Natural selection

Those of you who have better things to do with your time may not be aware of some of the common themes that crop up frequently in the various forums and Jiras that accumulate around sl like flies around a big steaming pile of poop. Sadly, i don’t appear to have better things to do with my time, and i’ve seen a number of these issues do the rounds with monotonous regularity.

Perhaps the most predictable gripe that surfaces pretty much every time a viewer is upgraded or a new feature is added to sl goes something like this, (names changed to protect the stupid):

Eggnog Digglebrick: I’m appalled that (Linden Lab/Phoenix/insert favourite 3PD here) are introducing tactile feedback into their latest viewer without any thought for residents who aren’t using high spec computers. I’m using a VIC-20 with a Legovision 24kb graphics card on my dialup modem, using Viewer 0.8 and I don’t see why I should have to go out and buy a new computer just so that they can create new features that no-one will use!

You may laugh – but that particular point of view is voiced with ridiculous frequency and is usually met with one of two fairly predictable responses. Either the completely unhelpful:

Twonkbubble638 Resident: Well Eggnog, I have a Greybox99 Pentium, which, to the best of my recollection, has a built-in Bogstandard Megaphat graphics thingy and I have no problem running SL on any Viewer, (and I’ve tried a few in my time, I can tell you). In fact, I haven’t upgraded my system for at least 5 years and everything works perfectly.

Or, the brutally honest:

Evilgit Slamdunk: You are joking, right? Face facts Eggy – your computer is out of date and it comes nowhere near the minimum specification for running SL. Are you really suggesting that SL should cater for people who can’t or won’t upgrade and that it shouldn’t attempt to keep up with technology? And do you think it’s fair that people who do keep their systems up to date should put up with a sub-standard experience simply because you’re behind the times?

If pushed, i’d have to say that i tend to side with Evilgit here. It is rather a nonsense to expect sl not to evolve alongside the systems that run it and take advantage of new, more powerful technology as it becomes available and it’s equally daft to argue that the hardware requirements should be dumbed-down to accommodate those users who, for whatever reason, are unable to take advantage of the higher spec features of sl. Commercially it makes no sense and in developer terms, it’s pretty much suicidal – no developer worth their salt wants to be anywhere other than the cutting edge of technology, unless they happen to be retired, (ie. no longer in the job market), and dabble with ancient programming languages just for fun.

At the risk of attracting a tirade of abuse, i’d have to say that those in the Eggnog camp are fundamentally wrong in the way they perceive the technological side of sl – i’ll call it, (again at the risk of cultivating abuse), Viewer 1 Syndrome. This is when, no matter what valid and logical arguments are presented to support the contention that something is out of date and no longer fit for purpose, there will always be a hardcore of SLociety that will insist the experts are completely wrong and, come hell or high water, will refuse to budge from their moral high ground, even when it suffers the inevitable and catastrophic subsidence that the experts predicted all along.

It is unfortunate that technological advance is intolerant of the laggers-behind and i can sympathise with those who can’t keep up with every change as it happens – in practical terms, very few of us can afford to upgrade our systems on a regular basis… it’s more likely that we only consider upgrading, or buying a new system when what we already have either breaks down or becomes so outdated that it’s not fit for purpose – even then, we’ll struggle on until there’s sufficient cash in the bank for us to justify a trip to PC World. Let’s face it, most of us don’t even have the time and patience, or can be bothered – to ensure that we have up-to-date drivers and the latest versions of our software, even when they’re free and readily available! Consequently, those at the very forefront of technological change are always going to be in the minority and, by the simple operation of the law of increasing entropy, unless they are themselves constantly accumulating more of the stuff that will keep them in that position, it’s not long before they too find themselves amongst the swarming masses – the vast majority of us – trailing behind the technology.

Then there’s the vocal minority who bring up the tail end – those who cannot or will not move on; those who cling to what once worked, but now stumbles along like a six-year old trying to take part in the three-legged race, sack race and egg and spoon, all at the same time.

All of which might make us want to say ‘ahhhh’ and feel all sympathetic for the poor kid, but at the same time we’ll probably be telling them to untie their legs, get out of the sack, glue the egg to the spoon and enter one race at a time… And if you’re not going to do that, stop moaning about how difficult it is to win!

We have to be philosophical about sl – it is a demanding piece of technology that requires a lot of processing power, a decent internet connection and top-notch graphic support if we want it to work at its best. The reality is that the huge majority of us are not in that position and have to accept that we’re just not going to be able to experience all the bells and whistles that sl is capable of and that if the best we can manage, without crashing horribly, is medium graphics, with minimal draw distance and avoiding peak times and heavily populated Sims, then we’re probably no worse off than a decent percentage of most of the other people inworld. Even if we can’t upgrade and have to put up with a substandard experience, it’s no worse than many others are also putting up with. Eventually though, we have to succumb to fate… at some point sl’s demands will defeat our system’s capabilities and it’s either upgrade or quit. Ah well, i suppose there’s always Solitaire to fall back on!

This is one of the harsh realities of living in sl – it’s very much a case of natural selection – if it wasn’t the case, i’d now be a resident of over 5 year’s standing… that’s how long ago i first dabbled with sl, only my PC wasn’t up to the job. i suppose we just have to be grateful that we’re able to log in at all and make the most of what we can – it may not be perfect, but neither is life – and who says sl should be any different?

More on this tomorrow!

s. x

Dead disco 
Dead funk 
Dead rock and roll 
Remodel 
Metric – Dead Disco 

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