Monday, March 1, 2010

so why do I keep coming back?

Miss Xah Toll has a very intriguing tour of Second Life she started back in 2007. She may have missed some things, here and there, but really, it's one of the most comprehensive pages I've ever run across.

And, tipped by Miss Kamenev, this very steampunk-worthy fabric is now on sale. I'm thinking corsets...but it would make a lovely fabric for quilts, as well.

According to the next sacrificial Linden on the SL blog, there's been an update to the 2.0 viewer beta--they repaired a voice glitch. Yes, I adore when voice is the big technological advance that must be preserved at all costs. How'ver, something very interesting after that: Dessie Linden said:

We are, however, working on resolving many of the issues you've reported and plan to release additional updates soon.

Really? So, in the future, we can expect:

* The return of the "inspect" feature and no auto-acceptance of items from others?
* Build menu restored, with the ability to build on prims, not only on plain Linden terrain?
* Enabling media with both an on AND an off button? (I know this killed me when I first went in--I couldn't get the media to turn OFF, I couldn't find the volume control, so I couldn't hear anyone talking to me! Bad, bad, BAD reaction for me--if I'm being screamed at, by something I don't want to automatically listen to in the first place, I tend to shut down and log out.)
* Making the media controls more intuitive in the first place, instead of forcing users to hunt them down every time?
* Setting default volume of media streams to 50%, at least, if not lower? (Starting the game, and having media auto-start at 100% volume levels...this is a good way to go deaf.)
* IM windows staying where users left them last time? (This is another big one; constantly having the IM windows start in default position, even if I've moved them somewhere better for me, kills all enthusiasm to use 2.0 at all.)
* A higher character count allowed in local chat and IM? (This is STAGGERINGLY needed; not everyone is content to live in the world of 'how u doin" and "lol ya". Some of us, I know it's hard to envision, like to spell things out.)
* Versions optimized for users who don't have the latest technological bells and whistles? (By report, people who track such things say that even on the lowest graphic settings possible, viewer 2.0 uses 100% of CPU activity; versus 1.23 viewers accessing and retaining between 20% and 27% CPU capacity--even when those viewers are running with all graphics on high. This is VERY VERY BAD.)
* Option to have chat IMs not pop up automatically?
* Option to set individual voice sound levels restored? (Not everyone has the same mic, the same background noises, or even the same voice; removing this functionality impairs voice chat, completely.)
* The merging of camera controls unmerged again? (And if it can't, why? And if the designers just want all the camera controls on one box, can we at least have that box transparent, not opaque, and potentially smaller?)
* Restoring separate pop-up user profiles? Or must we accept the profile butchery (resizing of all pictures, trimming of text, unnecessary inclusion into the HUGE beyond all reason tabbed screenbar) and 'just deal'?
* Including the user name and what they said on the SAME DAMNED BAR? (Having to read two lines for every comment said gets VERY old, VERY fast.)
* Restoring hovertips under 2.0? (A lot of people, me included, tend to expect at least that, so we don't have to click everything to figure out how much it costs and what it is.)
* Enabling different skins? (No one seems to like the new black/charcoal/grey color scheme.)
* Ending double notifications for payment actions? (This is driving people spare. "You have just paid L$5" followed by "This item has been delivered to you by X". Really, all that's needed is the one note.)
* The IM windows, when not in use, and the inventory/massive sidebar window, when not in use, transparent again? (PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.)
* Fixing the classifieds tab on the profile? (For some people, it's completely disappeared.)
* The number of items in inventory--that is, to say, the total count of items in said inventory--restored? (Some people lack this entirely. And it NEEDS to be there. Otherwise, you'll have people up to 110K+ items in no time, and the servers will burn out.)

There's dozens, tens, hundreds more suggestions in the main forum thread; I'm running out of room to drag them all over here!

I still agree profoundly with Shockwave Yareach, who said:

But I'll say it here and now that the losses will be catastrophic if you decide to fix the content theft problem by forbidding people from building anymore. That's akin to burning down the village in order to save it.


And Vella Capalini had a marvelous comment on how building has been impaired by the new viewer:

It's not that you can't build.. But building takes up the entire screen with that blasted 747 on the right side which holds your inventory. Of course the missing pie menu is a real downer too. There is no intuitive way to click "build" anywhere. Easiest I found was to click "edit" then use the magic wand to build. Unfortunately, there is a serious lack of screen real estate. You can no longer [resize] your inventory window. You'll find yourself constantly clicking that 747 to get it out of the way. Is nothing short of maddening.

