My Take on the Firestorm-Phoenix Q&A Video

The Phoenix Team is spending time and effort fixing problems in the Phoenix Viewer. That time and effort can be better spent on Firestorm. Phoenix is a dead end. It simply takes more and more effort to keep a lame, dying viewer alive that can’t support new features in SL without massive effort. Time spent fixing compatibility issues is time that cannot be spent building new features.

Consider that Cool Viewer is the first V1 with mesh render. It took Henri several months to add mesh render. Milkshake apparently started with V3 code and started adding features  (there is some question whether Milkshake is a development effort or just a personal viewer the builder shared) to put a viewer out with all the latest features in much less time. It may be the newest and most feature rich viewer available. (Milkshake Viewer Review)

02:00 – Nigma asks how Jessica knows Linden Lab is killing the viewer. Again, I think the term ‘killing’ is misleading. However she characterizes the information about the end of V1 viewers, it comes directly from Linden Lab. Actually, it’s not news or even new information. Over a year ago I wrote that V1 viewers would eventually go away.

Jessica gets information from a TPV Developers bi-weekly meeting held on Fridays. I think Oz Linden hosts the meeting. I understand one has to be a developer and be NDA’d to be invited.

In the meetings information about what Linden Lab and the TPV Dev’s are doing/planning is exchanged in the hope of avoiding problems, duplications, and false starts for both sides. It is in these meetings that the Lab pointed out V1 code and viewers are being depreciated, phased out. The servers supporting V1 viewer features will at some point be turned off.

Linden Lab has officially stated they would NOT block the V1 viewers. They have never claimed they would support them indefinitely. They repeatedly tell people they will not fix bugs or problems in the Lab’s V1.23.x viewer. They refuse to work on it and they make no bones about it. Talking with Lindens I’ve heard them say eventually V1 viewers will just not work, unless someone upgrades them. Their hope is people will move away from the V1 viewers before that day arrives.

Content creators and others involved in development for SL are upset that the Lab won’t turn off V1 viewers. Those using V1 viewers are upset that the Lab will not continue to support V1 viewers. The Lab can’t win. Unfortunately some of the heat is transferring to TPV Dev’s. I think they need to learn to duck.

03:40 – Nigma asks if the ending of V1 viewers will have a significant impact on SL. At time mark 05:00 Jessica gets into an explanation of what has to happen and why.

The explanation is economic. It is realistic. I doubt the entitlement minded will understand or care. But, the fact is as we have always known, V1 viewers, old viewers will be replaced by newer viewers. Old things are always replaced by newer things.

The impact is going to be some people some people leave Second Life. the real question is how many. With something like 80% of users on V3 or TPV’s there are only 20% using older viewers. While some significant percent say they will leave, past experience shows it is a very small percentage. The Lab figures may be 2% will leave or have computers too old to run SL.

09:30 – Nigma asks why the new work done (presumably computer code written) in Firestorm and time put into Firestorm cannot be put into Phoenix. Jessica uses a good metaphor to explain why.

Pretend you have a home you love. The state comes by and says a highway will be built and your home has to come down. You can build a new home and move. Or you can do a kitchen renovation to the home you love and stay as long as possible. But, the day will come when your loved home is torn down. If you spent your time and money on a kitchen, you will be homeless.

This is essentially what is happening with Phoenix and Firestorm.

15:00 – Nigma gives the rules for Questions and opens the Q & A session up. Basically, don’t swear at or piss off the moderator. You have to tell people because the ones likely to do that aren’t bright enough to figure out it won’t work well.

Jessica makes a clarification for the Q&A secession. I think what she says opens the project up to a disaster and counts on people to be rational, which I think risky. She says the team will focus on Phoenix if asked to… and goes on to say doing so will, in a couple of months when V1 viewers die, result in users needing to shift to a Linden SL Viewer.

I know she means well… but I don’t believe any of that statement. If she did commit the team to Phoenix I expect most team programmers would mutiny. Also, I think the V1 viewers have more than a couple of month’s life left in them. Also, there are alternatives other than resorting to the Linden viewer. But, hopefully she made her point that putting effort into Phoenix is counter productive.

I am guessing her view for that statement is that all V1 viewers will stop working at the same time. If true, then everyone would have to change to a V3 viewer of some kind. I think there are some persistent developers out there that will keep hammering their V1 viewers into a workable form. I think that is insane, but they are free to pursue whatever development their hearts desire… and I’ll wish them well.

