Prokofy Neva

Lindens Need to Fix Inventory Loss in The Worst Way

25 posts in this topic

Once again, I've heard of a fellow group member's terrible inventory loss of tens of thousands of items worth hundreds if not thousands of real-life dollars.

This has happened far too many times to tenants of mine -- and I've suffered it myself. There was a period of a year when I logged on and I never knew whether I'd find 40,000 or 50,000 or 10,000 inventory items. Finally the Lindens "fixed this" with a patch and stabilized it, saying they removed corrupt items. I was mystified. This stabilized the numbers, but I continued to find things missing. Fortunately with "redelivery terminals" I could get SOME but HARDLY ALL back.

But the devastation some people have suffered -- tens of thousands of items, 9,000 or 10,000 or 50,000 items GONE in a stroke -- is just way too common.

This should NOT be happening.

After all, these items are not really "lost". Every single one of them exists on the Lindens' asset server. Let's say you had collected 100 full sets of gatchas, including the rares, and they were wiped out in an inventory loss. ALL those items exist as created things on the merchants' own account and of course the Lindens' asset server. OTHER PEOPLE with a copy of those "single copy" items did not lose THEIR copy. Because -- asset server.

What happens with a loss is the POINTER or link or whatever they call it from your inventory to the asset server is lost. NOW WHY CAN'T THOSE BE SAVED? Why isn't there a "reset" like a sim that goes back to your inventory before the time of loss? Why isn't there a Linden Redelivery Terminal *for your whole inventory*???

I can't see any reason not to.

Yes, it means more tables in the data base. But whats a few more million tables? The loss is so terrible and it makes people leave SL and stop buying things in many cases.

Please don't tell me about clearing cache, reloading, sorting by alphabetical letters, or putting out laurel leaves at a full moon. These things don't work. Low-level Lindens or hired CS people tell you it's your fault. Why, you shouldn't have deleted folders and cleared trash.

Except in virtually every case of huge loss like this I've heard of, the customer never deliberately deleted anything at all. Obviously they wouldn't delete a folder of their most prized breedables or gatcha rares.

Other know-it-alls tell you that you should have sub-folders. But they do, and still lose all their inventory.

This is fixable. It is fixable perhaps even for money. A feature of Premium -- or just a feature, period -- could be called "inventory back-up". For 10,000 it is $5. For 100,000 it is $25 or whatever the market would bear. I would pay that; so would others in business. That back-up feature would mean the Lindens save a copy of all the inventory pointers and then reconstruct them in the event of loss.

The worse thing about all this is how MANY incidents there are of even HUGE inventory loss but it doesn't get on the radar screen. Many people are in despair and just quit and they don't think of anything more to do. If it were me, I would be sending registered letters return receipt requested to the Lab. The TOS prevents lawsuits and requests arbitrage. That's fine, then that remedy should be exhausted. I think in some cases even given their existing tools the Lindens might recover some of this.

But obviously they don't have a "set point established" or other similar type of system for inventory -- and they should. Even for money.

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Posted (edited)

I have had many inventory losses over the years, the first big one about six years ago and that was the loss of my WHOLE "Home and Garden" folder and I blog and hunted then so it was a pretty big one. A "sister" lost ALL of her shop items (about a half a sim store) and only had things that were rezzed in world. She closed her shop after that just from disillusionment.

Comments on the forums are often "oh you didn't really lose it -- you just need to (insert advice that doesn't work because the goods ARE gone).  Now and then things come back singly in VERY odd spots. Like an animation under body parts -- that sort of thing -- making no sense at all. But those are rare occurrences.

There are definitely problems STILL with the database.   A few months ago I notice that I was about several thousand items "light" in my inventory which is currently at 30,000 partly because I go through and delete often -- and partly because of the "inventory fairy" who deletes for me.   After about six major losses over the years, I sighed and figured I would find out eventually what I had lost -- and I did a few weeks ago. Most all my backups (and I had MANY copies as I have learned over the years) of my installation at LEA7 (three years worth). I have a few things left, but a lot is gone. 

I am used to this now and happily I am not a person who cares that much about material goods (virtual or real life) so after that first big debacle, the following losses were less traumatic. 

