Getting Started in SL Guide updated

joinSecondLifeIts still in progress. It is always in progress. But its now gone through a major revision round and I think, ready again for public consumption:

Getting Started in Second Life

I’m hoping people share that link around. I would also very much appreciate feedback.

One thing still on the to do list that I have been asked about is info on how to buy linden dollars if you’re in a country that doesn’t accept any of the built in payment methods. I have been told this is a problem for some parts of Europe and for Brazil. But I have absolutely no idea what the solution is for people from those places. If you happen to know, please tell me so I can include it.LearningIsland_1

LearningIsland_2

 

Avatar Draw Weight, the Horrors of Transparency Flipping, and “Second Life: Render Speed Tricks from Nalates Urriah”

Ok, today you’re getting three thoughts that are jumbled together in my head, even if they do or don’t belong together… 🙂

If you haven’t read it yet, here is a very useful list of setting that can improve the speed of your SL:
Second Life: Render Speed Tricks

Simon Linden gave out a note card at Tuesday’s Server-Scripting user group meeting in Second Life™. It gives us the Debug Settings we can change to improve performance at events with lots of avatars.

Access your debug settings off of the Advanced menu:
AdvanceMenuShowDebug

Particularly note:

RenderAutoMuteFunctions

set this to “7” and people with too high an Avatar Draw Weight will render as ‘imposters’ (reduced graphics still images)

renderavatarmaxComplexity
RenderAutoMuteRenderWeightLimit
RenderAvatarComplexityLimit

set this to the maximum Avatar Draw Weight you will accept others being before you ‘imposter’ them. The blog recommends setting between 80,000 to 200,000. The right setting here is extremely dependent on your computer’s graphics capabilities – you’ll just have to mess with it now and then until you’re satisfied with the results. This ties in with “RenderAvatarMaxNonImpostors” which is the number of avatars you will render regardless of how complex they are.

The three values… are because this feature is in testing. I think “renderavatarmaxComplexity” is already deprecated. No longer works.

RenderAutoMuteRenderWeightLimit will turn some people to solid colors IF “RenderAutoMuteFunctions” is set to 7, otherwise it does nothing. But its value does NOT match to Avatar Draw Weight anymore – I think this one is also broken.

RenderAvatarComplexityLimit turns people invisible if they are above it, regardless of any other debug settings. This one does match Avatar Draw Weight.

So here’s what this gives me in an adult infohub on a day when half of SL is in rolling restarts. So the place is way over packed:

InfoHubAutoRenderMute.png
Notice all those people who are just solid colors now… 🙂
It hasn’t done so much good for my FPS, but then again look at how stacked it is in here. I can walk around without fear of crashing, in a mess like this.

So there is your trade-off. High cost people look funny now, but you don’t crash because of them anymore. I’m still going slow here because these settings don’t do anything for any problems other than people’s graphics costs… I stood just outside the sim border and cammed around in here at my normal FPS. But cross the sim border and I hit that 7 fps again. By contrast without this when I cam into crowds, I could hit freezes or crashes.

But you REALLY NEED to go read that blog for a full list of many settings that will improve your SL, especially in crowds.

I’d love to get my hands on the original notecard.

I’m wondering if the Linden Notecard explains the math or thinking on these at all. What are ideal values?

For exmaple for “RenderAutoHideSurfaceAreaLimit”, I had to set it to 23.5 before my skybox appeared. Does this mean my skybox is bad for me, or that 23.5 is a good value for me, or neither?

Avatar Draw Weight Notes:

Oh and… NO LONGER VALID Info on Avatar Rendering Cost:

http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/Avatar_Rendering_Cost

Which was REPLACED by Draw Weight:

http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/Mesh/Rendering_weight

  • I mention both because you still see the first being discussed a lot. People are often not aware it was replaced by Draw Weight. It is VERY IMPORTANT to let people know, because Draw Weight is based on actual difficulty to render things, while ARC was, well, not sure what ARC was based on – but the Lindens themselves said it was not valid metrics. It may have just been values they guessed were important back when SL was new and they did not yet have metrics back telling them what was or was not taxing the system and user graphics cards.
  • So…
    • DRAW WEIGHT is real
    • ARC is no longer used.

That said I see a note in the wiki that an ‘alpha’ is a x4 multiplier on the Draw Weight of a prim – I wonder if this is true of ‘Alpha Blending’ mode only, or also of ‘Alpha Masking’ (the ‘1-bit alpha’ system).

The formula has some interesting curiosities. Like this one:

(-200 points for each baked texture marked invisible)
That makes me wonder how we manage to get our textures into that category. I suspect this comes about in a manner similar to getting things cached.

And this:

for each unique texture (including sculpt textures) in the linkset: + 256 + 16 * (resX/128 + resY/128)

Which means that a sculpty object is going to always be counting up a second texture – thus sculpties end up inherently high in Draw Weight. But not as high as flexi:

flexi x5
Just… wow.

Also interesting that Torus is not mentioned on here, because when this all came about I remember it in a linden post that commented at length about how horrible rendering a torus was on the graphics cards of SL users… Maybe something about torus is already covered in one of the other factors (like how sculpty is hit by the texture issue), or maybe Torus turned out to not be a bad thing after all?

See also this side link:

http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/Why_UUID_Flipping_is_Bad

  • First this problem no longer exists. But that’s not why I’m sending you to it. I’m sending you to it to make a point about Draw Weight. There is a note on this page that says:
    • “Transparency — Keep all frames rezzed all the time and use scripted calls to set non-visible frames to 100% transparent. This will cause the renderer to load the object once, and 100% transparent objects are not drawn. The “prim” cost of the object will go up, but this cost is reflective of the actual load of an animated object. “

You may have seen this before with many animated tails. If you wear one, you might see that your system suddenly slows down a lot. I find just wearing one of these can cause my FPS to drop enough that I’m seeing the individual frames… Testing just now, the Somali Tail from lemon Tea cut 10 off of my frames per second.

This “Transparency” system is the new “resizer script” fiasco… its putting a huge number of alpha’d textures all over everyone’s screen… creating massive lag.

Unfortunately this does not seem to be properly counted in Avatar Draw Weight… so the ability to make people using these just ‘auto vanish’ is not really there.

Here’s what switching between two tails does to my FPS:

The impact of using Transparency Flipping – 12.4fps:

TransparencyFlippingAnimationCosts.png

The impact of using Posotion/Rotation based animation – 23.8fps:

PositionRotationAnimationCosts

Yes my FPS is low in general today…

In this test I waited a minute between each switch to make sure all of the ‘loading in’ costs were done. That said, the Jerboa remained the same from the moment I put it on, but the Lemon slowly lowered down from where I was, until it stopped at the 12.4.

If this were about animation choices… I’d show you the Solarian tail. Its true BVH motion using the pelvis of the avatar – super fast, I’m here today talking about render costs… and for that its a distraction.

What I really want you to notice above is the red numbers over my head. They’re about the same. In fact the Lemon Tea is slightly lower. But its having a dramatic impact on performance.

In other words… Avatar Draw Weight measures some reasons why you will suffer lag – but even if the reason is related to a texture issue, Avatar Draw Weight might be missing it…

I’ve picked Lemon Tea here because I still have it in my inventory. The problem it gives occurs with any item, tail or not, worn or rezzed, that uses transparency flipping.

 

Getting Aspect Ratio right on a mesh photo frame

After my last long and technical post. Today I have a simple thought, with a bit of fun. 🙂PictureFrames

I probably waste a LOT of texture cache on putting up photos all over my SL house… I’ve bought my fair share of mesh frames for this, and find none of them are set up right for the aspect ratios of the images I upload.

This is one of those ‘rather basic’ building things a first time and maybe even experience land holder / renter / person with SL Home might struggle to figure out a way to deal with.

How to get that wonderful screenshot they’ve uploaded to not look stretched skinny or wide, despite putting it into a mesh frame that was supposed to look just perfect.

I tend to upload all of my screenshots as images I have saved at one of

  • 1:1 (the aspect ratio of the modern profile system).
  • 4:3 (old TV and old monitor aspect ratio – in Landscape)
  • 3:4 (basically old TV on its side – portrait ratio)

My mesh frames come in all kinds of random. Usually they are the correct ratio by the numbers on the prim size… but because the builder didn’t check how wide the shadow prim or frame was… the image part can be all over the place…

The ones in this image are from {What Next} – Anna Picture Frames. I have moved the positions a bit for my own setup.

I once tried fixing this with math… and it was a mess. So now I do this:

Rez another prim, set it to one of:

  • 1m tall and 1m wide (1:1)
  • 1m tall and 0.75m wide (4:3)
  • .75m tall and 1m wide (3:4)

Then color it red and made it 40% transparent, and make it thicker (depth) than the photo frame.
PictureFramesRedPrim
Move it over my frame, and use the “gray” corner to stretch it right. DO NOT use the red, green, or blue corners as those stretch individual sides – you want to stretch the whole thing uniformly.

Once it’s “close” to where I want, I switch prims to the frame:
PictureFramesFramePrim
And stretch that on each individual side (red, green, blue) – until my red prim fits ‘as nicely as I can eyeball’ inside the frame.

Now I can put up my pictures and not have them look stretched.

PictureFramesDone

And here you have me Pussycat, and my alts Bunny and Reggae. Which is a lot more personalized than the random stuff that came with this frame.

As I make a bit of a bold return to being a sometime (or maybe mostly or maybe rarely, not sure how it will end up yet) SL nudist, it seems fitting to put up nude art. Good way to test my comfort level with this and see this is really me, or just a passing mood.

I used to / have a lot more alts. But this is the active scene for me now. Recently took the rest of my crowd – deleted their profiles, and tossed them onto an empty spot. Most of them were made back in the days when I was testing things like new welcome centers, the then new single word name thing, and so on – but I kept feeling them temptation to go shopping for them… so I had to cut this down to a manageable list… 😛

How to NOT buy bad stuff in SL

Everybody knows they should demo things before buying them… but how many people know what to even look for when demoing.

