I use a PC for logging in to virtual worlds. (Actually for everything I do online.)

I’ll continue when you stop laughing.


…well, I’ll just go ahead anyway…

Oh, I do have a laptop. A good one too. Top of the line, only a year old. It’s right over there, in that cabinet in the corner…in its original box. Oh yeah, I’ve used it. Had reason to use it a lot when I bought it and again while on vacation last summer. No reason since though.

You have a smartphone – or whatever they call them now? I have a stupid phone. Flip-phone. It does stuff other than make calls. Of course, I don’t know how to do any of those things so it doesn’t really matter. A stupid phone is fine for me. I don’t need a phone that’s smarter than me.

But I digress…

I use a PC for logging in to virtual worlds. 22-inch screen. (Bigger than the TV I used to have back in the day. And that was black and white. But I digress again.) And on that screen there are a number of icons for various programs over here on the left. And in the middle of the screen there are a number of icons for the viewers I use to log into those virtual worlds. A number of them. And that number is 13.


Is that weird? Am I nuts?

I started in Second Life with V1. I was happy with it because I didn’t have anything to compare it to. I was new to virtual worlds so the thought of not being happy with the viewer didn’t even occur to me. Ah, those were the days! Such innocence.

When V2 made its little cameo appearance, I was not impressed. Was anyone? But I didn’t automatically hate it for the sake of hating it. But now I had something to compare my viewer to – V1 – which I did like better. But not enough to stay with it. For awhile I went back to V1 for certain things but mostly I figured, hey, the times they are a-changin’, get with the program! I figured with all the noise about it, V2 wouldn’t last for long.

But I wasn’t really “right” — no, I was just “lucky.” I hadn’t been around long enough nor followed the politics of it all to know how LL operates. It was just an assumption on my part that turned out to be correct, it was not based on a true understanding of the situation. Now, I know better. Now I know when LL introduces some piece of crap, we’re stuck with it for a long, long time. V2 was simply an exception to the rule.

But when V3 came along, I was glad. Change for the sake of change was good enough for me just so long as I didn’t have to use V2 anymore. But then as I used V3, I wasn’t sure if they’d improved things or not. I even ventured into the SL Forums – during a brief period in which I had tuned in to the chatter and blogosphere – and posted a discussion asking whether V3 was better than V2 or just different. But after a couple more months of using it, I got used to it. I never loved it – I had never loved a viewer, never had a favorite. Couldn’t understand the people who got so attached to a particular viewer. Still don’t, to be honest.

So I always used the official viewer in SL. Right up until the last few weeks, in fact.

I only had one option if the SL Viewer of the moment was not working for me on a given day. I had downloaded one of the “other” SL viewers. Beta or WindLight or ReleaseCandidate or whatever it was at the time. (Nobody’s going to confuse me writing about viewers with Inara Pey writing about viewers, that’s for damn sure.) A friend who knew about such things told me whenever the official viewer didn’t work for him he would switch to one of those. So I started doing that too.

At some point back then I downloaded Imprudence. It was probably when I went to OSgrid for the first time. I had no idea what to expect until I logged in. Oh, this is like V1! OK, I get it. Then I would use that for SL in an emergency.

All this time people were telling me to download Phoenix and raving about how it was the best. Not that they had anything to compare it to other than the official viewers. Have you ever noticed how most Phoenix-Firestorm users in SL have thought over the years that they were the experts on which viewer was the best? And the best was Phoenix or FS because they were better than the official SL Viewer of the moment. They’d only used the viewers of two pedigree. These people had never tried anything else. What made them experts exactly?

I never did download Phoenix. But by this time I had visited InWorldz which had it’s own viewer, so I had four viewer icons on my screen now. V3, SLBeta, Imprudence and InWorldz. And since I hadn’t fallen in love with any of them, it wasn’t really that big a deal to add another one at this point. So I decided to try Firestorm, just for the heck of it. When I told friends I was going to try a new viewer, they all said, “Oh, you have to get Phoenix!” But like I said, the times they are a-changin’. I wasn’t going to go backward to a V1 based viewer. I already had Imprudence and didn’t use it much, why get another. So I got Firestorm.

It was okay.

No complaints but it didn’t send chills down my spine either. It became my back up to V3.

I realize that different viewers do different things and people have different things that are important to them, so I figure this is not a one-size fits all discussion. That’s why, even now as I have 13 viewers on my PC (would you stop it with the laughing already?), I never would recommend a particular viewer to anybody. Everybody is different, every viewer is different.

When I joined Kitely, Firestorm was their recommended viewer and I wasn’t using it much so I decided it would be my dedicated viewer for that grid. And I used Imprudence there too for the import/export feature. Those of you on closed grids don’t know what you’re missing. And I’m not violating any Content Creators Rights either, easy people. But the freedom of being able to take something you made on one grid and bring it to another grid…well, that was quite something when I first did it.

As my virtual travels around the Metaverse expanded, I acquired more viewers. I ran into a few other worlds with their own viewer, of course. And then I went to Aurora-Sim and picked up the Astra viewer. And then I learned I could take the textures I created in SL out to other worlds if I used Angstrom, so I got that viewer.

