Information week columnist succumbs to the Second Life hype

12 Things To Do In Second Life That Arent Embarrassing If Your Priest Or Rabbi Finds Out – Digital Life Blog – InformationWeek

I don’t want to dis Second Life too much. You gotta give it up to the Linden Labs folks for taking on a business that has an absolutely horrific track record with a string of failures. That said, I’m getting a bit tired of the hype. So when Mitch Wagner posted his article, I took a look at it. He talks about all the fun things to do in SL, most of which don’t sound new or even very exciting, but whatever. Then he decided to post his in-game pictures, and for me, the wheels fell off the wagon.

of this photo he says ” Times Square. Notice the steam rising from the sidewalk vent on the left.” What I notice is that no one is there. It’s empty. Doesn’t sound much like Times Square to me.

Here’s Amsterdam

Again, where are the people? I see 5 there including the author. How social is that?

I’ve got two problems with SL, both business related. Most of the company that the money has earned have been from virtual real estate sales. There are some real market dynamics problems here. Since this is virtual real estate, this can be a continuing source of revenue for the company since it can create more on demand. The problem is that the more real estate that the company produces, the less any existing real estate is worth. Since there is an active market in re-selling real estate in SL, this makes it harder to put any real price on any of the fictional land. Secondly, the more land that the company makes available the worse that the density of users to land is. This makes it harder for users to encounter each other and can make SL a very lonely place, which isn’t a very good experience.

The other main issue that I have is with the Linden Dollars model. This is also another source of revenue since there is a real exchange that the company brokers between Linden Dollars and real dollars. At this point, however, things get sketchy since it is in Linden’s best interest to continue to create as many Linden dollars as they can since they make a profit on each transaction. You then get into the real-world economic issues of inflation. The more popular that SL gets, the more real that this problem becomes.

I have seen some comments from Linden about this, and I don’t think that they are stupid. I know they have probably considered these issues. However, since their continued success relies on an ever larger revenue source, they will have a serious problem reconciling doing the right thing and doing what they need to do in order to keep the world going.

Is Microsoft still licensing PMC software? in microsoft.public.windows.mediacenter.portable

Is Microsoft still licensing PMC software? in microsoft.public.windows.mediacenter.portable

Microsoft is no longer licensing the PMC software. Here is an
announcement that was sent out last year to our PMC partners:

In early 2006, Microsoft released the second version of Windows Mobile
for Portable Media Centers to our partners. The second version of the
Portable Media Center software enhanced the end user experience and
enabled partners to build smaller, less expensive and more competitive
devices.

As part of the ongoing review of our product investments, we have
decided to take what we have learned from our investments in Portable
Media Center and focus our product and marketing resources on building
media experiences on connected Windows Mobile powered devices.

With the re-investment of resources in media experiences on connected
Windows Mobile powered devices, Portable Media Center 2.0 is the last
version of our Portable Media Center software under the Windows Mobile
brand. We do not plan any future Portable Media Center software upgrades
or marketing activities.

Thank you for all your support- Microsoft is proud of its work, the work
of its partners and the devices and services delivered as a result of
those relationships. We will continue to work with existing Portable
Media Centers licensees to ensure that devices they are developing come
to market.

This isn’t a surprise, but it still makes me a bit sad. I helped out a little bit on PMC (and its successor that never saw the light of day) at the end of my Microsoft career and it was kind of a sad story. It was basically one guy on the Windows CE team (I can’t remember his name right now and google isn’t helping) who made the PMC happen, but originally it was a lot more interesting and capable device. Then the marketers and biz-dev guys stepped in and decided to make it a “better-together” device by tying it to the Media Center PCs. The result? A brand new technology gets shackled to an under performing one, guaranteeing its failure.

[via engadget]

More Bush Administration incompetence and graft

The story is that the student loan administration had a loophole in their code that several lenders were taking advantage of, leading to payments of hundreds of millions of dollars by the government. A researcher in the department found this out and suggested that the director send a simple letter clarifying the rules. The Bush appointees shut him down and told him to work on other things. Eventually congress found out about it and put pressure, but still the “loyal Bushies” pushed back. Eventually, that simple letter was written and the government stopped throwing millions of dollars away.

Whistle-Blower on Student Aid Is Vindicated – New York Times

A 2004 report by the Government Accountability Office urged the department to rewrite its regulations to save billions of dollars in future loan subsidy payments. But Ms. Stroup, who had once worked for one of the lending companies that is now under investigation for the subsidies, argued in response that it would be simpler for Congress to clamp down with new legislation.

Nelnet was the nation’s most generous corporate donor to the National Republican Congressional Committee in 2006, and its top three executives were the largest individual donors to the committee as well, according to the nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics.

Nelnet was also well connected at the department. Don Bouc, Nelnet’s president through 2004 and president emeritus thereafter, sat on the department’s Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance from 2001 through Feb. 1 of this year, even while the department was auditing the company’s subsidies and negotiating the settlement. Mr. Bouc resigned from the committee 11 days after the department announced that it would not seek to recover the $278 million.

