Thursday, May 9, 2013

Frequently Asked Support Questions of May 8

This week's most frequently asked support questions:
  • Prims invisible until you {insert favorite workaround here}
  • Lag (that is, if it's a lot worse for you on FS 4.4.0 than FS 4.3.1)
  • Difficulty Clicking Continue on Terms of Service

Prims Invisible Until You…

…do the Hokey Pokey and turn yourself around or something. More effective, though, is to:
  • Enter wireframe (Ctrl-Shift-R, with the Develop menu open; if you don't, Ctrl-Alt-Q will open that) and then hit the same keys to switch back. 
  • Move your camera in and then pull it out, or vice versa (not as reliable but may be faster for some). 
  • Right-click where the objects are supposed to be, but that could take a while if there's a lot of stuff.

Toggling in and out of wireframe can display
prims. Ctrl-Shift-R. Develop menu must be open.
(Mac users can use Cmd [shown above] or Ctrl.)

Whatever your workaround of choice, you have undoubtedly noticed an increase in how often you need to use it. The problem is the one where there are objects or pieces of them missing after you teleport.

However: it's not a problem that coincided with Firestorm 4.4.0. It has, in fact, been under discussion since "The main channel [got] the interest list project that was previously on Magnum" in the Deploys of April 1. It affects Linden Lab's viewer and all viewers based on it, including Firestorm.

Even though it was triggered by a server rollout, it's nonetheless regarded as a "viewer problem." Think of it like Dr. Linden Lab changing all our meds at the same time without giving us the chance to prepare for it, and we're all having a weird, freaky reaction. The problem isn't the pill, it's the unprepared body. Since we're talking about viewers and not human bodies, though, we'll need a viewer update from LL in order to get our viewer in sync with the server as well.

Andrew Linden addressed the progress of just such a viewer update at a user group on Tuesday (the transcript should eventually be posted on their wiki). Once the Linden code becomes public and available, the Firestorm devs will be able to pull it in. If Firestorm ends up on the cusp of another release before they make it that far, our devs have some alternative ideas in mind.

Despite the fact that it long preceded the Firestorm 4.4.0 release, we've nonetheless heard from people who associate the issue with our update. How to explain that? Jessica Lyon hit the nail on the head in her recent appearance on The Carter and Dar Show, pointing out that people tend to enter notice-new-stuff mode after they update their viewer. It's when you're most likely to be paying attention.

So the bottom line on this issue: We're all experiencing it, it's not just you. The next Firestorm release will have either the Linden fix or a homegrown workaround. Until then, I recommend getting comfy with your Ctrl-Shift-R.

Experiencing More Lag in 4.4.0 Than in 4.3.1

There are many kinds of lag. The kind this section refers to is frame rate (frames per second, or FPS). Hit Ctrl-Shift-1 to bring up the statistics bar or go to Advanced > Performance Tools > Statistics Bar. FPS will show up at the top. Higher FPS numbers correspond with better performance.
1. FastCache, new to 4.4.0, works better for some on and
better for others off. Try both ways.

Let me start by saying that we have actually received more positive comments about performance with this Firestorm release than any other I can remember. For the majority, this one has been providing improved speed in both frame rate and rez times.

Nonetheless, performance is highly individualized. Changes that improve conditions for some often end up affecting others negatively. So many factors go into performance -- many specific to your setup and various habits as a user -- that not all can be accounted for.

And so for this release, a smaller number of people have found a decline in performance, but some to a significant degree. For instance, some find that in locations where they used to see 20-30 FPS, they're now seeing 2-3, with no amount of graphics adjustment making a mark.

2. VBO improves performance for some and depletes
performance for others. Try this both ways, too.
Under normal circumstances, render quality (graphics) is the biggest and most predictable factor affecting performance. In Prefs > Graphics, the slider at the top has "Performance" at one end and "Quality" at the other. The lower the graphics quality, the faster your performance. The higher the quality, the slower your performance. It's that simple -- under normal circumstances.

But circumstances in Second Life are not always normal, and so for those times when there's something oddball going on, there are a few additional settings to look at.

Important: The results you find from the following settings are going to be specific to you. No specific option will be universally or predictably better for everyone, and your need may change from one version of the viewer to another. Experiment, experiment, experiment. And rather than telling friends what their settings "should be," recommend that they experiment, too.
3. HTTP is yet another setting that works differently
for different people. If you see no significant difference,
leave this on.

  1. Fast Cache: Putting this first because it's brand new for Firestorm 4.4.0. Located in Advanced > Show Debug Settings, type or paste "FastCacheFetchEnabled," and try turning it to False. If there is no improvement, switch it back to True.
  2. VBO: Located in Preferences > Graphics > Hardware Settings, "Enable OpenGL Vertex Buffer Objects." See whether you get better performance with it off or on.
  3. HTTP: Located in Preferences > Graphics > Rendering, "Use HTTP Textures." Issues relating to HTTP got more complicated in the current release, though, so see our wiki page on HTTP Fetching Issues for more information beyond a simple experimental toggle. If there is no improvement with HTTP off, it is generally better to have it on.

Also try these in different combinations with each other. For more info on lag, we have informative wiki pages on general lag info and on troubleshooting lag.

Difficulty Clicking "Continue" on TOS

This hasn't been a particularly common issue, but it's timely.

The Second Life Terms of Service (TOS) got updated Tuesday. Every time there is a change to TOS, every resident needs to formally accept them (presumably after reading the new version) before being able to log in. A very small number of people inevitably have trouble doing so because the TOS loads in such a way that they cannot access the "Continue" button.

If this happens to you, just try using a different viewer to log in. TOS acceptance is per account, so you can do it on any viewer and then switch back to your preferred one. The problem is related to "webkit fail" and thus can theoretically take place on any viewer that uses webkit for web-related functions, i.e., any graphical viewer that is not based on the 1.23 code. Still, some will experience it on only one, and others will experience it on all of them, depending on why the webkit is failing.

And so you can try any other viewer you happen to have installed, but depending on the problem, your best bet might be the very old LL v1.23 (if you still have it) or Imprudence, which is still available for download. Or use a text-based client, such as Radegast.

More info on webkit fail and related topics can be found on our Media and Whitelisting wiki pages.

Other Problems? Where to Get More Help

Comments aren't open for this post. It's not because I don't want to hear from you but because I can't guarantee a response to requests for support here, and I don't want to leave the impression that such a response is likely. If you need help that isn't provided here, then please use the following means and those here:
  • The wiki is a regularly updated resource with all known fixes to common problems.
  • If you can't find what you need there, join our inworld group, open 24 hours with help from support team members when they're available and from your peers at all times.
  • If your problems prevent you from logging in on any viewer, you can request support through the JIRA. Bug reports go to the JIRA, as well.
Fired Up,