 

I do by the way have subfolders and subfolders under subfolders as I am very organized. I also put copies of items in boxes and have REDUNDANT backups. Still -- almost all of LEA7, gone.  I have no clue how that happens really.  The safest thing is to rez anything you really care about, but that doesn't work with clothes and hair and such. 

In Opensim there are regular backups that can be reinstated and I have to assume there are (or should be) backups in SL, but I have not seen them working -- ever. Tickets get you nothing but a "we'll try if you can give us an exact list of what you lost". Well DUH!

All that being said, I would NOT be one of the ones going premium or paying extra to "protect" my goods. Partly because I have no faith that they would actually be protected -- the track record is so bad and party because I always have new and better things coming in.  I make my personal backups on the beta grid and in Opensim -- and of course the active files on my computer (and drive G backup :D). After that I just try and let it go when it happens. 

I figure I have lost well over $10,000 worth US over the years. Happily I didn't actually PAY most of that out. I did however work for the items, so that counts too. 

 

 

 

Edited by Chic Aeon
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Posted (edited)

Prok, Chic

This issue has been a feature of Second Life now for as long as I can recall, and has never been satisfactorily been addressed by the Lab.

Prok's suggestion is not new and it would be met with the same whiny response from LL that it is just "too hard".  Nonsense. It is actually quite easy, it is just something that they do not want to have to do.

There are times when I utterly fail to understand the Linden Lab mindset over this.

I have lost small amounts of inventory on a couple of occasions due to database errors or corruption, but at worst whole accounts can become corrupted and lost to their user.  The simple fact is that LL do not wish to invest in the server storage space that inventory backup would need.  It wouldn't be trivial but it IS doable.

I would not hold your metaphoric breath for this feature to be introduced, LL have shown scant regard for innovations on other platforms.   Unless it's shiny.

Edited by Ayesha Askham
Grammar correction
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I agree, Linden Research clearly has the brain power to fix SL Inventory issues, however SL is still community driven. The folks at LL are trying to bring SL to true VR via project Sansar. It's almost like SL except you can use a VR headset to view and create content. This is a big deal for the folks at LL and they are spending huge sum of money and resources to pull this off, not only that but the people who make the VR headsets could make a lot of money if designers and builders begin to move to the new platform. With so much time and money going to Sansar why worry about Old secondlife.

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4 hours ago, AviumBanker said:

I agree, Linden Research clearly has the brain power to fix SL Inventory issues, however SL is still community driven. The folks at LL are trying to bring SL to true VR via project Sansar. It's almost like SL except you can use a VR headset to view and create content. This is a big deal for the folks at LL and they are spending huge sum of money and resources to pull this off, not only that but the people who make the VR headsets could make a lot of money if designers and builders begin to move to the new platform. With so much time and money going to Sansar why worry about Old secondlife.

Because Project Stupid isn't SL-2, and never will be, because we're more interested in SL than in a VR Art Gallery, and don't feel like wasting hundreds of dollars on Vomit-Cam Geek-Goggles we won't use for anything else, ever.
 

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@AviumBanker

I'm assuming your comment was ironic.  That would be a polite thought.  Sansar is most assuredly NOT SL2 as others note, it is also in technical trouble thanks to LL's emphasis on "VR" (by which I assume you mean first person 3D).  That having been said, there is no reason why, for the expenditure of a little money and a lot of effort, inventory back-up should not be developed.  What the lack of it DOES show is how short of programmers LL is.  There is a lot of life, and profit, left in SL and investment in inventory backup is a sensible option, if LL will bite the bullet and put some resources on it.  You said it yourself...SL is "community driven":  the community wants inventory backup.

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Assuming there is a backup system how does someone counter...

  • Backup
  • Sell copy/transfer items
  • Restore
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Posted (edited)

On 4/20/2017 at 3:06 AM, AviumBanker said:

I agree, Linden Research clearly has the brain power to fix SL Inventory issues, however SL is still community driven. The folks at LL are trying to bring SL to true VR via project Sansar. It's almost like SL except you can use a VR headset to view and create content. This is a big deal for the folks at LL and they are spending huge sum of money and resources to pull this off, not only that but the people who make the VR headsets could make a lot of money if designers and builders begin to move to the new platform. With so much time and money going to Sansar why worry about Old secondlife.

You've got to be joking... The money LL is putting into developing Sansar is money they make with Second Life, and I would expect they'd use it to fix SL's serious issues first of all. Come on, they still didn't even get round to make a decent viewer over the years...

