Is this your desktop? Simple tricks to cut OSX lag

Hey Mac folks, this desktop look familiar? Does it belong to you, did you leave it on my computer?

LaggyDesktop

Seeing that this morning inspired me to dig up some old useful advice I’ve know for a while but never thought to share before.

Some simple advice on cutting lag on Mac OSX… Not Second Life lag, but system lag that specifically affects graphics performance… ie: Lag you will feel in SL that has absolutely nothing to do with SL…

This article’s advice generally comes from around the web. Much of it is something I found burried very deep in the pages of a forum thread on an MMO fan website through a random search some time back. The sort of place that could easily vanish someday.

It is the kind of advice useful for any Mac user, but specifically Mac users that use a lot of intense graphics. Like Second Life users.


Tip 1:

Have a blank desktop:

NotLaggyDesktop

You can have background pictures, I only removed mine from the first screenshot to make what I was referring to obvious. 🙂

This is an issue where OSX does a preview render of everything on your desktop. This includes things like text files. All of that is using up system resources… resources you could be using on SL.


Tip 2:

Don’t have 3,274 apps running at once. Don’t even have 3,273. Best to just have one. But if not that, just the ones you need right now.

To close an app you MUST do “Command-Q”. Hitting this button:
UselessButton

Doesn’t do anything but close that window. The application is still running and using up all its active resources.

OSX is NOT Windows… Hitting that red ‘X’ in Windows will close an application. In OSX it is the same thing as putting your head in the sand to ignore the lion gnawing on your left leg…


Tip 3:
I read advice that says avoid Firevault:
Firevault.png

Yes you will go faster if you avoid it, but consider that the first confirmed encryption ransom malware has now occurred in OSX. I think this one might be better to call for safety over speed.


Tip 4:

Keep your system up to date. This one applies equally to OSX and Windows users. And don’t think you can escape it by hiding on some other OS either… whatever you use, keep it up to date. Updates will keep your graphics card working with enhancements, and keep away known security flaws. Most hacked systems are systems people were not updating.

SystemUpdate.png

(You don’t need Xcode unless you’re developing applications for OSX and iOS – which is part of what I do.)

Now we get into the ‘wait what?’ weird stuff…


Tip 5:

Repair your disk permissions. Because they routinely get out of step with what they should be, and if you’ve ever run an analytics report side by side with looking at console logs of what is going on in your application… you know this is a big pain… everytime a “minor oh it doesn’t REALLY matter we can fix that next release, we got bigger bugs right now” permission warning pops up… that uses resources for your applications to decide they can keep working despite that flaw…

This one is on you though, not the developers who made all your shiny programs. This one is because you used stuff, and then other stuff, and then stuff got confused, or stuff crashed before stuffing its stuff back into the stuff box before stuff could happen…

So just run this stuff and get your stuff in order…

Applications -> Utilities -> Disk Utility

OSXFirstAid

Click the First Aid button

 


Tip 6:

Apple Icon -> System Preferences -> Accessibility
Reduce system UI Transparency. Those nice semi-transparent window borders in OSX… they use up a lot of graphics resources. Transparency in Second Life drives up the ‘Render Cost’ of something by a factor of 4 in their Draw Weight equation… This is done because it eats a lot of graphics resources. The same is true if you’re letting your computer’s operating system do it to all the bars on the edges of things that you’re probably not even looking at anyway. And being solid gives them more contrast to find your stuff, so its better to turn this off from a design perspective as well:
ReduceTransparency


Tip 7:

Turns off everything from Spotlight you don’t absolutely need:
Apple Icon -> System Preferences -> Spotlight
DeathToSpotLight.png
Spotlight is just going to be constantly scanning your system for things to pre-fill into all of this, and that’s slowing you down. Keep it to the minimum of what you need.

If you really want to fully kill spotlight, type this into a terminal window:

sudo launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.metadata.mds.plist

And this will turn it back on:

sudo launchctl load -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.metadata.mds.plist


Tip 8:

Keep a lot of unused space around in your hard drive. If you have a LOT of files of data you like to have stored for ‘stuff’… get an external drive or cloud backup and keep all of those screenshots of your avatar in the free-xxx club… off of your hard disk.

Its useful to have your data on an external not-always connected disk anyway, in case your system ever gets hacked… you just laugh at the hackers as you reformat your operating system, and then plug your data drive back in and continue (OK that is still a major hassle, but at least it is a recovery plan).

