Emerald: the green goodbye

Oh what a tangled web we weave
When first we practice to deceive!

– Sir Walter Scott

Well, it seems that Emerald is now over and done with, and quite acrimoniously. It’s a shame that a project that – despite reservations in some areas – gave birth to an exceptionally flexible Viewer should be ruined by childish idiocy on the part of one or two of the players involved.

But then, as others have pointed out; it’s not as if the track record of certain individuals involved in the project was not unknown, and while everyone should be given the chance to turn over a new leaf, putting so much control in the hands of individuals who have previously demonstrated a desire and ability to abuse such control was a mistake.

In her blog post, Arabella Steadham points the finger in numerous directions – LL are being unreasonable; LL simply want the user numbers from Emerald; others in the group attempted a “hostile takeover”, etc. I’m sorry, but all this is hogwash.

The bottom line is, a single (apparently) individual opted to abuse Emerald  – and the trust of every single Emerald user as well as violate the TPVP – and launch a Denial of Service attack on another individual. Frankly, it matters not as to whether the individual on the receiving end is/is not a hacker himself. Two wrongs do not make a right. And given the mentality of some of the Emerald devs (we’ve all seen the infamous You Tube vids), who is to say matters would stop at one DoS attack?

Beyond this, Emerald clearly violated several parts of the TPVP by:

  • Gathering user information beyond what was required to enable users to access Second Life
  • Failing to comply with the TPVP by revealing the user information being collected
  • Obfuscating the data collection process through encryption in order to hide the information being gathered after those responsible for the data collection had given verbal assurances the practice would be stopped

In their demands, LL required that Emerald:

  • Provide accountability for all the developers on the Team
  • Remove those with a known history of transgressions and who played a part in the issues outlined above
  • Omit the use of emkdu.dll (the offending file used to commit the breaches of the TPVP)
  • And a number of other wholly reasonable requests.

Again, rather than admit to these, it is a shame that Arabella (or Phox, one of the culprits, and whose name is tagged to the Emerald blog post) sought to obfuscate and hide these core matters – possibly in the mistaken belief that the genuine set of demands from LL would not enter the public domain…

However, Jessica Lyon has issued a Notecard and opened a blog that both paint a far more revealing picture of the entire situation. In her Notecard, Jessica states:

As of some time this morning, all access to the servers have been severed to all but Arabella Steadham and Lonely Bluebird. Neither me, nor any of the other Emerald Developers have the ability to put out releases at this time. Beyond the recent beta 2587, we also cannot certify the safety or validity of any future releases.

Now, I made a promise to everyone to disclose the remaining requirements from LL. Those final two requirements that were given to us by LL, was to have a release out by Friday September the 3rd that would not support emkdu or llkdu even if one of the files was present, and that Lonely Bluebird, Skills Hak and Discrete Dreamscape be removed from the project. The alternative was that LL would block the viewer from access to the SecondLife Grid. While Discrete and Skills gracefully stepped down, Lonely refused. A long argument ensued in dev chat and, I created a new dev chat, where most of us discussed how we could remove Lonely from the project, however it failed. Ultimately Lonely has removed access to the servers and has also stated that he is applying for trademark on the Emerald Viewer name. Preventing us from continuing on the project without him.

Unless circumstances change, in my opinion, the Emerald Viewer Project is dead. We simply cannot achieve a release by the deadline given to us under the current circumstances.

Without access to the server and website, I am forced to make a very difficult decision as I will not allow myself to be held accountable to anything that happens from this day on in regards to Emerald.

Why should we believe Jessica over Arabella? Well, for one thing, Jessica echoes much of what has been said elsewhere, and her viewpoint matches other Emerald Devs forced to leave the project. She is also perhaps the only Emerald dev to provide RL information on herself, rather than hide behind the anonymity of an avatar. And the fact is, through this note and her blog, she has, like LordGregGreg, shown more courage and conviction than any of those within the Emerald team who have placed spin before honesty.

Jessica has never failed to be open in matters; that she and others are trying to salvage something from this mess that is both as flexible as Emerald and meets LL’s requirements is to be applauded. I genuinely hope they succeed and would, as a starting place, suggest they consider using LordGregGreg Back’s Emergence Viewer as a potential baseline, if an agreement can be reached.

It is a shame that a viewer like Emerald should be so crippled and ruined by the ego-driven hubris of one or two people. But as another saying goes: pride goes before a fall.

7 thoughts on “Emerald: the green goodbye

  1. Just putting my two pennorth in, Inara.

    Like you I am hoping for some sort of merger or fusion between Jessica and those who remain (honest) with her and LordGregGreg’s team.

