Town Hall Meeting, 2006-09-19

NOTE: this chat log was taken from the Linden Town Hall Closed Captioning Group IM. It is produced by Robin, Claudia, Don, Jean, Pathfinder and Sally Linden, therefore the citations are not accurate.

  1. Robin Linden

    [15:33] Welcome to the Linden Town Hall. I’m your moderator Johnny Ming

    [15:33] Joining me is Philip Linden who will start in a moment.

    [15:34] Please send your questions to the Town Hall group, or to use voice use skype

    [15:34] I we need to give a nod to “talking like pirates” day

    [15:34] I brought along a piece of content that I found recently that I want to show off

    [15:34] Scripts are turned off so I’ll explain rather than show

    [15:34] Basically the other day I was wandering around inworld and I found a universal translator

    [15:34] It’s a HUD

    [15:35] I can pick my language and then basiclly someone else’s and as soon as I turn it on with a click

    [15:35] everything I said was translated to the other language

    [15:35] The same was true of incoming chat

    [15:35] I realized that the nature of SL and the way we do text makes it possible

    [15:35] for the kind of translation that this device does. No one minds waiting a

    [15:36] few seconds because we’re used to that

    [15:36] I immediately went to a Japanese island and started talking to Japanese people

    [15:36] even though the words weren’t exactly what I said, I could actually talk to people I couldn’t have otherwise

    [15:36] That type of experience calls out something I’ve seen in world that really stands out for what we’re doing

    [15:37] Bringing people together in a single space with the possibilities that we can come together in a way that things

    [15:37] can be better. The one I bought was hooked up to babblefish, but other companies are working on

    [15:37] translators

    [15:38] We are now more than 50% international – about 6,000 to 7000 people a day are coming from outside the US

    [15:38] We also are working on delivering the second of two phases of XML-UI

    [15:38] we should be releasing localized UI in the next few weeks. Also working on global payment systems

    [15:38] Before we get to questions, I want to throw out a few other points:

    [15:39] everybody should understand that we are growing faster now than ever before

    [15:39] the company isn’t growing as fast, so we have challenges

    [15:39] we’ve grown about 40% in registered users in the last month (about 200,000)

    [15:39] 1,481 have already partnered in SL

    [15:39] more than we had in total users in 2003

    [15:40] I’ve gotten a lot of email about how people were warned for hacking people’s accounts on the police blotter

    [15:40] The few cases that were reported in the police blotter were not criminal cases where someone stole a password and was using it

    [15:41] Those cases were ones where someone shared a password with someone they knew and then there was a dispute and stolen content

    [15:41] If someone obtains a password criminally we immediately ban those accounts

    [15:41] we don’t put them in the police blotter — we turn them over to the authorities

    [15:41] those cases are not related to security breaches or criminal activity in obtaining account access

    [15:42] We just banned around 60 accounts that were related to the grid attack yesterday

    [15:42] we are as aggressive as we can be about shutting down acocunts when there are people obviously attacking Second Life

    [15:42] The missing textures that have been a problem since last week should be fixed in an optional release today, along with a rolling server update

    [15:43] Also people have asked about our update process. Please remember we’re working on an extremely complex system

    [15:43] Testing this sort of system hasn’t been done before, and it’s a very difficult process.

    [15:43] We attacked it with a great deal of success.

    [15:43] We have about 8 QA team members and 28 developers

    [15:44] We do write unit tests for the check-ins

    [15:44] We also do detailed test plans which QA executes

    [15:44] We do a lot of our full regression testing on preview — grids that aren’t connected to the world

    [15:44] Hopefully we get a large number of users who help us — there’s a large number listed in the credits

    [15:45] who have helped us. We sort of have an extended testing team in the order of a hundred.

    [15:45] A quick update on the security problems of last week.

    [15:45] We continue to do forensic examination of the disks that were involved in the attack.

    [15:45] I want to remind everyone that we don’t actually know what data was taken. We may never know.

    [15:46] The most likely outcome is we simply won’t know — there’s no smoking gun or a deleted file that shows what info was examined or downloaded

    [15:46] They could have been looking at website source code, or at the database.