Then, a few weeks ago, V3 started acting up real bad. Right after one of those mandatory upgrades. Missing prims and crashes and slow rezzing and lag. And soon, Firestorm users in SL were telling me they were having the same problems. These FS users all trusted and loved FS so much, it did not occur to them that it was their viewer causing the trouble. These are not techies, just average SL users I’m talking about. All my FS friends thought there was something wrong with their computers. Of course, now I follow the virtual world news, so I knew what was going on and what was being done and had an educated guess about how long it would be until life got better. So, I’d fill them in on the news.

When I started having those problems with V3, I didn’t have my normal option of using Firestorm as a back-up anyway. Because the previous FS upgrade had been a fork of sorts. They had released one version for SL and another for OpenSim. I used FS pretty much exclusively for Kitely so I got the OpenSim version when it came out. But now I wanted to use something other than V3 until things were worked out because life had become pretty annoying in SL.

I used Angstrom a couple of times and then one day I was just doing my usual reading about virtual world stuff and I went to the Imprudence blog to see if anything was new. Not only did I land there on the day of the surprise announcement that they were releasing a new Imprudence (experimental version) but when I went back the next day to see if there was anymore news, I saw they were also releasing a new Kokua.

I had certainly heard of Kokua but never thought about using it as I already had enough viewers. But with this new trouble with V3, I needed something else and for some reason Angstrom wasn’t doing it for me. So I downloaded it and gave it a try. And guess what? I fell in love.

Within a few seconds of logging in, it “felt” good. No lag! I’m moving around easily, like it should be. Wow. And everything else worked great too. I kept on using it. Been using it for two months now. Every time I log into SL. I tried it on an OpenSim world or two but it did not standout from the Firestorm OpenSim version or Angstrom.

I know there were complaints about Kokua bugs on their blog but I didn’t pay attention because I was having too much fun. I do have one complaint though and I didn’t see this on their blog last time I looked. Kokua doesn’t like sim-crossings. Not at all. So I’ve been working around that. I’m not doing sim-crossings for now. Instead I use the World Map and TP into the next region. That’s my only problem with it. Which is way better than what V3 was doing to me. So I can deal with that for now. But not forever. So the love wore off. I still like Kokua a lot but we’re not getting married. And as much as I like it, I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone because I still don’t recommend viewers.


And by the way, if I could just stop everything right here for just a moment. Help me here. The first time I used a non-official SL viewer, the thing that I liked most about it and the only thing I’d really miss when I’d go back to the official one was the song titles. I love that! The artist name and the name of the song. That is great! Like right now on my screen: Fairport Convention – Stranger to Himself. How come the official SL Viewers don’t do that? Or, have they and I have to uncheck something that I’ve not noticed in my nearly six years in SL? Please, anybody out there, if V3 does that, let me know.


Meanwhile, back in Aurora-Sim… In fact, I was back in Aurora-Sim just last week – two different worlds. One of them recommended Firestorm and Imprudence but I still keep FS dedicated to Kitely and it works great so I’m not messing with it. I couldn’t log-in to that world with Imprudence. The grid owner seemed to think I was doing something wrong. Heck it was Aurora-Sim, I’ve still got Astra sitting on my PC (HEY!) collecting dust, hoping for a day it will be used. Well, this is what I was keeping it for – if I ever went to an Aurora-Sim grid again. So I dusted it off and fired that sucker up and what do you know? Purred like a Neko. That’s a nice little viewer, that Astra. I like it very much.

Then I was on another grid that recommended Kokua. How about that! I’d never seen that before. Cool. I’m all set! And whaddaya think happened? Could not get on that grid with Kokua. So I tried Angstrom. Bingo! I’m in. There are some advantages to having 13 viewers at your fingertips. Actually, I only had 12 at that point.

Number 13 came up yesterday. I was getting ready to enter another grid for the first time and was reading the viewer recommendations page. This particular world even included user reviews of how certain viewers worked on that grid. One of my friends was among the reviewers and I was reading what she said about this one and that. And I came to her review of the Hippo Viewer. I know of Hippo but I don’t have it and never thought I’d have any use for it. But my friend – Jamie Wright again (hi Jamie!) – described the “lite” aspect of Hippo and if I remember right she mentioned its a good one when you need multiple viewers. Well, that got my attention. I haven’t had a reason to log two avatars on at the same time in ages but I have one for an upcoming story on one of my many blogs (glad I don’t have as many blogs as I have viewers). And then later that night I was reading the website of Metropolis grid and there is a customized version of Hippo for that grid. And I’ve been spending a little time over there lately with the intention of spending more. So I downloaded Hippo. Haven’t had a chance to log in with it yet, probably will get to that before the week is out.

There’s a newer version of Kokua out now, came out last week. But until the dust settles with the recently installed bugs (sorry, I just can’t help but put it that way) and the arrival now of SSB, I’m sticking with what I know. Not like those fanboys & girls of other viewers, no. It’s just for now. I’m not in love. Not getting married. Just waiting for the right time.

What I’m really waiting for is to go back to V3 again. But at this point, with all the options I have, it had better be good.

