Viewer 2 is wonderful for the Second Life uninitiated. However, it also is a disaster for those of us experienced with second Life for more than a month with the "classic" viewer. Linden Lab had announced open-sourcing the Second Life viewer in 2006, there is now a smorgasbord of "official Linden Lab Second Life Viewer" alternatives.

Among all the current third-party viewers there is no question that the Emerald Viewer by Modular Systems is the best known, most popular and most actively in-use non-Linden Lab viewer on the Second Life grid. I like Emerald, but I have some reservations about it, which if you'll indulge me, I will explain below. I promise to do my best at keeping pithy about it all.

The short answer: most popular does not translate into "best".

The Official Linden Lab viewer was "branched-off" into a second incarnation called Snowglobe right about the time Emerald was just starting to become well-known. During this time, for me anyway, I had just discovered the Gemini viewer (which Skills Hak, the Gemini Viewer developer has now since become part of the Emerald viewer team) which at the time had better features than Emerald and I also really liked the amazing graphic features of the Kirstens Viewer.

Back then Kirstens viewer was blazing fast at rezzing (drawing the world when arriving at a new location on the grid) - it was stunningly fast. About the same time, Linden Lab released their Snowglobe viewer. Someone convinced me to give it a go.

I was shocked at the stunning speed with which the Snowglobe viewer rezzed the world. Literally shocked. So much so that I recorded a comparison machinima between what I considered for myself to be the four "front runner" viewers at the time. And I don't. do. machinima. ever.

Take the time to view this video. it's long (about eight-minutes). Even though it is a very old comparison, the results still apply today. And it will put what I explain below into a very real context. In short, nothing beats Snowglobe for rezzing performance to this day. (Sure, you can proclaim otherwise but you're only lying to yourself and you know it.)

The premise of the video is my "60-Second Viewer Rezzing Test": Official Viewer, versus Gemini Viewer, versus Emerald Viewer versus Snowglobe Viewer. Rules:

  • clear cache before starting each viewer
  • stop the test at exactly sixty-seconds
  • compare the picture as rezzed by the viewer
  • In all cases, stay in the same script and prim-heavy location
    (to ensure a heavier-than-normal "load" was placed on the download and rezzing abilities of each viewer)

Sowglobe wins by a massive margin by having 90% of the world rezzed where the next best viewer was Gemini at about 75%. Emerald came in about the same as the "official" Linden Lab viewer.

So, what does all that have to do with all this?

Problem: Emerald features or Snowglobe performance as it seems neither the two shall meet. Answer: Imprudence Viewer.

Because of the massive disappointment of Viewer 2 from Linden Lab, and LL turning it into the only "official" Linden Lab viewer, the Emerald Viewer have made massive inroads into the grid in terms of popularity and mindshare. It seems everyone knows about it and most of them are using it.

However, for me Emerald feels a bit "heavy" - bloated if you will.

There are too many "features" in it, most of which goes unused by the majority of its users. Frivolous things like "rainbow-colored" selection beams and "bouncing primtits" and such. Not to mention a bunch of features that technically are against the Linden Lab Terms of Service and Community Standards. For example: resident privacy: it doesn't matter if you try to "hide" from other people by turning off the "Show in Search" option in your profile, or allowing only friends to see when you are online and all that stuff. Emerald bypasses it all.

Then there is the whole controversy surrounding the Emerald development team, how most (if not all) of them were griefers and hackers "back in the day" and how they, and by extension Emerald Viewer can't be trusted security-wise and so on and so forth.

But I don't care about all that stuff. The dealbreaker for me is simply the abysmal performance of the Emerald Viewer. It is no different than the "official" Linden Lab viewer. Most certainly because it is based off the Linden Lab "official" code base. Kirsten's Viewer is still very good, but the problem there is that it is "bleeding-edge" technology. In perpetual beta (and sometimes alpha) phase. Though stable and rock-steady, it requires updating a bit more often than I prefer.

