Findings on Recent SL Issues (1.20 v 1.19 & earlier)

Well, purely by accident I’ve discovered a primary factor in my high-CPU usage. It was unbelievably simple – Dual Monitors.

Last Friday I caved in and bought a 24″ monitor as an upgrade to my two existing LCD workhorses – a Dell 20″ widescreen and a Dell 19″ – which were still doing OK but had intermittent problems due to age (and both had flaws when I got them anyway). Getting to the store in question that evening is another story, but I’ll just say it took 4x longer than it should have (at least I had fun dealing with the car’s nav again)…

As for this monitor, other than two stuck pixels it appears to be running happily (which is more than I could say for the two its replacing anyway). I’ll give it another week before going for the rebate that went with it.

So, of course, the first thing I did after calibrating it for my use was to fire up Second Life. The first couple of tries was problematic, as I was still tweaking the monitor for my eyes. But when I was *really* ready, I fired up the Task Manager and started recording CPU history.

Result? Originally, I was using an average of 25-30% CPU when in background (TaskMan or some other app displaying) and over 40% CPU when it was active. This is on a Quad-Core, so it was spread amongst the various cores, but this does not sound right to me; Upgrading the video card did not help either. But dropping back to one monitor dropped the CPU use to reasonable levels – 9-10% idle and 20% or so in foreground – despite having *more* screen space available. This is now directly on-par with Craig’s system, which is using the same CPU, monitor size, and class of video card (he has an original 8800 series). So, scratch one problem; However, this is an issue that Michi Lumin has been talking about since 2005 – I’d have thought this was fixed by now!

As for memory, it appears that a couple issue IDs on LL’s P-Jira summaries this (I will update this post with the IDs later). One discussed the OpenGL Vertex Buffers (which apparently is buggy atm); That should be turned off. The second outlined a memory leak related to high amounts of memory set aside for video card pre-buffering; The workaround (as presented by Nicholaz) was to keep the card memory setting (in the ‘Advanced’ submenu) to 256 or less. This makes rezzing and texture resolving slower, but I can go for very long amounts of time without crashing again.

So, for now, I’ve got SL working again to a point that I could be a regular again – *if* I’m willing to be a regular again. Like dealing with MO:RE and the Age Building stuff, I now have RL things in priority, so my online time is rather throttled nowadays. We shall see… ;-)

–TSK

Popping my Head Up

I had no intent of not writing a RSS-able entry in the past two months; In fact I’ve been tweaking away at the site now and then, its just not in areas that will be noticed much by sites like MystBlogs. :p

Anyway, the obligatory ‘what’s been going on since April’ post:

-> The Slug (NSLU2-Debian), he be toast again (shortly after my last post, ironically). I’m fed up with the rather convoluted way that I have to connect to it, so I’m looking at just getting the smallest entry-PC you can get (about $200 at MicroCenter) and dump Debian on it. Maybe dual-boot it with OpenSolaris. :)

-> New video card: nVidia 8800 GT from Palit. Despite the iffy reviews that came out of NewEgg, its looking good so far. Only problem now is that I no longer have any inhibitions to add mods for Oblivion…

-> Continuing the overclock: I’m up to 3.0 Ghz on the Q6600 (that’s 375×8) and stable; Rolling back the HSF to the stock one helped with that, as well as replacement exhaust fans on the case. I will update the PC page at some point, but in most respects now my system specs match Craig’s.

-> Back on SL, heavily: After two months in There, of all things a golf tourney in SL gets me involved again. I’m fiddling with sailing a bit more too, and exploring why the durn Viewers like to crash so much (I think that’s been mostly solved as of yesterday – more testing to do).

-> planning for vacation and Mysterium: I had planned to goto Boston for Mysterium before I heard about Wolfie’s death. Now I will definitely be there, perhaps trying to make a ‘boffer safe’ Riven dagger as a demo (need materials from James – perhaps while at DexCon – or visit an appropriate store). Making a sheath for this could get complicated…

-> My health: Don’t worry, good news here. :) I’ve been experimenting with something called ‘colloidal silver’ (which, according to the FDA, I’m not allowed to explain what it does – I’m NOT kidding!). Things are progressing well, and I may bring samples of the stuff as well as the generator I use to make it.

-> Blue Belt: Last and definitely not least, I earned my Blue Belt at Tiger’s (around late April). This was despite the sore wrist going into the testing period, but I just dealt with it and endured. I really should start getting pics for this…

*Reviews the above* Ya know, even if the new MO were available today, I still don’t think I could join atm. It’s just too busy in my life. We’ll see once the servers are up again.

