Second Life Viewers are maturing rapidly and avatar users are choosing sides. I am decidedly multi-viewer. As an active user and teacher of several major viewers, I'll share some important news and insights. In my recent survey of 133 experienced Second Life (SL) users, the viewer market share breaks down like this:
56% use Phoenix Viewer @ PhoenixViewer.com
26% use Linden Lab's Viewer 2 @ SecondLife.com
3% use Other New Viewers (e.g. Imprudence/Kokua, Emergence, Ascent)
16% use Linden Lab's Viewer 1 and Miscellaneous
More surprisingly, SL ages appear to correlate with Viewer choice…
Phoenix users are mostly 1 to 4 years old in SL
Viewer 2 users are mostly less than 1 year old in SL
Viewer 1 users are mostly over 3 years old in SL
* Of course there were several outliers who don't fit these norms
Linden Lab (LL), the maker of Second Life, stopped development of Viewer 1 at version 1.23 in October 2009. LL launched Viewer 2 the same year, and offered the Viewer 1 code to 3rd party developers. First Emerald emerged as third party leader, which was replaced by the Phoenix project, which now dominates SL viewer market share.
When I announced this survey to some groups, people came forward to announce their Viewer 1 loyalty. Indeed, oldbie avatars (avis) are laggards, by and large, and even very old versions of Phoenix are being blocked from SL (156 and 168).
You see me in Phoenix Version 818 with all my glorious Heads Up Device (HUD) gadgetry in Picture 1. The pictures are all raw SL snapshots, un-retouched (i.e. a little dark), where I compare Viewer 2 and Phoenix for this story.
40 GROUPS NOW in SECOND LIFE: Here's How!!!
From time immemorial in SL, users were limited to 25 SL groups. Someone at LL made a ridiculous assumption that if we let people join too many groups, the resulting communications would overload the virtual world. Kind of like a nuclear chain reaction, we would collectively melt their server farm!!! LOL Finally LL came to it senses. Hee Hee!
If you are Viewer 2 user, you are already 40 groups capable. If you are in Phoenix, you may need to enable this feature, here's how: Enable the Advanced Menu by holding down CTRL and ALT… then press D. In Advanced > Show Debug Settings, then type "Phoenix40…" (auto-completes)… and click the TRUE radio button, then OK button. Done!
Viewer 2: Market Share by Default Downloads
If you don't have a desktop iMac and or a superwide HDTV 16:9 display, forget V2, Bada Bing! V2 has a right margin bar that takes up too much screen on ordinary computer displays, Picture 4.
Nevertheless, I have always liked the Viewer 2 (V2) interface, and declared that to M Linden (then LL CEO) while V2 approval ratings among SL users was only 3%. See my letter to M Linden on SL Newser: http://tiny.cc/udl6m
I suggested M dump Google… they were botching V2 search quite badly, the key feature that makes SL SL (e.g. Compare with OpenLife). Instead, LL drove Google very deeply into V2, to the extent that, it's fair to say: V2 IS SPYWARE. V2 requires full enabling of Google's Analytics, AdServices, AdWords, and LeadServices… otherwise the "action" buttons in search don't work at all: Teleport, IM, Profile, and Details. Why does Google need to know who's profile I'm opening? Groups I research? Where I'm going in SL? Or who I'm IMing? YIKES! See https://jira.secondlife.com/browse/WEB-2465
Remember… I like Viewer 2. Adding Phoenix to my SL quiver was hard for me in some ways. V2's groups list is awesome; I love the Favorites Landmark (LM) bar across the top (Picture 3); and the Instant Message (IM) icons are way cool… little caption bubbles pop up when a chat arrives.
In-World search in V2 actually works! Yay! But the user interface is very annoying, making you slowly reopen search numerous times, every time you TP. Slow Google-driven buttons… need to be re-started from scratch for your next search. For Event Search, your best bet in V2 is to click the Profile button then Notify, for a bunch of Events, before you TP. In Phoenix (after you TP), to use the next search result… Ctrl F, Click-Select an event, and Teleport. Dead simple and fast! Duh!
The surgery LL did on Group Notices, IM's and chat with Toast pop ups, Toast Time, Toast Fade time… is pretty ill-defined and unworkable for users. Either you go with their ADD-inducing 5 second defaults or… go with their ADD-inducing defaults… You Will Lose Settings with Every Viewer 2 Update!
Now, what really irks me is Viewer 2 lag. Clouding and Ruthing are a form of lag. I get serious Clouding most every time I log into Viewer 2, and seldom a problem in Phoenix. Viewers 2.4 and beyond significantly increased lag… I noticed instantly because I surf in SL, and I CAN'T SURF IN THE LATEST few V2 releases e.g. my SL Surfs Up iReport: http://slnewserplaces.blogspot.com/2010/12/dude-surfs-up-in-second-life.html.
This lag in LL's own viewer is a great irony, because the new CEO of LL is a video gamer guy.
For Clouding/Appearance fixes see my iReport: http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-504314
And see this amazing Phoenix Wiki note… incredible De-Clouding advice! http://wiki.phoenixviewer.com/doku.php?id=bake_fail
Why Phoenix is Winning Market Share!
