Monday, January 29, 2007

Monday, January 22, 2007

Local subversion repository

Another post? It's like a post overload!

I've set up a local subversion (svn) repository to manage the viewer source code as I make revisions, allowing me to easily save old versions, view what I've changed, and revert to the older version if something bad happens. It's not accessible over the internet (at least not yet), which means that it is of very limited usefulness to other people. But hey, I know how fun it is to read about what other people are doing that doesn't really affect me personally, so now my readers (I think I have some of those? Maybe I'm thinking of lemurs.) can enjoy the same luxury.

Here's the plan for repository layout:

  • linden — contains the most recent vanilla source code from Linden Lab.
  • jacek — contains my tinkered source code.
You might be wondering why I would maintain a directory with the untouched source code, when I can always revert any changes that I've made. My reasoning has to do with managing changes to the linden branch and merging them into my own branch as needed. When a new version of the source comes out, I can update the linden branch, see what changed, and apply those changes to my branch—without overwriting any changes I may have made to the same files.

I might also make more branches off of jacek if I ever decide to implement something that takes a really long time to code, then merge the changes back when I'm done.

UI abstraction follow-up

Not to toot my own horn in public, but one of my images for the UI Abstraction Photo Contest won first prize! I thought that was pretty neat. It was this one:

There were a metric ton of other really awesome images in the show, in a surprising variety of styles! The social phenomenon that is Torley submitted some images, and they were pretty awesome, which is natural, seeing as how Torley is to UI abstraction what Rembrandt van Rijn was to portraiture. I even use a mash-up of one of Torley's pics as my desktop wallpaper. Not to mention Torley's texture packs—they look really cool on a nice twisty torus! And there is a new pack out that I have to run out and get! And the songs, oh so many wonderful songs (especially lovin' the piano fantasies)! *gush* <3 We all love Torley! <3

(Hey, that's like 3 posts in one day. This is starting to turn into a blog or something. What the cube?)

Disabling Typing Sound Client-side

You know that really loud and annoying typing sound? The one that plays whenever anybody starts to chat? The one that used to ruin in-world live music events? The one you muted all sound effects to get rid of?

Yeah, you know the one. Well guess what: you can replace it with the sound effect of your choice, or just get rid of it entirely. You don't even have to change any code in the viewer source; we could have done this all along. (Which really rubs salt in the wound, doesn't it?)

Here's how:

  1. Enable the Client and Server debug menus with Ctrl-Alt-Shift-D.
  2. Client > Debug Settings (second entry from the bottom)
  3. Type or find "UISndTyping" in the drop-down menu box.
  4. To get rid of the typing sound: clear the text entry box at the bottom. To use a different sound file, paste its UUID into the text entry box. (You can get a sound's UUID by right clicking it in your inventory and choosing "Copy Asset UUID".)
That should save the setting to your user_settings.xml file:
    <!--Sound file for starting to type a chat message (uuid for sound asset)-->
<UISndTyping value=""/>
This only changes what you hear from your own client, which means everyone else will hear whatever they set. And best of all, you won't hear typing from other avatars, either! Now that's music to my ears!

OSS Viewer success

Minor news bulletin: I compiled the latest viewer source and successfully connected to the grid today. I'm not sure exactly why it worked this time, but there are a few major possibilities:

  1. I used the faster, but proprietary jpeg2000 decoder library.
  2. I actually followed all the instructions.
But there's no way of knowing exactly which it was... so, um... yeah.

Friday, January 19, 2007

UI Abstraction Photo Contest

You may have read about the next contest at the Photography Studio in Grignano. I've submitted two images to the contest, which you can view below!

Both entries are based on a set of snapshots I did of one scene; every snapshot in the set was of the same scene from the same angle, but with different settings. The stark difference between the images below is the product of experimenting with how the many snapshots were layered and combined. The series is entitled "Welcome".

Click each image to view a larger size.

