Aug 31, 2008

We Have Normaility... but what is normal anyway?

The auto-redirect seems to have been fixed, thanks to the hosting administrators. Some upgrades were going on with the servers and a few things got slightly messed up in the process. In one instance, an entire server hard drive took a nose dive (luckily it wasn't ours).

So let's recap for a moment:

Site was redirecting to a GreenCard Application site [supposedly the redirect flag on the server was turned on for everything instead of just the 404 pages]

Checked the site this evening and everything seems to be in order again.

If you notice anything out of the ordinary with the site again, feel free to give us a heads up so we can try to find out what is going on. We would again like to personally thank Dr. Duke and Keith Thomas for giving us the heads up about the redirect issue.

And now we resume our regularly scheduled programming :)

Darian "Is It Just Me, or Do Pokemon Seem Completely Non-Plausible?" Knight

Aug 30, 2008

US Greencard Lottery?

Thanks to a handful of our website visitors we've been informed of the odd redirect issue on our site. Visitors to the site are being redirected to US Greencard Lottery inexplicably.

We've been looking into the issue and talking with the hosting admins to figure out what the issue is and how best to remedy it.

In the meantime, for those who can see the website as it normally is, please forward this message to the rest of the beta group and let them know a fix is in the process.

Our sincerest apologies for the downtime.

Quick Explanation:

Apparently there was a hardware failure on Box15 of the host, and while Andromeda is hosted on Box12, our suspicion is that during the restoration of Box15, other servers in the vicinity were also included in the restoration process just to be on the safe side.

The site will be temporarily down until things are restored, but we are getting reports that some visitors are now returning to original functionality and able to view the site uninterrupted.

Aug 17, 2008

Second Logoff

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if you haven't figured it out already then we're about to tell you.

Second Life is broken.

I'm not entirely certain at what point this dawned on me personally, but when it did I immediately wondered why so many people tolerate this sort of thing. In any other industry, any software package that has a high failure rate is simply not released, and if it is released to the public then those responsible end up being fired.

It is my understanding that Second Life has been around for about 10 years now (1999 - Present) and yet after that much time in development and fixing, the system is still highly prone to complete blackouts and rolling restarts. When you find it a craps shoot to log in, that should be your first cue that something may have run afoul in this Metaverse.

Missing inventory items? Everyone waits patiently for Linden Labs to correct the problem. Issues with you inventory disappearing? Wait contently while Linden Labs fixes it, and so on.

The point here is, Second Life is poorly designed as a framework, especially one that is being open sourced. It has exactly zero capacity to upwardly scale and suffers from computer killing trafic, How often would you tolerate anything else in your life breaking as much as Seconf Life does?
As an american, I can tell you the answer should be none. Yet everyday sims proclaim how great the Lindens are for dealing with these corporate entities while completely sidestepping the issues at hand and blindly forgiving the massive faults.

If you though I was bad for tearing ActiveWorlds Inc apart publicly, then trust me, compared to Second Life, Active Worlds is the respected elder. Second Life, bluntly stated, has holes in it the size of the Grand Canyon, ones that avatars walk through every day just to log in. And yet people say "How nice of them to fix this issue so quickly."

Here is a list of things that should not, under any circumstances, be an outstanding issue when you've been in public use for nearly ten years:

1. Logging in. Seriously... there's no reason that the central database is down and most if not all citizens experience difficulty to get in to the world.

2. Inventory items should not simply "disappear". This is a no brainer, and yet again linked to SL's serious flaws when designing this - those being: Database Failures and Hard Drive Failures. On a weekly basis? I mean, are you kidding me?

3. Yes, I understand that you can do lots of great stuff with LSL (Scripting) but did you really feel the need to make a building interface which is conducive to building? Why does an amateur scripter have to create a Particle Generator HUD, when Linden Labs has over 100 programmers working on their staff?

4. What, exactly, is Havok 4 physics good for if you incorporate it into the system and 90% of the functionality is missing? Where are the cloth physics which is standard for physics engines? Flexi-Prims are a very poor example for using Havok 4, considering it would natively allow cloth physics which leads us to being able to set an object as a material

5. 10 Second Wav Files in PCM 44.1 KHz. Is Linden Labs even vaguely aware that there are thousands of audio and video formats in the world? And taking this a step farther, let's ask them another question (and this time the same rules apply). Why even limit the filesize to 10 seconds... it seems like a horrible joke on the content creating public.

6. Windlight can be summed up in about 6 files, at least in the capacity that Second Life makes use of them. These files are called Shaders. These shaders, if implemented correctly, can create stunning visuals and make an environment more immersive. When implemented incorrectly, you end up with Second Life Windlight edition. This is the edition where, when you enable all shaders, your computer comes to a near standstill if not entirely crashing.

7. Again with Windlight, but this needed to be said - The clouds feature under "atmospheric shaders" is a fancy name for "Draw a 3D Perlin Noise animation on the sky dome in 2D, while using every ounce of your computer to do it". Maybe you can run that section just fine, and maybe you have a great video card as well - but the idea here is that such a simple inclusion should not bring a computer to its knees for all but the high end users.

8. 2 is company, 20 is a crowd, 200 is impossible. Let's talk a moment about scaling issues here. You and one other person in a sim runs fine (as fine as SL runs for you), when 20 people show up, you're facing a very high probability that you and many others will crash. 200 people in the same spot and the sim needs to be restarted. I don't think it matters if you have 50,000 people online simultaneously... what matters is that they are spread out over a ridiculously large map, and if they ever showed up to the same place, they would crash. This alone I feel is mind boggling, considering that SecondLife (and ultimately Linden Labs) is making an effort for rapid growth of users (so they say).

9. I'll be the first to say this: I miss the Active Worlds way of creating Zones. In Second Life, this is woefully under powered in the form of Parcelling.

10. Prim limits and no way to permanently join prims in order to consolidate space. A large part of lag in Second Life is due to the shear amount of individual objects need to be loaded. No different from simply treating every object in Active Worlds as a singular object for building, and then removing the option to use premade models in the builds.

I have many more things I've mused about over the past few weeks, but I'll save everyone the hassles. Just be content that we are indeed learning a lot for participating in Second Life, and are writing them on the whiteboard.

That is not to say that I will not use Second Life (at least until Andromeda is ready), I am just not personally impressed at the shear lack of common sense in their development choices, otherwise known as the Second Life Viewer and Server.

In Other News

Queller is back! Woo. No need to withhold your posting and community stuff anymore, as the man himself has returned.

Blacking Out At The Keyboard From Lack Of Sleep -

William Burns
Project Leader