While trolling on Digg tonight I came across this lovely post about my favorite company, Google, and their new 3D messaging system, Lively. Google is my favorite company like AOL is my favorite ISP and Firefox 3 is my favorite browser.
Second Life it isn't.
Lively is a take-off on Second Life, a virtual world created by Linden Lab. Second Life offers a lifelike 3D experience with chat, meeting rooms, auditoriums, private rooms, stores, buying and selling and yes, lots of ... s-e-x, thanks to body parts you can buy at Second Life shops for some very realistic "trysts". While I never used Second Life to have sex (you need real money to buy fake parts, and I'll buy a real man before I ever buy a visual substitute for one) I did use Second Life last summer to get a feel for what it's like. Lively does not hold even one flicker of a candle to it.
"Go-anywhere plug-in" my @ss.
While the article at Computer World claims that Lively will go anywhere you are online (to your website, blog, forum, or whatever) it actually won't. It's embedded into web pages using the IFRAME tag, which is prohibited on some platforms - including LiveJournal. It's a 16.4MB program once it's installed - no small chunk of change - and much more space-consuming and resource-intensive than the light "plug-in" that Google claims it is. Google also force-installs Google Updater and throws files on your C:\ drive with no option to do a custom install with the programs you actually want on the hard drive of your choice.
A Web app needs your PC to work - WTF?
Once Lively is running you have to visit lively.com for it to work since it won't connect to virtual rooms from your hard-drive, but only from inside of your browser. Once you pick a room Google floats you a drop-down sign-in box. If you don't check "Remember me on this computer" you'll have to sign in each time you join another room - which is a massive PITA.
It's like installing AOL!
When you join a room Google runs a dedicated process on your computer to keep the room functional called client.exe. Client.exe is an absolute train wreck on my computer. I use XP Home with a 1.8GHz processor, two 40G hard drives, 1G of RAM, and almost nothing else installed because I just re-installed the OS the other day after I formatted the hard drive that hosts it. Anything I install now should run like a dream on a computer this clean and "lively" - but Lively doesn't. Lively used over 158MB of RAM while I chatted in three rooms at once - Blogoscoped Island, the goog room, and Disco A-Go-Go. While every client.exe process seems tied to one single room that you're in, each one uses wildly varying amounts of RAM - one client.exe process used 111MB by itself, while the other two used 46.6MB and 2.6MB.
Lively won't fully "materialize".
While using Lively it was not unusual for rooms to never finish "materializing", which is Google's geeky way of saying "drawing". The fact that they never fully materialize meant graphics were jerky and incomplete, making it feel like the rooms were being filmed through a stutter-lens. CPU usage routinely climbed to 100% with Lively in use. During that time I had 10 tabs open in Firefox which used only 133MB of RAM.
Lively is not for adults.
The reason I wanted to check out Lively was because Computer World made it sound like people can telecommute to work instead of actually going there, by communicating instantly and visually via chat. After what I saw tonight in Lively, I'd hold the sauce on the telecommuting hamburger until they figure out a way to make a 3D chat system with text panes to record chatting and the ability to log and save chats. This is not a chat system for adults - it's more like a Perv and Moron Paradise.
Someone trolling for sex...
Suddenly I'm kissed and hugged by someone named Paedro...
After what I witnessed tonight in Lively's 3D chat rooms (including how they're not very 3D nor very good) I think that everyone who uses AOL's chat rooms should join Lively immediately - to ensure its destruction. Lively looks like it's already overrun by pervs and morons, so it will take just one more push in the right direction to finish this ridiculous 3D application off - I won't miss it, and chances are, neither will you.