Sunday, February 26, 2012

calls me on the phone, tells me all the ways that he's gonna mess me up

Picking up on yesterday's post, more on the TPV policy revisions.

From Hitomi Tiponi on SL Universe:
My belief is that they see all this work going into TPVs and they'd rather try and persuade users to work with them on developing LL's viewer (i.e. lots of stuff being developed for them for free along the lines that they want) - after all they no longer have a viewer development team as such, just Oz to co-ordinate open source input.

This is all part of the ongoing policy to transform Second Life from being a community to being a product with customers.
I think this is entirely on target. Which is unfortunate, because this is something I would dearly love to be proven wrong on--that the current rulership of Second Life, Linden Lab, do not want an immersive, creative playspace, but instead, want Farmville with microtransactions, bought landspaces, and larger, more complicated user icons.

Latif again:
That cannot work right there. Oz Linden's only real competence is alienating the best opensource developers and making them never want to contribute to Linden Lab again. They would have to find someone with more clue than arrogance for the task Oz is doing.
And as much as I like the way Oz Linden thinks, and tend to put him in the slim and narrow section of "good Lindens"...I can't disagree with this either.

Sean Gorham:
All the development work goes into third-party viewers because very few people think LL have a clue about developing their own viewer. This policy change is the equivalent of LL taking their ball and going home. Yes, this will end well.
This, too. Sean's right; this sounds petty and ill-thought-out, but then, what decision have the Lindens made for the past twelve months that has been well thought out? Seriously, now. Introducing mesh? The big land sale, which saw mainland further abandoned, and estate owners crushed by the weight of tenants rushing for cheaper land? And those are just the first two off the top of my head. The Lindens are not thinking things through, and that's the problem.

Latif later linked to an audio recording of the viewer meeting; keep in mind that that is an .mp3 link, so either save it as you'd save a normal linked .mp3, or click on it and let Quicktime (or whatever else works for you) load it for you local. But that might have more information on what's actually intended, and not intended, with these changes.

Latif again, later on:
I read this as "no new cool stuff allowed if it didn't come from LL".
And I don't think he's wrong, but damn, what a restrictive, depressing world this is going to become.

Ilana Debevec:
Then again, would this mean that NON-MESH viewers will soon be verboten? (Affects how others see you, either properly dressed or wearing boxes/blobs)
It's a good question. With the quotes 70% adoption rate of mesh-enabled over non-mesh-enabled viewers, that's a good figure, but if the Lindens want 100%, this might be a good way to do it.

Well. Not "good". This might be one way to do it.

Anyway, back to the comments. From Andromeda Rage on the allowance of non-mesh enabled TPVs:
Nope, Oz said that's a matter of viewers simply not keeping up. I think the general gist I'm getting is that if you want to log in with an outdated viewer, that's fine, that's your choice, but be prepared to see a lot of broken stuff in the future.

Inventing brand-new inworld features without LL's approval is what this policy change is about.
Sounds plausible. Also sounds entirely possible, that people will start to lose functionality on certain things, over simply not being able to see them, as "old-style" viewers get more and more outdated. A slow, grisly end, to be sure, and not a fun one.

Samantha Poindexter:
I can see why the Lab wouldn't want to keep being forced to come up with better implementations of popular features, but from a user's perspective there's much to be said for TPVs being able to demonstrate where the demand is...
Which, to be purely logical and corporatist for a moment, is something the Lindens should be tracking, rather than restrict implementation of all new features until the Lindens are finished playing grabby grabby with the shiny things. Parcel Windlight, f'rinstance--the Lindens never even conceived of customizing Windlight settings to the point people did--that was nearly entirely from the community. By the same extension, the Lindens never conceived of custom Windlight settings per parcel, not just per sim.

Under this new revision, in fact, this very sort of 'user preference' selection is killed at the root. I'll offer an example. Say a viewer came out that allowed all shoes to make noise when they struck a surface. (Shhh; I know there are shoes that do that, I'm talking about hypothethical coding wherein all shoes would make sound.) High heels would clack, metallic gravboots would thunk, animal paws would get soft padding cetera and so on. And this was a feature that would affect others beyond the user--anyone else within 20 feet, say, could hear the shoes--be they paws, hooves, fetish heels, spacesuit boots, whatever--and react (or not) as they chose.

This kind of development--and likely, developed just for those specific sub-groups on the grid--would not be allowed under the new policy. So what's left? Looking more and more like the official viewer, until there's really no need to have one over the other--which I suppose is the true end goal here.

And, as pointed out on SLU, SecondLie on Twitter pretty much nails the heart of all of this, quickly and succinctly. (He also has excellent comments here, here, here, here, here (one of my favorites), here (also very well put), here, here, and here. He's been on a roll.)

And did I ever link to this blog? Not so much for the content, which I've covered in this entry and yesterday's, but for the three updates listed at the bottom.