Guys: There is no need to download all of those porn videos. The stuff is free and all over the internet anyway. Don’t fill up your disk with copies of porn… Obama isn’t taking your guns, and he isn’t coming to take your porn stash away either, because its all over the web anyway… Yeah I know, you can clear up about 70% of your hard drive if you delete those files…
And it will be a lot less embarrassing in church next Sunday when Obama finally does send the FBI in to take your guns and ship you to a FEMA camp and they see what’s on your computer… 😛

Free space on the drive means more space to used for caching, and for applications to be installed without fragmentation.

Do NOT go out and get some third party “clean up your disk” application. Even if other blogs about keeping a clean system suddenly shift into marketing mode halfway through and tell you to get their app.

Guess where malware comes from?


Tip 9:

Get the application gfxcardstatus. Oh yeah… I just told you not to go out and get crazy third party apps. Now I’m telling you to go out and get some crazy third part app.

SOME OF YOU THAT IS.

This only applies to Mac users that have a Mac with a graphics card. Welcome to the reason the VR companies have said they aren’t even bothering with us Mac people… Most Macs don’t have graphics cards… but use an integrated board solution. A high end Mac is often graphically no better than a $300 PC…

It hurts to say that, as a Mac user… but it is true. For most Macs.

If you have a higher end Mac, and if you do you know about it already because you paid another $500-1000 for it and you weren’t stupid enough to pay all that without finding out why…

Well, if you do have one, you want the ability to actually tell it to use your graphics card when you load up something intense like Second Life.

Not only does OSX not tell you when it turns on your pricey GPU, it often only makse the decision to do so when its good for Apple’s marketing… So the shiny Apple apps that will run better with it will use it, many other apps won’t, and if you go into bootcamp and run Windows they will turn it on all the time so as to heat up your system and overtax things so that Windows seems to not perform as well…

I don’t have the solution for keeping it off when not needing it bootcamp side. I need to read up on that still.

But OSX side, you want “gfxcardstatus” so you can turn have it get turned on by default anytime you flip on an application that has 3D graphics, and flipped off otherwise:

https://gfx.io

You really want this one. Google it and read about it to be sure on the security issues.


Tip 10:

Disable uneeded notifications.
Apple Icon -> System Preferences -> Notifications
Notifications
If you don’t NEED it, disable it. This is just slowing you down for spam most of the time.


Tip 11:

Apple Icon -> System Preferences -> Dock
Change the dock from Genie to Scale.
ScaleEffect.png
That Genie effect may look cool, but that coolness is at a cost of advanced rendering to warp a window and slide it around.


Tip 12:

Cut out startup applications:

Apple Icon -> System Preferences -> Users & Groups -> Login Items
LoginItems.png
If you don’t need it or recognize it, uncheck it or remove it.

Also check your Library:

LibraryLaunchAgents.png

You need to look at both LaunchAgents and LaunchDaemons.

Where I put “/Library” up there, also look in these two:

“~/Library”
“/System/Library”

“~/” is a shorthand for: “/Users/[your computer account name]”

In the LaunchAgents and LaunchDaemons you want to delete anything that is not from apple or a source your recognize. Malware commonly gets into Macs by placing itself here.

If you find something on the list that looks like it might be important but you’re not sure – google it and look for a link that is on a support.apple.com website for info. Be wary of links about malware found elsewhere – I’ve had co-workers get malware by searching on how to clean out malware…

PS: If you are unlucky enough to get malware on your system, NEVER download an app to ‘easily clean out that malware’. Always follow the absurdly long overly complex manual instructions to clean it out by hand. They may be annoying and worded badly… but if you have to sit there and type in manual commands and find files the hard way, you can at least do so making sure you’re not adding in more malware…


Tip 13:

This one is highly technical.

PRAM / NVRAM Reset :
https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204063
Shutdown your Mac:
Apple Icon -> Shutdown
NOT Restart or Sleep, but Shutdown.

Start your computer again & hold Alt+Cmd+P+R before the bootup noise.
This will reset your PRAM.
PRAM used to need regular resetting. These days it shouldn’t ever need it, but if your system has gotten a bit corrupted it will help.

SMC Reset:
https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201295
Shutdown your Mac again:
Apple Icon -> Shutdown
NOT Restart or Sleep, but Shutdown.

From here it depends on how your battery is connected, if you have one.

Desktop or MacBook With Removable Battery
Shut down the computer.
Unplug the power adapter.
Remove the battery (if there is one – a desktop typically just needs to be unplugged).
Press and hold the power button for five seconds.
Replace the battery.
Plug in the power adapter.
Turn on the computer.

MacBook Without A Removable Battery
Shut down the computer.
Plug in the power adapter.
On the built-in keyboard, press the Shift, Control, and Option keys on the left side and the power button, all at the same time.
Release all three keys at the same time.
Turn on the computer.

