Archive for the ‘Wagner James Au’ Tag

Hamlet Au Goes Crazy! (via The Bot Zone)

This information is as yet unconfirmed; Mr. Au has not responded to phone calls, tweets and E-mail with invitations to comment. However, Grid government representatives are said to be encouraging Mr. Au to teleport to the Guvnah’s Mansion, where he will be invited to “cooperate with the authorities.” Stay tuned to this blog for further updates, as well as additional giggle-age.

Hamlet Au Goes Crazy! In what can only be described as bizarre, unfathomable, strange, weird, unprecedented, and fantastically amazing, world-renowned Second Life reporter, Hamlet Au has perhaps lost his mind… It all started in a local night club. Witnesses say Hamlet was acting delusional, talking gibberish, nonsensical, and in an almost incoherent state. He kept mentioning something about “bots that were out to get him”. Then it is alleged that Hamlet kicked one o … Read More

via The Bot Zone

Posted July 6, 2010 by Harper Ganesvoort in Fashion, Humor, People

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Quoth the Machinima, “Nevermore”

I missed this on New World Notes, as I haven’t been reading Ham regularly recently (too much RL drama to cope with).  So I missed this when he featured it last week.  It’s a new machinima from Pyewacket Bellman and Niten Altamura, and much of the thematic concept is drawn from the works of a Mr. Edgar Allen Poe, especially his piece, “The Raven.”

As an admirer of Poe’s work, especially this piece and many pastiches, I give this a glowing review.  And the ending will catch you unaware — Poe never dreamed of his Annabelle Lee in this way!

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Running Over Openspace News….

I’ve been busy in the Real World for the past few days, unable to keep up with the in-world news (blame it on Election Day!).  Now I’m trying to catch up on things in the Openspaces flap.

And my chief thought is that I left off, or left obscure, something from my analysis of the Linden policy reevaluation in my previous article.  It’s that I’m willing to trust Linden Lab’s explanation of what was going on in the guts of the void sims that triggered the whole kerfluffle in the first place.  What reason, after all, would the Lab have for jacking rates like this when there are alternatives out there for people to hare off to — as some have done or are threatening to do?  As I’ve pointed out, along with Hypatia Callisto, their original announcement can be explained more simply, and much more satisfactorily, by Hanlon’s Razor than by proposing Machiavellian hypotheses for soaking Residents of money.  In other words, whatever mysterious Linden assigned to write policy announcements has blown it again.  To borrow from Goethe (and the Wikipedia article):  “…misunderstandings and neglect create more confusion in this world than trickery and malice. At any rate, the last two are certainly much less frequent.”

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On the other side of the spectrum, Crap Mariner has put up a photo on his Flickr stream, which I discovered when I was stopping by New World Notes.  It’s a rather nice commentary….

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Unless something fresh comes along, I’m planning to shelve Openspace coverage for the time.  I’m just worn out by this one, and I need to write about some fluff for a bit.  I’m headin’ down to the Blarney Stone for a drink….

SL Openspace Controversy — Hamlet Au Interviews Mark Kingdon

Wagner James (Hamlet) Au of New World Notes got an opportunity to sit down with Mark Kingdon, a.k.a. M Linden, the CEO of Linden Lab, and questioned him about the Openspace controversy set off by last week’s announcement.  Read his article here!

The best comment I’ve seen on his article (to this point of writing) is by Hypatia Callisto, who headed her comment with one of the best “scientific laws” ever created, Hanlon’s Razor:  “Never ascribe to conspiracy what you can ascribe to mere stupidity.”  The comment is for those who are certain that Linden Lab is jacking rates to make money preparatory to an IPO, or just to fill company coffers.

I Need Me a Fireplace….

…a chalkline about four meters out from it, and a large glass of Bushmills (preferably the Black Bush!).

While catching up on the news, I passed through the front page of Ham Au’s New World Notes.  One of the stories from this week was about him talking about his new book with an in-world psychologist who runs a podcast.

The title of the article:  “Shrink Rapped.”

Book Review — Second Life: The Official Guide, 1st ed.

Rymaszewski, Michael, et al. Second Life: The Official Guide. 1st ed. Hoboken, N. J.: 2007, Wiley. ISBN 047009608X.

Front cover of bookThis book, and the more recent Second Edition, is Linden Lab’s official user’s guide to the experience of life on the Grid. The review will focus on the First Edition, which may still be available in some areas.

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Who better than Linden Lab, the logic runs, to write a guide to their main product? And the result is adequate to the task as well as fun to read. The downside to this is that familiarity may let the authors (or sponsors, if nothing else) miss tips and techniques that would come in useful to Residents. You know something that, down in your gut, you’re sure everyone knows; but you forget that you know it only because of your day-to-day familiarity with the intricacies of the program.

I am not sure at this point if that has happened with this book. Of course, Second Life is not a fixed point in the software universe; it undergoes constant change and debugging, and what’s part of it one day could disappear tomorrow. What I can say is that common tricks such as alt-zoom, which I use a good deal of lately, are not covered in this first edition. One hopes that such easy-to-fix lacunae are repaired in the newer edition.

What the guide does do, among other things, is thoroughly discuss the uses of the Library and, especially, the Inventory. Control of your Inventory is neither art nor science; it is both, and it is an absolute necessity. I try to prune my Inventory almost every session in world, and it’s in part because of this book [1]. Another chapter is devoted to short-talk pieces by some of the Grid’s notables, e.g. Desmond Shang, Tao Takeshi, and Iris Ophelia. Their personal words on what got them involved in SL make for fascinating reading; I long for more.