    [15:46] As soon as we knew someone was able to get in we scrambled passwords and notified the public.

    [15:47] Going forward we’re taking a careful look at what we’re storing — is there anything we’re collecting

    [15:47] that we don’t need. Some user data we’ll begin protecting more securely — more heavily encrypted or restricted access.

    [15:47] I want to say I’m super sad we even created a situation that we created a situation even if nothing was taken – that we risked

    [15:48] user information. We take anonymity very seriously and we will keep giving updates about what we’re doing to harden our security.

    [15:48] Any large public system has a risk of attack, and we can’t reduce it to 0. But we can do better.

  2. Sally Linden

    [15:48] we also all staffed the phones the morning of the great cal-in

  3. Robin Linden

    [15:48] We also all staffed the phones and helped people change their passwords.

  4. Sally Linden

    [15:49] several thousand calls those days

    [15:49] with 40 employees volunteering

    [15:49] since the password changes, about 223k have changed their passwords to something new

    [15:49] exciting to see the usage

    [15:50] I see a bunch of people that have been here for pretty much every town hall.

    [15:50] how is Sl changing with the incoming “big companies”? seems to be a concern

    [15:50] I’m pretty sure SL’s magic will stay true, even with the new influx

    [15:51] the way Sl was designed brings out collaboration, communication, strange new world, rewrite the rules

    [15:51] makes a better place.

    [15:51] people seem to be worried that LL will change into the Mall of America with the next big store.

    [15:51] it’s just not possible because of the nature of Sl.

    [15:51] we, as LL, can’t change SL that fundamentally (and we really don’t want to)

    [15:52] I can’t imagine how SL could possibly change that fundamentally

    [15:52] as for lots of avatars in a single space.

    [15:52] we have a limit of about 40 people in any space.

    [15:52] it’s a technology limitation of the server.

    [15:53] there’s a great thread on how to get more avs into a scene

    [15:53] there are a number of ways to attack the problem.

    [15:53] give them each a camera, while only rendering the avs on the stage, for instance

    [15:53] we’re trying to see what sorts of large events people want to build

    [15:53] so we’re not developing off in the wrong direction

    [15:54] there’s no date on that, obviously, as our main focus is general scaling and bugs

    [15:54] one last thing

    [15:55] looking at the forums and the blogs, it seems we often see only the negative feedback.

    [15:55] and that’s great, we need to address the negative stuff

    [15:55] but, while designing SL, we look at the social problems, and trying to keep the communication pathway balanced

    [15:55] is important, so we hear positives and negatives

    [15:56] the user voting systems help get a balanced discussion going

    [15:56] but sometimes the blogs and forums are filled with a very negative tone

    [15:56] a negative slice of the commentary

    [15:56] it’d be great to have more balanced communication

    [15:57] it would motivate people in a different way than purely negative communication does.

    [15:57] and a point about releases

    [15:57] we’re going to move to a place where the whole grid shouldn’t need to come down for updates

    [15:58] and we shouldn’t need to force people to update all at the same time

    [15:58] we need to go towards a “heterogeneous grid” where this is true

    [15:58] there’s a lot of work on the way

    [15:58] we’re hoping for something in the next few months

    [15:58] but, it’s an uphill climb

    [15:59] JM has a question from Dmitri

    [15:59] looking at a situation from a user standpoint, what’s *your* frustration with the current crop of bugs

    [15:59] PL

    [15:59] as a user, I’m frustrated by a “nearly working” thing

    [15:59] one clumsy bit of UI

    [16:00] one bug or one crash that just kills me.

    [16:00] when people look at these problems, they’ll try to find a large category that

    [16:00] would fix the probelm

    [16:00] “you have the wrong people”

    [16:00] “you have the wrong dev process”

    [16:00] I think that’s the wrong approach — the systemic reorganization.

    [16:00] the complexity of the system is pretty irreducible.

    [16:01] we don’t know until we do it just how large a system is going to necessary

    [16:01] our demographics are so broad, it’s astounding.

    [16:01] the more we open our technology, the more people we can get working on these problesm

    [16:02] at some point, we’re going to say that was a 500 person project that LL was doing with 25 people

    [16:02] Lewis Nerd question via skype

    [16:03] is there a level at which any voted thing gets worked on? 500?

