26 December 2011

Daedalus Plays Minecraft

23 December 2010

Viewer 2?

Second LifeOh hai! In case you're wondering, I probably won't finish the extensive review of Viewer 2 anytime soon. It's been several months, and to be honest, I haven't been using SL at all in that time. So I haven't had a chance to get annoyed by the Viewer. Why? Well, I kind of lost interest. There's nothing really that attracts me anymore. I'm not giving up or leaving SL or anything like that, it's just that right now, I'm not really interested. I keep following the official blog using RSS feeds, so whenever something ultimately cool happens that I need to see for myself, I will know it. And I comment on it whenever I think I should. I'm also still getting Jira mails on issues I'm watching, so whenever something happens there, I'll know it.

03 April 2010

SL Viewer 2: the menus

Second LifeOk, so SL Viewer 2 is now the official viewer. So I suppose they've put a lot of thought and work into it, making sure the most obvious (and easily fixed) bugs are gone and it's more user-friendly than any viewer ever could be. Let's have a look.
This is part 3

Hey, now I closed the Address bar, I don't see my current location anymore. Let's just look in the menus to see if there's anything that can be done about it.

SL Viewer 2

Ok, 'Me' menu, what's that supposed to be? Where's the File menu? How the heck do I upload stuff now? Every other app has a File menu. It is common sense. Users expect a File menu. Why is it gone?! Well, we've had our chances, no more uploads, we're stuck with everything that's ever uploaded now, we'll have to deal with it, I suppose.
Yeah I know, this menu is now in some illogical location, it makes no sense whatsoever not to have it at the default place.

Seriously, a 'Me' menu? Isn't it more intuitive to simply right-click my avatar? I remember being a new user once and that stuff never confused me. What makes you think current new users are going to have a problem with right-clicking their avatars?

Then, the Edit menu is gone too. Again, every other app has an Edit menu right next to File, why - is - it - gone?! What do have in its place? Communicate. What? What's that doing up there. I have two communication-related buttons on the bottom bar. Why can't I use them instead? I'm clicking on it, but nothing happens. Why not? Why have an extra Communicate menu that could have been integrated in the Communicate buttons on the bottom right, which now most of the time do nothing and are completely useless and a waste of space!

Ok, next. World menu. Ah, something sensible. Hey look! The minimap! I was missing that! Let's quickly open it. Hmm... It's rather big. And dark. Why isn't it half transparent anymore, like it used to be? I just came to the conclusion that inworld content is what I'm here for and that UI elements should not get in the way. Then WHY make a totally black, ugly minimap?! Oh, and it's on the wrong side of the screen, I want it in the upper right corner, where it used to be the last three years, ever since I joined SL. Ok, I can scale it down a bit and snap it to the upper right. Where it now blocks half the buttons for the sidebar. I will get to that later. Let's just say we're happy now having the minimap back in its normal position.

Ok next. Hmm, what does Show do in the World menu? AH! Show coordinates. That sounds lovely, let's turn it on. Hm... Nothing. Is it really on? Yes, it says it's on. Where are my coordinates then? I don't see it. I see a large black waste of space in the menubar where the region + coordinates used to be. But it's not working. I suppose it's a BUG in an OFFICIAL release. They FORGOT to add the coordinates!
Yeah, I know, this stuff shows up in the Address bar, but since I've hidden that hideous thing, I have no way of seeing my coordinates anymore. And there's a lot of wasted space on the menu bar, why, WHY couldn't the location and coordinates be on there, LIKE IT WAS?!

Speaking of bugs, I try to close the menu by clicking it again. It does not close. Luckily, there's a JIRA for that: VWR-18382.

Build menu, ok, good. Help menu, sure, fine. Advanced menu (if toggled on), that's good.

Then there's that whole bunch of wasted space, especially if the Advanced menu is off (which I imagine most users have). This space would be PERFECT to put, let's say, my current location and coordinates. Oh wait, that used to be on there. Now it's GONE! WHY?!