/salute
–TSK

SL Forum Facelift – Hidden Comments, Part 2

Right, on to Part 2 (more detailed comments regarding Off-Topic Discussion, and Moderating) as posted in their forum. Not much discussion occurred between my first post and now, so will give it a few more days before summarizing.

Should an Off-Topic section be brought back? Heck Yes. But there are caveats that go with the suggestion (some of this will reference my earlier master post):

-> In a publicly-viewable forum (Guests), the OT section should not be available. Again, this is to keep things friendly to the Search Spiders. Verified and above should be able to see it, though I feel that there should be an option to squelch access to it if you’re not at all interested.

[I’d like to point out here that getting to Verified status only takes the purchase of US$1 worth of L$ from the LindeX exchange site. I understand that there are barriers to even this, but I just noticed that Verified PayPal users can now link their account (which IMHO may be safer than leaving CC info with LL). Also, anyone who decided to undergo that interesting and amusing ‘Age Verification’ thing *should* be considered as Verified for the sake of forum access.]

-> The OT section should be either very lightly moderated, or not moderated at all (this assumes my earlier point, which hides the forum to Guests). However, the REST of the forum is strictly moderated (or as close to that as possible). This is going to meld into the Moderation comments, stay with me here.

My reasoning behind this is straightforward – As has been mentioned multiple times here, we’re going to have these discussions *regardless* of an OT section occurring or not. Lets put it back, but with controls and clearly defined rules both for regular and OT sections. However, strict moderation will either require more Linden staff or some sort of assistance elsewhere.

An excellent example of a vB forum implementing some of this is the Notebook Forums: [url]http://www.notebookforums.com/index.php?index[/url]

Guests will notice that OT is marked Private and not available. I have an account there, and can see OT when I’m in (currently browsing a US economy thread). [Side note – they appear to have gone through an overhaul much like what’s discussed here, and is looking the better for it. Their Rules thread/post is VERY strict and is not what I’d recommend here (due to lack of staff), but could be adapted.]

—–

OK, my feelings on Moderation (please don’t shoot me ).

I do think external moderation can work; Y’all did not have an issue with some of us ResMods during the initial couple months (I will make no comment as to my own success; Go look at my post history and decide for yourself – and it would be nice to hear counter-feedback from those who were not around back then). However, there will be a bit of give-and-take in order to allow this:

-> External Mods should preferably be *external* (i.e. outside contractors) with no SL accounts at all. This may not be possible due to the way this forum integrates, so alternatively hand out Linden accounts with no SL login capability or create a new ‘last name’ for this purpose that still has no SL login possible. If they did have accounts prior to this, they would need to submit to temp or permanent ban during their tenure as mod.

-> Barring that, an existing ‘Resi’ *waves to Torley if still watching* can be nominated to help. However, he/she will need to submit full RL data including address, etc (like what is submitted for the Age Verification) and possibly accept whatever additional vetting is required for a MG person to interact on the TG.

[I originally had the option for your avatar (and any of those linked to your IPs) both banned and deleted from the database; Discussing it with a friend of mine (who some may remember as Racer Plisskin, also retired) made me remove this based on issues with creating problems in the Asset DB. I include it here for completeness and expansion/discussion on keeping the Mod from ‘conflicts of interest’ with the world being discussed around them. Also, if its not blatently obvious, I’m quite willing to submit to this despite the sacrifices involved and my deep ties here.]

-> Oh, one last thing – we’ve unofficially had Moderation by Residents as far back as Beta. After all, who’s ‘Nada Epoch’ in the Scripting Library forum? And the old Groups forums had the ‘creator’ of that group also be the Mod for it. We know its possible, and it did work well in those instances, so it should not be an issue to re-work it when done carefully.

—–

Though I did not intend to discuss banning, I touched on some of it above, so my thoughts:

-> I will not – and cannot – discuss existing bans in place due to certain ‘conflicts of interest’ created from an early (and possibly ongoing) program around the permaban system. You’ll need to poke Robin or perhaps Andrew for more info – ask about ‘Resident Review.’

-> I agree with the earlier mention of having a forum ban not mean an SL ban – but an SL ban should include the forums (though the read-only sections would still be available as a ‘Guest’ if that’s enabled). I also agree that it should be tiered into via multiple suspensions – perhaps two weeks, then 4, then 8, then permanent.

