Pondering VR Goggles

I’m soooo tempted to preorder a Valve / HTC Vive … only $800!  what a bargain!  Frankly, it looks to me like better hardware than Oculus, and it might even be a better value, given it comes with two hand controllers.

I’d not quite be an early adopter here, but I’d love to see SL, HiFi, and Sansar in VR…  Would it be worth it? I’m not sure.

My other big worry is that it won’t work very well with (my) glasses.  I’ve had issues with Cardboard, though it is okay.

… ponder ponder ponder …

Return of The Squid: how to build a terabyte texture cache using Squid 3 (updated)

squid_logoThis is a followup to my earlier post https://vex.fabulo.us/2011/01/tentacular-magic-for-sl-squidifying-your-viewer/ where I discussed how to set up a local squid web cache as an adjunct to your SL viewer’s texture cache.  There were several important caveats there: First, that you could use Squid 2.7 only, since the feature we need for running an efficient cache, StoreURLRewrite wasn’t implemented in later versions and second, there were some bugs in recent viewers that resulted in some textures being cached in a broken state.

Well. Things always change, so this post is aimed squarely at the earlier problems and an attempt to find a better balance now that viewers support ten times the internal texture cache size that was previously available.  So, intrepid reader, gird your loins and lets get kraken!

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Crashing my computer with Nvlddmkm Event ID 4101

Since allowing myself to be convinced to update to Windows 10 (from Windows 7), I’ve been getting the dreaded “nvlddmkm Event ID 4101” error, perhaps also known as The Black Screen Of Death. It took a bit of digging but I believe I’ve uncovered a chain of issues that combined to cause the problem and a fix that appears to have fixed it.

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“50% OFF Monthly Premium Membership!” and other hyperbole.

If anyone from the Labs happens to read this: I’m not much for Linden bashing, but these ridiculous discount offers suggest either your marketing department is full of idiots or they think readers are idiots. Okay okay, maybe there are a sufficient number of idiots to make it worth the breathless hyperbole, but still, it comes across as insultingly childish. At worst it verges on false advertising.

“50% OFF Monthly Premium Membership” is simply false – the offered discount isn’t on anything monthly at all, it is a half price on the first month of a presumably longer membership. Furthermore, is better access to tech support reeeeeally the most compelling reason to upgrade membership? It makes it sound like “our product is so bad that it is worth paying to get all-you-can-eat support” which certainly doesn’t match my experience.


Our first Megawatt-hour

So, in September 2014, we signed a contract to install a photovoltaic solar panel array on our roof.  It took quite a while to get things complete, but we “threw the switch” the first week of March 2015 and by 1 May 2015, we’d generated 1 Megawatt-hour of electricity!  Woo hoo!  The trip has been full of frustrations and surprises, so I thought I’d document it a bit here. I can just hear your confusion: “Why on Vex::Tech?! Isn’t this supposed to be about virtual worlds and stuff?!”  Well, true… so I’ll make the totally weak excuse that it is helping to power my own opensim and HiFi servers as well as the various gaming desktop and laptop machines in the house.

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Wherein I pine for continuous virtual worlds

I always liked the concept of virtual worlds as connected space: e.g. The Street in Snow Crash, The River in Otherland, even required travel time in many games and novels about games. AtollContinent

Second Life used to feel much more connected than it does today:  real estate near telehubs were valuable, and people needed to use the roads.  Sure there is plenty of mainland, but the roads, rails, and waterways are activities and window dressing, not really a meaningful part of the experience and rendering the world functionally just a huge pile of disconnected regions.

Au reports in New World Notes on the general lack of vehicle communities in SL… of course, there are certainly large groups centered around vehicles (SL Sailing is huge, and motorcycles are the center of smaller but perhaps more numerous groups), but again – they are generally all about the skills of driving, and they seem to mirror the social aspects of their RL analogues.

So, a thought experiment: what would it take to make vehicles in SL (for instance) not only valuable but crucial? … and what would the side effects be?  To get things started:

  1. lets imagine that Linden were to announce tomorrow (!) that user controlled teleports were no longer allowed in any situation.
  2. Oops – what about all those private regions? Well, how about navigable voids?
  3. Flying disallowed by default and never on mainland.
  4. The only way to go fast is to use a vehicle – faster engines cost more to run.
  5. It is possible to set up teleport portals, but they (a) cost money to set up, (b) the owner may charge a fee to use, (c) you need to manually place the endpoints, sailing to your island or building steps (minecraft-like) into your skybox.
  6. the world owner would probably want to set up some public transportation: maybe inter-telehub portals, or stargates, or Snowcrash-like high-speed rails.
  7. How long would SL take to recover? Ever? Quickly?
  8. There are plenty of MMOs that work like this – what would an SL or OpenSim with these rules look like?
  9. Would such a system kill SL commerce entirely?  Would people only shop on Marketplace?  Maybe Marketplace delivery charges go up to encourage people to go to stores.

No no, I’m not really suggesting that SL change, though I’d love to see an opensim try.  Maybe SL2 should work like this?  HiFi?

Coming Soon: Skill Games!… yay?

When I first saw the headline “Coming Soon: Skill Gaming in Second Life!” I thought “Ooh – what neat new feature are they rolling out now?”

But no.  What is happening is that a whole lot of devices previously allowed as TOS-compliant “skill games” under the wagering policy are now going to be outlawed. The problem is that now if you want to operate a skill game, you need to apply to be a skill game (SG) operator (US$100+quarterly fee), switch or move to a SG sim (US$325/month to “own”), and buy and run only approved devices created by approved SG authors (US$100+quarterly fee).

I have a difficult time imagining that very many creators or operators will take linden up on the offer: margins are too thin and the added complexity and cost is likely to be too much for most.  I, for one, don’t see any chance that I’ll invest the money to be an approved creator – I don’t make anywhere near enough money from such games.

I suppose Linden is solving a real problem here… seems to me that they’re once again creating more problems for SL due to rather poorly considered policy changes.  We’ll see, I guess.