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Thursday, June 09, 2011


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Ciaran Laval

I used to take snapshots on my sim when we had events, so I could post them on flickr or a blog.

Quite recently, last couple of months, this has become impossible, I'm seeing more grey people and when I camera pan around, I often end up with the you've been logged out screen.

My specs are not top end, but I suspect I need to do some housekeeping or maybe reinstalls. I am getting better performance with TPV's.

Taking snapshots, editing them, uploading them, does of course take time away from being in Second Life doing other things and the time factor will always be an issue and sometimes it is quicker to use other people's images (with permission of course).

Robustus Hax

Apparently there is a bug/trick going on with the Grey textures on avatars. KirstenLee of Kirstens Viewer told me switch to another group and switch back and avatars will rez, scarily this works like a charm.

Franklin Lubitsch

I have also found the switching groups trick to work, not only with grey people, but also with those who are still clouds.

Ignatius Onomatopoeia

I'm lucky--our educators' meetings feature 40 + on a big-event day, and as long as I get there early, no one is gray even on my not-so-new Mac laptop. I'll note the group-switching trick to others if problems crop up.

Hamlet, you do ignore another reason for writers wanting to miss parts of SL culture and write from a safe distance. Read the chat bubbles you posted, carefully.

Uh, yeah, those are folks I want to chill with.

Scarp Godenot

Dude, I don't care if your laptop is Alienware brand, my 2009 desktop rezzes that place and all the avatars in about a minute. It is all about the connection speed I'm thinking. (btw, I'm running the latest stable V2 browser at 20mbps)

Hamlet Au

Oh no doubt, a desktop with a dedicated line would work much better. I.E., Just give up your mobility and revert to the way you computed 10 years ago and you'll be just fine! WTF.

QueenKellee Kuu

Hamlet I had no such problems on a wayyy worse set up.

Running Phoenix latest build
5 year old macbook pro laptop
wireless connection
i had just cleared my cache so my 60k invy was downloading
my settings were medium-ish no atmospheric rendering, 64m dd, high on avatars and objects. imposters on. I forget the other settings atm.

for 90 avatars, it rezzed in pretty fast, in 1 minute it was pretty rezzed, not perfect but camming around to unrezzed folks rezzed them up.

Ghosty Kips

I run a 7-yr. old P4 with an nVidia 7300 and 1GB RAM, and a cable modem sucking 15Mbps down. Under the latest stable V2 I res most scenes in under a minute or so. I'm betting it's your "mobility," and nothing to do with SL.


Hamlet, I feel your pain, man. Definitely takes way too long to rez into some place, wait for textures to load, and take some screenshots than it should.

I'm on a somewhat ancient MacBook Pro, so your experience with a high end Alienware is discouraging.

Hamlet Au

Mobility is a defining feature of computing today. If Second Life isn't compatible with mobility, it's condemned to be a last generation technology.

"Running Phoenix latest build"

I'm glad that works for you, but to me that just seems like another concession of defeat: Here, just take the time to install this third party viewer not made by the company and you'll be fine.

Miro Collas

OK, this is really basic stuff...

Check your bandwidth. Make sure it isn't too low or too high.

When going to busy locations, drop your draw distance before you go, allow what is visible to rez, then raise draw distance, pause again ... rinse and repeat.

Also be aware that avatar movement (physics) takes precedence over everything else in a region - which includes the region "feeding" you textures.

But as Ghosty said rightly, your main issue is bandwidth - given that others can rez the same location is very little time.

Hitomi Tiponi

Hamlet - just because you spent a lot of cash on an Alienware laptop doesn't mean it will be decent in SL. Also using Imprudence - a viewer with a much lower take-up than Phoenix or Viewer 2 means your experience is not like most SL users.

I went there using a Dell XPS laptop, wirelessly, and there were 73 avs. After a minute I could see all the scenery but only about a third of the avs - but then that often can be a problem in sims with that number of avs.