18:00 – Nigma asked Jessica how much she has been paid being a Firestorm-Phoenix person. Her answer: $0.00. None of the FS-PH Team get paid. They do the work because they enjoy it.

It should be obvious that if the community gives them a load of crap, the joy will leave. Then there is no point for them doing the work. I’ll take it that because the meeting was held the crap is getting too deep. This video should be a wakeup call for the community.

24:22 – Question: Green Man said… Will this be any more or less effective than the blog arguments that have gone on these last couple of weeks? B/C there is no real point to this if you and your teammates are just going to do the same round of insults, dismissals and elitism you have been engaging in.

Really? This a lawyer’d question, meaning a viewpoint is pushed and stipulated as true without basis. Such questions often have no point other than to be offensive and vent.

Jessica defends herself. She does explain that some V1 fans feel the team is being offensive or dismissive of their viewpoint because they think the idea that V1 will die is a lie. They simply do do not understand the reasons old software goes away. Remember the eclipse sacrifice? Humans do this stuff. I seldom put up with it. Having different beliefs is not grounds for insult. Jessica exhibits more patience than I would.

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14 thoughts on “My Take on the Firestorm-Phoenix Q&A Video

  1. Good “summation” Nalates. I too watched the whole thing and you seem to have hit the important points.
    One off-hand comment Jessica made about Viewer1 caught my attention; right now LL is running 2 versions of the inventory loading program on the servers. When the day comes that they remove the old one, V1 will still “work” but without your inventory.
    People need to bite the bullet and learn to use a V2 viewer. They are, after all not still running Windows 97. Changing SL viewer is far less traumatic than changing OS 🙂

    • Thank you. 🙂

      Thinking of two inventory systems can be misleading. Jessica usually doesn’t go too techie. But, the lack of technical understanding by residents is leading to some of the frustration and spin, imo.

      Inventory is a list of items that reside in a database. The list itself is data in a database too. Having two inventory systems is not a matter of having two databases. It is having two API’s (Application Programming Interface). The servers that handout asset information (e.g., the stuff that makes up a sexy top) have new coding to handle newer faster ways to find and handout asset information. There is new code to process the inventory lists too. That new code has a function name that is somewhat like a phone number, which makes up the API. We can see functions in the Linden Scripting Language (LSL) to see what that looks like. They look like: llSetPrimParams( [instructions here]). We now have a new one llSetPrimParamsFast([similar but diff instructions here]).

      Basically your viewer is programmed (by using either llSPP() or llSPPF() ) to call either the new code or the old code. Eventually the old code will be removed from the system and no longer work. It is kinda geeky semantics and I think irrelevant to most of us whether the new and old code live in the same or different servers. Also, how one thinks of the meaning of ‘system’ in this context can shift one’s meaning.

      Talking with Oz Linden in the Open Source Meeting he pointed out that all the new API’s have been made available to TPV Dev’s. So, it is possible for the TPV Dev’s working with V1 to update their viewers and keep them working. How difficult that will be I don’t know.

      The Lab will not be updating SLV 1.23.x. That viewer is doomed. They think making the changes to keep it working is too much work. They decided to focus on new things. Linden Lab is NOT focused on killing V1 viewers. They don’t care about V1’s, as best I can tell. They are abandoning THEIR 1.23 viewer. They are still providing lots of information so others can maintain the TPV1’s.

      Jessica sees a business need for the Lab to kill off all V1’s. I don’t. I think the Lab is just moving on and V1’s have very little financial impact on LL.

      In a nuanced situation with many complexities, Jessica is pointing at the Lab as the reason Phoenix is going to be discontinued. The FS-PH Team may truly perceive the situation that way. I don’t. I think the FS-Ph Team is making the same decision the Lab made. I think they have made it clear they think working on Phoenix is too much trouble, counterproductive, and they want to move on to the new stuff.

      If I were making free viewers, I would make whatever I wanted to make and use personally, which may be what Milkshake is. I would probably provide free copies to friends. Whether anyone else wanted to use it or not, would not matter to me. I would have no reason to care. Anyone that yelled at me about MY viewer would be blocked from downloads. I don’t want the aggravation.