A little side note for people in bad weather: Your computer can’t get friend in a power surge if its unplugged. If the power goes out, unplug all the expensive stuff in the house…

 

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WoW’s lead deveoper on how to manage community – lessons for LLs

A short one today.

We all know how bad its been around Second Life regarding Linden Lab’s non-communicative stance. There’s general agreement that this silence does a lot of harm to the viability of the platform, though disagreement on the specifics and degree.

So how about a very different stance’s POV.

Ghostcrawler of World of Warcraft – a developer who posts so much to his game’s forums that its easy to thing he’s just a guy in the community service / customer support section with no real authority… yet he is also the game’s lead designer. As in; the buck stops at his desk.

He’s just done an interview and given some of his thoughts. Its an article that everyone at Linden Labs ought to be required to read:

Q&A: Greg Street, ‘World of Warcraft’ Lead Systems Designer (Pt. 1)

Q&A: Greg Street, ‘World of Warcraft’ Lead Systems Designer (Pt. 2)

Biggest point:

“World of Warcraft” fans might know you as “Ghostcrawler” on the message boards. How did you get into engaging directly with players in that way?
That started back at Ensemble, just as a way to try and simply communicate directly with players. So often the players and the designers are separated by layers of PR people and community managers and everything gets diluted and filtered. Players want to give us feedback, and social media is a great way to have a conversation with normal people. Us being on there and interacting is how we get insight into our players. A single passionate user can steer the direction of the forums in a certain direction, but no one player can represent all 10 million. So it’s great for us to actually ask questions when someone posts something and find out why they feel how they do.

From the gamer’s point of view they like to know that they’re being taken care of and that all the time and energy they invest is taken seriously and and not for granted. They’re happy to pay a monthly subscription to play the game as long as we’re going to continue polishing things, making new content, and recognizing the value of the customers.

Meh… Its just a video game. amiright? Second Life need to own what it is – a game

Meh… Its just a video game. amiright?
– Or isn’t that what they keep on trying to say with all of this stuff.

Second Life needs to own what it is; a video game.

Denying that puts it in a strange middle ground where it cannot get any traction.

It doesn’t help matters that SL, in trying to be seen as serious; flips the situation and tries to pretend that it is -not- a video game when its really not all that different from any other ‘massive multiplayer online world’.

SL actually hurts its popularity and potential by trying to pretend to not be a video game in world where half the people expect video games to be serious entertainment and social venues – all the things SL can provide, and the other half look at anything with animation or 3D and dismiss it out of hand no matter what it claims to be.

Its like folks in the ghetto who try to bleach their skin to be white or change their dialect to be WASP… you end up failing in both worlds. Own your roots (be they hood or redneck or reservation or whatever).

Some folks will not accept you no matter how much you try to change yourself to be like them. Its wasted energy to appeal to these folks. Focus instead on catching those who are already amenable to you and your ways. Being mixed maybe gives me a benefit here. There was one small set of the white side of my family that refused to accept my presence, and still remains cold towards me and mine to this day. Those relatives who would ask my step-father to only visit with his younger whiter-looking children…

Taught me the lesson that you’re better off not wasting time trying to be what some who will never accept you want…

(That is not saying you should be your RL self in SL – that’s a very different thing. Though I do think people should not be ‘fake’ about the ID they choose: don’t pick one to hide yourself. Pick one to be more yourself, even if that makes you a floating blue ball.)

(And mind you, one of the people who most helped me see that you should claim yourself as yourself was another of those white relatives from my step-father who was so into his roots and culture it drove him to be a traveling history buff and civil/class rights activist.)

Back to SL, games, and cross-over media…

– Video games are -THE- future of entertainment. TV, Radio, Movies,and all that other stuff is dated – it is very viable, but its not where the main focus should be anymore.

Now I’m responding a little to a blog of Hamlet’s, which got me thinking on my own, different, topic today.

You shouldn’t use a video game for added value for a TV show or movie. You should use the movie or TV show as an added bonus to the video game. The profit, the money, and the audience; will come to and from the game first and most. Hamlet sees this as a happy marriage either way – just happy to see the kids playing together – and I guess I’m looking at it from the ‘are we getting exploited here’ POV.

Denying that and be-littling things for being ‘games’, is like the decades Jamaica spent refusing to air Ska, Rocksteady, and Reggae on its radio shows because it was ‘black music’ or ‘ghetto music’… its denying the reality around you.

If SL were to own what it is more, it might be able to get better media than a couple of movies and shows about people portrayed as ‘weird sex freaks using it for escape‘…

SL’s deeper nature would make it -perfect- for a cross-media project like Hamlet mentions here. Where you can expand in near real time on both sides and have them influence each other more.