Anyway, then there's my L$ balance. Somewhere in the middle where you can't easily find it. And it's in inconspicuous grey. Hey, this is important info I need all the time. Why is it in a location where I can't find it FAST? Why is it grey? If you too want this back how it used to be: VWR-18777.
To make things worse, right next to the L$ balance is a completely unnecessary text/button 'Buy L$'. And that IS in green! Hang on, if I click my balance, I get a window where I can buy more L$. So why then is there an extra button that does exactly the same thing, but also takes up precious space. I could have used that space to see, oh let's say, my inworld coordinates. Get rid of that annoying text.

Then there's the time, that's fine. But hey, try this out. The time is clickable. That is, you can click it and it makes that clickity sound. So it is clickable. But what does it do? Allow me to change the time? Does it allow me to change from PDT to GMT or whatever time zone I want it to display (which could actually be very useful). No. It does absolutely - nothing. Ok, the few hairs I had left are now officially ripped out my head.

Then, there is, what? A Media play button and a speaker icon. What is that doing there? If it absolutely had to be on the menu bar, copying from OS X, it could be to the left of the time. Not where it is right now. And then that space which it is now wasting (since I hardly ever use it) could be occupied by either a Search icon (magnifying glass) or the good old bandwidth meter. I suppose it's time to reopen VWR-3156 for this.

Now, all this crap like 'this should be there and that should be here' wouldn't be so bad if Viewer 2 allowed customization. I remember talking about customization back in the days I could still attend triages, so surely the Lindens know it's what people want. In fact, my browser, Opera, is fully customizable. I can put the tabs to the left or to the right or at the top, whichever I like best. I can take off the Next and Previous buttons if I want, I don't use them anyway, I have keyboard and mouse gestures for that. And there are a lot of skins available if I don't like the default one, so I can easily make the browser, which I use a lot, look and feel exactly how I like it. But there is none of it in SL Viewer 2.0. No customization. Oh sure, you can hide the address bar and the favourites bar and some of the buttons at the bottom bar. But that also takes away much needed functionality. Camera Presets are really cool, but they're worthless if I hide the View button from the bottom bar, simply because I don't like it.

Anyway, we're not done with the Viewer yet, I still have to take a look at the sidebar and of course I'll need to try the Viewer in practical situations. I will try to be social, be creative with photography, building and scripting. How does the Viewer feel when just trying to live your average Second Life?

Stay tuned and read on. I will go over the sidebar next...

...in part 4.
(Be prepared)

SL Viewer 2: Preferences

Second LifeOk, so SL Viewer 2 is now the official viewer. So I suppose they've put a lot of thought and work into it, making sure the most obvious (and easily fixed) bugs are gone and it's more user-friendly than any viewer ever could be. Let's have a look.
This is part 2

We're off to set our Preferences, so let's just for now get rid of all these buttons in the bottom bar (where I ended part 1), I like the Snapshot button, so let's keep that (which makes me wonder, why make Snapshot an icon and the others text?) and open Prefs. Command+P opens.
Hey, I remember once opening a JIRA issue for getting Command+comma to open Prefs, just like in every other OS X app. Let's see. NO?! Back to VWR-6197 and add Viewer 2 as affected version.

Well, let's use the inferior Command+P (which is supposed to open a Print window) instead to open Prefs for now.

Whooh, another big, clunky window with a lot of wasted space. Well, you don't have this open all the time, so I suppose it's fine (in the old viewer it was just as big as here).

SL Viewer 2

Ok, General tab seems fine for now.

SL Viewer 2

Graphics tab, sure, fine. Although I am wondering why the Apply and Reset buttons aren't on the same height as the OK and Cancel buttons. The General tab doesn't even have a Apply or Reset button. Like I wouldn't want to reset anything I set up in there? Sure, there aren't so many options in there as in the Graphics tab, but still, it's inconsequent not to have them on all tabs.

SL Viewer 2

Privacy tab. Again, no Apply or Reset buttons. What if I totally messed up my Location of logs? "Oh crap, now where was that..." I want that to be on its former location again, I can't reset it. I'm officially screwed.