Sure there is the obvious “do I like it”, “does it fit my avatar”, “does it match my theme”, “is it Copy/Mod or is this store’s owner a jerk?”

But there are three much more important tests that most people don’t know about – even though we all know about what happens when the results of these tests are bad… Most of us just don’t know how to find out before we’ve shelled out our precious loot for the latest fad…

So… Here is what you should really be looking for, how to look for it, and why you need to look for it.


The three steps in the try things out that way too many people never do…

  • Check out its script burden – very important.
  • Check out its avatar draw weight – the most important.
  • Zoom way the heck back and see what it looks like – situationally important.

Script Burden and Avatar Draw Weight will determine whether or not the item contributes to slowing down your SL, maybe randomly crashing you or others, and so on… ie: client-side appearance of lag that is actually your video card freaking out…

Zooming back will tell you how well they optimized stuff. It relates to what happens at a distance far enough to trigger a new ‘LOD’ (level of detail)…


 

So here are some screenshots and advice to show how to check and set all of these:

Script Burden:

Script Burden is my term for two things, Script Memory and Script Time. As users of SL we can only see Script Memory Allocation, and not the actual memory, nor the script time. We “CAN” use the LSL scripting language to find… script time allocation, but not the actual time…

Allocation is like making a reservation at a restaurant that only seats people at tables of 4. If you have 5 people, that is 2 tables, if you have 7 people, that is 2 tables… If you tell the restaurant you expect 5 people, it allocates two tables, and then only 2 of you show up… you still allocated 2 tables… but only used 2 seats…

Script time allocation… that’s like google maps telling it will take 23 minutes to drive there… Even if once you hit the road, it actually only took 19 minutes… you still allocated ’23 minutes’ of your life to expecting to be sitting in traffic… and the restaurant won’t serve you until 23 minutes have passed because that is when you made your reservation…

So its all about guessing here, when we can only see one leg of the elephant…

This is why you will often hear people say checking scripts is useless. Because its guesswork. But an educated guess is still better than just ignoring all evidence…

Checking the script memory allocation of things is STILL VALUABLE. The allocation tends to be a good estimate for how much resources something is going to eat up. If it is high it tends to indicate something that will slow you and everyone in the same sim, and any other sims on the same server, as you down. Yes, each sim in SL shares a server with 4 other sims – you have no idea where they are, but some jerk on one of them could be running a 700mb scripted hair piece from 2009 and totally killing your SL… That jerk might even be you… so here is how to find out if it is you so you can get some control back to your experience… (you can’t do anything about that other person except link them to this blog and pretend you’re being friendly and didn’t notice that giant flashing lag beast over their heads) 😛

Here is a screenshot showing where to find your script cost:

ScriptCount

So: World -> About Land -> Script Info -> My Avatar

Older items tend to be very bad about this. Many older items have been repackaged as freebies… so always check this if you get a freebie…

Yeah, my AO is a minor beast… Its the biggest thing I use, by a large amount. But a few years ago it would have been seen as small. Things are getting better in SL… Basically if your total here is ‘under 3 to 5mb somewhere’ you are “probably” not the problem. I say probably because we haven’t checked the other issues yet… 🙂

(My AO is reasonable, BUT consider that it limits what else I can also wear… especially if I had an older system… or if a friend of mine did, and many do… and I don’t want to be crashing my friends while I’m trying to chat them up…)

No-Mod hair is the most common cause of high script issues – because from 2009 to 2011 there was a popular ‘resize’ system going around the hair shops that required putting an individual script into every single strand of the hair… The linden’s added a new linkset script system in 2010 or so, I made it a freebie, as have others – and since 2011 versions of the linkset system have spread, each working a different way, but all finally low on script memory. However every now and then there is someone still using the old method.

Avatar Draw Weight:

This is the most important test you can run. Its a big performance issue, and a generally unknown factor.

While most people today know about scripts, almost nobody knows about this one. And many who do confuse it with the old system (ARC) that it replaced. The old system… was broken and gave meaningless data. The new system, is accurate and pretty much paints a red sign over the head of all the people around you who probably just aren’t quite aware of the impact of what they’re wearing and why they and/or people around them are feeling so much lag in SL. Keep that in mind… most people don’t know the causes of this stuff. So once you do, lay off the blame game, and just try to help people find solutions.

AvatarDrawWeight

Advanced -> Performance Tools -> Show Draw Weight for Avatars -> Look over your head for a colored number.

And note the 72,604 number over my head there – that is just high enough to start causing lag. People are often way over this. If you bust past 100,000 to 200,000 or so – you can start causing random people around you, or yourself, to crash… I’ve seen people over 400,000; sadly not uncommon.

Ever wonder why you’re happily hanging out somewhere, and then SL just up and dies on you? Now you know… Something with a very high Draw Weight just got noticed by your graphics card.

I saw “Something” and not “someone” on purpose… This issue is even WORSE with rezzed things like houses and furniture… Anyone who’s been happily walking about and hit upon a new scene made in mesh or sculpty and suddenly notices their computer starts crawling or the fan kicks on… that’s bad Draw Weight items around you… Its VERY COMMON in the Gatcha scene… and I see it a LOT in some fancy shops and clubs that are burdening down their build with ‘cute but badly made’ items…

You can’t do anything about it if somebody at a venue you like has rezzed all the bad stuff… except try to tell them and hope they’re not one of those weird folks that freaks out anytime somebody talks to them… BUT you can control it on your own stuff…

I don’t tend to wear that hair anymore as a result… It was about 30,000 or so of the number you saw up there…

So… you just bought some fancy new mesh kitchen and want to know this for it… how do you tell? Well… you actually CAN wear your kitchen in SL… 🙂 So that is one way – wear it, and then check your scripts and draw weight.

Another way is to go into wireframe mode and look at all the lines… This one is guesswork. If the lines are “all up in my business like some crazy cat lady” – so thick you can’t see Jack from Jill… or rather, so thick that you CAN see Jack… if the lines in wireframe are so thick the object almost looks solid… that’s your nightmare object right there. The wireframe test can be done in the store, before you buy it… But its a bit of a guess. I HAVE seen a low wire item that was laggy, and a densely wired item that was low lag… and these were both mesh bodies by the way…

Here is where you can find wireframe mode, with obligatory cat lady in your business:

Wireframe

Develop -> Rendering -> Wireframe

So this is a hint of where to start looking, not the final proof… MOST of the time the more solid the object in this view, the more laggy it is being… but not always. I wish I knew how to tell what kinds of shapes in wireframes were bad… I’ve seen that very point discussed on a Poser forum back in 2000 or so… the shapes of these polygons matters, but what shape is good… Not sure…

And yeah – my tail there is pretty solid. Its the only mesh tail like it I know of… it IS laggy, but it is true animated. There are another few mesh tails that animate by changing transparencies on different parts of the mesh – they are even MORE laggy…

Notice my hair is also pretty solid: but, it is actually a LOW lag hair from booN (booN also makes some cornrows I LOVE on my human alt – best looking hair in SL, but they ARE very laggy, so I had to pack them up and no longer use them… /cry). Shoutout here: booN has the best looking hair in SL in my opinion, half of it is very laggy, the other half is very well optimized. I don’t know why because its not about is it new or old… But the shop has many styles and I highly recommend them. Just test before buying.

See the pink heart inside of me… that’s from the nipples… I wish this modeler made those mod so I could remove that thing – the nipple set is low lag, but it’d be about half the lag it does have if it didn’t have to render a high detail mesh heart inside your body…

But the highest render cost in this entire screenshot? My eyes. Maybe you didn’t notice that they’re basically solid… If I could replace those eyes I could probably double the number of other things I wear. FATE Mesh eyes did get a script reducing update about a year or more ago, but the mesh itself is still too high detail.

Zooming back test, renderVolumeLOD, and correcting popular bad advice.

The last test for seeing the quality of something is to zoom yourself way the heck back, and see what happens. How far back can you go before the item breaks apart visually, turns into a triangle, or some other weird thing happens…

And is this distance too short for you, personally, and how you plan to use the item. For example… does it really matter if that new mesh toilet you bought breaks up into a giant single triangle 90m away, if its going into a bathroom in your little skybox on a small plot somewhere? Probably not…

But if the same thing happened to your hair at only 90m away… then you’re going to end up looking bald to a lot of people. And a few months back I bought some beautiful hair for an alt and had this happen at only 5m away because I forgot to zoom back before hitting buy… /cry+delete…

So this one is “PARTIALLY” a subjective preferences and “how you use it” test… But its one many people don’t know to do because they’re not aware of how mesh is both made and ‘rendered’ (drawn on your screen).

Advanced -> Show Debug Settings -> rendervolumeLODFactor

AdvanceMenuShowDebug

rendervolumeLODFactor

To run this test it is first IMPORTANT to set your “renderVolumeLOD” to 2 (or lower):

Notice the 4 in that image. That’s an old screenshot. Many people, self included, used to recommend 4. I actually used to recommend 9… I don’t know why… It was BAD ADVICE.

Remember that at 4 or higher you have disabled SL’s optimization code… so SL will lag a LOT more at 4 than at a lower setting. You want it at the default (1.00 – official viewer), 2, or at most 3…

A common hack to getting the “Avatar Draw Weight” to be low is to optimize an item by turning it into a triangle at ‘far away LODs’… and then telling people to ‘break’ their LOD setting (rendervolumeLOD) by setting it to 4, so that they never see this… but that breaking actually comes at a VERY HIGH cost… and is one of the biggest reasons users of SL on ‘normal computers’ and not ‘suped up gaming machines’ think its laggy…

Ideally you should have your ‘renderVolumeLOD’ debug setting at either default or 2. NEVER the commonly recommended 4, because at 4 you have disabled SL’s optimization code… slowing down your experience and creating… client side lag…

But once you drop to 2, and zoom back, you quickly learn how badly some stuff is made…

And you want to do this BEFORE testing items so that you can wear them, zoom back, and see if they “break”. If they do – its a badly optimized item. Buy something else.