—–=====—–

OK, that’s pretty much the remainder of my overall comments on this subject. From here on I will answer questions (If I can) and otherwise probably fade back onto my weblog until I hear anything different over here.

Robin and Kat – Again, best of luck to both of you, and forward my thanks again to Torley for keeping me sane during the ResMod attempt.

SL Forum Facelift – Hidden Comments, Part 1

Linden Research’s Robin Harper posted on their official weblog that it’s time to re-work their internal forum. Link on the *weblog* here.

Since their forum currently is for ‘verified’ members only (you have to, at minimum, have credit card info on-file), I will be reposting my major comments here – and summary of responses, if any, as time goes on – for the sake of the Myst/Uru community. My apologies for the length (and I’m not done yet!) but its a bit of a passionate subject of mine.

–TSK

First of all, a hearty ‘Shorah!’ to Robin, Kat, Travis, Desmond, Strife, and the others who know me from as far back as mid/late 2004 and have still stuck it out here.

I am shocked to discover that it’s been horribly long since I was last here; My old sig mentioned that Myst Online was in Beta stage (~ 16 months later and now its shutdown will be in about a week ). Perhaps its more telling that my interest here fell out shortly after my term as RezMod – something that even today I’ve never talked much about, here or on my site (other than getting more cynical than I was before ). The only reason I’m here now is a passing reference to the forums under the LL weblog RSS feed (which is displayed on a sidebar at my site).

However, feedback is being solicited for something that was once very dear to my heart in SL (especially as someone who works late at night). So here goes, warts and all:

-> An update of the software is very long overdue, and allowing more general features (including BBcode or similar) would be a good idea. If you’re going to stay with paid software though, it might be worth it to give Invision a look – they have interesting features that could be useful here (which I’ll touch on shortly). It is used for many in the Myst/Uru community sites, in particular since they integrate so well with outside sources. Then again, a quick look at the Notebook Forums (running vB 3.6.5) looks more like a portal than a forum, so perhaps you can stick with that after all.

It is EXTREMELY important to have someone keep general maintenance of the forum software itself – primarily to keep up-to-date on possible exploits and test as needed before making the appropriate changes. This is *not* a full-time endeavor (I just did two major WordPress site upgrades – one from scratch – in about 5 hours over two nights). However, I have many a horror story of varying public forums being brought down or otherwise corrupted by someone with a malicious agenda. In this case its a matter of When, not If (putting on my UNIX Admin hat briefly).

—–=====—–

-> Enable read/write access to the forums in a more ‘tiered’ manner (I believe its called Access Groups or something similar – I don’t run a forum); This is to give the ‘best foot forward’ to the world while also allowing some flexibility for the individual. To expand further:

–> Guests (and therefore Search Spiders) should be able to read (at minimum) the Content, Conversation, and Technical Issues sections. Probably also International. These sections may need to have certain subsections hidden to Guests, depending on general usage.

–> Verified members should see the whole forum, and be able to post.

–> Premium/paying members should have the ability to ‘Mute’ or ‘Ignore’ whole sections (like General, if it gets brought back). This gives a tangible value to Premium again (many forum-based portals allow extra perks for paying them, you’d not be alone in this).

It would also allow easy view of the ‘high-end’ members like reps from IBM et al or the Concierge members (perhaps groups and hidden forums for them too?). Alternatively, allow a one-time fee of L$1000 or so for this access (thereby generating a small sink). See the forums on Priuschat.com for an example of the paid system – paying and ‘Sponsor’ members are clearly marked and show their pay level next to posts.

–> TG members should be able to use the same forum; However they’ll have their own, greatly reduced list of subfora (which are NOT seen by MG members) and special ‘approve everything’ forums from MG side (in particular the Scripting Archive) should be available to them for reading only. ‘Graduating’ to MG from the forum side is as simple as changing their group membership, and should be easily automated (and this also allows them to contribute to the benefit of their earlier peers indirectly).

—–=====—–

-> Don’t bother with Ratings of any sort in-forum; They got gamed in SL and they’ll get gamed here, in either direction. In fact, replace direct post counts with text or graphical representations (as most sites have done).

—–=====—–

Regarding General/Rants & Moderation (these two kinda go hand-in-hand):

I, like others here, believe that a General-style forum (more accurately termed ‘Off-Topic’ or ‘Off-World’ or ‘First Life’) is required to draw the venting off to where it belongs – other than the Technical Discussions anyway. However, balancing that with moderation abilities is definitely going to be a challenge (Cybin did his best work there I think, and I never wanted any part of it within the first week).

