Linden Lab CEO responds to technical issues of the past week

The Official Linden Blog is carrying a lengthy post from CEO Philip Rosedale. Its premise is a revamp of Linden Lab’s mission statement but it’s also an exposition on the future of Second Life in Rosedale’s eyes.

First, he admits to how frustrating the problems of the last week have been for residents. He then stated that the new physics engine (currently in beta) will address a lot of those issues. He’s cited the first half of 2008 as being focused on stability. Many would argue that the second half of 2007 should perhaps have been about stability as well.

Second, Rosedale admitted that “we need to create new and different ways to communicate more often and more clearly with the community”. I doubt anyone would argue with that and the few people who are left that frequent the Second Life forums wold argue there were already some useful mechanisms in place thaty were gutted months back. The commitment by Rosedale to a monthly blog post is encouraging but far from a comprehensive communication strategy. Effective communication needs to come from all facets of the organisation, not just the CEO. Some steps have been made in that regard but it’s well and truly a work in process.

What wasn’t said in the post? Well for one, no mention of further internationalisation of servers, which makes me wonder how close, if at all, the Australian servers are as we reported last week.

One statement of Rosedale’s with which I’d agree wholeheartedly: “The rocket is lit. Virtual worlds are finally real”. There’s no doubt about that at all. The trouble is, the rocket doesn’t launch some of the time, crashes after launch other times and even when it gets into orbit it can undergo decompression for no obvious reason. Here’s hoping in six months that the launch pad is still there and is having a much better launch record.

Logins down again

Just for something different, some residents are experiencing login issues again. As mentioned on the weekend, we can only hope this constant problem gets better.

It could be a special Xmas present from Linden Lab.

A horror week for stability

The latest blog post by Linden Lab tops off a horror week for Second Life stability. Combine that with the ever-present lag and usability remains the chestnut issue for Second Life.


If the rumours are true about Australian-based SL servers finally arriving, then part of the significant frustration with the Second Life experience will be remedied. The roll-out of improved broadband in Australia is likely to occur no matter who wins next week’s election, but it’s still a while off. None of it will remediate the enormous logistical task of keeping a virtual world running across thousands of servers – that’s something that can at best be minimised as a performance issue.

We’d be interested in your experiences with lag – has it been around the same for you, better or worse?

New search functionality has promise

I’m encouraged by the work being done on an improved search interface in Second Life.


I’ve always believed one of the biggest causes of users giving up on SL is the hassle in finding anything in-world. Between Linden’s work and the ever-growing list of third-party SL viewers, there’s a chance SL may be user-friendly. I kid you not.

Are there additions to the search functionality you’d like to see?

Aussie population update – 15K and rising

Linden Lab have released the metrics for July 2007 and the rate of growth is slow but steady.

The active Australian population is cited as 14,832, up from the 12,910 reported last month. Australia is back to 11th place overall.

One of the interesting new metrics released was number of SL sessions that ended abnormally i.e. crashes. Since January 2007, around a quarter of sessions ended in a crash. That’s an astounding level – imagine any established software vendor trying to sell a product that only works correctly three out of four times. That said, it illustrates just how committed Linden Lab are to transaparency that they even publish figures showing their key weaknesses.

Linden Lab CEO: ‘We’ve got to increase the quality’

Reuters have published an interview with Linden Lab CEO Philip Rosedale from this weekend’s SLCC. Most of the interview is fairly predictable but it’s encouraging to see the acknowledgement of quality as the key driver into the future:

“We’re at a place where we’ve demonstrated that the virtual world can exist. Now we need to make it high quality so it does continuously support the activities and desires of the people who are using it. That’s what we’ve learned by listening for the last couple of quarters. We’ve got to increase the quality.”


Of course, I’d deluded myself that some mention may be made of further internationalisation of the servers but the only allusion to that came from Rosedale’s thoughts on open-sourcing:

“If you’re an entrepreneur, wanting to enter the virtual world and sell stuff to people, you’re going to want to find the largest possible audience. So you’ll be strongly drawn to set up your shop on the system with the largest number of people using it. There will be a tremendous desire by people to link those servers together and be on our network so they can have access to the largest base of people.”

Finally, on the legal issues around ageplay and gambling, he summarised Linden Lab’s intent to tie restrictions to avatars through verification of that avatar’s RL location. That seems the most sensible way of not forcing the whole grid into a universal lockdown in a range of sensitive areas.

If Linden Lab are planning some incredible revolutionary step in SL’s development, it’s certainly not apparent in Philip Rosedale’s thoughts. What would you have liked to have seen asked of him in the interview?

Ongoing grid issues – how geography bites

The explanation by Linden Lab of ongoing grid stability this week is fairly technical but it once again illustrates the significant technical hurdles Second Life has to jump over just to function normally. Add to that the geographical distance and sub-par broadband in Australia and it’s not hard to see why we’re a frustrated bunch at times.


At a forum in May this year, we were told international servers would occur “real soon now” by expatriate Linden, Chris Collins. Here’s hoping “soon” involves the year 2007 – as voice in SL increases in popularity, the issues are only likely to exacerbate.

How have you found stability over recent weeks – worse or about the same?

Griefers cause of grid problems?

Fellow Aussie SL blogger Tateru Nino is alleging that foul play is behind the past few days’ glitchiness in SL.

Whatever it is, it’s intermittent and causing a lot of frustration. I attempted twice over the weekend to complete a full lap on the Relay for Life and both times my browser crashed. Has your time in SL been affected by the glitches?

Welcome to error-land

There’s nothing on the LL blog at this stage but there’s obviously a significant issue with SL at present. When launching the browsers a stock standard ‘Access Denied’ message comes up within the browser:


It’s not been a great week for stability in SL, that’s for sure. One important note – you can still log in to SL by clicking the Connect button.

UPDATE: Linden Labs now aware of issue

OECD report: lag issues are no surprise

There’s unlikely to be many Australian SL users who don’t have to deal with the frustrations of lag. The physical location of the servers in the United States are a key issue, but the speed of broadband internet in Australia is also a contributing factor.

To throw the issue into very stark relief, the OECD has relesased a 310-page report entitled “OECD Communications Outlook 2007”. It’s not a report for the light-hearted but it provides some fascinating comparisons of broadband access, speed and price.

1. Dial-up versus broadband:


Australia is well below OECD average of broadband take up. One would think speed and pricing would play a role as well as geography.

2. Broadband speed by incumbent telecommunications operator:


Australia is second lowest in speed across the whole OECD. Do not the disclaimer however that there was a speed bump late last year but we remain well down the list. With a bit of luck your connection may match that of a New Zealander.

3. Cost of bandwidth:


No surprise here – broadband in Australia isn’t cheap. GigaOM have covered the report and cite how expensive broadband is in the United States. They should be thankful they’re not Australian based.

Linden Labs have publicly committed to Australian-based servers, but it looks like we’ll be accessing those servers via comparatively low-bandwidth, expensive connections. A number of promises have been made by the Government and Opposition in the lead up to this year’s election but that’s all they are until well after polling day. We’re running a poll on the SLOz forums on your Second Life experience from a broadband point of view, so jump in and have your say.

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