Breath-taking improvements and how to implement them

Second Life tries, indeed, to set some reasonable defaults — which work in some cases, but not so well on others. In many cases, tweaking the Edit > Performance settings bring better results, but not always. Second Life has lots of ways to get configured: from Edit > Performance, from the Client/Server menus, from the configuration files on the disk. Most people don’t know how to play with those — fearing, very correctly, that Second Life stops to work at all! — and will let SL assume what it thinks is “best” for them. But things don’t stop there — then there is the whole operating system to configure. Bandwidth settings should be set to “broadband” — all computers (Windows, Macs, Linux) usually come with the defaults for modem usage, mostly due to historical reasons. Tweaking those is not for the faint of heart — and also, these are operating system parameters that don’t have “defaults”: you need a good understanding on how operating systems work, no fear of experimenting (it might render your system useless), a thorough level of understanding of all hardware devices you have (how much memory they use, etc.) and often a calculator 🙂 Nothing that one should require from “normal” users. And these are often 99% (if not more) of the population.

So, users have to live with “reasonable defaults”. Sometimes, these are not reasonable at all; installing a new device driver for your graphics cards is often the way to go to get rid of those strange and nasty “bugs”, but there is a lot that you can do to improve your performance in SL (as well as its stability), if only you knew how!

Users then clamour for Linden Lab to “stop all innovation” and focus on “getting rid of the bugs” instead. This is a recurring nightmare for Linden Lab. In most of the cases, the problem is dealing with the “reasonable defaults”; Linden Lab is getting better at “guessing” those, but there are so many new systems, cards, motherboards, and drivers in the market every month, that “guessing” is a hard work. And then, of course, there are true bugs which need to be fixed. Focusing the development team on these things means less time free for innovation, and Second Life, as a platform, is left behind in terms of being the state-of-the-art of virtual, 3D environments. But… the users (at least the most vocal ones!) seem to prefer stability to features, so that’s what Linden Lab has to give them.

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