More important to me than bouncy primtits is rezzing performance, hands-down. I have said time and again that Linden Lab badly needs to take the Snowglobe "code" and inject it into their official viewer for the performance aspect alone. If Viewer 2 was on Snowglobe engine, I'd swear by it, the majority of population opinion be damned. Kirstens is doing Snowglobe code already. The Emerald team also is doing it. Unfortunately, the Snowglobe version of the Emerald Viewer must be a very low priority for the developers as it has been in beta for longer than I can remember, and it's buggy as hell.

Thus, the only reason I would truly enjoy the Emerald Viewer: Snowglobe "engine" is missing, thus for me Emerald is: fail.

Finally after several months of trying my damnedest to actually like Viewer 2, I needed a replacement, more based on what I spoke about previously, not it's User Interface or the way it works. I looked at Kirstans and Emerald again. Kirstens is still bleeding-edge and Emerald still has lackluster rezzing performance.

I am speaking only for myself when I say that performance is the most important feature for me, no matter how well Emerald caters to nerdy-geeks of Second Life. It also just feels bloated to me with so many unnecessary "features" (including the naughty ones, like showing "true online status" abilities and such).

I decided to give Imprudence Viewer another look after several months away. I've newly noted that it has all the "best" features of Emerald already built-in and the kicker for me is that the Imprudence development team have already fully migrated to the Snowglobe engine. They most certainly haven't been sitting still. I applaud the Imprudence development team!

Imagine my surprise to find most (if not all) the Emerald features already included in there as well, right down to bouncy primtits, even though they do not "advertise" these features on their blog or the informational page on the Second Life TPV page. The main difference here is those features which don't really require a preference setting (such as just how "bouncy" primtits can be) are set to default values, thus the preferences window doesn't include them.

This gives Imprudence a very clean, lightweight feel with blazing fast rezzing speed. And unlike Emerald, there is no "controversy" over the Imprudence Viewer or its development team as, according to many reputable journalistic sources1 , Imprudence is more transparent and license-compliant than any other third-party viewer. In other words: it is very easy to trust the developers and the viewer itself.

One "deal-breaking" feature of Imprudence Viewer for Emerald viewer users will be the lack of the "secondary attachment points". Yes, this is a feature. Why? Because that "feature" of Emerald is terribly broken.

In other words, for the majority of Second Life users (anyone not using the Emerald Viewer) will not see your Neko tail coming out of your ear and your faerie wings coming out of your ass (which is what happens with Emerald Secondary Attachment points).

Besides the very few Emerald "features" not included in the Imprudence Viewer, you might want to just give it a go for the shear performance aspect alone. User-friendly User Interface (read: familiarity) and the way it is easy to find everything (even the "Advanced" menu is invoked from another menu - great discovery here). My only suggestion might be to go through the preferences window as soon as you start it up and log-in for the first time, and set the "Pie menu" to the "classic" (I forget the actual title) layout. Of course, if you are willing to learn the new layout, you might just like it better.

So, for me...
Linden Lab Viewer 2: fail.
Modular Systems Emerald Viewer: meh.
Imprudence Viewer: win
Imprudence Viewer with 90% Emerald features AND Snowglobe engine: STUNNING.

Go ahead, give Imprudence a go. I recommend the most recent "weekly build" as they are rock-solid stable. Visit the Imprudence blog here.

From the Imprudence Wiki:

The Imprudence Quality Pledge:

  • This software is not provided or supported by Linden Lab, the makers of Second Life.
  • Imprudence has lots of surprisingly awesome functionality.
  • See the features list and release notes for details.
  • We won't expose your privates. Please see our privacy policy.
  • If you need help with the viewer, please post in the forums.

The best features from Emerald and the Snowglobe engine make Imprudence "win", here are "some" of the features of Imprudence for those of you unsure about it (found at this web page):

  • Countless user interface improvements

  • Improved OpenSim support
Support for up to 100 groups, 99% hollow prims, 1% hole size, megaprims up to 256m in size, and prim Z position up to 10km on OpenSim. OpenSim grid names are also used instead of "Second Life."

  • Content Backup
Export and import objects, scripts, and avatar shapes that you created.

  • Minimap Radar
The minimap features a built-in "avatar radar" to tell you who is nearby.

