by Alphaville Herald on 02/09/10 at 3:49 am
Soft Linden: I love that you guys are doing this — Lonely Bluebird: Saves you guys some work I guess
This evening, Emerald developer Lonely Bluebird – a.k.a. Phox – took time away from what has certainly been a difficult day, for an exclusive interview with the Herald in which he confirmed that a leaked chatlog at the SLUniverse forums is legitimate – but could be misinterpreted since it was taken out of context. Phox went on to tell me that Emerald remains popular despite the recent controversy and claimed to have seen over 114,000 logins over the last day. Can Linden Lab afford to ban Emerald?
Our chat came after a wild day in which Jessica Lyons resigned from the Emerald group after a disagreement about how best to address Linden Lab concerns about the popular Second Life viewer. What maybe more noteworthy – if true – were the revelations on the SLUniverse forums of what are claimed to be chat logs in which Soft Linden encouraged the Emerald gang. According to Fleur Orchid, the chat logs date back to mid march – and are likely to raise eyebrows, while shedding light on the emkdu leaks that contributed to the Emeraldgate scandal.
In the chat, Soft Linden appears to encourage the Emerald developer to use the emkdu library to bake hidden information into avatar textures and jpeg images – despite the fact that including the emkdu libraries violated the GPL license under which the open source Second Life clients are made available. Including the emkdu library with the Emerald viewer is one of the third party viewer violations cited by Linden Lab as being unacceptable, according to Jessica Lyons. The chatlogs leaked by Fleur Orchid are appended to the end of this story.
Pixeleen Mistral: you are online
_Phox: I’m always online.
Pixeleen Mistral: I have a few questions
Pixeleen Mistral: are you guys getting a lot of downloads for the new version of the viewer?
_Phox: Click on "More" to see all versions
_Phox: For mac just click the button
_Phox: It shows download counts for all versions, 2600 went up about an hour and a half ago?
Pixeleen Mistral: do you expect Linden Lab to attempt to ban Emerald? and will a ban work?
_Phox: I have no idea really.
_Phox: I don’t think they want to ban it, it would inconvenience so many people.
Pixeleen Mistral: well – if the Lab did ban the viewer – would it have much effect?
_Phox: Well yesterday 114k people logged in using emerald
_Phox: So I’d say that would be a pretty big effect.
_Phox: If you’re vaguely referring to the rumor that I made emerald "unblockable" then I can tell you that is false.
Pixeleen Mistral: Emerald has captured the imagination of the Second Life community – and I can see why – the jiggle boobs thing was pure genius – that really put you guys over the top
_Phox: Well, I think that certainly is what made it go viral, but there’s far more to it than that.
Pixeleen Mistral: I have a good friend who loves Emerald for building
_Phox: Yeah, there are a lot of scripters who rely on the script preprocessor for their products too.
Pixeleen Mistral: so I think your super power has been you actually play SL – and know what people want – unlike the LL staff
_Phox: It’s not just that, the project has a history of doing things that the users want, but LL refuse to do.
Pixeleen Mistral: why doesn’t LL do what user’s want?
_Phox: People have been asking for a client AO since 2006.
Pixeleen Mistral: right – client AO is a big deal – what is LL thinking ?
_Phox: I suspect it would vary on a case to case basis. I know that the breast physics stuff was discussed internally for example, it was "shot down" in favour of a more dynamic system for mesh physics, which while certainly better would take several years of development.
_Phox: Stuff like the build tools and preprocessor well, could be a lack of QA resources, they can’t release something like that without extensive testing.
_Phox: There was a pretty serious bug in the preprocessor that caused us to pull it from a version, and we got a bunch of complaints from people relying on it, so we put it back, albeit as a debug setting only…
Pixeleen Mistral: so looking ahead – what is next for you guys?
_Phox: As far as the emerald team goes?
Pixeleen Mistral: yes
_Phox: There’s nothing left.