About Danko Whitfield

writer, explorer of virtual worlds. semi-retired time traveler.
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8 Responses to Viewers

  1. hehe…fum blog…i like ur writing style-))


  2. Jamie Wright says:

    ” I don’t need a phone that’s smarter than me.”

    Ha:) Thanks for the mention. I should update my review of Hippo because we seem to have broken up now. I think you win for number of viewers now Danko.

    Virtual World’s Viewers on my PC:

    Second Life Viewer 2 – I downloaded it to try it when it came out, hated it and it should probably be deleted.

    Singularity Viewer – My mesh enabled viewer of choice and it runs multiple well:) Sadly it’s not letting me add UFS Grid to its list of grids. Maybe the quantum singularity is affecting the warp core?

    Second Life Viewer 1 – for when all else fails! No, seriously.

    Metabolt – It’s a text based viewer that allows you some object interaction like sitting on chairs/poseballs etc. I use this viewer for my insane attempts to role play 4 or more characters at once. What can I say? I’m a masochist.

    InWorldz Viewer – Not actually my favourite but optimized to that grid so it does seem to work the best for it.

    Phoenix Viewer – this used to be my viewer of choice for SL but lately it runs horridly on any grid for me. I’ve switched to Singularity of SL pretty much exclusively. Another viewer for the delete list.

    Imprudence – My favourite die hard work horse. I still use this viewer more than any for building and exporting/importing prim based xmls. Sadly no mesh capability though.

    Firestorm – This is an occasional viewer for me. I know how to import mesh on it so it’s my import viewer for mesh objects. UFS Grid runs the best on this one. I find however, it’s a bit of a resource piggy viewer so I won’t use it for stuff like role playing multiple characters or general building.

    Hippo – This used to be a reliable standard lightweight viewer but it started to do weird things to my wearable layers so I stopped using it. Another one for the scrap pile but we had good times for awhile.

    Kokua – I thought I would love it because I adore Imprudence but it’s never treated my system well. It’s very crashy for me so I should really just delete it.

    There are a few viewers I tried once and deleted that day. Sadly Astra and Cool VL just seemed completely incompatible with my system altogether.

    On our laptop we have a small assortment of favourites like Imprudence, Firestorm, Metabolt and Singularity. Sometimes either myself or my husband will use the laptop at night but it’s mostly for homeschool stuff for our boy.

    My iPhone has Pocket Metaverse. I don’t use it very often as you can’t really do much but it’s good for chatting if you need to contact someone and you aren’t going to be near your comp. And yes, I definitely feel inferior to my phone. Siri seems to just know everything. Except that “how much wood could a woodchuck chuck” query. That seems to stump her on every third try:)


    • anyone tried radegast? I used to use it and keep it around just in case.

      The inwz viewer is a project of McCabe Maxsted who is one of the primary ppl on the imp/kokua team. Personally, I wish he would spend less time with them and get back to helping with the new upgrading of impy…but, that’s just me.

      I don’t like to use viewers specifically designed for a grid….call it some bit of paranoia, but i always think they have added something in them to keep a better eye on my doings…lol…and with inwz, I am sure of this!!!

      I got rid of the sl viewer a long time back as everytime i logged in it wanted to upgrade and the slowdown annoyed me…


  3. SunbeamS says:

    Totally understand you view on viewers ! I have about six on my PC and never did like a lap top … old school old view that’s me! Cool blog!!!


  4. I don’t know how many I have altogether, backed away in a basement folder as it were, but actually installed in use there are:
    Imprudence – the favourite except when mesh is required
    Firestorm – mainly for Kitely
    Angstrom – mainly for Kitely. Tend to prefer it to Firestorm – it’s a look and feel thing.

    I have used Radegast and keep it handy now. I used it for trying out a chatbot avatar.


  5. hmmm it posted itself as I was about to type that Angstrom also does hpa files, which is why I started with it, but it crashes whenever I try to save one, so I still have an old Astra version available for hpa..
    There seems to be no single viewer that does it all.


  6. Inara Pey says:

    Hee hee.
    OK… as of right now, installed for SL on its own:
    – SLviewer: Release, materials beta. deformer, “dev viewer (depreciated, but useful reference viewer) = 4
    – Firestorm: relaease + nightly build = 2
    – Cool VL viewer: stable + eperimental = 2
    – Exodus: release + nightly = 2
    – Kokua: release + CHUI = 2
    – Others: Catznip, Dolphin, Imprudence, Meerkat (remember that?), Milkshake (outdated but handy), Niran’s, RLV, Kirsten’s S22, Singularity, & Zen (discontinued, but still useful for bug referencing) = 10
    – “Text clients”: Group Tools, Libretto, Meltabolt, Radegast, SLite Chat = 5
    That’s 27.
    Then there are the InWorldz and 3Dmee viewers I have installed + Firestorm OpenSim.
    (Can I mention LittleSight, Lumiya and Mobile Grid Client on my smarter-than-the-average-Pey ‘phone? :))

    The SL viewer tree is about to get a lot more interesting as well, with the forthcoming switch-over to the new viewer release process!


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