  • Enhanced Minimap
The minimap has better zooming, panning (Shift-Click and drag), double click to teleport, and other improvements.

  • Built-in Animation Overrider

  • Restrained Life API
Imprudence supports the Restrained Life script API used by BDSM toys and scripted gadgets.

  • Double-click Teleport and Autopilot

  • Advanced Build Options

  • Build Math Expressions

  • Building hotkeys to cycle through prims in a link set

  • Windlight Toolbar

  • Grid Manager
 [Second Life, Open Sim, etc.]
  • Client Identification and clothing layer protection

  • Improved Pie Menu Layouts
The layouts for all pie menus have been improved to be more consistent, useful, and easy to learn. Legacy pie menus are also available.

  • Search Inventory by Creator or Description

  • Inventory Quick Filter
The Inventory window has a new Quick Filter list to easily show only items of a certain type.

  • Free Temporary Texture Uploads

  • Worn Items Tab
The Inventory window has a new "Worn Items" tab which shows you all items that your avatar is wearing.

  • Unread IM Count
The "New IM" popup button now shows you how many new IMs you have, and the Communicate window title tells you how many unread messages you have in other IM tabs.

  • IM Autoresponse
Send an auto-response when someone starts typing/sends you an IM . Includes sending inventory along with your response.

  • Middle-mouse Paste for Linux
When running on Linux, Imprudence supports the common Linux idiom of copying text by highlighting it, then pasting by middle clicking. Imprudence also works better with stardard Linux clipboards than the regular SL viewer.

  • Confirmation dialogs to prevent accidents
Certain actions now have optional confirmation dialogs ("Are you sure?") to avoid harmful or embarrassing accidents, such as teleporting home or taking off all your clothes when you didn't intend to.

  • Restore to Last Position
This little feature uses the sim co-ordinates saved in the object to place the object back at its last location. It will use the same co-ords for every sim and works with all objects 

  • Offer Teleport button in IM window
The IM window now has a button to offer a teleport to the person you're IMing with.

  • Double-click to wear attachments in inventory
You can now double click on inventory objects to wear (or unwear) them as attachments.

  • "Phantom Avatar" Mode

  • Breast Physics

  • Asset (Texture) Browser

  • Animation List

  • See object's Last (previous) Owner

  • Ground Sit Anywhere

  • Hide Selection Outlines

  • Choose Default Chat Channel

  • Disable Login/Logout/Teleport Screens

  • Search/Replace in Notecards

  • SpeedRez
Increase rez speed via draw distance stepping.

  • New Profile Layout
Includes the ability to copy an avatar's key and invite them to a group.

  • Optional Message When Paying a Resident
The message will appear in that Resident's transaction history online.


  1. "Imprudence is one of our favorite after-market Second Life viewers, and the only third-party viewer that we're certain complies with all of the source and asset licensing." All Massively announcements regarding Imprudence Viewer:

Kill it before it multiplies! That's what Linden Lab should do. But they can't. They have championed it too hard. So they will allow it to whither away as Terri Sheivo was, except as quietly as possible.

"Download Viewer 2.1 Alpha Now! Sound Like Donald Duck!" (Or whatever).

That has been the Message Of The Day for some time now as you go through the logon process into the Second Life grid. This MOTD is worrisome to me. Not so much all by itself, considering the ramifications of pushing Alpha-phase (ALPHA!) software to a mass population who can barely understand the operation of release version software. But rather in the "between the lines" message I suspect is being sent along. If you aren't seeing that message, allow me to highlight it for you...

We all know of the big nuclear news of last week and my condolences to all those laid-off. As that news trickled-out and became a bit more accurate and solidified over time, one small piece caught me off-guard, as it no-doubt did for a lot of people: T-Linden (Tom Hale) is among the casualties.

Linden Lab needs the grid to grow or it cannot remain profitable. In a nutshell, Second Life saw it's heyday at the time when the motto was "Your world, your imagination" and Linden Lab was all but completely hands-off. There were no rules whatsoever and truly anything - any. thing. - was possible and allowed.

