So we're going to blame it all on the router, are we?
What she doesn't realize is that I'm the one that precipitated this entire thing around the Belkin.
Why? Because I repeatedly, persistently kept complaining about viewer 2.x and viewer 3.x shutting down my Internet connection.
Lindens never believed me; they all dismissed this as nonsense, as they always do, with that aggravating tekkie arrogance that so stops progress on this rickety over-patched world.
But now they believe me -- except they want to blame it on the router, not their software.
Oz Linden was even heard to make an admission of sorts in an office meeting, according to a comment from Inara Pey on Modem World:
Monty’s tests appear to have been in connection with the wi-fi side of the routers.
The comments are made at 24 minutes into the recording, with Monty broadly commenting on testing, specifically mentioned Linksys WRT and Belkin G series, prompting Oz to comment: “So the reports of Second Life ‘killing’ people’s wi-fi are, in fact, legit, in some sense,” a comment that prompted some TPV developers to agree – so one assumes the wi-fi issues have been widely reported / seen as a cause of problems for some people using SL.
Well, in fact, I have a DSL hook-up, with a router that creates the wi-fi network for three computers in our family. However, I could point out that I've also tried hooking SL directly into the Verizon DSL and not through the router, and I still had problems of visibility, jerking, stopping, crashing, etc. although not Internet cutoff.
What I'm told by Monty Linden from his preliminary findings is that the Belkin is one part of the issue, and another is this JIRA issue, "error 1004".
And that he also seems to be finding that the Belkin has deliberately programmed in a five-minute interruptive interval for when it is overloaded -- with stuff like the heavy load of a virtual world.
That makes sense. Wouldn't the manufacturer of a gadget make sure that it has a kind of circuit-breaker on it to avoid having it overloaded and burned out? Perhaps the world of Belkin router engineers doesn't envision heavy loads of virtual world coming through their product -- small wonder.
Now, you can look at all this and say, "These routers are to blame. Evil! Like evil telecoms! They deliberately throttle and deliberately choke innovative new media net traffic. Evil! They should have net neutrality!" Blah blah.
That's if you are a geek and a technocommunist and see things that way.
I see the Belkin router as performing just fine, and as being what is available in Best Buy, which is what there is in my neighbourhood in terms of reasonably-priced computer products. In fact, it might be the only brand, I'd have to check. I've repeatedly bought Belkins. Now, I could go out now and spend another $30 or $50 and buy some other brand but how do I know it won't have the exact same issue? Others may, too, although I'm told that Cisco would be a good option for SL. So I may try that, as I have never adopted the adversarial geeky hatred of Cisco I've found in some quarters.
But what I think is more to the point is to get curious about WHY this happens with routers, not THAT the router "is the problem". And if I understood the Modem World discussion, Gwyn and others are remaining curious about this.
What I urge Lindens to do always and everywhere, in my never-ending quest to end opensource cultism and try to have an open society in our virtuality, is to become *more curious about their own software, and why it does things like this*. What their problem has always been from the get-go is this superior notion that the consumer and his shoddy products from Best Buy are the problem, instead of their esoteric software.
Remember when Doug Linden famously told us that "our computers were ready for kindergarten," as if they were all five years old? Maybe he was ready for kindergarten because he doesn't work there any more. I had a brand-new computer not playing SL then, despite being exactly what their web page specs were, and I really bristled at being told that my computer, which wasn't on solids yet, was going to kindergarten.
The problem is a very wide cultural gap. Most Lindens build their own rigs from parts from New Egg or their garages or whatever, and they have no idea what it is like to be a consumer. They have endless scorn for people reliant on store-bought items because part of their very manhood is wrapped up in their ability to build machines.
To be sure, Monty, who seems a phlegmatic and persistent sort, went out and bought a Belkin router to try to duplicate the bugs I kept reporting to him.Why? Because in his life, he uses a self-built router that he says could "survive a nuclear war". I don't doubt it. Come the heat death of the sun, my SL connection will naturally fry, along with myself, but I have no doubt that Monty's router will still be ticking. Still, he was willing to see "how the other half lives" in that vast continent of America and the world that shops at Wal-Mart and doesn't live in San Francisco.
Meanwhile, my immediate fix is not to go running out to buy yet another thing related to trying to make Second Life run, especially a nuclear-blast-reinforced sort of gadget, since I've already burned through desktops, graphic cards, fans, etc. over the course of my Second Life.
Instead, I'll just throttle down my game -- I'll check off the http textures and http whatsis on the "developer" or "advanced" menus -- that was a recommendation made to me by a Linden some time ago to get their game working when it crashed and shut off your Internet. That works pretty good, although lately, I find that even with those things unchecked, I still crash sometimes. Or I have another problem, which is that the pages increasingly needed to see stuff in SL just doesn't load.
Example: I usually contact tenants by pulling up their profiles right from their furniture. That's the quickest way, faster than even 1.23 search. Or if I see some product I want to buy, I pull up the merchant's store in her picks out of the object menu "creator". That was the heart of SL for me -- finding the people through the inworld objects.
Now that's all dead. Now I see CONNECTION CLOSED on a pink error screen, and I'm forced to use that awful 3.x search to pull up people, which is slow and strange.
But I'll live -- I'm a masochist and a misfit, remember? -- and I'll dumb down the draw distance to 98 or lower -- it's always best on the Mainland to keep a near drug-induced haze of visibility anyway with the stuff out there.
And I'll make sure all of those completely frivolous things like shadows, more ripply water, etc. are turned off. It occurred to me as I looked at my rental box throwing a shadow today that this aesthetic was really not a major requirement for me to enjoy the versimilitude of Second Life. Avatar foot shadows, as is well known, also get a pass from me.
