The tempest

obsoleteLet’s put aside the supposed dark machinations of Linden Lab and turn instead to the entirely separate hoohah that’s blowing up over at Firestorm. Bizarrely, despite the fact that both the Lab and Firestorm are entities in their own right, with very different set ups and agendas it seems there are those among the denizens of sl who are unable to draw the distinction between the two, and a fair sprinkling of crazies who – against all reason and logic – insist that there is some sort of infernal collusion between the two.

Conspiracy theories aside, the real fuss springs from the Firestorm teams’ recent – entirely commonsense and realistic – decision to block all but the latest three versions of Firestorm from logging into sl. This, in itself follows the recent revelation that there are around 1800 viewer versions logging into sl, of which around 1600 are Phoenix/Firestorm – that’s a helluva lot of versions! Firestorm want to cut that figure down to just 3 active versions at any one time.

Those figures may mean nothing to you and you may be wondering why on earth the Firestorm team would want to upset so many people by denying them access to sl via the viewer version of their choice? Quite aside from LL wanting them to establish some sort of level playing field, the answer to that lies, very simply, with the Law of Diminishing Returns. Complexity, up to a certain point can be a very positive thing, but continue building upon that complexity beyond a certain event horizon, and you end up with a nightmare. Put yourself in the position of a software company wishing to excel in their field:

If you have to deal with technical queries about one version of software, running on a single brand of computer, every one of which is set up in the same way, you have a difficult, but fairly straightforward job…

Now imagine you have one, possibly a couple of versions of software, running on a practically unlimited number of different customer set-ups – a fairly typical scenario in the software industry – how much more difficult has your job become?

But, what if you had 1600 versions of a couple of different families of software, running on a practically unlimited number of different customer set-ups, whilst also trying to develop your product to keep pace with a changing third-party environment, whose proprietors insist that you meet certain standards in performance and compatibility – it’s a recipe for disaster.

The last scenario above is what Firestorm has to handle. The question is, do they throw more and more resources into customer support and bug-fixes for increasingly outdated viewers – thereby scuppering their capability to develop, and getting completely bogged-down in remedial fixes and lost causes – or do they cut out the dead wood and keep at the cutting edge of good customer service and product development? i know what i’d choose!

fs31Let’s look at it from another perspective: Just suppose you were still clinging to Windows 3.1 – it’s the only operating system that you like the look and feel of, it does everything you want it to in the way that you like, it’s stable and it never crashes your machine. There’s one big drawback though – you can’t run any modern software on it, you can’t connect to the internet and it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that later versions of Windows possess. So, what do you do? You insist that Micro$soft make it compatible with modern machines, magically make it run modern software and continue updating it to keep pace with modern PC architecture… you sir, are barking mad. And this is exactly what a whole swathe of Phoenix diehards are insisting the Firestorm team do for them – and, guess what… it ain’t gonna happen!

Hopefully, if you’ve been clinging to the idea that you know better than the Firestorm devs and are going to hang on to your ancient Firestorm, or prehistoric Phoenixes, come what may, (because that really worked for the Emerald devotees, didn’t it?), the points above may have caused you to pause for thought – then again, perhaps you subscribe to the Great Hardware Hypothesis?

Broadly the GHH is split into two camps, on the one hand are those who proclaim:

“I’ve got a totally rad gaming laptop that’s only six weeks’ old and runs Phoenix like a dream, but dies a thousand deaths if I even say the FS word in front of it. It sucks bigtime, and if you force me to switch to the latest Firestorm I’ll have to leave sl forever, and it’ll all be your fault, you horrible, horrible, people!”

On the other hand, we have those who protest:

“I simply have to use Phoenix 0.6 because my computer is so old it’s the only viewer that’ll work, and if you force me to upgrade I’ll never be able to afford a new computer, unless I sell my children and live on bread and water, you selfish, evil, people!”

type_001To the first group, i say: cobblers! The PC at which i’m sitting is around 5 years old; even new it was hardly what you would call ‘high-spec’, the only modifications it’s had are an upgraded graphics card, (and yes, it’s one of those accursed, not really suitable for sl, ATI cards), and a beefed-up power supply. Guess what… i’m running Firestorm 4.4.2, on ultra, with full ALM, with no problems at all. To add insult to injury, i usually have around 20 browser tabs open, and other software running at the same time that i’m logged in.

If i can use it, so can you.

At this point, if you’re still having problems, perhaps you’d like to consider Seren’s Three Golden  Rules. Have you…

1 – Done a clean install?
2 – Updated your drivers?
3 – Closed all your other software?

You haven’t, have you? Don’t tell me you have, because there’s no way that you’ve updated your drivers if you haven’t even updated your sodding viewer!

dino_002

Are you a dinosaur?

Turning now to the poor souls who are running sl on their office machine whilst the boss isn’t looking or own computers even older than mine. Sorry guys, but the march of progress continues apace and, inevitably, there are casualties. i know that someday, my computer will turn up its little logic toes and head off to that great recycling plant in the sky – it is not a possibility, but an absolute certainty. So maybe i’ll just have to forego that new pair of Kalnin’s boots and save my pennies in a jar for when that fateful day comes.