Nyoko Salome

;0 :0 phoenix -is- doing phenomenally in the renderin' dept, i must concur - earlier i was testing setting my gr range up to 1024m, and having really great results (albeit in not very crowded areas; still previously this woulda choked me out completely). network bandwidth set to 800-1000 (thought 1000 in phoen; starting now in sl v2 latest beta to retest and see 800)

the lab viewer, at 512 distance and 800 bandwidth, is pretty awful. :\

logging back into phoenix, 1024 distance, 1000 bandwidth, pretty good. :0 lab needs to catch up to faster rendering, whatever it is they are doing!! :0

Nyoko Salome

p.s. so much more incredibly responsive, can't express it - and i was nowhere near to a 'crashout' like you seemed to get hamlet... think if anything the lab really needs to pound on their rendering/handling back to a number of machines, especially the past five or six years worth :\

Maria Korolov

I have to agree with you on the reporting. It's faster to pick up the phone and call a source, or email them for a quick answer, than to track them down in-world or sit down for a scheduled interview in their virtual office -- especially if you have to relog to get your voice to work, etc...

But I think some of it more fundamental. To me, visiting someone in their virtual office has the same kind of feel -- to a much lesser extent, of course -- as getting out of my chair, and driving to their physical location.

Back in the old days -- the old, old, old days --I spent much of my reporting time on the road, attending meetings, events, and sitting down with people for interviews. Getting basic information required trips to courthouses, town clerks, and university libraries. And you never knew if you were going to be able to get what you needed, or if you'd hit a dead end, or the person you needed was out, or you got lost on the way there.

Then came budget cuts, staff cuts, email and the Web, and pretty soon all my reporting is from my desk. It's all phone and email.

Firing up a viewer and going in-world kind of - vaguely -- reminds me of the old days.


Folks, excuse me for saying this... but I see a bunch of people here that seem to be claiming Hamlet's experience is somehow his system, or is unique. Is that really what you're trying to get us to belive?

This kind of performance is a hallmark of Second Life. I get so tired of some clown saying "It works great for ME... I never lag" when we all know that's total BS. What are you... Lindens in disguise?

I don't care where you are, what kind of computer you have, what kind of internet feed you have-- you are still using the same software, accessing the same sims, and wrestling with the same asset servers we all deal with-- and there is no way your performance is perfect and you never lag.

I have a quad core, high-speed internet system with a 1 gig Geforce heavy graphics card-- and my experience is pretty much the same as Hamlet's here. So please, spare us the silly "I don't lag" nonsense. I seriously doubt your system performance is much better than mine-- and my experience is regularly pretty much what Hamlet presents in this article. So is pretty much everyone else I speak with. There are forums, and blogs, and JIRAs complaining about the very things Hamlet mentions above.

As for the claim of "90 avs on a sim"... LOL. Honestly... put 90 avatars on a sim in Second Life and you won't even be able to move. If the sim stays online for 10 minutes without crashing it would be a miracle. 90 avatars? Who do you think you're kidding?

Sorry folks, I don't swallow the corporate propaganda, I don't accept the absurdist claims, and Hamlet... in this case... is right on the button.

Melissa Yeuxdoux

I'm using Firestorm. I went to the same sim, and gave up after several minutes. The fellow who immediately offered me friendship and seemed surprised that I didn't immediately want to become his girlfriend cut down on my desire to carry the experiment through. I should add that I have a 40 Mb/s connection, so bandwidth isn't a panacea.

Ann Otoole InSL

This is not the first time I have heard of wireless not being so compatible with SL. Some even report the SL client causes the wireless connection to drop off the internet completely. Perhaps Rod might want to have some engineering eyes put on this to see if there is a specific router brand that has issues and exactly why. Of course it could be as simple as there is RFI around and it causes losses. Whats your packet loss averaging in SL Hamlet?

I don't like wireless because to me it is a security problem. If you are ok with other people using cheap gear and collecting everything you transmit then great. Gosh such a rash of internet security issues lately. I guess everything needs to be heavily encrypted on wireless in a manner that makes wireless usable for gaming pointless.

