Saturday, August 17, 2013

Logs, Clouds, And Alts

Slowly I'm learning to work with the Communications Hub Interface (CHuI) in the most current official viewer. Anyone who has spoken to me in-world, followed my posts on this blog, or on MySL might have caught a few angry words (or quite a few) about the CHuI. The same people would know that until this feature debuted in October 2012 (Web) I was an unofficial apologist for the official viewer. Better, stronger, faster – it was the Six Million Dollar Viewer to me. Then The Lab innovated and introduced the CHuI.

Tell me if I'm wrong, but didn't the Third Party Viewer (TPV) Phoenix introduce the all-your-chat-and-IMs-in-one-window feature? I think that I remember digging through menus to turn that off in Phoenix and did that in the current Firestorm so I don't know how innovative The Lab got that day. The real new thing in The Lab's CHuI, though, is fast access to one's chat logs (Web):
One new feature is the Conversation Log, which provides a list of all the conversations you’ve had in the last 30 days. This includes IMs received from both friends and non-friends while you were offline. From the Conversation Log you can open the entire history of your communication with another person, so you no longer need to search for it on your computer’s hard drive. (You just need to choose the option of saving chat logs on your computer for this feature to work.)
I finally tried that today and I have to admit, I was surprised. Basically, it simply opens an IM window with whomever is in the list and shows part of the contents of a file stored on your computer's hard drive. Same for Main Chat History. Surprise!! That capability has always be there, really, or at least for a very long time. One simply had to start an IM with someone to view the same information. Again, same with Main Chat History. A real wonder would have been to make the conversation pop up in an external text editor. But, no.

From my experience tonight of using my brother's usual computer to log in an alt to check her IM history (totally forgetting her logs were on our other computer) I can know now that an even bigger innovation would be to keep the logs in The Cloud. Then I could access them anywhere from any computer. Such an ability could even tie in with the abandoned My Second Life feeds to make it a robust communications platform for residents to use when they can't visit in-world to keep in touch. Like a grown up social network.

Sadly, development at The Lab seems to be based on a variation of String Theory: Develop something, promote it meekly, then leave it to waste away while the staff starts to chase a new, more interesting piece of string. Some old strings include My Second Life, the Second Life Marketplace, Avatars United, and more. Mostly Web products, mind you, but Windlight hasn't seen any innovations by The Lab (Firestorm users have new clouds to play with) since introduction and the proper use of Materials was poorly explained thus I expect that to founder sometime, too. And Mesh. Introduced then development stopped (and blocked? Qarl?).

So while I get used to the mandatory CHuI – Firestorm, Dolphin, and other TPVs will implement it soon so I kinda have to use it – I have to think about how it could be improved but likely won't be looked at ever again by the developers.

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