So… renderVolumeLOD now set at 2, it it time to take your camera up to something silly – camera distance 512m (DO NOT do this normally – you “ping” everything in your camera distance, the farther it is, the laggier your SL, and everyone in your range that you need to ‘ping’ and get an update from also takes a hit. Normally I keep my camera between 64m and 128m – 64m is ideal for avoiding having to see that your neighbors put a building with improper texture repeats on top of a beach that has fullbright trees… AND without using support pillars… 🙂 ).

You might notice that I also have advanced lighting off. I usually have it on – but it has no impact on this test. You don’t need it on or off for testing this kind of thing.

Here I am close up, everything looks good:

CloseUpCamLOD

Just a little bit back, my coffee machine has vanished. I am fine with this because it is usually in my skybox in a small kitchen that’s only about 2m wide by 3m long. Out here it’d be an issue, so I may need to rethink using it here:

MediumCamLOD

A bit more back, the platform has deformed:

FarCamLOD

This kind of is a problem… and as soon as I find a replacement, this platform might need to go… Because honestly that is not that far back.

What is going on here is improper optimization done in order to cause these items to have a lower ‘Land Impact’ cost. This also happens with worn items – but I just didn’t remember any worn things, that I still own, that break so easily – I tend to not buy them, or delete them once I find them (like the alt’s hair I mentioned above)…

Notice that the trees, the art canvas, the table behind me, and the campfire below all never broke. They are all actually LOWER land impact than the platform that DID break… Why?

Because the ‘hack’ to break things at distance LOD is just that – its a hack done instead of doing proper optimization. It is a sign that the 3D modeler is likely a hobbyist who has learned from other hobbyists and has never had to model for a paycheck at something like a gaming company – where having low polygon good LOD models is vital for a video a game to work online…

The stuff that didn’t break – much of it, like that art canvas from Dysfunctional (same shop as the trees – Dysfunctional tends to be quite functional 🙂 ) is actually 1LI items… but they are very well optimized by people who were either professionals, or just hobbyists turned SL merchants that learned from the right training advice (because often hobbyists are way better than professionals… Hobbyists tend to be either very bad or very good, professionals work to standards and end up ‘in the middle’ in most fields… in my opinion)…

The table that didn’t break is made by the same person that made the platform that did break – so just because a builder gets one item wrong, don’t discard their entire brand. Test every item individually unless you start to find a very consistent bad pattern – this platform builder’s stuff is usually on my list of good examples – here is just an exception.

Now remember to turn your camera distance back down after doing this test…


So… I hope the above manages to be useful in informing people on what to test for before making that purchase.

Getting these things under control will greatly improve your SL experience – particularly if you not on a top-end computer.

 

Yes I have called out two or three brands that I like in this. I’m not getting anything from them, I just like them, this is my blog, and I’m going to say my piece on it. 😛

 

Footnote on LOD:

Some may wonder where I got the idea that a high LOD is bad. If you think about how LOD works, how your graphics card renders detail, and how optimization works it ought to be obvious. You can see it in any video game really – settings to lower the detail in order to improve performance because the more you tax your system, the harder it gets on that system.

But here is a quote, from a meeting the Lindens had with the Firestorm team some time back. What they say in this, is something you will see said in any real-time 3D graphics platform. This advice is not at all new:

Here is a quote, from a meetings with the Lindens, that covers why a high LOD is bad:

http://modemworld.me/2014/05/20/may-17th-firestorm-meeting-audio-and-transcript/

12:02 JL: If you turn-up your LOD, you’re going to see things really nice … it’s also more complex because your video card is rendering more things … So if you want to take really nice pictures in SL, crank up your LOD; but it’s going to have an effect on the performance of your viewer.

12:55 JL: So what a lot of content creators do – and if you’re one of the content creators that do this, yes I’m pointing at you … is they want their stuff to look really good, so they’ll have their LOD cranked up really high …. and then they’re making their necklace or their shoes … and it looks really great to them, it looks really perfect and they package it up and they send it out. And people who don’t have their LOD cranked up, get that item and it looks like crap. And then the content creators says, “Oh, it’s because you have your LOD down too low; turn up your LOD and it’ll look fine.”

13:40 JL: Let me tell you something. If you’re that content creator, if you’re that person, you are doing it wrong. You make your content at a low LOD, and you make it look good at a low LOD level, and it is guaranteed to look good at a higher level … That’s the way to do it, because that’s how you make sure it looks good for everybody. not be making it to settings most people can’t use … you make your content based on a low LOD level, and that makes sure it’s going to look good on a low LOD level and on a high LOD level.

JL: Don’t tell people to turn their LOD up … it’s not good for them … because they forget they’ve turned it up and then they have really bad performance because they go to a region full of all kinds of prims and avatars with mesh and all these things, and their viewer performance is just utterly crap And they come to us and say, “Firestorm is a piece of crap. I just ran Singularity in the same situation and Singularity runs really well in the same situation!” But it’s not the same situation, because the LOD isn’t turned-up on Singularity …

JL: And that’s very common. People will compare one viewer with another viewer, not realising that they’ve changed a setting in one viewer that they haven’t in the other, and that setting has a huge impact on performance … Just leave the LOD alone in the viewer.

15:36 EM: The ideal setting for most people is between 2 and 4, which is why our LOD slider only goes to 4.

15;44 TS: And in fact, LOD is restricted in the viewer, there is an upper bound above which, no matter how high you set it, won’t make any difference anyway. My fuzzy memory tells me that number is four, but i could easily be wrong. i haven’t looked at that chunk of code in quite some time.

16:03 JL: If you want to do pictures, go into Preferences and crank-up your LOD. But when you’re done taking pictures, bring it back down again. Or just jiggle the graphics slider, because the LOD is affected by what setting you have in the performance slider. So if you choose low, it’ll have a lower LOD, and if you choose Ultra it will have the highest LOD that we would possibly recommend. But for content creators, drop your LOD when you make your content, make it look good on a low LOD and you’re going to be putting out a really good product.

16:57 TS: Which is why the defaults are good choice, because they’ve been tweaked pretty well … for most systems.

17:38 JS: Just generally speaking, we have had arguments, big arguments, internally on the team on what we should make default LODs. We try to follow along with Linden Lab, although seldom do we agree with Linden Lab’s defaults. We’ve spent a lot of time trying to choose what we feel are the safest LOD levels for each quality setting on the slider.

16:13 TS: Linden Lab has a lot more tolerance for low frame rates than we do and what our users tend to do.

So they say from 2 to 4. The default is actually 1.00 (official viewer). Why did I pick 2? Well, a bit of intuition really… I’ve been trying to get it lower and lower over time and trying to find the point where lowering it isn’t helping me anymore, but is instead breaking too many things. I think that is 2 to 2.5 maybe… Now if you’re obsessed about min/maxing what your system can deliver out of SL, you can play around with this and try to find a sweet spot in there that is better than where I’m at.

Most quality mesh still holds up at 2… so I’d rather not go any higher, because I want to maximize every last piece of performance gain I can get…

4 though… at 4 NOTHING breaks no matter how far I go out. That’s a pretty good indication that the optimization is no longer in play… So 4, 4 is too high. And at 2 – yes, you will see a performance gain.

 


See also this more recent article for added information:

https://catnapkitty.wordpress.com/2015/12/09/avatar-draw-weight-transparency-flipping-second-life-render-speed-tricks/
– You should test with all of that in mind when doing the tests here.


 

 

ps: Just because a person is exploring nudity in SL, does not mean its appropriate to toss your random weird freak sex fantasies at them…

Lets back these claims of fitmesh body preference with sales figures.

This is a comment I left on somebody else’s blog:

I’d like to challenge some of these big-brand fitmesh makers to release one thing individually by the body. Not sell a pack that includes every body type, but make it a different purchase for each of the top 6 things: maitreya, isis, freya, venus, tmp, slink.
– then share some percentage data on popularity back with bloggers so availability becomes more reflective of what customers want. But even if you don’t share your figures, I suggest trying the test.

Same item, but sold individually by the body. Lets find out where popularity really lies.

According to the ‘blogosphere’, none of the fitmesh makers should be putting out clothes for slink or TMP anymore, if they’ve given up on Venus. Venus is STILL more popular than TMP or Slink, and Slink is almost unused by the community.

But is that reflective of actual customer interests or just what people who read a blog click on? And is Maitreya really this far in the lead (41%) (if you count Belleza separately. combined Belleza is at 40% – and the two flip places daily), or not? Or more so?

My freebie for Freya and Isis, is flipped from the info on some blogs.
I have
Isis shape: 66 sales, 248 views
Freya shape: 128 sales, 489 views
Blogs are getting more clicks for Isis, but I’m delivering more for Freya.
Belleza_Frontside

Could this be reflective of just my, very small, audience and maybe those people having more trouble making shapes with Freya than with Isis (out of the box I find Freya unappealing, but when I started messing with shapes I found her easier to shape than Isis, flipping my initial preference).
– And I have no data for any other fitmesh body because I’m just doing a specialty freebie that was aimed at a narrow target audience.

I don’t expect merchants to post their numbers, but I’d love to see something like:
“I get 2 sales for Freya for every 1 for Isis.”
Or:
“I get x% for Maitreya, y% for Belleza Isis, z% for Belleza Freya, a% for TMP, b% for Slink, and I still have c% for Venus.”

It is odd that for me it maps perfect to a 2:1 ratio – which may be reflective of the nature of freebies. When people have to put actual money on the line, impulse buys vanish and preferences comes out.

So this can’t be a free or cheap item that you use to test with. It has to be something pricey enough to kill off impulse buys and kill off ‘vote-stuffing’ (which is what I suspect is happening on blogs, for all of the choices).

