When it comes to the technicalities of SL, I’m no expert, but I do like to keep abreast of developments and try to stay informed and up to date with what’s going on behind the scenes. I sometimes forget that most people have little interest in such things and have virtually no concept of the processes and work involved in creating, improving and maintaining an application, especially one as complex as SL.
Most of the time, it’s not that much of an issue for me – if anything, it can be a positive advantage to be ahead of the game… I know what improvements are in the pipeline, when to expect a new viewer and what changes it will bring, the relative merits of one viewer over another, and – perhaps most useful of all – some of the technical challenges that running a platform like SL can bring. This last point might not ease the frustration that even I can sometimes feel about the virtual world, but it does at least enable me to be philosophical about such things.
Knowledge, in this sense, is very much power, and it’s also a resource that can come to the aid of those in need, although I have to say that the days when I’d happily take the role of technical guru and hand out help and assistance whenever asked are becoming less common. This is intentional – I find that these days, whenever someone asks for help, they are instantly the recipients of a barrage of what one would hope is well-intentioned advice, but is essentially a load of nonsense. It can be incredibly frustrating trying to assist someone when you know exactly what needs to be done to fix their problem, whilst trying to make oneself heard amongst a plethora of useless noise. There have been occasions, for example, when I could quite happily scream upon hearing the thoroughly ill-advised, but oft-quoted, ‘clear your cache – that’ll fix it’.
Never do I find myself struggling to bite my tongue and resisting the urge to punch somebody as frequently as during the period following the launch of a new viewer. For somebody who keeps themselves informed and up to speed about such things, it can be difficult to maintain a balanced and neutral disposition when surrounded by the wealth of misinformation, aggro and sheer ignorance that surrounds these events. Often I fail.
So, in the same way that I’ve elected to avoid giving advice and technical support inworld to those in need, I prefer these days to let them either work it out for themselves, or continue to take bad advice from those who – if you were to ask them from where they distilled their peerless knowledge – would be unable to provide its provenance. I have similarly come to the decision that I’m just going to keep my head down and my mouth firmly closed whenever the subject of viewers crops up.
So, for one final time, using the pages of this blog, where I don’t have to compete against false assertions, personal gripes and conspiracy theories, I’ll deal with the most common fallacies regarding viewers that I find myself getting wound up about inworld. And then, I’ll shut up!
1. Fredbonkers Resident: “The official viewer is rubbish – you should use Firestorm because it’s the best by miles”
Rubbish! And I say this as a die hard Firestorm user, who’s loyally stuck with it in all its forms since well before the Emerald Viewer debacle. In terms of being up to date, cutting-edge development, and stability, the official viewer is streets ahead. It may not have all the functionality that FS and some other viewers possess, but it will always have more recent code, the newest features and be optimised for the SL experience ahead of any other viewer, purely because of the way that it, and all those third party viewers that are based upon the Linden code, are developed. Let’s not forget also that a great many of the FS devs also contribute their own code and innovations to help The Lab build the official viewer.
In practical terms, the best viewer for you is the one that works best for you – some swear by Imprudence for graphics, others love Catznip for its RLV support, maybe Black Dragon for it’s edgy features; still others like Dolphin or Android-centric Lumiya, or Kokua for Debian – there’s not really a best viewer, merely a best viewer for you.
2 – Twitmunchkin Pirate: “I’m not going to update yet, I’m going to wait until it’s stable”
You do realise that each release is as stable as it’s going to get? (Clearly not!) Waiting a couple of months isn’t going to make any difference at all, other than annoy you because you no longer have the same functionality and stability that those around you, who did update, are enjoying. Let me give you an illustrative example from the past… When I started wearing fitted mesh – before most people had even heard of it – I was constantly being asked to rebake, relog and sort out my ‘broken’ avatar by numpties who were steadfastly refusing to update their viewer until, in their mind, it had magically become stable. Consequently, their viewers were incapable of properly rendering fitmesh, but somehow that was my fault! That was extremely annoying both to me and to everyone else concerned.
Do people really think that developers will happily stake their reputation on releasing code that they know is unstable? Perhaps that is indeed what some people might believe, but I wouldn’t mind betting these are the same sort of people who use hammers as screwdrivers and tape over the oil warning light in the car because it keeps flashing on and distracting them. They wouldn’t know stability if it fell on them.
3 – Numpty Oh: “Every time they do an update it breaks something. Why can’t they just release patches, or make it work properly in the first place?”
This is also a statement made by the hammer a screw into the wall and hope the shelves stay up brigade, because – let’s face it – anyone can code. And, I’m sure, if we had the time or the inclination, most of us could come up with a viewer far better than anything else currently on offer. </sarcasm>
There’s a simple response to that: ‘Go for it! Let’s see you do better’
If you think it’s that simple, go and ask Henri Beauchamp how he does it, or suggest a couple of your home-made and awesome patches to Whirly Fizzle? Hell, why not go along to one of the inworld dev meetings and tell the Lindens how much better you can do it?
Before you do, you might also just want to check that whatever ‘they just broke’ isn’t something to do with the fact you haven’t updated your graphics drivers for three years, or that little optimisation trick you invented using that second hand memory card and duct tape isn’t actually wrecking your PC.
Personally, I think you should stop complaining and leave it to the experts.
I was going to say a lot more, but I’m starting to annoy myself now, so the time has come to draw a veil over this particular rant.
However there is one piece of technical advice I will willingly give to anyone who even thinks about moaning the next time an update to their favourite viewer they love to slag off comes out. It’s a really simple fix. Why not give it a go, rather than moan…
When the tears come streaming down your face
When you lose something you can’t replace
When you love someone but it goes to waste
Could it be worse?
Young At Heart – Fix You