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August 27, 2010

The Law, Emerald Atrophy and Emergence

Let me first start out by saying that I’m not a hater of the Emerald Viewer or of any of the (legal) achievements of the Emerald team.  I used the viewer myself for a long time and prefer it over the official viewer, personally I’m not to sure of the 1.4 beta interface, but it was still a lot better than Viewer 2.  What I do have a problem with is the history and some of the actions of some of the developers that were or are involved in Emerald.

Theres a law over here in the UK that may make it illegal to knowingly be involved in a DDoS attack, the jury is still out on whether or not it applies to owners of machines co-opted into a DDoS by someone else if the owner knew of the use of the machine.  But I personally don’t want to take the chance, and while we didn’t know the Emerald Team could use Emerald to launch a DDoS and didn’t know certain members would use it in that way, we do know now and I believe it to be too much a risk that it could be done again.

So the solution would be to remove anyone from the team that have proven themselves untrustworthy in the past right?  Well, apart from the difficulty in verifying that any such person is actually removed from the team, it seems that the main problem for Emerald is there are very few developers left.

The current Emerald Development Team as listed at the new Emerald Viewer site (when its working).

Emerald Viewer Development Team

Discrete Dreamscape (Linux Dev, Binaries)
Jessica Lyon (Windows Dev, Support Lead, QA Lead)
Kitty Barnett (RLVa Dev)
Lonely Bluebird (Windows Dev, Binaries, Wiki Admin)
Moy Loon (Windows Dev)
Qarl Fizz (Graphics Guru)
Skills Hak (Windows Dev, QA)
Xiuide Shan (Website)

Public Relations
Arabella Steadham (Communication)

That give you five devs.  But one, Kitty, only works on RLVa and Jessica has admitted she can read code but doesn’t really write it (which in RL business is perfect for a support/qa lead). That leaves Discrete Dreamscape, Skills Hak, Lonely Bluebird (Phox) and Moy Loon. Skills and Phox certainly fall into the untrustworthy category with their history and I’m told the same applies to Discrete. So that leaves Moy. Now lets take a step back in time, the following is the December 2009 version of that list.

Developers
Chalice Yao
Chris Tuchs
Cryogenic
Danny Nolan
Discrete Dreamscape
Draconis Neurocam
Hyang Zhao
Jcool410
Jessica Lyon
Liny
LordGregGreg Back
Madgeek
Moy
Phox
Sam Darrow
Skills Hak
taladar
theGenius Indigo
WoLf
Zwagoth Klaar

Documentation and Support
LordGregGreg Back
Jessica Lyon

Quality Assurance (QA)
Jessica Lyon

Web Dev
Jcool410
Zeus Bedrosian / Zingaralho

Releases
Discrete Dreamscape
LordGregGreg
Hyang Zhao

Names with a line through are repeats within the list. I count 20 developers there, and note that Phox isn’t hiding behind his Lonely Bluebird alias there.  This says two things to me.  First, there are only Moy, Jessica and possibly Qarl now involved in Emerald to keep Phox, Skills and Discrete honest and second, Emerald development is going to slow down very soon.  Emerald has been a revolution in viewers, but with so few developers involved it’s not going to be able to maintain the pace it has had before if it even survives the current troubled times.

And then there is Emergence.  This is a fork of the Emerald code by LordGregGreg Back (LGG) and is claimed to be free of any Modular Systems influence, binary only components have been removed or replaced with fresh versions from the Linden Lab website and all links or requests to the MS website redirected or removed entirely.  I really hope that LGG  has created something clean, but I still have concerns about the Emerald base used for the viewer and worries that LGG was still involved in Emerald even as the DDoS attack was going down.  Is LGG trustworthy? I don’t know and that means I’m giving Emergence a miss for the moment.

It’s interesting to see how the announcement and email by Philip Linden has been taken by Residents.  I’ve certainly seen a number of alternate viewers, such as Imprudence, gaining popularity.  On the other hand, there has been some vehement opinions expressed in support of Emerald and claiming Philip is trying to ruin people enjoyment of Second Life, or is targeting the Emerald Viewer because if jealousy.

And finally it seems some members of the Emerald team are a little worried what would happen if their RL identities got out:

“Anyone one of us who publicly states our real life info,” Emerald’s Jessica Lyon tells me, “will be forever greifed to no end by the hordes of people who hate us. It’s enough that we have to deal with it all in world, but to put our real lives at risk would be silly.”

If people hate you that much, maybe you’re in the wrong job. Now I’m all for keeping anonymity in Second Life, but this statement is kind of ironic considering what Emerald team members have done in the past.

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