Of course we all must be careful what we wish for. Many wished for Linden Lab to get involved in handling this problem or moderating that problem and enforcing this new policy and banishing that activity and so on. It was a slippery slope back then and the snowball is rolling downhill at an exponential rate of speed by now.

As I read on another blog: Linden Lab has essentially sold and regulated itself into a stalemate. Too many "regulations" and policies, selectively enforced (more because most are unenforceable en-masse) and growing too fast in the sale of more estates than there is mainland, blah, blah, blah.

Linden Lab needs new users - especially as population decreases drastically through attrition: oldbies moving on out of spite, disillusionment or just plain boredom. The problem is the new visitors coming in to take their very first peek at Second Life aren't coming back or staying. One attempt at improving any possible solution to this problem had been to simplify the first hour experience. Linden Lab's best answer was a new "simpler" viewer.

I used it. Exclusively for a few months. It has some seriously welcomed features. However, the interface, though not bad, was a jarring, shocking slap-in-the face experience at first. The problem is how we all have learned the "traditional" interface over several years. Thus the differences are like throwing boiling water onto a frozen windshield. For a brand-new user unfamiliar with the traditional interface, it was definitely a very good design. However Linden Lab tried to pass it off as the new deal for everyone.

Tom Hale, (T Linden) was the lead developer on the Viewer 2 project to my understanding. In the aftermath, among the many things spoken on, Mark Kingdon (M Linden,) CEO if Linden Lab has mentioned a serious effort to bring a means of getting into the Second Life grid via mobile applications such as the iPhone and iPad and also via a web browser (likely through a plug-in).

So this week I have finally bailed on Viewer 2. Not because it's a bad viewer. But rather because I can see the "writing on the wall". V2 is all but completely dead. After several months of use, I liked it. But it is now time to go back to the old style because the new style will be abandoned by Linden Lab and I don't want to be stuck in a dead-end interface paradigm. My new viewer of choice is Imprudence Viewer, as it contains most (if not all) of the features of Emerald without the frivolous stuff. I like it a lot.

Why did I "go back" and "abandon" V2? Because I have a sneaky suspicion that is exactly what Linden Lab is doing: abandoning Viewer 2. Refocussing development effort on the customer-facing technologies into iPad-style Apps and Web Browser abilities. Why else would the lead developer of V2 be asked to leave the company? Because he isn't needed anymore.

Why else would Linden Lab, or anyone for that matter, release an Alpha version of any kind of software and actually ask their entire customer base to try it out? Allow me to repeat the operative red-flag: Alpha version. Because that's basically where everything is left-off at... no more active "deep" development.

Mark my words: Viewer 2 is now officially dead. No longer will it be developed as a going concern. Sure, Linden Lab may continue a little: fix what bugs they can, try to make it relatively stable. Then, at the right time, they will announce that development of V2 is being "redirected" toward newer viewer technologies (such as the aforementioned iPad App).

If I am mistaken: then I challenge any Linden to reply to THIS blog post and say "No, not true, development of Viewer 2 will continue full-steam ahead until properly completed". However, that won't happen. Take heed now: Viewer 2 is definitely dead. Linden Lab just can't bury it right now because of all the championing they have been involved with and trying so fecking hard to get every resident migrated to it. They would look like complete idiotic fools to shit-can it right now in any public way. They simply can't. So they will continue to champion V2 as long as they are able.

But you, dear reader and Second Life user are smarter than that. We know that if a rose smells like a pile of bullshit, it's probably really just bullshit. It's so obvious what's going on. I mean c'mon, they have to throw cheap candy into the mix. Hey, Linden Lab, the voice-print thing so I can sound like a hot chick even though I'm a fat, old pervert was promised to SL users several years ago when voice was first introduced to the grid.

A little too little, too late I think. Convincing existing residents" to actually use V2 now? Good luck with that.

Long-live Second Life Viewer Version 2.

I've been hearing from some that there's a panic run on the LindeX (Linden Exchange). After going in and taking a good look, my reaction is more or less: ummm, no. Actually, a "run" on the LindeX (in the current way it is happening) is a good thing, because the exchange rate between the Linden Dollar and U.S. Dollar is becoming ridiculously stable.