Amen again.

Kendra Ling makes it plain:

To conclude: this new viewer is super for the newbies and the basic stuff, but it's a close to a trainwreck for business owners and builders.

Zi Ree also has a good statement of the case:

SL is not about Flash or websites, it's about a virtual 3D world, and the interface is supposed to be as invisible as possible, so it won't interfere with the immersion. Viewer 2 fails massively at it, because it's a right-in-your-face design, distracting and bloated.


And I'll let Sugarr Delight wind things up:

Kindly stop marginalizing part of your resident base every time you "make an improvement"

Gods, yes. SO VERY MUCH yes.

And Miss Dio comments on the death of, and I can't help but hear bells ringing--because it sounds like Second Life is marching down the same road that killed There. That's never a good thing.

In short...for many of us, viewer 2.0 is not the future, or if it is, it's a repressive, confining, inelegant and depressing future. If they're really sure that this is the way they want to "improve functionality"...well, the Lindens could always chat with the fellows over at There on how not to be them.

Or maybe they want to be them, but they're absurdly optimistic that being them, while still being Lindens, means their latest plans will work.'s hoping it works for you, guys. Personally I think you're going about things the wrong way. But when have the Lindens ever made a habit of listening to anyone who uses their world?


Dio said...

Hey Hon, thank you for the mention and link.

And yeah, as I was looking at stuff while working on the piece about its demise, I kept thinking,

"Holy crap on dry white toast--'There' killed itself by going down a path that the Lindens seem to be following. Are they so blind as to not see this?"

And I agree wholeheartedly with with every single goddamn thing you say about viewer 2.0. In addition to business and building, the other purpose for which it is poorly suited is roleplaying, especially the type that involves real-time interaction and combat. The combined camera control gizmo in particular is s freakin' disaster in that context.

Emilly Orr said...

"Are they so blind as to not see this?"

I really think they are. I'm hoping someone out there in Lindenland is listening to more than the dial tone, but they are not giving me confidence, here.

turnerBroadcasting said...

Emily - there is a subtext to the actions of Linden Labs that follows a standard arc of companies who profess open standards.

Case in point. Nuance communications out in La Jolla California started off by making an open source recognition engine - then they switched it to proprietary and closed source after enough people built into it a series of good features.

Here's what we need to do.
First, we need to find out the financial state of the company. Is Linden privately owned? Then we can find out through other means - tax assessments, very vague terms what their finances are like - they can report anything they want as a private company but someone somewhere is going to give you the straight dope on them.

This is important because a company in financial peril will do anything to save itself including steal from all of its so called users or residents.

Assuming they are semi-stable the next step would be to find out what the precedent case law is on this type of thing. You will find, such as in cases like - a PBX system that remains open source - that federal judges will often rule for the open source consortium if it can be proven the origin of said content is in the public domain.

Their argument is going to be based largely on the fact that they have a hosting facility and they're going to try to claim since they host it, they own it but there is already precedent law regarding a case against comcast I think that struck that idea down. Google is going to court in Italy to defend against a similiar action and they will likely win - some autistic kid in Italy was teased + google was asked to take it down from youtube and they finally did but the Italian government has sued the CEO of Google. Money is on google that they can prove that they host it, but they don't own the content. Its worth mega millions to them and that would be an internationalization and strengthening of precedent law that will side with the builder or the creator in SL once it can be shown that SL is in fact just hosting the place. Which they are.

I have not been in-world in about. Um. Two years.

But I am getting laid every now and then, and I might just have a career here fairly soon so... hopefully I can see you in world soon when I get some time off.

The cat just clawed its way up my daughters leg. Damnit. That looked painful.

Anyway, good luck and I hope you guys can keep it open. If the lindens screw up SL it will be worth it to fight them. Feds could very well force the viewer they've got into the public domain. Not hard to reverse engineer the physics engine -its commercially avail. If I were the Lab I'd be a bit more tuned to gals like you.

This post makes heavy sense. Keep up the good work fellow shapeshifter

Emilly Orr said...

I think any rulings would well go to Linden Labs, but it never even has to reach that point--the Labs say it's over, it's over.

And, as far as the Lindens actually reading anything I say? I had a small glimmer of hope during the whole Ursula controversy, then they renamed it Zindra and opened it anyway. They don't read this blog. They don't read *any* blog that they don't generate themselves.

The Lindens? Don't care in the least.

Dirk Talamasca said...

The Lindens are listening. I can assure you.

The main focus on this BETA was the new resident experience and it appears that this is having some success.

