Thursday, June 18, 2009

New viewer for the Second Life power user, by INSILICO's Skills Hak

Posted by Bettina Tizzy

June 28 Update: I've just concluded a meeting with the creators of the Emerald, the GreenLife Emerald and the Gemini viewers and will be doing a new blogpost later this week listing features and benefits of each one. All of the creators of these three viewers have published their source code and have pledged that their viewers are clean and malware free. As always, it behooves the end user to exercise caution and download extra-official viewers directly from the creators and not from mirror sites. I'll be providing specific URLs, as well. Many thanks to Dirk Talamasca and Beezle Warburton who counseled me before and during the meeting.

She's a masterly creator with unparalleled taste. She's spawned an epic kingdom of a city, with towering edifices, buzzing drones, and dark hideaways. Her avatars are monstrously good. She's a businesswoman, and her virtual megacorp of apartment dwellings and shops thrives. In fact, is there anything INSILICO's creator can't do?

Now Skills Hak has created a viewer for Second Life® that's getting rave reviews from the most demanding members of Not Possible IRL. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Things tend to happen in batches, don't they? On Tuesday this week I shared the news about the Open Source Meerkat Viewer by Pleiades Consulting and the Open Metaverse Foundation with Not Possible IRLers. The Meerkat makes it intelligently possible to move content (objects, selected geometry and textures that you have created) from Second Life to OpenSims.

Not an hour had elapsed when the King of Glow, Spiral Walcher, pinged me to share his excitement over the Open Source GreenLife Emerald Viewer and its numerous features that are heavily advantageous to builders.

I hadn't even finished that conversation with Spiral, when Skills Hak's IM came in. She had just put the finishing touches on V5 of a viewer of her own... the Gemini. Two days have elapsed since we've been playing with it and the praise just keeps rolling in.

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When I asked Skills if the Gemini is useful to non-builders, she replied, "I wouldn't say it's a client for builders. It is more for Second Life's power users... for people who know the Linden Lab viewer already and are asking for more."

Skills was quick to point out that she's not really a programmer and that this has been her first C++ project. She also stressed that she can't give much support for the Viewer since she's busy with all her other projects, so go easy on her, guys.

Click to see large

What about the Emerald Viewer appealed to you that you used it as the foundation for Gemini?

Skills: I wanted to to have a *clean* version of the Emerald Viewer, so I compiled it myself. I am also very snoopy and need to take everything apart to understand how it works. This is basically what happened during the last month.

Emerald is a stable, balanced viewer with a lot of useful features, so I "borrowed" a lot from there. Credits for many features go to the Emerald team, Chalice Yao, Zwagoth Klaar and to many other patch contributors in the JIRA (too many to name them all).

What are the three biggest features and the three biggest benefits that Gemini offers?

Skills: I think the most important plus is the stability and render speed. I carefully balanced out settings and optimized it for graphic-intensive environments like my own sims. I have uptimes of up to 12 hours here now! (which is really good for the high end INSILICO, haha!)

I removed many of the building restrictions, giving people more freedom to be creative, while stomping bugs that give builders headaches every day. The new import/export function should be very handy for grid hoppers, too.

I just love the comfort the UI gives you: No long click sequences anymore to get to frequently-used functions. That alone saves me 50% clicks per day :) You can ditch your radar HUD, too, and save script lag. It's all built into the client now. I plan to implement a combat system at a later point, but need to improve my weak C++ Kung Fu some. :)

... and the security: It's really hard to crash this viewer by using exploits and you can basically stand in the middle of a griefer attack and just laugh at them.

I optimized it for speed, comfort and security. It has no shadows and the new mesh transparency effects yet, as it is based on the LL 1.22.11 source code. The official 1.23 viewer is a rather rushed release; it was only a RC4. Other versions had up to 14 RCs! Linden Lab just needed to release it quickly for the adult content changes. There is absolutely no need to update at the moment. Everything is working as it used to be. I picked some of the goodies from the 1.23 though, and put them into mine. I'm also thinking about implementing optional RLVa. Many people seem to need that functionality in an everyday client.

You'll find the full list of features here, and my to-do list is full of ideas. There's a lot more to come!

See also: Doomed in the Skies: INSILICO


Fine, thanks. said...

Mo' betta than Emerald.

HomerTheBrave said...

Please put it on my Mac! :-)

Unknown said...

Yes, Mac version pleeeease!!!

Anonymous said...

i wish there was a linux version... looking forward to it!!! - azdel slade

Unknown said...

I was using it gemini until i saw this blog and saw how full o shite you were. one of the features did help me once, but if I knew you didn't make this to help, you did this to stoke your e-peen. I would have never dl'ed it. to thumbs down. make your own client next time k thanks bye

Jopsy said...

I have no reason to believe the posts aren't truthful (other than my rampant skeptism.)

If true, it sounds like emerald/vlife was copied and modified by someone who then tried to pass it off as the real thing. The modified version touted copy-bot-like features... and hidden mal/spyware.

I can only conclude that the vigilante behind the modded viewer wanted some way to entrap and punish would-be content thieves.

@lordsnizlefoot- rude much? geez. =(

Unknown said...

I am a developer of Emerald and I can assure you that Emerald does not have trojans when it comes from the original site of creation

Anonymous said...

Read the comments here:

It's a bogus version of vLife/Greenlife that's infected. Someone has been spamming links to an infected version (not hosted at the real site).

Anonymous said...

Okay, I searched around and found the infected version, it's hosted at RapidSpread file hosting site -- for giggles I tried downloading it and my antivirus blocked the download.

Only download Greenlife from the Modular Systems site.

Don't download *anything* from RapidSpread -- they obviously don't screen things people post. The same goes for Torrent versions of clients.

And run a decent antivirus program and for the Love of Gods, keep it updated.

Unknown said...

Skills has made a very pretty viewer based upon the Emerald Release and added a lot of handy features that members of NPIRL will find slick and attractive.

However until June 27th, Skills had never posted the source code which is required by the GPL when you release a viewer to the public.

GreenLife has always made their source code public. By doing so, they comply with the GPL and also open up the source to be reviewed for any malicious activity. No such activity is present in versions downloaded from the GreenLife Emerald Viewer web site.

The Emerald team members have always been helpful and informative and I know from past experience that they come through brilliantly when engaged to script for many high profile corporations that have a presence in Second Life.

No matter which viewer you decide to use, as always, you should consider the risks before installing third-party binaries on your system.

Anonymous said...

fyi, i uploaded the sources yesterday:

Preparing source code for release is quite some work since you have to remove licensed libraries and read through your code and remove/add personal comments etc, so yeah, takes quite some time and you know i'm a busy bee (and only one person). I heard people are working on Linux and MacOS builds already, hope it works and that you can benefit from my changes:)

Anonymous said...

On modular website in the documentation page is pretty explained all, it gives also good advices about security in downloading third parties viewers

Bettina Tizzy said...

As I've indicated in the new update to this blogpost, I've just had a meeting with the creators of the Emerald, GreenLife Emerald and the Gemini Viewers and will be blogging an extended update later this week. Thanks to everyone for their comments and research.