Nov 20, 2010

Skylight: The Zombie Apocalypse

Over the summer, I heard ideas thrown around and rumors of a web based version of #SecondLife. I’ve seen some alphas tested with Unity3D that could connect to a grid in a limited fashion, but something always didn’t seem quite right about the approach.

Fast forward some months and Linden Lab is going ahead with Skylight testing, of which some of us have had the opportunity to test it out in 60 minute increments. Over the summer, I remember a Smarter Technology talk where the subject came up, and even then I had voiced concern over a web based version. At some point one of the attending Lindens had asked me why I thought it was a bad idea, and I said that it wasn’t the idea but the implementation process itself may be.

Skylight - Teleport (Zoomed)

All this customizability! Unless you’re using Skylight…

Sure, Skylight is a step in the right direction, but I have misgivings about the intention of Skylight and how it is implemented which forbids me at this time to be able to say it’s actually good in the long run.

Let’s take into consideration that it’s running on a Cloud Computing back end in order to stream the environment to the web client. In theory this is smart, because you don’t need higher end hardware to run it, but when we look closer the cost is bandwidth. Many do not have a high end bandwidth allotment, and so this is a definite detriment if Linden Lab is targeting mobile and web users.

Cloud Computing generally costs per gigabyte of bandwidth and seeing as an hour using the Skylight embed uses roughly one gigabyte of bandwidth, I can see how this is going to add up in costs as it scales up.

How would Linden Lab actually recuperate those costs, you may ask? Well, one would assume with the increased exposure and usage of the Skylight viewer, and the possibility to embed that into things like a Facebook application or web sites, that they would benefit from increased transactions that would bring. After all, Linden Lab gets a cut from marketplace, and an order of magnitude increase or more for co-current users would prove to be an additional revenue stream in Skylight.

Skylight - Unable to Purchase (Zoomed)

Who needs a multi-million dollar revenue stream? Photo: Wurlitzer Seisenbacher

I don’t believe it’s a matter of “How much should they additionally charge to use Skylight?” because that seems silly in retrospect. Aside from this, charging to use the preview system would defeat the intended purpose of attracting more people. However, there is that Marketplace which Linden Lab earns quite a lot of revenue from transaction percentages.

We could also say that something like Skylight could also be a very good option for business use in that the business could embed the Skylight viewer in their corporate site and allow employees to log in for meetings instantly without the download (which to point is a major issue with business adoption).

The problem I see is that while these options seem to make perfect sense to not only recuperate those Cloud Computing costs, but possibly turn more profit, as of this moment, the Skylight viewer is devoid of Inventory, the ability to purchase items in-world, and an LM system (not to mention quite a lot of other things).

So what does it actually do?

From what I have seen, it essentially does what I argued it would over the summer during the Smarter Technology talk – in that it’s the absolute lowest common denominator and stripped of most of the things which would both make money and appeal to new users in order to give them an idea of what the possibilities in-world are. In short, it’s a limited time use 3D chat room that uses an obscene amount of bandwidth.

Sort of like trying to convince people to buy a car by only showing them the tires.

For people who have never seen Second Life, and are entering for the first time via the Skylight viewer, they are likely to look at Second Life and think “What’s the big deal? It’s a 3D chat room…”.

What then from the content creator side of things?

Destinations on the guide will definitely benefit from the added traffic from Skylight, but those Skylight users have no L$ or Inventory, and as we know a lot of those places have Malls and stores, not to mention tipping the DJs, hosts and venue. However, with Skylight, we’re adding a lot of dead weight.

Those Skylight users will see these clubs, and locations, and not be able to purchase anything, tip the DJs, tip the venue, or the hosts. They are just dead weight, especially for the people who can’t get into the sim when the limit is reached (potentially from Skylight users).

Maybe that last point is not true, and Skylight users don’t count against the sim limits. But it’s still dead weight, regardless. As venue owners and content creators, we’re happy when there is an increase in traffic, but this is a lot like Zombie Traffic.

Dead Rising - Zombies

It’ll be like this, except with music and hobos | Photo: Dead Rising

Of course, there is also the problem of security and enforcement concerning these zombies. If you are a venue owner, then this Zombie invasion is going to be a nightmare. For a moment, imagine trying to enforce a sim ban on an unruly Skylight Zombie, and realize that Guest [Random Number] doesn’t do you any good. Of course, we wouldn’t have that problem if people could actually just log in and be accountable at least to a unique account.

Maybe, then, Skylight is just a means to an end in getting conversions to real accounts via a “real” downloaded viewer? It may be ill-conceived all around if this is the point.