DBDigital Epsilon

Well wireless is not supported by Linden Lab. It hasn't ever been. And if you call LL with a issue (or file a ticket) and you say you are using wireless they will not help. Suprised you don't remember that Hamlet considering you worked there. ;)

Now having said that I do use a laptop wirelessly without any issues like that (although normally I use a cable...it is always a bit faster). My next question is how high was your draw distance? The higher your draw the longer it will take especially if the sim is lagging.

You might also consider turning off the useless "Search Bar" on the top right of viewer 2 (if you use it). You can do this via the debug under advanced menu. Look for "ShowNetStats" and turn that on. Now you have a great bandwidth and packet loss meter always in view (bandwidth on the right, packet loss on the left). I would make a bet you were getting packet loss. And the first thing to try with that, reboot your router and computer. :)

Another thing about packet loss, a sim can be having that issue itself (not that common but it does happen). And a restart fixes the issue 99% of the time. What to keep in mind is if you get packet loss only in a particular sim it is that sim. If you have it everywhere, then it is you. Also how was your network at the time? Did you other computers or devices on the wirless network? Every device added to a wireless router tends to slow it down. Probably not the cause but something to keep in mind.

I really doubt the issue was with encryption. Also the changing group trick to rerez avatars has been around for a long time. Now why LL never just added a rerez option for avatars to the pie menu I will never know. Everyone thinks it is a great idea, but it never materializes. Even in the 3rd party viewers.

Adeon Writer

Rezzed in under a minute on phoenix... *shrug*

Hamlet Au

"Surprised you don't remember that Hamlet considering you worked there."

Yeah, I remember going to a Giants game with the Lindens in 2004 (the stadium is a couple blocks from the Lab's 2nd office), where Doug Linden whipped out his laptop, logged in FROM THE GIANTS' BLEACHERS, and showed us all how well SL was working.

But that was back when the Giants sucked, but SL performed pretty well.

Ferd Frederix

I see naked people. Hamlet, the sim works fine. Second Life servers work great. I checked the sim stats. Even under heavy avatar and script loads (77 avatars, 10 ms script time) the sim is doing great things.

In Phoenix Viewer 1.5.2, using http textures, I rezzed everything at 256 meter draw in 15 seconds. The only grey is a couple of fresh arrivals that just tp'd in.

For me, Viewer 2 usually works fine. But in this heavy loaded sim, Viewer 2 sucks wind.

Viewer 2 with a 64 Meter draw distance, done only a minute later:

The client (Viewer 2) is immediately sick, it has no textures, and there are zero pending downloads.

After 7 minutes, all I can see is that my clothes are half-rezzed. After 10 minutes, I see two textures and am half-rezzed. At 17 minutes, I see two half baked avatars. At 25 minutes, I give up and have switched groups. No effect. It is now 30 minutes and there are just 4 half-baked avatars. And still 0 pending downloads!

I am on a Alienware M17 Laptop, wireless 54Mb, 20 MB FIOS fiber optic. Zero packet loss, 11 hops away with tracert with a net ping of 44ms.

CPU: Intel(R) Core(TM)2 Extreme CPU Q9300 @ 2.53GHz (2526.97 MHz) Graphics Card: ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3870

Conclusion: Viewer 2 loses contact with the texture queue on heavily loaded sims.

Denter Branch

check your bandwith. i never have such problems.

"Mobility is a defining feature of computing today."

LOLOLOLOL perhaps for checking simple oldtime websites like facebook. but for playing games in the park or at a stadium?!? WTF i never met anyone who wanted that. enjoy the giants better! if possible >.<

Tuna Oddfellow

Second Life makes it hard to get your most computer savvy friends to log in to experience it.

Vecky Burdam

Hamlet, welcome to the SL experience for the majority of SL users.
And it answers your question by itself "Does this Second Life story require me to actually use Second Life". Because it is one thing to write "Great new Sim go visit" or "Great new Sim but don't bother going, you wont rezz" or "New Sim, stats say it must be Great, but i cannot verify for what".
And you raise a general question that haunts journalism since years. Since due to budget cuts most newspapers and news networks today mostly rely on new agency information and don't verify the stories anymore. A whole world went to war based on lies only some years ago because nobody bothered to verify the given information. (Maybe a bit extreme example but it shows the problem most drastically; and the ones who did check ended up in the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plame_affair ).
It's the fundamental question in the ethics of journalism even on a micro scale of SL.