Is the LindeX being affected by the sledge-hammer news dropped by Tateru Nino (Massively) and confirmed by Linden Lab with regard to a 30% cut in their workforce? Short answer is yes. The good thing is: not by very much. Unless you are exchanging money by the higher-end hundreds of thousands of Linden Dollars for the tens of thousands of legal tender dollars, you wouldn't feel much at all - pennies, actually.

So why all the worrywarting? Because most people do not have a comprehensive grasp of just what the LindeX really is and how it works. So I'll explain in as pithy a way as I can.

First, LindeX is not a bank in any sense of the term. You are not placing money (virtual or real) into any kind of account. Rather the LindeX is simply a trading post. You are trading money: whether it be Linden Dollars (L$) or U.S. Legal Tender Dollars ($US). Additionally, your are not trading anything with Linden Lab at all. Rather, you are trading with other people who want what you are offering.

Whenever you buy Linden Dollars, you are not buying them from Linden Lab. You are actually buying from other Second Life users who are selling their Linden Dollars (also called "cashing out").

Linden Lab's only hand in it all is to act as the escrow agent. So, if you have L$1000 you want to trade into $US, you offer it for trade (or as LindeX puts it: for "sale"). Someone looking to "buy" L$ will then trade with you. The question is how many Linden Dollars will you give them for each $1 U.S. - and how many Linden Dollars the buyer gets for each $1?

So here is how it works:

Linden Lab creates a "money strong box" or "pool" for each trading denomination equal to $1 U.S. like so (I apologize I tend to interchange "strong box" and "pool" throughout this post, but they are meant to be the same thing):

  • L$250
  • L$251
  • L$252
  • L$253

...and so on. Call these trading "rates". The bigger (higher) the number of L$, the lower that value of each L$ - which means the value of the U.S. Dollar is higher. So, when you sell Linden Dollars, you want to sell at the lowest number possible (higher value for the Linden Dollar).

Most who buy or sell Linden Dollars will just do so at the current trading "rate", whatever it is at the time they actually place the order. However, if you click "Manage" in the LindeX portion of your Second Life Web Site Dashboard, you can actually specify your own rate if you are selling Linden Dollars.

These "manual rate" people are the ones who are determining the current exchange rate. If you look at "Market Data" in that LindeX part of your dashboard, you'll see several graphs.

The table at the bottom shows the "closing" (midnight SLT) exchange rates over the last so many days. A brief look at this table will show you just how stable the Linden Dollar has been over the last 30-days or so. Now, remember my example of the "strong box" above? It is easy to see it.

Click the "Sell L$" link in the "Manage" section of the LindeX area of your dashboard (not the "Sell L$" link under the LindeX title - click MANAGE first).

You are presented with two methods of selling your Linden Dollars: Immediately at the current exchange rate or you can specify exactly what rate you wish to sell for. Below this section is the exchange rate "pools" - the amount of money offered for sale at the differing exchange rates. If you choose to sell at a specific rate, your Linden Dollars will be placed into that pool.

The number next to each exchange rate is the amount of money in that "strongbox" waiting to be sold. One thing that is confusing to a lot of people is the low and high of the "sell" when you are selling Linden Dollars. So I reiterate: the lower the number, the higher the value of each Linden Dollar as you are getting more U.S. Dollar. So the idea is that you want to sell your Linden Dollars where the exchange rate shows the lowest possible number of Linden Dollars for each $1 U.S. L$1000 will go a little further in this case (hence, the Linden Dollar has more value).

[Edit: special note... notice these are the "best 20 rates" - to see the current exchange rate, look to the right for the best 20 rates in the BUY table, which is not shown here.]

Notice in this chart (the left side of the window called "Open Sell Orders" (screenshot taken at 0630, June 11, 2010) how many waiting orders there are at L$257? L$258? L$259? They are creeping up, aren't they? Look at that whopping number in the L$260 "box"!