Linden Lab has a lot of incentive to monetize the Skylight implementation before it goes mainstream, and a lot of benefit from doing so goes to the content creators and venue owners as well in the process. If those zombies can have an inventory and LMs, as well as the ability to purchase L$ and marketplace items, then we increase revenue by orders of magnitude (which means more money for content creators as well as Linden Lab). Of course, only if you can log-in with the Skylight viewer as a real account and not guest [Random Number].

That extra money from the micro-transactions would subsidize the costs of using the Cloud Computing back-end and maybe even turn an extra profit boost, not to mention giving those Skylight users a better idea of exactly what Second Life is about.

After all, people are more likely to be attached to their inventories than a 3D chatroom, and that’s a better route for conversion to viewer downloads and “real” accounts.

Let us take into account that Skylight technology is a perfect solution to answer things like Avaya web.alive 3D embedding, used for business quite a lot. Instead of business users needing to download a viewer, they can log in with a web viewer and attend training, seminars and meetings nearly instantly. This has been a gripe as far back as I can remember for companies using virtual worlds.

But if we’ve removed customizability and even the ability to log in with a real account, and Display Names, then most of that business aspect was just tossed out the door, not to mention any hopes of revenue increases or conversions.

While Skylight is still in testing phases, I highly recommend that Linden Lab reassess their plans with it if they intend to keep it as stripped down as it is now for a preview. There is a lot of money to be made and sidestepping that doesn’t seem to make much sense… but then maybe zombies are good for the Metaverse?

Nov 14, 2010

All That Glitters is Not Gold

Open Letter to Viewer 2 Haters: Part II

I’m sure by now that the previous Open Letter to Viewer 2 Haters has made its rounds across the twittersphere, and caused quite a commotion and uproar among Second Life users. No, this is not a retraction or an apology for what was written in that post, however it is an explanation.

The Open Letter to Viewer 2 Haters was written entirely for shock value and for the purpose of getting your attention. I spent quite some time thinking about what it would be that I would write in it before submitting it. The purpose of that open letter was simply to aggravate and enrage quite a lot of people, and ultimately to get your attention for the real message contained here.

Now that I have your undivided attention, I’d like to ask you to step away from your hate mails and angry blog posts long enough to read this.

Over the past 15 years in this industry I’ve noticed a disturbing trend on the consumer and content creator side of virtual environments. While technology is following an exponential curve of accelerated returns, the people using those technologies are following a linear path of adoption with only minor increases over time.

What this means is that the speed at which these technologies are progressing are far outpacing the general population’s willingness to adopt those changes in a timely manner. We make a lot of assumptions about how technology should cater to us as individuals, even if we are unprepared to keep pace with its increasingly rapid turnover and evolution.

Is something like Viewer 2 actually a resource hog or is it designed to require more from your hardware in order to utilize new features? We can say quite the same about whether or not the switch from Windows 3.11 to Windows 95 incurred the same traits. Many at the time said eerily similar things about Windows 95 and how it required too many resources and new hardware to utilize properly.

This has been the pace of technological change since as far back as I can remember. Each new leap and bound forward produces a backlash about how the last generation of hardware is not capable of supporting it, or how the last version was better than the new version just released.

Case in point: We are quick to dismiss Viewer 2 outright, with justifications that it was broken and never should have been released, yet the Viewer 1 series started in much the same way. There were betas, and continual updates over a period of years which strengthened the viewer series into what we know today.

By no means did Viewer 1.0 release bug free or without its share of major issues that today, under the same circumstances, are reflected in the development and release of the Viewer 2 series.

I refer to this process as “Perpetual Beta”.

It would be entirely unfeasible to code and release a solid product today that did not need updates or fixes. Our operating systems alone update regularly to keep pace, and there is always something new going wrong with them. All of our software today is designed specifically for automatic updates, which is to say that the developers could not possibly foresee everything that might go wrong and so chose to make their software a work in progress.

Viewer 1 is such a product and it too is subject to that rule. It did not launch as a final product, and over the course of many years it evolved to be better and fix the issues, large and small, which hindered us from using it the way we wanted.

To say otherwise is naïve, and misses the point altogether.

There comes a time when all software undergoes a major change, usually between entire version numbers. Much to our surprise, hardware becomes outdated at an alarmingly quicker pace as a result as these software packages push the boundaries and fix the problems in a live release scenario.