They will be hanging on the walls of the venerable Studio with all the other entries for the exhibit, so you should check the place out!

Also, if you're thinking of submitting an entry, you'd better hurry: the deadline for submission is tomorrow evening!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Status Update 01-13

I've compiled the vanilla viewer 3 times so far, twice as "release" and once as "releasefordownload". I've also connected to the Grid (Agni) several times, but each time the connection was apparently interrupted or died or was deauthorized soon after log-in.

Movement, teleportation, profile viewing, map viewing, and who knows what else were non-operational. The Friends list seemed to work, and I tried to send a couple IMs to my online friends, but they were not received. L$ balance was blank, and some menu options were disabled (specifically "Appearance" and "Upload ____"). My avatar was invisible except for a few attachments attachments, and no in-world objects were visible. The terrain was visible, however.

There were several varieties of suspicious/interesting messages which flooded the console at various times.

The first variety looked like this:

[INFO] tile 1 of 1
[INFO] - tiers-1 took 1.032843 s
[INFO] - dwt took 2.815572 s
[INFO] - tile decoded in 4.792272 s
I think it is reporting on the download and decoding of texture files from jpeg2000 format. Some time after the log-in process began, an increasing amount show up like this:
[INFO] tile 1 of 1
[ERROR] tcd_decode: incomplete bistream
[INFO] - tiers-1 took 0.117982 s
[INFO] - dwt took 0.406939 s
[INFO] - tile decoded in 0.736888 s
[ERROR] read error
If I try to move or fly, I get messages like this:
2007-01-11T23:22:44Z WARNING: sendMessage - Trying to send AgentUpdate on unknown circuit
If I try other things, I get the same message, but with "AgentUpdate" replaced with other message names, like "ViewerEffect" or "TeleportLandmarkRequest" or "AgentPause" or "LogoutRequest".

Finally, here is an example of the message log summary I get when I quit the viewer.
2007-01-13T23:04:01Z Run time: 591.330 seconds
2007-01-13T23:04:01Z Incoming:
2007-01-13T23:04:01Z Total bytes received: 78004 ( 1.06 kbits per second)
2007-01-13T23:04:01Z Total packets received: 403 ( 0.68 packets per second)
2007-01-13T23:04:01Z Average packet size: 194 bytes
2007-01-13T23:04:01Z Total reliable packets: 24 ( 5.94%)
2007-01-13T23:04:01Z Total compressed packets: 71 (17.57%)
2007-01-13T23:04:01Z Total compression savings: 8097 bytes
2007-01-13T23:04:01Z Avg comp packet savings: 112 ( 1.38 : 1)
2007-01-13T23:04:01Z Avg overall comp savings: 20 ( 1.10 : 1)
2007-01-13T23:04:01Z Outgoing:
2007-01-13T23:04:01Z Total bytes sent: 2000 ( 0.03 kbits per second)
2007-01-13T23:04:01Z Total packets sent: 437 ( 0.74 packets per second)
2007-01-13T23:04:01Z Average packet size: 5 bytes
2007-01-13T23:04:01Z Total reliable packets: 71 (16.21%)
2007-01-13T23:04:01Z Total compressed packets: 14 ( 3.20%)
2007-01-13T23:04:01Z Total compression savings: 244 bytes
2007-01-13T23:04:01Z Avg comp packet savings: 16 ( 1.22 : 1)
2007-01-13T23:04:01Z Avg overall comp savings: 0 ( 1.12 : 1)
2007-01-13T23:04:01Z SendPacket failures: 0
2007-01-13T23:04:01Z Dropped packets: 10
2007-01-13T23:04:01Z Resent packets: 34
2007-01-13T23:04:01Z Failed reliable resends: 42
2007-01-13T23:04:01Z Off-circuit rejected packets: 267
2007-01-13T23:04:01Z On-circuit invalid packets: 0
2007-01-13T23:04:01Z Decoding:
2007-01-13T23:04:01Z Message Count Time Max Avg
2007-01-13T23:04:01Z END MESSAGE LOG SUMMARY
On the plus side: except for not being able to log in or do much of anything, it works great! ...

