Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Time to give the Devil his due...

Well, today is one of those that I have an unexpected pleasure from. While this little treat of "Open and Transparent" Communication from a Linden Lab employee might never happen again, we should still point it out and hope others might follow this example.

The Blog at Linden Lab has an interesting post concerning changes coming to the Linden Lab network, the growth and Direct Link to Data Servers that are happening, and should help with a lot of the LAG and PACKETLOSS.

FJ Linden is to be commended for his Blog Post that read more like a Status Report then most Blog Posts brought to us by Linden Lab. This was a well written, well thought out Post, and everyone that reads it, should understand just that. This post wasn't designed to hide anything, to communicate with the Community of Users in a dumb downed manner.

If only the rest of our friends at Linden Lab will take lessons from what FJ Linden has done, communicated to us in a "OPEN and TRANSPARENT" manner. Now FJ Linden can be on my on my friends list anytime!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Please help long as you don't ask

This week, my former friend at Linden Lab, Prospero Linden, announced a new Beta program available to the Second Life Community.

Upon learning this, I followed Prospero's instructions to post any questions one might have concerning the program on a Forum made available just for that purpose; I asked the following three questions:
  1. In the Original Beta we were more then happy to help Linden Lab find and squash as many bugs as we could in the time we had, now you are asking for an Open Ended commitment from us? Will you be paying us? Will you be offering LifeTime Accts to those that attend regularly and jump through the PJIRA hoops?
  2. So just exactly what are you offering? Are you going to LISTEN and COMMUNICATE with those that participate, or just do your usual brush off routine?
  3. Will you treat these BETA testers better then you did your OPEN SOURCE developers? Many of whom have abandoned the project because Linden Lab Employee's openly trashed their coding. Will you be any more "Professional" this time around, or act the same way?
Apparently, Prospero Linden is a bit sensitive, as after I posted these questions, they were quickly removed from said Forum. This type of Censorship has become a mainstay at Linden Lab when their employee's either refuse, or just can't, answer questions being asked.

Prospero Linden commented that:

"I have deleted several posts from one poster, who keeps coming back and posting ever more offensive posts complaining about the deletion.

To be clear. I'm happy to answer (or, if necessary, try and fail to answer) hard questions. What I'm not happy with is people who post questions in an aggressive, attacking, and insulting manner. There is a difference between asking a hard question and stating a half-rhetorical question that implies that Linden Lab is a bunch of screwups who never do anything right. The former can lead to constructive conversation, the latter is a troll. Please, let's keep the conversation constructive.

It seems that if you ask Hard Questions they are immediately thought of as being an attack against Linden Lab. This is a new tactic now being employed by Linden Lab Employee's, "cry foul if you can't answer the questions". This tactic along with Censorship is nothing more then a smoke screen trying to divert the Second Life Community User from realizing the simple truth, Linden Lab employee's are afraid to take on the Hard Questions that now plague Second Life and the Second Life Community.

I tried several attempts, each a bit more sharp then the last to get Prospero Linden to answer these Hard Questions, and at one time he commented that he wasn't afraid of Hard Questions and would attempt to answer any and all that are presented without any vitrol attached. In response, I asked the following, again:
  1. In the Original Beta we were more then happy to help Linden Lab find and squash as many bugs as we could in the time we had, now you are asking for an Open Ended commitment from us? Will you be paying us? Will you be offering LifeTime Accts to those that attend regularly and jump through the PJIRA hoops?
  2. So just exactly what are you offering? Are you going to LISTEN and COMMUNICATE with those that participate?
  3. Will you treat these BETA testers better then you did your OPEN SOURCE developers?
Once again though, Prospero Linden took offense at these questions. I guess my problem is that I shouldn't ask questions that point out Linden Lab Employee's past failures, and ask if those are going to be repeated; apparently that's an attack against Linden Lab and their Employee's.

I suppose this experience shows something about Linden Lab Employee's. Either they are very THIN SKINNED and can't handle any type of criticism or they're too incompetent to answer Hard Questions from the Second Life Community. I think it's probably a mixture of both of these characteristics. I can understand being THIN SKINNED, seeing the type of Management being practiced, but being scared to stand up and at least trying to answer the Hard Questions put to them, seems like a scared rabbit is at the helm of this latest Beta Program.

If we look at past actions with Prospero Linden, predicting future behaviour tells us that the Beta Program will fail, that when the new server code is "installed" it will run for approximately 1 hour before being shown it's not ready for prime time. Let's not forget the fiasco of 1.24 install, being reversed 5 times and being re-installed 6 times until it was done right. I suppose this is probably the thing that makes Prospero Linden too scared to answer these Hard Questions, as if he shows he has no idea about them, then it shows he's still failing in his job, and for any management personnel that might be a bad thing to notice.

