PostHeaderIcon Sorry, Folks, but Emerald Viewer = Meh

Viewer 2 is wonderful for the Second Life uninitiated. However, it also is a disaster for those of us experienced with second Life for more than a month with the "classic" viewer. Linden Lab had announced open-sourcing the Second Life viewer in 2006, there is now a smorgasbord of "official Linden Lab Second Life Viewer" alternatives.

Among all the current third-party viewers there is no question that the Emerald Viewer by Modular Systems is the best known, most popular and most actively in-use non-Linden Lab viewer on the Second Life grid. I like Emerald, but I have some reservations about it, which if you'll indulge me, I will explain below. I promise to do my best at keeping pithy about it all.

The short answer: most popular does not translate into "best".

PostHeaderIcon LONG-LIVE Second Life Viewer Version 2!

Kill it before it multiplies! That's what Linden Lab should do. But they can't. They have championed it too hard. So they will allow it to whither away as Terri Sheivo was, except as quietly as possible.

"Download Viewer 2.1 Alpha Now! Sound Like Donald Duck!" (Or whatever).

That has been the Message Of The Day for some time now as you go through the logon process into the Second Life grid. This MOTD is worrisome to me. Not so much all by itself, considering the ramifications of pushing Alpha-phase (ALPHA!) software to a mass population who can barely understand the operation of release version software. But rather in the "between the lines" message I suspect is being sent along. If you aren't seeing that message, allow me to highlight it for you...

PostHeaderIcon ZOMG! It's A Run On The Linden Lab Second Life Banks!!!

I've been hearing from some that there's a panic run on the LindeX (Linden Exchange). After going in and taking a good look, my reaction is more or less: ummm, no. Actually, a "run" on the LindeX (in the current way it is happening) is a good thing, because the exchange rate between the Linden Dollar and U.S. Dollar is becoming ridiculously stable.

Is the LindeX being affected by the sledge-hammer news dropped by Tateru Nino (Massively) and confirmed by Linden Lab with regard to a 30% cut in their workforce? Short answer is yes. The good thing is: not by very much. Unless you are exchanging money by the higher-end hundreds of thousands of Linden Dollars for the tens of thousands of legal tender dollars, you wouldn't feel much at all - pennies, actually.

So why all the worrywarting? Because most people do not have a comprehensive grasp of just what the LindeX really is and how it works. So I'll explain in as pithy a way as I can.

First, LindeX is not a bank in any sense of the term. You are not placing money (virtual or real) into any kind of account. Rather the LindeX is simply a trading post. You are trading money: whether it be Linden Dollars (L$) or U.S. Legal Tender Dollars ($US). Additionally, your are not trading anything with Linden Lab at all. Rather, you are trading with other people who want what you are offering.

Whenever you buy Linden Dollars, you are not buying them from Linden Lab. You are actually buying from other Second Life users who are selling their Linden Dollars (also called "cashing out").

Linden Lab's only hand in it all is to act as the escrow agent. So, if you have L$1000 you want to trade into $US, you offer it for trade (or as LindeX puts it: for "sale"). Someone looking to "buy" L$ will then trade with you. The question is how many Linden Dollars will you give them for each $1 U.S. - and how many Linden Dollars the buyer gets for each $1?

So here is how it works:

PostHeaderIcon Linden Lab Nuclear Option: Viewer 2

All government manuals (such as military field manuals and the like) follow a very simple, consistent rule with regard to callout notifications. A plain three-tiered level system designed to be clear and easy to understand with the concept of saying what it means and meaning what it says. These callout usually highlight something important you need to know as you follow the instruction on the main page and usually have to do with "If you do A, the result will be B".
The three tiers are as follows (with ridiculous examples):

  • The "Notice".
    As in: "NOTICE: If you do not replace the light bulb, the brake light will not function when applying brakes."

  • The "Caution":
    As in "CAUTION: Attempting to shoot your rifle while the barrel is plugged-up with mud could damage the rifle."

  • The "Warning":
    As in "WARNING: Do not inspect the end of a tank barrel during live-fire exercise or serious bodily injury or death could result."

The rules are pretty simple and consistent: A "Notice" simply means a certain way of doing things might not get you the expected result. However, a "Caution" could irreparably damage the item you are working with. And finally a "Warning" means screw the equipment, you could really end-up with a bad day if you fuck-up.

Now, back to Linden Lab's nuclear option regarding Viewer 2: It's like drugs... use it and your hooked. No, not emotionally, but rather kind of like a "once you use it, keep using it or else".

PostHeaderIcon Facebook & Second Life: Successful Failures?

A while ago, it was "My Space", the grand social place to be. Then the site was run into the ground by the My Space powers that be. Facebook rose up to fill the gap as it is more or less a My Space with a prettier face. Now with the whole uprising regarding Facebook and user privacy, one would think with all the shrill screams and shouts, Facebook will soon suffer the same fate as My Space: insignificance. It won't happen. Many will shout the same things about Second Life and how the powers that be (read: Linden Lab) also will run it into the ground, or at least turn it more insignificant than it already is. I beg to differ.

What I would refer to as "successful failures" - meaning a "failure" to those of us who use it and expect more, but not in the least as far as the general public is concerned. They simply don't know any better and thus, they maintain the successful nature of the thing. Even though a huge number, possibly a majority of users are completely inactive. At least this is how it feels on Facebook and the SL Grid. Not so with Twitter because it's a rather targeted system. We each create our own little worlds or "rooms" where we find and see only those we follow directly. So it feels busier than it might be at the big picture level.

It just depends on which side of the door you're standing on, I suppose. I never have been much of a twitterer even though I have a Twitter account The same is true with my Facebook, Lined-In and myriad of other "social media" accounts. However, I decided to try a little experiment to see if my gut-feeling on a few particulars about "social spaces" were accurate. They are.

Within a few days, I received so many friend requests from people I've never heard of and who no doubt have never geared of me all coming out of the woodwork like crazy. I had to turn off my email notifications because of it. So here we are, a few months later. Not a single one has written on my "wall" or mentioned me or even written on their own walls it seems. Not so much as said a single "hello!"

It's a game. For many, it's a simple game to see how many friends I can get in my friends list.

How many followers I can get on my Twitter feed. How many RSS subscribers I can get on my blog. So I can feel important. As though people actually give a rat's behind about what I think on anything. At all. This is true for anyone and everyone who creates these accounts on these social media spaces and chooses to use their Second Life (or other anonymous) persona. I think the same may be somewhat true on the grid also. But one thing I have discovered about Facebook and Twitter and the Second Life grid: your friends aren't. Not really, anyway. Some turn into really strong acquaintances. Many are drive-by "hiyas". Most are just a number. Another notch on the "friend stick just so I can say I have more than you or worse to make myself feel better about...myself.

Of the hundreds of friends I have so mysteriously obtained on Facebook, I think two or three actually wished me a "happy birthday" Saturday. Of course it was just the system sending them a system message "these friends have birthdays today" and they shoot-off the messages like clockwork. however, I agree it was at least thoughtful they took the effort. As far as Second Life grid and friends go, there are three I work with as part of our (we are a team) store. I don't know which of them remembered, but they three each passed along happy wishes and I do appreciate that more than any others.

Except one.

I saw it this morning. A couple days after the fact...
A simple "happy belated birthday".

This happy birthday wish actually carries the most weight with me. It feels the most sincere. I know there wasn't some computer calendar reminding them of the day. I know they didn't have to send the message. I know they went out of their way to send it.

It was from someone who only addressed themselves as "L".
You know who you are.

And you know what? I know who you are, too.
Thank you.