There is a lot to be said about the potential that the new features of Viewer 2 codebase brings to us, despite the flaws that come with it. Some merchants are beginning to embrace those new features, and brave the glitches and flaws in order to bring to market new and innovative products that otherwise would not be possible.

While browsing LAQ Skins with my partner, we came across Alpha Layer Makeup options, and hair bases. Looking at designers like Reitz Designs, I see an effort to utilize Shared Media in powerful and creative ways. When shopping for shoes and boots, I have noticed that some high profile brands are embracing that alpha layer and getting rid of their invisi-prims in exchange for cleaner masking on the body.

But there is a flip side to this coin as well.

Many high end brands in Second Life are still clinging to the old methods of doing things, and waiting until they are literally forced into using the new features and viewer.

Maybe they are waiting for TPVs to give it a go, or maybe they are waiting for the viewer to mature further before it becomes of use to them. One thing is certain, regardless. The pace of advancement is not boding well for the general population in keeping up.

Some are being adventurous and taking a swing at early adoption, and in the long run they have the upper hand over the late adopters. The truly new users of Second Life are directed toward the latest Viewer 2 download, and they realize this as an opportunity to capture more market share through those new users.

When I talk about new users, I mean truly new users. Not an alternate account, or one of our friends who has us giving them predetermined bias about Viewer 2 and pointing them to our TPV of choice. I’m talking about the person who has literally never set foot in a virtual environment until this moment, and has no idea what to expect.

Which brings me to the next point of this discussion.

Those truly new users are coming. Not just in drips and drabs… but likely in a tidal wave. Normally I’m on the fence about whether this is a good thing, but lately I’ve thought it over and at least for the short term I believe it is a very good thing. At least for those who are taking note right now and preparing for the tsunami coming to shore.

It means that this community which is considered by many to be a niche population, will soon be opened up to the mainstream. Opened to things like Facebook, and countless websites around the world. Hundreds of millions of potential customers and their micro-transactions await. Through efforts such as Skylight (SL Web Embed) and an application layer to allow upwards of 1000 simultaneous users on a sim, there is untold amounts of potential in the works.

Places like LAQ with their Make-Up Alpha Layers and Reitz Designs are getting their feet wet early, even if in a preliminary fashion. Other content creators are doing the same as well, including myself (from day one).

This is simply too big to ignore for too long, and I truly believe many have ignored it for too long. Not putting those puzzle pieces together to see the bigger picture in play.

The first step to understanding this is simply approaching it in a manner by which we are level headed. I am fully aware that Viewer 2 is still broken for many people, and in some cases in a severe manner. I do, after all, spent a lot of time and effort reporting issues in the JIRA, and reading other JIRA issues submitted. However, we need to look at this from outside the box and learn to separate our anxieties and aggravation from the reality.

The reality is this:

Linden Lab has chosen to push ahead with Viewer 2 development, and has done so in much the same methodology as they did upon releasing Viewer 1. That is to say, release what they have and make fixes and changes going forward with the community leading feedback. They know that Viewer 2 is broken, and they are adopting Agile Development practices and multitasking approaches to deploy those changes and fixes as quickly as possible.

We know that they have absolutely no intention of rolling back to Viewer 1.x series, and to solidify that, they are phasing out 1.x and support for it.

Skins and interface changes will happen in TPVs fairly easily, and I have seen this done with Kirstens S20(41) recently. Making it possible to choose a method whereby the Sidebar is not sticking out of the side at all times. Other interface changes have been possible as well over this development, so we all have something incredible to look forward to.

Phoenix is looking into Firestorm, a version based on Viewer 2 code, and we can surmise that they will also be including features and abilities that have become standard in that TPV.

While this is happening, there is also testing for Mesh importation into Second Life, which will allow a level of fidelity not attainable with a sculpty or purely prim method of creation. Sure the market will see quite a lot of models imported from resellers on the web like TurboSquid, and there is a DMCA issue waiting to happen. But those issues are already a part of Second Life today, and Mesh does not change that situation. Like any content imported or created in Second Life, there is just as much of an IP issue as the next form of media.

However, despite the possibility of this happening, we have seen quite a lot of original creations in Second Life. Mesh simply opens the door for better quality and finer control over the content we create.

There is a concern that I have with current content creators in Second Life concerning Mesh importation, and that is those content creators which have spent much of the past 5 or more years making a living from and building a successful brand name with their content, may ultimately be eclipsed by the influx of much higher quality Mesh products that are soon to come.

Again, what we are looking at is old methods being made obsolete through new functionality and features.