Joshua Nightshade chimes in:
Custom attachment points that only work on one viewer and make things float bizarrely for everyone else are the sort of problem they have decided to end. Custom functionality for yourself that doesn't utilise exploits? I don't think that's what the policy change is about.
I am wholly in agreement on the extra attachment points controversy. Had that exploit of the code actually worked, and worked consistently, I doubt it would be a problem worth addressing. But I'm not the only one past tired of seeing women come in with their tails sticking out of their ears, two hairs clashing badly with each other, their collar protruding from their right eye...In Emerald, and later in Phoenix, the extra attachment points could not be seen unless you also ran Emerald, and later Phoenix.

What's the good in a system that shows you perfectly to yourself, but not to others? In this regard, yes, I think it is important to restrict what a viewer can do--not just what a third-party viewer can do. Is this the right way to implement that restriction? Well, that's the point, isn't it?

Casey Pelous comments:
LL's history of rules enforcement pretty much illustrates "capricious."
And along with that capricious enforcement, I'd also add scattershot--because some offenses get a ban, while others with the same offense don't even get noticed. We never know how seriously the Lindens will take any potential action, frankly.

Penny Patton:
I'm trying to give Rodvik time to implement changes, and honestly from what I've seen he is trying it just takes a while. I've been saying for years that LL has built up so many bad decisions that even if they pull a complete 180 it will take years for them to put a dent in the mountain.
I think she's right here, too. Even the best management team is fighting the apathetic drag of former bad decisions, and a resentful population more than willing to protest any new change because most of the other changes have been bad. This is a draining, stressful situation to be in.

Joshua again:
When LL made the viewer open-source, the original point of it was that they would solicit patches and help from other people to improve the official one. For a variety of reasons, many of which being managerial incompetence and Rob Linden in particular, this did not pan out. People submitted patches, LL did nothing with them. People asked for ways to get their fixes into the viewer, LL ignored it. People got fed up and started releasing their own viewers and we are in the state we have now.
Pretty much. And if the Lindens hadn't dragged their collective feet to this degree, and instead, worked with community coders to implement the best patches--well, would we even have viewer 2.0, which was an outsourced project written with zero input from even Linden-level coders, at all? I really don't think so. This is Linden-level willful blindness; it has nothing to do with anyone who's developed a TPV.

Arkady Arkright offers an interesting perspective:
This 'shared experience' wording worries me. What it doesn't say is 'other user's experience'. I would read 'shared experience' to mean 'I have to see and hear the same as every other user in my vicinity'. Features like Phoenix's permanent derender would be disallowed, as no other viewer allows you to log-on with stuff already derended - thus making my experience different to that of a user on the official LL viewer - i.e. 'non-shared'.
Interesting. Let me test understanding on this supposition, because this seems to go larger than the new policy points themselves: would this interfere with muting people? If what they truly mean is everyone must see the same things, in exactly the same way, and affect no other resident's experiences...would muting also be disallowed? (Visual or otherwise.)

Now, I'm not saying this just to engage in rampant hyperbole--I mean, that's always fun, but think this through: A harsh, literal reading of the new revisions would mean that anything, no matter how small, that affects any other resident's user experience would potentially be disallowed. Now, even to me, obviously the Lindens don't want to do this. But if parcel Windlight settings are disallowed, if "forced" media plays are (and have been) disallowed, wouldn't muting also be disallowed? After all, if I mute someone, I am interfering with their user experience in SL.

I'm not saying x must equal y here; it's clear to me, from everything I've heard so far, that the Lindens are not interested in slash-and-burn, all-or-nothing thinking here. But I don't think the future is all "oh, we'll adjust just fine" either.

Shyotl said:
The bigger issue is that having these new features necessitates using a viewer that's a complete mess. Seems most users have decided it's not worth the tradeoff. Who's fault is that?
Ooh! Ooh! I know! *raises hand*

Actually, forget raising my hand, everyone knows the answer to this. The problem is that it doesn't matter what the majority of users think. Any program a company pays through the nose to get, they then because stubbornly attached to using, even in the face of overwhelming common sense. Is viewer 2 the best program for the job? Of course not. Is viewer 2 ever going away? Of course not; it cost too much.

Han Held commented:
More likely, the motivation is financial. It's hard to use windlight as a lure for ppl to buy estates if they are able to get the same functionality by editing the parcel description a certain way.
Which is true, but is the Lab more motivated to selling independent estates, or reclaiming mainland? They seem completely split on this issue.

Adeon Writer offers up a visual interpretation. It may or may not be accurate, but it's amusing and well worth at least a casual perusal.

eighthdwarf again:
The problem is that Ll has seen that TPV dev hobbyists are more creative and competent than their own PAID devs, and they can't have that. If they admitted it, it would mean admitting to have burned a huge amount of money for worthless or low-quality things instead of listening to the userbase.
This is not just a fault with Linden Lab; this is a fault with every large corporation on the planet. And, to a certain extent, humanity at large. We spend of our resources in one area, we become committed to supporting that area--not because it's "right", not because it's better than other areas, not because it even makes logical sense--but, simply and solely, because we spent our resources and therefore must continue to trudge this path. To turn away, at any point, would mean admitting we were wrong in the first place.

