Perhaps Emerald have been listening…

I don’t mean listening to *me*! I’m under no illusion about my importance in the metaverse, and have no doubt that I would not even appear on their radar. But to be fair, after my last post, I feel bound to say that Emerald have improved two things, while they are consistently making other things less useful. Here are the good points:

(1) The grid manager is restored in Emerald 1.3.2.2010 Beta. It is now clear that they only removed it temporarily because they had to re-factor their code and re-apply it to the new Linden code base. The breakage of the old, simpler “grid combo” was probably accidental and I doubt that they even realise that it won’t work for entering free text URIs when the grid manager is not applied to the code. It may even be fixed in the new code base, but the matter is now inconsequential anyway.

(I should say that I have raised the issue of the short character limit for URIs with Kirsten Lee Cinquetti but have not yet received any direct communication, though I haven’t checked if my blog comment has received a reply. It’s a shame because Kirsten’s Viewer is probably the most lag free of all, in addition to having the best graphics. There is no reason to exclude OpenSim users when the now standard code could so easily be ported. It is worse because there is no XML method to add your own grid, as there is in other viewers without the grid manager: see my latest comments in the previous post for instructions and details of how to do it yourself in a viewer without a grid manager. Even the lesser of the two methods would make this excellent viewer just operable in OpenSim, at least for those able to edit some simple XML, though not for everybody.)

(Update: short character limit in Kirsten’s Viewer S20 has been removed, at least in late August 2010 when I checked.)

(2) FINALLY, the longstanding failure of Emerald to rezz avatars in OpenSim grids has been fixed. It is a problem that was, and probably still is, shared with the Linden Viewer 2.0 code base. But don’t check this out, kids! Viewer 2.0 has been reported to do damage to OpenSim inventories, and may continue to do so until the OpenSim developers fix Linden Lab’s breakage of the code and report that it’s safe. Don’t wait up for LL to do it themselves! So Emerald has NOT abandoned the metaverse. But I feel bound to ask why it took nearly a year to fix such a small problem that they recognised aeons ago? Do they value OpenSim?

BUT why do Emerald keep giving their users and then, without any full explanation, then take them away again?

(1) The latest to go is the script pre-processor that was meant to radically decrease load on sims by moving script handling partly over to the client side when a script is first run. That would be helping LL and clearly in no way in breach of the TPV policy, since it actually increases other users’ enjoyment of their grid by reducing lag. So was it broken? Why is it removed “temporarily, maybe?” as they put it. Is there a dispute with LL? Why, as usual, are users kept in the dark? It doesn’t engender trust.

(2) IRC is removed. (I may add that the Greenlife Utility Stream is also removed, but I doubt many people used it.)

(3) The export function has been crippled for all grids, not just SL. Imprudence, in contrast, had to prevent their version of the code from handling textures when in SL (compatible with Meerkat and Hippo but not Emerald’s version, as it happens) in order to comply with the TPV. This is understandable, as is the helpful fact that it still works in OpenSim grids. Before anyone bleats about IPR breaches, remember please that not all OpenSim grids are commercial grids in the first place, and the vast majority of reputable grid operators like myself do not allow or condone IPR breaches in any case. (I don’t call it theft here because I’m being technically correct, as it is a civil not criminal offence, but that does not mean that I support it in any way.)

(4) The Emerald splash screen (including the brand new one in this new beta) is enforced even when connecting to OpenSim grids, giving only LL and Modular Systems news and thus making it impossible for users to see grid status and news for where they actually want to connect. No other viewer does this. Why make it difficult for people?

(5) The Emerald Viewer allows people to see whether somebody has allowed you to see whether or not you are online, which goes against the spirit of the function, whereby you were supposed to be able to appear offline at will. Admittedly this was publicly available information anyway, as you could find it in three ways (a) check someone’s profile, where it will show you if they are online (all viewers? I forget…); (b) check a group that shows members and that you know the person to be a member of, which you can find in their profile; (c) send them an IM. If offline, it will give a message warning you that they are offline and the message is saved, but otherwise it will remain silent. Nonetheless, no other viewer makes it so blatant, totally removing the point of the function and reducing it to meaning only “I don’t want to talk to you” rather than the gentler “I might not be at home”.

Overall, some brownie points to Emerald for not *completely* abandoning the metaverse, but there are some usability problems of their own making, some unexplained and pointless withdrawals of useful features that have taken effort and code to create, and generally very poor communication with users. I won’t make the accusations that some have made about Emerald’s alleged covert monitoring activities and deliberate posting of broken code so nobody else can compile it, as I have no information. But some of their faults are plain for all to see and are, for such an otherwise excellent viewer, entirely avoidable problems.

But to end on a positive note, kudos once again for fixing the grid manager and the rezzing – thanks!

Back in the metaverse

Nothing very deep to say at present except that I’m back in the metaverse, which is to say OSGrid and Grid4Us. So far I’ve noticed that the stability of my inventory in OSGrid is still as poor as it ever was, although as yet I’ve seen no new corruption and loss of inventory. What I do have is tons of dead stuff from ages ago, and I’m never quite certain if the server is playing up today or whether the items really are gone forever: either can be true. (Sighs) I guess that OSGrid is only supposed to be a test environment and stability isn’t guaranteed.

That isn’t to say by any means that all of my inventory always appears, and for some reason I get better results connecting with Kirsten Lee’s S18 viewer, whereas Imprudence still has problems on a Mac: (1) it has the libndof crashing problem that has never been sorted out in some viewers, and (2) sometimes it has trouble loading the inventory, as does Emerald. This doesn’t happen in SL, where the inventory server seems fast and reliable these days, so I suspect the inventory loading time is the issue. I know this setting can be altered  in Emerald at least, although I understand from the Emerald documentation it is something to be rather cautious about changing.

Apart from being disconnected a few times from Grid4Us, so far it seems to be much more stable and lag free than I remember, and it looks like a grid where people are taking a pride in the content. The trouble with OSGrid is, although it’s where everyone is at, the sims and servers appear and disappear so frequently that it’s never worth building much, and the flaky inventory server – despite it’s much vaunted renewal of late – makes builders dispair every time they realise the textures and contents of their prims have vanished AGAIN and the items have gone missing from their inventories. So the choice is: do you go where everyone is, at the risk of your content, or do you go to the quiet, reliable grids?

Imprudence, when it doesn’t crash, does give you a bit more reliability with regard to assets. Providing that you make everything yourself and keep full permissions, you can back things up. Remember to do this with the avatar that made them: if you transfer it directly between avs (whether or not on the same grid or using hypergrid), you’ll no longer be marked as the creator and full perms will not help.

And finally I have a halfway decent appearance that bears some resemblance to me in SL, which is some reassurance. On the other hand, I still haven’t set up a server and don’t have any land.