I use the Emerald Viewer. Over the years I’ve used a wide range of Viewers to experience Second Life, from the official Viewer through Snowglobe to Meerkat, Imprudence, Cool Viewer for Windows, KristenLee’s Viewer – and even Viewer 2.0 and the Snowglobe iteration of Viewer 2.0.
But it is with Emerald I’ve found my “home”; of all the Viewers, this is the most stable for my PC configuration and provides the fastest fps rate of any (although KristenLee’s Viewer isn’t that far behind. Truth be told, if KLee’s Viewer incorporated RLV functionality, I’d swap over in a heartbeat, as her rendering pipe just blows everything else to pieces on a good graphics card).
It is true that Emerald has features that could be a nuisance if incorrectly used: the ability to locate anyone on a sim and Tp right into their face is one. I’m also aware of the claims of data scraping and the like surrounding Emerald and the claims relating to it ignoring permissions (generally made by those who have not sought to actually use the Emerald export tool). But the fact is, Emerald includes much that has been lacking in the official Viewer for general users, builders and estate managers – and these make it a winner.
As such, I applaud the efforts of the Emerald Dev team in building and maintaining a versatile Viewer.
However, even good intentions can go a step too far. Today, members of the Emerald Viewer group received a Notice and attachment I’d venture to suggest is questionable. The attachment came in the form of a wearable prim. The Text of the Notice accompanying it reads thus:
This neat little prim has certain magical properties about it that causes viewers that do not respect permissions to crash when selecting it.
So in essence, it is a prim that can be worn and which contains a script that identifies malicious Viewers and crashes them.
Now *IF* this prim is for real (there are no visible scripts, so exactly how it detects / communicates with “illegal” Viewers is beyond my ken), then on the surface it would appear to be a neat trick in deterring copybotters. However, *IF* it is for real, the tool raises concerns on a number of fronts.
- At the very least, it would appear to violate the Terms of Service, to whit, Section 4.1, which includes the statement: In addition to abiding at all times by the Community Standards, you agree that you shall not: (v) take any actions or upload, post, e-mail or otherwise transmit Content that contains any viruses, Trojan horses, worms, spyware, time bombs, cancelbots or other computer programming routines that are intended to damage, detrimentally interfere with, surreptitiously intercept or expropriate any system, data or personal information. Given this prim has the ability to crash suspect Viewers, it could be argued that it is a form of Trojan horse / time bomb intended to detrimentally interfere with other systems
- While copybotting is a major concern, and it could be argued that Linden Lab should be doing more to control / eliminate the worse cases, this same argument does not entitle users and /or content creators to undertake what amounts to be vigilantism in lieu of firmer action on the part of Linden Lab (and I say this as a creator of content myself). Two wrongs simply do not make a right
- There is already a degree of controversy surrounding the Gemini CDS system marketed by members of the Emerald team – not in terms of whether or not it hack people’s computers (it doesn’t) – but rather in the number of “false positives” it has been reported as giving. Can we be sure this tool is actually foolproof, even if vetted?
- What gives a group outside of LL the right to determine which Viewers should or should not connect to Second Life? LL themselves are already in the process of rolling out their Third Party Viewer (TPV) Policy. While it has a number of flaws within the revised wording, it is nevertheless the official means be which the use of malicious Viewers is to be contained. What gives one or two developers who have no direct accountability to Linden Lab or anyone else the right to take matters into their own hands?
- The means by which Viewers are added to this tool (assuming it is going to be maintained) is far from transparent. While the best of intentions may have been behind its creation, it is therefore open to potential abuse
- What happens should a rogue coder decide to retaliate? If this tool can be developed to target “illegal” Viewers, how hard would it be for someone to target a specific Viewer – the one supported by this tool’s creator(s)? If the tool can be worn, it can be rezzed in-world as a mass griefing tool. Do we then enter a war of escalation?
I’m genuinely curious as to whether anyone in authority at Linden Lab was consulted during the development of this tool or prior to its release. I’m also very interested to see how they respond to its presence on the grid.
Again, I have little doubt the intentions behind the tool were good. The major problem with good intentions is the manner in which they invariably pave all the roads leading to hell….