Last week I packaged a release of the Diva Distribution (D2) for OpenSimulator 0.7.4. I’m glad to see that D2 continues to be very popular. Not just there’s already a large number of downloads, but other distributions such as sim-on-a stick also continue build on it. D2 is very easy to install because of the Configuration tool that comes with it. It’s also very easy to keep up-to-date because of the Update tool that is included.
Nevertheless, medium-to-advanced users of D2 often want to change a thing or two from what comes in the package. One thing that I often hear is people not wanting to use mega-regions and, instead, wanting to use plain regions. Another thing I often hear is wanting to add more regions. These are all perfectly good things to do with your D2 installation. However, there’s the wrong way and the right way of changing the default configurations. If you change them the wrong way, things may work fine for a while, but they may break in the next update. This post explains the right way of changing the D2 configurations.
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Forget the “profile web page” hack we tried… that’s sooooo last month. Now we can truly integrate directly with the built-in search. Here’s the scoop:
Linden Labs included a new search feature in the Windlight release candidate client of Second Life. At first it looked like another closed system, but then DrenBoy Opus discovered that the search page is configurable via an obscure setting. Since Diva Canto and I have been running our SLBrowser search engine for the last 6 months, we’ve been looking for better ways to hook into SL. We turned DrenBoy’s discovery into something useful by creating Open Search for Seocnd Life to augment the Linden Search with some search alternatives. The Open Search page gives you quick access to multiple search pages, including SLBrowser, Linden Labs, OnRez, SLExchange, and Google. The line-up is subject to change, but this is our current offering. You get all the functionality of Linden Labs new search, plus these other great search engines. We believe that search should be open, and that the best way to improve things is for competition… where the users choose the best solution, rather than being forced to go with once choice. If you have the new Release Candidate (see the link above) you can easily configure it for Open Search. Thanks to Bettina Tizzy and DrenBoy Opus for letting us know about this possibility.
The SL grid has been plagued by technical problems in the last week or so. The problems affect several functions, including LL’s search. But those problems don’t affect SLBrowser. Our search is always up even when LL’s is down, and even if you choose to access it from within SL using your web-on-the-profile.
Besides the obvious selling point here, there is a much more subtle, but important, architectural point that I want to make with this post. SLBrowser search is the living proof that several features of the metaverse not only don’t need to be centralized, but benefit tremendously from being provided by independent groups/companies. Search is one of those features, but there are a lot more. The good old principle of separation of concerns has served hardware and software design well for many decades.
As the community moves forward with virtual worlds, including efforts to design the next generation architecture of an SL-like scalable system, it is important to keep this principle mind.
Last night, Linden Lab announced its new search service available on their latest release candidate. We had been waiting for that to happen for some time now. Their new search is definitely a big improvement over their previous one. At the very least, they got rid of rank-by-traffic, which was essentially the opposite of relevance, and they gained Google’s powerful language processing capabilities. That, alone, makes the qualitative difference that we all see. But ranking for giving out meaningful results… boy, oh, boy. They have a long way to go.
Our SLBrowser engine is much closer to the right formula. We think people will like it if they could compare! But that’s where the train stops. Linden Lab doesn’t seem to be ready to accept third-party components over their data. We have a JIRA filled out asking for LL to open up their search button, and that has gone ignored. Technically, opening that up is trivial, especially now that their own search service works over http/html, just like SLBrowser.
So, while things stay the way they are, here are two ways by which you can access the SLBrowser search engine while being inworld:
or — read this! —
- Use the embedded html viewer that is available on your avatar’s profile. Did you know about this? Most people don’t. Here’s how to do it: pull up your profile and choose the Web tab. There’s a text box in there, so type slbrowser.com and enter that. Voila! You are on our web site. From there you can enter your queries on the search box. Since that floatie cannot be resized, you’ll have to scroll down to see the results.
(hmm, I wonder why that floatie in particular can’t be resized… all others can. Could it be that LL discourages residents from using potential competitors on the web?)