I suspect that even merchants who don’t want to release even percentage data about their sales would benefit greatly from doing this test – and it might notably change where they put their focus. I’m not sure it will change it to my favor, but if it benefits the community, then it benefits the community.

Belleza_Backside

Belleza V3 Mesh Body Review

So it is time for me to finally do my own take on the Belleza avatar again. Just shy of a year ago I said I’d come back to it some day, then said that again in Nov of 2014. So… time to get this done.

Last time I did a combo comparison review and as the bodies within it got updated, different parts of the review became obsolete. So this time I will go down the list of what interests me and review each individually.

There is already a well known review out there for this version of Belleza:
http://meshbodyaddicts.com/mesh-body-reviews/womens-bodies/belleza-venus/

So this review will be my take on things and will try to call out some different aspects. Multiple opinions are always handy. The body in its current version has now been out for some time. Two updates since my last review, which pushed it from a body I filed in the “not for me” bin to a body that is so much my default I have packed up all of my items that do not work for it and put them into my “OLD and no longer used” section… For everything BUT my furry look, my choice is now Belleza. That said I will try to review some other bodies that I or friends use and why they are choices. And of course there are some new furry things to look at, including the first (that I know) fitmesh furry, the Solarian.

Now, on to Belleza V3, a very wonderful choice of fitmesh body:


Here you can see the body from the front:
Belleza Frontal View
and the back:
Belleza Backside View
I chose a pose that would show how avatar physics with a good gravity and mass dial setting would effect the bosom. In editing your physics file, you should dial these two up in relation to the dial used for ‘breast size’. The above screenshots are, by the way, using a breast size of 100. That is as big as it can possibly get for Belleza – which I feel is important to show because at this setting several competing bodies ‘break down’, break apart, or otherwise distort. Belleza can safely go up and still look more or less natural. I am also using 100 in buoyancy – which on the base default avatar will cause polygon-triangles to pop through your avatar with this breast size and level of mass + gravity. On Belleza though it actually looks beautiful. Note that I have found myself able to dial down to as low as 15 breast size and still get a nice look when ALSO lowering buoyancy, mass, and gravity.

In other words while most mesh bodies have less range of dial settings than the default avatar, Belleza actually looks good across a larger range than the default avatar.

See here:
https://catnapkitty.wordpress.com/2016/04/26/mesh-avatar-bosom-comparison/
For a graphic example of how Belleza does the breast better than almost any other choice – across the full range of the SL dials.


The basic Belleza package comes with:

  • 3 bodies (Freya for curves, Isis for Slim, Venus for older pre-update compatibility)/
  • 2 HUDs (Body and Wardrobe)
  • A fullperms alpha (it is just the torso and legs checked as hidden).
  • 2 shapes (Freya and Isis) that are highly distorted. I recommend not using them even as a guide. If you want some shapes I would recommend, I have two freebies out for Belleza shapes: for Freya Body and for Isis Body.
  • 1 Slink applier – for applying the HUD skins to slink hands/feet.
  • A bunch of notecards with some useful instructions.

Belleza is a Copy/No-Mod/No-Trans humanoid fitmesh body with all but the head included.

All non-head shape dials except for foot size are responsive (will change the avatar appearance). As a result I keep my foot size at 50 just to have a ‘neutral value’ in there – but it does not seem to matter what dial you use.

Torso Muscle is only responsive up to 50. Beyond that has no effect… I find that below 50 it looks too thin on this body’s remaining ‘frame’.


Once loaded in, Belleza is fairly lightweight:
Draw Weight:
freya – 9532
venus – 10012
isis – 10110

Script Usage:
Body – 384kb
HUD – 192kb
– The HUD is lightweight enough that you can likely safely leave it on much of the time. But I personally take mine off when not in use as I always try to minimize my active scripts.

However, on loading the body you will notice some unusual moments. The body will load as one mass of distorted stuff and then pop into position. On initial load this might take as much as a minute to complete. If you go into edit and manage to select your body your system might freeze up for a moment, and then become very slow to respond. The body has a LOT of polygons going on – most of them are hidden unless you start using applier clothes, tattoos, and variant bosom settings.
Too Many Polygons


The HUDs of these things are often what make or break them. In the past I’ve dismissed a few bodies out of hand for being lacking here.

The Belleza HUD has a very healthy selection of Alpha Cuts:
Belleza HUD Alpha Tab
It is not perfect – I would like the knee cut split into 2 or 3 cuts, and for front and back limbs to be asynchronous. However cuts are limited by the limit to the number of faces a mesh can have. Anytime you go over that you have to slice the body into multiple linked pieces. And anytime you do that you start driving up the risk of matching errors, gaps appearing due to SL rendering problems, and driving performance down…
Given all of that… I’d still like the knee a little more detailed, but I can live with the front and back of limbs being connected.

The Nightmare of Auto-Hide:
The Belleza Alpha system also has an auto-hide feature clothing makers can use. This is my biggest complaint about the body: Using auto-hide to hide one cut appears to unhide anything previously hidden. So… you put on a blouse and it hides the nippled and maybe a bit of shoulder pop-through. Then you wear some pants and suddenly your nipples are popping through your top. So you take off and put on the blouse to re-hide and… suddenly your legs and butt are popping out of those pants…
Imagine: you manually set it all up perfect and save that config either to one of the Save Slots on the HUD or to a copy of your body… Do you thing that day, log out… and log in again some later day and… SL randomly picks which clothing to wear first and which second… and your alphas all unhide again… this time without even having changed clothes…

This is so frustrating… I feel users need to start putting pressure on Belleza to patch it, and on clothing makers to suspend using this feature unless they also include an ability to delete that script or otherwise do whatever it takes to turn it off for those clothes.

Moving on, the “Skin” tab of the HUD
Belleza HUD Skin Tab
You will be in here a lot if you ever use the Nipples option… because auto-hide will mess with it. Including turning it on sometimes on avatars that… didn’t have it on before dressing into any of current outfits…

I should note there that I am a big fan of the nipple layer options because this allows you to hide a LOT of defects in skins… Quite a few skin makers seem to have trouble with stretch and centering, even when the skin is worn on the default body…

The Breast Options…
This could be a neat feature but really isn’t. The Perky and Push-up would be handy for special kinds of outfits. But even makers of those kinds of outfits are not using it… whereas one clothing maker is now using Perky for everything as if it was a proper default…
– All these really end up doing is being responsible for about half of the lag you might experience with Belleza… for a feature you are rarely going to be able to take advantage of as clothing makers are not supporting it.

Skin Effects…
This will end up looking either amazing or seriously weird. The results are due to how you have your windlight and advanced lighting set up. Play around with this a bit with advanced lighting on and off – to make sure that most of the time you look OK to those around you. When you get this to just the right amount of shine it will make some skins look amazing. If you are really lucky you will find a skin from a maker that is actually setting the materials for you in your skin when its applied to Belleza. Note that if you use a system head like I do, in order to not be a member of a clone-army, the materials dials on your body might end up clashing with the lack of them on your skin. So adjust with care and best results “most of the time”.

Layers:
Belleza HUD Layers Tab
I will admit to not using this, at all, save for one attempt at a faun avatar where I needed a tattoo layer for fur. I cannot provide the best review of this tab. What I can say is that with materials all set in there – that faun’s fur could be made to look pretty impressive if I were to go back to it and work on it.

Note that Masking Mode is the handy item here. This flips alphas to ‘masking’ – which simply sets them as ‘on/off’. If you rez a prim and apply a transparent texture to it, then go play with Masking Mode, you will see how this can be handy. If you just need a transparency on or off, and don’t need it ‘halfway transparent’ – ALWAYS use this. Masking Mode reduces your lag:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/40847626@N06/20887236059/in/dateposted/
(Image post on how I cut the render cost of an item down to 1/3 of original by switching to masking).

The Wardrobe HUD is meant to work with this Layers Tab, and provide a space to make a series of presets that you can then easily wear and remove – for fans of applier based clothing.

And I think the Wardrobe HUD is the real value here:
Belleza Wardrobe HUD
You can save 20 tops, 20 bottoms, and 10 “outfits” per copy of the HUD you set aside. That has got to be very handy to applier clothing / applier tattoo fans.

Hands and Feet tab:
Belleza HUD Hands & Feet
You WILL run into the problem from time to time that some people do not support Belleza or have made Belleza Limited skins that lack hands/feet because in the old version of Belleza the hands and feet had a unique UV map. Now their UV map is even closer to the default avatar than Slink is – BUT if you just put a default avatar skin there, you will end up with painted on nails slightly near your mesh nails. So… designers still need to make an actual Belleza skin. If you are a skin maker… just paint the whole end of the hands area to the tone of your nearby skin, and you can use that texture for all 3 of Belleza, Slink, and Maitreya (Save for Maitreya’s nipple flaw of not being properly centered)…

So, there are 16 hand presets. Several of them are ‘grips’ for holding things. A few more are special gestures. But the first seven of them are ‘casual / normal’ poses for the hands to be resting in – meaning you can get some good “set it and go” avatar variety just randomly clicking into those first seven for each hand.

There are also 4 feet presets. Don’t be the “person who has never seen a female body” that runs around barefoot with the foot in the heels position… Try doing that for 3+ hours on your man-feet and then look at your avatar again…

My only complaint here is that I can set fingernail length, but not toenail length. I’m a Neko – I want pointy toenails for claws. 🙂

Note the “SlinkFit Options” – this is handy if you need to use SLink feet or hands for something like shoes, or… sometimes your arms will not fit inside a sleeve unless you check this. Especially longer sleeves that were designed to partly cover the wrist and are older and made sized to slink… this means this problem can even occur on clothing made for Belleza, if it is older clothing…
– If stuff doesn’t fit, see what happens when you check these dials. The only problem is that checking these dials turns off the belleza hands and feet. They says Slink on them, and yep… they only work with slink hands and feet. Don’t complain about that… because if they had worked with the Belleza Parts… your avatar would have to have had double the number of hands/feet with half of them always hidden… think of the lag…

(Now if you do want something to complain about… complain about the fact that on Isis and Freya the arms are not where they are on the defalt avatar, so older rigged mesh clothing often cannot be made to fit even when using the alpha HUD… /sigh).

