For additional information and proof of permissions glitches, see this page: Proof of SL Malfunctioning Permissions
General Summary of the State of Things
With the recent rollover from server software 1.26 to 1.27... some glaring permissions glitches became apparent. As is our policy, Elf Clan immediately began researching to discover how widespread these glitches are. We discovered three JIRAs that detailed serious permissions problems-- especially in the area of merchants.
NOTE: These JIRA are only the tip of the iceberg, and merely provided indication that lead us to the research that exposed the full extent of the issue. That full extent is alarming.
We announced to our group merchants the need to check all vendors (and all boxes within all vendors, and all items within all boxes) to determine if any of their creations were compromised. Several merchants not only in ElvenMyst but in other grids began reporting items with self-changing perms in many of their products. One merchant reported in JIRA having "hundreds" of her items turning "full perm". She was not happy.
We closed down our market for three days while the second
1.27 rollout took place (the first one reportedly contained a serious exploit that fortunately Linden Lab discovered and quickly fixed. They're not telling us the nature of the exploit). We let all our merchants know of the seriousness of the problem. The notecard we sent out to our group was distributed far beyond our group-- with the result of many "Thank you's" from merchants who began checking their wares and found similar problems... as well as from those who know of Elf Clan's reputation and immediately shut down their vendor's grid-wide until we gave the all-clear.
TESTS YOU CAN RUN UNDER 1.27 SERVER
At the end of the final 1.27 rollout, we announced we were re-opening our market. There is still no guarantee that 1.27 has fixed the problem. Indeed there is still strong evidence that 1.27 is as faulty as 1.26:
1) Rez several objects from your inventory and check their perms against the perms shown by right clicking on the item in inventory. Quite often the perms listing will disagree.
2) Rez several items from boxes you own (especially if you're a merchant). Check the perms of the rezzed items against the perms of the items in the box. They will often disagree.
So it's apparent that (despite Linden Lab claims) 1.27 is no golden solution to the perms issue. Perms are messed up grid wide-- and Linden Lab appears to have no handle on the problem.
RESPONSE FROM MERCHANTS
I've been receiving response from other merchants-- and verifications. One merchant said he was building 2 days ago... and had a major build turn no-mod on him (the same thing that happened to one of our own merchants-- and that got us started on this road of discovery).
One of our own merchants reported 50% of his items compromised (fortunately not so seriously that they invalidated his products). By far the biggest problem is merchants being unwilling (or having no time) to completely check all of their merchandise. That's one way "freebie items" are created on Second Life-- merchants refusing or failing to do the work to protect their wares.
Amazingly... a few people on Second Life who received our detailed notecard, are simply refusing to believe the problem exists. Some even got angry that we sent out the warning (LOL). This "head in the sand" syndrome is somewhat amusing. It truly amazes me that after all these years, and with all the evidence at hand-- even after the OpenSpace fiasco that forced the shutdown of thousands of sims-- there are still people who exist to whom Linden Lab can do no wrong and who believe the future of Second Life is all bright and shiny. I guess the world is made up of all sorts of people... many of whom willingly ignore evidence in favor of donning rose-colored glasses. I would venture that such people have never spent weeks producing a build and bringing it to market... only to have that item suddenly turn full-perm for no discernible reason.
VIEWERS AND THE OPENSIM PROJECT
Fortunately, there are some very interesting things happening on the viewer area. Two new viewers have the ability to transfer full-perm builds (not scripts unfortunately, but those can be transferred manually if they are full perm as well). This bodes well for being able to transfer our own builds (as well as freebies) to external grids.
Unfortunately, things are not looking good for the OpenSim project. Coder egos and attitudes are getting in the way of progress and it seems like very little is being accomplished. Major bugs still exist (actual bugs, not non-implemented features). Most OpenSim grids are functional but very laggy and unpredictable. The unpredictable part was expected. However, the failure of OpenSim project people to cooperate, properly test code before releasing, and to rapidly progress the project is disheartening.
OBSERVED STATE OF OPEN SIM
Widespread reports are that OpenSim is breaking down internally. Coders are leaving the project, upset with ego-rants and abuse within the project. There are announcements of plans to profitize the OpenGrid system-- a project that was touted to be an open, volunteer / non-profit venture. For-profit grids-- those who are using the code to set up their own businesses and providing their own updates back to the system in a symbiotic relationship-- are reporting a lack of cooperation from the central OpenSim organizer... and so understandably have ceased providing their own updates to the system. Accusations of "god complex" and "egomaniac" are flying freely.
