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The following is a transcript of " Traveling Avatar's Quick and Dirty Tips for a Richer Life," a podcast from The audio program is available via RSS feed here and at's podcast home page.

Will Ross here. Welcome to

The Traveling Avatar's Quick and Dirty Tips for a Better Second Life

. On this show we discuss tips and tricks for the game

Second Life

, created by Linden Labs.

This week's episode: Performance Anxiety -- Ways to Reduce Lag in

Second Life


Some days it seems like

Second Life

is less of a social simulator and more of a simulation of what the world would be like with an atmosphere of thick, nutritious oatmeal. "And it's good for yer diabetes too." Shut up, Wilfred.

We've all had the experience of moving forward at the speed of a tree sloth, then warping to the other side of the room all while knocking furries out of your way like so many adorable, fuzzy bowling pins. The bad news is that every online world is going to have some lag. The good news is there are ways to minimize lag and increase your frame rate with just a few tweaks.

Now, before we start, a few things to remember. First, there are simply too many things you can do to improve your performance to list them all on a five-minute podcast, so I've listed a half dozen or so articles with more information on the Web site.

Second, I can't guarantee that something I tell you to do will work for you, or that it won't turn your computer into a sentient killing machine bent on world domination, so please make sure you know what you're doing if you plan to fool around with settings. Nobody wants a mucked up computer or a post-apocalyptic computerized dystopia.

Moving right along, there seem to be two types of lag -- performance lag, which comes from your computer having trouble running the program, and data lag, lag coming from the interaction of your computer with Linden Labs.

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If you're computer is failing to perform, and my wife assures me that this happens to all computers every once and a while, the easiest thing to do is turn off any other programs you're using that are unrelated to

Second Life

. Each one will free up a little more memory and processor power to help

Second Life

do its thing. I would especially suggest closing peer to peer applications like Kazaa, Limewire, and Bit Torrent, because peer to peer applications tax both your processor and your bandwidth.

Besides, we all know what you're downloading on there, and we're going to tell your mother and or Larrs Urlich. Sorry, I can't resist a few jokes at the expense of the RIAA, sue me. ("You've got Mail!") Hrm... a subpoena. Well played, RIAA.

It's also possible that if you're experiencing lag, it's because you've set graphics that would make a Cray melt its transistors. That's right, my fellow nerds, I made a Cray reference. That's just how I roll. So if you have set your graphics to "gene sequencer," here are a few things you can do to improve your performance.

One of the easiest is to decrease the "draw distance." The draw distance is how far into the distance your computer draws in what's happening around you. If you'd like to increase your frame rate, decrease the draw distance by choosing "Preferences," then "Graphics," and set the draw distance to 64 meters.

The only time you'll really notice this change is when flying long distances at high speeds, and you should get much faster loading times as your computer doesn't have to try to draw in happenings in mainland China when you're only really interested in having that vendor rez in fully.

You can also dial back the graphical settings a tick or two by going to "Preferences," choosing "Graphics Detail," and lowering your settings for "Object Mesh Detail," "Flexible Mesh Detail," "Tree Mesh Detail" and "Avatar Mesh Detail."

Just as a personal preference, I try to keep all four at the same levels, but you can set them to what you like. You'll lose a little visual clarity, but the trade-off is a much smoother frame rate. After all,

Second Life

is no fun as a slide show.

Now, if you have an ATI video card, consider unchecking "Avatar Vertex Program" in the menu, as this has been known to cause problems in some ATI video cards. If you're still having trouble, try

Second Life

from a fresh reboot. I don't know why this helps, but I've found that sometimes when my computer has been idle for long periods of time its performance gets a little erratic. I blame the terrorists.

If none of the above works, make sure that you have the most up-to-date video card drivers, and make sure that your rig meets or preferably exceeds the minimum system requirements for

Second Life

. For example, if your computer runs on diesel, saves your data to cassette tape or starts with a lawnmower pull, it may be time for an upgrade.

For business owners looking to reduce lag in their business or club, you might want to consider restricting scripts in your land settings to owners group members, and not allowing particle effects and flashy bling, as these can contribute to lag. You can also try and keep people's use of sound gestures down to a minimum, as this can ease lag and keep me from having to put a pen in my ear to get the sound of

Lord and Master


You can also limit the number of objects with physics, and simplify your builds as much as possible. If none of that works, consider moving to a quieter sim where you'll end up with a higher percentage of the system resources. Or you could remove your 1,200 camp chairs. Just a thought.

That's it for this episode! So until next time, remember, it's not French. It's "Freedom English."

Will Ross, a Second Life explorer and professional slacker, writes and records the

Traveling Avatar articles and podcasts. Following a stint in college where he came dangerously close to earning a degree in history, Will Ross spent countless hours of his life in a number of online worlds including Worlds of Warcraft, Everquest, Ultima Online, and City of Heroes before making a permanent home on Eldoe Island in Second Life. To request a topic or share a tip, send an email to or call 206-888-MYSL.