Info Tab:
Belleza HUD Info Tab
This is basically the marketing tab. But those Blog and Help links… they can be handy for getting to support info.


Using Slink:
As noted above you can use slink hands and feet with the Belleza body.
To do so you MUST set leg muscles to 50 for the feet, and Torso muscled to 31 for the hands. This is DIFFERENT than the old version of the body which required 50 for both.

Personally I find 31 in the torso to be too thin for the way the rest of the body is built.

Omega:
Belleza is Omega ready. This means you need to go to Omega and buy the Belleza ‘Activator’. You wear the ‘Activator HUD’ and click on it, and the copy of your Belleza body you are currently wearing (if any) will forever after remember that it can use Omega appliers (unless for some wild and random reason you reset its scripts). Everytime you make a new copy of your Belleza body, it will forget about being activated and you will have to re-activate it.

This can be very handy as many skin makers are still not up to date on putting out Belleza appliers. Omega Appliers will work just fine, unless the skin maker didn’t color out the nails…


Clothing Support:
There is a slowly growing body of clothing for Belleza Freya and Isis. Venus was the older version. There is quite a bit of Venus clothing out there, but several makers have stopped adding more.

Support for Belleza clothing still lags behind both Maitreya and Slink. This despite Belleza being in the number one position in popularity.

This is likely in large part due to Belleza being a closed system for mesh. You have to apply for a kit, unlike bodies such as the Solarian which includes a full dropbox download kit link in the notecard that comes with that body. Belleza is not taking any more applications for people to make mesh clothing for them. Belleza is vetting mesh makers, and that means you are unlikely to see support for the body grow beyond its current limits before some other body takes over the spotlight.

Right Now Belleza is just hovering over the line as the most popular mesh body. But it jockeys in this position with the much cheaper Maitreya. Demo them both, try adjusting the sliders a bit on both, and wear physics files on both – before deciding.

Note that if you break it down and count each Belleza body as separate, popularity for it sinks to number 2 or 3 by a solid margin. I suspect, though its an opinion, that most users of Belleza pick one of the three bodies and mostly stick with it – dusting off the others only when they must. If you’re the exception to this then remember that most is not saying you don’t exist. Its saying most.


Customer Support
There IS a free-to-join Belleza group ( Belleza- Mesh Creators Group ), but I recommend NOT joining it because of a bug Linden Lab has been sitting on since January of 2015…

Ever since CHUI was added to SL, avatar profile images of people in your groups get loaded into memory… and STAY THERE… So if a big group pops into chat, and all its members start loading in… your video card could decide to set aside 1 to 2gb’s of video ram for nothing other than profile images… which because of how they are set, are set to top priority over… inworld graphics…

So… if your video card has less than say… a whole freaking lot of ram… you will start noticing ‘texture thrashing’ – something I wrote about in SL maybe 2 or 3 years ago as a problem for Mac users that we all thought long ago fixed. Its back.

But you only see if if you end up in a chatty group with more than a thousand or so members… Guess what the Belleza group is…
– Yep, very chatty, and a whole lot of people.

So join it when you need it, then quickly leave and relog (relogging is the ONLY way to clear out those avatar profiles that are eating your graphics card).

There is also a pay to join group, but it is just for official news and store gifts.

Note to Firestorm Users: the ability to turn off avatar profile images in chat… doesn’t fix this. Apparently they are still loaded into memory, you just don’t have to suffer seeing other people’s sense of style. Linden Lab needs to fix this… but as we all know they are busy on a shiny elsewhere.


Ranking
Pros:

  • Belleza is fairly lightweight in terms of lag concerns.
  • The alpha cuts offer some very nice customization.
  • With work in the shape dials, you can get a very well proportioned and attractive look out of Belleza.
  • I find the bosom curve on Belleza to be much better than any other option.
  • Belleza has the widest range of usable bosom sizes (15-100) before the mesh deforms, though this also depends on what you set for Bouyancy, Cleavage, Mass, and Gravity.
  • The bodies in one purchase means a lot of variety.
  • The overall body is just very pleasing to look at… This is of course very subjective.
  • The amount of thigh gap seems natural. This is actually a big problem with some competition.
  • Belleza takes very well to Avatar Physics. You can create very smooth flows of motion that simulate weight in motion in ways that look natural. I simply cannot do this on Maitreya and while many other bodies get decent results, Belleza does it best. It seems Belleza went in for the ‘middle’ of a curve of possibles, while Maitreya is on the two edges, and others are off center but on the curve.

Cons:

  • The three breast shape options are basically of no use other than for adding a small amount of lag. But this is due to lack of support from clothing makers, not the body itself.
  • Its no-Mod. And no, not every body is no-Mod… The Solarian and the bodies from Lena as well as a few others (Fusion I believe) are all Mod. You could easily clean up a LOT of issues with the body if it was mod. For example anyone who does not use applier clothing could cut their lag down to a third of current if they could remove those layers… (for this reason I have begun recommending Lena to some of my “SL Nudist” friends). You could also make it fit furry avatars better if it was mod, by changing how it handled alpha masking in order to create your own custom ‘alpha cuts’ by baking them right onto the skin of your furry – useful for attaching furry legs. And of course… if it was mod, you could remove that annoying auto-hide script…
  • The cut choices are not ideal for matching with furry digitigrade legs. This is why I want the knee cut split up. It would also be nice to have a cut in the hands and feet that is right at the end of the wrist and end of the ankle… for adding furry paws and claws.
  • If you have a pose that raises your arms straight up, the shoulder ‘breaks shape’ – but this is actually true of the default body as well, and is actually less severe on Belleza.
  • The torso muscle dial stops working at 50, and the slink fit requires this dial at 31 rather than the old version’s 50.
  • The arms are slightly out of position with where they are on the default body – meaning many long sleeve shirts and arm warmers of older rigged mesh cannot be made to fit.
  • The genital area is just a crease. Some of the competition have actual modeled anatomy here (sometimes for both front and back). “Adult Content” users will find this of most import. For others it only matters in closeups. Some competition (TMP for example) though has nothing but a smooth flat surface here, and at least the crevace on Belleza is properly located.
  • Closed developer system: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/17g52fcoo-8AhCa-ked39YMY1hNNYgBVZoOhIRbxxvkY/closedform – they are not allowing any more people to develop mesh clothing for the body. This frankly, is a serious negative.
    Compare it to the Solarian that I reviewed just after this review – the entire developer kit is included in the purchase for everyone for that body.

ps:
In the images above I am wearing:
*booN CIZ626 hair black/chocolate/purple – Chocolate modded with Red color.
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/SAIKIN/129/125/699

Elysium – Devine II skin – deep dark
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Stylora%20Island/131/96/23
– Elysium once had a decent range of dark skins, but most of them have been pulled from sale. Devine II is still out there, and some of the others appear now and again on Marketplace or in events. If they do, pay attention to applier support before buying… Devine II has Omega, none of them are directly Belleza.

Kinzart Cat Mau Orange – just the ears, modded with Red color.
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Okarthel/130/153/58
Furry makers make better Neko parts than Neko makers… but you have to know how to slice up your furry and use the parts you need. I normally also use a furry tail, the “Jerboa Tail” but I took it off in the back shots to show off the Belleza avatar.

FATE eyes
– The most laggy thing I have, the scripts got a lot lighter weight in version 3, but the avatar render cost is still high.
As such I replaced them after this review with eyes from the brand By Snow

ON*SU Starter Apartment
I’m standing by the closet of this home, only sold on Marketplace:
https://marketplace.secondlife.com/p/ONSU-Starter-ApartmentTexture-Change/6010111

The Pose Stand is my own freebie, but the pose is not in that freebie, and was from “Ran Peccable” / “taisaya AO”:
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Meet/251/102/22

And of course the Belleza Mesh Body:
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Belleza/127/74/26

Victory is… still down the road a bit. But we’re walking forward again…

If you love something, you don’t flee – you work to get it fixed. And you put feet to the fire over it.

We all know that last year the Second Life Terms of Service got put through the wringer of a rather nasty change that no one liked. Its possible even some inside of Linden Lab were none too pleased – though that is speculation.

Back when this occurred some SL Pundits called for people to ‘leave SL if this bothered them’. Some see the only metric of protest for an online service being ‘abandonment or disengagement.’

You have to wonder… if this is reflective of people’s upbringing…

I didn’t leave SL. I didn’t stop buying stuff for my avatars. I even near doubled my land holdings.

I was not one of the big bloggers on this at the time. I just said my piece in the comments of other people’s blogs.

I didn’t leave Second Life… because I care about Second Life. And not just the ability to have a sandbox to play pixel-pusher in. I care about the communities. Even and especially the ones I’m not personally in. I care that they are possible, that they exist.

I care that a dying friend (who I did not know was dying at the time), was able to give and receive so much love at the final stages of her life. Because of Second Life.

There is a magic to Second Life that goes WAY BEYOND prim acounts, tier, Marketplace, and the Terms of Service.

Its the magic of the people in Second Life. Even and sometimes especially the Linden employees we love to deride but sometimes secretly admire (if you’ve ever squealed at the sight of meeting a Linden inworld, you cannot fully pretend to hate all the Lindens… I’ll give you a pass, but I’m also holding onto a knowing grin)…

Heck… we lambaste those Lindens so much BECAUSE we care…

Some would say nobody cared about that TOS change last year because:

“Since this controversy began, there not been a noticeable drop in the amount of Second Life content created, bought, and sold, let alone any dip in actual usage of Second Life.”
– Linden’s Revised ToS for SL Still Troubled, Says RL Lawyer

And that we had no reason to be up in arms because:

“there is no evidence it was ever intended maliciously, nor that the clause caused any noticeable drop in the amount of Second Life content created, bought, and sold, let alone any dip in actual usage of Second Life.”
– Linden Lab Amends Draconian Clause in SL’s Terms of Service (Months After Anyone Was Really Angry About It)

But it changed… for some reason Linden Lab decided to amend things.

