A grey area

One of the ways that SL manages to very successfully mirror reality is in its complexity. Life is complex, at every level, and almost every aspect of it is volatile, interwoven and multi-faceted. The same is true of SL, and whilst I seem to spend a great deal of my time griping about how so many people seem to live such cloistered and mundane virtual existences inworld, I suppose it’s a fairly natural response to overwhelming complexity.

From a technical standpoint, understanding the cogs and gears spinning away behind the scenes to produce what we see in the viewer when we log in is certainly not going to interest a great number, and to some it will simply be gobbledygook anyway. Even learning all the controls, settings and associated paraphernalia that comes with the viewer can frustrate all but the most engaged, particularly when in the real world, the trend is ever more about hiding complexity under the simplest and most intuitive of interfaces – whether that’s the engine that powers your car, or ordering your weekly shopping online. People, it seems, want clean and simple, straightforward and clear.

I guess this is why so many are happy to log in, TP to the same destinations, do the same things and log out when the lag becomes too much to bear, time after time, without ever expanding their horizons or attempting to improve their lot, other than by following the latest trend in hair, skins or clothing… And preferably with a HUD that does everything for them. That, at least, would explain the frankly baffling market in avatar shapes, which has always confounded me – why on earth will people pay for a shape, when they could just as easily knock up their own with a couple of mouse clicks and tweaking a few sliders? Perhaps someone can explain that one to me – are SL people such technophobes that even that simple exercise is beyond them? (It doesn’t, of course, explain why people will throw away good money on shapes that defy all laws of nature, physics and good taste, but what do I know about it?)

Throw in the additional complexity of relationships, cultures, language, timezones and dealing with the borkedness that SL frequently throws up, and I suppose it’s no wonder that for so many people, SL is simply one long round of: Log in > Shopping event > 4 hours trying on clothes > Dance at Frank’s > Log out > Rinse and repeat. It’s just so much easier than trying to make sense of it all!

Then you get the idiots like me who, for some reason, feel they have to to compound the complexity beyond all sensible rhyme and reason. People who are always fiddling with settings, use the Developer menu more than the Avatar menu, recklessly play around with Debug settings and subject themselves to the joys and trauma of pre-release and beta testing of anything that they can get their hands on!

All of which is fine, if that’s your thing… But, it can make things just a little difficult when you start to run into problems.

To be fair, it’s not often that I do run into problems, and much of the fiddling, tweaking and debugging around goes a long way towards making that the case, but sometimes, even geeks get stumped…

The particular problem giving me the blues right now, is the greys. Not the tall, thin, extraterrestrial guys, with the big eyes, but the stubbornly refusing to load, no matter how patient you pretend to be textures, without which SL is a very dull and confusing place. I’ve had the problem now for almost a month, the commencement of which unfortunately coincided with some experimental tweaking of my SL settings, testing a new pre-release viewer, unreliable internet thanks to C19 usage upsurge, an increase in SL user concurrence – which I’ve started to privately refer to as ‘the viral load’ – and, the unknown quantity: Behind the scenes moves to cloud services by Linden Lab. All of which has made it rather difficult to narrow down any possible root cause.

Did I break things with my technical tomfoolery, or was it a glitch in the new viewer? Is it down to internet latency, or the Lab moving stuff to the cloud, (or maybe both)? I had – and still have – no idea. I did think, at first, I was the culprit because it seemed that no-one else was complaining, and one of the sure signs that something is broken in SL is that EVERYBODY moans about it! It was just me suffering, or so it seemed, and when I say suffering, it was a downright pain in the rear end – where previously textures had loaded instantly, or had made a decent attempt of showing themselves over the course of a few seconds, now I was facing vast swathes of grey that refused to reveal themselves for minutes on end, if ever. When they did, it was painfully slow and then I’d have to suffer the same thing all over again whenever I cammed in a different direction. Resetting textures seems to have no effect, and it’s all very annoying indeed.

Thankfully, I’m starting to pick up a few reports from others now that they too are experiencing an SL of lesser hue, so maybe it’s not me, after all. I am surprised however that it’s not been more widely reported, or perhaps SL now has so many who never step outside their complexity comfort zone that they haven’t even noticed, or – worse than that – they’re just accepting that this is the way things are, before going back to trying on their new outfits?

s. x

Sent la pluie comme un été Anglais
Entends les notes d’une chanson lointaine
Sortant de derriere d’un poster
Espérant que la vie ne fut aussi longue
Visage – Fade To Grey


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

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