No, as noted by others, Sansar is a "different animal", not a Second Life replacement. I've tried the High Fidelity environment and it's just hideous, at its current stage. Still, it probably is quite some steps ahead of Sansar, and the whole principle is way better, as you can host your place and stuff in your own computer.

All that said, yes, LL should seriously worry about SL because without it there will be no Sansar, to say the least.

Edited by MBeatrix
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Callum

Your comment puzzles me.  Inventory backup doesn't provide any more opportunities to pirate IP than already exist, so far as I can see, so perhaps you see a possibility that I don't but I really do not see any IP problems associated with the concept.

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@Callum Meriman @Ayesha Askham

Indeed. What is NOT being requested is a creation of a real-time back-up of single copies of non-copy items, or copiable versions of non-copy items against the creator's wishes.

What is being requested is storage of the POINTERS from the user's inventory to the asset server so that there is evidence of what the user purchased or obtained from transfer.

Then in the event of a claim of loss ticket, you can compare the pointers kept on file with what is now in the inventory, see that X, Y, Z etc are missing, and restore them as they were in single copies on transfer. 

Can this system be gamed? Oh, I don't know; most things in SL get gamed. But given that it's possible to check the inventory to see if the pointers are matching actual objects, I don't see it as something that can be abused.

Couldn't somebody get a bunch of stuff, sell it, and then claim loss? Well ,those buy and sell movements will be recorded on the server and visible. When you sell or transfer an item, the pointer from your inventory to the asset server is removed like a price tag. Surely there is a way to distinguish the tags from that operation to the tags missing from unidentified loss or crashes that lead to loss.

I'm assuming that the capturing of the pointers to the asset server is something discrete and doable. Maybe it isn't. Maybe it dynamically changes with rezzes inworld or somethig who knows. But I think surely it is a list in a table, it can be copied on the servers and then used to restore lost data. 

Edited by Prokofy Neva

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@Prok

I see.  I can now see where what you are requesting might be an issue.  I doubt that it would be a great deal more work to achieve this, but asset UUIDs DO change upon rez, so I can see a problem.  I am not technosavvy enough to pronounce on this so I will defer to wiser authorities on this topic.

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7 hours ago, Prokofy Neva said:

What is being requested is storage of the POINTERS from the user's inventory to the asset server so that there is evidence of what the user purchased or obtained from transfer.

Then in the event of a claim of loss ticket, you can compare the pointers kept on file with what is now in the inventory, see that X, Y, Z etc are missing, and restore them as they were in single copies on transfer.

Another option, which would not involve work for LL, would be for some viewer program to have a facility to dump all available inventory data to a file of the user's choosing. Then the user can compare inventory files offline all they want, with a variety of tools. It would obviously be useful for identifying disappearances, but also for offline tagging and other analysis. Of course it would not recover your missing inventory, nor constitute any sort of "proof" as it would not record manual deletions, but it would give useful information to enable you to decide whether to pursue a claim.

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3 hours ago, angeoco said:

Another option, which would not involve work for LL, would be for some viewer program to have a facility to dump all available inventory data to a file of the user's choosing. Then the user can compare inventory files offline all they want, with a variety of tools. It would obviously be useful for identifying disappearances, but also for offline tagging and other analysis. Of course it would not recover your missing inventory, nor constitute any sort of "proof" as it would not record manual deletions, but it would give useful information to enable you to decide whether to pursue a claim.

You can sort of do this now, but the data isn't in a pretty format.

  • Enable the Develop menu in the top menu bar with CTRL+ALT+Q
  • Develop -> UI -> Dump Inventory
  • The inventory folder UUIDs will then be dumped into your session log

You can also get more data from your inventory cache.

  • Open the viewers cache folder
  • Find the inv.gz zipped folder that starts with your avatars UUID and unzip it.
  • Open the .inv folder & open the .inv file inside in a text editor.
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3 hours ago, Whirly Fizzle said:

You can also get more data from your inventory cache.

  • Open the viewers cache folder
  • Find the inv.gz zipped folder that starts with your avatars UUID and unzip it.
  • Open the .inv folder & open the .inv file inside in a text editor.

Wow, that's great! The whole inventory list seems to be there. I wonder have there been any tools made to analyse it?