Again; some people will look at SL’s 3D cartoon graphics and online nature and see something they will dismiss out of hand no matter what you do with it. So stop wasting your potential by trying to appease them.

They don’t like you, live with it.

Focus on your own crowd; people for whom such graphics are not a stain. Gamers, and the game potential of what you have and are.

SL needs to stop trying to rub off the black.

Or at least its users need to stop. The company behind SL at least, in the last year, seems to ‘get it’ with who they can appeal to. Linden Lab is trying to move the ball – we need to help them move it, not resist it. Because all the folks who want to play ball are over there in the ‘game’ camp, not in the ‘this is srs bsns’ camp.

Blizzard, the company behind World of Warcraft, takes open anti-gay stance in gay-bashing video at Blizzcon

EDIT: Updated news at end, CEO issues apology.

Long title.

This needs to reach beyond the Warcraft community into the larger media and in particular needs to be seen by the LGBT community.

Blizzard is the company behind the very successful online game, World of Warcraft. Second Life fans, that might not be your thing, but it -is- a leader in online virtual worlds.

Every year they have a convention where they invite their fans around the world to come by, meet up, hear about community news and upcoming products. At this years convention they ended with a closing ceremony that had the band ‘Foo Fighters’ play. The opening act for Foo Fighters was an in house ‘band’ made up of Blizzard employees, known as L90TE, or Level 90 Tauren Elite – a game reference as ‘Tauren’ is the ‘noble Minotaur’ race of WoW, and level 90 is 5 levels above the game’s current limit (the band changes its name every time a new expansion comes out to up the number).

L90TE, at one point in their act, aired a bleeped version of this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cW_Lv0r-l4c
(original interview uncensored)

The concert version they aired:
http://youtu.be/pGsNsSX-iO0
(footage from concert)

This was also streamed on Blizzard’s ‘Virtual Ticket’ stream to fans around the world.

The video goes on a rant that is inspired by player rivalry between the two ‘sides’ in the game. Players either play on the ‘Alliance’ side of Humans, Elves and Dwarves, or the ‘Horde’ side of traditionally monsters but done more as tragic heroes: Trolls, Undead Zombies, Minotaurs, Orcs, Goblins, etc.

So the video is one player talking smack to the opposing side – a typical sort of ‘smackdown’ challenge speech, common in sports rivalries.

However in this case the video includes a series of anti-gay references by talking the other side down via accusing them of being gay (using less polite wording) or of certain ‘gay-like acts’ the repetition of which on WordPress might not be good for the health of my blog’s account access…

Important things to note here is that L90TE is composed of key ‘community figures’ among Blizzard employees; people the fans have long admired. For years they’ve been making music themed for game events and fandom ‘service’. The person in the video is -NOT- a Blizzard employee, but a regular player.

Like it or not, people are entitled to be hate-mongers. The transgression here then is not the video speaker, but that Blizzard aired his video, and in particular aired it in so public a way, as something put up by their community leaders in front of hundreds of thousands of fans; adults, children, straight, and LGBT. Fans all over the world.

There’s a petition to get some kind of on-point response:
http://www.change.org/petitions/blizzard-entertainment-apologize-for-homophobic-statements-made-at-blizzcon-2011

Since that started Blizzard has issued a sort of vague half-apology that admits no blame, no error in judgement, and holds no one accountable:
http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/3424906852

They need to be held to further task.

Media companies, and online gaming and virtual world companies in particular; have a responsibility over the messages they put out. And this kind of hate-speech has no place in those messages.

Spread the word.

Blizzard’s CEO, who was in the band in question, finally issued a more direct on point apology:
http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/3424798330
The post is by a Blizzard staffer, but is a letter ‘signed’ by the CEO.

Dear members of the Blizzard community,

I have read your feedback and comments about this year’s BlizzCon, and I have also read the feedback to the apology from Level 90 Elite Tauren Chieftain. I’d like to respond to some of your feedback here.

As president of Blizzard, I take full responsibility for everything that occurs at BlizzCon.

It was shortsighted and insensitive to use the video at all, even in censored form. The language used in the original version, including the slurs and use of sexual orientation as an insult, is not acceptable, period. We realize now that having even an edited version at the show was counter to the standards we try to maintain in our forums and in our games. Doing so was an error in judgment, and we regret it.

The bottom line is we deeply apologize for our mistakes and for hurting or offending anyone. We want you to have fun at our events, and we want everyone to feel welcome. We’re proud to be part of a huge and diverse community, and I am proud that so many aspects of the community are represented within Blizzard itself.

As a leader of Blizzard, and a member of the band, I truly hope you will accept my humblest apology.

– Mike Morhaime
President, Blizzard Entertainment

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