    [16:03] PL:

    [16:03] not that I know of.

    [16:03] there’s no hard number

    [16:03] we try to go through the list and get things ordered well

    [16:03] 8781 prop (LN back) asking to get the forums back

    [16:04] PL:

    [16:04] we can’t just run the forums the way we have been

  5. Don Linden

    [16:04] We can’t just run forums and let everyone talk without moderation. the reason for this is the fighting escalate to terms of service violations etc

    [16:05] Out attempts to have residents moderate have not been successful. I agree with you, I love forusm, but I don’;t know how to solve the moderation problem

    [16:06] Lewis: I can understand it being hard and depressing,. the problem with blog is comments take hours to appear. I don’t like blogs, many people don’t like blogs. we would like the forums back, because we enjoy them

    [16:07] PL: If we can make the forums work, they are additive to blogs. We have a team of 100 people here, and we can’t handle that level of moderation

    [16:07] Maybe if we can come up iwth a way to moderate it that works, we’ll do that in the future

    [16:08] Lewis: I did spend an hour with robin a while ago, sharing my experience with moderating. I would be willing to help, to keep the forusm around

    [16:08] PL: copy me on the emails and I’ll get in on the discussion

    [16:08] Dana: Question about user count. How man are alts?

    [16:10] PL: percentage of alt accounts it less than 20%, last i looked quite some time ago. now, as of a couple days ago , alt registration following and its still around 20%

    [16:10] Dana: I’ve noticed a lot of people with no profile infoation lately

    [16:10] PL: Thats usually the state people’s profiles are in for a few week. its hard to distringuish between alts and newbies

    [16:11] Gigs: Emails to the support meail address seem to go into a black hole what is happening to improve this?

    [16:11] PL: there are lot different types of emails going to support. it depends on what you were asking for that support email, because they are routed differently

    [16:12] there are cases we need to do a better job about turning around some of these support queues and saying we need more help

    [16:13] Zeus (From india): First question, what is LL doing to promote SL if anything in asia and specificially india

    [16:13] 2nd q: I understand SL has onverns about crowding, I as a business owner would like to know how you and LL see SL sgtanding as a business platform in the future

    [16:14] PL: it would be a delight if you would send me an email, we can talk more abouyt this later as well. my email is philip@lindenlab.com. about your 2nd question:

    [16:14] new mediums like this are used for play first (im, email, web,tv, etc)

    [16:15] i think new technologies are used for play inisiatll maybe because they don’t trust new technologies.

    [16:16] whats happening now that we are the size we are, people are coming to trust that its not going away, and we ar eseeing business, education, and nonentertainment applications

    [16:16] this doesn’t really change what SL is

    [16:16] your first q: we’ve hired one person and looking to hire more people in asia

    [16:17] we’re still thinking about how are going to work in asia

    [16:17] we have many thousands of users in asia

    [16:17] japan seems to be the largest user base

    [16:17] we also need to make the payment systems work, and we are already talking about that

    [16:18] there are many payment systems that will need to be made to work

    [16:18] also, as i mentioned, we are working on international versions of our cloient

    [16:18] Zeus: For the international client, will we be logging into the ‘main’ second life

    [16:18] PL: yes, we don’t have plans of making a separate SL

  6. Claudia Linden

    [16:19] Japan korea would be target markets where you could promote SL…that’s the defacto lingua franca of SL. thanks alot

    [16:19] PL: do send me an email.

    [16:20] Cage Seraph: If SL bugs were insects what species would they be?

    [16:20] PL: I love that…they’d be ants stretching out into long line of infinity and crawling over me.

    [16:20] Wish there was one great big one we could solve.

    [16:21] We had a board meeting: Mitch Kapor said We are faced w insurmountable opportunity. I think that’s a good oen

    [16:21] one

    [16:21] Next question: about griefers, more specifically abuse report system…

    [16:22] With removable of credit card verification, people can easily create new account and grief…then abandon account

  7. Mily Sartre

    [16:22] what are your plans for updates? do you plan to go on like you have in the last months or shall we get a breath while bugs are fixed?