Also, there's a Block list. What this has to do with privacy, I don't know, but the button is on this tab anyway. But if you click it, it opens the block list in the sidepanel on the right... And the Preferences window is blocking that... And ESC does not even close the Prefs window! Any other normal app out there has the ESC key connected to the Cancel button. But in this viewer, it still acts as resetting the camera position. Which is bullcrap, because the Prefs window is so huge, I couldn't have it open and position my camera at anything, so why the hell does ESC reset my camera while the Prefs window is open, yet there is no way to quickly close the Prefs? Even Command-P, which is, contrary to other apps, not used to Print, but to open Prefs, does not close the Prefs window (VWR-1266, yes, this bug exists for three years now already).

SL Viewer 2

Sound & Media is next tab. Input/Output devices toggles a few extra options. That looks good, that's how I sort of expected the Block list to pop up too. Although five blocks for audio monitoring is not very much, I suppose it suffices. But even when I'm silent, it shows two to three blocks of background noise. And the fourth block is already red. Now I happen to have one external harddrive on atm, but surely that's not generating so much noise. It's certainly not more than any standard pc makes.

Anyway, the other buttons look simple enough, although it is a bit confusing Voice Chat is on this tab (I suppose it's Sound), when there's also a Chat tab in the Prefs window. To distinguish one from another, I think you would expect to have Voice Chat and Text Chat. And then Voice Chat could have its own tab in the Prefs window, there's plenty of space for another tab. I say this now because we will encounter more Voice Chat related preferences in one of the next tabs. Just so you're prepared, but remember any average new user will be confused to the extreme.

SL Viewer 2

Text Chat tab next. Ok, to set the text colours. And some more options. Tip: check the 'Enable plain text chat history' checkbox, because otherwise the chat history window is going to be hell.

The colours list is confusing and incomplete. Owner is default a light yellow. But in my chat history window, an object I own is green. Also, chat history from previous login sessions is all in some darker grey colour, which I cannot set here.

Show IMs in separate windows or in tabs. Why does that require a restart? 'Enable plain text chat history' does not require a restart, even when that also changes the look of a UI element. So why do I need to restart? I wouldn't know.

Oh, and with all these colours, you would expect there'd be a Reset button here too, but there is none. I can seriously duck up the colourscheme and there'd be no way I can reset it.

Anyway, Notifications tab is next, I'll skip that now, because there's nothing to see.

SL Viewer 2

Setup tab. Oh, that's network setup. And... whether or not I want cookies. And... how to set up a joystick. Ok, just throw a bunch of random stuff to setup in here.
Why isn't there a separate Network tab in the Prefs? And a separate Joystick tab? And a separate Web tab? Plenty of space, the eight tabs there are now hardly even take up half the screen anyway.

SL Viewer 2

Well, Advanced then. Ok, I can set the camera default preset here, I suppose? Could I maybe set the other camera presets here too? No. So they added a much wanted feature camera presets, which is cool, then deny them the option to customize those presets (or, heaven forbid, add more presets), which is cruel.

And what is Toggle speak on/off doing in the Advanced tab, when all other Voice chat options are in the Sound & Media tab? Wouldn't it be better to put them ALL in a separate Voice Chat tab?

I am missing the option to install new viewer skins. It used to exist in Viewer 1, they had created an extra skin called Dazzle. Well that's cool, allow us to ditch the hideously dark default skin and let us create our own nice and light and open and friendly skins. No! Skin nazi says you may only use the default ugly skin.

I am also missing the option to turn on or off tooltips. Maybe that's in the menus though, I will have a look at that...
...in part 3.

SL Viewer 2: initial thoughts

Second LifeOk, so SL Viewer 2 is now the official viewer. So I suppose they've put a lot of thought and work into it, making sure the most obvious (and easily fixed) bugs are gone and it's more user-friendly than any viewer ever could be. Let's have a look.
This is part 1

Ok, that looks rather... dark. And big and clunky, really. And there's a lot of unused (read: wasted) space, on the menu bar, on the Favourites bar, whatever that is. And at the bottom bar, the buttons are way too large and there's black unused space on there too.