"(I)s it valuable enough to make it worth the extra time?" Remember several news magazine articles about SL where you knew after 2 sentences the author had never fully experienced SL and therefore his perspective to judge SL was completely off? Again, if you don't take this time, you will lose the connection to the real issues (which you raise actually in this post because you did take the time). Else NWN will slowly drift into merely re-printing general information (like most of todays news-resources do). Write less, but therefor well researched articles that hit the problems .... that's journalism how i understand it.

(And on another note: 3 years ago i was able with a back then 3 year old laptop and a standard internet connection to be in a sim with 40 people and had no problem whatsoever. Today with a new high end laptop and connection my SL looks like in your screenshots ... so i blame LL)

Carlett Resident

I see no reason for worrying about lag.

Soon there will be so few people left in SL that there will be nothing to lag about, and nothing to write about either.

DJ InsyX Piranha

My gaming machine which has the specs of:

i9 processor
32 gigs of ram
4 video cards that are each nvidia gtx 495
2 terabyte hard drives
and a creative audigy live card

I have another buddy that is a gamer and he has close to the same soecs I have since I built the machine for him as I built mine, and he has having a hard time with SL rendering (rezzing) and chat lag.

I asked him to go to speedtest.com and tell me his upload and download speed. They were both pretty low as he is on the lowest grade of DSL and not a business fiber/cable line as I am.

This is the reason some high end machine users are having issues with seeing only grey, hard rezzing and such. Yes some of it could be equated to new machine and having to re-cache many sites, animations, gesters and inventory as a new install would have to do. However, if this happends alot and you know it is not server, sim or video lag, then please check you network speed.

Remember a lot of SL is on site at servers coming to you and a lot of how you respond to it deals with your communication to the LL servers. This is affected by how fast your upload it to the general World Wide Wed (WWW). You may be rendering the land, sky and atmosphere very good....But when you see grey avatars then you are dealing with your upload speed compared them them and the LL servers and how well you are containing data with them compared to others.

Hope this helps :)

Todd Borst

Hey Hamlet, what's wrong with posting these type of screenshots for your articles? It's probably representative of the experience some might get visiting those sims. I have nothing against honest reporting.

Senban Babii

Hamlet, just when I thought we were starting to agree about some things :P

My friend and I both play EVE Online. He uses a reasonable laptop using a pay as you go broadband dongle. His experience is basic and laggy but enough to function.

I use an i7 920 with 12 gigabobs of RAM, GTX 480 graphics card and have an average 13 meg wireless connection. EVE runs like warm butter. SL runs like warm butter (I use Imprudence with every possible setting turned up to maximum).

If you expect to run graphics-intensive programs over wifi whilst sitting in the park and expect top performance, you're living in fluffy cloud land. If I want to check my Facebook page for messages or send a quick email whilst running round town with a Starbucks, I grab my Blackberry. If I want to log into EVE or SL for some quality time, I sit at home on a machine designed to handle such applications.

Use the right tool for the job, it's that simple ;)

DBDigital Epsilon

First off @Wayfinder
As you may know one system is usually totally different from another. And anything can throw it off from connection, a video card with drivers that SL does not like, wireless issue, connection glitch and on and on the list goes. I will admit that this is a problem and why SL has not gained in large market share. But it does not make us all lindens if we say we do not have said problems. I do have issues at times. SL is not perfect but I rarely have the issue that Hamlet showed. Hence my suggestions to check the various configurations. It is easy to miss something, we all do it at one time or another. And we all know that there are many many many configurations in the computer, connection, and SL itself. Any one of them can cause a issue. I have nothing against honest reporting. Hamlet is only reporting what he saw. We are just trying to point out that there may be something that can resolve it.