But...Typical of this exercise was the disbelief that there was even a message that suggested you check your Internet connection, and that this couldn't have possibly come from Linden Lab, but had to have come from Microsoft. I publish it as exhibit A above, and now I've persuaded them.
I do have to point out that this "discovery" came about the hard way -- I kept blogging about it over and over and jumping up and down about it ever since 2.x was first rolled out several years ago, and finally an ex-Linden told another Linden that he really should get in touch with me and hear me out. That Linden (Monty) was then persistent through many messages, trials, errors, etc. etc. in dealing with a non-tekkie (me) to get the story. He remained curious and patient. That's the way one should always be about software: curious and patient. Not dogmatic and impatient. I'm grateful to Monty. But Monty is in a culture, a system, a place where there are people who are close-minded dominating tyrants and truth has a hard time being seen in that culture.
Because... there was still Oz to convince. Sigh. Oz is still knee-deep in User Stories from the Scrum Cult.
How's this for a User Story?
"Your virtual world software cuts off my Internet connection and it's taken me two years to get you to become a little more curious about that."
Sorry, but I'm not going to listen to that arrogant boor Latifa Khalifa, either, ranting about "crappy home routers".
Like I said, I'm a consumer. I go to Best Buy. I buy what's on the shelf that isn't $100. I don't buy to withstand nuclear attack. I buy to do normal stuff. The question isn't why I do this; the question is why Second Life doesn't work with these consumer realities, after 10 years being in beta. Yanno?
Tateru, of course, takes a different route, like the male dancer blaming his bad ballet on the fact of his testicles:
I’ll start by pointing out that the IEEE 802.11 networking standards aren’t the easiest set of networking protocols to implement correctly in device firmware. It’s all too easy to get them almost right, resulting in wireless access points and routers that work just fine for some kinds of workloads and that fall down spectacularly for others. As a bonus, RFC-2663 IPv4 Network Address Translation is also a commonly poorly-implemented feature in many network devices.
See, it's all those firmware makers that are to blame and these shoddy protocols, you know?
In my experiences from 2000 to 2005, the vast majority of wireless access-points/routers of that period – while just fine for Aunt Tilley and her Facebook habit – turned out to be duds (ranging from extraordinary failure to far more subtle symptoms) once you hooked up a power-user or a small three or four person office. They might choke and die, they might toss stations off at random, they might just run some connections very slowly, or some might unpredictably stall, leaving you wondering.
But that's not true. How many offices has Tateru actually worked in, in her life? Facebook hardly existed from 2000-2005 and that is an anachronism, because Facebook i s a heavier load with its pictures and links and movies that Tateru lets on. I've worked in dozens of offices here and overseas. I've even had to serve as as a rough-and-ready "network administrator" in a small NGO that didn't have its own dedicated IT guy. Routers would have to be reset sometimes, sure. Like all machines. Every consumer knows that when a gadget doesn't work, you just reset it. That fixes it, most of the time. So? I've never seen routers "be the problem" in the overwhelming majority of offices I've worked in, some with hundreds of people, some with 10 or 12. What I've seen "be the problem" way more often is the geek in charge of the machines.
What's amazing is how fast this router alibi has translated into an Official Pronouncement from the Lab -- in one of its stunningly rare communications (they haven't updated their blog in months and months (unless you knew to look under "tools and technology"!) and who knows what they're doing). Tateru wrested this out of Peter Linden, who we've learned now is a "shredder" in a garage ban that Shamlet has written about:
“The Viewer can be hard on some home routers – a single Viewer instance can look like dozens of browser sessions (e.g. a small office) in certain aspects all by itself. In the worst cases, it can sometimes crash home routers or cause them to drop packets, which the user experiences as a brief network interruption while the router reboots or poor network performance.
There is nothing about Second Life that is intrinsically incompatible with any router, but we are working to make our network usage less hard on all routers; that’s a central element of the HTTP Library component of the Project Shining that we announced in our recent Tools & Technology post.”
Home routers! Aren't we quaint, we "home router" users! So...homey! So amateur and stupid! And again, that instant *lack of curiosity* and *willingness to pass the buck* with the "nothing intrinsically incompatible" stuff.
Tateru solves this the geek way: "Rather than messing with consumer network appliances, I’m going to grab an old PC and a Linux install disk and throw my own router together. It’s really what I should have been doing already."
Because the "home routers" open up a lot of connections and behave like a veritable office instead of a home.
Um, is there an "office router" for sale at Best Buy?
I want to point out another interesting thing about all this.
All these years I've rooted around in the inner files of The Sims Online and Second Life and such, I never knew that the app data/roaming/secondlife files had in them something called "Second Life Log". Look for this inside "logs" not "avatar name" -- that's why you may have missed it. We all know that a way to fix your game is "settings.xml" in the avatar's file, right?
Well, another thing to look at with growing curiosity is this log. I was warned not to hand this over to even a Linden lightly, because it contains possibly private information. I'm not sure what that could be, really, but it does in a sense contain a total track of everything you do in Second Life. Everywhere you go. Every thing you do. And even people who come up to you while you're AFK and try to talk to you.
And when you read those files, you see the enormous amount of things in Second Life that just plain go wrong. Region handshakes. Fonts. Avatar baking. Whatever. Warnings, failures, problems. It's almost like the norm for the operation of this software is always to be out on the edge warning, failing, falling short. At least that's the impression an uninitiated person like myself gets reading it.
As I'm blocked from the JIRA (banned for "edit wars" merely by persisting that my bug was not a feature with the awful Soft Linden, remember?), I can't even read the pages about "error 1004" so I look forward to someone giving me the headlines on that one. Meanwhile, check out your own "Second Life Log" and see what you find in there.