That is the "run" on the LindeX people are speaking of. All those people looking to "cash-out". Hardly anyone willing to trade at L$261 (though it is early in the morning when this screenshot was taken). Here is why the "run" will actually stabilize the exchange rate:

In the case of L$261/$1 - the "current best selling" rate, all who buy Linden Dollars (at this rate) will get that many for each $1 U.S. they spend. This is a good deal for the buyer. However, when that pool of (as shown) L$973,770 dries-up, the next batch of Linden Dollars purchased will start coming from the L$260 "pool" - until more end-up in the L$261 "pool".

So, think of Linden Dollars as water and each exchange rate as a bucket - with the higher number of L$ being a "smaller" bucket. As the water is used-up from the smaller bucket, water is then taken from the next larger bucket, until more water is added to the smaller one.

It's a constant fill, empty, refill, re-empty and so on.

Here is where the stabilization comes from: see that L$260 "bucket"? It has a LOT of "water" in it. All that "water" (L$) must empty-out before the next "bucket" (L$259 rate) can be used at all. And not to mention the L$261 "bucket" will constantly be filled and emptied - and whenever there is "water" in that L$261 "bucket" - water is not removed from L$260 - it's "frozen".

Because of this, it will take a long time before any of the L$259 sell orders are ever filled. A very long time. However, if more people become impatient and decide to manually sell at L$261 or L$270 or more... then their could be a serious devaluing of the Linden Dollar. That would be a real "run" on the market.

Of course this is a constantly, fluid process. Rates are fluctuating wildly, much like the real world stock markets. Except that the LindeX is not a stock market (you are not trading ownership in anything, but rather directly trading tit-for-tat virtual currency for real currency: tokens.)

This is why the current "panic run" on the LindeX is a good thing.

At first blush, it would appear in the above graph that people are buying a lot less Linden Dollars on the 10th (causing some panic to set-in for some people).

However, this chart can be rather misleading. Looking at the table of transactions summary (below) will show that people have been purchasing Linden Dollars at the normal average rate. However, because of the mad rush to cash-out and place sell orders at a specific rate (L$260) as noted above, there is suddenly a massively large pool of sell orders at that rate. More than usual sell orders with "normal" number of buy orders causes the chart to appear skewed as though a minor "crash" is happening, when it really isn't.

Notice the Volume as compared to the Average. There is the answer. With such a flush of sell orders at L$260, there were some Second Life users who manually chose to sell at L$261 - causing all Buy orders to take from that pool first. And so it climbed as high as L$272 - an awesome deal for the buyer, not so much for the seller - a panic seller apparently.

Learn how to read the LindeX information, and then understand the information it is giving you. Disclosure: I am not any kind of financial analyst or anything likewise. I am explaining the LindeX as I understand how it works through simple logic and experience. Thus, responsibility for any transactions you make through the LindeX is yours and yours alone.

All government manuals (such as military field manuals and the like) follow a very simple, consistent rule with regard to callout notifications. A plain three-tiered level system designed to be clear and easy to understand with the concept of saying what it means and meaning what it says. These callout usually highlight something important you need to know as you follow the instruction on the main page and usually have to do with "If you do A, the result will be B".
The three tiers are as follows (with ridiculous examples):

  • The "Notice".
    As in: "NOTICE: If you do not replace the light bulb, the brake light will not function when applying brakes."

  • The "Caution":
    As in "CAUTION: Attempting to shoot your rifle while the barrel is plugged-up with mud could damage the rifle."

  • The "Warning":
    As in "WARNING: Do not inspect the end of a tank barrel during live-fire exercise or serious bodily injury or death could result."

The rules are pretty simple and consistent: A "Notice" simply means a certain way of doing things might not get you the expected result. However, a "Caution" could irreparably damage the item you are working with. And finally a "Warning" means screw the equipment, you could really end-up with a bad day if you fuck-up.

Now, back to Linden Lab's nuclear option regarding Viewer 2: It's like drugs... use it and your hooked. No, not emotionally, but rather kind of like a "once you use it, keep using it or else".

I don't believe for a second the way this all works is intentional by Linden Lab, but rather a side effect of some of the new features of viewer...features I really like. Specifically: the new "inventory links" that allow the "Outfits" portion of the sidecar (my word for "Side Bar").