Therein is what worries me the most about this whole situation. While many of us have spent the past eight months bickering and taking sides about whether or not Viewer 2 is worth our time, many have quietly snuck away and poured time into learning the new system and worked on products and testing which utilize those features in advance.

Whether it is creating powerful web applications which interface with Second Life, or introducing items which use Alpha Layers. Even pouring time into exploring the Mesh grid and learning how it works.

Those content creators have a ridiculous head start over the content creators which have rationalized reasons why they cannot or will not utilize those abilities. It’s a really shameful advantage, and it was made possible only because of the constant bickering and chaos we’ve been engaged in.

From looking at the comments submitted to the Open Letter to Viewer 2 Haters post, the countless infuriated tweets, and angry retaliation blog posts, I can safely say thank you for proving my point very clearly and publically. Yes, it was a trap and many of you have fallen for it.

There are legitimate reasons why one would not use Viewer 2, but again we must learn to separate legitimate reasons from those that are purely personal choice. For instance, if inventory is wholly broken or missing – this is a legitimate reason. If your computer cannot handle utilizing Viewer 2, then this is a partially legitimate reason.

The last one needs explaining a bit to clarify.

Technological progression inherently means that in order to continue utilizing the latest features, you will at some point need better hardware. Computers have a life span, and we can not expect a lower end computer to run software and 3D graphics that are beyond its capacity. Nor is it legitimate to expect that the progress of the software somehow be impeded by your inability (by choice or circumstance) to stay current.

Viewer 2 does not require a super powerful computer. As far as I am concerned, it runs quite well on a dual core laptop with 4GB of RAM purchased in 2009. This was an entry level laptop when it was purchased nearly two years ago and in no manner was it a gaming rig.

If you own a computer older than three or four years, then there is no expectation of continued support for your hardware in the push forward. If you have built a brand and real life business based on your aging hardware, it is your priority to make certain that the core of your business – that computer – stays capable of participating in your ability to make money.

The Interface for Viewer 2 does not constitute a legitimate reason not to use it for your own personal gain. Just because you may not like the layout, doesn’t mean you should not be targeting those who do and are using it.

This is why I am concerned.

Many have legitimate reasons not to use Viewer 2, but many more simply do not. Successful companies often have Research and Development efforts to explore new technologies and applications in a manner which will give them an edge for things to come. I see this trend in Second Life with established brands, but I also see many more ignoring that aspect.

The new marketplace has issues which have cost you real life money, but that will pale in comparison to having your entire product line made irrelevant through competitors capitalizing on newer methodologies and features.

Walking away and starting again in a fledgling system isn’t an answer. There simply aren’t enough consumers in those systems or the ability to truly drive them to you, to make up for the losses. It’s simply not a sound decision if you are depending on revenue.

I look forward to the future of Second Life, regardless of what that means. For many (not all) of you reading this today, you have a lot to fear about that future and just as much reason to understand that your inaction may be your own undoing. Entire virtual empires are in danger of collapsing.

This is simply the reality check, and a plea to not let that happen.

Nov 13, 2010

An Open Letter to Viewer 2 Haters

What follows is my open letter to the people who have spent the past 8 months bashing viewer 2 and impeding its growth, as well as consequently stifling the entire market and innovation through their boycott. If you’re easily offended, I’d suggest you read another blog entry than this one.

For instance, how about the actual post that wasn't intentionally written to piss you off? Yes, this post was written on purpose to infuriate everyone, and to this day I still get comments that make me laugh simply because people entirely missed the point. This is the "shock value" companion to the follow-up that was meant to get people talking and illustrate a point that is now mute in 2011 - in that all of the hatred and bickering back and forth served no purpose than to drag out a process that we could have spent better time and resources making better united. This article was written from the point of view of somebody that was simply missing this point, and many other points, to illogically debase Viewer 1.23 at all costs. While the same attitude persisted from 1.23 viewers toward 2.0, I chose the viewpoint of 2.0 instead because it would cause more contention.

In the end, I proved my point - because whether we liked it or not at the time, I said that Viewer 2 would become our staple viewer going forward and 1.x series was on the end of it's life. Of course, we could have sped this up by about a year in advance had we all stopped to unite over it. Progress is scary, and rapid change in technology is outright terrifying for those of us who have become accustomed to our entrenched methods. 

If we wish to survive the future and accelerating returns, we need to lighten up and move forward. It's only going to happen in faster bursts going forward.