I’m not yet prepared to add further comments to this portion; Maybe later tonight. However I do think outside moderation will work, if done with forethought (an excellent example of this – despite the occasional drama – occurred on the Myst Online forum of all places).

—–=====—–

Yipes, I’ve been writing for well over an hour now and this is getting into a Gwyneth-sized post. As I said, this is something that was dear to me in SL even before the ResMod project, since it was great to be helping people – or generally chat – when I could not get online.

/salute
–Tim Kimball

[Yes, that’s my real name I’m signing to here. Everyone else knows me online as that name, why not y’all? Besides, I still consider myself a retired resident, despite poking my head in from time to time.]

Fun with Brandz (In Second Life(R) )

[Or how a writing project gets derailed before I even type the first character.]

I’m a bit late posting about this, mostly because 1) I don’t spend my time on this site talking much about SL since there are better places to do that, and 2) I contribute to those sites via commenting instead.

Anyway, Linden Research (owner of SL) effectively declared this week that they are aggressively pursuing infringement of their trademarks, and two days later changed the SL TOS to reflect that. I would normally be OK with that, except that its a near-reversal of their old policy, and appears to be preparing to take down external websites that include those marks (which were created in accordance with their OLD rules!).

Rather than get into my own tedious posting, I’m just going to drop the links of other sites which are covering this much better (some of which I’ve commented on):

-> Though not the original opening salvo from the community, Gwyneth’s explanation appears the clearest and includes an ultimatum that several other prominent sites are considering joining. I tried to post comments there, but her site will not allow access to comments from my home IP.

-> Reporter James ‘Hamlet’ Au has had multiple posts here, here, and here as the debate developed. I’ve participated in the first two, as they include discussions from people who I’ve come to know in RL or in extended discussion with SL and consider friends. The latest (comments disabled) actually summarizes from comments on the second, where two RL lawyers discuss the issue in detail; One of them has a full-time discussion of virtual law on his site, and will probably end up on my links list under the SL section.

-> For the terminally curious, I’ve added a link to the one lawyer’s site here, as his explanation and discussion helps greatly.

-> Linden Research’s PR is probably going to have a followup response on Monday, thanks to Hamlet’s badgering them (and rightly so, since he’s affected).

Anyway, the last link, above, has enough info that it does not totally derail the writing project, but while this calms down I’m taking notes on There.com instead. *shrug* It’s safer right now.

/salute
–TSK

Heading to the Modern (WebLog) World / Migration Guide

Just spent the last two hours doing many upgrades on the main site:

-> WordPress 2.3.x (I’d give 2.5 a whirl but Fantastico is not allowing that yet). Removing the two offending lines per the upgrade note fixed the issue of my earlier attempt.

-> Upgrade and/or removal of a bunch of the existing plugins/widgets (the most notable of which were Bad Behavior and Akismet).

-> Upgrade the theme (blog.txt) from 1.1 to 4.01. Again, latest can’t be grabbed due to WP 2.5 incompatibilities (though the idea of having gravitar support irks me – as the theme selection suggests, I prefer simple). One plus is that this version of the theme now can be done in three-column format, which I’m taking advantage of; With a few other tweaks, it now nicely fits the entire width of my old 19″ LCD with no bottom scrollbar (and still readable!).

I suppose the T_S_Journal should have the same treatment done, but I’m still debating its takedown. A peek at the UruBlogs page (my first look in about five months), shows that it has focused back to ‘external’ content *salutes to Whilyam and Tweek* and that is swaying me back to maintaining it again. I’m also an immediate fan of Tweek’s ‘markup’ for KI images and will be using that if needed.

—–

Oh, side note: I’m finally planning out the ‘guide’ for SL that I mentioned in the MOUL forum, and that some folks had approved on. The big thing that I wanted to have was something similar to Wikipedia’s NPOV (or as close to it as possible), so I’m crafting a notecard to drop on certain residents asking if its OK to include their weblog or other links on my document. This will probably include a couple established sites that are critical of the ‘Labs and have reasonable arguments.

Also – at some point – I hope to include There.com and the MMOs that most have interests in – but either with external help or lots of personal free time. I will track down a new plugin for external contact in a little bit (probably within the hour of this post) so that anyone curious can ask directly.

–TSK

OK, What’s Next?

Anyone who’s been a die-hard fan of ‘West Wing’ should recognize that quote: It’s from President Bartlett, of course, said an uncountable number of times.

I bring it up because it’s what I’ve been thinking all weekend. What, really, is next for us all?

