Sunday, April 25, 2010

you're asking the wrong questions, you're opening the wrong doors

Q Linden (after M and T, I'm beginning to understand why some residents are lumping everyone together as "alphabet Lindens") announced improvements to viewer 2.0 on the 22nd. And I quote:
As I said in my Viewer 2.0.1, Beta 1 blog post of last week, we've been working on a variety of stability, security, and performance issues for Viewer 2. Those fixes are now available in today's release of Viewer 2.0.1.
Translation: "Okay, fine, we're calling it a beta release now. Ease up, people, jeez."
In this release, we have addressed several items:
  • Performance improvement, particularly relating to texture downloads.
  • Fixed a number of crash bugs that were found through our crash reporter. Big thanks to everyone who sent in crash reports.
  • Updated a few support libraries.
We hope that these fixes will improve your experience with Viewer 2. Please see the Release Notes for additional details.
Translation: "Those of you who aren't pecking us to death with complaints, IMs and phone calls can go read what we changed line by line. We know the rest of you don't care, so we're not telling you anything past that."
Note that this release does not include any substantial changes to the user interface, but future releases will. We're very aware of all the discussion around UI, and we are listening. Thank you for all of your feedback and passion.
Translation: "Jesus, can you people bitch. We GET it, already. We're working on changing some of the things you hate so you'll stop pouting over the things we're not going to change. Get over it."
We look forward to your continued feedback on the V2 Forum and please log any bugs that you find on Jira.
Translation: "Please stop complaining and put everything you find that actually matters to us on the JIRA, where we can ignore it properly."
Best regards,

Q Linden
Translation: "Don't stop paying us,

Another Linden you don't know and who won't be here that long."

Now, I'm not sure whether to feel amused, or resigned, at this announcement (and yes, I know, Q's been kicking around for at least a year and a half by now), but whatever I'm feeling is tempered by a growing supply of bitterness for the whole process. I know Viewer 2.0 is not designed with me--or any creator of content--in mind (though some are finding ways to use it to build, and I say more power to them, mad fools that they are), but to be told directly that there's no changes I'll be able to see is like a slap in the face.

I went through the Release Notes, and this is what I think the rebuild boils down to:
  • They fixed a lot of crash points. And I mean, this program was crashing A. LOT. for people. This program was crashing more than I can crash Google Chrome (and believe me, that's an insanely high number: for a supposedly 'stable' browser, Chrome crashes on me, like, one to four times a DAY).
  • They did a bit of debugging where texture caching is concerned (I think; someone who knows the source code might know better whether that's right, but it sounds accurate).
  • They fixed the "Mime type missing from audio/video source" bug that's been driving me crazy in SnowGlobe too (which unfortunately--to me, at least--means they haven't fixed it in SnowGlobe, either).
  • They fixed the glitch that caused SL voice to stay open after quitting SL.
  • They fixed the bug that people noticed when they tried to pay alpha-textured vendors--and couldn't.
  • They fixed a HUGE bug surrounding the login process--where people were shown the new Terms of Service and needed to agree, and weren't given the option. This logged a LOT of people off the game for days, and in some cases, weeks, and some of these people? Gave up and walked away. Causing yet more resident departures.
  • They fixed a bug where a mouse-click over a transparent or alpha prim would cause that action (sit, be caged, agree to buy, you name it) to go off without informing the user who clicked.
  • They SAY they fixed the bog where media plays, even when residents have it disabled; THAT one I'll believe when I see.
  • They also say they fixed the bug where standing up becomes an insanely complicated process if that resident runs with the movement controls open (and some of us do, always, by default).
  • They fixed a bug where too many incoming notecards/IMs was causing the game to hang or crash (and really, that one? That one is INSANE, because IMs capping is happening to nearly EVERYONE these days!).
  • They fixed some group-based voice-chat issues (namely, if the moderator of said chat crashes, and there is a disruptive person in the chat beforehand, the mod can't bounce them like they would usually; the relog seemed to 'lose' that permissions set for mods).
  • And they fixed the bug where the required update note, when clicked on login, would either fail to bring the resident to a proper download screen, or couldn't be clicked at all.
So, all right. I won't be trying it today (because I value my sanity, thank you), but I will download the new version and give it a try. I have no great hopes of any greater love for it, but at least I'm fairly sure I can't loathe it any more than I do already.

In more depressing news, Courtney Linden posted a "helpful FAQ" so everyone can be on the same page--which is apparently titled 'Delighted with the New Viewer, Thanks, Lindens!'

But if one reads through that list? NONE OF THOSE ITEMS should need step-by-step procedures associated with them. "Less intuitive" features? You have to be kidding me. Stop all animations is now buried in the Advanced menu? Are you people HIGH?

T Linden chimes in around the same time with an entry on improving the new resident experience: in short, they've revised the new login process again, and "streamlined" it completely (I shudder to ask). In addition, the phrase that everyone keeps mentioning, over and over, like it's the be-all and end-all of SL: because viewer 2.0 "gives everyone in Second Life the capability to integrate web-based media seamlessly into Second Life".