Pixeleen Mistral: you can probably sell a special version
_Phox: I suspect various groups will fork and continue, and possibly a few entirely new people will join and make new projects to "replace" it, but it can’t happen.
Pixeleen Mistral: so the 2600 version is the end?
_Phox: Unless something major happens, yes.
Pixeleen Mistral: funny how it worked out to be 2600
_Phox: Emerald really can’t continue.
Pixeleen Mistral: if Emerald is over then what will you do next?
Pixeleen Mistral: please don’t say "spend more time with your family" or "pursue other interrests"
_Phox: Actually it wasn’t 2600, but the last svn revision was 2587, and the switch to hg meant we didn’t really have a revision number for the last one, so we decided to make it 2600.
_Phox: There are two popular references in the technology world for the number that I’m aware of.
Pixeleen Mistral: yes
_Phox: Anyway, what I do next probably won’t involve viewers.
Pixeleen Mistral: 2600 also means something to those interested in old-school phone hacking
_Phox: I have one viewer project I’m working on for a university, and after that I’m out.
_Phox: Well make that three then.
Pixeleen Mistral: so you used to have a lot of support from Linden Lab
Pixeleen Mistral: but they have turned on you
_Phox: We did.
Pixeleen Mistral: there are some chatlogs being circulated where Soft Linden is encouraging you to include info in the baked avatar textures
Pixeleen Mistral: are those real?
_Phox: If you’re referring to the two conversations from March posted on SLU yesterday, then yes, they are genuine, though I wouldn’t say he was encouraging anything, since I was simply informing him of what we were doing.
Pixeleen Mistral: Soft did say he "loved" what you were doing
_Phox: Yes, though it was certainly referring to the overall effort of the Onyx project in reducing the use of viewers with copybot or other malicious functionality.
Pixeleen Mistral: I guess that could be taken two ways
_Phox: Keep in mind, that these are two small parts of very long conversations.
Pixeleen Mistral: right
_Phox: He was in no way encouraging us to collect user data, in fact, he even came back to me to ask that I ensure the path on linux is cut down to only the containing folder because he was concerned about the /home/<username>
Pixeleen Mistral: you guys had a lot of access to Linden staff – did that give you an advantage over the other viewer developers?
_Phox: I couldn’t really speculate on that, but the support Linden Lab provided us was for our users, not for the development of the viewer itself, to which Linden Lab has always seen themselves as a competitor. The certainly weren’t helping us create new features.
Pixeleen Mistral: I heard that Linden Lab set things up so they would answer questions about Emerald with their support staff – was that true?
Pixeleen Mistral: that was in some of the leaked documents attributed to Fractured Crystal – but I was never sure of that was real or not
_Phox: No, that’s not the case. There were widespread issues of people being told to uninstall emerald for all sorts of issues, including obvious sim problems. There was a large focus on support because of that issue.
_Phox: In fact, LL support were instructed not to support users of any third party viewers at first.
Pixeleen Mistral: so – if Emerald is pretty at the end – and if you could do it all over again – what would you do differently?
Pixeleen Mistral: would you change anything?
_Phox: Well there were certainly some mistakes made along the way, but I’d say as a whole, Emerald itself, it went quite well.
Pixeleen Mistral: so – no regrets?
_Phox: Discounting of course the issues that happened as a result of developers involved in something else.
Pixeleen Mistral: so – anything else that the Herald readers should know? have I missed anything?
_Phox: I’m sure there are a lot of things Herald readers should know, but I don’t have any announcements to make at the time.
Pixeleen Mistral: thanks for talking
_Phox: No problem.
the leaked chatlogs between Soft Linden and Lonely Bluebird
[2010-03-18 16:43:19] Lonely <3: Ah, well, we needed some way to identify people using our kakadu library, we came up with something really clever: The Emkdu variant encodes the window title into the j2c comment.
[2010-03-18 16:43:32] Soft Linden: Nice!!!
