Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Beginning of Another Journey

Once upon a time, there was a grid. It held lots of sims at the time, about two thousand or so, and while it lagged a little now and then, on the whole it was stable, and there was only a few seconds of time delay in crossing the seams from one sim to another. Vehicles were actually usable!

It was a more naive time too, at least the Lindens were. The only thing turned off in those days was push, building and scripting were free for all, save on the resident parcels. There were griefers, and some major attacks had been carried out, but everyone had full confidence that the Lindens would more than sufficiently handle it.

Fast forward to today. Today most people stand around, looking for all the world like zombies. Due to the increasing lag and frequency of crashing, added with the inability to retain new users (leading to a stagnation of both ideas and creativity), has lead to a situation where people stand around where ever they happen to log in, and IM friends rather than actually move about (Teleporting is remarkably unstable for SL's main mode of transportation. Although it seems downright outstanding compared to simply walking across into another sim).

The Lindens run a virtual police state, which would be tolerable (it is their game, after all) except that they seem to do more stating than policing. In Govenor Linden land, everything is turned off, to the point that you can't rezz a sneeze in most welcome areas. As said, however, their power reaches only as far as you can throw a feather. Griefers and trouble makers run rampant not a half a football field away from the Linden offices, right in Waterhead, an official LL infohub!

This whole fiasco seems to have started around late January to mid February. It started with an update that went so terribly, they had to offer a downdate to people while they fixed it. And the grid has never been the same since. Something snapped in SL there, something that's never been quite worked out, and the Lindens just roll out new features rather than address, probably because it is such a difficult problem (and who knows, maybe they've been working on it all this time, BECAUSE it is so difficult). At times, I wish I had started later, so that my benchmark for performance was set lower.

However, there is light at the end of the tunnel!

For about a month ago, I purchased a new computer! My old one was getting, well, old. It crashed when attempting to open Microsoft Word. So sadly, I sentenced it to Electronic Heaven. Crashing was instantly cut in half, and I was able to actually walk around! In a sim! With attachments on! But I still crashed and lagged, my computer was one of the fastest in the land but two things played against my favour: Vista and Second Life.

The former was an easy fix, which involved a day or so of trashing Vista and cleaning and polishing off all the cruft and jetsam that Bill Gates so thoughtfully crammed into my hard drive. It was Second Life that proved a tougher opponent. Who would have guessed that the very thing I was using was working against me?

Saying SL has issues is like saying Grenada is small. It has massive errors embedded into its code. I'm not a programmer, but I'm fairly certain that when my computer is top of line fresh off the belt, with Windows shaved down and running smoothly, and my internet connection secure and fast, that there's something up when SL still runs like a hog to a slaughterhouse.

There's also massive memory leaks, which I know exist whenever I bring up the task manager to find that SL has decided to hoard 951K of memory instead of the usual 50-100. And that's only after two hours. I pity the people who, either through sheer will or necessity to run a SL business, stay on all day long.

I've exhausted all possible options for running SL, so I have decided to try an experiment, and tap into the newer opensource clients. I expect most of them to be no better than their parent client, but as SL hits rock bottom, then the only way is up.

I will start with Nicolaz's 'patch' clients, and work my way from there, and let yous know how it works out for me.

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