Tuesday, August 24, 2010

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Linden Lab Finally Issues Statement on Emerald -- Which Now Reportedly Accounts for Nearly HALF SL's User Hours

Emerald Viewer

Linden Lab CEO Philip Rosedale has just issued a statement acknowledging that the company removed Emerald from its list of authorized third party viewers after it was used by the lead developer in a denial-of-service attack, and is discussing its fate with the anonymous development team behind it, almost all of whom are only known by their Second Life names. The company may still disable Emerald logins, but reportedly, has not decided on that yet. These moves bring Linden Lab in substantial conflict with the activity of its own users, because Emerald is currently used by an extremely large number of active Second Life users.

How large? Last July I reported that nearly 1 in 3 daily Second Life users are accessing Second Life not through the official viewer software, but via Emerald. Since then, however, reliable sources have informed me that Emerald activity is even larger than that number suggests. That, in fact, Emerald now accounts for nearly 50% of total Second Life user hours. (I checked this figure with Linden Lab, which declined comment.) What's more, that third party viewers attract more combined user hours than any of the official Linden-made viewers, with Emerald far and away the leader. That's part of the broader context for this policy move, which also adds more context to the layoffs and corporate tumult that recently beset Linden Lab: Not only did the company's Viewer 2 not gain many more new users (despite the enormous resources spent on it), but it's been eclipsed by a third party viewer created by a development team of unknown provenance and a history of dubious activity. And this story has only gotten started.

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comoro Infinity

There are signs Philip is growing. By taking the ball and pushing Snowstorm onto his customers. By taking over the Emerald kindergarten, inclusive of Qarl, and using this accident to re-hire him. As long as the bad boys get a good squeeze I'd second this exit strategy. No company in the shape LL is now but with prospects to at least keep their base can allow criminals to blackmail and dictate what is right.

Michael "Crash" Adams

I've used Emerald maybe once, a few friends of mine have coded for it and I can't say I completely understand the reason behind using it. I still use the original viewer pre Viewer2 mostly because I use secondlife strictly for work reasons and I really just need basic functionality. Emerald and Viewer2 to me, both have entirely too much going on.

Wizard Gynoid

i've noted for some time that whenever i am in a public event, say a live concert, that at least half of the crowd are Emerald users. bottom line is that the Emerald viewer was the viewer of choice, due to its features. i myself have changed my SL password and am using other TPVs.

SoyaKnow

Heres an idea..buy the project and remove the bad apples.

Emerald as it exists now with the 'leadership' it has is a bad deal.

Adeon Writer

The important question in my opinion is that if Emerald is to discontinue, who will take it's place? This leaves a huge gab in the need for a 1.x style viewer that contains 2.0's features. LGG, the former Emerald dev, has made his own viewer from the Emerald codebase, called Emergence, which is basically Emerald, with re-branding, and his own personal assurance of it's safety. However, he admits he has no interest in updating it. Who will take Emerald's place if Emerald no longer exists? The need is there. There are many people who, despite leaving Emerald, still refuse to use a 2.0-based viewer.

If told "Adapt or die" that would mean the end of my use of SL.

Crap Mariner

Instead of buying Emerald from the developers and burning even more cash, instead trade them Avatars United for Emerald.

(Maybe they'll come up with something useful with it?)

-ls/cm

Hitomi Tiponi

A lot of the Emerald fans are trying to paint this as a "getting at Emerald because it is more successful than Viewer 2" which is sad. There are plenty of respectable alternatives around, like Imprudence which has similar features. I will be happy to support Emerald once a number of reasonable concerns have been addressed - sadly they show no sign of the openness and responsibility they now need to adopt to regain respectability.

And on the 50% front I am very doubtful - I reckon no more than one third use it, as I have difficulty finding many outside big events using it in numbers. I know that of the eight people I know well, none of them use it - but then that may say more about the people I know, I suppose.

Jovin

Buy a client that's 95% based on your own code - which you already gave away for free?
Buy it from who exactly - the children using it to mount DoS attacks?
If LL want to use any element of Emerald they already can, that's the deal, what would they pay for?

Scary that so many people use this software without even knowing its provenance or who's actually behind it.

Hamlet Au

Remember, it's reportedly about 50% user *hours*, not necessarily 50% unique users. However, that also suggests it's extremely popular with the most active users.

Ann Otoole InSL

LL needs to get the TPV devs working with LL to improve the viewer for everyone and put these tpv team gaming clan wars in the ground where they belong. It can be done. Everyone just has to put their egos aside and work for the common good of the platform and economy.

Hitomi Tiponi

That could very well be the case Hamlet. Maybe that is why it seems clear, and is rather worrying, that a lot of the users care to know little about what Emerald has done as long as it still keeps working for them.

Metacam Oh

Where are these numbers coming from? I call bull.

comoro Infinity

LL doesnt need 2 buy Emerald... they will put the squeeze on the users and drive them to their viewer(s)... what they're going to do with Emerald is buying some people back :) I wouldn't be surprised if this was the goal from the start anyway

June Stormcrow

I second Metacam.
Furthermore, with your lack of indepth coverage and constant shilling for Emerald you are quickly losing the respect that I had for you as a news source.