  2. Wow. Excellent post. I haven’t seen the relevant video (and have no intention of wasting my time on it as the LL viewer works fine and I don’t bother with others) but I’ve heard about it of course. Personally my reaction would be the same as your final comment; all whiners would just be blocked, not appeased.

    There is a lot of childish, uninformed behavior in SL (for example, people screaming at someone who is using particles — one of the most useful and beautiful things in SL — telling them to “quit lagging me!” when all they have to do is turn down the particle count in their own viewer), but in my opinion the so-called “viewer wars” are the most assinine. ALL software morphs over time as the programmers gain more knowledge/experience and the technology improves. The obsession with an old interface and refusal to move forward is laughable, and the vitriol directed at the official LL viewer is ridiculous. Personally I think LL should make the use of their viewer mandatory. The use of other viewers dilutes the input stream to the programmers of the LL viewer and it wastes the time of support staff being hammered at to fix problems that are 3rd-party viewer related and not their concern.

    And anyone who had the thought “If they take away my [insert name of TPV here] then I’m leaving SL!! I’ll show THEM!!” please see my remark regarding childish behavior above.

    • Unfortunately the behavior is not limited to SL…

      Snap judgments and jumping to conclusions are typical human behavior. Add to that the entitlement mentality now being encouraged by many political systems is filtering into other parts of life. So, it is becoming your duty to stop using particles because they can’t be bothered to change their settings or have yet to figure out what is going on.

      Enough whining on my part….

      As to other viewers… they do have some fun stuff in them. The Linden Lab viewer is sort of the mid-range Ford Explorer. TPV’s range from a little Volkswagon or a work truck to a Ferrari. Or may be a gadget rich Volvo.

      TPV’s are not about ‘need’ so much a fun. Some of the first TPV’s were identical to the SL Viewer but with more bug fixes, they just worked better.

    • I watched the full video and I only use the official viewer. Its still a good watch. Very informative on goings on and kinda shows how the whole ‘FIC’ thing really works (some people get into the favored crowd merely because they show up when others don’t). 🙂

      It gave me a lot more sympathy for the Firestorm / Phoenix devs than I had before. 🙂

      Some of the questions were downright irrational. Some people asked the same question others had asked many times already, insisting no one had asked it and that no answer had been given – demonstrating that they really don’t want an answer, they just want to vent and blame. Which is sad.

      People are very upset at their cheese being moved. The rational option is to learn how to handle the new location of one’s cheese, because it won’t move back. But they’re being emotional instead – as if anger would cause their cheese to come back to them.

  3. You can bad mouth Cool Viewer and v1 viewers all you want, but as long as they continue to get higher frame rates and better performance then v2 and v3 viewers then people will keep using them. Perhaps LL should spend a short period of time on code efficiency in order to bring v2 and v3 up to standards.

    • I’m not seeing where anyone is bad mouthing Cool Viewer. Henri has made a good viewer and is showing that V1’s can continue to be upgraded and work.

      Also your ‘should’ shows you are not aware that is what the Lab has been working on for the last few weeks. The Shining Project has been optimizing and fixing problems in the new render pipeline and OpenGL compatibility. The latest 3.2.6 is quite a bit faster.

  4. Thanks for your post Nalates; English is my second (rusty) language, it would take me two days decode the two hour video, your summary and your good judgment is a great help.

    Last year i was a reticent Emerald and official v1.23 viewer user. I was comfortable with those viewers and i didnt want to change.. but some day i decided test v2.3 (or something near). I dont remember exactly what version it was, but was the faster viewer i ever had. I could have sharders activated even in cowled placed (my system have like 10 years old today, so that was a great improvement to me). Due to economics reason i am still stucked to this oldie PC, i had to learn get along good with lag and less than 10 fps everywhere, but furthermore since v3.0 i freeze like crazy in every new viewer out there.. its unusable for me so i had to return back to v1, Singularity is my viewer now. I miss a lot of things of the last releases, but this is the only way i can logging SL today. Hopefully, i expect have a new computer in few months, but now i feel a little relieved knowing that LL is not interested in turn off v1 platform in short. I’m grateful with every developer out there for help grow our little universe, and i am completely at the mercy of Henri in particular for let me enjoy the magic of mesh these days. Kirstenlee departure is for sure a sad notice, and even though couldnt install her viewer, i feel that a part of SL go with her.

