Wednesday, July 9, 2008

M Linden Writes A Letter

M Linden graces us with an address towards us, the ever concerned inhabitants of Second Life.

He reassures us that the Linden Lab team is all about stability and performance and devoting full resources to reducing grid hiccups. Ha ha, isn't that what they always say? I've heard this for the past year and a half in my SL existence alone. It's become a cliche joke.

"We will increase stability! It's in the next update! However, creating that patch revealed a few new bugs. But to make up for that, we added a new feature that's still a tad untested and potentially bug-ridden! That's progress in Linden Lab!"

Also, are the Lindens going to be releasing different types of SL clients? M alludes to a viewer that is skimmed down for newbies and one that is more concentrated for the needs of the experienced. I sure hope the current client is kept as is, because I like it as it is. I don't need more features and while newbies may benefit from a lack of features, I sure wouldn't.

Speaking on that topic, why provide a crutch to newbies and remove features that later they may want or need to use? As it is right now, you already have that kind of thing, how much slimmer can it get? The 'Advanced' options aren't visible by default and the drop down menus at the top are pretty self explanatory (edit appearance... detach clothing... etc). But hey, I'm not on the development team so what's my opinion worth? As a NPIOF, nothing. And that's the way it should be.

Continuing on down the address...

He's making registrations easier? It was hard to register? I didn't think it was that hard. If you can't read the rather simple instructions on the registration page, then you aren't going to have it any easier in SL itself. Maybe they mean offering it in more languages. Or maybe they're going to revamp Orientation island... AGAIN. Only, if that was true, he would have specified 'redoing orientation island'. He's awfully specific about such things, so it's probably not a redo of that current pile that is the OI. Nunchuck, I hate that place. I could waste three blog posts on what's wrong with it. But that's a different topic for another day.

Then there's the usual hoisting of Torley's videos upon the high hills! There are one hundred and fifty video tutorials now on every subject from "Who Torley is" to "How to converse in english". Let me explain why Torley's vids piss me off. He has a few good videos that are really and truly helpful. However, he floods it nine times over with stupid shit that no one gives a damn about and could probably be taught easier inworld.

That's the problem with them overall. I can look at a tutorial only so much, but inworld it's not the same as a controlled and edited video. And sometimes he seemingly fragments things that should be consolidated. For explain, I recall seeing a tutorial on how to make a wavy flag. But he also has a vid on how to make flexi prims and how to edit prims in general. What the hell? Combine the bunch of it. Why waste space? Not like it matters, if I was a newbie and I needed help I would go to help island or just anyone passing by, which is what I did when I was a newbie and what I see newbies do today anyway.

Add that to the fact that SL runs sluggish with a web page opened at the same time. These days, I can't cruise the SL blog and talk with my friends inworld without walking a fine line between crashing out entirely. It's a joke. Jurin will send me a nifty and cool URL that I can't load because even on my fastest fast computer it grinds everything to a halt. SL is a memory hog. Thank god for third party viewers and even then it still has problems because the third party people can only patch the original code so much before just giving up and rewriting the entire bunch of code.

But I guess you have to take pride in Torley's videos because general Support in SL is terrible. Granted, all my evidence is anecdotal from friends and random strangers who ask me, "Why isn't LL listening? I filed a ticket ages ago!" Often I find most have been told to file a JIRA (which is worse than SL and again a topic for another day) or that the problem has been cleared and yet it persists. Once a friend and I had to bombard a Linden with notecards because they kept claiming they had fixed it when they clearly hadn't. Of course, when you have policies that LL does and when you enforce them meekly like LL does, I guess I would have a Support system like they do too. Take this as an example: Ban on ad farms. There is still ad farms. Ban on Age play, but then whittled down to essentially nothing. Other things too that I've forgotten. Their maze of policy and levels of enforcement would be intimidating to anyone. They need a redo of their terms of service or something, and establish clear punishments. Revamp the damn violations and get rid of loop holes that obey the letter but not the spirit of the law.

Finally, M tells us that LL is very stable financially. Gee, I sure hope so with all the cash people sink into land and tier and such. Some costs of which will never be recovered in any amount by the people who bought land and tier and invested time into this Second Life of ours that they will never be able to get back again even if they run a mildly successful business. I've seen land values plummet so far and yet I watch as Bay City sells for ridiculous amounts. Hey geniuses, when you go to resell those Bay City parcels, the price will fall to the rest of the world's land market and you'll take a huge loss. Hope you can divvy it up into ad farms, oops, I mean not-for-profit signs that just happen to display your business for some reason. The way LL robs people, if they weren't secure I'd suspect someone was sapping from the company.

He wraps up with the typical LL bullshit, namely that virtual worlds are the future and thank you for helping us shape one and aren't we so popular and let's all pat ourselves on the back. Aren't virtual worlds going to be so important to all of us? All I hear from LL is how virtual worlds will augment real life, which tells me that virtual worlds will just end up being another tool, a laggier yahoo messenger or AIM. Gee, thanks a lot.

Finally, his closing has to be some kind of satire. I really can't make fun of it because it mocks itself. Let me show you:

"Thank you for your passion, your support, your energy and commitment. Yes — even frustration. I see it, feel it, hear it. Together, it keeps us energized and focused on what’s important."