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Miscellaneous Feature Ideas

Just brainstorming features (large and small) that would be both possible and desirable to add to the Second Life viewer client. Things which would require server changes don't fit here, only things which can be accomplished by changing the client only. I'm also focusing only on new features for this post; I might make another post of bugs that should be fixed.

  • Menu items for builder tools (e.g. Edit Linked Parts, Ruler Modes, Color/Texture Pickers).
  • Hide/show specific UI elements. (Tateru gets the credit for thinking up this one.)
  • Arbitrary number of clothing layers on all body sections.
  • Improved avatar mesh UV maps, so clothing and skins are easier to create and align.
  • Improved avatar mesh weighting, so joints don't bend in such an ugly way.
  • Modifiable menus (rearrange and set shortcuts on the fly).
  • UI color schemes.
  • Additional image file formats (e.g. PNG).
  • Client-side script API, allowing interpreted scripts to access client functions.
Here's how I would rank them:

The three least difficult to accomplish, in increasing difficulty:
  1. Menu items for builder tools.
  2. Hide/show UI elements.
  3. Improved avatar mesh weighting.
The three most beneficial, in decreasing benefit:
  1. Client-side script API.
  2. Arbitrary clothing layers.
  3. Modifiable menus.
The three best time investments (most gain for time spent), in decreasing return on investment:
  1. Client-side script API. (The gain is simply astounding.)
  2. Menu items for builder tools. (The gain is only moderate, but the effort is minimal.)
  3. Arbitrary clothing layers. (The gain is very great.)
If you care to comment on how you would rank the listed items differently, please do so. I'm not asking for new ideas for features, though; I think there are more appropriate (and worthwhile) channels to be heard.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Post-OSS Plans

I've dived head-first into the client source code. For the moment, I'm just orienting myself, poking my head around to see what goes where, building up a mental map of how the pieces fit.

An obvious next step is to attempt a compile of the viewer as-provided, before making any changes. That way, if something doesn't work, I will know that at least it used to work, so something I did broke it.

I'm also familiarizing myself with Linden Lab's issue tracker, wiki, mailing list, etc.—all the new stuff that appeared. I'll probably see if there are any little bugs in the issue tracker that I can fix.

In the meantime, I'm noting areas of the source code that interest me, so that I can focus and specialize in them. At the moment, improving the user interface seems to be where I get my kicks. The things I noted in my exploration of XUI as being impossible without access to the source code are now, of course, possible.

Lots of new toys to play with.

Second Life Viewer Open-Sourced

This is quite simply the most important SL news ever. Don't I seem excited? Well, I am. You could say I am cautiously optimistic.

Linden Lab has put a lot of thought and planning into this move, as evidenced by the info-laden open source page and new wiki. I can only hope they know what they are doing.

Yes, part of me worries about the negative effects we will almost certainly see in the near future. This has the potential to be much worse than the CopyBot scare, and with good reason—this turns the Grid upside-down. The assumptions that had been in place are now defenestrated, and business models will have to adapt, and adapt fast. Except for scripters and sex workers, there is no SL market I can think of that will not have to fundamentally rearrange itself.

Honestly, Linden Lab should have given an announcement several days prior to the source code release, to give time for preparation. I would not be surprised if many content providers close down temporarily, until they decide what to do.

We will probably see theft and panic. Temporary economic instability. But people will adapt. New business models will emerge. And most importantly, new tools will be created to improve Second Life.

Let's have hope for the future. The next few days will be rough as vendors panic, but things will calm down. Later, probably within a week, some new tool will be released to exploit some security hole, and more people will panic. But things will calm down again.

And then we'll see some really neat stuff. The kind of stuff that restores your faith in humanity.

That's how I see it, anyway. Time will tell.