I know it’s a bit late in the game and that, in all likelihood, every Firestorm user will have updated their viewer to version 18.104.22.168167, the “emergency update”, but a reminder never hurt anyone. First of all, although version 4.4.0 was already SSB/A-ready, there have been several additions to the code, provided by Linden Lab, which are intended to improve performance once SSB/A begins being deployed across the main grid. I want to remind everyone here that, according to an announcement Nyx Linden made on 22 June, on the 9th of July (this Tuesday), SSB/A will start being deployed – all things being equal, of course.
What does this all mean, in practical terms? Well, for starters, people who insist on using Firestorm 4.3.1 (or older versions) will begin to see more and more grey avatars around them, while they themselves will be seen as clouds by those around them. And I’m not exactly sure how many of those who will try to log in to Second Life using obsolete viewers will be affected by the current outfit folder corruption issue – for more information, see the detailed coverage by Exotix (Inara Pey) (1 and 2) and the related JIRA (SVC-7653). Nyx did say that they’re working on it, but I advise everyone to err on the side of caution and not be one of the lazy and stubborn folks that keep using antiquated, slow, laggy (yes, the lag you may be experiencing could very well be because your viewer doesn’t take advantage of recent improvements in the rendering pipeline, so you have one more reason to update your viewer) viewers.
Server-Side Baking/Appearance (SSB/A): Most viewers should soon support this new capability. Make sure that you have installed an updated release of your favourite viewer, otherwise you will see grey avatars when this new capability is added (deployment is scheduled to begin on 9 July 2013). – Image by Exotix (Inara Pey)
Now, it’s true that in an unusually short time, we had two consecutive Firestorm releases: we were advised to upgrade from 4.4.0 to 22.214.171.124164 (with a clean install being strongly recommended) and then, very hurriedly, the Firestorm team blocked that release from logging in to the grid and told us to switch to 126.96.36.199167 (which did not require a clean install from 188.8.131.52164, but does require one if you’re upgrading from 4.4.0 or earlier).
What’s going on?
Well, as far as the users are concerned, releases 184.108.40.206164 and 220.127.116.11167 of Firestorm are identical in every respect, save for one detail: in the run-up to the release of 4.4.1, the Firestorm team had, in agreement with Linden Lab, drastically increased the frequency its data logging subsystem was sending data to Linden Lab, so that the Lab would have the data it needed, as they were well on the way to enabling SSB/A on the main grid. Then Firestorm 18.104.22.168164 was released as a stable release, but the data logging was forgotten in the aforementioned setting, which inundated LL’s statistics servers. Major oops.
So, rather than pull an Apple and pretend the problem wasn’t there, the Firestorm team owned up, put together a new release to fix that problem, made an announcement (actually, two – here‘s the most recent one) whose honesty was a most welcome change from what the most jaded among us have been used to and duly went and blocked 4.4.1 from logging in to the grid themselves. Of course, the tin-foil hat brigade was on hand to provide the team with numerous headaches and facepalms, but encountering idiots is like death and taxes (at least for us proles): unavoidable.
What’s new in Firestorm
22.214.171.12416126.96.36.199167 since 188.8.131.52720?
First of all, they incorporated some fixes and improvements that Linden Lab provided:
- Fix for some objects not rendering until first LoD switch/selection – this is a fix for MAINT-2647, provided by Runitai Linden. Please note that, as Whirly Fizzle commented on 1 July 2013, the fix reduces the problem, but does not eradicate it. LL are working on more fixes, but the code is not public yet.
- Added RegionHandshakeReply flags for Serverside Appearance – Added a flag to hint to the sim that this viewer knows how to handle AvatarAppearance messages for self in SSA-enabled regions. Once Linden Lab roll out the updated servers, old viewers will not get AvatarAppearance messages for their own avatar, unless they make an appearance request (transitioning to a new region, changing clothes/outfits, forcing a rebake). Viewers that integrate the above fix will tell the region in advance that they support the new protocol. This is the viewerside fix to deal with SUN-74. Provided by Nyx Linden.
Regarding fixes and improvements by the Firestorm team, we have the following:
- Merge up to 3.4.5 codebase plus cherry picked fixes plus server side appearance support improvements – Tankmaster Finesmith, Ansariel Hiller
- Major under the hood refactoring in preparation for the CHUI merge – Ansariel Hiller
- RLVa 1.48a maintenance and keepers of naughty catz – Kitty Barnett, Trinity Dejavu
There are also numerous other improvements, for which I think you should read the change log.
That said, you really should update your viewer now.
As the slogan goes, don’t be cloudy and grey – enjoy sunshine today!
For more details on SSB/A, I highly recommend (as always) reading the detailed and concise coverage that Exotix (Inara Pey) has offered on Her blog ever since LL disclosed technical details about it.