Blame for record-breaking credit card data theft laid at the feet of WEP

Ars Technica: Blame for record-breaking credit card data theft laid at the feet of WEP

New details have emerged about what has become the largest consumer data theft to date. TJX, parent company of discount retailers T.J. Maxx and Marshalls, disclosed in a regulatory filing in late March that hackers had stolen data covering over 45 million credit and debit cards over an 18-month period. The Wall Street Journal has done some digging subscription, and what has come to light is a sad tale of poor security and corporate irresponsibility. Unfortunately, weve seen it all before.

The cuprit? A WEP-secured wireless network and a company lax on security.

Why I dig redfin

’cause they show you the last sales date and price of any house you are looking for. What do I see? That about 3/4 of the houses coming on the market in central Seattle over $600,000 were purchased within the last 24 months and have been marked up 30%-50% over their last sales price. Now I didn’t do any formal research on this. It is based on me picking a couple dozen houses for sale off the website, but I did cover Magnolia to View Ridge, Queen Anne to Northgate.

What does that mean? Well, I guess it depends. Does it mean that the market is constricting? That non-flipper-scum can no longer afford a new house so they are staying put? Does it mean that the increases in Seattle home prices are being driven by investors and not real people? Does it mean that the Seattle housing market is as strong as ever? I have no idea, but I think it is more the former than the latter given the housing market in the rest of the country.

It’d be nice to see some of the “real” media locally spend some time to actually evaluate the data; rather than jumping on the newest announcements and trying to correlate them against nothing else. Otherwise, they’re just blogging AP wire stories and not doing their jobs as journalists.

The new curmugeon on the block

Andrew Keen thinks the user-created-internet is full of crap. A bunch of self-important blowhards talking to no one. I am one of them, and I think he is right. Will I give up this blog to let the “real” journalists restore order, doubtful. I have grown tired of the web 2.0 hype though and I’m glad to see someone skewering the insanity of this stuff. Even if you disagree with him, it is worth getting the other side of the story from time to time.

Andrew Keen’s blog at ZDNet

Michael Arrington kisses Microsoft’s butt

http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/05/01/take-time-to-understand-silverlight-its-important/

I agree that Silverlight is important, but Mr. Arrington gave such a content-light, gushing, oh-my-gawd report of it, that all my BS meters went off. Then they went off the charts when it turns out that HE WAS PART OF THE PRESENTATION, ON THE STAGE INTERVIEWING THE DEVELOPERS.

The comments have more meat, but of course there is the usual MS-bashing lowering the signal-to-noise ratio.

Here was my post in the comments:

Something that seems lost in the original post and in the comments is the business angle on this.

Microsoft is a platform company.

They have consistently made business decisions on attacks to the platform. IE was a repsonse to Netscape, Windows Media was a response to Real, .Net was a response to Java, etc… Now that Flash/Flex is becoming a platform in its own right that is diminishing the importance of the operating system that it runs on, MS unveils silverlight. MS may talk about how cross-platform silverlight is, but if it isn’t going to sell more copies of Windows it would never make it out the door. This announcement is just another in a series from MS (see the above list and remember MS’s commitment to cross-platform on those) where the other shoe will drop eventually. Maybe this will be like IE or Real where MS comes out with Mac versions only to drop them after they have achieved dominance or maybe this is like .Net where there is a head-fake to cross-platform, but that was really just FUD.

It isn’t this announcement to watch, it is the follow-on ones.

weird iPod moment

I’m not sure if this was an anthropomorphic moment or a fetishistic moment, but as I put my old iPod in a box today to send it back to Apple to get it’s click-wheel fixed, it turned on, showing my favorite A Silver Mount Zion song paused. It was like saying good bye to an old friend for the last time. I was actually kind of sad.

I’m scaring myself.

The RIAA is supa-evil

from Daily Kos: State of the Nation

There has been an understandable public outcry against the RIAA’s attempts to more than triple the sound recording copyright royalties on Internet radio. (See Save Internet Radio from Corporate Money Grab) One solution proposed by Webcasters is to just not play RIAA-member songs under the assumption that then they don’t have to pay the royalty to the RIAA’s collection body, SoundExchange; Webcasters would then just pay the independent artist the royalty.

This sounds fair and just because it is. However, the RIAA is not about being fair and just. The game is rigged and the RIAA has rigged it in their favor. The strategy of playing only non-RIAA songs won’t work though because the RIAA has secured the right to collect royalties on all songs regardless of who controls the copyright. RIAA operates under the assumption that they will collect the royalties for the “sound recording copyright” and that the artists who own their own copyright will go to SoundExchange to collect at a later date.

Let me just state for the record that if Unit Circle Rekkids gives permission for you to play a track on your internet radio station don’t pay SoundExchange a dime, ’cause they aren’t going to pay me a dime and I will sue the crap out of them if they collect money in my name that they have no intention of paying me.