Thursday, December 10, 2009

2 of 52 - Christmas, graphic cards, Linux, Obama and the first ladies

Jayn has been working on some Christmas decorations at the Thistle estate. The picture does not do the place enough justice; the mere feeling of being immersed on the frozen water surrounded by crystal white trees is more than I was able to put into the photo.

I visited the place yesterday too, but then I was using a PC with integrated graphics. Now, an nVidia 220 GPU is breaking the silence with its rather noisy fan, but what a difference a mere $80 card can make for the SL experience. Even on full graphics I get a livable 15-25 FPS, and things do look great!

Ever visited Misty Acres? If not, you owe it to yourselves to see this place. It's an amusement park with some very nice rides, including a roller coaster completely out of touch with reality LOL. Again, this graphics made all the difference, sitting in the cart in mouselook mode I almost felt the tingling in the stomach before the dives:-) Hagrid (my big ugly laptop), go to bed:-)

OK, that was fun, but so far I was running on Windows Vista 32 bit (sigh).... How would it work with a decent OS? Ubuntu 9.10 64 bit went into the CD tray, reboot, resize the Vista partition, some upgrades, and installed the proprietary nVidia driver. WOW! Framerate is up by 5-10, and the roller coaster ride is even more realistic! Whoever said you needed Windows for games? (Ok, SL is not a game, yakk, yakk, yakk.. :-) )

Just remember: Whenever buying a computer that is supposed to run SL, go for an Intel CPU and nVidia GeForce graphics card. The shop sales people may tell you that ATI Radeon cards are as fast or faster, and that may be true for most Windows games, but SL is a cross-plattform, OpenGL based application, and that is an area where nVidia excels. And the difference is even greater when running Linux on the PC. The ATI Linux drivers sucks big time.

When reading reviews before purchasing this card it was quite clear that to the hard-core gaming community, this was an entry-level card, not really suitable for gaming at all:-) So, since it seems to run SL rather smoothly (LOL sure, I would have loved 60fps, but is it really needed?), it occurs to me that virtual environments will soon become feasible on almost every computer. I guess that might do the same for the Grid as Windows did for the Web. Hmm.... how many Linden Homes will the moles be able to raise, /me wonders?

In short, it seems there is no longer any real reason to nag Linden Lab about how they make a viewer too resource hungry for mere mortals. Even if you are not a vice president in an advertising agency and can afford a snazzy MacBook Pro to view SL (Em, this is just some good-natured mocking, you deserved that job, really happy for you, hope you are happy too!) you too can see for less than the price of a normal pair of spectacles.

And for those of you stuck with some Intel integrated graphics: The feeling one gets after a long chat with a good friend is more valuable than any entertaining ride, and its completely free! So I give you all a challenge: If you stumble over a lone SL'er, especially a new resident, say hi! You may end up with a friend for life:-)

Speaking of friends: The US President is in Norway even as I write, to accept the Nobel Peace Price award and make some new friends perhaps? I have been (and still are) sceptical to the choice, but today that's not an issue. Peace is in the focus, and we can only hope for it.

Do any of you notice how much more fun the ladies seems to have? For the record, it's the Norwegian Prime Minister showing Obama some dull view from his office, while his wife are telling the First Lady something funny (could she be showing her a pic of her SL avatar? LOL, really don't know if she has any, but one can always imagine:-)

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