    It is almost beyond my comprehension just how idiotic and selfish Fractured Crystal and Phox (aka whatever) have been. Such paranoiacs are bringing SL down very rapidly – as if Linden Lab needed help.

    Presenting LL with the ideal opportunity to destroy their main rival in Viewer development while appearing to be acting in justifiable defence of their ToS and not actually needing to ban the Viewer is quite amazing.

    I have never seen suicide executed so well. I wish I could say that I look forward to the joining of forces I referred to above, but I do not have high hopes for Emergence or SL beyond the end of 2010.

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    1. Sadly, Emerald was always balanced on a precipice so long as Fractured/Phox/Lonely Bluebird (all, I understand, one-in-the-same, aka JCool) held sway in the team. This individual has a long history of being thoroughly obnoxious.

      With the best will in the world on the part of trustworthy individuals such as Jessica, LGG, Chalice, et al, his presence in the project – his *ego* – was a ticking time bomb. LL really didn’t have to do anything. As has been shown in Jessica’s blog, the TPVP makes clear demands on *all* Viewers, regardless of their popularity, and this individual opted to knowingly and comprehensively flout those requirements, his hubris leading him to believe he would remain “untouchable”.

      He’s been proven wrong. Frankly, LL would do well to permaban him and his cohorts (again).

      I have mixed feelings about the future of SL. It has survived the last ten years largely *in spite of* LL’s actions and policies. Of course, the playing field is now hugely changing with the pending influx of minors. At the very least, that may well spell the end of SL as the likes of you and I know it. But that’s the subject of a future post!

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  2. LordGregGreg seems well established in his new project, which is not Emergence, but aiding the disabled community to get a better viewer — which, IMHO, might be a much more worthwhile endeavour.

    I hope some of the other developers gravitate to other, established viewers. Katharine Berry, for instance, is also tired and launched her own project, based on the SL 2.X codebase…

    There is really a lot to be said about the TPVs and the way they’re organised — far more than I could write on a comment! But as for “the end of SL” just because Emerald is not available…? I don’t think so. Emerald was mostly a “fashion” thing. The vast majority of Emerald users never even knew all the features — legal or illegal — that Emerald had. They used it because it was more stable (at least, until recently; the last batches were quite less stable than the official viewers, not to mention others) but mostly because all their friends did the same…

    The fashion will change again.

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    1. Yep – Greg posted about the opportunity, and it sounds fabulous. Hence my comment to Ayesha that find Jessica et al can establish themselves, he’ll allow them to take the Emergence code and build upon it.

      And I don’t see the end of Emerald being the end of SL – and my reply to Ayesha shouldn’t be interpreted that way :). I merely observed that SL continues to survive, and will survive more important issues, such as the lowering of the minimum age for access.

      As for Emerald itself, there was a lot of unsubstantiated rumour surrounding it that – I would suggest – made it somewhat easier for the shenanigans that lead to its demise. As a former user / supporter of it myself, I can say I had faith in the likes of LGG and others to keep it “safe”; and it is clear there was an internal battle for this to happen.

      As to stability: I ceased trying the Betas; until LLG’s departure, I kept with the last “full” release, but running llkdu.dll. It was good, fast and stable.

      What is of interest is what will happen should Love Machine go ahead with their take on Viewer 2.

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    2. I’m sorry Gwynneth, you both misunderstand the importance of Emerald (not per se, but as an avatar of TPVs) and the attitude shown by Linden Lab towards its user-base.

      What I mean is that both these issues are archetypical of an end of a system as we (ok, I) know it.

      If I were an investment consultant looking at Linden Research’s performance and business plan, I’d tell my clients to run a mile.

      The SL we know is definitely coming to an end, and I really cannot see any inward investment in Linden Lab being made by anyone in their right mind.

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  3. Why would LL want the user numbers from Emerald? Haven’t they already got them? It’s not as if LL sell their viewer, if someone provides a better one and that engages users, that’s a plus for LL, there’s no strategic or financial gain for LL over this, the issues over Emerald have been well documented, it’s a shame that this has happened, but it has happened.

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    1. Yep…but that’s all part of the spin coming from some in the Fractured Emerald camp. I guess the artificial argument was “LL want the user numbers to boost Viewer 2”. To be honest, I gave up on the nonsense being spouted in the Mod Sys forums, and on their blog. The spin got so bad I did wonder if Alistair Campbell was writing their copy! 😉

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