Cyan has not said anything yet, that I’ve seen as of now anyway. Most feel that this to them is the end, and perhaps also a beginning. I don’t know; I’m personally not fond of speculation when there’s no information at all to speculate on. It’s something I learned the hard way during my busier time in SL, and has helped me keep my head in times of stress at work.

The community as a whole is en-route to another diaspora, a course to what I’ll term Interregnum II (like SuperGram, I just won’t say its the end either; I’ve invested and even sacrificed too much – far, far too much – to just think that its been for naught). A large portion of the group are looking at the two virtual worlds, Second Life and There. I still intend to help with that (a welcome guide tailored for the community), as the writing exercise will do me good in more ways than one. Another portion is looking at the more traditional MMOs – of those, Guild Wars and Eve Online appear to be at the top. I can’t comment on either as I’m not interested in spending any more money right now; That’s going to RL endeavors now, such as my health, and the health of my mother.

For my own plans, they have not changed. I’ve had my final fun at the Parade. I spent time yesterday finishing Prime for what may be the last time, and I now have every spark except two: K’Veer and Myst. Other than some final, quiet meanderings, I’d like to quietly fade out. I’ve been retired from virtual worlds and other Massive environments, and have no intent of getting back into them now (though I still like to poke my head in from time to time). For me, there’s still new things ahead of me in the Real World, challenges that I know I can meet now.

All because of the power of community. Because its not just about one person changing many; It’s also about many inspiring one. :)

Shorah B’shemtee, and best of luck of all of you.
/salute
–TSK

Three Years in Second Life

The evening of this past friday (6/29) marked exactly three years since I registered the ‘Alan Kiesler’ account in Second Life. Though officially I left the Orientation island today (7/2) due to a bad crash and RL stuff, I logged in that night to hop around my old haunts.

Upon reaching the ‘Myst Online’ island sim (the GameTap sponsored replacement for Telador, btw), I found a group of folks playing ‘Heek (sort of – no less buggy there than it is in MO:UL ;) ). It was really cool to be able to walk in for the first time in a LONG while and just talk about Uru – especially while in SL, since that kind of ‘bridging’ is what I like to do best.

Imagine my surprise then, when I find out one of the folks at the table is Brad’li from the UO forum. He’s not been able to login to GameTap or MO:UL since it left the new beta, so I find it slightly ironic to learn that it was my own pics that got him over to SL as an alternative; My main calling in SL was (and still is) promoting Uru.

I ended up spending the next half-hour or so helping with the expected gaps in detailed documentation that SL is well-known for, as well as a small amount of L$ to start out with (which brings up the economy questions Gwyn brought up recently, but that’s a different rant).

I’m always happy to run across cool life coincidences like this, so it was particularly fitting to have one in SL at the 3-year mark.

–TSK

Update on the Site

I’ve been perusing my site logs to see who’s been hitting the place lately, and why. Brought up some interesting subjects, which I’ll begin to address now:

“Does Second Life work on an ATI Radeon Xpress?” – Last I checked with the notebook, yes, but slow. There is a ‘first look‘ version of their client that you may want to participate running a live beta from – but be warned, you’re connecting to their live/production grid with this, so anything really bad happens you may need to rebuild/rescript/etc. I’ve not tested it, not worth my little time online to possibly make it even worse for wear. :)

Status on my Debian Linux box, aka the NSLU2 ‘slug’ – It’s been shutdown for almost two months now; I’ve not had the time to maintain it for awhile, and once the DST hell is over with I’ll possibly poke at it again.

Numbakulla – I’ve had no recent time to visit there in SL, nor anywhere else. :( One query was looking for a walk through; There was some brief discussion about creating a ‘for sale’ item that would allow this (to generate revenue for the island), dunno if that’s been done.

—–=====—–

In other news, DST has come and passed, and we appear relatively unscathed (and after 8 hard weeks, it damn well should have!). There are still things to check, but so far, so good…

–TSK

Certain Blogs Hate Me…

I’ve been trying to comment on Chucker’s blog (regarding JPEG-2000) for the last four days, and it just won’t let me. I give up…

Anyway, what I’ve been trying to say is that Second Life uses JPEG-2000 as its image storage medium in the backend. IIRC its because of both the streaming and image compression benefits (they use the kakadu libraries).

I’m not sure how it’s being done for their new FOSS client source, since I’ve not looked at it (though trying to create a Solaris/SPARC compile would be amusing – if the equipment were available).

–TSK