This does not bode well for the project entire.
THE NEED FOR CORPORATE INVOLVEMENT
A lot of people bad-mouth corporations-- and understandably so. Power is often abused. But bottom line-- corporations get things done. They are the movers and shakers... and they have the money needed to fund community projects.
Virtual Reality is the wave of the future, hands down. It would seem then that companies such as IBM, Microsoft and Intel, who have publicly announced their interest in OpenSim, should donate more than word and printed page to the project. What the project needs is some donated corporate dollars so that coders can be paid instead of volunteering. What it seriously needs is a team of system analysts and designers to manage the coders and get them moving in the right direction. Right now, OpenSim appears to be largely a project of too many "managers" and not enough workers. Coders historically do not make good managers. The result is very slow (if not stagnant) "progress".
So corporations-- if you want the benefits of Virtual Reality-- I strongly recommend putting some donated funds to work and create a central processing team to get the project on the right track. Volunteer coders are fine until egos and "god complexes" and tunnel-vision get in the way of progress. That's when some funding and professional organization enters the picture. Right now, OpenSim needs to be better organized and the overriding power removed from one person. It needs to be a community project with professional, balanced oversight
if it hopes to have even a chance of working out.
THE FUTURE OF VR
I think the most likely situation that will arise is that eventually, Linden Lab will make that fatal mistake that will topple the whole house of cards. There is also strong evidence (and strong likelihood) that the future of VR will be neither with Second Life or OpenSim-- but with a privately developed project intended to directly compete with those two. There is reliable grapevine news of new products that have been in top-secret development for the last three years... designed to bring Virtual Reality to the Big Dog arena.
Face it, Linden Lab (although mildly "successful" financially) is small potatoes when compared with products such as World of Warcraft, Warhammer Online, Quake and Unreal. Linden Lab itself has a long history of unprofessional conduct and a FAIL rating with the Better Business Bureau. They have a reputation for customer abuse, hiding serious problems, lying to their customers and making decisions directly against the best interests of their customers (again, the OpenSpace fiasco. I doubt Linden Lab will ever live that one down). These are things I hate to point out (we've invested a lot of time, effort and money into Second Life)-- but unfortunately seem to be the reality of things.
The market is ripe for a truly professional company to come in and steal the limelight. It wouldn't be difficult for professionals to produce a better, more stable, more user-friendly product. It wouldn't take any effort at all to treat customers with more respect and consideration. So unfortunately, as much as it may hurt to say so (we have all put countless hours and investments into Second Life)... the future of Second Life is grim and the concept of new products totally overshadowing both the product and Linden Lab... appears to be a very real possibility.
One thing we can be sure of: Linden Lab has brought virtual reality to the attention of mainstream business. Unfortunately for them, mainstream business may be their downfall.
THERE ARE ALTERNATIVES
We'll see what happens. I think it can be safely said that if Second Life totally sinks, there are alternatives. but at this point in time they're not viable for anything but a social venue. No shopping, scripts don't work properly-- and I seriously doubt (at least at this time) that OpenSim will ever pan out. It's far more likely a third-party, professional company will come along and swallow LL's market. I'm frankly expecting to see such pop out of nowhere by the end of the year, or 2010 at the latest.
With a major recession going on, the future of SL as it currently exists is highly questionable. But then, the same can be said for RL. Time will tell.
Ancient Chinese curse: "May you live in interesting times". :D
Your friend-- Wayfinder Wishbringer
P.S.-- If you are a merchant and haven't checked your vendors from top to bottom... I strongly recommend doing so. Seriously. Recommendation: create ONE central set of products. Check each one, in great detail, rezzing items to ground and replacing faulty ones. If you're a clothing merchant (and thus can't "rez" products)... provide the products to an alt and have the alt check permissions.
Then replace every vendor on the grid, at all your locations, with the new verified versions. That is the only way to insure the integrity of current merchandise offerings. Unfortunately... that will not insure their continued validity. I'd suggest running the same test again in 90 days.