Posted in business in SL, crime, day-to-day, entertainment, Flatterbot, quotes, security, Shopping!

Think Flatterbots don’t listen when you talk back? Think again.

Backing the truck up, those of you who haven’t encountered them yet, a Flatterbot is a (duh) bot that IMs you randomly.  Their usual MO is to start by either accusing you of bumping them or else claiming to be catching up with you, their long lost friend.  They then compliment your avatar, give you a long sob story about an ex-boyfriend that made them log off, and their brave return to start SL all over again… and oh by the way, could you maybe “loan” me 300L to get a new avatar put together?

This is all old news for many of us by now. Many shops now have signage warning about this practice, and many blogs have covered what to look out for and not to fall for it.

But up until today, I was under the impression that any amount of reply to a Flatterbot went largely ignored or unheard by their anonymous programmer. I was wrong. And apparently I touched a nerve.

Below the cut, my complete interaction with just one such Flatterbot while I was shopping in Henmations.

Continue reading “Think Flatterbots don’t listen when you talk back? Think again.”

Posted in crime, day-to-day, Emerald viewer, rant

Emerald Viewer Debacle: More info, resignations

Let me say that I LOVE living in the age that I live in. Information flies free and fast, and it’s easier than ever to keep up with what’s going on. Take the Emerald Debacle, as I personally am calling it, or How To Blow The Best Thing You Had Going. For those of you who don’t follow the tweets and plurks and blogs and what not, I’ll do the best I can to clue you in as to what’s going on.

It started a few days ago when Modular Systems got caught with their pants down, launching what’s called a Denial of Service (DoS) attack: using the computers and bandwidth of us, the users, to flood the servers of a rival viewer’s site. Skepticism is natural, of course; I was myself very skeptical. After all it could be construed as a PR attack by LL insiders. But when I read on their very own blog what they admit to, my opinion swiftly changed. My information, my computer, my SL experience was used without my knowledge or consent; and so was yours, if you used Emerald at all recently.

At this point it had the sound of some rogue developer messing around. Many commenters stated their belief that mere “discipline” was not enough, that the dev should have been canned. Bear in mind that a DoS attack is illegal, and that the owner of a participating computer can themselves be implicated.

After the blog post, PIxleen Mistral from the Alphaville Herald set out to get some answers. Despite getting ejected repeatedly while trying to conduct her interview, Pixleen did post her findings. According to the folks at Modular Systems, it wasn’t a DoS attack because it wasn’t successful in crippling the website it was aimed at.

Jessica Lyon: There was no damage done. The website in question suffered no downtime or lag. Thus if someone wanted to do the same to our website providing it was done the same way, there would be no difference?

At this point, my own mind was made up. I uninstalled Emerald.

Then this morning, Prad Prathivi made a post at Metaversally Speaking, doing much of what I’m doing here, but with some new revelations. Especially telling was this leaked YouTube video, containing chatlog and voice, implicating Fractured Crystal (one of the chief developers at Modular Systems; not just some rogue dev left unchecked). (The time of the video appears to be shortly after Pixleen’s interview, and they’re discussing a response to Pathfinder’s comment to the “Shenanigans” blog post)

Emerald die-hard supporters, meanwhile, have been continuing to mock genuine concerns from disgruntled users by dismissing them as “drama”.

And then, Fractured himself comes clean, admitting to be behind the attack (or possibly falling on his own sword to protect the rest of the team). Surprisingly, several commenters claim total ignorance of what’s been going on at all. More surprisingly, many accept it was just a “mistake”, rather than a malicious attack in which users were made into unwitting pawns.

If you want my recommendation, I suggest you remove Emerald from your computer, and then go to SecondLife.com and change the passwords of any and all alts you’ve logged on with Emerald. For now I’m sticking with the pre-2.0 LL issue viewer.

Posted in crime, day-to-day, rant, RL, security

You May Want To Uninstall Emerald

I personally find it very disheartening to read what I did at Modular Systems’ (makers of the Emerald Viewer) blog today. In summary:

This idea was to target a blog owned by a creator of a malicious viewer, and boast of the traffic Emerald has captured. The method for doing this was to add links to the Emerald log in page linked to said blog. Each time anyone logged in, our page loaded up and also the other page loaded up – simply to show off our volume of traffic.

This was not a DDoS. This was a poor attempt at boasting that failed miserably. Once we discovered this, these links were deleted and the dev concerned was disciplined.

In other words, they admit to making you and me any every other user of the Emerald viewer, party to this “prank” every single time we opened up the viewer.

More on the matter can be read here, including a screenshot of the offending code.

