Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Written 20 June, 2007


Unfortunately, hardware makes a huge difference in the Second Life experience.

In fact, a lot of people can’t get online at all—those without broadband, for instance, and those whose video cards aren’t up-to-SL-snuff.

A lot of people can get on, but just barely. They can be on the grid only for limited amounts of time because of bandwidth limitations set by their ISPs, or they can see only gray blobs because their video cards lack horsepower, or they crash frequently because they have only 512mb of RAM.

(At 512mb, one can’t even think about trying to start a program like Skype while SL us up and running.)

I wonder how many people have given up on Second Life because of hardware and bandwidth limitations?

My Sweetie’s view was severely hampered for months. She was on a steampunk era Mac laptop that, despite a fast connection to the internet, showed her the Second Life world as gray blobs. She could see textures only when she stood still and looked in one direction for a long time.

She never even saw me clearly. And what a waste that was!

I sent Sweetie’s RL human the 256mb AGP NVidia card from the PC I blew up last fall while trying to add RAM (I was lazy and didn’t unplug all the wire and pull the box out and lay it on a table like I should have, instead fishing around though the connectors to do the install, and the DIMM didn’t get firmly seated, and I smoked some stuff, I’m a dumbass), and she put it in her desktop PC, and that helped her view, although low RAM made her crash a lot. Then she punched the 512mb in her PC up to 1.5gb, and suddenly she was flying.

And now she has a new Mac laptop. Sweetie is gold these days!

When I blew up my Athlon System last November, I went right out and bought a Sony VAIO with a dual-core processor. And, after 15 years with Mindspring (now Earthlink), I switched ISPs because BellSouth (now, suddenly, AT&T again, why won’t trusts stay busted?) offered faster throughput.

So my own SL experience has been pretty good, hardware-wise.

Still, I wasn’t quite happy. My attachments were always getting stuck up my butt when I teleported (someone at Live Help, back when there _was_ Live Help_ told me it was probably my video card [and, fool that I was, I believed them]). And the 128 mb PCI Express NVidia card I bought for $79 at Frys wasn’t quite to my liking. It needed to be just a FEW frames per second faster, and to snap into focus those few textures that didn’t want to rezz in.

And yes, of course, I keep the video sliders all the way to the right and the draw distance set to 450+ meters and particles all the way up and I have every effect turned on from local lights to ripple water, and animasotropic (sp?) filtering is activated. I may lag, but I _will_ see clearly!

And so, two months ago, I bought a 256 mb video card and, because my 17” CRT monitor was aging, a big wide-screen Compaq LED monitor. And even more RAM.

I put the RAM in right away (I’m running 3.5 gb with it installed), but I held off on installing the video card because it wanted just a little more power than the VAIO’s power supply was putting out and because the 600w power supply I bought wouldn’t fit into the Sony’s proprietary case.

I thought about buying a superduper monster case, but I sort of got that out of my system with my previous computer, the Athlon, which I built from scratch. I just wanted the Sony to work. Most of all, I didn’t want to knock myself off the grid.

On Saturday, however, I would wait no longer. I put in the video card and installed the monitor. And it worked!

Woo hoo!

I moved my old monitor to the left, and suddenly I had two screens—a wide one that showed SL in far more detail than before (so well, in fact, that my avatar looks a little more cartoony), and a square one on which I can keep non-SL windows open—my e-mail reader, Word, Quicken, PaperPort, a graphics program, and Opera (my browser), usually.

Now I don’t have to close the SL window or even make it smaller to view other programs or open something on the desktop.

Woo hoo!
The new video card rips along as fast as 20 or 22 frames per second (and reaches 40 fps on occasion), and SL lag situations that would have slowed my old card to 3 or 4 fps slow it only to 7 fps or so. And while it still takes the SL servers a while to get textures to me after a teleport, they snap right in when they do arrive.

But my shoes, my hair, my Mystitool?

Up my butt.


Whenever I jump.


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