SL Viewer 2

And where are my coordinates? I would like to know where I am. Well, I'm sure we can find that later, first, let's see if we can do something about the wasted space in the Favourites bar. Ah yes, right-click it and you can turn that and the Address bar off. Good! Why do we need an Address bar anyway, SL is not a webbrowser, it shouldn't look like one.

SL Viewer 2

With that out of the way (ahh, so much extra space)... Hey, that makes me think. Why do I come to SL? To view the inworld content! Ah-ha! So shouldn't the UI be designed to stay low profile and giving me as much inworld content as possible? Then why are the Address and Favourites bars so huge to begin with? Taking away precious space I need to show me the inworld content. Looking at my real webbrowser, I'm noticing the same thing, the UI is small, even customizable, so that I have now in Opera no more Next, Previous, Stop, Refresh buttons, as I can do all that with keyboard and mouse gestures. Well I'm glad I can hide these bars in the SL Viewer, I do not need them, I do not want them.

Now where was I? Oh yeah, with that out of the way, I can look at the bottom bar. What's in there and do I need it and how do I get rid of it?

Hmm, Gesture. I don't need that, I can type my gestures in chat. Move. I don't need that either, I move with my keyboard. View, don't need that, I view with the usual camera controls, like alt-click, control click and so on.
What's this? Presets? Oh, now that's nice. A much asked for feature. If only I could create my own additional presets now... And access them easier than through this button.

SL Viewer 2

Well I'm sure I can set that in Preferences or something.

Which I will discuss in part 2.

09 September 2009

A Day Without Cats

BlahToday has been declared The Day Without Cats by urlesque.com. Now I ask you! What is this madness! According to several joining the ban, it is to give our beloved cats a break. They're performing their cattesque tricks on the interwebz every single day, they should have a day off once in a while. But is is my humble opinion that ignoring cats on the nets all day is not going to help our fuzry friends and therefor, I, and many more catlovers, have decided to exactly do the opposite: On 09-09-09, we post cats!1!one!

Starting with the one I made, and yes, it's a Gaijin 4Koma:

And one I found on deviantART:

And of course:

19 August 2009

Plugin analogies

Plugins suckAs it seems a lot of people totally adore plugins, I thought I'd come up with some ideas if their precious plugins would be used in the same way in the outside world. Then let's reconsider if they're still so cool or if plugins truly suck.

Analogy 1
I am Dutch. I barely speak German. If I'd meet someone from Germany, chances are they don't speak Dutch. Now how would I tell them something I think they should know (like, "go back, there's a dangerous fire over there")? Well, if we think of languages as plugins, I have Dutch installed and they have German installed. The two are only mildly compatible.
Well apparently a software developer would simply use his Dutch plugin and requires from the German to also install it (learn the language). Maybe some people fall for that, but I think it's not going to get you very far.
Isn't the most sensible thing to do to check if we both maybe happen to have the same language plugin? We could check for English, for example. It is a widely used plugin and is an excellent alternative. If that fails, I can try to see what's left of the old German v.1.0 plugin I used to have installed. And if that also fails, let's try the good old Primordial Scream Darwin Extension software which is installed at the very core of every person's brain.
So you see, I, as messenger, attempt to deliver my content to the user in any possible way he understands. The plugins themselves may not suck, it is the way developers force them down your throat that sucks.

"Yes but," the developer says, "Dutch is teh coolest language ever! You can say things with it you can't say in any other language!" That's all cool, but if the German doesn't want to learn it, you can't force them, you'll have to think of a method to say something equivalent in a way they do understand!

Analogy 2a
You buy a car. But it has no windscreen wipers. No, the manufacturer tells you you now have the option to choose whichever wipers you want yourself. So you drive off to any windscreen wiper manufacturer to get the wipers. They do not install them for you, you have to do it yourself. Oh sure, they gave instructions, but they're either incomprehensible (insert Nut A in Blowhole B and tighten it with Screw U) or they are instructions for an older type of car. You attempt to install the wipers as best you can, but they will never really function well.
Well aren't things that are necessary for basic operation already supposed to be bolted on your car! Sure, if there are mechanics that want to take off the basic wipers and install UberWiper 2.0 instead, they are free to do so, but manufacterers should understand that not everybody is a car mechanic. So it would be a stupid idea to just give everybody a car building kit and expect them to properly build the thing themselves.