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@Whirley Fizzle what I'm wondering is what the steps would be then if you made this dump of information into a file (what kind of file?) and kept it, and in the event of loss, gave it to the Lindens. What can they do with it and where can they look for these files? Is it on a sim?

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Details of your entire current inventory are (it appears) stored in the local computer file helpfully identified by Whirley Fizzle. If you were to backup that file on a regular basis and store the backups on your computer, then you could use special tools to analyse the difference between any 2 inventory files. For example you could compare your current inventory against the state of your inventory as it was yesterday or last week. That would show any differences, such as if a folder had been moved into Trash or deleted. And if the analysis is run regularly as an automatic scheduled job on your computer, the tool could send you an email every time, in a nice readable form, detailing the changes it found. That would be helpful information for a possible inventory-loss claim.

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13 hours ago, Prokofy Neva said:

@Whirley Fizzle what I'm wondering is what the steps would be then if you made this dump of information into a file (what kind of file?) and kept it, and in the event of loss, gave it to the Lindens. What can they do with it and where can they look for these files? Is it on a sim?

I'm not familiar with our support and recovery processes so take this with a grain of salt...  In theory, with some tooling, that could be used to aid recovery.  Would have to be cross-checked with activity logs, etc., and recovery would likely be partial.  But in theory...

Continuing with the whiteboard exercise on backup possibilities.  User could take possession of a Linden-signed Inventory manifest to be presented in case of disaster.  On the server side, recovery checkpoints might be an interesting idea.  Any such things would be subject to anti-theft guards against, e.g., no-copy scamming.

Possible parts of a solution that would hopefully include more robust Inventory operations.  And no argument about the need for that.

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@Monty Linden I appreciate you joining this discussion. It's one that has needed to be had for a long time.

In case you didn't see the other threads, sadly, after advocating on this issue because it happened to another person in a merchant's group I happened to be in, it happened to me a week later and I lost 15,000 items. And so have others. There may be a bug, and this has increased the urgency not only for fixes but prevention.

What *is* indeed the best way to organize inventory? To hang sub-folders off a system file that can't be deleted? To never have sub-sub folders? I had one sub-folder with numerous sub-sub folders creating one point of vulnerability, so now I'm spreading them out.

Of course your point about cross-checking activity logs is important. Obviously, if an avatar sold all his stuff on the MP or inworld or moved it to an alt and then claimed "inventory loss," this would show up.

I like the idea of a "Linden-signed inventory manifest" but I wonder how that would be done. The avatar goes to a Linden sim, clicks on a podium - like a kind of notary public -- that device scans him/his inventory and issues a little certificate object with a seal? I'm just visualizing it. I'm assuming it is possible to scan an inventory. Indeed, that must be done each time there is a search. So maybe it's a question of isolating that routine and putting it in a user-friendly format.

The recovery checkpoints is what I've been saying for awhile because it seems simple but I don't know the technical side of it. As for the safeguards, maybe the deal with inventory recovery simply has to be that whatever you get retrieved that was no-copy to begin with will be put on no-transfer -- this is already the system merchants use to convert single-copy to copyable but no-transfer gatchas. That will be the price you pay to avoid any kind of scam involving this system.

 

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6 hours ago, Prokofy Neva said:

@Monty Linden I appreciate you joining this discussion. It's one that has needed to be had for a long time.

In case you didn't see the other threads, sadly, after advocating on this issue because it happened to another person in a merchant's group I happened to be in, it happened to me a week later and I lost 15,000 items. And so have others. There may be a bug, and this has increased the urgency not only for fixes but prevention.

What *is* indeed the best way to organize inventory? To hang sub-folders off a system file that can't be deleted? To never have sub-sub folders? I had one sub-folder with numerous sub-sub folders creating one point of vulnerability, so now I'm spreading them out.

Of course your point about cross-checking activity logs is important. Obviously, if an avatar sold all his stuff on the MP or inworld or moved it to an alt and then claimed "inventory loss," this would show up.

I like the idea of a "Linden-signed inventory manifest" but I wonder how that would be done. The avatar goes to a Linden sim, clicks on a podium - like a kind of notary public -- that device scans him/his inventory and issues a little certificate object with a seal? I'm just visualizing it. I'm assuming it is possible to scan an inventory. Indeed, that must be done each time there is a search. So maybe it's a question of isolating that routine and putting it in a user-friendly format.

