Posted in Developer Zone, Programming, Second Life, Viewers

Compiling the Firestorm Viewer


Extended instructions, tips, and ‘gotchas’ on how to compile and build Firestorm, a third-party Open Source viewer for use with Second Life by Linden Lab.

First published in February 2014, and regularly updated ever since.
Last updated 19-Jul-2019.

NOTE: This article assumes that you are a competent software developer who is comfortable with C++ build environments and command consoles. Most people will have no need to build their own version of Firestorm from the source code.


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Posted in Developer Zone, Programming, Second Life, Viewers

Adding new libraries to a custom Viewer

As part of my private build of Firestorm, the Open Source third-party viewer for Second Life from Linden Lab, I have added new library dependencies for something I am working on (adding metadata to snapshots).

This blog post details how I added them, making use of CMake and modifying various files.

I present it in the hope that it may prove useful to others.

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Posted in General, Second Life, tips

Show Me the Money! – getting more L$ for your US$

[First published 20-Mar-2012]

You know how it is; you’re out shopping, you don’t have enough L$, so your cursor heads up to that familiar button in the top right of the screen labelled “Buy L$”. It’s so easy, it’s so convenient, and it’s so quick.

But, wait! That convenience comes at a price. You are buying L$ at whatever rate Linden Lab feel like giving you, and that’s not the best rate.

What do I mean by rate? Well, when you go abroad you often convert some of your normal currency into the currency that the country you’re going to uses, and you are offered an exchange rate. In other words you buy some of that currency, just like you might purchase any other service or ‘thing’. And, just like buying anything, different people have different prices and it is a good idea to shop around for the best price.
It’s not just limited to people going on holiday either – there’s a whole area of Finance called “Foreign Exchange” (often abbreviated to ForEx or FX) that deals with this.

It’s a less-known fact that Second Life has its own little Foreign Exchange Market, called the Linden Exchange (or LindeX for short) which is accessed via the Second Life website.
Here people buy and sell L$ using US$. And it is here where you can get more L$ for your US$.

So, how does this differ from the good old in-world “Buy L$” button on your Viewer? Well, it’s way less convenient I will admit, although I find it kind of fun! But you have the reward of getting more L$ for your US dollars by being able to shop for the best price, which is what it’s all about.

Instead of just converting US$ to L$, you offer to buy L$ for a certain amount of US$. This is known as a Limit Buy which is a conditional purchase. You are offering to buy L$ from one or more people who are selling for a certain price or better. On the LindeX your offer will stay open until it is either ‘Filled’ (ie. the transaction completes successfully) or until you cancel it.
Depending on how aggressive your Offer Price is, how long it takes to fill could be measured in seconds, minutes, hours, days or never! Also, for larger purchases, you may get a partial fill, which is when more than one seller fulfils part of your order as no single seller is selling at the price you want to pay in the quantity you want to buy. The remaining unfilled amount keeps the order open until all of the order fills.

(If you’re interested in further reading, then some of the basics of ForEx are available here, although it is in no way needed and I only provide it for your interest because I think I’ve covered enough here already)

“Enough with the waffle, Becca. Just tell me how to do it!”, I hear you saying. Well, ok, if you insist.
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Posted in General, Second Life

The Art of Prim Reduction (and changing pictures with the click of your mouse)

[Originally posted on 14-Apr-2012, updated 20-Jun-2017]

Introduction

I’ve been trying to reduce my prim count at my home in SL, and one of the things I figured I could improve on is the pictures hanging on my wall. I’ve got 4 walls of pictures, and each has 3-5 pictures on it, each one on its own prim. So I could see some good savings there.

But how to reduce that number?

Well, a picture is just a texture on a prim. And a wall is also just a texture on a prim. So why not combine the two? Bake the pictures onto the texture of the wall itself.

However, unless you really are pinching every single prim, I think it is better to spend an extra prim per wall and create a transparent veneer onto which you bake your pictures. Think of it as a single picture frame prim that happens to contain multiple pictures. I will refer to this as a “veneer prim” or “veneer” for the rest of the article as it covers the wall just like a wood veneer. However, as I will shortly explain, it is actually preferable for it to be smaller than the wall itself but that doesn’t alter the fact that it is a veneer of sorts.

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Posted in Developer Zone, Scripting

Script: Texture change by menu and touch

A while back I wrote a blog article on reducing prim count by using a veneer prim with a texture change script in it. Since then I have written a much improved script that uses an auto-generated touch menu, and also responds to voice commands.

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Posted in General, Opinion, Privacy & identity, Second Life

Body (and head) shaming in Second Life, and the definition of self.

Becca observes that, as in real life, Body Shaming is a thing in Second Life. She then goes on to talk about mesh heads vs system heads, and the fact that how we look in Second Life defines us even more than in real life. 

Last week I joined a Facebook Group called “Second Life Friends” and there was a discussion on facelights, so I decided to post a link to an old blog article I wrote back in 2012 that is as still as relevant now as it was then.

During the resulting Facebook thread, I got body shamed by a poster over the fact that I do not as yet use a mesh head, and who poured scorn on me and my look, as if how I look made my opinion irrelevant.