"But," says the developer, "you can choose your own windscreen wiper! What if you like Wiper X better than Wiper Z, wouldn't you want to have the option?" Maybe so, but just pre-install Wiper Z to at least have something. If I want to use Wiper X instead, I will ask a mechanic to install it for me.

Analogy 2b
Luckily the manufacterers aren't stupid and give you a fully functioning car, with windscreen wipers pre-installed.
Now somebody invents some new type of windscreen, that tones down too bright outside objects (like the sun), so you won't get blinded while driving. This awesome FireBlocks technology is great, but my neighbour doesn't need it as he never drives while the sun is low enough to blind him. Or he just uses the sun blocker thingy you can manually pull down.
The downside of these FireBlocks screens though is that they also tone down traffic lights. This prompts the government to update all traffic lights so they can only be seen through FireBlocks windscreens. Now my neighbour (and 80% of all drivers) are in trouble, because they don't have those windscreens and thus cannot see traffic lights anymore.
I ask you (rhetorically), is that normal? Of course not! A developer should make sure everybody sees the traffic lights! If one method of lighting doesn't work too well everywhere, try to improve it, but you cannot block content just because people don't have or want FireBlocks windscreens! You, as a developer need to give the user an alternative.

"But it blocks the sun," says the developer, "you gotta love a sunblocker. And that's not all, the FireBlocks windscreens are superior in many more ways." Fine, but you have to accept there are people out there who don't want or can't install this new windscreen and you cannot deny them service over that fact alone.

So you see the stupidity? I'm sure you can think for yourself how this applies for software. A lot of developers create content and completely ignore people who don't have a certain plugin installed. Or they get the message "get plugin X here!!1!1". But it is not the user's task to get all the necessary tools to hear your message. You should make sure users can comprehend what you're saying. You cannot ask somebody to learn another language because you don't want to talk to them in a language they can understand; you cannot ask somebody to install another plugin because you don't want to code for a plugin or software the user already has installed.
This simple principle means that plugins, unless natively available or much easier installed and uninstalled than they are now, are completely useless.

18 August 2009

Plugins, and why they suck

Second LifeIn response to the blogpost Introducing the LLMedia API I commented that plugins suck. And they do. Suck donkeys. Big time. Let me tell you why:

For example I use plugins in webbrowsers, because I think that is what's most commonly known.
1. They kill your content.
So you spent hours of creating the perfect Flash banner + menu + navigation bar. It looks great, has some minor sounds that people can turn off by simply screaming "Shut Up!" at their screen and it works. And because you are uber-1337, you coded it entirely in the experimental Flash version 11.
But then, my mother wants to visit your website and she has no knowledge of computers. And she does not have the latest Flash installed and she has no idea what it is and how to work with it. The only thing she sees on your webpage, which you spent hours on, is a large, white block of nothingness. My mother is not impressed. (Alternatively, if you really are a proper coder, you presented her an alternative no-flash version of your site, but as it is not as cool, my mother still is not impressed)

2. They cause malfunctions.
My mother asks me why your page is so terrible. I quickly spot the problem and to solve it, I install the even more experimental Flash 12 plugin for her. However, now her favorite website mothersarecool.com doesn't work anymore! How come? They have hired somebody's father who thinks he knows something about websites to make the site for them and he used the old version Flash 8 and lets the page check if you have Flash 8 installed. Since Flash 12 != Flash 8, the script returns false and the page does not load. Well congratulations on making my mother sad!
In addition, because the ultra-experimental Flash 12 is designed with 128bit in mind, and my mother has a 32bit system, something that in 1337 circles is considered stone age. Therefor, when my mother wants to see videos of the grandchildren on YouTube, she can now only see the first 5 seconds of the videos.

