You’d be home by now

Have you ever seen one of those signs at the side of the road, usually situated on a new housing development, subtly appealing to the commuter stuck in a traffic queue for the fifth time that week… “If you lived here, you’d be home by now”? And, have you ever been in the position where you actually do live there, but it’s still going to be a while before you can actually walk through the front door, sling your bag and shoes on the floor, and shuffle into your slippers whilst you wait for the kettle boil, thanks to the perverse nature of Geography and city planning?

It’s a frustrating scenario I find myself encountering every time I take the train home travelling from the West – which is pretty frequently. As the train trundles through the outskirts of town, I gaze out of the window, where five minutes walk away, my house awaits my return. In the winter, when the trees are bare and don’t obscure the view, I can even see it from the train. The train, that irritatingly and infuriatingly, continues on past for another quarter mile as the crow flies, to the station, which translates as a nearly 2 mile walk up a steep, soul destroying hill – which incidentally has a lovely view of the point at which I was earlier looking out of the train window – back home. A case of, ‘if I lived here I’d still have a 30 minute trek to be home by now’!

Which, rather tenuously and tortuously, leads me to the recent revelation that the Labbies are starting work on development of an IOS/Android client. I have to admit that this has caught me somewhat by surprise, although it was apparently mentioned by Ebbe Linden at his SL15B interview, which I did listen to, but somehow managed to miss this rather important nugget. I must confess to losing interest when the interview degenerated to gormless waffle towards the end, even to discussion of football games, or maybe it was cricket, or some other pointless game played with balls and over-inflated egos… But I digress. SL is certainly a bit behind the times when it comes to this particular platform, despite the rather remarkable capabilities of the third party Lumiya Viewer and the success of Bright Canopy a couple of years back.

I do find myself questioning just how well a mobile client for SL will fare however. I can’t help but think there’s a huge element of ‘you could be home by now’ syndrome that many would struggle to get over: There’s only so much you can do on a 7″ or smaller screen whilst being jostled on the bus, or crammed in to a seat on a busy train, using public WiFi hotspots; and whilst I know that any number of games have successfully made a transition to mobile, I question whether SL would manage quite so well. I doubt that building, scavenger hunts, shopping, exploring and the 101 other activities that we get up to inworld, when at home, would be quite so easy on a phone or tablet on the move, and just as I find myself wishing the train would make an impromptu stop, just so I could nip home to my creature comforts rather than continue with the annoying slog, I can imagine users wishing they were inworld on their home systems, rather than fiddling around on a touchscreen.

Then again, I could be wrong. I can only speak from my own experience using Lumiya, which I thought would be the answer to all my woes when working away from home, allowing me to enjoy the delights of SL from any hotel room. The reality has turned out to be rather different, and I now only log in on Android if there’s something I really need to do, such as pay the rent. It’s just too much an unsatisfactory substitute for the all-singing and dancing SL that I’m used to that no matter how much I might try and convince myself that I’m ‘already home’, the reality is that I’m not, and all the benefits that home brings are still some distance away from where I’m sat right now.

It’s not that I’m against mobile platforms – the majority of my blog posts, including this one, are composed on the go, often on more than one device, but when it comes to adding images, links, formatting text, proofing and all the little finishing touches, those have to wait until I’m home and have full access to a proper keyboard and mouse, monitor, decent bandwidth and – ideally – a hot cup of tea. It’s possible for me to do all those other things whilst on the move, but it can be a real pain in the butt and takes far, far longer and is far more annoying than doing it at home.

So, much as I wish the Lab luck with their new venture, I wonder whether it’s more a case of keeping up with the neighbours and doing what’s expected, rather than coming up with anything that is really of any great practical use.

Or maybe I just enjoy my home comforts!

s. x

And someone is playing a game
In the house that I grew up in
The Killers – Smile Like You Mean It

This entry was posted in Linden Love, Philosophicalisticality, Rants, RL, SL, Techietalk. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to You’d be home by now

  1. As usual, “it all depends”.
    A client like Bright Canopy where all the work is done on a remote server and the results are streamed to your chosen device would certainly bring near-normal visual quality to almost any device. But at a price! Bright Canopy was ~$10/month.
    Lumiya packs a huge amount of capability into a tiny package, but it hardly approximates desktop performance.
    Things are changing though, more and more people, especially young people, are moving away from the desktops those my age depend on. Unless you want to do more than socialize and perhaps rez a thing or two, tablets and notebooks are the devices of the future and LL has to adapt or perish.

  2. It’s a bit of a poisoned chalice for the Lab – like on so many other occasions, it’s a case of ‘damned if they do; damned if they don’t’ – market forces compel them to move with the times, even if the majority of their existing users have their eye on a completely different ball, but it takes time, resources and no guarantee of any real payback, or success.

    It’s not so much the quality of the image on a mobile screen that puts me off – in some cases we’re seeing better resolution than on our desktop monitors, and I’ve always been impressed with Lumiya’s graphics, it’s more about the quality of the experience: multitasking and chatting on that platform is frustrating and time-consuming and as a result – for me – it’s just become a utility to deal with urgent matters when I’ve no other access to SL.

    However, degraded quality of experience seems to be the norm these days – many mobile games have barely progressed past their 8-bit predecessors, yet are hugely popular; poor quality MP3s, played on dismally bad monaural bluetooth speakers seem to satisfy the majority, who would never consider analogue reproduction, or even studio quality digital recordings; and I’m sure the same will eventually be true for the likes of SL and its counterparts. Convenience over quality wins the day.

    I’m not sure whether that will mean SL endures or not, but it doesn’t appeal to me.

    s. x

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