Jupiter

I've said goodbye to Emerald and hello to Imprudence. It uses the SL1 interface (and RLV), which is the primary features that drew me to Emerald in the first place. And I'm not looking back.

cube inada

nice way to encourage migration to viewer 2.0...
yawn.. nothin new/

bad ideas coming back to bite ones backside.

karmas a btch.

Tojo

Imprudence is Emerald by another name in terms of features and ability.

Where Imprudence is different from Emerald is rezzing speed (already on the Snowglobe fork); Transparency of code and dev team, license compliant, weekly beta releases (in a addition to the main "release") and already is beginning to incorporate some of the Viewer 2 features (example: Tattoo layers and alpha layers) - and still hang-on to the classic interface.

Most popular does not equal best.
Now the best kept secret (Imprudence) won;t be. It was always cool being the guy with the pinkish name tags in the sea of green. I suspect that will change to be the other way around: green tags in a sea of pinkish.

/me shrugs.

Celty

Some Emerald lovers will choose to use it despite any warnings the Linden's issue against doing so, as is their prerogative.

Course some people choose to have unprotected sex with strangers...

Adric Antfarm

Why does this blog insist on dragging out a number that is hardly accurate and even if so...

You are putting forth the argument that Linden makes the best choice not by protecting it's users from any harm, but allowing harm to come to them provided it is inflicted at a number they call popular.

Do you know that sounds mad. Right?

Dave

I find it very unlikely that a third party viewer has such a high percentage of user hours. Third party viewer usage was a tiny percentage last year. Has it really changed that much? Linden Lab does have detailed statistics about software version and user hardware.

Vivienne Graves

@Adeon Writer: Actually this doesn't 'leave a huge gap' in 1.x style viewers with 2.0 features. See Henri Beauchamp's Cool VL Viewer at http://sldev.free.fr (which had alpha and tattoo layers before any other third party viewer, and whence came the patch for that feature everyone else is using, and which now supports inventory links); see also the Imprudence viewer at http://imprudenceviewer.org (which has substantially similar features to Emerald sans associated baggage).

Noirran

It would really be great if LL would use this opportunity to listen to what concurrent users want and incorporate those features into a usable official viewer, instead of trying to cram 2.0 down everyone's throat.

Hamlet Au

"Where are these numbers coming from?"

Obviously I'm not going to reveal that, but I wouldn't report this figure without checking them with multiple sources I consider reliable (and probably anyone reading this would too.) At any rate, it's not private information that Emerald's website (which the viewer accesses) is quite large -- according to Alexa, for example, it's ranked in the top 75K sites, which probably comes out to several hundred thousand monthly uniques:

http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/modularsystems.sl

CyFishy Traveler

My understanding is that Emerald's popularity is not measured in its features, but in its stability. I've had few troubles with Viewer 2, but apparently many others have, and most people I know who switched to Emerald switched because it's less likely to crash on them.

Galatea Gynoid

That wouldn't surprise me...

"Everything but the kitchen sink? Heck, no! We have an entire warehouse full of kitchen sinks stuffed in here!"

That sort of thing doesn't actually make software loved for its features. When your preferences panel is more intimidating than a 747 cockpit, people tolerate it for the few features they actually use, but not many people love it for that.

Anya Ristow

That half the avatars online are running Emerald (my anecdotal evidence supports this) tells me either (1) there are precious few inexperienced people in SL, which doesn't make sense, or (2) something fishy is happening. How 'bout you use your influence and connections to find the real story?

Do you really believe half the user hours are logged on a viewer that isn't provided by the company that runs the game?

Metacam Oh

Hamlet, Alexa gets its traffic ranking from people who install the alexa toolbar in their browser, explain to me how the Emerald site which is accessed from the Emerald Viewer would show up on their system unless traffic #s are being gamed.

http://paulstamatiou.com/why-you-should-completely-ignore-alexa-stats

Hamlet Au

Actually, not just the toolbar, that's cross-referenced with others sources:

http://www.alexa.com/help/traffic-learn-more

"Alexa computes traffic rankings by analyzing the Web usage of millions of Alexa Toolbar users and data obtained from other, diverse traffic data sources."

But in any case, I'm not basing this post on what Alexa says, I'm basing it on what my sources told me about Emerald's usage.

Psion

I have no difficulty believing the 50% figure for Emerald use. I see huge numbers of Emerald users while in-world, and Hamlet's sources only confirm my personal experience. This worries me, however, because that suggests we have an aging population. There aren't enough new users coming in to keep TPV use down.

When Third Party Viewers hit the scene, I wasn't an early adopter. It's difficult to be sure of dates here, since I don't remember when the first non-Linden client came out, but I think they started to appear about a year or two after I'd been in-world. I had no desire to check out any other viewers.

