Thursday, January 19, 2012

Politic Against SOPA and PIPA

Written 19 January, 2012

Politic Against SOPA and PIPA

The Stop Online Piracy and Protect Intellectual Property Acts, now wending their ways through, respectively, the US House of Representatives and the US Senate, while designed to stop copyright theft from websites outside the Unites States, present grave threats to free expression and the Internet.

As you no doubt know, a number of high profile websites, including Wikipedia, shut down yesterday in protest. Others, like Google, changed their home pages for the day to register their concern.

In support, I temporarily placed a black box at the top of this blog.

To see Wikipedia's concerns, track the bills, or register your support with Congress, start here. Go here to see the Electronic Freedom Foundation's discussion of the dangers of the bills. To see how they could impact your second life, see Hamlet Au's post here. Then please go here to contact your Congressperson to register your concern.

While the bills have had a recent setback as legislators have changed sides to oppose the bills, they're both very much alive. Please act now.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Blogger Maintenance

Written 16 January, 2012

Blogger Maintenance

If I've not been posting much lately it's because I just spent a good month going back through my posts on Blogger and editing them for consistency.

Since there are more than 1800 posts, it took a while.

Blogger is bad for throwing in all sorts of div and span tags. These serve absolutely no purpose (at least insofar as my blogposts go), but screw up formatting big time.

I went back through each posts examining them for consistency and editing html to get rid of unwanted line spaces and add spaces where they had been stripped out. While I was at it I made sure photos were properly sized and positioned.

I had to fight Blogger all the way.

The further back I went, the weirder things got. Photos refused to move to the center position; I had to re-import quite few-- a time-eating procedure, since I either had to find the original or export the photo and re-import it.

In six of seven posts the photos had been corrupted; I had to find the originals and reimport them.

It was all a royal and totally unnecessary pain in the ass. Blogger should be better.

Perhaps it was anal of me, but I'm proud of the blog and wanted it to look right. Now it does, mostly. In a few cases I just gave up and let Blogger pin me to the mat.

I finished the last post a few minutes ago. Yay!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Erratum

Written 6 January, 2012

Erratum

I received an instant message from Ample Clarity, the creator of the one-prim piano I blogged about night-before last.

Ample thanked me for mentioning the piano and let me know the piano isn't mesh after all-- it's a well-done scultped prim.

So maybe complex one-prim mesh objects have a high cost after all. I don't have enough data to know.

The Lindens are Stingy With Resources

Two of Lilith Heart's Three-Prim Strelitzia on the Volcano Pele
Two of Lilith Heart's One-Prim Sculpted Strelitzia on the Volcano Pele
Since the Photos Don't Quite Show the Difference, Here is:
One-Prim Sculpted Strelitzia at Left, Three-Prim Strelitzia at Right
Written 6 January, 2012

The Lindens are Stingy With Resources

Second Life is ever so much more rich and complex than it was when I first came here in 2006. There are all sorts of new features: Windlight skies, new physics and scripting engines, sculpted prims, voice, and now mesh-- many of which require more computing horsepower than did the 2006 version of Second Life.

Sculpted Prims and now mesh create visually complex objects that use far fewer prims than would have been possible in 2006. I have, for instance, sculpted from Lilith Heart that use but one prim but provide a patch of foliage that would have required 100 of her original three-prim plants-- and the one-prim mesh piano pictured in the previous post would have required well more than 100 prims.

This means we can make our sims and parcels more complex, more dense. We can fill them up with more stuff while keeping our prim counts steady or even decreasing them.

We've done that on Whimsy. Over the past three-and-a-half years we've added feature after feature while maintaining around 2500 free prims. It's wonderful.

And yet over the past five years computers have become faster and more powerful-- and cheaper.

The Lindens have taken advantage of cheap processing power by cramming more regions on each server; rather than allotting a portion of the increased horsepower to each region, they simply add more regions.

This is hardly fair.

I call upon Linden Lab to give us more processing power-- at least 25% more, to allow heavily loaded sims to run faster.

And while you're at it, how about giving us at least 25% more prims for each region.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A New Way to Count Prims

Erratum

I received an instant message from Ample Clarity, the creator of the one-prim piano I blogged about night-before last.