For the full intentions of this letter, please see the second part here -

Dear Viewer 2 Haters,

The past eight months has been a rocky road of progress. In April when I decided to bite the bullet and give Viewer 2 an honest shot, shortly after it was made public, you were there with your prim torches and sculpty pitchforks. Sure Viewer 2 introduced Shared Media, but that didn’t matter to you.

You stood by smugly, assured in your dominance and rightful place in the virtual world when you continued using Emerald, even as it was apparent that it was going down in flames. You stuck to your guns and continued fabricating countless reasons why you would never be caught dead using Viewer 2.

There was the introduction of alpha layers, which make unsightly invisi-prims a thing of the past, but still you showed strength in unity when turning your nose up at the fledgling viewer, still not even a year old.

You called yourself true designers, builders and people who cared about the economy in Second Life, all while contributing to TPVs holding out in introducing the new features. If it had anything to do with Viewer 2, then you wanted no part of it.

And the third party viewers listened to your pleas! Surely you are proud of your voices being heard in stopping TPVs from even considering the notion of switching to Viewer 2 code and taking the time to make it better on their terms and yours. Why should they? They had a codebase that was solid and had the benefit of many years of development and maturation, compared to this snot-nosed upstart called Viewer 2.

How dare this new viewer even exist?! Why should anyone bother giving it the time of day, or even the scrutiny of the TPVs to tear apart and make better?

Sure, my experience with using Viewer 2 has not been a bed of roses, and there have been hardships along the way. But this is where I differ from you.

While you call yourself the true spirit of Second Life, I must question you on this as well as your integrity.

Surely you were there in the beginning when the 1.x codebase wouldn’t even let you teleport without taking off all of your clothes? Surely the pain and hardships of that first year of development did not scare you away. Where would we as a virtual nation be today had you taken the same stance against the fledgling 1.x series as you do with 2.0 series?

If you had simply snubbed your nose and sat elsewhere in your smug superiority, you would not have a 1.x series to even base those now solid 1.x third party viewers on. But you persevered and continued to add feedback, and in a number of cases took it to heart to do better with third party viewers.

Where did that spirit go? Are you the same pioneer that you were from day one?

Clearly you are not the representation of Second Life in its glory days. You have become complacent and lost your spirit of innovation. You’ve forgotten what it’s like to roll up your sleeves and push the limits, to get your hands dirty.

And for that, I sincerely thank each and every one of you.

For the past eight months, I’ve worked hands on with Shared Media at Pixel Labs along with Jon Dragoone. Each day listening to countless people like yourself tell the world how much Viewer 2 is hated and how you’ll never use it.

Thanks to you, we’ve had eight months to explore and create using these new features. We’ve had eight months to get to know the Viewer 2 Interface, and while it’s not everything we wish it was, we still have the greatest gift you could have ever given people like us this holiday season.

Thanks to you, we’ve had an eight month head start with these new features, and have had ample time to get to know the intricacies of the main viewer. At first it was a pain in the butt, I’ll admit, but over time I’ve learned to come to terms with it.

You haven’t even taken the time to do that much.

Sure you’re just busy… you’re a prominent in-world merchant and can’t find the time to relearn something wholly new. I totally understand. The only issue with this thinking is – it’s the main viewer, and whatever influx of new users that may be coming into the virtual environment will likely be using Viewer 2, now that the 1.x codebase is on a fast track to being retired.

Where are your products utilizing the Viewer 2 features? Are you still recycling scripts from old televisions because you don’t take advantage of Shared Media? Are you creating shoes and other parts covered in invisible prims to hide the feet because you don’t see the merit of alpha layers?

Somehow you call yourself professional designers, and yet you stood by for nearly a year and refused to make an effort to bring the absolute latest and best features into your own product lines. Heck, you didn’t even bother to think about how you can benefit from those features in the future, and begin to make plans and tests when you had the chance.

But that is changing soon, isn’t it?

It was the introduction of Mesh that was the straw which broke your back.

It’s becoming painfully obvious now that you will use Viewer 2 in some form or fashion going forward, and even you cannot deny this. Phoenix is updating to Firestorm, and while the 1.x code of Phoenix will stick around, its days are numbered. I give great kudos to Kirstens for biting this bullet early and making great strides with Viewer 2 codebase as a third party viewer.

But while the TPVs are making plans to convert to 2.0 codebase, even if some are still standing their ground and refusing, you and I both know it is a matter of when and never has been a question of if.

I’m sure you can jump over to InWorldz and continue your protest. The land is definitely cheaper there.

But I find it dubious that you’re the same people who complain that Second Life search is broken but brush off the fact that InWorldz search doesn’t even exist.