    @Caliburn: On my point of view make the official viewer the only option is a very bad idea. To me they are not only a fun.. but a useful think to everybody, even if you are not gonna use them. TPV developers help to fix an important amount of common bugs (and they have their own jira system to fix the bugs of their viewers), give useful feedback to LL and release new features that could be in the official viewer.. or not: and i am not talking just about the “Show Look At” that everybody feel like essential… Ligthing and Shadows, RLV, RLVa.. the nice Collapse button that i always miss on my official viewers!…
    Its nice if you like official viewer.. really.. i would use the developer viewer if i could, and i completely agree when you refer to the those intransigent users that all they do is complaint about everything.. after more than year reading people growling about UIs, i think that if i hear someone telling that FUI sucks my head will explode in hundred of tiny pieces of slimy brain.

    I would say that its a bit childish of your part too complaint about people using TPVs. The more options the better and the richer SL is, because what works for you maybe dont works for me, because what you like maybe is not of my taste.

    About the particles matter… yeah its very pretty, i use them often in my creations, but being a mentor on a sandbox i can tell you that it can be very very very disturbing. Certainly, i know the shortcut to turn it off when it disturb me, but i am responsible of keep an appropriate atmosphere in order to build in peace, and sometimes (always) is better and faster ask politely turn off the particles emiter to the resident/griefer than try teach every newbie in the sandbox on to turn it off in their Preferences… and you know… maybe what you like could be not what i like or what other person likes, we live in a community ^^

  5. Thanks for that summation Nalates – and sitting through 2 and a half hours for the rest of us:). I do agree with your thoughts on part of the Phoenix user-base – I think they inherited them from the Emerald days.

    Incidentally Cinder does not believe Milkshake is ready for wider release (just ask her) – it was created for herself and a few friends, though hopefully she may develop it further in the future.

  6. I’m getting tired about the “v1 vs v2” stuff and people who are not even true programmers and pretend that “v1” TPVs will die or be soon unable to function properly on the grid. Like I wrote in details on my forum (http://sldev.free.fr/forum/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=584), “v1” viewers are not v1 any more (all the underlying ll* libraries, most major viewer classes and even the whole rendering pipeline are in fact v2/3 ones in the Cool VL Viewer, Singularity and now even Phoenix since it reused all my patches to implement mesh).

    No, “v1” TPVs (and more exactly TPVs with teh v1 UI) will NOT die any time soon ! Stop the FUD !

    • Thanks Henri. It is hard for people to know what developers are doing without reading through the development repositories. Also, without understanding how the viewer code is constructed, it is hard to read about viewers and take away the correct impressions and nuances.

      The idea many of us take away when a developer says their viewer is based on V1 or Snowglobe code is that new code is being changed to work with older code. If the old code is being modified to work with new code, then I suspect few of us are thinking in that frame.

      I keep expecting a developer to break the viewer render engine and user interface into separate modules. I also expect the viewer code to become more and more modular. But, we don’t hear about those details.

      I would think someone would be developing an app for SL to run on tablets and smart phones. I suspect that development would be kept secret by LL and anyone else developing it. But, the financial rewards could be enormous. With 400,000 downloads of FS/PH I would assume an app would sell maybe 200,000 apps. While it would probably require a subscription to go with the app, people are thinking along that line as Hamlet’s poll shows.

  7. One thing you should know Nalates:
    There is a *free* implementation of the Havok Physics engine SDK available for those who want to develop games which cost $10 or less.

    Read here: http://www.havok.com/sales

    • There seems to be a gotcha in the licensing details. For development of a game there is no cost. As long as the game distributed for less than US$10 there is no license required to distribute it.

      A viewer is only part of the SL ‘game’ that has a premium retail value of US$9.95/month or about a $120/year or $72 per year on an annual basis. It becomes a point of interpretation of the Havok license as to whether a viewer qualities for the free, basic, or pro license. Since most TPV Dev’s are much more into the licensing than I am and are not using the free Havok, I’m guessing the license is in fact a problem. The same can be said for OpenSim.

      • I think you have it backwards, Nalates. As a sometimes-dev (not of viewers), if I have to care about the license, I won’t use a thing for a personal project. I leave it to my employers’ lawyers when its and issue for them. I’d avoid Havok, because I couldn’t afford the lawsuit if I’m wrong and am not lawyer enough to be confident I’m right.

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