Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Fixing Of The Bugs

The new wave of bug fixes is in.

First, the good news is that prims will no longer rotate at random. This is something that has occasionally plagued builders across SL. Guns would contort at just an odd angle so as to make it seem the mercenary av is aiming for midgets. Or clock towers would seem surrealist. Floors would tilt enough that pinball machines would freak. It was rare, but when it occurred much stress was placed upon the builder to either replace the part and delink the whole mess, or assess whether the degree of the angle was large enough to be noticed. Something on the order of 0.002 or 179.8 degrees usually wasn't large enough to be noticed, except on small figurines or exceptionally large builds.

Rezzing an object from the trash no longer deletes it entirely from memory. Not a problem I've ever had a problem with, as usually when I delete something I don't intend to ever bring it out again. That's just my ethic, though, and for others, perhaps the trash is the new archive.

SVC-583 confuses me a bit. Did they reduce the five minute wait while logging out for avs with lots of scripted objects, or what? Personally, I've had long log out times even when I have only hair attached. In fact, in my whole SL experience, I usually hit a three minute wait for log out regardless of what I had attached. Another thing that was fixed but never really bothered me in the first place. More power to them, though, if it eased the stress on someone who grit their teeth on this one.

Once again, we're allowed to set For Sale while objects are in inventory. This one used to drive me insane, I always had to rez something to change the for sale property, and occasionally it would reset and I'd have to set it back. I'm glad they fixed it, I no longer have to find the nearest sandbox or build enabled land to rez it out, set For Sale, take it back in, and ... you know what? I never had this problem because whenever I set something out for sale, I usually used a vendor! In fact, if you're rezzing it out for sale, why can't you change it right then and there? The worst case scenario is that you have an object that is nothing more than a display for maybe a few minutes, or you have someone quickly buy it in the few seconds it takes to set the price after checking off For Sale. I guess this is something of a non-issue, for me, and probably for most other vendors, as rarely do I see something for sale outside of a scripted vendor.

Now, the kicker this time around is SVC-912, which at first glance appears to be rather singular in nature. "Sky Eclipse’s avatar crashes regions EVERY TIME she logs in, regardless of where she logs in ". Sounds like a simple job for some Linden to straighten out, not a major bug itching to be fixed. One commenter chimed in with "Sweet. Although I am a little surprised at the very specific problem subject of SVC-912. I’ll have to go read that one."

Upon reading SVC-912 on JIRA, we find it is "Sky Eclipse's (and now JoeTheCatboy Freelunch's) avatars crash regions EVERY TIME they login, regardless of where they log". Ah, two avatars with issues! The grit of it is a rolling restart borked the mystihud for two people, and caused them to crash the sim upon login. Live Help cheerfully exclaimed how broken their avatars were, and told to open a support ticket. It was marked as "Showstopper" priority.

This relates to SVC-800, marked as "Critical", which involves LLScriptDetectedEntry. Apparently, this affects HUD attachments, and causes something similar to a deep think, SL just keeps rooting around in circles trying to ... detect something. And this affects the entire sim. And everyone on the sim.

My question is, is this critical? Things break all the time in SL, and from the sound of the comments on JIRA, the Lindens just reset the accounts, taking off the offending attachments, I suppose. Is this really a showstopper, as it's labeled? A showstopper is defined in JIRA as the most severe bug, which greatly impacts the residents; the example given is a lot of people being unable to log in at all. My question is, is this bug a showstopper?

The real answer is, we can never know. So many people, upon encountering this, will either make a new account or leave SL entirely. Only two or three people have made a coherent JIRA report, the rest are too vague to determine whether it is the same issue or not. Two avatars complain, but perhaps hundreds encounter this and never raise awareness. The general attitude in SL regarding help and support is that you're better off figuring it out on your own.

Consider that the accepted number for continuous and active avatars is in the ball park of four to five hundred thousand. The nine million or so try-and-dies would quit playing whether or not they'd hit this bug, so one cannot really count them. SL had horrible retention rates before this hit, so the prevailing argument is that fixing this bug will add maybe a hundred residents per thousand who try at the most optimistic.