Also something important that I don't believe has been mentioned (at lest not directly). Viewer 2 now uses HTTP texture fetching. And while this is supposed to be better/faster/more reliable I find it quite the opposite. This in and of itself may be the problem. And if all other issues (bandwidth, packet loss, machine specs, configuration) are eliminated then http texture fetching would be the likely cause. You might try with the same conditions with a 3rd party viewer with http texture fetching turned off (after first having the same repeat issue with viewer 2) or even LL's 1.23 then see if you have the texture problem.

@ Vecky
Yes that is very true. But part of the issue is creators have increased their texture size. Most textures on clothing are 1024 instead of 512. 512x 512 is plenty but for some reason most creators now think the larger size gives them a advantage. So you have textures that take four times as long to download and takes four times the memory hence requires a better system to get the same performance. So the issue is not likely directly LL in that case. However keep in mind that regard to 40 avatars in a sim back then Mono scripting was not near as prevalent. Now everyone uses it and it is in all scripted attachments. Every time someone new rezes in a sim it slows down due to bugs in the Mono implementation. LL has made improvements with this yes, but it is still not fixed. And they started stacking more sims on the same hardware. This also is likely to blame for the lack in performance. But I think if people didn't use so many scripted attachments (resizing scripts are known sim performance killers) or such high rez textures many of these issues would be far better. So is LL to blame? Yes, but I don't think we can blame them totally for it. The community is also at fault. You don't have these issues in other content creation platforms as the creation is more limited. So what makes SL such a powerful content creation platform also brings it down due to people that don't think about efficiency when creating said content.


I simply cut the head off a chicken, spin 3 times, spit and then mumble something about Shakespeare when I log in. Helps the rezzing every time.


i experienced often the same. the rare moments i have time to record machinima in sl then i logon and what? a dozen of crashes during simple actions like turning the cam around my avatar too fast or whatever that never should be a problem. and i use a newish desktop computer with XXX-superpower-bitch-bandwith! it totally makes it hard to use SL for what i want it to use.

luckily with my skeleton-actors i dont need to load skins but i imagine that being hell! ^^

so 100% agree on the performance of SL makes it hard to use for my needs. ahoy

Dale Innis

I amused that we have some people saying "you must have system problems, me and the people I hang out with don't experience that" and other people saying "how can anyone deny this is the experience of most SL users??".

I have an Alienware laptop, too, and I'm also running wireless. I was at a club last night with 60-odd other people, and although it was slow at first things were rendering fine for me, and the sim was running fine too. Windows 7, Imprudence viewer, bla bla bla. I very seldom have problems rezzing people or textures after a minute or so, anywhere on the grid.

I wonder if there's some fundamental factor here (some people keep their draw distance above 256, and there's some big bug there, for instance?), or if it's sort of the luck of the draw. There was a like two-week period awhile back (last year it was I think) where I couldn't keep SL running for more than five minutes without a viewer crash (I think it was LL 1.2x at that point). And then it went away for no particular reason and things were okay again.

Maybe you could get some technical-type to do a thorough shakedown of your system as you talk to SL, watch packet-loss levels, look at your draw distance and your VBO settings and stuff, and see if some culprit can be identified. Might really benefit the world if you could do that!


only as a response to dale, i used to record in nearly empty sims with distance at minimum. with a skeleton in a rowboat at the empty sea. it simply should not crash that often. i even remember on clicking the snapshot-button made me crash ^^ but maybe i simply changed some settings in a stupid way i can not remember anymore.

whatever, working around the hurdles i find in SL always was one of the things i find fun in making sl-machinima. it's tricky xD

one off-topic thing i had to think about was if i leave my computer for a moment i near to never make it to come back and i was not being disconnected meanwhile. no idea why is that. i have this "stay always online-thingy" checked. the lindens waste a lot of possible plus-user-online-time with that. sl-nerds like me would always park there avatars online then i believe... no idea, ahooy!

oh and yes, if i argue about SL it always helps watching this: http://youtu.be/o6UFaDbNBxw

Nalates Urriah

Hamlet's experience is not unusual. I use about every viewer out and update to the newest versions ASAP. Much of my time in SL is using the latest Development Viewer from LL. One version is fast, another is slow, each version changes. Dynamic shadows used to hold me at 2 to 5 FPS. Now I get 15 to 30 FPS. Right now gray avatars are a problem. That will pass.

