Tuesday, November 25, 2014

FLASH! Linden Lab Develops Preliminary Build to Address Main Viewer Crash Issue!

Some of you, especially those with Intel graphics, might have been experiencing the very frustrating situation of installing the latest viewer update, only to have the viewer crash repeatedly at the "initializing VFS" step.

Linden Lab has developed what (they hope) is a fix for this, although I caution that it has NOT yet been fully tested or approved as an official release.

If you want to try it, here's the download link:

Use the CYGWIN version for Windows, the Darwin version for Macs, and the Linux version for...uh, Linux, of course.

Your Cheatin' Virtual Heart

I came across an older post from one of the premiere virtual world blogs, Werner James Au's New World Notes:

The post summarizes a study of 400 participants, asking them how they'd feel if their SL partner cheated on them.  The interesting thing is, people who didn't use SL pretty much dismissed this as a non-event.  They couldn't see how the actions of a pixel person on a monitor could upset them emotionally.  However, the people who DID use SL, and were familiar with the phenomenon of immersion, did tend to feel emotional upset.

For those of us who are long time residents of virtual worlds, this result is no surprise.  But it's interesting to see that what we all already knew is now backed up with numbers.

In other news, Philip Rosedale's "High Fidelity" project is generating some interesting results.  One of the things they're exploring over there is getting avatars to respond to their person's gestures and facial expressions in Real Life.  While the avatars themselves are as yet very crude, the way they convey their operators' actions is pretty amazing, and I can hardly wait until this technology is available, combined with more realistic avatars.  Have a look at this video:

That, and a cloth and hair dynamics system are what I want for Christmas!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

FLASH! Latest Viewer Update Won't Run for Some

We are seeing a lot of reports that go something like this:  "When I logged in, the sign on page told me I had to download and install a mandatory viewer update.  When I did, the new viewer wouldn't start, and kept crashing when it got to "initializing VFS."

It's not happening to everyone.  I downloaded and installed the latest version ( with no problems.  But if it happens to you, here are some things you can do.

Uninstall and do a clean reinstall of the previous version.  Instructions here:

If you did not save the previous version's installation file in your Downloads folder, try one of the many third party viewers.

Or you can try this version:

Add your comments and any unique information you have, especially about your computer system and graphics card, at this link:  That link will also lead you to some related bug reports and discussions of some further things to try.  The comments by Whirly Fizzle are especially worth paying attention to.  Whirly is one of the Firestorm developers, and what he doesn't know about viewer code would fill a very short book indeed.

Finally, if you have automatic updates enabled in your Preferences, I suggest you disable it and choose to download and install updates manually instead, to avoid problems like this in the future.  Let the other early adopters find the bugs!

EDITED 11/14/14 to add:  The ever-alert Nalates Urriah has blogged about this too, and she has some tips to keep your viewer from insisting that it needs a mandatory update.  See her post here:

Apples and Oranges, and Pie in the Sky

All right, all right.  So I guess I'm not quite out of things to say yet.  So...I'm back!

I'm back to rant a little bit, in fact.

The other night, I met a newbie, and gave my standard "Welcome to Second Life!" greeting.  In response, I got "thanks, but I'm really not going to be here long."  I asked her why, and she explained that she'd heard about Second Life for years and finally decided to check it out, but she was really unhappy with the graphics quality.

Well, I rolled up my sleeves and got ready to help her delve into her graphics preferences and Windlight settings to show her how SL can really rock, in the "look of the world" department.  But as we talked further, it turned out that she was really excited by other offerings on the web with much better graphics, especially something called "Project Nebula."

So, I googled it.  It's harder to find than you might think.  Google InWorldz or IMVU and you'll immediately find a link to their sign up pages.  But the only thing I was able to find on this Project Nebula was a Kickstarter campaign, and eventually a website with some discussion forums.

The Kickstarter and the developer's website had a video preview of this brave new virtual world.  It had avatar customization (looked a lot like SL) and it showed some clips of two spacecraft chasing each other across a desert (looked a lot like SL vehicles -- rather awkward in how they maneuvered.)  It showed the interior of an apartment being customized and furnished (and I've seen homes in SL that looked just as good if not better.)

So, my conclusion was that my newbie friend was stone crazy.  The "superior graphics" she was raving about simply did not come through, not in the demo video that I saw.  But beyond that, Project Nebula does not even exist yet!

Who in their right mind would choose smoke and mirrors and promises over a place with 11+ years of history?  A place with 26,000 regions, and trillions of user hours lavished on creating everything in it?  I have seen several grandiose game or virtual world ideas come and go.  The ones depending on crowdfunding usually go.

