Wednesday, March 16, 2011

though loathsome hideous squid-headed blasphemies rise up from the deep, I don't pay heed--it doesn't matter to me

Welcome to Shadow Cities. The first I'd ever played with location-based apps was the Inception app for the iPhone and similar platforms. (The one that frustrates us ALL with the Africa dream.) Shadow Cities takes it farther--the world is the battleground, and anyone who downloads the game (apparently, it will be offered for free download) can choose to play.

Talk about large- and small-scale MMOs--the scale is huge, but the gaming platform is small--literally hand-held. And there aren't a lot of flashy graphics to get in the way--again, the battleground is the real world.

I'm definitely interested in seeing where this goes.

In the meanwhile, Mr. Excalibur Longstaff, who maintains the Steamlander forums, has come up with a fairly innovative work-around for the problems of group chat being so horrendously broken--with no end in sight.

The problem with his solution? It requires Facebook use. At first I found myself actually angry over this...then depression set in...then I thought it through, and realized it doesn't actually impact me any more than any other decision on or off the grid. I don't use Facebook. The Steamlander forum chat does. Therefore, I never need to consider the Steamlander forum chat. Problem solved.

Talk about your fine ethical lines. For my part in this, I'm somewhat on the fence about revealing someone else's personal information in the course of standing against them solely for reasons of privacy concerns. That being said...the information contained therein is, as summarized by Miss Poindexter, decidedly of the "bombshell" variety. And--if everyone's right on the math--this thing may go to court, and speedily, because there may well be a violation of parole on zFire's part. If that is true...forget zFire's product being pulled from the grid; the man behind zFire could go back to jail.

Now, I don't have a ton of experience with the legal sector--my main ethos in life, after all, is not to do anything that would send me off to jail--but we did have a friend once, who was arrested for doing Bad Things (yes, I'm just going to leave that there, for purposes of the example no one needs to know specifics). And he was assigned three years' probation. Probation, in terms of how it's usually applied, is such an onerous and invasive state of being that most criminals, whether or not they "reformed" whilst behind bars, decide quickly that it's not worth the hassle of jumping through the state's myriad annoying hoops.

How'ver, our friend struggled mightily down to six months remaining on probation, and that's when the bench warrant was discovered. For an old parking ticket in another state, no less. But even though the offense was negligible when paired to what he'd actually been convicted of, it was enough to throw the entire system into chaos--and muck up his personal life in insane and damaging ways. To wit: in response to the notification of the bench warrant, his parole officer:

* went to his residence, moved everything out into two storage lockers, and informed his landlady that he wouldn't be returning;
* paid six months on those storage lockers, and kept the keys;
* went to his place of business, informed his boss that he would be taking an unpaid leave of absence, and his boss was welcome to fire him;
* removed him from his workplace in handcuffs;
* took him back to the jail to be registered formally as a prisoner, with all the attending paperwork, search humiliations, and changes of attire that entailed;
* reclaimed him after that process, and took him to a holding cell one town over;
* removed him from that holding cell the next morning, put him on a plane--still in handcuffs!--and flew him to the state where the bench warrant had been issued;
* dropped him off in yet another holding cell;
* reclaimed him the next morning to appear before the judge who'd entered the bench warrant, who took in the prisoner's state of distress, his orange prison uniform, and the stern set of the parole officer's visage (plus the two armed prison guards who'd accompanied him from the prison to the plane), and said "Y'all realize this is for a parking ticket, not homicide...right?"

Keep in mind, this wasn't even for a federal-level crime. I understand they have full rights to treat prisoners with even more strictures should they step out of line. So that being said...why would zFire risk breaking probation for...okay, the rough equivalent of $30,000 or so, but still...

At any rate, with nothing better to do, I will return to picking through the JIRA That Will Not Die.

From the RedZone album
Chopstick Oxygen:
"It seems that Linden Lab is unwilling to stop the abuse of their own customers."
Actually, as of this writing this seems no longer true.

Vee Chun:
"you guys need to get a life
RedZone does not provide the IP address!!! the only information that the RedZone provides is alts & your profile information!!!!!

[..."T]his Miss Smoothkitty must be a copybot or a drama queen that got banned!"
Which leads directly into...

Mocksoup Graves:
"Vee Chun, you are EXACTLY the kind of person we want to protect ourselves from. YOU just accused the creator of this JIRA of being a copybot because you disagree with her stance on privacy.

"This is nothing more than an exploit creating a vigilante style witch hunt."
On both sides, at this point. And it's managed to take over several blogs, not the least of which mine.