So, today we learned that Prospero Linden isn't someone that's going to stand up and do the right thing, no surprise considering those that went before him. One must ask, just who's left at Linden Lab that will be willing to answer these Hard Questions?

M? Aunty Robin? Uncle Philip? Blue? Prospero? Seems to me we have covered quite a lot of the departments there at Linden Lab. I suppose we could ask Bub Linden, although we all know his answer. The only Linden Employee left that has more experience then myself at Second Life is Benjamin Linden, although I could be overlooking one or two that don't come in-world.

Benjamin? Do you want to try and answer the Hard Questions being asked by the Second Life Community?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

When the Heart is Breaking

If you expected today's Blog entry to continue railing upon the "Developers" of Second Life, Linden Lab, I must ask you wait for another day, instead today, I need to get some things off my chest; this will be a LONG Blog Entry, so if you don't like reading, come back another day.

I've been a part of the Community of Second Life for over 5 years now, and for the most part, it's been a wonderful ride. Most of you know of my situation, I suffer from Arnold-Chiari Malformation, to which complications of the disease has left me suffering with excruciating pain in my Neck, Shoulders, and Back. I've tried many different drugs, my latest is Lyrica, which seems to interrupt the pain signals coming from the nerves, but interrupts a number of other signals as well, leaving me stumbling around like a drunk and not being able to read most prints because of the blurred vision Lyrica brings along with it. Although, I freely take Lyrica (Free of Charge from Pfizer because I'm dirt poor), because the alternative is about a foot away from suicide. The physical pain I'm in is something that can be explained by science and I'm sure many of you will send helpful ideas, of which I will try most, to see if I can't alleviate the pain, but again, this pain can easily be explained. When I had my Decompression surgery, the Neurosurgeon found that my Forum Magnum, the bone that covers where the Brain-Stem and Spinal Cord meet, was elliptical instead of round. This told the Surgeon that my Cerebral Tonsils must have been in the Forum Magnum upon development (in the womb for you that haven't figured that out) and therefore I've always had some blockage of my CSF (Cerebral Spinal Fluid) into the exterior spine (where all the nerves are). As I grew, the blockage grew, until it was completely blocked, to which, the nutrients carried by the CSF were no longer being delivered to the Nerves and eventually the protective cover surrounding the nerves broke down and caused my problems. See, all my physical pain can be explained by science, isn't that wonderful!

So, today, I want to talk about something I've been brooding over for the past couple of weeks. It's taken me this long to write about it because I didn't want to say something so damaging that I broke something else; a friendship. When someone has been involved in the Second Life Community as long as I have it's natural that there comes a time when you make friends that are more then just Second Life friends, they become friends of your Real Life. It's impossible to keep your Real Life and Second Life separate that long, unless you spend a lot of time lying or deceiving (means the same, look it up) people, to which I'm not the kind of person that would do that. People know this about me too, that I'm straight forward, easily given over to sharing my Real Life if asked (sometimes even not asked). I believe this is what most who have come to know me more then just casually like about me, I say this because some have actually told me so. I too have become familiar with many people in the Second Life Community, past their Second Life Alter-Egos, and I like that just fine. The problem with this, when you allow someone to know your vulnerabilities, they can hurt you in the heart, something that can't be explained by Science.

In my time in the Second Life Community, my heart has not just been broken, but ripped to shreds on three different occasions, the last being two weeks ago. I won't mention those people that have hurt my heart so bad that I just close off that part of me, they already know who they are, and each of them, I let in, close, and each chose to take actions that destroyed me inside. I used to be the kind of person that if you hurt me, I hurt you back. I was very good at this too, I could make most people cry, and once made a whole family cry; but let's not go there. I have grown up, in Real Life and in Second Life. I don't have the same reactions as I had when I just started and that's natural as well. The one thing that hasn't changed in me though is the more I let people know me, the more the risk they can not just hurt me, but destroy a part of me. As I mentioned, on two separate occasions, I let two people within my inner-circle of emotions, and what I received in return was a complete ripping of my soul, so much so, that I just closed down those areas of my life, Real and Second, and refused to let others in. Two weeks ago, it happened again, and once more, I began closing down that door until I realized if I do I'd be completely closed off from everyone. I learned in counseling that building emotional walls leads to more pain and trouble then it's worth. Today I realized that again and have chose NOT to close down, instead to struggle on.