The recovery checkpoints is what I've been saying for awhile because it seems simple but I don't know the technical side of it. As for the safeguards, maybe the deal with inventory recovery simply has to be that whatever you get retrieved that was no-copy to begin with will be put on no-transfer -- this is already the system merchants use to convert single-copy to copyable but no-transfer gatchas. That will be the price you pay to avoid any kind of scam involving this system.

 

Redundancy doesn't seem to be helping at all (at least in the past as recent as three months ago). I had MANY backups of the items under various names and in different subfolders -- also backups taken at different times (months apart) and they ALL disappeared. 

My missing logo obviously completely disappeared from the database, not just my inventory since NO ONE had a copy who had had one before. 

The only safeguard that sometimes works is to put a copy of items in a NEW PRIM and keep it rezzed. I tried putting items in the content tab of a book I had made for safekeeping and after an apparently loss went back to the book thinking how smart I was. The book was empty (seemingly reverting to its unfilled state during some database rollback or possibly a sim rollback). 

Earlier this month I had my filled, triple checked gacha machine revert to at time BEFORE I moved it to On9.  I usually fill things early and they sit in a staging area so it was filled way before the opening. I thought it was very odd I wasn't selling things but I was busy and just though "oh well, no one likes it". After over a day a customer wrote to tell me they couldn't play the gacha. Not only was the script missing (it had been there) permissions were also off with some being copy. So this was an old version of the machine before I had added the script or changed the permissions. It was NOT the one I had put out at the event.

This has happened before but nothing quite this major -- usually hunt gifts reverting to no buy.

Anyway I doubt there is really anything much that WE can do as there do seem to be many kinds of major problems. 

 

 

Edited by Chic Aeon
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It is good to see Monty in this thread, it gives us reason to think that SOME at Battery Street (or wherever LL is now) are paying attention.  As both Prok and Chic have correctly noticed, the backups that we users can make are utterly useless if the asset vanishes from the SL asset-server.  It is the ASSET SERVER cluster that needs LLs attention because it is there and only there that the assets which vanish from our inventories (which are merely pointers) actually exist.  Once they go all copies and pointers vanish too.  I have pointers in my inventory that point to vanished items, most likely in the creator's inventory.  If I pass such an item, despite transfer permissions, to my Alt, the item vanishes, because as far as the asset server is concerned it no longer exists.

Backup can only have an utility if it occurs at the Asset-server level, where it has some existence.  Dear God, have you noticed how old people tend to repeat things...now where did I put my glasses......

 

Edited by Ayesha Askham
senility

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@Ayesha Askham - in my experience with my own customers and others I hear of and now my own tragic loss, the issue isn't that the items have disappeared from the asset server. That may happen too, but what I find much more common is that the pointers disappear. The items are still there in other people's inventories, stores, etc. and of course on the Linden's asset server.

In most cases, you can go to a merchant that uses Casper or some other vending system that creates "re-delivery terminals" and automatically click on the Internet form and have a re-delivery. This is painstaking and annoying because there might be hundreds of things to page through, and each "redelivery" click bounces the page back up to the top again. Maybe that can be adjusted by the creators of these things. There is also the merchants' 32-day record, which he will keep himself offline every month if he is smart (I do that) and the MP record of purchases which goes back years even. So then these things can be reproduced. I have even had some merchants with no records or re-delivery terminals at all simply recall that I did buy their item, often because I blogged about it, or they just simply trusted me. This is of course only on the copyable no transfer items. Very few merchants without good records and trust in you will re-issue a no-copy item, but I did have a few who did that because they know I buy frequently from them and had their own proof of purchase.

The back-up of the asset server is perhaps something done anyway. But how does that help? It doesn't unless there is back-up of pointers and the ability to reconstruct them. I would need to understand what percentage of losses are the actual total loss of a thing and not the loss of the pointer.

In a sense, what the request is for the Lindens to make a master re-delivery terminal like individual merchants have and to make it available for non-copy as well. And I don't expect that for free. I expect it for a fee.