You seem to be tolerating quite a bit of things from places like InWorldz that you have come down heavy handed on for Second Life. I suppose when they offer insanely cheap sims with a ridiculous prim limit, you’ll suddenly have selective amnesia.

I’m not against progress, and I’m sure as hell not against places like OpenSim, ReactionGrid or InWorldz. But I know when not to be a hypocrite.

What is good for the goose is good for the gander.

If you wish to continue bashing Second Life for things which are being worked on, or are currently broken, you had better be prepared to hold third party grids and efforts to the same standards.

You consider Viewer 2 unfinished and broken, refusing to use it. Yet you gladly trot over to InWorldz and other places to find much worse or equal conditions, only to give it a glaring thumbs up review.


You cannot do that.

I understand the pioneering spirit, possibly better than you at this moment. The same scrutiny and willingness to endure stability issues, bugs, and overall issues in a new system that you apply to those third party grids is the same attitude you gave Second Life when it first began in the 1.x series.

You were willing to use the viewer even when, and despite, that it was broken and was in need of serious development help. You stuck to your guns and gave it all you got. Hell, you’ve managed to build entire brand empires in the virtual world because you had that pioneering spirit and stuck to your guns.

Viewer 2 is the same situation as the dawn of the 1.x era and it’s the same situation as you gladly walk into concerning places like InWorldz.

The only difference is that despite the prices and prim limits, Second Life is still quite a distance ahead in features and pure magnitude.

Of course, that also explains why every time somebody tells me the virtues of InWorldz and how they are moving their brand over there, I’m also invited to Inworldz with them.

That’s the problem with cheap land and high prims; It’s directly proportional to the amount of money you’d be expected to make in that system through perceived traffic. I know at least two brand owners who have spent plenty of time evangelizing InWorldz like a Time-Share Condo salesperson and pushing all they can to convince their group members to drop Second Life and follow them into InWorldz like some preachy ass cult.

If your marketing in InWorldz involves leeching people from a totally different system, then you aren’t cutting ties with Second Life. You are still wholly dependent on the population of Second Life to keep you going, even if you are in InWorldz, and that is simply a piss poor business decision.

That’s like opening shop in a cheap storefront buried in an alley on the outskirts of town, and relying on sending people to Wal-Mart to stand in their aisles and tell them about your store and how much better it is than Wal-Mart.

Inworlds more than likely will suffer from the same issues of scalability as Second Life has had to deal with over these years. It is the very nature of that system, closely resembling Second Life, that while there is not many people co-currently within its confines it will be very inexpensive to deploy servers. This trend is simply a temporary one, and over time even they will have to start raising prices just as Second Life has had to do.

How much faster do you think Viewer 2 would have developed had a majority of the serious community actually used it? Your voice is pretty powerful, at least enough to convince TPVs not to use Viewer 2 code for nearly a year or so.

That shear force of will could have been put to better use over the past eight months, in using the Viewer that a majority of truly new users will be using and getting to know your market. Instead you’ve chosen poorly, in refusing to touch Viewer 2, telling the world how much you hate it, and how you simply don’t have time to learn it.

Thank you.

Because of you, I’ve spent the past 8 months truly living that pioneering spirit you’ve forgotten. Clearly that head start isn’t enough of an incentive either, for me, or I would have been long gone by now.

No, I have greater incentive to use Viewer 2 and tear apart every single thing it can and cannot do. If my suspicions are correct, and quite often they are, Second Life is headed toward “Fast, Easy, Fun” integration with Social media networks and websites with their Skylight project combined with the layer ability from Intel which allows about 1,000 co-current users per region.

In your unwillingness to learn Viewer 2 for all it’s worth, you’ve essentially screwed yourself out of valuable time to prepare and capitalize on a coming wave of casual users and micro-transactions for your products that will likely number 100 to 1000 times the reach that you have today.

I’m sure InWorldz is growing like a weed and tons of people are signing up every day for it, but it cannot compete with the ability to reach the 500 million users of Facebook as well as the 6 billion websites on the Internet.

Suddenly that cheap land and high prim limit doesn’t seem so enticing anymore, does it? I’d venture to say that it wasn’t a very wise decision to stick to your guns and stand your ground in using 1.x viewers, either.

Looking back at the past eight months you’ve squandered, and now knowing that things like Project Skylight and the co-currency layer will open your brand up to untold millions of potential consumers, if you haven’t been convinced to bite the bullet yet, then you are just plain ignorant.