[2010-03-18 16:43:41] Lonely <3: The OnyxKDU variant contains the other end of the cipher, and an exported function to retrieve said comment.
[2010-03-18 16:43:44] Soft Linden: I’d figured that library would be the place to hide things. So it shows up in their baked texture.
[2010-03-18 16:44:07] Lonely <3: Yup, Linux variants encode 128 characters of the path, since window title depends on window manager etc.
[2010-03-18 16:44:27] Lonely <3: I’ve got it nicely tied in to the radar here, it’s fun to see the various names I get when all I see on people is a shiny emerald tag.
[2010-03-18 16:44:45] Soft Linden: I’d look at other places you might store that. We were at least planning to start encoding some info there to help us with DMCA takedowns
[2010-03-18 16:44:56] Lonely <3: We caught the HXO/Sl Black edition creator that way.
[2010-03-18 16:45:11] Soft Linden: Does the jpeg2k format support arbitrary tag/value pairs?
[2010-03-18 16:45:12] Lonely <3: Hmm, well there are various places we could encode that.
[2010-03-18 16:45:21] Lonely <3: Yes
[2010-03-18 16:45:25] Lonely <3: At least I think it does
[2010-03-18 16:45:33] Soft Linden: You could make something misleading like "encode parms" or w/e
[2010-03-18 16:46:38] Lonely <3: Unless someone starts poking at it with a disassembler all they’ll find is a string of mixed printable and unprintable characters in the comment.
[2010-03-18 16:47:18] Lonely <3: We figured it was a good way to keep track of who’s using the proprietary library without a license, not to mention identifying those viewers that want to hide, which is always a goal.
[2010-03-18 16:47:29] Soft Linden: :3
[2010-03-18 16:47:33] Soft Linden: I love that you guys are doing this
[2010-03-18 16:47:55] Lonely <3: Saves you guys some work I guess.
[2010-03-18 16:49:01] Soft Linden: I’d also be inclined to get the end of the path for Windows & Mac builds too. Odds are people are going to rename the viewer filename, even if they don’t change the window title, etc
[2010-03-18 16:49:12] Lonely <3: Yeah that’s what I said >_>
[2010-03-18 16:49:15] Soft Linden: just w/e is in **argv
[2010-03-18 16:49:19] Lonely <3: Zwagoth and Fractured wanted the window title.
[2010-03-18 16:49:19] Soft Linden: I thought you said you just did it on Linux?
[2010-03-18 16:49:27] Soft Linden: Gotcha.
[2010-03-18 16:49:32] Soft Linden: Yeah, I’d shoot for both.
[2010-03-18 16:49:35] Lonely <3: Only because linux doesn’t offer a single function to grab the window title in all window managers.
[2010-03-18 16:49:55] Lonely <3: Yeah I know the path is more useful.
[2010-03-25 16:35:40] You sense a disturbance in the force… (Soft Linden is typing)
[2010-03-25 16:35:51] Soft Linden: Are the marked textures in the current release version?
[2010-03-25 16:36:01] Lonely <3: Yes
[2010-03-25 16:36:06] Soft Linden thumbsup
[2010-03-25 16:36:27] Lonely <3: After we spoke I decided to make a bit of a change to kdu
[2010-03-25 16:37:40] Lonely <3: I made it check the top corner of the image for transparent pixels, if it finds any it encodes the folder name like the linux lib originally did.
[2010-03-25 16:37:50] Lonely <3: If not it encodes the window title.
[2010-03-25 16:38:28] Soft Linden: ah cool hack :3
[2010-03-25 16:38:56] Lonely <3: That hasn’t been released yet, but it can go out at any time since the pack is seperate from the binary.
[2010-03-25 16:39:00] Soft Linden: the transparent pixels specifically – last I knew you were only doing the meta tag
[2010-03-25 16:39:04] Lonely <3: We are
[2010-03-25 16:39:08] Lonely <3: Just the image comment
[2010-03-25 16:39:14] Soft Linden: right