Saturday, November 29, 2014

Lucidscape -- learning from SL?

By now you may well have heard of Lucidscape, but just in case...Lucidscape is an attempt to create the metaverse that looks like it's trying to avoid  aspects of Second Life that keep it from scaling. To demonstrate scalability, they simulated ten million participants on an 800-server cluster. The "participants" are a mixture of movable but largely stationary emitters and constantly moving drones that the emitters control and communicate with and which are constantly communicating across server boundaries.

(One could very well argue that one of those aspects is user-created content--people can and do create things without concern for efficiency--but that's too important a feature to forbid; on the page they say "the [emitters and drones] were purposefully crafted to be inefficient [emphasis in original] in the same manner we average user-written code may be.")

I especially like this:
We are a team of developers who are passionate about creating a future where massively multi-user virtual reality is pervasive and everyone can participate in a Metaverse which is:
  • Free and open source so everyone may add their own worlds to the Metaverse the same way anyone can run a web server today.
  • Devoid of any form of centralized control, free of gatekeepers and censorship under the guise of curation. Because if anyone can tell you what you are allowed to do in it, then it is not the real Metaverse.
I hope to see more from them.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


A lot has been going on, and keeping me away from the grid. I hope that's over.

More layout changes as I can get them in--the way out-of-date Ubuntu version countdown is gone, as I can't find one for Utopic Unicorn. (Sigh.)

On to what might be more important (OK, it doesn't take much importance to do that): this JIRA entry, VWR-9203. Curiously, it has recently been marked as fixed. Does that mean we'll get flexible sculpties someday, or does "fixed" just mean that top men are working on it. You know, Top. Men. that it won't ever happen?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Google+ changes its name policy

I'm happy to say that Google+ has announced that they will no longer place restrictions on the name you can use. Details on the Google+ Google+ page.

I hope this settles the matter once and for all. I've been on Google+ as Melissa Yeuxdoux for some time, but I've hesitated to link my blog to my Google+ presence (so that, for example, my Google+ feed includes links to blog posts) after reading about some Blogger blogs that went away over "real name" issues. I'm hoping the link will be safe now.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

(N+1)th Life?

Here's part of a statement that Hamlet Au received from Linden Lab and posted an article about on NWN:
"Linden Lab is working on a next generation virtual world that will be in the spirit of Second Life, an open world where users have incredible power to create anything they can imagine and content creators are king....The next generation virtual world will go far beyond what is possible with Second Life, and we don't want to constrain our development by setting backward compatibility with Second Life as an absolute requirement from the start."
What comes to mind at that news?

  • The Osborne Effect: how much effort/$ are you willing to invest in something when you've been told something far better is coming?
  • Will they support both kinds o' computers--Windows and Mac? While it's still a sore point that Linden Lab has never provided a 64-bit Linux version, it has provided a 32-bit Linux version for a long time, for which I am extremely grateful. That said, it would be really nice if they'd come out and say "yes, we will support Linux for this new virtual world", especially given that it will at least initially be closed source. (For that matter, did you hear about the improvements to graphics in Android "L"? I hope you're targeting capable tablets and smartphones, LL.)
  • Can we be anonymous in the new world as we can in Second Life? I hope that is the case; Ebbe Altberg tweeted "Yes, we clearly want to... let you bring you [sic] identity and friends across", which gives me hope.
What comes to my mind the most, though? Sheer delight!

How many times have I quoted Fred Brooks here? At least twice. Let's bump that number.
"Plan to throw one away. You will anyhow. The only question is whether you deliver the throwaway to your customers."
Of course, backwards compatibility would be nice... but Second Life looks crude compared with other 3D environments. Every so often you see a link to a video of avatar configuration in a game that makes Second Life look pathetic in comparison, both in simplicity and power of UI and quality of avatar. Creators shouldn't have to find obscure bugs that they can take advantage of to do things SL's creators didn't envision or even wanted to forbid.

Bless the creators of Second Life for their ingenuity and skill--but they deserve an environment they don't have to fight. I will cheerfully give up inventory if I can have better.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Textures not taking?

Gatherings has a lovely new (to me, at least!) blue suit, so I bought it. It comes with heels and cute glasses (now I have to go looking for a pencil-behind-ear attachment :)), and all was going well... until it came to the trousers.

They were gray.... or were they just not rezzing completely? Rebake textures... rebake textures... no change. Put on a different pair, and they rezzed. OK, take them off. Off they went. OK, put them back on. They sort of went back on. I could see what were intended to be cuffs... but they were textured like me. OK, sign off and back on... and they were gray.

I guess I'd better go back and look at the poster--but I can't believe the trousers are intended to be gray. Strange.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

New graphics card

Things have been tight, and I'd not upgraded anything since adding a 120 GB SDD. Still running with a 2.8 GHz Athlon 64 x4 630 "Propus", an AM3 socket CPU that you can't even get now. It's sneaking up on its fifth birthday (though I ordered mine about a year after it came out), making it ancient in computer years.

