In a not unexpected development, Linden Lab just announced that they will block the Emerald viewer from accessing the Second Life grid from 10am PT on Wednesday 10th. In addition an email want out at least to recent Emerald users signed by Joe Linden and reproduced below
Emerald Viewer Blocked From Second Life
Dear Second Life Resident,
As of 10am PT Wednesday, September 8, the Emerald Viewer will be blocked from logging in to Second Life as a result of violations of our Policy on Third Party Viewers. Residents who have been using any version of the Emerald Viewer will need to use a different Viewer to access Second Life.
Please be aware that attempting to circumvent our blocking to access Second Life with a banned Viewer is a violation of the Policy on Third Party Viewers and may result in the loss of one’s account. For more information, please read the blog post.
VP, Platform & Technology Development
In my previous post I noted that a final release of Emerald would be released and questioned how advisable it would be to trust the final release on Emerald. I had hoped this this release would be clean and comply with requirements for the TPV Directory even if it wasn’t going to be listed there.
That isn’t going to be the case.
The final release of Emerald is going to be built by Phox, probably the least trustworthy person left on the Emerald team, and appears not only to have controversial files that LL ask be removed intact, but will have the ability to allow the user to spoof the channel name. The channel name is, by default, how LL knows which viewer your using. Allowing the user to change it on demand is a common feature of copybot clients and I wouldn’t be surprised if Phox simply replicated the changes from the Onyx codebase. Phox once again shows his true colours, preferring to attack Second Life rather than step aside with dignity.
The updated at the top of that page is rather interesting too. If this is true, Fractured, Skills, Discrete and Phox and their alts will soon no longer be welcome on the grid and the CDS data collection system will be no more. I really do hope this is true as it shows that Linden Lab are willing to take steps to protect their customers, in this case it has taken far too long, but their actions now set a precedence for the future.
On another note, Arabella has apparently distributed a notecard within second life accusing Jessica Trinity of attempting a hostile takeover. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to get my hands on this notecard as of yet (if you have a copy, feel free to drop one on my profile in SL) but Jessica has posted a rebuttal on her blog. Given that Discrete and Skills had stepped down already and only the stubbornness of Phox was threatening the continuation of the Emerald project, her actions appear to me to be intended to save Emerald by removing the last thorne in its side. Of course we only have Jassica’s word against Arabella’s as to what happened and what the intentions of the involved were, plus no way of knowing what would have happened after Jessica’s attempt if it had succeeded.
The excerpt of dev chat in that post, if accurate, is also interesting, showing Phox’s egotistical attitude to Emerald and his willingness to destroy the project if he can’t make his buck out of it. Would Emerald fail without Phox? Possibly, but Emerald defiantly died with him and Phox and Fractured are the ones that killed it.
And finally, some people have been asking what they can use instead of Emerald if LL blocks it, especially those depending on its RLVa implementation. Once again I’d like to recommend Imprudence, its has a full RLVa implementation, decent build tools, is actively developed and seems to be heading in the right direction. And yes, for those of you that its important too, it has jiggle boobs too.
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.
(From the first link above)
So Linden Lab are putting their foot down on who is allowed to be on development teams. As I said previously, loss of these three developers pretty much leaves Emerald with only one active developer. Phox (aka Lonely) is obviously willing to kill the whole project by refusing to leave and locking other developers out of the servers. Respect where it is due to Skills and Discrete for stepping down when requested to.
If that was not enough, Fractured Crystal is applying for a trade mark on the Emerald Viewer name. This to me seem the petty attempt by someone caught doing wrong and made to account for it to get their own back at the development project just because he can. It would be interesting to if challenging the registration on the basis that he left the project of his own accord before applying for the trademark (assuming timing here) and thus ceded rights to the name to the person or team that took over.
If anyone has any doubts about the kind of people who were in charge of Emerald, the behaviour of Phox and Fractured should clear that right up.
Over on the Modular Systems blog (still using that huh?) Arabella announces The End saying:
Alas this was not to be. Linden Lab has made demands of the team that are impossible to meet. Among the demands not listed publicly elsewhere was to publicly release an RC without any ability to load the emkdu or llkdu files. This was do-able. The final demand was to ‘delete’ 3 key members of our team. While making this demand, Linden Lab was quite aware that this was effectively the guillotine to the project.
I don’t see that these demands were unreasonable or impossible to meet. Removing the ability to detect and load a DLL should be a simple enough task that Moy could able to handle easily. The removal of Skills, Discrete and Phox from the team may have been sufficient to encourage others to join, certainly with a compliment viewer available the team could have started rebuilding its reputation.
So what now for Emerald users? Arabella continues:
For you, the user, what this means is that there will not be any further releases of the Emerald Viewer after today. The existing releases will continue to operate until Linden Lab decides to terminate their access and end Emerald once and for all.
There will be one final version of the Emerald Viewer released here later today; that is, the viewer we’ve been working on for the past six months. It would be a shame to let the efforts of the developers who put so many unpaid hours into this project go to waste.
I’ll leave it to you, the reader, to decide whether to trust it.
Looks like I’m not the only one considering Emerald Atrophy, over on the Modular Systems blog (and why are they still using that?) Arabella has posted an invitation for developers.
Are You Interested in being an Emerald Developer?
Emerald Dev Team is currently fielding applications for new Windows, Mac and Linux developers. Experience building the sl viewer or the Emerald viewer and C++ required. Experience with Pyhon, cmake, svn and HG preferred.