Cole Cybertar:
The Jira is for Server bug issues & the way your viewer decodes & reads the info. this place is not a complaint Department.
Sadly, many, many people haven't realized this yet.

Innula Zenovka:
"To my mind, LL could solve the problem in pretty short order by letting sims have unlimited ban lists and by giving landowners the option to ban by ISP from their land in the same way LL bans by ISP from the grid – it would achieve the same result as does RedZone without revealing people's alts to any stalker or griefer with L$4000 to spend."
The only problem I see with that is increase on the system used currently to check incoming names (like calling cards, which are apparently disabled in v.2x viewers but not in 1.x viewer modes). But something else to keep in mind is--four thousand Lindens currently costs sixteen dollars, US. Sixteen is two lunches out at a cheap place. Sixteen is one ticket to a 3D movie with a child-size popcorn. Sixteen is local zoo admission, if your city has a local zoo. That is not that much, in the grand scheme of things.

Rosemarie Hathaway:
"There is a compromise to this that seems more likely, LL give landowners the ability to ban a person and alts, without telling the landowners who the alts are. So when you ban a person, you have the option to ban with alts as well, but it wont tell you who those alts are."
Why? Okay, fine, you don't want Zena on your land, but as far as you know, Ziria and Zelayna are different people. Sure, if this system goes through, and all three of them stop coming to your store, you might twig that things are hinky somewhere, but seriously--if you got into an argument with Zena, does that automatically mean you're going to argue with Zira and Zelayna? Maybe you don't even know them. Maybe they've never even been to your sim.

That just seems insanely arbitrary, frankly.

Zidonuke Ghost:
"No one at LL can remove RedZone because the policy to make it illegal doesn't exist in their eyes. It's such a problematic issue to tackle that they will need definitive policy in place before they can take action of systems that reveal alts."
You know, I'm really starting to resent this idiot. Whether or not anyone non-Linden-based cares about all the screaming, it's not any non-Linden's place to close JIRA files. Flat. Out.

Boy Lane in response:
"'No one at LL can remove RedZone because the policy to make it illegal doesn't exist in their eyes. It's such a problematic issue to tackle that they will need definitive policy in place before they can take action of systems that reveal alts.'

"No, it is clearly covered under ToS 8.3."
And Zidonuke punts it back:

"If it was CLEARLY covered as being against the ToS... They would of taken action against it already. The fact of the matter that as far as LL cares, its legal until they make it illegal, which is exactly what they are working on right now."
Yeah...and Boy Lane says:

Boy Lane:
"It is absolutely clear to me. Perhaps you should read the ToS.

'You agree that you will not post or transmit Content or code that may ... invade other users' privacy.'
Which is the short-form version of that ToS provision.

Qie Niangao:
(Jeez. This is not the place to have this discussion.) Legal won't be changing the ToS; rather, they'll put some policy language around how they interpret such devices to be in violation of the existing ToS. My concern is that in the meantime, folks who are mislead into thinking such devices have any impact on the copybot threat will innocently enough fork over L$4K, and end up with a brick.
And that's exactly what is going to be happening--with zFire's ban, and the deactivation (goddamn slow deactivation, but deactivation) of all the scripts responsible for running RedZone over the grid...the buyers of RedZone will slowly find themselves in possession of a brick.


That cost sixteen bucks.


Fogwoman Gray said...

Miss Emilly,
I provided Ex alibur with feedback on the FB issue. He clarified that this was a proof of concept, and as he always does, he will figure out how to do this himself without using FB. He is obsessive about improving Steamlander and takes all feedback seriously.

Emilly Orr said...

And I'm obviously not the only one Facebook doesn't work for, so it's not just me protesting this.

What makes me wonder is that there are dozens, if not hundreds, of other options, both free and for pay, to host forum chats, that don't tie in to Facebook. Still, if FacebookLife is the Wave of the Future[TM], then maybe Mr. Longstaff is simply thinking ahead.

Fogwoman Gray said...

Nope, as I said, he took all the feedback and is going to do a chat that is his own, not tied into any other "social networking" site.
Since it was mentioned specifically in your blog I wanted to ensure people know that when he gets done anyone should be able to use the chat with a Steamlander profile alone (and those are not shared with anyone else).

Emilly Orr said...

Well, and even though it is an externally hosted site, I'm still of the mind that if one lives in the Steamlands and doesn't have a Steamlander profile, one is doing it wrong. :)