Ample thanked me for mentioning the piano and let me know the piano isn't mesh after all-- it's a well-done scultped prim.

So maybe complex one-prim mesh objects have a high cost after all. I don't have enough data to know.




Written 4 January, 2012

A New Way to Count Prims

I'm not sure how I missed it, but with the advent of mesh content in Second Life there's a new way to count prims on one's land: Prim Equivalents.

In short, this means there's no longer a 1:1 ratio for prims/prim count. Some prims (and specifically mesh) now count for more than one.

The best explanation I've found is Jenni Darkwatch's, which can be found here. However, I'll do my best to explain.

Until now, a prim was a prim. Although some prims (notably the cube) were easy to render and others (notably the torus) were complex and hard to render, although some prims contained scripts and some didn't, although some were big and some were small, each prim counted as one toward the limit on one's land.

With mesh, that has changed. Some prims count more than others.

The prim equivalency of a mesh object is calculated by a formula I won't go into here (you can follow the link; Jenni explains it), but it has to do with size and complexity.

What this means is a seven-prim mesh object on your land may count as seven prims or it may count for considerably more.

As a test, I rezzed the free boat the Lindens have been giving away to paid subscribers. I couldn't see it when I first got it, but since the newest iteration of Phoenix has mesh support, it now looks like a sailboat instead of a huge cube.


The boat consists of 13 mesh prims, but it counts as 62 prims toward the parcel and sim allotments.Ouchie!

Does This Say 147 Prims Equivalents? Yes It Does!
The Sailboat Usually Shows as 64 Prim Equivalents
Methinks There's a Server Bug Afoot! 
Depending upon the skill of the mesh creator, complex mesh objects can weight in at 1:1. Check this great mesh concert grand piano from 1 Prim:


Last night I bought it to replace the beautiful prim sculpt-and-prim Musical Alchemy piano at our PG Den of Iniquity. The mesh piano consists of one prim and counts as just one prim on the land.

Note the raised black keys:


Here's the Musical Alchemy grand:



Now, the mesh piano doesn't look quite as good as Musical Alchemy's, and it has fewer features, but considering Musical Alchemy's grand piano is 85 prims and the black keys are another 23, I was more than willing to sacrifice a little quality to gain 107 prims!

When we have concerts on Whimsy I'll rez the Musical Alchemy grand, but for day-to-day, the mesh piano will more than suffice.

The edit tools to deal with prim equivalents are not to be found in V.1-based viewers, but are in Viewer 3. I suspect Firestorm has them, or will soon. Phoenix doesn't have them, but it shows prim equivalents in parentheses to the right of the prim count, as in the screen shot above. That;s handy, as it lets you see how heavily mesh objects impact your land. Without that feature, it would be necessary to see how many free prims you have, rez the object, re-check for free prims, and use the magic of subtraction.

The practical application of this post so far is: watch out-- a prim is no longer a prim-- but there's more!

For objects made of prims (and, I believe, sculpts), you can count prims as before-- but if a single prim in a linked set is mesh, the entire object will count under the new system.

Prims with simple shapes like cubes have a low prim equivalency, but according to Jenni, torii, which are complex count for 37 prims. that means a box of 12 single-prim donuts in a one-prim mesh box would consume 445 prims! Ouchie!

Viewer 3 contains tools for dealing with prim equivalents-- specifically, a counter and a box that allows physics type to be set:

Photo From Jenni Darkwatch's Article
With these you can assign regular prims and linksets made of regular prims so they are counted as prim equivalents. This can lead to the above-mentioned donut effect, so if might be wide to do your experimenting at a sandbox.

Oh-- according to Jenni, a single script will DOUBLE a prim or mesh linkset-s prim equivalent! So doubly beware!

I can already see it will be possible to game the system-- for instance, link sets of prim cubes will count as just one object if the physics type is set just so.

I can appreciate the need for some sort of accounting system to deal with the new mesh content, and maybe prim equivalents will work for the great good-- but there are problems-- specifically counting torii and other complex prims with high equivalency just because a mesh prim is included-- and doubling the weight because of a single script? Is this the ghost of script limits past!