PostHeaderIcon Microsoft OS X and Apple Windows?

Snowglobe on my windowLinden Lab releases it's own 'after-market' viewer, which I find funny, especially since I had just run the gambit on after-market viewers for Second Life Grid in my most previous post. Now in addition to the "official" Second Life viewer from Linden Lab (LL), said company releases another viewer in parallel to it.

Yes, I mean in parallel. This isn't like MS Windows "Home" versus "Professional" or "Final Cut Express" versus "Final Cut Pro" where there is a 'lesser' and 'greater' of the exact same thing, but rather a completely different thing that accomplishes the same tasks. Think Microsoft Windows versus Apple OS X. Both are Operating systems upon which is the main user-facing interface for interacting with a computer. Both accomplish the same thing: managing the computer resources itself and allowing other productivity or entertainment applications to operate on top of it.

It's the same with a "Grid Viewer": they accomplish the same thing by providing a means to access a Second Life Grid and handle all the grid-level work. Like Operating Systems (OS), there are many Grid Viewers; MS Windows, Apple OS X, (many variations of) Linux; Unix; Xenix (yes, it's still used) and so on. Also there are many iterations of grid viewers including the "official" Linden Lab viewer, Nicholaz (defunct), SL Cool, Gemini, Emerald, Meerkat, Imprudence... the list goes on.

Additionally, there is an attempt at simplifying the interface of the "main" Official LL Viewer and most other after-market viewers either use or mimic the current same "Main Official Linden Lab Viewer" (which I'll just call LLV) interface or touch it up a bit, often via different color schemes and slight differences in button shapes and other minor things. The main benefit some people find in these alternate grid viewers is in the additional or different features they include that are not available in the LLV.

I find it ironic and humorous in my own way that LL releases a secondary 'official' viewer (my words, not theirs - because it comes directly from LL) in parallel to the 'main official' viewer. Please don't get me wrong. I think this is a good thing.

No, it's a wonderful thing!

Variety and choice always is a huge plus and this coming directly from LL is a bonus because newcomers to Second Life not in-the-know will take whatever is offered via the official web site. I can see it now: Newcomer exploring the LL Second Life web site, decides to sign-up and goes to the download page...
Pick your poison... the simple getting started viewer or the balls-to-the-wall advanced viewer"

(...which the "advanced" is what we have and use right now.)

The reason I am chuckling hard is how I have a mental image of Microsoft creating and releasing both: all iterations of MS Windows and some odd version of another OS that looks and works more like Apple OS X - and stating...
Pick your poison... the bug-ridden, self-destructing over-bloated 32-bit version that can only use 3GB of ram version or the utterly pleasant, fun-to-use ridiculously stable 64-bit version that can use a terabyte of RAM" [reference to Snow Leopard, folks. -Ari]

Although, I wouldn't put it past Microsoft to attempt some whacked-out idea such as this. Anyone remember the massive flop called "Microsoft Bob"?

Rob Linden writes:
Snowglobe is a Second Life-compatible viewer, built jointly by the open source community and Linden Lab.

...[W]e set out to create "a widely-used, openly developed version of the Second Life client which is a compelling alternative for a broad set of users, and contains enhancements and development that then rapidly make their way back into the mainstream Second Life version."

The viewer we're releasing today represents our first step toward that goal; getting some early features into your hands.

[From Snowglobe 1.0 now available - Technology - Second Life Blogs]

To be clear, I have not downloaded or looked at Snowglobe. And my thank you directed at Torley Linden for the short screencast of the mapping feature, but other than this fancy map-zooming ability, no other additional features were mentioned. As best I can tell from Torley's demonstration, the User Interface is pretty much status quo, so I don't see any compelling reason to download, install and play with it.

ExploredIn other words, sell me. There is no 'selling' of this new viewer and I don't think that's the intent anyway. It strikes me as simply more an experiment. Get feedback from users, throw it against the wall, see if it sticks and if it does, which way will it start sliding down that wall. Then decide which real direction to take it. Of course, this is just my own assumption. I'm not privy to LL's agendas and roadmaps.

As for not interested in actually looking at Snowglobe, I am speaking for myself because I have just finished doing such for six or seven other viewers, five of which I wrote about. As for me and what I wrote last about this plethora of grid viewer choices, I have had the opportunity to really dig into the GreenLife Emerald viewer and the Gemini viewer.

As it turns-out, the Gemini viewer is pretty much built on top of the Emerald viewer. Not literally, but in it's feature-set. The texture-rezzing performance does seem a bit better, but I can't really be sure. At the very least, it's comparable to most others, save the Kirsten virewer.

At first, the main reason I didn't want to spend too much time with Gemini was that the bottom row of interface controls (main buttons at the bottom of the screen) were absent. Then I discovered it was simply the default state of the ability to remove them. One menu-click later and they were back. I don't use them much, I guess it's just a cosmetic thing for me.

I am a media engineer in first life: lots of sound design and video work. Ergonomically a neutral grey is the optimum 'peripheral' color to work in and this is why I prefer the bronze/grey look of the original LL viewer and I felt the near-black color scheme of Gemini would be too much.

However, after playing with it for a full day, I have discovered it's far easier to read the tiny text I need to read often, such as my inventory list. The higher contrast does wonders! Thus, as much as I really like the Emerald Viewer, the Gemini - being basically built-up from that - is now my viewer of choice. There are a few other features not in the Emerald viewer, but for all intents and purposes, the majority if not all the Emerald viewer features are in Gemini.

Have you peeked at Snowglobe? And if you use an after-market or third-party viewer, I'm curious which one and why.

I know most readers of this blog rarely ever comment, but I am asking you to do so this time, because I have this weird obsession with grid viewers all of a sudden and I'm curious to hear about other users' experiences with them.

Hopefully this 'obsession' a temporary condition.

Art: Michael Pearson; Madame Kitty/Laurie Teardrop
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