Must be able to work in a team environment but most importantly, have the courage to help us bring the Emerald Viewer back from the brink. Please submit applications in the form of Notecards titled “Dev Application” to Jessica Lyon.
~ by arabellasteadham on August 27, 2010.
Posted in Emerald Viewer
Tags: Developer, Emerald Viewer, Emeraldviewer
One has to wonder how many developers would be attracted to working on Emerald at this point in time. Certainly as a real life developer myself, I would defiantly not be interested in getting involved.
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.
A post from the Modular Systems blog seems to have disappeared, maybe their having some back-end problems over there, but google cache caught it and I’ll reproduce it after the break.
The only comment I’ll make is on the highlighted part below, just how out of compliance with the TPV Policy was Emerald and the Emerald Team?
It seems that Linden Lab have finally responded to recent events surrounding the popular Emerald Viewer. Currently actions are restricted to removing the viewer from the Third Party Viewer Directory, an event some tried to pass off as being because of the change or project ownership and while delisting is not terminal for the viewer, LL seem to be keeping their options open.
We take privacy, safety, and security very seriously, and we will act to the best of our abilities to protect it. We have not yet disabled logins via the Emerald viewer, but will do so if we feel the software and the team behind it is not able to meet the standards we’ve set. While Emerald is currently the focus of our attention because of what happened recently, all third-party viewers are held to the same standard, and must comply with the third-party viewer policy.
It’s certainly good that Linden Lab will consider blocking the viewer if it and the team behind it don’t meet LL’s standards, but many still question if Emerald should have been there in the first place. And only time will tell if Linden Labs standards are high enough to protect their customers from the untrustworthy.
Edit: It seems a very message to that linked above has been emailed by Philip Linden to many, if not all, Second Life users. A full copy of the text after the break.
OK, not strictly about TalTECH in any way, but stick with me because the emerald fracturing events happening over at Modular Systems HQ bear comment.
For those not keeping track, there has been disquiet recently with the actions of a number (though I hasten to add not all) of the developers behind the popular Emerald Viewer. Many opinions abound of permanent bans being issued to previous avatars of JCool/Fractured Crystal and Phox, to name just a few which would mean that Emerald should never have been in the TPV Directory in the first place.
There has been controversy over CDS, a grid wide ban link system them purports to detect copybot clients and ban them, sadly totally useless and a waste of L$ since anyone with half a brain, and thus most copybotters, can figure out how to make CDS useless against them. Kind of ironic however that a previous copybot client creator is now making money out of preying on content creators fears of copybots, however useless the tool actually is. The side effect of this tool however is to place in the hands of people who have previously proven themselves as untrustworthy, data which can be used to geo-locate Residents and may be used to associate different alts with the same user. Add to that data collected from the Modular Systems RegApi interface, against RegApi rules I might add, and you have a seriously worrying amount of data in these people’s hands.
And then Onyx. I pointed out above that a previous copybot creator was making money out of CDS, except that it appears Fractured and his friends never stopped making copybots. Onyx appears to be a version of Emerald with all the copybot goodness from vlife included and examination of the leaked source code repository shows active development from our friends Fractured and Phox. Many people would agree that after a revelation like this, Linden Lab should have taken action, allowing a large proportion of their account users to continue using a viewer that these people were involved with shows irresponsibility on LL’s part. Sadly LL did nothing.
And then Fractured went to far. You see he committed a crime and he used every Emerald user to do it. By his own admission, Fractured added hidden iFrames to the bottom of the Emerald login window which loaded pages and images from a critics website. The owner of that site reported that over 10 days, over 800GB of data was downloaded from his site and approximately 170,000 page hits a day with the Emerald login screen as the referer. This had a side effect of breaking part of the terms of the TPV policy, specifically section 2.d.iii
You must not launch Denial of Service (“DoS”) attacks, engage in griefing, or distribute other functionality that Linden Lab considers harmful or disruptive to Second Life or the Second Life community.
And sure enough, take a look at the TPV Directory today and Emerald is no longer listed. Last night, Arabella Steadham announced a restructuring of the Emerald project. Fractured has apparently stepped down from the project and is handing it lock, stock and barrel over to Arabella, but is this enough or is it too little too late?
First, how can we be sure Fractured won’t be back under a different name? Given what Fractured has thought he can get away with in the past, is it possible that he’s still going to be involved in Emerald though the rest of the developers will claim not? And even if he has totally left right now, whats to stop him coming back later under a different name?
Second, whats happening with Onyx and CDS? Fractured is, as far as I can tell, in charge of these projects too and they still exist. Unknown amounts of data about users are stored by Fractured and his friends, and he’s known to actively develop a copybot client, isn’t it about time Linden Lab stepped on this kind of thing?
And third, as the post title says, there’s still a Phox in the hen-house. In the past a griefer, involved in the creation and maintenance of a current copybot and rumoured to have received a permanent ban from LL in the past, and still involved in the development of Emerald and a conduit for “features” to make their way into Emerald from Onyx. If the Emerald team want to regain any respect they need to remove people like him from the team permanently.
Is it too late for Emerald? I don’t really know at this time, but what I do know is that I don’t trust Emerald any more. I’ve switched to Imprudence already and I would encourage anyone reading this to consult the Third Party Viewer Directory and select a new viewer for themselves.
Don’t forget to change your passwords after you switch, just in case.Edited 24/08/2010 to correct some typos.