon. Please see the blog post at http://www.firestormviewer.org/ The reason for this is that while we were doing testing with Linden Lab for the SSA code there was a debug setting enabled that sends statistics twenty times as often as normal. No personal information is sent in those so its not a security issue. What it did was hammer the server well beyond what it is designed for. In simple words there are no privacy concerns.
Another thing about this release is that there should be no need for a full clean install of 4.4.2 as long as you are presently using the 4.4.1 release, and yes there are a lot of you that have updated. you can simplt uninstall the 4.4.1 program and install 4.4.2 For those who have not updated to 4.4.1 please do a full clean install as described on our wiki.
There’s a brand new release of Firestorm and there are a couple things you should know.
First is this, you really want/need to update to this release as soon as possible. Server side appearance (SSA formerly know as SSB or server side baking) is just around the corner and this release has all the available code in it. Without a SSA capable viewer you will soon not be able to see avatars properly.
Secondly, you want to do a clean install. The vast majority of issues people have on a new release are because they did not do a proper clean install. If you’re on the 4.4.0 release remember to backup your settings. There are full instructions on doing a proper clean install on our wiki . The thing to remember here is that Firestorm has two folders, besides the program folder itself, that need to be empty or deleted in order for it to be a proper clean install. Save yourself some frustration and do it properly the first time.
The Phoenix Firestorm Viewer team has been telling people for some time now that Phoenix will at some point become next to unusable. A significant number of people have listened and moved to a modern viewer, some have not yet. If you are one of the latter, I suggest you reconsider and update very soon as Linden Lab has announced a tentative date for starting to switch on SSA (server side appearance).
The following is a quote from Nyx Linden
“We currently are not aware of any major release-blocking bugs and are starting to look at scheduling the roll-out process. We have a number of QA passes and tests to run through before we can get the final greenlight to do so, so we are currently targeting July 9th as the earliest date at which we will enable SSA for a significant portion of the grid (a server RC channel). Please note that if we find additional bugs in the meantime, or run into other scheduling difficulties this date could be pushed back. We will not be going to RC before this date however.”
So the clock is now ticking much louder than it was, time is getting short. I strongly suggest you update to a SSA capable viewer. Those on Firestorm 4.4.0 will be fine although there will be a release very soon with a few additional fixes to the SSA code in it. When it comes out please update as soon as possible. Those on Phoenix and other older viewers all I can say is update to a modern viewer now. If you choose to move to Firestorm we do have classes to help you get used to it as well as our Wiki and inworld support groups.
Linden Lab released the new Materials capable viewer yesterday and people are asking if it is available in Firestorm yet. The short answer is no it is not. The next question is when will it be available in Firestorm. The short answer is when its ready.
Why is it not available yet? Well to start with until LL releases something like this it is against the TPV rules, no TPV is allowed to release a new LL feature until it is released by them. Secondly while Materials is a very cool feature the fact is that it still has some significant bugs that LL is working on fixes for.Such as the following
Most notably seen on hairs that comprise of solid and alpha parts. On non materials viewers, this hair would appear all black as it should be https://jira.secondlife.com/secure/attachment/71955/Snapshot_015.png
On materials viewers, the alpha parts render much lighter
* Some objects render with black textures – various different bugs for this, most notable any object that has transparency and glow render as black
https://jira.secondlife.com/browse/MATBUG-186 – black HUDs
* Legacy shiny is “too shiny”
* Projected light is broken when shining on objects that have transparency
* Mac users on 10.6.8 cannot enable ALM or they have severe rendering issues
Black rings in the sky: https://jira.secondlife.com/browse/MATBUG-196
Shiny objects and reflections render as white glow: https://jira.secondlife.com/browse/MATBUG-171
Thirdly, the Firestorm developers are still working on the merge to the previously released CHUI code. That needs to be done before they can merge the Materials code.
We do plan on having Materials in Firestorm, but it will not happen overnight. In fact it may take sometime before it is available in Firestorm as there are several things that need to be done before that code can be added, then tested and released.
You may have heard that the Firestorm support team holds free classes that explain the preferences, menus and some of the features in the viewer. Features like the built in AO, and Contact sets which is one of the least known but extremely useful features in the viewer. We also have a couple classes that can apply to any viewer. There is a class on lag that can help you understand and even reduce the effects of lag in some cases. There is also a basic troubleshooting class that can give you some ideas on finding out where your problems originate.
So why should you consider attending the classes? Aside from the obvious fact that you may learn what some of the preferences do and learn to set up and use some of the cool features, we’ve found that those who do come out wind up having a lot fewer issues with the viewer and SL in general. There is also an open question and answer session after the classes where you can ask about anything at all, including help on issues you may be experiencing.
You can find the class schedule on our wiki at http://wiki.phoenixviewer.com/firestorm_classes The schedule gets updated progressively. Class notes for all of the classes are always available at our main classrooms at http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Phoenix%20Firestorm%20Support/250/6/4001
There have been a number of complaints about the latest release of Firestorm (4.4.0). I personally have had more crashes since starting to test the 4.4.0 build and thanked the Firestorm developers for making a crash bug just for me. I seldom crashed before starting to use the 4.4.0 build and found myself crashing once or twice a day minimum. That means there is a bug in the viewer, right? Well, let me tell you a story.
I run two PCs here — my main PC and one for streaming music — neither of which could be considered new or powerful. I have been using “Mouse Without Borders,” a software setup that lets you use one keyboard and mouse on multiple computers. To make a long story short, my streaming PC was down for a day, and I noticed that I did not crash at all that day. Next day, with the streaming PC running, it was back to crashing for me. A light went off in my head, and I get out the extra keyboard/mouse combo that I have, hooked it up and disabled Mouse Without Borders and ran that way for a week, with no crashes that were not related to Windows itself. Then just to be sure I re-enabled MWB and logged in to SL. You have already guessed that I crashed haven’t you?
Now, I am no expert despite what some may think (I describe myself as an information junky with a clue). It took me months (literally) to find out why I was crashing and, to be totally honest, it was pure luck that I did.
So, what exactly is my point? We have known for a long time that some programs will conflict with parts of the viewer code. Having Skydrive installed for example caused users to crash when uploading a pic. Just because you have not had problems in the past does not mean you won’t (I have used MWB for a couple of years now).
So the mystery got solved, and I am no longer crashing as much. The message I’m trying to get across here is that just because Firestorm is crashing, the reason may be someplace else on your computer. The fact is that if you make up your mind that you are crashing because of the viewer you may never discover the real reason for the crashes.