Jessica Lyon has posted on the Firestorm Viewer blog a thank you to the SL community. They have been raising funds mostly to pay for the Kakadu license.
Kakadu used to get lots of coverage in the SL blogosphere. Not so much anymore. Kakadu is the software Linden Lab and Firestorm developers license to handle compression and decompression of images.
You may not know that Linden Lab stores all images/textures in JPEG2000 format. The format offers the advantage of faster and smaller downloads and larger and slower downloads by having different resolution images efficiently stored in one image file. While the format is an ISO standard, the process of getting an image into and out of JPEG2000 format is proprietary. There are open source libraries developers can use to make and use JPEG2000 format files. They aren’t the same as Kakadu.
Before Firestorm started using Kakadu many more images were uploaded using open source versions of the JPEG2000 process. There were problems. Enough so that I made a point of uploading all my images and textures, at least those in products I planned to sell, with the Linden viewer. Now I make a point to only upload such images with Firestorm or the Linden viewers.
So, having a license for Kakadu is a big deal. It is an important component of Firestorm that gives them a more compatible viewer than most third party viewers. Jessica explains in the post they feel Kakadu is worth the expense.
Jessica is… I’ll say ‘surprised’ at the community’s generosity. The team hoped to raise L$1.6 million (US$6,400±) to cover the license cost and a few other development cost items.
We do hear more about the jerks and aholes that use Firestorm than we hear about the good guys. So, it is good to have a reminder that while the Firestorm users have a larger number of jerks than any other group, they BY FAR also have the greater number of good guys. The fund raiser reminds and the amount raised at the time of Jessica’s writing was L$2.1± million (US$8,300±).
So, what are the costs and where is the money going? For all the details see: Firestorm Fund Raising.
The costs are straight forward; two servers for the web site, JIRA, wiki, and downloading. These servers need security certificates, which have an annual cost. They let you know you are in fact downloading from an actual Firestorm owned servers. Kakado is a retail product requiring an annual license. Jessica says it is the largest operating expense they have.
These costs are usually paid for by Google Adsense and the Linden AdBuy program, or said another way by advertising on the web sites. Adsense is how I pay my hosting costs.
The trend in exchange rates from US$ to CA$ has been going against the team as they pay bills from Canada. Plus traffic into the web site has been declining and that reduces ad revenue. Its bad form and against Google ToS to tell people to click on ads to help out. So, the Team is going, or was going, to put Adsense ads on the viewer’s splash page. I don’t see any yet… but, it is probably a good idea.
To cover costs the Team made an offer.
I [Jessica] have been busily trying to learn how to create a line of clothing we can offer our donors as a thank you for your donations. We are starting out with these jackets, though, which will be sold on SL Marketplace in tiers based on what you are willing or able to donate. In tiers of L$250, L$500 and L$1000 you will receive the Tier One Jacket with our logo on the back. Then there are Bronze, Silver and Gold Tier Jackets for backing levels of L$5,000, L$10,000 and L$25,000. I expect we won’t sell many of those, so the few who buy them will really stand out as our biggest supporters. The jackets are rigged mesh, have a color change HUD and come in all the standard sizes. You will be able to read more details and purchase them from our Marketplace store here.
For the sake of transparency I will be happy to provide a summary of our monthly revenue on request; just drop me an email. If you would rather provide a donation without a purchase, we have placed a tip jar in the Firestorm Gateway Event Space SLURL
This is a good free market idea. The request came out January 29th. The follow up Flabbergasted! Came out January 31st, about 2 days.
Because we have well surpassed our goal I am tempted to remove the jackets from Marketplace now, but I also understand that doing so may upset folks who still want to contribute but haven’t yet had a chance to. So I will leave them available but with the mention that we really don’t need any more financial support at this point.
The Firestorm Users have surpassed the Team’s goal. So, they are not in need of additional funds. But, they say the Jackets will remain available, which is pretty neat.