Overall, this is not a perfect book. (What book is?) But it is an adequate book, as I say, and useful as a first stepping stone to other volumes, and, of course, learning more with experience.

Incidentally, the foreward was written by the new Chairman of the Board of Linden Research, Philip Rosedale. Take a look at his words to see how well things are matching to his vision.

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[1] A digression concerning Inventory control: it would be wonderful if LL allowed us to drag folders into a THiNC box or similar device, instead of needing to “repackage” them to keep related items together. Having to add in this extra operation slows down the entire process, making it more of a pain than just simply sifting through the thousands of items of freebies, demos and other detritus we’ve accumulated in our careers in world.

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Spooks on the Grid

I’m catching up on the news while in the middle of yet another move — my third in four months, but more on that another time. For now, the focus is on how the Real World keeps pokin’ into Second Life in less than savory ways.

The Washington Post (signup may be required) reported on February 6 on how intelligence analysts are beginning to worry about the chance of virtual worlds such as SL being used by criminals and terrorists as meeting sites, laundromats for money, and training and recruiting grounds. The story tells how the CIA counters the threat by purchasing a few private simulations as training and “unclassified meeting” locations. (The article is unclear on the subject, but uses the term “islands,” which suggests that these enclaves are on our Grid.)

Wagner James Au cites the Post story in his New World Notes piece, following which he checked the blog of our beloved Flying Spaghetti Monster, Cory Ondrejka, the former CTO of Linden Lab. Cory insists that Second Life counters extremism by providing a place for multiple viewpoints to be shared. Wagner wonders about this if someone is “already predisposed toward Islamist extremism.” Wagner also questions Cory’s contention that money funneled through SL and the Lindex could be traced once it hits a Real World bank, noting that numerous small transactions can probably slip under the radar.

Though I don’t really see how you could train a terrorist cell in SL to blow up a tank with an IED, I wouldn’t much discount either side’s arguments. Yes, it would be very difficult to smuggle large amounts of money through the Grid banking and exchange systems. However, the salami method of slicing a large sum up into many smaller sums is well known — I give away no secrets here — and could be used. It would take numerous people (or using bots, as Wagner suggests) and a lot of determination; but determination is a hallmark of an extremist mindset. The one thing that occurs to me is that even a large amount of small traffic going to a single person, or a set of persons, could raise a spike on a statistical examination of traffic, but this can be overcome by sending to multiple individuals, or an organizational account.

The “meeting place” scenario is much more viable. Picture this: your cell buys an estate island, well isolated if possible from encroachment by other estates being built. (There is lots of open sea, if you check your Map at max out zoom.) You declare the whole island private by using available lockdown measures, or buying a security package to boot someone home in 5-10 seconds after approach. Build your “conference center” at least 25 meters in from the edges, just to make sure you’re not “overheard.” Set up however you want, from quick-and-dirty cubes to sit on — a virtual-physical symbol of the oppression you are under — to whatever level of comfort you desire, and issue invitations to those you wish to attend. You will still face normal Grid problems like rolling restarts and outages, but you’re set to roll beyond that.

Unless someone knows that you’re operating in this place, and knows who you are, there is not a high probability of your being overseen. Nobody can approach your island without ramming into the infamous red “No Entry” lines, or your security package will give them the boot before they get more than a few sentences of whatever your group is saying. Their only hope would be to (hopefully!) get a court order — again, if they know or suspect strongly who you are — and have Linden Lab tap your datastream to capture what you send and receive. Even then, unless I misunderstand the technology, the “conversation” may be a trifle one-sided, and important information may be lost.

I don’t say that this is something to leap at in panic. But this is something to consider carefully, and take appropriate, advised action on. “Advised” because it is far too easy to abuse whatever authority you have or are given in your zeal. But we need to keep this in mind.

SUPPLEMENTAL, 1:24 p.m. local:

…[T]he Post article raises some intriguing, though perhaps overblown, claims about the ease to which anonymity can be abused. For example, records are not kept of communication between avatars, which could lead to suspicious activities between nefarious individuals. These types of situations have the government nervous, and interested in gaining access to the servers of 3-D and role-playing games.

These issues are not unique to 3D worlds. They’re not even unique to the Internet. A lot of these espionage/criminal claims are a lot like the early warning bells about the Internet, and probably at one point in time about telephones. Basically, it’s government saying “these new technologies scare us, stuff that scares us is bad, and so being scared we have a right to monitor servers and private conversations between individuals so we feel, well, less scared.”

UPDATE, Feb. 15, 7:15 a.m.:

  • I just discovered Gwyneth Llewelyn’s take on the matter. She decries the Post article as alarmist:

Also, this is “old news” and vastly discussed in previous years. It’s incredible how some journalists, in their eagerness to condemn virtual worlds and ruin the virtual economy and virtual societies, recycle “bad news” from the past, change the order of the paragraphs, add a few more quotes (often cited out of context), and republish exactly the same article that was written 10 or 20 years ago.

In my next incarnation, I wish I were reborn as a Luddite journalist. One could make a career out of it, just writing one single article for my whole life, and doing a search & replace on a few words every time a new paradigm-shifting technology is released…

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