Edited by Prokofy Neva

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@Chic Aeon I'm wondering what you are saying about "a fresh prim". What I have are what next boxes and other things that look like metal boxes but are essentially only a prim. They allow you to make your own label for them. So that's what I use for things like holiday items or rarely used items or old items I'm not going to use but don't want to toss. Now, it's true they might get lost in a server crash. But my thinking is that Lindens are more willing to restore a *sim* -- and have a protocol for doing this -- even on the Mainland (sometimes) -- but they have not been willing and don't have a protocol for restoring an inventory inside an avatar. 

From what I gather, inventories are not "on sims". But maybe they are? They are moved from sim to sim as you travel? One thing the Linden engineers investigating my case asked for was the name of the sim and the date stamp and said "time is of this essence". So I figure inventory *is* tied to a sim somehow, or perhaps parts of it are? And that these are regularly reset, meaning any hope of using a sim to restore an inventory would be lost? But then, the pointers reside elsewhere, as was explained by Whirly in how to make a copy of them.

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23 minutes ago, Prokofy Neva said:

From what I gather, inventories are not "on sims". But maybe they are? They are moved from sim to sim as you travel? One thing the Linden engineers investigating my case asked for was the name of the sim and the date stamp and said "time is of this essence". So I figure inventory *is* tied to a sim somehow, or perhaps parts of it are? And that these are regularly reset, meaning any hope of using a sim to restore an inventory would be lost? But then, the pointers reside elsewhere, as was explained by Whirly in how to make a copy of them.

I'm only guessing, but I suspect if they wanted to region & date/time that you got the Trash overflow message & emptied trash, causing the loss of that huge folder that didn't display in Trash at the time, they are wanting to check the server logs for the region at the time of the event to try & work out what went wrong.

 

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2 hours ago, Prokofy Neva said:

@Chic Aeon I'm wondering what you are saying about "a fresh prim". What I have are what next boxes and other things that look like metal boxes but are essentially only a prim. They allow you to make your own label for them. So that's what I use for things like holiday items or rarely used items or old items I'm not going to use but don't want to toss. Now, it's true they might get lost in a server crash. But my thinking is that Lindens are more willing to restore a *sim* -- and have a protocol for doing this -- even on the Mainland (sometimes) -- but they have not been willing and don't have a protocol for restoring an inventory inside an avatar. 

From what I gather, inventories are not "on sims". But maybe they are? They are moved from sim to sim as you travel? One thing the Linden engineers investigating my case asked for was the name of the sim and the date stamp and said "time is of this essence". So I figure inventory *is* tied to a sim somehow, or perhaps parts of it are? And that these are regularly reset, meaning any hope of using a sim to restore an inventory would be lost? But then, the pointers reside elsewhere, as was explained by Whirly in how to make a copy of them.

What I was saying was that my book I had made had a UUID. Now I know that EACH instance of an item has a unique UUID but there MUST be a "master" UUID per item (hence the ability to remove items from users inventory on a DMCA and my mysterious (or not) loss of my logo last year). If you have a brand new prim with its own UUID I am HOPING that would solve the "rollback" of the item (like my book or your {what next} box. Honestly from my experience I would not expect things to be in that box forever. If you are lucky, yes, I did have a trunk that still had items in it :D.   But it seems like a new item -- maybe an uploaded mesh object that you never plan to use again would be the best thing -- hence only ONE UUID and no "second or third tiered copies".   

Again, this is just musing. I am so not a database guru. I can only go by what I have observed and trace the logic. 

In my memory my sim (during the lost book incident) hadn't been reset. I certainly hadn't asked the landlord to do that and the landlord was actually MIA for over a year (long ago) so the only rollback would have been from another "renter" and I had over half the sim and friends a good portion of the rest. So that kind of cuts the possibility of asked rollback down. 

Honestly, MY plan is just not to worry about it.

TRUE, I don't shop so what I do keep after blogging (very little) was "free" in a sense. That didn't make that first debacle easier though. My whole House and Garden folder. I remember Cheeky Pea sent me another copy of her potter's wheel (no copy back then as that was the norm for H and G) but most everything else I lost except what I had rezzed on my 512 plot. Hence I now "rez what I love" when possible. 

BUT, if we get so very hung up on losing stuff it complete muffles any joy we can have WITH OUR STUFF.

So I have let it go emotionally. I DO however think a fix would be a very good thing since there is obviously a problem -- maybe escalating.

 

 

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