So…

Apparently Linden Lab pays attention to more metrics than just people giving up. Apparently they also pay attention to community goodwill, and community commentary.

So if the dollars didn’t move, if the users didn’t flee… then what and why?

People spoke up, blogged about it, got third parties to pull support (places like Renderosity), they called Linden Lab out on it all over the internet.

I would hazard to guess that the Second Life userbase even managed to get the former CEO of Linden Lab tossed out (speculation again – deservedly or not, it was under his watch and flipped the dial for many in regards to him).

Some Pundits think nothing happened and no one cared…

They would push the notion that the ONLY valid way to protest an online community is to rage quit it…

Well, I’m pretty freaking pissed at Congress these days…

But it doesn’t mean I decided to “quit” the USA and move myself to Jupiter… (or even further to Canada or Utah or something).

Only the really crazy sorts actually try and fly off the planet when these things happen. Especially when there’s no other planet to go to, let alone spaceships to get there with.

“the fact remains that there’s been no noticeable drop in SL usage or Marketplace activity since this controversy cropped up.”

That’s just looking at it all wrong…

SL is a community first, and in communities you pay attention to attitudes and general conduct. Not just numbers. Perception is a whole lot more important in the longer picture.

Even if its just the content uploaders / re-propagators that are ticked off… that can spread in a viral manner – and they alone are still a significant community.

But to just pretend like they don’t even exist?

That’s just irresponsible.

Because people didn’t and don’t burn down THEIR OWN communities in protest (absent ghetto riots – and maybe because of them folks are more aware of how poorly that tactic fairs).

The thing is… its BECAUSE WE CARE that the one thing people did NOT do is leave and destroy their communities…

If no one cared… then yeah – that is when all the users would vanish and Marketplace would drop off.

But we do care. Maybe too much.

So instead we rant and rave to the point that the Second Life brand gets toxic… which itself may not be wise… but it is the sort of protest people WILL do because it can seem to be done without hurting the existing communities… (even though it does, it is too indirect for most people to perceive)

Linden Lab is however, wise enough to see that keeping the users happy helps the brand – and that the ‘bottom line’ is not just the dollars.

Sure they fumble in meeting the community’s needs, and get it wrong more often than right… but they at least understand it actually does matter.

So a tossed out CEO, and now a new Terms of Service. I’d say – rightly or wrongly – Linden Lab is at least trying. They’re aware of the problem.

GI-Joe may have said “Knowing is half the battle.” Linden Lab just has to learn how to handle the other half… (pipedream maybe, but I care, so I keep hoping) O.o

I think the whole point of bringing in Ebbe Altberg was to get a CEO who had the skills to be able to understand and relate to the users.

(I am never going to get over that this guy’s last name basically sounds like ‘Alt Neighborhood’ to me) 🙂

He’s not made changes as fast as we might like – but I think its clear that he has better intentions than in past, and is obviously putting in the effort.

To me, that speaks volumes of how Linden Lab got hyper aware after the Terms of Service changed last year, that they were doing something wrong, and needed to figure out what. So they got themselves a guy who could deal with that…

Ebbe Linden’s somewhat exposed that among a number of lindens… they too had been getting frustrated with the prior direction, and wanted to reach out again (or, I am reading too much into some statements. But when I listened to the Drax File Interviews, I got the impression they wanted to get to know us more than they had been allowed to in recent past).

So… I think the way the community acted after that last Terms of Service change last year was exactly right.

Rather than abandon Second Life and our communities in it – we called them out on the change, and got very vocal. But we stayed engaged to show we cared.

And now, though its not everything we wanted… we’ve got a much better CEO, and an improving Terms of Service.

There is even mention now on Daz3D (a major source of 3D models) as a result (Daz3D models are still barred from use in Second Life – which if you understand what their models are, makes sense regardless of the Second Life Terms of Service).

So…

I’m calling this one a partial victory, and a road we’re now walking down.

We got their attention, they’ve begun addressing it, and not just that – they are now trying to become a more responsive company as a result.

Because… abandoning the thing you love is the LAST way to fix it. Engaging with it is just so much better.

Second Life’s “Sexy Time” advertising – thinking twice about the opposition to it

This is cobbled together from some posts I’ve been leaving on Hamlet Au’s blog.

You might think that as a spiritual person, active about my faith in SL, who often comments about ‘that stuff’… that I’d be on the bandwagon against the new ads.

Especially as those ads are basically “the sexy white people” routine again…

But I’m not so willing to fight this one.

Let me use a bit of over the top silly exaggeration to make a point.

Imagine its 2009 and you’re a corporate user looking to use Second Life for business meetings, showcasing your real life business achievements, selling product, branding, etc…

Problem is… the place is full of so-called furries and XXXers and RPers and educationals and “commie-liberal-hippie-artist-scum”. All those people you don’t want in your store scaring your customers. The weirdos you picked on in 6th grade.

So you call up your mate from school, M. Linden, and ask him to take an accounting of things and correct all this. You’ve got money to dump, and he just needs to clean up the place. Get rid of the geeks and losers.

So he tries.

And we all know the result. SL goes into a tailspin, policies get odd, prices go up, venues close, and then business realizes it doesn’t even want the product anyway. In fact; the whole call M. Linden got seems to have been dreamed up in his head: business was never really on board anyway. They were the customer Linden Lab wanted, the freaks were the customers Linden Lab got.

Even SL’s founder is on record calling his users ‘disabled freaks’. He used more polite language, but basically back then he called us all ‘the crazy cat lady down the block and the old guy telling you to get off of his lawn.’

Now its 2014 and Linden Labs is looking at marketing again so they look at what people ACTUALLY USE SL FOR…

Hamlet Au posts this almost every month.

Top sims?

XXX-this and XXX-that, with a bit of Borat sexy time thrown in for good measure and a few furries and goreans. PLus some dating and dancing places for those ‘so-called online dating freaks’.

The rest of us? We’re a bit like those 2009 business users (OK, I’m a furry half of the time… this is just a silly parable after all).

Now everyone’s all up and trying to call E. Linden and ask him what for… Asking him to clean up the place so your respectable art and live music and charity work doesn’t have to sit next to the gorean-furry-luvulongtime-escort-interracial-child-xxx operation…

But… well…

At the same time we’ve been demanding for years that they recognize who’s using SL, and market to them.

Now they are.

And we don’t like it.

Pick your poison folks.

Because its right there in Hamlet Au’s blog… look at who the top sims are (note how similar this 2011 link is to the 2014 one – this stuff is pretty static in theme).

If anything, LLs needs to get MORE explicit in these ads. It might chase us “regular respectable folks” away… but at least then they’d be appealing to their actual users for a change:
Those ‘noobs’ on the xxx sims…

Now, I don’t mean to imply that the XXX and ‘fantasy self’ crowd drove away the business crowds.

Rather I am trying to show that we’ve already seen what happens when Linden Lab tries to market not to the customers it has, but the ones it wishes it had.

Now… they are marketing to the actual people that show up at the door… and folks don’t like it, because most of the Second Life users are NOT from the same crowd that composes the Second Life commentators.

Commentators, critics, and bloggers want them to market to people who are here for “something greater”… But the very data we love to talk about and promote shows that we are not the viable audience for Second Life…

And that like it or not… maybe they actually are marketing to the right crowd now… at least from a ‘capitalist bottom line’ POV…

I hope my opinion here is not seen as mocking the ‘freaky’ people that end up in Second Life – as that is not my intent. I’m stating it like that above to be over the top, and to hopefully show a little of ‘this is how what gets said gets read’.

Plenty of people seek acceptance online from a world that rejects them offline. I know for a fact this is why many minorities ‘hide as white’ in platforms like Second Life. I’ve always been a fighter so that notion never appealed to me.

I actually am mostly fit and healthy for my age, and still seem to have my looks – despite the scraps I’ve been through.

So given a choice between a kick in the face for speaking up, or having a group hug by playing nice… I’ve always chosen the kick… I’ve got a dentist appointment soon because that is NOT an analogy for me…

I try to remember that about others too. That everyone needs a place to feel accepted and to explore – though I do fail at it sometimes because I tend to fight back and can end up misdirected.

Too often people are scorned merely for what they are, rather than who/how they are – I say that all the time about race, but it also very much applies to gender, physical ability, fitness, attractiveness, social class, and other ways people are unjustly biased against.

Second Life is a fantasy world that lets people find their own ways of skipping past that bias. Its also just a place to have some fun in – and each side of the fence here needs to get over its bias of the other because to the world outside of SL, we’re all 10x freakier than any of us might actually be.

It is a bitter pill to swallow when the fantasy the majority here seek is not the one oneself is seeking – but better to recognize that it is still doing good for people in letting them find their fantasy.

People who do not like that Linden Lab is now advertising to its actual users can consider the alternative… going the way of Blue Mars or Cloud Party – vanishing.

MeshMaxConcurrentRequests, TextureFetchConcurrency, HTTP Textures, Texture Thrashing, and Why isn’t my stuff rezzing yet?

Its been a very long time since I posted to my blog. I’m still out there, though I’m not as active in SL as I was, I haven’t moved away from it at all.

(I even have more land now than I did when I was more active, but that’s another side topic about land obsession… I rebought my original plot of land in SL, in Fietzo sim, just… because…)

Back in April I wrote about a problem with meshes often failing to download. Looking in the settings and reading some comments of a rather techie worded nature I came to the conclusion that it was driven by a setting in debug known as:

    MeshMaxConcurrentRequests

Now lets look at the Debug Settings wiki, which is a little more detailed now than it used to be, though it is also possible I just missed this bit before.