TA DA!!! PHOENIX OFFERS FREE LIVE TECHNICAL SUPPORT… In-World for their browser… delivered by Phoenix staff… through their SL group Phoenix Viewer Support. During peak SL hours, Phoenix has at least 2 dedicated staff answering your questions. This is an amazing feature because in my 3+ years in SL, I've never seen LL do direct technical support. Not even close.
If you are in Viewer 1 (or any non-V2), moving to Phoenix is dead easy. No learning curve, 95% upward compatible, you won't notice the difference. I assure you. I urge you NOT to stay on Viewer 1.23… since there are no code updates in years, the security/griefer situation will continue to deteriorate. The multitudes of V1.23 users are a juicy target! Oh Yeah! Don't get hacked silly, upgrade painlessly now!
Most features of Viewer 2 are available in Phoenix in some form. The Outfits folder was a great V2 innovation, fully available in Phoenix, and built into Appearance > Make Outfit. Your V2 outfits are already in Phoenix and work great!
Zoomable Mini-Map with mouse wheel! Great V2 feature! It's in Phoenix too! Yay! (Picture 2).
Favorites links… are an inventory folder in Phoenix. Often, I get annoyed with V2's way of splitting up inventory… into Places and Outfits and whatnot… Yikes! I'm in the WRONG V2 window again! But no, in Phoenix it's all in inventory and searchable without switching panes.
Phoenix let's you see which SL Viewer other people are using. Making this story possible! Hurrah! Look at avi name tags. Picture 2 shows many Phoenix cool cats hanging with a handful of Viewer 2 and miscellaneous avatars.
Phoenix has many "beyond Viewer 1" extensions… Some are integrated into familiar SL controls… but many are in the new Phoenix menu and the new Phoenix tab on Ctrl P Preferences. Fun to explore… no worries, the good olde features are just where you expect!
Bottom Line: What to Do?
If you are on Viewer 1, upgrade to Phoenix. If you are on Viewer 2 and don't mind the avi clouding and lag… you are cool and should stay. Enjoy your SL! Otherwise migrate to Phoenix and join Phoenix Viewer Support SL group! You can't go wrong!
And join my classes, I re-start teaching in February, every Saturday and Sunday at 6:30am SLT (US Pacific). All at our remodeled way-cool campus in SL: Dream Seeker (206, 132, 22)
For more info, download my free SL book, links in this iReport: http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-518024
ABOUT SECOND LIFE GADGETS & HUDS (Pictures 1 and 3)
SL, like Dog years, feel like 7X faster than RL years. In my decades in SL, I've accumulated over 22,000 items. Omg! Most oldbies use a lot of HUDs and attachments as shown in any Picture 1 and 3. All this stuff is pretty easy to find in the SL Search classified ads, or just ask any SL help group.
Starting from Mini-Map upper left, and going clockwise, you see HUDDLES EZ Animator. I have this one setup to do modeling poses, but it's main function is to animate dances and invite friends to sync dance. Buy the deluxe model because it's copyable.
Top center is the free Simbolics Translator. Does dozens of languages, translating both directions. You also have built in Google translator in Ctrl P Prefs, Chat tab, but that translation is only 1 way :-(. Ferd's free translator is also great and does 3 or more languages at once.
Just under Group Notices in Picture 1 is the JLU signal HUD. This is anti-griefer panic button that summons the super-hero-clad Justice League Unlimited experts to your location. It's the 911 of SL for fighting griefers!
The Pink button next to the chat window is Musyume-AO from MAMESANDO Rings (Japanese AO seller). Gotta love those way-cool AOs to get some 'tude in ur avi postures!
Above the chat window is Avatar Online Tracker. I find SL's online friends notification to be way laggy and annoying. This great device helps me track online status of anybody, especially useful for iReporters and event promoters for finding people online they want to meet!
P.S. I only specialize in the features of SL that enable fun. I would love to have an open discussion (i.e. public SL meeting) with people who are truly knowledgeable about SL techno stuff.
P.P.S. Viewer 2.4+ very important… (otherwise it's DOA)… Advanced Menu > Show Debug Options, then in the box type adminmenu, set the radio button to True and OK. Then… Advanced > Show Develop Menu and Develop > Show Admin Menu. Now you can ALWAYS FLY real high (fixes loads of SL problems) and work round the SL music failure bug… Essential for true SL fun lovers! See Chapter 2 of my free SL book for more info: http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-518024
P.P.P.S. The next version of Phoenix is FIRESTORM... and the next Imprudence viewer is Kokua... the new new thangs! Get the buzz on the SL group Phoenix Viewer Support! It's cool to people-watch the SL support fun! Go Figure!
P.P.P.P.S. The 10 thousand odd members of the Phoenix Viewer Support group make it an amazing forum... SL's true Towne Square... A recent interaction really "made my day"... someone asked sincerely... if we could help her friend who was lagged and clouded and having tremendous SL problems... Whirly Fizzle promptly offered this sage advice... "If boobs are not jiggling... go to edit... prefs.... Phoenix..page 2... effects,,, make sure boobs are enabled & set numbers to 100, 15, 100, 16, 1 (if you have low fps you need max/min vel at 100/1). If still no jiggle go to advanced... debug settings..... PhoenixBreastPhysicsToggle...set to FALSE, then back to TRUE" LOL LMAO!!!, used with Whirly's permission!
(originally on CNN)