Some day, maybe even next year, someone will come up with something to top Second Life, and then we will all pack up and move there.  Maybe it'll be Philip Rosedale's High Fidelity.  Maybe it will be LL's own "new virtual world."  Or maybe it will be something else.  But I'll bet you $L10 that it won't be Project Nebula.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Closed Until Further Notice

Hello again, Faithful Readers.  Or, I should say, "Hail and farewell."

This blog has run for over four years now, and I find that I've said just about everything I have to say about Second Life.  It's been an amazing journey, both as a resident of the virtual world and with this, my first (and so far, only) blog.

If you're coming here for the first time and reading this post, please don't go away.  There are over 300 OTHER posts, and many of them contain information about Second Life and the whole virtual world experience that you may find useful, interesting, and maybe even amusing from time to time.

In just a few years, perhaps, some historian of the digital realms may stumble in here and say, "My goodness, how quaint!  How primitive!  They really did THAT?"

Thanks for reading these pages.  I wish you all good things in your lives, both real and virtual.

Lindal Kidd

Friday, October 17, 2014

FLASH! A Small Problem with Outfits

A while back, I explained how to use the handy Outfits feature of your inventory to create a wardrobe of complete looks that are ready to put on with a single mouse click.  (See "The Ins and Outs of Outfits.")

However, it's possible to run into difficulty with this feature, and a person asking a question on the SL Answers forum brought it to my attention (thanks, Chinook!)

Outfits are intended to be made up of LINKS, those useful items in your inventory that point back to an actual object, helping to keep your inventory organized.  They aren't made for containing the actual objects themselves.

When you buy a new dress or shoes, DON'T store them in a folder in My Outfits!  If you do, you could experience odd behaviors like your shoes being dumped into the Trash folder.  Unpack the dress or shoes, and store them in your Clothing folder.  Then wear them, and assemble the other parts and accessories you want for your complete look.

When you have it all together, use the procedure from the Outfits post to save it (Appearance--> Edit Outfit--> Save As.)

And glam on, Fashionista!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Hoist the Q Flag

Today, we once again divert our course from Second Life to talk about Real Life.  A very, very nasty part of Real Life...the Ebola virus outbreak.

As I'm sure you know, there is an epidemic of Ebola in West Africa.  This is a horrendous disease, and it's got about a 50% mortality rate.  If you catch it, the tissues of your body break down and you literally bleed to death internally.  Fortunately, the virus is not readily's not an airborne contagion but is transmitted through contact with the body fluids of an infected person.  Moreover, a victim does not become infectious until they begin to show symptoms.

While those factors help to limit the spread of Ebola, nevertheless the current outbreak is the worst on record, with over 6,000 known cases to date.  Because viral epidemics expand exponentially, there will surely be a great many more before it's over.

That's bad enough, to be sure.  But last week the first case of Ebola was diagnosed here in the USA...a Liberian man visiting his family in Texas.

Now, the officials at the CDC had been telling us in the news that this was likely to occur, but not to worry -- we have a much better health system than the poor countries in West Africa, we have the means to contain the spread of the disease, and yadda yadda yadda.  In the event, the first time the man visited the hospital complaining of a fever, he was misdiagnosed and released.  Now the CDC is playing catch-up.  They've quarantined the man's family, under guard.  They are looking for over a hundred people with whom he may have come in contact, so they can be placed under observation.

This is exactly the wrong way to deal with the problem.  By waiting for a victim to be identified, and only then trying to determine who else he may have infected, the CDC has placed us in a position of following along after the Doom Bugs, instead of being out in front of them in the first place.

For centuries it's been known that the best way to keep a population from contracting a disease is to prevent infected people from getting in.  Of course, the downside to this is that you have to inconvenience a great many NON-infected people.  But in a situation where the disease kills half its victims, extreme measures may well be justified.

What the CDC should have been doing, weeks ago, is instituting a nationwide quarantine.  Anyone arriving at the border who's been to West Africa in the previous month should be isolated for 30 days.

For God's sake, people, we quarantined the Apollo astronauts for a month after they got back from the moon, just on the off-chance of extraterrestrial germs.  And that was only a theoretical possibility!

We need a quarantine, and we need it yesterday.  Anyone who thinks that having a lot of hospitals and doctors with gleaming, modern equipment automatically makes us safe against a mindless killer better think again.

EDIT as of October 17.  We have two new US cases, and hundreds more potentially exposed people are being tracked by the CDC.  There have been failures to follow adequate procedures, failures to follow the CDC's own guidelines about restricting travel and exposure.  How many people are going to have to die before we get serious?