  8. Claudia Linden

    [16:22] PL: We look at who is accessing us. We have a bunch of ways of tracking accounts.

    [16:22] None of these things are perfect. I don’t want to get too specific here.

    [16:23] Just like the internet, you will have a rich set of capabilities for choosing who you want to access content.

    [16:24] We will give you as much power as we can to decide what they can do when they come into SL…

    [16:24] These are hard problems. We are doing everything we can do for priorities we think are right as a development team, and as quickly as we can.

    [16:25] Long term I think it is possible to give people who control the land the tools to manage who can come and go.

    [16:25] Thanks for the call.

    [16:25] Text question from Saline: when will permission system bugs be fixed so I can open my business/

    [16:26] PL: There’s a host of different things we are working on. Is this a question on texture copying?

    [16:26] We have on the agenda and are working on, better date stamping assets that go into system so users can establish who first person who uploaded it was…

    [16:26] Next question from Prokofy:

    [16:27] Alot of what is driving is idea you need to reach 1 million subscribers…is there another way to measure progress — l ike GNP instead of sheer numbers

    [16:28] Board and investors are probably less interested in sheer numbers than anyone. Everyone pressed me on when we’d have a million. I said back then we’d get to a million users in 2007. I think I said 3 years in early 04 – so yes, we’re a little ahead of

    [16:28] schedule.

    [16:29] I wanted everyone to understand what a big thing this is in terms of its capabilities

    [16:30] everyone that of this as some strange mutation of an mmorpg…i couldn’t stand that. I wanted to convey something appealing to a broader base. Board does look at the economy. We also look at how much money we are making so we are sustainable.

    [16:30] And frankly we are going to get there easily, It’s not a big factor. what we are losing sleep over is doing the right things, priortizing. We don’t worry about the size.

  9. Jean Linden

    [16:31] some people out there say that they want second life to be small …

    [16:31] I have to agree.. .unfortunatlye my passion is to change the world with what we’re doing

    [16:32] if you talk to a lot of people in SL, a lot of people have less tech smarts than people using flickr

  10. Mily Sartre

    [16:32] I dont mind it being big as long as they can handle it, customer support, less bugs, customer support, customer supportr and more customer support

  11. Jean Linden

    [16:32] if we can the UI to work well, we can get past the language barriar

    [16:32] PRO: I think it can be big, I think it can have value…

    [16:32] Your words and everyone elses.. those are things I think about everyday

    [16:33] we need to think about the rules of community and physics remain true

    [16:33] it keeps me coming to work

    [16:33] if SL didn’t have this communal, creative aspect, than I wouldn’t come to work

    [16:33] thanks prokofy

    [16:33] First a big thank for linucx support

    [16:33] will we see more articles on baked textures?

    [16:34] yes we definitely will – we have adevelopment team that loves to talk about what’s going on

    [16:34] it’s great we got so much positive feedbackon that

    [16:34] next caller : Jipen?

    [16:35] JP: my names Jipen.. I’m curious about what LL does about suggestions from the community about technical issues to improve SL

    [16:35] there has been interesting discussion about how to improve the grid and where the strong and weak points are

    [16:35] first off : there’s more data in the forums than people here can read all the time

    [16:36] a number of our core developers were SL users before we hired them

    [16:36] the user voting system, we’ve got someone working on the next set of features for that

    [16:36] that a system where you can… lost sound

    [16:36] back…

    [16:37] in general we’re doing a great job at that

  12. Jeska Linden

    [16:37] Jippen asks if there were any plans to introduce sections to the blog/forum to submite technical advice rather than general questions?

  13. Jean Linden

    [16:38] any plans to introduce on the blog or forum where people can suggest technical advice?

  14. Pathfinder Linden

    [16:38] next question: can you give us an estimate when voice communicatoin will be integrated into SL?

    [16:39] PL: we don’t have an estimate. there are a couple companies building systems on top of the scripting object system, like Vivox

    [16:40] PL: i don’t have a particular timetable, but we thing voice should be restricted to land

    [16:40] PL: so it is less of a tool of social segregation, and more for education, business. things need to happen sensitive to the content

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