About the fragmentation of viewers

There are still many fields in which Second Life gets new development,
a good thing, if you ask me. But since those fields are quite diverse,
there are now so many first look and beta viewers around, that it get's
troublesome to test them all out. Don't believe me? Well, for Windows,
there are those viewers beside the official one around:

  • the release candidate viewer (version 1.19.0.2),
  • the Windlight first look viewer,
  • the Dazzle first look viewer and finally
  • the beta test grid viewer.

Each viewer is spurting another feature the other one has not or is going to make it sometime into the official line of viewers. So we got now a quite fragmented field of beta viewers. Wouldn't it just be better to roll up all those beta features into one beta line and hand this one out to people feeling adventurous? I strongly believe so.

More fun with the voice beta grid

I've spent today again some time on the voice beta test grid. It has been quite fun and interesting to see how voice is going to change the SL experience.

It's also a good way to see the Lindens live; no wonder, since it's beta and only under 10 regions are online, you can see them there. I saw Pathfinder Linden and another Linden, Monroe Linden, even used voice and talked with us a little! Great!

So, basically when you're going online on the beta grid it's first looking where the crowd is. There are perhaps 30-40 people online the same time, and they use to flock around, well, that's my experience so far.

Today was also interesting since we've seen an avatar from the company that is providing the voice technology, Vivox, Rockin Randall, who talked with us and answered some questions to us. Nice guy and some very interesting insights, for sure this is going to scale at great lengths, if necessary!

Well, here's also a little snapshot to show the speech indicators in action, just click on the thumbnail to see the big picture.

My experiences with the voice beta

There was yesterday the announcement about the public availibility of the voice beta version of Second Life. Since I had spare time and a new, shiney headset, I downloaded the special beta client and gave it a try.

The first thing you're going to notice is that you are not seeing much difference to the normal beta clients at all. Voice capability is disabled by default, so you have to enable it by yourself in the preferences. The second thing I experienced is - it's much better to enable voice in the so called push-to-talk mode - meaning, that you're only transmitting audio into the game world when you're pressing down some key. Otherwise all people around you can be hearning echos if your soundcard is not configured correctly, many computers tend to transmit much noise, well, let's just say it's a waste of bandwidth and computing power.

I know how voice is being handled by services like Skype. Skype automatically adjusts the microfon volume while you speak, so that the microfon level is always nice mannered and not too loud. In the Second Life beta you've got to adjust the microfon volume on your own, so you should better now how to setup the volume mixer under Windows or Macintosh. Yup, there's no beta for this available at the moment under Linux.

Well, if you've got your settings then right you can enjoy the voice capabilites of the beta - or not. First you need to get to a region, though, that is voice enabled in the beta grid. There are not many available and you can see a list of enabled regions in the release notes of the beta client. According to Lindenlabs there are these voice enabled regions at the moment on the beta grid: Abbotts, Lusk, Pulveria, Spaceport Alpha, Morris, Da Boom, Tehama and Balance. BTW, it's not advisable under Windows to use the Shift-Key for enable the push-to-talk mode, since this is per default enabled by Windows to enable some advanced features for people with disabilities after pressing it fives times. Better use another key or turn those features of in the system settings of Windows.

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