It says this:

“Number of threads to use for loading meshes.”
Defaults to 32.

Yeah um… OK. Like, whatever. What’s this mean and why do we care?

What that comes down to is that it is not a setting for the total number of meshes you can see at a time, but a setting for how many you can download at the same time.

So lets think of a bridge, like the Bay Bridge between San Francisco and Oakland. That bridge has I think, 5 lanes… that’s like your internet speed – how much room you have. In your preferences there is a bandwidth setting. That setting is basically: How many cars can I put on the bridge at the same time?

So this debug setting is basically… How many of those cars can be Priuses? This being San Francisco… everybody wants to pack a Prius on that bridge, and the more of them we put on there, the less room we have for SUVs and Civics…

Or… the more mesh you can download at a time, the less other stuff you can download at the same time…

So what you’re setting here is priority… do I want my Mesh, or my Prims, or my animations, to come in first and most…?

Or… well… do I want my textures… and this one is the real issue:

    TextureFetchConcurrency

– The secret killer for people on newer settings. This one says on the wiki:

“Maximum number of HTTP connections used for texture fetches”
Defaults to 0.

Wait, what? 0? Um… Oops? Does that matter?

When does it get used?

Well, current viewers default to turning on HTTP textures. And it seems this setting comes into play when you turn on… HTTP Textures… This is your setting for ‘how many yellow cars can be on the bridge at once?’

And apparently the cops here really like stopping yellow cars, cause they’ve set it at 0.

Now I could be just as wrong this time as I was last time… but in my own testing I’ve found a major impact from tweaking this.

First, up until recently I always avoided using HTTP Textures. I had noticed that if I ever turned it on, nothing would EVER rez fully… textures would just freeze to how they were before I’d flipped it on, or worse, blur out…

It looks like when it is at 0, textures START to download, then the setting kicks in on the next ‘pass’ to see what we should be downloading and says “oh hey, not those,” and so stops (my non-techy guess at least). Before I changed this off of 0, whenever I had HTTP Texture on, SL looked like a webpage used to back in 1996 and dialup – lots of half loaded blurry images reminding me to call my ISP and ask for the 56k option… 🙂

After finding “TextureFetchConcurrency” and trying out a modest setting of ‘8’… Its was like a Emeril moment: Bam! Everything suddenly started rendering. I just sort of watched in my viewer as it felt like I’d finally found the ‘unpause’ button on the VCR, and the world becamse crystal clear. It looked even better than it had before using HTTP Textures.

Now I’m an HTTP Texture junkie…

BUT…

Remember that all these settings work in tandem (together, unlike Congress, or perhaps…)

If you dial up TextureFetchConcurrency to 5 million, all you get is yellow cars on that freeway…

Somebody tell me where I can buy a yellow Prius? Oh wait, you can’t…
(I used red cars at first in my bit above, but yeah: apparently they DO sell Prius in red. 🙂 Who Knew?)
EDIT: Oh… they make them yellow too. and every other color I tried for this analogy… Oh well. A ‘color of unspecified variety’ prius. 😛

In other words, the higher you go with TextureFetchConcurrency, the more it fights with MeshMaxConcurrentRequests. You can’t max them both.

Max TextureFetchConcurrency and you will get all your Yellow, but not the car. Max MeshMaxConcurrentRequests, and you’ll get a bunch of unpainted cars.

Except you can actually set it higher than even the total cars: you can tell it to make 125 out of every 100 of the cars Prius, thereby not only losing all other cars, but also losing 1/5th of your Priuses… (setting it too high can be very bad), and leaving the rest unpainted…

Like Congress… they fight over who gets to get their way, and if you given any one set of them too much sway, you end up with a shutdown of your SL…

And remember that bandwidth setting? If you let too many cars in the bridge at once, you get a traffic jam. Bandwidth doesn’t give you more lanes on the bridge… to do that you need to call your internet company and hand them more money… (little secret: we ALL get super ultra fast Cable or DSL, but then the company throttles it on that modem they rent to us, and charges us to dial back the throttle in steps – if a speed is available at all in your area, you’re actually already getting it, but software on your account is holding you back until you pay to have it unblocked).

This mess is not LLs fault. Well… the wording of those debug settings is… and setting the texture one to 0 is…

But giving us the ability to pick priorities is not so bad…

The smart money is likely on leaving the mesh one at its default of 32, and setting the texture one, TextureFetchConcurrency, to 32 as well. Then see how each performs and adjust them in small steps up or down. It might not even be bad to lower BOTH to 8 to 16… if not on super fast internet.

If you just up them all, and let your internet sort it out, some of those “cars” will drive right off the side of your bridge…

As in, items will get lost, and never download at all, when the clutter overtakes the speed of your internet.

So having it lower means you let just a few cars at a time race across the bridge on near empty lanes – everybody gets over, and after a moment of blur or pause, your SL renders beautifully.

Wonderful right?

Maybe… it gets worse…

In your graphics, hardware settings, there is a slider for how much of your graphics card memory to use… if this setting is too low, items that were downloaded will ‘undownload’ and start downloading again…

Just to make sure people would be aware of this, for Mac users LLs set a flag to make sure it could only use half your graphics memory…

(facepalm).

They had a reason for that, but the issue is a rare one. However the issue of seeing the entire world of SL constantly flicker as everything re-downloads constantly, clogs up graphics memory with multiple copies in various states of download, and so starts again, clogging up even more…
– That is a very common issue caused by this flag.

Basically, to avoid a giant monster attack on the bridge, they decided to only build half a parking lot on the side we’re driving too… and failed to realize that meant that a lot of cars would have nowhere to park and so would just drive right into the water, taking your view of SL with them… or just as bad, any time a new arrived, the attendants would just toss one of the parked cars into the bay to make room… again taking your view of SL with it.

Some have called this “texture trashing” – I’m not sure if that’s a common term or just how I’ve seen it referred to.

The solution is ANOTHER debug setting:

    RenderTextureMemoryMultiple

Defaults to 0.5

Set it to 1, and then you can dial your graphics setting up as high as you want.

For me, on my Mac, with a Cable internet connection of 30mbps down, 12mbps up, I’ve current got these setting like this:

HTTP Textures on
RenderTextureMemoryMultiple 1.0
TextureFetchConcurrency 16
MeshMaxConcurrentRequests 8

Memory slider on my Graphics -> Hardware dial up to max, which for some reason is around 380-something and not 512mb…

But with these settings I get clean fast renders, with no thrashing.

Sometimes I tweak the TextureFetch and MeshMax around a bit. I’m still playing with them to find out what’s ideal for how I use SL – which is to exist in a heavy mesh build with all mesh clothing but a lot more detailed textures than I should have… 🙂

    EDIT:

The numbers I originally had here were actually WAY TOO HIGH. I’ve edited above to my new ‘8’ for Mesh. Kept textures at ’16’ and might still lower it. See down in the comments. A ‘1’ does not mean 1 object, but one pipeline of objects. So… imagine you have a big plastic pipe going from ‘the box outside’ to ‘your computer’, and the ‘internet guy’ puts 1 wire in it. That’s a sort of kinda of way like a ‘1’ on this. But hear this in that Dr. Who voice where he will often say “yeah, time travel paradox, its kinda like a mouse with cheese, only not at all.” In that… I am no techie and I’m assuming my readers aren’t either – so this is the analogy I’ve got… 🙂
– So you dial that number up to 2, and now there are 2 wires in that pipe… Not two objects moving on it, but 2 wires. How many wires will fit in the pipe until the thing bursts and you’ve got electricity sparking out the side and frying random passing pigeons… but not giving you your ‘interwebz’?

I don’t know… but obviously the pipe isn’t getting bigger, so don’t put too many wires in it.

I’m going to be playing with putting both my numbers at 8 and seeing what happens, then comparing it to 4, and 16… Why? Cause those are easy to remember. I’m like a Congressperson balancing a budget here: I go for the dumb numbers that just sound good on TV. 🙂

About Rastafari – a notecard now available in SL

EDIT: The build mentioned below is long gone. But the card is now here:
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Bay%20City%20-%20Morton/33/115/26


I put together a notecard in Second Life on Rastafari, and have placed it into all of the many Rasta and Haile Selassie Posters I have there. It is available at this church here:
Rastafari church in second life
Ethiopian Rastafarian Church in Second Life
In the Lion of Judah sign above the entrance, and on a Selassie painting inside the door. Just click on either of them to get it. Or read below:


ORIGINS:

The Rastafari movement, or Rasta, is a spiritual movement that arose in the 1930s in Jamaica, out of the teachings and prophesy of Marcus Garvey.

Rastafari adherents revere Haile Selassie I, 225th in the line of King Solomon, King of Kings and Lion of Judah, Emperor of Ethiopia (ruled 1930–1974), as Yeshua incarnate, the Second Advent, or the reincarnation of Yeshua Christ.

Members of the Rastafari movement are known as Rastas, or Rastafari. The movement is sometimes referred to as “Rastafarianism”, but this term is considered derogatory and offensive by some Rastas, who, being highly critical of “isms” (which they see as a typical part of “Babylon culture”), dislike being labelled as an “ism” themselves.

The name Rastafari is taken from Ras Tafari, the pre-regnal title of Haile Selassie I, composed of Amharic Ras (literally “Head”, an Ethiopian title equivalent to Duke), and Haile Selassie’s pre-regnal given name, Tafari. Rastafari are generally distinguished for asserting the doctrine that Haile Selassie I, the former and final Emperor of Ethiopia, is another incarnation of the Christian God, called Jah. Most see Haile Selassie I as Jah or Jah Rastafari, who is the second coming of Yeshua Christ onto the earth, but to others he is simply Jah’s chosen king on earth.

Many elements of Rastafari reflect its origins in Jamaica, a country with a predominantly Christian culture where 98% of the people were the black African descendants of slaves.

