Friday, January 8, 2010

On the Outside, Looking In

As I tried to log in last night, I was greeted with the message "Login failed. Second Life cannot be accessed from this computer." I tried several obvious steps, finishing with a visit to the Googles. Though there was some uncertainty about the issue, most seemed to believe that this meant a LL-imposed ban on either the account or the IP address. To make a long story short, acquiring a new IP address solved the problem, and all I suffered was a half-hour of anxiety.

But this was an odd experience in several ways. First, the message regarding my inability to log in gave an e-mail address to contact the Lab for support. I sent a message, only to get a bounceback that support was no longer handled through that address, but on the company's Web portal. As there seems to be a new viewer once a week, would it be too much to ask that outdated contact information be removed and replaced by accurate information?

More troubling than the bum address was that the message itself was cryptic beyond belief. Sure, it was clear on the problem: I was locked out. But I knew that already. It provided no explanation for why I was excluded, and therefore no information about how I could solve the problem. My Aetherweb search found several references to the message on official LL forums, including a JIRA and a weekly session to identify bugs in viewer code. Nowhere did a Linden say, "Yeah, that's not a bug, it's a message that means ______." One was left with discussion groups where one user would say he or she received that message and others would recount their own experiences (some of which took many days to resolve). How about a message that says, "You can't log in to Second Life from this computer because of a ban. Click here to get some information about possible causes and solutions." In fact, if I had been banned for some reason, one would hope that there would be an easy way to find that out and to contact a live person for help. If such a thing exists, I couldn't find it.

Let's suppose that the accumulated wisdom on the Googles was correct, and that my problem was caused by an IP address that LL had banned. What good does that do? I know that some connections to the Aether involve fixed IP addresses (cable broadband? dunno, though), but mine does not. So this kind of ban (a) punishes the next innocent but unlucky soul who gets that address and tries to log in, while (b) not really punishing the miscreant. How sensible is that?

To close this out on a lighter note, I was glad I logged in when I did, for I had the opportunity to hear someone (name withheld to prevent further embarrassment, though he was the one who mentioned it) say in ISC chat: "My neighbor in the apartment upstairs from me is a gay man who arranges to meet people in his apartment through Craigslist." (!) Had I but logged in to that line, it would have been the best chatomancy ever.

After a pause, I timidly wrote: "I hesitate to ask how you came by that piece of information."

It transpired that two gentlemen arrived at the correct address, but one floor off, appearing at the door of our unnamed Caledonian. They explained their purpose, and he politely explained their error. Embarrassed, they left for their true destination.

Ah, neighbors!


Dio said...

This kind of thing seems to be increasingly common lately. I will be curious to find out if it is a glitch or or a mistake, or what--but it certainly does seem like something that could stand a bit of better communication from the Labsters when it happens.

Do they even have anyone working customer support anymore?

That you got sent to an invalid support link is wacky as well. Something just don't seem right here.

Let us know if you ever hear anything.

Rhianon Jameson said...

I'll post any updates, though I really don't expect any. Is this sort of thing more frequent nowadays? I know Hotspur O'Toole said he was locked out for a bit some weeks ago, though he didn't give details...but the Googles had episodes like mine going back to 2007 at least. I agree, though, a little more communication and an accurate support link don't seem like too much to ask.

HeadBurro Antfarm said...

I just can't understand how they get it so wrong - since I joined Steelhead, you must be the fourth ot fifth person who I've heard has "been banned" wrongly :(

Rhianon Jameson said...

As I said, I drew the inference that I got unlucky and got an IP address that LL didn't like. But, if so, it's a weird way of dealing with problem-makers. At least it was short-lived.