No, viewer 2 is not perfect. It simply hasn’t had the benefit of many years of development to reach that point yet. What viewer 2 is, however, is a glimpse into your future. You were given ample opportunity to reach for that brass ring, and you turned away. Now you are going to scramble to play catch up, or you can wait for your TPV of choice to do the scrambling for you.

In the end, the TPVs will bite that bullet and roll up their sleeves. I’m certain that the TPVs will find ways to make the viewer 2 experience much better as well – but you’ve paid an obscenely high price for procrastination and being an elitist. You’ve paid for it in losing your edge, and your ability to beat your competition to a market that may number in the tens of millions or more.

At this very moment, Second Life is the best option if you are a content creator. OpenSim and HyperGrid are promising, but without a central marketplace you may as well hang it up if you want to be a serious creator there. HyperGrid technology is like going from America Online to the World Wide Web but forgetting to have

When HyperGrid is paired with a central marketplace, as well as building the HyperGrid teleports into the Landmarks natively, then I see an absolutely huge future outside of Second Life. Assuming that the features of Viewer 2 are also present in HyperGrid enabled Open Sims.

InWorldz still needs a year or two in order to know if it’s worth the time and money to participate (even if it’s just a little money). As it stands, InWorldz is a good experiment that needs time to mature and by no means should you treat it as a platform to build a business on.

Now would be a good time to stop rationalizing your boycott and learn to use Viewer 2 for all its worth. You simply cannot afford to waste any more time than you have at this moment.

Or you can continue to give people like myself and Jon Dragoone an insane head start on this coming wave, and play catch up later.

Your choice, regardless, but we still thank you from the bottom of our hearts for giving us an eight month head start over you to begin with.

Why not be generous and make it an entire year head start?

Update: For the full intentions of this letter, please see the second part here -

Nov 3, 2010

The MovieCentral Mafia

If you've ever been on marketplace (as I'm sure you have), take a moment and search for Shared Media. It is inevitable that you will come across a WebTV from MovieCentral. Now don't get me wrong, I really do enjoy Shared Media, but these WebTVs seem poorly thought out and when I attempted to use one that I bought (apparently a "steal" for only 899L on a non-copyable version) many of the streaming channels did not work. I went through the first and second pages of icons clicking and other "channels" only to see a white blank screen. Maybe it was a glitch of sorts, maybe the creator did not take into account the dynamic nature of the web or streaming links. I do know this: If their product is broken, then their "customer service" is totalitarian and hostile. Shortly after posting a review (2 Stars) on the 899L version of the MovieCentral WebTV and the reason why, I received this in my IMs in-world:
Hollywood Quicksand: Your comments are untrue about the WebTV. Are you blind the TV has the best youtube you can get. Its a full custom search API and plays in full screen exact fit and using the native player. I know your a rivals alt piece of shit

[15:21] Hollywood Quicksand: (Saved Wed Nov 03 09:03:28 2010)wipe you off the updates list asshole

[15:21] Hollywood Quicksand: (Saved Wed Nov 03 09:05:00 2010)no one else has a problem with accessing those channels nice of you to contact the seller and the reason you didnt is because you an alt now im going to crush your business out of existance :)

[15:21] Hollywood Quicksand: (Saved Wed Nov 03 09:08:39 2010)I wil make sure the seler sees your lies and have him ban you from updates
Yes, I intentionally left the text unedited and without spell check.
So of course I replied, very cordially:
Aeonix Aeon: You must have me confused with somebody else. Firstly, I am not an alt. Secondly I merely conveyed the truth without being overly critical of the product. I have no alt account, nor do I sell anything to compete with that WebTV.

[15:25] Aeonix Aeon: But now that you speak so "highly" of me, through insult and accusation, as well as threatening discontinuation of support for your own product simply because I voiced concern over the product in thinking it did not deserve the glowing reviews it was getting, I believe I'm now inclined to build a better TV system.

[15:26] Aeonix Aeon: No, I am not an alt. But if you want to know who I am - you can check my profile any time, and then look at the viewer 2 credits - my name is in there.

[15:28] Aeonix Aeon: Thank you for your reply, however long winded and insulting it was. You have only confirmed a hunch that I had concerning the 5 star ratings on that product being from associates of moviecentral and not actual users of the product who are unbiased.
So there you have it. While I should warn that this is not a reason to ignore Shared Media altogether, I would definitely not buy anything from MovieCentral again. Their WebTVs are overpriced, half broken, and their associates are hostile and threatening - not to mention more than likely rating their own product with 5 star reviews for better ranking on Marketplace. This is about as dishonest as it gets all around.