TENETS:

In line with the teachings of the Kebra Negast, telling the story of the removal of the Ark of the covenant from Jerusalem to Ethiopia (where it still resides today) by the Ethiopian King Menelik I, son of King Solomon and Makeda (The Queen of Sheba); Rastas sometimes refer to themselves and Ethiopians as the true Israelites.

Rastafari rejects western society, called Babylon (from the metaphorical Babylon of the Christian New Testament), for its false prophets and materialistic deception, preferring to look back to the Bible to find the true teachings of Yeshua Christ.

Rastafari proclaims Africa (also “Zion”) as the original birthplace of mankind, and from the beginning of the movement the call to repatriation to Africa for the descendants of those slaves forced into exile in the West by the Atlantic slave trade has been a central theme. Rasta also embraces various Afrocentric and Pan-African social and political aspirations, such as the sociopolitical views and teachings of Jamaican publicist, organizer, and black nationalist Marcus Garvey (also often regarded as a prophet).

However Per Haile Selassie’s consistent lifelong message, Rastas are firm adherents to the proposition that in the eyes of Jah, all men and women deserve equal and just rights, treatment and respect. With both King Alpha and his Queen Omega as shining examples, Rasta bredren and sistren (collectively idren) seek to emulate kings and queens according mutual respect and dignity. It is this belief in equality among Rastas that allows race to be overlooked. Simply because one is white does not mean it can not be a Rasta. All people are equal, regardless of race, because all people are children of Jah. In upholding this, Rastas often refer to themselves as African royalty, using honorifics such as Prince or King, Princess or Empress, in order to give royalty to their names.

Rastafari is not a highly organized religion; it is a movement and an ideology. Many Rastas say that it is not a “religion” at all, but a “Way of Life”. Many Rastas do not claim any sect or denomination, and thus encourage one another to find faith and inspiration within themselves.

This view is more in line with first century Christianity and the Apostolic teachings – which strove against central leadership, had no priesthood nor pastors, and found the church as a body of equal people, all of whom had equal status to speak in gatherings, rather than a building or temple. In this way, Rastafari comes closer to original Christianity.

But some do identify strongly with one of the “mansions of Rastafari” — the three most prominent of these being the Nyahbinghi, the Bobo Ashanti and the Twelve Tribes of Israel.

Today, awareness of the Rastafari movement has spread throughout much of the world, largely through interest generated by reggae music, especially the major international success of Jamaican singer/songwriter Bob Marley (1945–1981). By 1997, there were, according to one estimate, around one million Rastafari faithful worldwide. In the 2001 Jamaican census, 24,020 individuals (less than 1 percent of the population) identified themselves as Rastafarians. Other sources have estimated that in the 2000s they formed “about 5 percent of the population” of Jamaica, or have conjectured that “there are perhaps as many as 100,000 Rastafarians in Jamaica”.

SYMBOLISM:

Rastas assert that their original African languages were stolen from them when they were taken into captivity as part of the slave trade, and that English is an imposed colonial language. Their remedy has been the creation of a modified vocabulary and dialect known as “Iyaric”, reflecting their desire to take language forward and to confront the society they call Babylon. To this effect, Rastas revere Patwas, the indigenous dialect of Jamaica, and have incorporated into it a number of terms of a spiritual and or protest nature.

The wearing of dreadlocks is very closely associated with the movement, though not universal among, nor exclusive to, its adherents. Rastas maintain that locks are supported by Leviticus 21:5 (“They shall not make baldness upon their head, neither shall they shave off the corner of their beard, nor make any cuttings in the flesh.”) and the Nazirite vow in Numbers 6:5 (“All the days of the vow of his separation there shall no razor come upon his head: until the days be fulfilled, in the which he separateth himself unto the Lord, he shall be holy, and shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow.”).

The Rastafarian colors of green, gold and red (sometimes also including black) are very commonly sported on Rastafarian flag, badges, posters etc. The green, gold and red are the colors of the Ethiopian flag and show the loyalty Rastafari feel towards the Ethiopian state in the reign of King Selassie. The red, black and green were the colors used to represent Africa by the Marcus Garvey movement. Red is said to signify the blood of martyrs, green the vegetation and beauty of Ethiopia, and gold the wealth of Africa.

The Lion of Judah is an important symbol to Rastas, for several reasons. The lion appears on the Imperial Ethiopian flag, used in Haile Selassie I’s Ethiopia. In addition, the Ge’ez title Mo’a Anbesa Ze’imnegede Yihuda (“Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah”) has been applied to Ethiopian Emperors since time immemorial, traditionally beginning with Menelik I, said to be the son of king Solomon (c. 980 BC). The Lion of Judah is also mentioned in the Book of Revelation 5:5, in reference to the returned Messiah.

Rastafari make regular use of the colors, the Lion of Judah, and representations of Haile Selassie in their art and identifying imagery. The colors as well as images of hemp have often been appropriated by outside elements for commercial representations of reggae.

DIET:

Many Rastas eat limited types of meat in accordance with the dietary Laws of the Old Testament; they do not eat shellfish or pork. Others abstain from all meat and flesh whatsoever, asserting that to touch meat is to touch death, and is therefore a violation of the Nazirite vow. Many Rastafari maintain a vegan or vegetarian diet all of the time. Food approved for Rastafari is called ital.

Usage of drugs and alcohol is also highly condemned as unhealthy to the Rastafari way of life, partly because it is seen as a tool of Babylon to confuse people, and partly because placing something that is pickled and fermented within oneself is felt to be much like turning the body (the Temple) into a “cemetery”.

The Rastafari movement encompasses the spiritual use of cannabis (Revelation 22:2, Genesis 1:29, Psalms 104:14, Proverbs 15:17), the first plant to grow on King Solomon’s grave.

For Rastas, smoking cannabis, usually known as herb, weed, sinsemilla (Spanish for ‘without seeds’), or ganja (from the Sanskrit word ganjika, used in ancient India), is a spiritual act, often accompanied by Bible study; they consider it a sacrament that cleans the body and mind, heals the soul, exalts the consciousness, facilitates peacefulness, brings pleasure, and brings them closer to Jah. They often burn the herb when in need of insight from Jah.

According to many Rastas, the illegality of cannabis in many nations is evidence that persecution of Rastafari is a reality. They are not surprised that it is illegal, seeing it as a powerful substance that opens people’s minds to the truth — something the Babylon system, they reason, clearly does not want. They contrast it to alcohol and other drugs, which they feel destroy the mind. This said, it is not necessary to smoke the herb to be Rasta, though it is unusual not to. This blog’s author, Pussycat Catnap, does not use the herb for personal familial reasons.

MUSIC:

Music has long played an integral role in Rastafari, and the connection between the movement and various kinds of music has become well known, due to the international fame of reggae musicians such as Bob Marley and Peter Tosh.

Nyabinghi chants are played at worship ceremonies called grounations, that include drumming, chanting and dancing, along with prayer and ritual smoking of cannabis. The name Nyabinghi comes from an East African movement from the 1850s to the 1950s that was led by people who militarily opposed European imperialism. This form of Nyabinghi was centered around Muhumusa, a healing woman from Uganda who organized resistance against German colonialists. In Jamaica, the concepts of Nyabinghi were appropriated for similar anti-colonial efforts, and it is often danced to invoke the power of Jah against an oppressor.

African music survived slavery because many slaveowners encouraged it as a method of keeping morale high. Afro-Caribbean music arose with the influx of influences from the native peoples of Jamaica, as well as the European slaveowners.

Another style of Rastafari music is called burru drumming, first played in the Parish of Clarendon, Jamaica, and then in West Kingston. Burru was later introduced to the burgeoning Rasta community in Kingston by a Jamaican musician named Count Ossie. He mentored many influential Jamaican ska, rock steady, and reggae musicians. Through his tutelage, they began combining New Orleans R&B, folk mento, jonkanoo, kumina, and revival zion into a unique sound. The burru style, which centers on three drums — the bass, the alto fundeh, and the repeater — would later be copied by hip hop DJs.

Reggae was born amidst poor blacks in Trenchtown, the main ghetto of Kingston, Jamaica, who listened to radio stations from the United States. Jamaican musicians, many of them Rastas, soon blended traditional Jamaican folk music and drumming with American R&B, and jazz into ska, that later developed into reggae under the influence of soul.

Reggae began to enter international consciousness in the early 1970s, and Rastafari mushroomed in popularity internationally, largely due to the fame of Bob Marley, who actively and devoutly preached Rastafari, incorporating Nyabinghi and Rastafarian chanting into his music, lyrics and album covers. Songs like “Rastaman Chant” led to the movement and reggae music being seen as closely intertwined in the consciousness of audiences across the world. Other famous reggae musicians with strong Rastafarian elements in their music include Peter Tosh, Freddie McGregor, Toots & the Maytals, Burning Spear, Black Uhuru, Prince Lincoln Thompson, Bunny Wailer, Prince Far I, Israel Vibration, The Congos, Adrian Nones, Cornell Campbell, Dennis Brown, Snoop Lion and hundreds more.

In the 21st century, Rastafari sentiments are spread through roots reggae and dancehall, subgroups of reggae music, with many of their most important proponents promoting the Rastafari religion, such as Capleton, Sizzla, Anthony B, Barrington Levy, Jah Mason, Pressure, Midnite, Natural Black, Luciano, Cocoa Tea, Jah Cure and Richie Spice. Several of these acts have gained mainstream success and frequently appear on the popular music charts. Most recently artists such as Damian Marley (son of Bob Marley), Alborosie and Million Stylez have blended hip-hop with reggae to re-energize classic Rastafari issues such as social injustice, revolution and the honor and responsibility of parenthood using contemporary musical style.

More reading:
Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey
Selected Speeches of Haile Selassie
The Rastafarians
The Abridged Kebra Negast, with stories of Jamaica added.
The Kebra Negast in full, translated into English
The Autobiography of Hailie Selassie, volume 1. or online

Rastafarian.net – the questions and answers on the first page are great

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