Here is what is happening: if you fire-up Viewer 2 (V2 in my own vernacular) then the system takes a "snapshot" of you. Your shape, outfit, HUDs, all of it. This snapshot is updated regularly. However, this snapshot will prove dangerous for a lot of people.

In a nutshell: If you use V2 and logout (or crash out) then go to use another viewer, ANY other viewer, including the "old official" Linden Lab viewers, that snapshot sits idle waiting for V2 to access it. The other viewers don't mess with it and don't even know it's there. If you return to V2 later, that snapshot is restored.

In case that didn't make any sense to you, or you are unclear, I'll be very clear right now. Any and all changes you make in any viewer other than V2 are not saved to the system snapshot. Shape, skin, hair, outfit, HUDs, any and all customizations to any of these (including the contents of HUDs)... anything that is "attached" to you... none of the changes are recorded in that system snapshot.

In fact, if you already do use V2 - try it out. Set a look in V2. A particular outfit, HUDs, hair, whatever. Then logout (or crash-out as seems so often in V2 right now) - then fire-up any other viewer. Change things around a bit. If you are like me, you have many avatars. Go ahead, switch into the dragon or evil kitty or whatever. Change things around. Detatch your HUDs and attach different ones.

Now logout and then use V2 to login again. Whatch what happens. It's as though you never stopped using V2. Everything you have changed around in the other viewer is "erased". The state of your avatar and attachments (including HUDs and their contents) is "restored" to the last state they were in the last time you were using V2. It's as though you never logged in and changed things around at all.

So, the download page on the Second Life web site where you grab V2 should have a large box in bright red headline-size text on a black background with a skull-and-bones that says:

"WARNING: Playing ping-pong with different viewers could destroy your entire Second Life as you know it and be massively detrimental to your real life sanity!"

Case in point (and this is for all of you who "tried" V2 way back when and then decided to wait for the bugs to be worked-out - be warned): A friend tried V2 back when it was first "released" (a few months ago). She then fires it up last night. Go ahead. Take a wild guess what happened.

Here's the "nuclear" part: in utter WTF frustration, killing the V2 and returning to (name any other viewer here) does NOT reverse that snapshot restoration. Meaning the V2 restores your state to what it was the last time you used it. Going back to any other viewer and what you get is however V2 left it.

KABOOM. Mushroom clouds galore. (I can envision Outy Banjo's super-poofer right about now.)

So, if you want to evaluate V2 properly (and I do think everyone should evaluate it, really I do) - here is the "proper" way to do so:

Download V2, Install it but don't use it yet. Instead, pick a day and time, for example Friday evening. Fire it up. Use it all weekend and do NOT use any other viewers. The reason is to give V2 a fair shake. Linden Lab at least deserves a fair evaluation, rather than people getting frustrated after 5-minutes then bad-mouthing the viewer and Linden Lab. It's just not right (for any product).

Vow to yourself you will use it at least all the way through Sunday night, no matter how frustrated you might get. Or better yet, all week long. Because this is going to be the one and only time you will make your decision regarding V2 altogether, forever. And besides, it gives you a chance to find all the preferences to make V2 usable again.

Side note here: Linden Lab has screwed-up a few things in a major way: First, the preferences in v2 are scattered all over the place. Not all preferences are in the preferences window. Learn to right-click everything, every interface element. You will find preferences that help bring back a lot of the old style functionality. Such as seeing parcel permissions and coordinates in the "location bar" at the top of the screen. And restoring tabbed IM window. (Hey Linden Lab: Make-up our minds, will you? First it was separate IM windows. Then you changed it to tabs and we all hated you. You have trained us for two years to use tabbed windows. Now you change it back... WTF!?

The second thing is that the opposite preferences are set to default - such as what I mentioned being off, not on like they should be for migration reasons. Also, you already know about CTRL-ALT-D for advanced menu. The new "Dev" menu is CTRL-ALT-Q. You definitely want that menu.