Then, yesterday, I updated my post “Unencumbered by the trappings of Real Life” about whether there should still be a clear separation between Second Life and real life, or should Second Life be merely an extension or augmentation of our online presence.

I posted it to the same group, and it started off a lively debate. The debate deviated somewhat into the whole thing of mesh heads again. On the whole it was a civil and interesting debate, and my replies to it gave rise to this article.

Continue reading “Body (and head) shaming in Second Life, and the definition of self.”

Posted in General, Opinion, Privacy & identity, Second Life

Unencumbered by the trappings of Real Life (revisited)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Second_Life_logo.svgBecca asks: “Should there be a clear separation between Second Life and real life, or should Second Life be merely an extension or augmentation of our online presence?”

Back in 2012 I wrote an article called “Unencumbered by the trappings of real life“. Some things are still as true then as they are now, whilst other things are a little out of date, so I have decided to revisit it and update it.

Some of the people I meet in Second Life want to know all about my real life, about how I look or where I live, or how old I am, or any number of other things. And I tell them that, quite apart from privacy, I simply don’t see things like that as having any relevance to my Second Life. And, further, I don’t particularly want them to volunteer anything about themselves either. I’m simply not interested in their “skinvelope” (or, as I have heard others refer to it, their “meatsack” or “meat rider”, which I confess aren’t phrases I’m particularly enamoured with) and want to get to know the real person, unencumbered by the trappings of real life. Some of these people have got quite defensive about my attitude and asked how I can know the real person when I say I don’t want to know the real life person. Some have even called me crazy. Well, allow me to explain what I mean.

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Posted in General, Mesh, Phoenix / Firestorm, Second Life

Level of Detail

Just a very quick one.

I logged onto SL recently and noticed that sculpts and meshes weren’t rendering properly unless I zoomed in, and I remembered that there is a debug setting to fix that and it must have got reverted for me at some time.

The fix is as old as the hills, but I thought I would note it down here simply so I can easily find it again. If it helps someone else too then so much the better.

Go to Advanced -> Debug Settings (or use Ctrl+Alt+Shift+S)
(If the Advanced menu is not enabled then enable it with Ctrl+Alt+D)

You need to set both the RenderAvatarLODFactor and RenderVolumeLODFactor settings.

A value of at least 4 is recommended, whilst 6 is better.

RenderAvatarLODFactor

RenderVolumeLODFactor

Posted in General, Opinion, Second Life

Second Life, and the dangers of DRM and lock-in.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Second_Life_logo.svgA friend sent me an article today about news that every Ozimal digirabbit in Second Life will soon starve to death (or, rather, go into permanent hibernation) because a legal threat has shut down their food-server, since the virtual pets are designed so that they can only eat DRM-locked food.
[Source: boingboing.net]

This is very sad for breeders, of course, but it also raises some interesting questions in my mind about Second Life in general and also real life.

The concept isn’t just limited to Second Life, of course. There have been high profile cases of people having iTunes libraries worth many thousands of dollars and wanting to transfer or bequeath them upon death, and been unable to do so. Likewise people being banned from Steam and denied access to all their purchases. In fact any system where you buy digital products that are locked by DRM and reliant on a remote server are susceptible to being locked out from you for whatever reason. This raises the question as to whether you have actually purchased that item or merely have an open-ended license to use it that can be unilaterally revoked by the seller. This is one of the reasons I still buy physical CDs and DVDs, although I often make use of “buy the digital version and we’ll send you the physical disc as well” services offered by Amazon, Sky, and others. With Steam purchases I don’t bother with physical media any more as the games are DRM-locked and reliant on the Steam servers (and useless without them).

If Linden Lab were to shut down the Second Life servers, we would lose everything. Sure, we could migrate to various other virtual worlds based on OpenSim, but it would be without all our DRM-locked inventory and our Linden Dollars. I don’t know about you, but I have spent literally thousands of real life actual GBP pounds sterling buying L$ and have spent all of it, and many more tens of thousands of L$ that I have earned in-world, or been gifted, on the Second Life economy. All that would be lost, like tears in rain. Same goes if Linden Lab banned me for whatever reason, as it is notoriously difficult to get un-banned again. I very much doubt I would start again if that happened.

Linden Lab could shut down Second Life for any number of reasons. One is that they go bankrupt of course, but another is if Second Life were to become unprofitable for Linden Lab and not worth continuing.

Although Sansar isn’t intended to replace Second Life, perhaps Linden Lab will pour all their development effort into it at the expense of Second Life. Or, more feasibly, the content creators could decide to move away from Second Life to newer and more interesting pastures (whether that be Sansar, or something else). With no new content to buy, the Second Life economy would wither and die, and shopaholics everywhere would starve to death, just like the rabbits.

I’m definitely not the only girl with a massive investment in Second Life and who would be reluctant to throw it all away and start again, so hopefully Linden Lab will keep the Second Life servers running for many many years to come, and the wonderful people who make and sell content for Second Life will continue to do so too.

After all, who wants to see rabbits starve?