With this in mind, we have two confirmed avatars experiencing this, and the common denominator appears to be the mystitool. Thousands of residents use mystitool. Of these regular residents, notable for their propensity to complain, only two experienced this issue which was handled by some Linden well before today's bugfix. Two out of four hundred thousand. Is this really a showstopper? Sure, fixing it reduces the amount of tedious daily complaints (questionable in itself, as future developments could trigger this again, I have no idea the specifics), but does it really deserve to be considered super critical that it had to be rushed into the next bug fix?

I say it does not. We have to consider that there is a large difference between what an individual perceives and what the general population perceives. I might complain to the President of the United States that he should investigate potholes along my street that are damaging my car. That's my individual perception. But by and large the road system in the US is in order and maintained. The general population does not have to worry about potholes. I am drowned out. To me, this is a serious situation. To the rest of the United States, and even to the rest of the city, my trouble is rather insignificant.

Here comes my point. Just because something impacts me personally with devastation doesn't give me free reign to scream bloodly murder. Please. Keep it in perspective. Label it critical or major at most, and if the comments indicate this problem is widely occurring or you notice many similar problems sprouting, then go for showstopper.

Taking a look at the current open showstoppers, I get the idea that hyperbole is SL's middle name. One is definitely a showstopper in its original intent: Vendors failing to update and give inventory to the customer. That could wreck havok with the SL economy, people won't buy what they can't trust to deliver. The other is the infamous Friends List not updating. Now really, tell my honestly: How is this a showstopper? Is it very annoying? Yes. Have I ever missed someone because of it? No, because I learned to 'ping' everyone with a Hi or Hello or Yo, and I'm instantly told who's online and who's not. Sometimes, they IM me! Maybe I'm missing something, maybe people are utilizing the friend's list in a way that I don't have to or never thought of. You be the judge.

The argument against my reasoning can be seen in the comments (It's issue SVC-85). You be the judge: "this is a critical bug when you run a business in SL. a workaround is to offer a teleport to the friend you wonder is online ... i put "just testing, ignore" and if they're on, the blue window pops up and i can then see them online in my friend's list."

"Not a critical bug? SL is a social interactive environment. Not knowing who's online leads to misunderstanding and sometimes even bad feelings when people feel they have been ignored. Life's complicated enough on SL without unintentionally blanking people. It gets my vote. "

I can understand the complaints. Business owners need communication with customers and employees for obvious reasons. Friends can get miffed when it appears you've been ignoring them for weeks on end. But I believe that my point still stands: IM them or other workarounds, there is no need to label this a showstopper. Critical, yes, but it's not a make or break deal with SL.

For reference, the complaint about failing vendors (SVC-405) was opened on April 28, 2007. SVC-85 opened on March 19 2007. SVC-94 was labeled as major, and was opened on March 23. SVC-247 was labeled critical and opened on May 30th. SVC-583 was critical and filed on August 27. Three critical took precedence over two showstoppers?

The only explanation that comes to my mind is that the two current showstoppers require major fixes which are still being worked out, either due to the complexity of the problem or the poor documentation (or overload of it). There is lots of work behind the scenes, that we as the general populace cannot know or understand. Looking at the source code, I can pick out parts I can understand, but in general I'd be hopeless if asked to fix or adjust it.

And that is the crux of the matter, here. As I stated, some people file bug reports poorly or in haste and anger, and things become over exaggerated to the point where the Lindens are rushing to and fro fixing minor problems that few care about, while major issues are overlooked, and this all leads to a general atmosphere where the residents believe that the Lindens are not paying attention. They are, they are, but it doesn't help that five hundred thousand people are tugging them five hundred thousand way.

I'm not saying the Lindens are saints. There are issues in which they are seriously lacking, such as transparency and poor communication, but on the subject of not tackling the major issues of the day, we should cut them some slack.

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