The viewers all have similar and each their unique problems. That users are seeing no problem and others loads of problems with similar machines and connections comes as no surprise to me. The main grid is running several versions of the simulator software at any given time. Problems are often an aspect of location.

Users are also connecting with very old viewers and very new viewers and everything in between. The grid is supporting an array of old and new services that are duplicates to support this array of viewers. I have no doubt this is bloating the sim software and throwing a load on the sims and utility servers. Go into a region with a mix of users on different viewers and the region is going to have problems.

Plus instrumentation has been built into viewers and sim software as well as the utility and services systems to figure out some of the bigger problems, like chat lag.

Right now we have a load of things dragging down SL performance. Those involved in the open source groups are always asking LL to drop the old series 1 viewers and drop the legacy support. It is looking like that may happen this summer or fall.

It is not that LL is making it hard for you and others to report on SL. You are dealing with the dust from a major system upgrade. It is unpleasant. But, it is how we get from what we have had to what we want. Deal with it.

Remember. How you deal with it shows who you are.

Orca Flotta

Hamlet wrote:
Does this Second Life story require me to actually use Second Life, and is it valuable enough to make it worth the extra time?

Isn't that the most stupid question we ever heard?

If you don't like to be in SL then why bother writing about it anyway? Giving your readers some second hand "information" without any hint of personal experience might be high fashion in journalism these days but will make you lose readers in the long run.
When I read an article on something, I kinda expect to learn something new about that topic, from a person better informed and with more insight than me. Don't need some hearsay.

Here some hints:
Don't try to play any online games from a wireless connection. EVER!
Make sure your line is fast enough to handle the load.
Adjust your settings to the task at hand. 128 meters is enough for usual stuff, use 64 for shopping, longer DD for photos ... and when done toggle back.
And most important: Don't use LL's V2. It's certified crap. Introducing and now forcefeeding us an unlogical dumbed down UI paired with questionably "better" technology was one of LL's worser moves. Now that's a topic to write about, Hamlet. Coming from a respected blogger like you it might even raise some interest throughout the lab.

Ehrman Digfoot

Hi Hamlet,

The nvidia 335M in the old M11x you have should work fine. I've never encountered these problems in second life, even when I used an even older mobile nvidia gpu. If you had an ATI card or an integrated gpu then of course, but your card and your mobile setup should do fine. My suggestion in visiting a place with that many avatars would be to drop your non-impostor avatar number down to 4 or so.

But if you really want to improve your SL performance you should troubleshoot this in the support forums, double check your settings, and your connection. As arguably one of the most influential metaverse bloggers though you really should have a decent desktop setup-- I mean come on. But if you're just here to hate on SL and flame the typically grumpy forum people, carry on.


Snickers Snook

Just use a text viewer. No rendering, no problem. :D

Robustus Hax

If you are on a slow connection of course you will have rez problems. Some sims have textures over a gig, add a lot of avatars and a slow connection you will sit there for hours.

Rawst Berry

Are they discussing a rape hud in the first pic?
@Wayfinder: Do you use viewer 2?

Cinder Roxley

did you check your internet like the logout error suggested? it's your internet connection. "check your internet connection".

btw, that error message is not from the slviewer or it wouldn't be PURPLE with SCROLLBARS on it. nice try passing viewer2 off as kokua though.

Hamlet Au

No, it was Viewer 2. My laptop displays SL text purple. I'll post another photo next week.


ps- its viewer 2.0

Alexandra Rucker

Guys, don't forget the amount of RAM in the system will make a difference as well - I have 12GB in mine, and things do seem to perform well enough most of the time, barring grid or sim issues.

...but then I'm also using any of several TPV's most of the time... :)


Vecky: (And on another note: 3 years ago i was able with a back then 3 year old laptop and a standard internet connection to be in a sim with 40 people and had no problem whatsoever. Today with a new high end laptop and connection my SL looks like in your screenshots ... so i blame LL)

Exactly Vecky. The system is degrading... not improving. Lots more toys. Lots less performance.

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