In the past week or so, though, I have upgraded my graphics card. I was using a PNY card with 1 GB of RAM and an nVidia 560Ti GPU; PCI Express 2. It's a HUGE card, 8.25 inches long. While the cute little Micro ATX case that I use claims to be able to fit a 10.5" card, I'd not even try, and I'm amazed I managed to fit this one in. It's power-hungry; it has two 12V power connectors in addition to pulling 12VDC from the PCI Express socket, and the size and additional cables impede air flow, which a Micro ATX case seriously needs. It's the most expensive computer component I've bought for many years, at $250.

Its replacement is an EVGA card with 2 GB of RAM and an nVidia 750 Ti GPU. Fortunately PCI Express 3 will work with a PCI Express 2 slot, but I'm losing throughput because of it. It is only 6.7" long and doesn't need the extra power connectors, so the air flow is much better. It cost 40% less than the 560 Ti card--$150.

The new card made for a bit of fun installing, because it has the new "Maxwell" chips, and one either has to directly install the proprietary driver that knows about Maxwell or add a repository with that driver packaged. I chose the latter (if by some strange chance you're reading this and are the person who set up the PPA, bless you!). If, like me, you decide to do a new Ubuntu install at the same time (don't ask...), do not tell it you want it to pull in proprietary drivers at install time; it won't get the right one, and towards the end of the install, the screen image will be stretched vertically and you won't be able to see what you're doing!

It's in and running, and running quite nicely. I have to put my ear within five inches of my computer to hear fan noise. Maxwell isn't the highest performance GPU out there, but it's excellent for performance per watt consumed.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

More travails for 64-bit Linux users

I should have realized it earlier.

Ubuntu, back in 13.10, got rid of ia32-libs. I had my nose rubbed in that this morning after a somewhat rocky transition to 14.04 (the rockiness was my fault). The claim is that ia32-libs was a "huge hack" and you should instead pull in the individual ia32 packages you need. How do you find out which ones? Run ldd on the executable.

After being silly and trying to run it on the shell script that you invoke to run Second Life (not much point to that!), I peeked down into the bin directory and...

melissa@storge:~/SecondLife/SecondLife-i686-$ ldd bin/do-not-directly-run-secondlife-bin =>  (0xf775b000) => not found => not found => /lib/i386-linux-gnu/ (0xf771f000) => not found => /usr/lib/i386-linux-gnu/ (0xf7680000) => /lib/i386-linux-gnu/ (0xf7677000) => not found => not found => not found => not found => /usr/lib/i386-linux-gnu/ (0xf7624000) => /lib/i386-linux-gnu/ (0xf7518000) => not found => /usr/lib32/nvidia-337/ (0xf740d000) => /usr/lib/i386-linux-gnu/ (0xf72d9000) => not found => not found => not found => not found => /usr/lib/i386-linux-gnu/ (0xf72d5000) => not found => /lib/i386-linux-gnu/ (0xf72ac000) => not found => not found => not found => /usr/lib/i386-linux-gnu/ (0xf7270000) => not found => not found => not found => /usr/lib/i386-linux-gnu/ (0xf7186000) => /lib/i386-linux-gnu/ (0xf7140000) => /lib/i386-linux-gnu/ (0xf7123000) => /lib/i386-linux-gnu/ (0xf6f73000)
/lib/ (0xf775c000) => /lib/i386-linux-gnu/ (0xf6f59000) => /lib/i386-linux-gnu/ (0xf6f31000) => /usr/lib/i386-linux-gnu/ (0xf6f2a000) => /lib/i386-linux-gnu/ (0xf6eec000) => /usr/lib32/nvidia-337/tls/ (0xf6ee6000) => /usr/lib32/nvidia-337/ (0xf49cf000) => /usr/lib/i386-linux-gnu/ (0xf49bc000) => /lib/i386-linux-gnu/ (0xf49b7000) => /usr/lib/i386-linux-gnu/ (0xf4995000) => /usr/lib/i386-linux-gnu/ (0xf4990000) => /usr/lib/i386-linux-gnu/ (0xf4989000)

The lines of interest have "not found" at the end... => not found => not found => not found => not found => not found => not found => not found => not found => not found => not found => not found => not found => not found => not found => not found => not found => not found => not found => not found

This has its good points--had we had to do this, or known to do this, or (ahem!) someone at Linden Lab who gives a darn done this from the start, we'd have known from the start what we were missing, installed it, and not have sat in the limbo of "why does everything but streaming audio work?" for years. Or rather, we would if we did something like

cd [wherever you keep SL]/bin; find -type f -exec ldd {} \; | grep "not found"

so we get them all; like Pokemon, you gotta.

On the other hand, we now get to potentially do this for each 32-bit program we want to run, and have the additional issue of working back from individual libraries to the packages to install.

Or you just say the heck with it and install all the 32-bit libraries.

Or...people could make actual 64-bit versions of the viewer. Some do, and to them all I say thank you; I'd hug you if I could. Now, if only Linden Lab would...