Saturday, February 25, 2012

why dream a dream that's tainted with trouble, and less than it seems?

The...hell...is this? Infantwear for adult women? I don't get it. I get the babydoll look....but there comes a point, doesn't there?

Maybe there doesn't. A thousand apologies; the SL version actually looks better.

So, this new TPV policy. This one's going to be a lot of fun. First, the basics:
  • On February 24th, on the Second Life forums, in reaction (to whatever degree) to surfacing privacy and security concerns, whomever's under the Community Manager's tag posted an addendum to the Third Party Viewer policy.
  • Not much was actually changed; in fact, it seems, for the most part, the entire policy was streamlined, with only four new additions.
  • These additions are all in Section 2.
"We’ve also updated the policy to be clearer about the sorts of innovations that developers should work on for their particular Viewers (Section 2.k), and which they should work on in partnership with Linden Lab for all of Second Life. This is so that we can avoid the problems that result when a Viewer changes the way elements of Second Life are defined or how they behave, in such a way that users on other Viewers don't experience the same virtual reality."
Now, to play devil's advocate for a bit--I kind of see their thinking here. If they put up a tree, and they post pictures of a tree, and someone codes a viewer so that all trees are actually seen as neon flamingos with pumpkin hats and poodle skirts, then yeah, anyone who downloads that client is having a vastly different experience than the rank and file resident.

But...is this that bad a thing? Let's jump to SL Universe's post on the matter, and Latif Khalifa's comment:
2)k basically prohibits innovation by TPV viewers. If this was always in place stuff like bouncing boobs and parcel windlight would've never happened.

I have no idea what business advantage they see in preventing innovation.
This sums up the potential reservations for me in many ways: this will stifle creativity, inhibit innovation, and restrict people who want to help with perceived needs, but also want to stay within Linden Lab's established ruleset.

So what is provision 2.k? For that, let's jump back to the actual revised policy page. I'm quoting specifically from Section 2 now:
2. Prohibited Functionality
If you are a user or Developer of Third-Party Viewers, the following features and functionality are expressly prohibited in all Third-Party Viewers:
a. You must not circumvent our intended limitations on Second Life features. For example:
i. You must not circumvent the Second Life permissions system or any features that limit copying, transfer, or use of content within Second Life.
ii. You must not alter content metadata like the Second Life creator name or the Second Life owner name.
iii. You must not provide any feature that circumvents any privacy protection option made available through a Linden Lab viewer or any Second Life service.
b. You must not use or provide any functionality that Linden Lab’s viewers do not have for exporting content from Second Life unless the functionality verifies that the content to be exported was created by the Second Life user who is using the Third-Party Viewer. Specifically, before allowing the user to export the content, the Third-Party Viewer must verify that the Second Life creator name for each and every content component to be exported, including each and every primitive or other content type, is the same as the Second Life name of the Third-Party Viewer user. This must be done for all content in Second Life, including content that may be set to "full permissions."
c. You must not circumvent any security-related features or measures we may take to limit access to Second Life. For example:
i. You must not mask IP or MAC addresses. By “mask,” we mean disguising or concealing the IP or MAC address when including it was possible.
ii. You must not spoof the viewer identifier or the identity of a Third-Party Viewer connecting to Second Life. Each version of a Third-Party Viewer must have a unique viewer identifier and must not use the same viewer identifier as a Linden Lab viewer or another Third-Party Viewer.
d. You must not use or distribute features or functionality that deceive, defraud, or harm anyone or that violate any Linden Lab policy or the law. For example:
i. You must not transmit any virus, Trojan horse, worm, spyware, phishing or spoofing functionality, or other harmful code.
ii. You must not use the Registration Application Programming Interface ("Reg API") to create fraudulent accounts.
iii. You must not launch Denial of Service ("DoS") attacks, engage in griefing, or distribute other functionality that Linden Lab considers harmful or disruptive to Second Life or the Second Life community.
e. You must not use or distribute features or functionality that transmit Second Life usernames or passwords anywhere except to Linden Lab servers. Third-Party Viewers must not retain a user’s username or password anywhere except on the user’s own system.

f. You must not impose an unreasonable or disproportionately large load on our infrastructure or interfere with our providing the normal functionality of Second Life.
g. You must not use or distribute features or functionality that conceal information in any Second Life asset, including through encryption or steganographic techniques, with the sole exception of information that LSL scripts produce or consume.

h. For Third-Party Viewers based on our source code, Developers must not omit our viewer statistics packet, and users and Developers must not falsify or circumvent our collection of information about use of our service. We use this information to analyze and improve the quality of our service.
i. You must not display any information regarding the computer system, software, or network connection of any other Second Life user.

j. You must not include any information regarding the computer system, software, or network connection of the user in any messages sent to other viewers, except when explicitly elected by the user of your viewer.


k. You must not provide any feature that alters the shared experience of the virtual world in any way not provided by or accessible to users of the latest released Linden Lab viewer.
Okay, that was a wall of text, I know. Let's break it down. The biggest issue people are reacting to is provision 2.k. That no TPV can provide any feature that the Lindens haven't already installed in their main viewer. This is astoundingly vague, and a bit on the scary side; as confirmed by Simon Linden elsewhere, however, this is (at least currently) defined in two ways:
  • 1. No TPV can alter any other resident's functionality for those residents, and for the world;
  • 2. But TPVs can alter the user's own experience of other residents, and/or the world.
For example, RLV. RLV is allowed under this policy, because it's entirely under the user's control. The RLV viewer, and all TPVs that use RLV coding, have to have that coding turned on in the first place, because off is the default. But what about viewers that allow parcel-based Windlight settings? Or show specific particle effects that the main client doesn't allow? These things--or so goes the thinking--are what's disallowed.

Jessica Lyon in response to the TPV policy changes (specifically 2.a.iii):
This means viewers will not be allowed to have true online status. We will remove this feature in the next Phoenix update. LL has also indicated they intend to break scripts ability to look up a users online status except for the owner and creator of the script. No time frame has been indicated for when this will happen.
Me, personally, as an advocate of sufficient privacy, am all for this change. I don't want people to know I'm online if I'm mostly working on the net, outside SL; I also don't want people know if I'm really online if I'm set to "busy" (something I rarely do anyway). And I'm not the hugest privacy advocate. I know Ms. Lyon will have to change a great deal of code for this, but my only reaction is--good. About damned time.

Ms. Lyon on provisions 2.i and 2.j:
This means that Viewer identification tags are now a policy violation. LL has indicated that they will be breaking the viewer tagging system for ALL third party viewers between Tuesday and Wednesday with the region updates. This also breaks color tags in our viewers.
This is going to bother me, for two reasons:
  • first, knowing who's using what viewer has been a part of the SL experience for years now;
  • and second, how does knowing I'm using CoolVL, the woman next to me is using Firestorm, and the centaur next to her is using the official viewer, harm anyone's security or viewing experience? It's not changing all buildings to giggling clowns; it's a tag. This one, I don't entirely get in the first place.
And finally, Ms. Lyon's reaction to provision 2.k:
This means that third party viewers will no longer be allowed to innovate features which relate to the shared experience unless LL has the features in their viewers first. However LL has indicated an interest and preference in working with third party viewers to develop such features together.
And as I pointed out earlier, I'm not in favor of restricting innovation for any reason, but it is good to hear that the Lindens may want, now, to work with TPV developers and...hmm...innovate together? Maybe. We'll know more on Tuesday or Wednesday, when these changes go live on the grid.

More to come.

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