• 13Dec

    Every once in a while, some Second Life drama will erupt about a “client detection system” (CDS), a scripted product that supposedly protects your store from content rippers (aka “content thieves”) by banning users of untrusted viewer programs. There was such an episode last week, with a certain store using a certain CDS that wrongly banned a legitimate customer using a legitimate viewer. I won’t bother mentioning the name of the store or the CDS, because this post isn’t about that specific incident. This post is about every CDS, every store, and every viewer.

    (Full disclosure: the viewer in that particular case was the Imprudence Experimental, which I am involved with. But, users of other viewers have been wrongfully banned by similar systems in the past.)

    Simply put, a CDS does not provide any significant protection against content rippers. It is snake oil: a product created to commercially exploit store owners’ fear. If you have a CDS set up in your shop, you aren’t protecting your content, you’re just paying someone to invade your customers’ privacy, drive away legitimate customers, and blemish your reputation.

    Most people don’t understand how a CDS works, but believe that it might actually be able to stop content rippers. The purpose of this post is to explain how they function, why they are ineffective, and furthermore why they are harmful to your customers and bad for your business.

    Continue reading »

  • 17Sep

    The SL fashion world has spawned a bizarre and mysterious type of device known as the anti-inspect shield. The primary purpose of these devices is to deter other people from checking the names and creators of attachments you are wearing, so that they can’t go and buy the same things you did and copy your “style”. The shields accomplish this by surrounding your avatar in many layers of transparent prims, so that other people can’t right click and Inspect your other attachments — their click will hit the shield instead.

    Anti-inspect shields are a contentious issue for many reasons. Not the least of these is that it deprives designers of the new customers they could have gained from people seeing and admiring your outfit, and finding out who made it. But just as bad is that they severely reduce your framerate and the framerate of everyone around you, as Gabby Panacek has demonstrated.

    Hurting the creators of the items you love, and slashing everyone’s framerates in the process? Well, that’s pretty vain and selfish, but maybe it’s worth it to stop “copycats” from stealing your style? Perhaps it would be, if the shields actually stopped people from inspecting your attachments — but they don’t.

    In fact, there’s an extremely quick and easy way to completely bypass the shields, and you don’t even have to fiddle around trying to get the right camera angle. All it takes is 3 easy steps, which I’ll demonstrate with Caer Balogh’s lovely brown paper bag “Advanced Fashion Shield 1.0″, which Gabby kindly passed on to me. It’s just as useless as the real shields at stopping people from inspecting, but doesn’t hurt your framerate, and is way more stylish.

    Bypass Anti-Inspect Shield in 3 Easy Steps

    1. Enable Advanced > Rendering > Hide Selected. (Use Ctrl-Alt-Shift-D to turn on the Advanced menu if you need to.)
    2. Open Edit mode (Ctrl-3) and click on the shield to select it. It will disappear from your view (except for its outline). If the person is wearing multiple shields, you can hold Shift and continue to click them until you have selected (and thus hidden) them all.
    3. Click on the attachment you want to inspect.

    Even the biggest, primmiest, laggiest shield, whether scripted or unscripted, sculpty or nonsculpty, can be bypassed in just a few clicks using this method.

    So if you have a shield, please, take it off. All you’re doing is making SL less enjoyable for yourself and everyone around you.

  • 25Jan

    Here’s another random UI tip for you, this one discovered by McCabe Maxsted:

    Drag and drop an inventory item into the IM window to send it to the person you’re IMing with. You don’t need to open their profile window! (This doesn’t work for group IMs, though.)

    The next version of Imprudence will have a little reminder note in the IM window, but you can do this with any SL viewer right now!

    The more you know!

  • 24Jan

    You find out the darnedest things, looking through the viewer source code.

    For example, if you Ctrl-click on a slider bar in the SL viewer (or Imprudence), it will reset that slider to its default value.

    The more you know!