I don’t claim to know much about coding or such things, but I do know that I was made a party to what could very well be illegal behavior without my knowledge or consent, and that the strongest thing they can say at Modular Systems is that the developer who came up with the idea was “disciplined”, not canned.

So I’m currently back to pre 2.0 SL viewer until I can find something better. Snowglobe is off the table, being too much like 2.0 in its interface.

Posted in crime, day-to-day, medieval, out of character, rant, roleplay, roleplaying, rp, violence

“Well they did have slavery ‘back then’, you know…”

Whenever I hear a man argue in favor of slavery, I get a strong desire to see it tried on him personally. –Abraham Lincoln

One of the lamer arguments I’ve heard from people who want to rationalize the use of slavery (besides “it’ll attract more people”; consider just what sort of people…) is the guise of what I like to call selective authenticity. That is, picking and choosing what “they had back then” while excluding other things.

Now don’t get me wrong, I honestly believe that selective authenticity is necessary in most RP/themed sims. I for one don’t enjoy illiteracy, inquistitions, rampant superstition, or leprosy; but make no mistake they were all a large part of actual life in the actual Middle Ages. What I have a problem with is when people choose to make abhorrent parts of human history part of their fun playtime, and rationalize it by saying it’s for authenticity’s sake.

Yes. Absolutely. They most certainly had slavery throughout humanity’s past. They also had massacres, genocide, unjust wars, and artocity of all sorts. But these were the sickest, ugliest, most shameful parts of our history. Why in the world would you select that to include at your attempt at authenticity? Simple: it’s not authenticity you’re interested in. You’re deceiving yourself if you honestly believe it is.

Hey, are you really interested in playing capture and lock-up, and want to be really authentic? Consider an Auschwitz sim. You get rounded up just for walking down the street, beaten, tortured, stripped of any sense of dignity you may have left, maybe watch your family die, and live out the rest of your very limited existence locked away and forgotten about until you either starve to death or get executed. Doesn’t that sound like fun?

What! They totally did that back then, you know.

Posted in crime, rant, roleplay, roleplaying, rp

Reclaiming the term “Role Playing”

If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you’ve probably picked up on my views on Gor. If not, here’s the abridged version: I don’t like it.

But the most twisted, sadistic slaver in Gor looks like a kindergarten teacher in comparison to what Michael Berk of Brownfield, Maine, considers role-playing.

“I’m looking for role-playing. I’m looking for fantasy,” Berk testified about his online interaction with a man from Biddeford, who called police on Aug. 28 after Berk allegedly offered to rent his 12-year-old daughter for sex acts. –Portland (Maine) Press Herald, May 28

In a nutshell, this asshole (I’m not going to repeat his name because I don’t consider it worth remembering) met a man looking for work on Craigslist. They got to emailing one another (the middle part gets kind of hazy; some sources say it was to talk about partner-swapping, others say it was strictly business) and the fact that the man looking for work has four kids came up.

Asshole then mentions to the man the idea of paying him $350 a week for up to 3 “visits” with the man’s twelve-year-old daughter. The man, not surprisingly, calls police. The police set up a sting; an officer meets Asshole over coffee here in the town where I live, the offer is reiterated, the Asshole gets arrested.

The arrest happened in September; not long afterwards a woman who had also met Asshole on Craigslist came forward to say that he tried to make the same offer for her daughter. In her case, she’d posted an ad looking for housing. In a chilling testimony, Asshole says that his “standard operating procedure” was to look for ads on Craigslist that featured people who were down on their luck, and had underage daughters.

In other words, Asshole is a predator.

And as though it weren’t sick enough that he is, he honestly believes he does nothing wrong; that the whole offer of solicitation isn’t real and literal because he’s simply RPing with other adults.

There are lots of sites on the Internet for role-playing. Second Life, of course. World of Warcraft. Not fucking Craigslist, you depraved freak. Also, when only one of the parties involved (that being you) knows that it’s RPing? There’s a different word for that. It’s called lying. Not that I believe your cock-and-bull story anyway.

So, as twisted and messed-up as I find Gor, at very least it’s carried out in a strictly virtual medium in SL-land.

I guess I’m just oldschool. Role-playing used to mean, simply, play-acting. Pretending you were a character, you know, like back in the days of dice-and-paper gaming (I shouldn’t say “back in the days”; such media are very much alive and well now), keeping it very separate from the real you the rest of the time. But somehow it’s come to mean something different. Combat with meters, to some people. Acting out strictly sexual fantasies, to others. To some folks, RPing has become synonymous with debauchery and depravity, and it isn’t that (it can be, but surely it isn’t limited to that). I wish there were a way to take the phrase back, to use it as it was originally meant.

Meanwhile, Asshole will be playing the role of prison bride for at least 10 years. Tell Bubba you’re just RPing, jack.