This is an entirely new viewer and there were many things to check and double check and fix and poke and prod. I am not sure if you recall but it took almost 8 months for viewer 1.22 to be released and that was not a complete rework of the UI or an implementation of major features.

The Lindens know. They have been yelled at, scratched, bitten, griefed and otherwise put through the gristmill on many of the features that are missing, broken or follow an illogical path to usability.

The very best way to get these changes and fixes underway is to post concerns clearly on the JIRA without emotional embellishment. Point out the issue precisely and describe the process that needs to be followed in order to duplicate it. Raise awareness and get the community to vote on the issue and ALSO VERIFY that they can actually duplicate the issue.

It takes a great deal of time to go through issues that are duplicates or issues that are raised that are actually support issues rather than bugs. People often report on things that are caused by a poor connection or because they have installed software that interferes with their connection to SL. Those things do clog up the pipes and must be addressed, moved, resolved or linked as duplicates to keep things in good working order so that the things we all want fixed can be moved on more efficiently.

I know that it is frustrating. I use the new viewer as much as I am able because I truly enjoy many of the new things I can do with it but I simply must switch back to an older version when there are specific things that I need to address with precision and accuracy. I do not like that my view of the virtual world is now encumbered by the UI and there are many residents that feel the same way. Linden Lab knows they have to address this and they are working on it.

It is going to be okay. There are going to be more things that will break and fall apart in the process of fixing things but it will get there. Not to mention there are some really nice additions to come. LL is on the move.

Emilly Orr said...

LL is on the move. I can see LL is on the move. The problem is they're on the move towards the same level of functionality that just caused to implode. They're pushing towards Facebook/MySpace/Avatars United integration, which to be perfectly honest, very few residents are screaming their heads off for.

What residents are screaming about are all functionality issues. Making scripting better. Making the interface better--and not cluttering it up with opaque windows that don't do anything.

Fawkes is slowly wearing me down on giving it another try, but I had an atavistic, nearly primal rejection of the viewer when I logged in, and had mass volume from two sources blaring at me and I couldn't turn it off for five minutes. Everything else that went wrong just confirmed my reaction to it in the first place.

I long to experiment with some of the features that Fawkes adores, and I have heard good things about it--but I know me. Any piece of technology that induces a panic attack within the first five minutes of use? Goes on my EVIL - DO NOT TOUCH list.

Icterus Dagger said...

*Laughs hysterically at the "post to JIRA" comment*


Emilly Orr said...

Mr. Dagger,

I thought about doing that too, but thought it might be salt in the wound.

Still, not even ten minutes' research could turn up twenty separate JIRA issues that are all necessary fixes, not bugs, to all levels of viewer architecture. And I'd be willing to bet over half of them have existed since 2007, never having been answered--or worse, having been closed as 'repaired' or 'unfixable' by the Lindens.

t said...

HI there
T linden here.

We are listening. There's a lot of voices, and we are doing our best to parse and balance all of the points of view.

One thing that we do believe in is choice. Third party viewers built on the code we make freely available are an important part of that choice.

We also believe in expanding Second Life to enable new residents to join and participate. This will make second life more interesting, more diverse, more vital, and yes, more successful. The needs of new residents and more experienced residents are vastly different - and solving for both is challenging. Again, back to the choice point above.

On the ' thread,I am not sure I agree that we are going down the same path as nor do I think our trajectory will be the same. The growth in our business, user base, in world transactions are all heading in the right direction.

And yes, viewer 2 is only a part of the puzzle. Improvements to scripting, new kinds of content, a focus on stability and performance are all part of the goals for 2010.

So... keep talking, we are listening. But remember that Second Life is large and rich and diverse, and we can't please everyone all the time.

If you want to talk more, feel free to email me off thread...

Emilly Orr said...


I admit, over the past six months, I've become a lot more strident with criticism on the blog. That sense of Linden disconnection, however, has been there since before Zindra was popped--back when it was first under discussion as Ursula. It started sporadically over 2007, got worse in '08, and by last year, many residents had just stopped bothering.

2.0 isn't really the problem, save for the jarring curve ball it throws established residents when the SL viewer is changed so completely. There are some features even I like--teleport history is one, the 'back' button taking avatars to their last location, and the 'outfit links' I think are all brilliant concepts.

Maybe it really is that split between long-term and new residents, but especially with the news on Pathfinder Linden being written out of a job, many of us are wondering what's really going on.

I'd be happy to continue this, though. Avatar name is the contact name on Gmail, or I can drop you a notecard in world.