For most of us? Admitting--and accepting--we were wrong is very, very hard to do. No less so for the Lindens; in fact, it's often more so for corporations, because they can't just throw a press conference and say, "Oops, our bad, we'll fix this." For the most part, they have to change all underlying architecture that is pushing them down the wrong path; this could also take into account changing staff, changing vendors, changing their basic corporate culture.

And people get entrenched, people get comfortable. It hurts to sit on the radiator, but after a while the nerves are dead and it's fine. Besides, it's cold outside. Why would they move?

And then...Mikey:
And by alienating said bunch of devfurries they've killed the point of developing a TPV.
Wait, what?

I actually had to go back and find the original Nightshade post, because I admit, I'd just started skimming his to get back to less bitchy content later down the thread. I had to go back several pages before I found the comment in question, and even with context, I don't get it. This is the comment, with the lines before and after for reference:
It is a problem, but it's not a problem because other viewers are "better." They aren't, at least not to me, but this is an irrelevant line of reasoning in any event because it's a subjective opinion.

What is not subjective is the risk to SL if a third party viewer continues to hold a significant portion of the userbase. Thankfully, this is a problem that LL has elected to correct.

Given the fact that SL itself is more important than a bunch of devfurries coding a viewer and whining on the internet, I think it's a good move of LL to make.
So...he's just talking about the Exodus viewer team? Or what? I'm very confused, here.

At this point, someone brought up Tateru Nino's post on the subject, and she finished with a very succinct and damning line:
It’s a small change to the policy, but it makes Linden Lab’s development priorities and development timelines your own – however you still don’t know what they are.
Yes. The only real difficulty with this is we've rarely known what their real goals are, at least since Philip Linden left. (The first time.) This revision to established policy just reinforces that with a sharp and razored edge.

And this to me was worth lifting a screencap from SLU; it's in the comments of Ms. Nino's blog, but here, for reference:

(from the miscellaneous album)

So...sure, that's funny on the face of it, but think about what's really going on here:
  • Qarl: People are asking me about this new policy. What should I tell them? (Interpretation: Oz, I need an answer from you I can safely pass on.)
  • Oz: Tell them to talk to us, not you. (Interpretation: You don't rate an answer from me. Tell anyone asking you to ask us. We won't tell you any answer we have.)
That, right there? That is scathing contempt of Qarl, a former Linden. Was this what Oz actually intended? No idea. But how it comes across is damning; beyond that, it's chilling. If they'll treat a former employee like something not even worth washing off their porch after a storm...what chance do any of the rest of us have?

What's the point of trying to communicate with the Lindens at all...ever?

From Argent Stonecutter:
Other ideas that seem like they would break 2k: per-parcel muting, so you can put "block #parcelid" in your description and nobody on your parcel can see the adfarm next door; extended linden trees, using prim parameters to modify linden tree details, so you can take the gum tree and apply a different leaf texture to it.

If these things do break 2k, then that's a problem.
From Trinity Dejavu:
From the wording of 2k and what was said by Oz at the TPV meeting, they absolutely do.
And from Argent in response:
That's not just wrong, it's daft.
I agree. Unfortunately, by Tuesday or Wednesday, it won't matter.

In the time I've been trying to bring myself up to speed (let alone anyone else) on this issue, the SLU commentary has swelled from three bare pages to--at this point--ten, with more comments flying in as I type this. While there's disagreement among the denizens on SLU, for the most part the overwhelming consensus seems to be:
  • no one has any clue on the real reason this is happening
  • TPVs have more power than the official viewer at present; LL wants to take that power back
  • and this policy will, in addition to breaking TPV content, break actual Linden content
Yeah. Well. So that's not going to be fun...

Oh, and thinks I'm a senior citizen who's just thrilled beyond repair and wanting to spread the joy around. The hell.

Well, I suppose it's better than Google analytics, who think I'm an 18-24 year old young man who likes rock music, gaming, and outdoor activities. (At least, until I moved to the shiny loaner laptop--now, I hit the Ad Preferences Manager and see "No interest or demographic categories are associated with your ads preferences so far." I suppose, give it time, it'll think I'm a 40-year-old Peruvian businessman into beekeeping, or something.


Icterus Dagger said...

Miss Emilly,

I don't know if she's Peruvian, but here you go:



Icterus Dagger said...

Also, 36-50 hardly qualifies as "senior citizen" in most places :-)


Emilly Orr said...

On the second comment, I do agree, but understand, I spent the years from the onset of puberty to my 40th year convinced I'd die at 39--or before. As I said once (long ago, and I don't think I attached it to an actual age before, any year after that is pretty much icing. (Of course, weirdly, it's left me at a loss--spend most of my formative years convinced I will die; now it's pretty clear I won't, so what the hell do I do now?)

So 36-50 was ancient beyond dreams, because I certainly wasn't going to live that long. *snerks*

Emilly Orr said...

Oh, and that link confused me terribly until I went there, and found out "G Spot" is the name of the business.

That dress still makes no sense, though. :p