Huge step forward? Maybe it's just me, and believe me, I own YouTube televisions, so I have actually gathered around the screen with friends and loves and watched things streaming from "out there"--so I get the attraction--but web pages on prims just never grabbed me. I want web info, I can open my browser. It's generally open anyway, so I just don't get the concept of why that's so important. B'sides, if that website that someone wants open and displaying on a prim has music or sound effects? They are going to jar, and jar badly, with anything the land may be playing for music, and what's worse, they may jar with what residents are listening to...wait for it...ON THE WEB.

So why is this so important? It's likely just another case of me not getting it, but really--it seems like such a dead loss advancement, I don't know why they're so fired up about it.

All I really know is, in this mood I should likely stop reading the blogs for a while. Because they're not telling me anything that I want to hear, and they're depressing me besides.


turnerBroadcasting said...

Reading for something you want to hear, never was a strong point of the blogosphere to begin with.

I think SL and its new 'integrated' strategy is part and parcel of a trend that is destroying the net. Tethered appliances - Televisions that are connected to blockbuster, youtube, netflix and nothing else.

Thats not the way we designed it, emily. God I can't even remember your real name anymore... :-/

Emilly Orr said...

I'm not sure you ever knew it. B'sides, there are people who call me 'Em' in RL. Hells, there are still people who call me by the last net handle, and a number who only know me by my SCA name. I'm flexible.

Multi-functionality is nothing new--the prevalence of Leatherman tools and the endless knock-off variations prove that. There's a Roman legion folding knife that many people think was the precursor to the Swiss Army knife, so multi-functionality goes back a long ways. And don't get me wrong--I want the days I can unfold a mat, slap it on the wall, and have it play movies, music, update me on news, let me check my email...I think those days are going to be very, very interesting.

But in the meantime, there's a lot of hard work to be done to get there. And part of the hard work is deciding what does and does not need that functionality. The ability to watch Netflix instant-watch movies on a TV? Brilliant. The ability to read web pages on a prim? Ridiculous.

Brinda said...

Dont bother to download...nothing we really care about's changed.
The last two nooblets that asked me about Emerald were just blown away when they logged back in on it. Saying stuff like "I cant believe how open this looks" or "why is building so complicated with that *other* viewer" (2.0).
The "Benovolent Monarchy" wants us as a giant 3D chat room...not as independent creators.

Emilly Orr said...

That's what I'm starting to think, yes. Emerald still doesn't run as clean, memory-wise, as Nicholaz did, but it's far better than any official browser, and really, any other browser. And that is reflected by the number of strong Emerald adherents in world--I log in on Emerald, and it seems 75% of the avatars I see light up green.

Tom Hale said...

Hi there em:

A few thoughts:

1. Reading web pages or viewing videos is a very basic case for shared media. However, using media in more advanced use cases is pretty interesting: control panels (where a web page can control the color or other properties), interactive media installations where streaming media becomes an environment, or for other dynamic applications (maybe a picture frame that is a slideshow). We have seen some cool things and we hope that shared media will enable some new experiences. It's early days yet....

The team is hard at work on viewer 2.1 - so if there are particular things you want to see, make sure you get your feedback in.

FWIW, we recognize that many advanced users and builders will continue on viewer 1.23 or emerald, and over time viewer 2 will become more tuned to their needs, but we do love content creators and we have lots of goodness lined up for you this year. Our goal with viewer 2 was to get more users into sl and increase the audience and the consumer base for creators. Time will tell if we succeeded, but we are working to expand sl - and a variety of viewers optimized for different tasks will help.

Btw, make sure you upgrade to the latest emerald viewer. The emerald team recently brought their viewer into alignment with our third party viewer policy, and this Friday 4/30 we will be blocking older versions which enable users to do things that violate the terms of service.

Hope that helps,

T linden

Emilly Orr said...


A friend of mine had literally walked away from SL after trying viewer 2.0. She had had it and snapped. A friend of both of ours managed to seduce her back.

Did she show her the tweak pages to make 2.0 moderately tolerable? Did she show her the various Lindenhomes and try to talk her into premium membership? Did she show her some of the new builds that the Lindens are so proud of?

No. She told her where to get Emerald. Now my friend can cope with SL again.

How sad is that?

Emilly Orr said...

T (or Tom, dunno which you prefer),

Really, what I should do is dig up all the replies I've made to you, batch 'em into one notecard, and send it off in-world.

But until I do that, I understand that you're trying to get more eyes on SL, I really do. And I finally get that 2.0 isn't made for me, it's made for...well, whomever it is in world that doesn't love creating, and full-screen vision, and knowing exactly who we're talking to, and being able to use search AT ALL, GODDAMN IT, and eliminating inventory clutter...really, anyone who deeply adores black, grey and blue as a color scheme, I would imagine.

I love the concept of optimized viewers. The Builders' viewer. The Machinima viewer. The Socialites' viewer. The RP viewer. Whatever. The text-only viewer for checking IMs and notecards on mobile devices. This could really work for people, really pull in a diverse, active, thriving crowd.

But until then there's 2.0. Blocky. Occluding. Clunky. Glitch-infested. Annoying to use.