Okay, there are a few bugs (God I hope they are not "features") that will hopefully be fixed in the next update: music plays every goddammedtime you come into aparcel, no matter your preferences. You always go into fly mode when you stand from sitting on a prim (including teleporters and the like). TP to a new destination and the viewer can actually freeze for 10 to 30-seconds at a time if your draw preference is set very high while textures download and so on.

At the end of your proper evaluation you must decide: keep it? Or dump it?

If you choose to dump it then do so. And never, ever even think about using it again. Especially because the longer you wait to return to it, the more fecked-up your account will be (all changes you make in the 'between" time will be erased.)

If you choose to keep it, then make it your primary viewer. Use other viewers sparingly and don't make massive changes while using them. I suppose for all you Emerald lovebunny fanbois and gals out there the answer would be to not touch V2 with a virtual 100-foot pole. Evar!

The one caveat to everything I state above: I have not tested how V2 will "react" after a full uninstall and then reinstall. In other words, if that "system snapshot" is stored locally or at the server level.

I would suggest you exercise WARNING just the same.

Not caution.
Not just a notice.

A while ago, it was "My Space", the grand social place to be. Then the site was run into the ground by the My Space powers that be. Facebook rose up to fill the gap as it is more or less a My Space with a prettier face. Now with the whole uprising regarding Facebook and user privacy, one would think with all the shrill screams and shouts, Facebook will soon suffer the same fate as My Space: insignificance. It won't happen. Many will shout the same things about Second Life and how the powers that be (read: Linden Lab) also will run it into the ground, or at least turn it more insignificant than it already is. I beg to differ.

What I would refer to as "successful failures" - meaning a "failure" to those of us who use it and expect more, but not in the least as far as the general public is concerned. They simply don't know any better and thus, they maintain the successful nature of the thing. Even though a huge number, possibly a majority of users are completely inactive. At least this is how it feels on Facebook and the SL Grid. Not so with Twitter because it's a rather targeted system. We each create our own little worlds or "rooms" where we find and see only those we follow directly. So it feels busier than it might be at the big picture level.

It just depends on which side of the door you're standing on, I suppose. I never have been much of a twitterer even though I have a Twitter account The same is true with my Facebook, Lined-In and myriad of other "social media" accounts. However, I decided to try a little experiment to see if my gut-feeling on a few particulars about "social spaces" were accurate. They are.

Within a few days, I received so many friend requests from people I've never heard of and who no doubt have never geared of me all coming out of the woodwork like crazy. I had to turn off my email notifications because of it. So here we are, a few months later. Not a single one has written on my "wall" or mentioned me or even written on their own walls it seems. Not so much as said a single "hello!"

It's a game. For many, it's a simple game to see how many friends I can get in my friends list.

How many followers I can get on my Twitter feed. How many RSS subscribers I can get on my blog. So I can feel important. As though people actually give a rat's behind about what I think on anything. At all. This is true for anyone and everyone who creates these accounts on these social media spaces and chooses to use their Second Life (or other anonymous) persona. I think the same may be somewhat true on the grid also. But one thing I have discovered about Facebook and Twitter and the Second Life grid: your friends aren't. Not really, anyway. Some turn into really strong acquaintances. Many are drive-by "hiyas". Most are just a number. Another notch on the "friend stick just so I can say I have more than you or worse to make myself feel better about...myself.

Of the hundreds of friends I have so mysteriously obtained on Facebook, I think two or three actually wished me a "happy birthday" Saturday. Of course it was just the system sending them a system message "these friends have birthdays today" and they shoot-off the messages like clockwork. however, I agree it was at least thoughtful they took the effort. As far as Second Life grid and friends go, there are three I work with as part of our (we are a team) store. I don't know which of them remembered, but they three each passed along happy wishes and I do appreciate that more than any others.

Except one.

I saw it this morning. A couple days after the fact...
A simple "happy belated birthday".

This happy birthday wish actually carries the most weight with me. It feels the most sincere. I know there wasn't some computer calendar reminding them of the day. I know they didn't have to send the message. I know they went out of their way to send it.

It was from someone who only addressed themselves as "L".
You know who you are.

And you know what? I know who you are, too.
Thank you.