Certainly, you may be happy with seeing grey people, walking around like regular people, and avatars wearing blobs with transparent boobies, but believe me, there’s no way you’re going to persuade the rest of us to put up with a dumbed-down sl experience, simply because you can’t keep up with the technology. Harsh, i know, but that’s the reality of today’s technology – most of it’s redundant by the time you can afford to buy it.

Some of you will almost certainly disagree with me on some, if not all of what i’ve said above, but i probably won’t be seeing much of you in the future, if you’re going to insist on staying in the past – sad, but that’s evolution for you, i guess.

s. x

It’s a new dawn
It’s a new day
It’s a new life
Muse – Feeling Good

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12 Responses to The tempest

  1. “Some of you will almost certainly disagree with me….” Not me, if anything you were too kind! I doubt we will see any number of people on Phoenix a month from now, the same for non-SSA Firestorm. The few holdouts will be by themselves on private islands, contently contemplating their navels.
    There are a wide range of viewers to choose from, surely everyone will find something they can get in world with if they try, probably not with all the features they would like but they can still be around while they save for new equipment.

    • You can bet your bottom dollar that there are some who think they’re immune to SSA and will then blame the Lab/Firestorm/the global economic downturn when sl is broken for them – funny how it’s always someone else’s fault.
      This whole rant of a post was the product of reading, yet again, the unbelievable crap that the FS team get every time they implement something new – personally, i think they should make their own lives a lot easier by blocking all but the latest version – as you say, if people don’t like it, there’s a wealth of alternative viewers out there, but at the end of the day, it’s a matter of personal choice, i guess.
      Happy days!
      s. x

  2. Pingback: SL Viewer updates to 3.6.3-279564

  3. Quite right Seren. I just had a terrible time where Firestorm would crash immediately on start up. After wringing of hands and every bug fix it turned out my graphics card wasn’t good enough. I could run every other program perfectly but not FS. Nothing left to do but break open the cookie jar and buy a new one. The alternative was to give up sl. Not an option. Second Life is free as is Firestorm staffed by volunteers who do a grand job. Lets make it as easy as possible to keep us all running in tip top condition. Sacrifices sometimes have to be made. Make them.

    • It’s all about being realistic – technology will always move ahead of the equipment it relies upon. When we accept that, at some point, we’ll be flogging a dead horse, rather than making unreasonable demands that simply can’t be met, life becomes so much less stressful.
      What irritates me is the way so many petulantly wring their hands and make out that they’re being victimised by the very developers who are trying to make things better – i don’t whether they’re just ill-informed, unreasonable or stuck in a rut so deep they can’t climb out.
      Takes all sorts, i guess!
      s. x

  4. When I say this stuff people cart out all kinds of pejorative terms for me…
    Wish you better luck.

    Progress happens, and folks need to keep up. A computer is not a luxury purchase in today’s world – and keeping up is key to keeping in touch with the outside. If you cannot afford to put $300 – $500 into a life-necessity-purchase once every 3 to 5 years… spending time on SL might be unwise, or perhaps should be spent better: to earn that $500 within a span of 5 years…

    If you’re a person on an absolutely fixed income that is really really rock bottom, and there’s nothing you can do about it… and you MUST be on SL… then two harsh realities set in:
    1: $8.30 a month is $500 every 5 years. Learn to squeeze that out. If SL really is that vital, then make it that vital in the budget.
    2: Cruel though it may be, the majority cannot be forced to be held back by an extreme minority unless one can show the majority has no justification in moving forward and is intentionally holding back that minority. Progress is not by definition downpression, and you won’t win the argument of trying to claim so.

    And yeah, for the people on current rigs that can’t run current hardware. Either you need to be honest, fix your settings, clean out that XXX-virus you got from clicking that one link, or take the machine back as junk goods and shop smarter next time. Almost every time you hear one of these claims, there is somebody else out there on that same machine happily trodding along in SL.

    • When you look at it from that eminently practical and sensible position, it’s not rocket science, is it?
      It always amazes me that so many who profess to have so much invested in sl can be so ill-informed, stubborn and averse to positive change. Does the same thing happen in gaming communities, or is it just an sl thing?
      Surely it’s commonsense that something so immersed in the changing face of technology and the internet is going to be constantly evolving and placing ever-greater demands on the architecture that supports it? That’s the nature of the beast – if people can’t handle that, perhaps they’d be better off playing Monopoly or bowls!
      s. x

  5. Paypabak says:

    Well said, everyone! *applause, applause*

  6. Willow says:

    Hey there. Just so you know, the viewer version strings information on Nalate’s blog is incorrect. You can find accurate information in this blog post as well as a link to the TPV Meeting where this information was given. http://secondden.blogspot.ca/2013/05/one-thousand-six-hundred-sixty-five.html

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