Once I tried Emerald, however, all that changed. I found a viewer that was faster, easier to use, and had more features. I immediately began proselytizing that client, and probably convinced upwards of twenty people to try it.

If my experience is typical, then it's reasonable to assume a new user will come in and use the standard viewer for about a year (more if the viewer does things no other does, less if they encounter lots of people recommending a change). And if half of the clients are running Emerald, less than half of the remainder are running the standard viewer. Some are running Imprudence (which I'd guess is the #2 viewer based on what I see in-world) and others are running Kirsten's excellent alternative. I could easily be convinced as few as a third of the citizens in-world are running the standard viewer. And an unknown fraction of those are newbies, since some long-time residents continue to use the standard viewer and some use a variety (like me), switching between them depending on need or whim.

That says most citizens have been around at least a year and suggests that growth has slowed significantly.

SoyaKnow

There is scattered chatter that LL has requested the Emerald devs not use emkdu.dll in any future releases.

Apparently they made a blog post and promptly deleted it-they are good at that. See the link here at the Em site:

http://emeraldviewer.net/forum/index.php?topic=4114.15

Metacam Oh

Could user hours be skewed by some sort of reason that allows Emerald users to leave their avatar on all the time?

Ajax Manatiso

Since I went to Emerald about 2 years ago, I have never crashed. I tried Imprudence and I crash over and over and over again when trying to do any kind of building. The reason long-time users favor Emerald is it's stability during builds. I have an advanced firewall and commercial security software (Im an IT pro by trade) and my Emerald has never attempted to connect to any non-linden sites other than the music stream. I'm sticking with Emerald because all the other viewers are totally useless to builders. And for its popularity -- its the only one with the booby jiggle --lol

SoyaKnow

@ Alex

Imprudence has boob jiggle and so does Kirstens. I seriously don't have faith in what you say.

They admitted a DoS attack, but you say it never happened. Hmmm.

Crap Mariner

Forget users.
Forget user-hours.

How much of the drama is it generating?

-ls/cm

Psion

SoyaKnow, the Emerald viewer and website are two different things. All Alex said was that he trusts the client (and gave a darned good reason why) and finds it more stable for his use.

Given my own doubts, I've abandoned Emerald and switched to Kirsten's and Imprudence. Unfortunately, while Emerald worked well with a 64-bit Linux environment and played streaming music, neither the Kirsten nor Imprudence viewers come close. I always have to ask DJs to give me their media URL so I can point an outside media player at it to listen in.

White Lebed

I am in SHOCK that there are so many people in Second Life who would install on their own computers a software that is made by anonymous people hiding behind avatars.

Seriously, people! You don't give an access to your online banking, mutual funds, credit card, equity lines, etc accounts to people whose names/addresses/faces/phones you don't know, right?
Please, say that you don't...
Guess what? installing something that allows modification of your registry is exactly the same thing!
50% of all SL users are THAT naive? scary number

Leondra

The numbers? Go to any big live performance event, and I would say, more than 75% are using Emerald. But, if you do not have Emerald, you cannot see what the other avatars are using as their viewers.

Tried the others, wish for shadows like w/ Kirsten's. But for ease of use, multiple ava attachment points, quickly loading inventory, great graphics... windlight settings, and stability in that what I left when I logged out, is the same when I log in.....

Emerald.

Sorry to hear that the developers need some hand slapping.

Leondra

and yes... boob bounce is nice, when done right while dancing.

Anya Ristow

If 70% of the people in SL have heard of Emerald and 70% of those have downloaded it and tried it, and 100% of those are currently using it, then things add up.

But that's just dumb.

Much more likely, 70% have *not* heard of it, and 70% of those who have heard of it have not tried it, and 70% of those that have tried it aren't currently using it.

50% vs 3%. I can not find the logic that rationalizes the first over the second.

That half the avatars you see are running Emerald means there's something else happening.


Viorel Daviau

The number of users doesn't really matter when you get to the meat of the problem, so that debate (if you can call it that) is nothing more than background noise.

You, the viewer user, were used as a worm-like tool to criminally attack a site. The end.

Now if you want to continue using the viewer because its features make you all happy inside, that's up to you, but some of us don't care to be some playground bully's little ignorant minion.

As far as the other viewers & Emerald-like features, I suggest you do some research. More than one developer familiar with Emerald's code has said that it's "comparable to hacking features in". Maybe that's why "bouncing boobs" continues to work in other viewers but not consistently in the very one that introduced it?

Funny that.

The bottom line is that I don't blame Rosedale for the position he's taking...even if Emerald is as popular as the post suggests.

For those who say "omg I will quit SL if you take my Emerald away"...just leave already. We've heard your song & dance before with the removal of casinos, banks, etc.

Kara Trapdoor

Ditto what Noirran said!!!!!!-LL incorporate the Emerald features we want or make a viewer like it. I can't understand why after all this time this has not happened considering Emerald's popularity and all this hassle and potential legal issues. The cost may be less in the end, and I'm not talking strictly financial. This is getting old.

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