    P.S. This is what a slider bar looks like: Example of a slider bar widget

  • 24Nov

    Serving simple HTML by LSL script

    I’ve written an LSL script which “serves” custom-generated HTML via a neat trick I discovered. But don’t bust out the champagne just yet — this method is extremely limited, so I don’t expect this to revolutionize HUDs or anything like that. Still, it’s a fun curiosity.

    The trick is this: If you use text of the form “data:text/html,[html code here]” as the web URL, Firefox (and maybe other browsers?) will render the HTML code as a web page. For example, visit data:text/html,<html><body><h1>Oh hai!</h1></body></html>, and Firefox will render the words “Oh hai!”. It’s not accessing a web page, and it’s not loading a local HTML file, it’s loading the HTML code from the pseudo-URL.

    The same trick works in SL as well, by setting the parcel media URL to the “data:text/html” string. You can use an LSL script to generate the HTML code and set the parcel URL, or even set the URL for an individual avatar. The result is that your LSL script acts as a very simple web server!

    However, as I mentioned, there are some serious limitations: SL won’t let you set the web URL to a string longer than 254 letters! That means you have to cram all the HTML code into that tiny string, which severely limits the complexity of the HTML you can display.

    Continue reading »

  • 02Nov

    Tired of those beautiful, photo-realistic sunsets? That new-fangled Windlight rendering engine slow your compy to a crawl? Want to relive the good old days, back when voice chat was new and strange, and Linden Lab even bothered to pretend to communicate with its customers?

    Well now you can!

    … Actually, you’ve been able to do so for a long, long time — ever since the Día de Liberación back in summer 2007. One of the benefits of “message liberation” was that you wouldn’t need to download a new SL viewer just because they made some server changes; old viewers would continue to work with new sims.

    And in fact, that has held true, even to today. The only thing stopping you from using a 1.18-series (pre-Windlight) viewer is that annoying “You must download the latest version to continue” message, which is easily bypassed with a trick I’ll describe below.

    But what of that mandatory security update in early October? Or the security update and protocol switch from UDP to HTTPS less than two weeks before that? Wouldn’t those issues prevent old viewers from connecting?

    Apparently not. As of this writing, even 1.19 and 1.18 viewers (but not 1.17 or other older, “unliberated” viewers) can connect to SL with nary a hitch, though they’re probably still susceptible to the security issues mentioned above. As usual, the purportedly required updates are, in fact, not.

    So, what is this trick, this secret knowledge needed to bypass the download prompt and log in with older viewers? Change the channel. It’s an old trick, though there was some concern that it wouldn’t work anymore since the change to HTTPS. Fortunately, those concerns have not come to pass, and the SL servers seem perfectly happy to use UDP with older viewers.

    Changing the channel is easy. The viewer application takes a parameter, “–channel CHANNEL”, which sets the channel to use. The process for giving that parameter varies between operating systems. The processes are described on the SL wiki, but I’ve included a brief overview below.

    • Windows: Create a shortcut to the older SecondLife.exe. Open up the shortcut’s properties (right click > Properties) and edit the shortcut path. After SecondLife.exe but before the closing quotation mark After the closing quotation mark, add: --channel Happydays
    • Mac: Open up the terminal and run these two commands (adjust the first path if your Second Life app isn’t in Applications):

      cd "/Applications/Second Life.app/"
      echo "--channel Happydays" >> Contents/Resources/arguments.txt

      (Mac users, leave a comment if the above solution didn’t work for you. I don’t have a Mac handy to test it!)

    • Linux: Run the viewer as: secondlife --channel Happydays

    You should now be able to log in to SL with your retro viewer version. Enjoy, good night, and good luck!

    P.S. Don’t have the installer for the old viewer laying around? No worries, they’re still available for download. Mad props to McCabe Maxsted for putting that wiki page together!

  • 26Sep

    Here’s an updated version of an oldie but a goodie. Back in January 2007, I found out how to disable (on your computer only) the SL typing sound — the loud, annoying click-clack-clack sound that plays whenever you or anyone around you starts typing something into chat.