However there is a bright side to this fiasco, in that I did mention in that conversation that I'm inclined to make a better WebTV system. After months of planning and procrastination, Jon Bee and I finally wiped away the tears of laughter from reading that conversation and decided to actually finish koios. The prototype of koios is sitting in my house right now, but will not be released - however, the new version does have a release plan. While most WebTVs in SecondLife do a handful of things, koios will more than likely be built on an Apps system and feature pretty much anything you'll ever want and more on a WebTV. The prototype alone is more advanced than most TVs in Secondlife today, and we discontinued it for the purpose of making a better and more powerful one.

So not only has MovieCentral lost my money and respect, they've lost all hope of me changing that 2 Star rating into something higher, and have actually spurred Jon and myself into showing these kids how it's really done.

I wish MovieCentral and the other TVs in SecondLife the best of luck.

They may need it when koios is launched.


Yes, as if they haven't realized they are digging their hole deeper, Hollywood Quicksand has continued the assault. If I were the person in charge of MovieCentral, I would have immediately fired this guy:

[18:11] Hollywood Quicksand:Ok im glad to hear you are not a rivals alt. Its hard to believe you after al your lies so far.It seemed strange somebody would be so critical without even seeking help from the seller allowing me to test those channels which are all owned by other Networks and often go down and come back up due to the nature of the small networks. However because you have defamed my charactor with your lies and innuendo i will consider that abuse and a breach of our stores TOS contained in the User Manual. There for i am going to be removing you from updates and asking my boss to blacklist you from further use of our products or services.

[18:11] Hollywood Quicksand: You didnt even request assistance, so anyone that does something so low in my mind has to have some ties to a rival store or simply a low life. I also do not think you are capable of creating such a fine product because people as crital and arrogant as yourself usually lack the skill to build even the most simple of devices. Our products are driven by the most advanced APIs on SL and connected to some of the best real web services on the Net. Everything you in your review was contrary to that and for that i disrecpect you. You have ben banned from the over 300 sims i own surrounding my store. You disgust me.

My reply:

Aeonix Aeon: Well good for you. However you have a bigger problem on your hands. I highly doubt *any* of the movies on the movie rental service you are touting on the product are actually legal, and therefore are subject to untold millions of dollars in legal damages from the IP holders of those movies. Feel free to ban me from the sims or refuse to update a product I legally bought from your service. The other things you are liable for would be breach of the SecondLife TOS, not to mention International Copyright laws. And that, my friend, is the lowest you can get in moral character.

Aeonix Aeon: I highly recommend that you discontinue your assault on me over this issue.

Hollywood Quicksand: Btw you hide your profile so i can not read it. Nor do i have any interest in reading it. I can see why aman like yourself would want t hide. I can only imagine the hatred so many people in SL have for you. I am personaly friends with many Linden staff and a proud assoicate of one of the bigest media companies on the web. I know for a fact we would never have such great sponsors and support if our products were anything like the way you described. All of them love our products and so do our 20 000+ in world customers. We are new to the marketplace yes and it doesnt help when low lifes like yourself get a chance to write their hate and lies about such a great product. I do however respect your right to do so however it was nothing but lies and you did not give me or the other staff a chance to help you or refund you. Instead you prefer the method of hate.

Aeonix Aeon: My profile is not hidden. But I have no interest in continuing this conversation over something as trivial as a rating on a product. But for the record - your treatment and assault of me is recorded and now made available to most of the Who's Who of Second Life. If I were your boss I would have fired you by now for this. Have a good day :)

Hollywood Quicksand: You sir have now stepped over the line and have personally defamed my companies products and service. i am now going to have my companies RL lawyers file suit over this. Our movie service is an API that conects to the movie cental service. Now i am going to let the company know you have defamed them as well and they can join us in our law suit. Good luck sir my bosses are all multi millionaires see you in court.

Aeonix Aeon: I wish you the best of luck in your endeavors. If this is how you treat your other 20,000 customers, I fail to see how any of them are actually satisfied customers. I apologize that a single 2 Star rating on a product would have angered you so much as to threaten legal action for defamation. I wish you the best of luck, really...
Final Update:

They removed the product from Marketplace after the rating, and I am supposing it's so they can resubmit it and flood the product again with 5 star ratings from their associates. In short, this is about as dishonest as it gets.

Should you trust them or their products? I'll leave that up to you to decide. For now, I've simply blocked Hollywood Quicksand because if I laugh any harder I'll piss myself.