Before I close for the night (it's 2:30 AM at the moment here), I'd like to give you a sample of the comments left. Here are the ones that entertained me:

From cosa nostra:

"I dont see it, I dont feel it and I dont hear it .. on the grid !


From slbraun:

"When you ignore Economics 101, you will inevitably end in ruin. An unlimited supply of land and flat demand means lower prices. Those who invested in land get hosed. A downward cycle is created which is difficult to reverse. The honeymoon is over Mr. CEO. Get to work. Me…I am heading over to check out the new Lively."

From Tiny Mind:

"Don’t worry. I have tried Google’s test of “Lively” (in Open Beta), and so far from the limited exposure to it… Linden Labs has NOTHING at all to worry about over it.

Tiny Tester."

From Trinity Dechou:

"Having been here for over a year and a half it is nice to see good communication. Like JenzZa we’ve seen changes come and go, some good, some bad. Nice to know in regards to some areas LL listen.

Looking forward to the changes in the new few years."

From Ciaran Laval:

"There’s a rule of business that you shouldn’t leave your customers feeling poor after doing business with you, which is something you should be ensuring Jack and Zee understand.

The potential here is absolutely massive, it would be a great shame if something like Lively took the attention away from a project such as Second Life but there are lessons to take note of, social networking being one glaring example.

Another being that you can’t keep the entry bar too high technically, education won’t keep up with you, I can assure you, sometimes you need to be patient to get to the promised land, don’t throw too many aside in the great leap forward.

Very positive move on the first hour, it’s crucial but people need to be able to find something to do quickly to keep them engaged, that’s something that needs working on."

From David Kline:

"Yeah that is all good and all Mr. Linden but i want to ask you will you really deliver that? Lag has gotten worse lately NOT better… the problem is you keep pouring in new users without a solid server system to be able to handle it. Second life’s overall experence i would say is getting worse not better. still crashes…still worse lag then ever…missing textures..takes FOREVER to rezz anything

you need to fix the fact that the cache system does not still have to re-rezz an area that you visited 4 minutes ago if you log out…

it really is frustrating…oh and theres bugs where you remove users from yuor buddy list they still show up…the fact that the support system for abuse is catered towards those who spend gobs of money a month and the rest of us still have to wait forever to get any help"

That's about it. After that one, the comments descended into the typical argument between those who believe LL can do no wrong and those who want their pet feature to be implemented and those who hate everything about SL. Most of that gets repetitive and has been chewing up the comments on the past hundred blog posts even though the entire debate of 'what's wrong, if there even IS something wrong' has been beaten to death, buried in cement and thrown into a boat that was towed out to sea and burned with fire and nuclear airbursts. Of course, when the Lindens have closed off most of the means to contact them I guess all those people had to go somewhere and with the blog being the last bastion, it's no surprise.

It's not like you can contact the Lindens inworld, because they explictly tell you not to IM or notecard them, and they don't like being emailed, and when you find them inworld they're usually at an office hour and will tell you to not hog the hour to yourself which is understandable since the hour is really devoted to that particular specialty but what else can people do when they really have no other place to turn to? If they file tickets, they might as well wait for the Second Coming of Christ since they'll be Raptured before LL finally looks at their ticket. At least Christ had the decency to just outright say "don't wait up for me because I'll come when you least expect it".

I'm sorry if I come off as hostile to LL and a bit of an ass, but the truth is that it's getting real late and after logging out and checking the blog before I went to bed, and reading this ... this mini-speech and its contents, I'm not just physically tired, I'm mentally exhausted. I'm getting sick of SL and Linden Lab because they raise my hopes that they're actually going to do something and turn around and either don't or make it worse. When people moan about LL I try to defend them because, at the end of the day despite my own whines and rants, I sincerely believed that Linden Lab was trying their best but I'm sick and tired of listening to their crap. Why can't they be honest and why do they have to beat around the bush? On some levels I know this will never happen because no one wants bad press but you can't tell me it looks any better when a good half of the blog comments are derogatory and the other half come off as sycophantic. Add that to the fact that if you search for SL blogs in general you'll find most people aren't too praiseworthy of LL either, and the few blogs that do support LL are fickle about it.

What they need to do is to ditch all this new crap like 'shadows' and other junk. Fix what they have now and get it to work. Do the different viewers if you must. You won't get rid of all the bugs, but you could at least squash the ones that never seem to go away. It took at least seven or eight month to get rid of the 'ass-tachment' bug. That's ridiculous. How could the Lindens miss that? Why would it take months? I can see a month, maybe a month and a half, but eight months? Six or seven months a the most generous? So yeah, take the current system and smooth it out. I wouldn't mind the constant updates if I felt they actually improved performance but often I don't notice much of any of a difference. I read the reports of the changes and I'll be damned if I can find even half of them.

So I don't care anymore. I might finish up a few posts I have written about Linden Lab and after that, they can go to hell. I'll devote more time to writing nonsense and general issues in SL that aren't LL related (like, say, .. . I'll think of something later). And I'm sure the Lindens or their fans will come around and pick my post apart and prove me wrong here, there, and everywhere, but whatever. I think M Linden's speech here is a sign that Linden Lab doesn't give a crap because if they did they would be writing about the better things they already have done rather than what they will do, or at least both of those at the same time. As it is, it sounds like empty promises. "Just keep the faith, it will come! We swear!" They proclaim over and over.

I'm going to buy some earplugs because I'm sick of the noise.

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