    It has been nice and peaceful since then. But tonight, while testing the latest build of Imprudence, I heard it for the first time in 21 months (since my regular SL settings weren’t loaded). Blech! What a racket. I went to disable it, but then I thought of something better: I could replace it with a nicer sound. That way I’d still have an audible indicator of when someone was typing (something I realize I had been missing).

    After rummaging around in my inventory a bit to find an appropriate sound, I settled on a freebie cricket chirp sound. It was full perm, so I grabbed the asset UUID: b3831ff2-a197-62df-34f7-a83be592c1da

    So, I enabled the Advanced menu (Ctrl+Alt+D, or Cmd+Alt+D for you Mac-types), opened up Advanced > Debug Settings, typed in UISndTyping, then pasted in b3831ff2-a197-62df-34f7-a83be592c1da in the box at the bottom, replacing the UUID that was there. Close up Debug Settings and… voila! Now instead of clacking on a keyboard, everybody chirps like a cricket when they start typing!

    Of course, if crickets aren’t your thing, you can use any sound at all, as long as you have the UUID for it. You can get that by right clicking on it and selecting Copy Asset UUID — but only if you have full permissions on the item.

    So, enjoy your crickets etc.! If you find a free sound that you like even better than crickets, leave a comment with the UUID or link to where it can be downloaded so I can try it out. (No illegal rips, please!)

  • 31Jul

    Wonder where the “Tools” menu went in Second Life viewer 1.20? Linden Lab decided, in the interest of reducing the number of menus presented to the user, to make it only visible when the “Build” window is open (Ctrl-3).

    This change was rather unpopular, and Linden Lab has, thankfully, decided to revert it in a future version. But in the meantime, we’re stuck with it — or we would be, except there’s a quick and easy work-around to disable it! All it takes is a text editor (Notepad, etc.); you don’t even have to compile anything. (If you’re really lazy, you can just download my file and put it in the right spot, as described below.)

    This trick is a simple one. Since SL looks for the Tools menu by name to find which menu to hide, all you have to do is change its name, and SL won’t find it, and it’ll stay visible all the time!

    The really easy way (download the replacement file):

    1. Download my pre-chewed XML file to “Second Life/skins/default/xui/en-us/”, replacing the existing one. On OS X, go to Applications, ctrl-click on “Second Life”, choose “Show Package Contents”, then put the file in “Contents/Resources/skins/default/xui/en-us/”.
    2. Restart SL, enjoy.

    The slightly less easy way (edit the file yourself):

    1. Open up “Second Life/skins/default/xui/en-us/menu_viewer.xml” in your text editor. On OS X, go to Applications, ctrl-click on “Second Life”, choose “Show Package Contents”, then open up “Contents/Resources/skins/default/xui/en-us/viewer-menu.xml” with TextEdit (or your favorite text editor).
    2. Search for: name="Tools" (it’s on line 590)
    3. Change name="Tools" to name="Toolz" or some other non-Tools word.
    4. Save the file, restart SL, enjoy.

    Voila, your Tools menu will now be visible all the time. Piece of cake.

  • 06Jun

    Comparison of Blender and SL poses

    It’s done! I am pleased to present to you, SL Animation for Blender Newbs. It’s 6 pages long, with pictures. It might take you maybe 30 minutes or so to follow along, I’m guessing. If you have any feedback (e.g. suggestions or praise), leave a comment on any of the pages.

    Enjoy.

    Tags: , ,

  • 19Dec
    Guides, How-Tos & Tips Comments Off

    In Part 1, I talked about the different states a JIRA issue can have, as well as the different resolutions and what they mean. Today, I’ll walk you through the life of an issue, from the time it’s opened to the time it’s fixed and released. I’ll also talk about some of the challenges the JIRA process faces as it turns from an inward-facing tool to be used by trained software developers, to an outward-facing tool to be used by the general public.

    Continue reading »

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