The natural question you want to ask is, "Is it worth it? The whole Second Life experience compared to the pain and anguish people can cause you?". That same question must also be asked for Real Life as well, and when you do, you realize there's just two choices. Close down, be alone and let no one know you, and you know no one, or, struggle on and hope that there are those that will come along and lift you up in your times of struggle. Many people will argue that "playing" Second Life is easier as you don't get hurt, because no one knows the real you, but that presents it's own issues, you are living a lie, even though it's a lie in a Virtual World, it's still a lie. I can't live like this, my moral compass and ethics aren't tuned to be like that and I pity the people that do practice this, as they are missing a wealth of Love and Friendships out there in the Second Life Community.

Yes, when you let people in, they can hurt you, but, opposite of that, letting people in, they can lift you up, even in a Virtual World, and you can fly on their love, and enjoy Real Life and Second Life, that much more. While I let my heart heal through this latest hit, I ask that those of you concerned about me know this, I will return to the world of Second Life eventually, I just need to let my Heart heal a bit, as I don't want to go in-world and "do unto others as they have done unto me".

When the Heart is Breaking, life, Real and Second, hurts a lot, BUT, the love poured out by those that know you, is a nice soothing balm to your pain. If you haven't allowed yourself to experience the whole gamut of Second Life, by being real with people and they with you, I pity you. Until you have your Heart breaking you won't ever know the true depth of Love that others can show you, and if you never know that, in Real Life and Second Life, I beg you, don't let that part of you saying "it's to protect you" win out. The only thing that you are allowing are walls to be built up around your true self. When you let people in to see your true self, you will be surprised that they don't turn away in horror as you expect, but approach and show you Love, a healing balm for all your Heart pains.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

See What the Community thinks? Isn't that Dangerous?

For those of you that don't know me, I spend a lot of my time away from Second Life (and those friends at Linden Lab) doing some Beta Testing and even playing in other worlds. I've done this for a great many number of years, and was even invited to Second Life Beta over years ago without my knowledge. Anyway, over the years, I've come to find out about a great number of Game Developing Company's and even Game Developers. Let's just say it this way, stay away from anything Gordon Walton is working on, and run towards anything Sid is working on!

So, anyway, now that's out of my system, I recently received an E-Mail from a Game Company that's asking it's Users just what they think about a certain subject. Instead of acting on what they want, and then trying to sell it to the Community as an enhancement or a great addition, or ever good to improve the New Resident experience.

Many Game Developing Company's think that they know all and know best about their game. This of course has ALWAYS gotten them into trouble when they decided to screw with one class or another and find themselves having a revolt on every server. Maybe that's what it will take for Linden Lab to finally ASK their Community of Users just what WE WANT from them. Of course, if you have been reading M Linden's latest "4 Months Old" Post, the Community has spoken in spades, but I still doubt anyone at Linden Lab is listening. From the post itself you can tell that M Linden is doing nothing more then trying to sell a sinking ship to the worlds press. Unfortunately, it seems the number speaks volumes about the condition of Second Life, unfortunately there is no competent employee at Linden Lab to read those numbers.

There is one more "number" I wanted to bring up, that our faithful CEO fails to mention, and that is from a friend of mine, who asked me my opinion of whether I thought it would be a good idea to buy a private Island from Linden Lab at this time. I spoke in my usual dulcet tones and told him that if he was planning on having a rental business or something to that effect, then he should NOT do it. With all the downtime we occur anymore, he would be the one his customers turned to for rebates when outages occurred. Linden Lab has made it perfectly clear in their TOS that they are NOT going to give any refunds or reimbursements. So, I think this is a BAD IDEA right now. Well, apparently that's not what he's going to be doing, just wanted a place for himself to play without the griefers, and that's ok, I can see that happening then. Well, I spoke to him a couple hours later and said, "good luck with your Island, just when did they think they would have it up and running?". My friend, with me in shock and dismay, said, "It's already up. They had it operational in two hours!" Now most of you would think, "Gee that's great customer service", but those of you in the know, are thinking, "Oh crap". For the former people, the problem with this is, when Linden Lab was at its HEIGHT in popularity, it took "3 to 6 weeks" to get a private Island up and running. Now, they can do it in two hours. This tells us two very important things. First, Linden Lab must have an awful lot of unused servers sitting idle now, and second, there's a whole department that used to take care of turning up Islands, I wonder just how many are doing it now if it only takes two hours to accomplish? One or Two Peopl? This goes to show you just how far Linden Lab has fallen in its popularity and likability with customers.

I HOPE someone at Linden Lab reads this with the intent in which it's written. I want Second Life to exist for a good long while, but the only way that's going to happen is when Linden Lab stops futzing around and begins to LISTEN to its Community. We are the Customers they need, and if they won't listen to us, then there's going to be a time that we will stop listening to them too.

Anyone at Linden Lab care to comment? As for you Gordon, screw off.