3. They cause headaches.
The father who made the mothersarecool.com website reads on Wikipedia there already is a Flash version 10, so he decides to update his work. However, he notices the new page doesn't load anymore on his neighbour's computer (who obviously still has 8 installed), so the poor man has to think of ways of making sure his website works for everybody. So he has to check on people's installed Flash versions and writes regexes on dynamic pages to serve the right version content to the right computer. And some don't even have Flash, they use Silverlight instead! Oh, the humanity.
Oh of course, other people simply display the message 'update to Flash 10, you dumbass' instead of actual content, but since forcing 250 visitors who have no clue how their computer works to install a new version is highly anti-social, the father rather codes his pages so to not bother the mothers.
The father is sad, because he has to spend too much time on this, during which he cannot be with his family.

4. They more easily allow malicious content.
My mother now is happy again, because the father did such great work (and the grandchildren's videos now come on dvd). But then! An e-mail from an unknown Nigerian secret admirer millionaire who has left her 15 messages lures her onto some weird Russian site. And from then on, weird enough, her computer starts to slow down, her ISP blocks her outgoing e-mail because she sent millions of mails in several minutes, her bank stops all transactions since her account is drained and the machine won't shut down properly anymore. You guessed it, the admirer, who actually turned out to be from India, had found a security hole in the experimental Flash 11 you coded your awesome site in. And now he took control of my mother's computer! Needless to say, she is very sad.

5. Local Shared Objects kill your privacy.
Well, it took a team of 8 experts to fix my mother's computer again. But now she wonders why some webpages seem to know it's her! Whenever she comments on YouTube, it always says that "your_mom47" actually wrote that comment. And when she misclicks on another webpage, they always know it was her who bought another freezer. So I tell her, "yeah, those are cookies" and I disable them for her. But still, she finds webpages know her! Especially sites like chinesemothers.nowearenotthechinesegovernment.gov.cn greet her with Flashy banners saying "welcome back, mom, muhahaha!", which she finds scary. Is it clear yet what's happening here? If not, let Wired help you out there.

So from this experience we've built over the years using plugins in webpages, shouldn't we already agree that plugins suck? Then why does LL think it's a good idea to implement this demented system?

Would you want to spend hours on creating the perfect video installation on your land, only to find nobody uses it, simply because they don't have the plugin you require them to have? They might not want that plugin (like Silverlight, who wants that crap?), or they don't know how to install it, or they can't, because maybe they have an unsupported OS.

If it's a problem that Flash for example doesn't work in the viewer's built-in browser, then the solution is to either keep it that way or to fix it in the viewer. It is never a solution to just let the users figure it out on their own. As I've said, it's anti-social.

But, you say, plugins offer so much good too! Someone can make a plugin that allows you to use the extra colour squant and someone can make a plugin that plays RealMedia content (oh please no, I'll be forced to quit SL if someone ever thinks that would be a good idea) and someone can make a plugin that plays Flash 12 and and...
Yes, but if there's a need, a true need to play unsupported media, it is either up to the creator to convert that media to a supported format or it is up to LL to implement the stupid plugin (obviously without any LSOs plzkthx) directly into the viewer, without me knowing it. It is anti-social to bother me with the request to please install plugin "stupidplugin" just because they want me to show their work. It's like sending me a letter with the request to please first learn French because they sent me the letter in French only. It is stupid.

So in conclusion, I say: plugins; suck; donkeys; big time.

06 June 2009

Hey! It's Drawing Day!

Drawing Day 09Have you drawn today? If not, you should :P After all, it's Drawing Day. In case you want to know, it's every first Saturday of June. It started last year, in 2008. So now is the 2nd edition. And may I say, I think this year's entry of mine is better than last year's.

I made a nice vid of my drawing:

If you want to see my drawing a little better, you can do so on deviantART.

OH! And if you have participated this year, do comment here and give me a link to your drawing :)

04 June 2009

Drawing Day 09

Drawing Day 09It's coming! Remember Drawing Day 08? Well this year, it'll be same, but better! Personally, I hope I can find the time to draw something too, so this year we'll get even closer to the goal of 1 million drawings made for Drawing Day.

Oh yeah, did I mention it will be held on 6 June 2009? Yes, that's this Sunday. So get your gear together and draw!

Also check out this cool video: