August 14th, 2004


Online Life

A true story in which a MMORPG player scams people out of a large (in-game) fortune (probably worth about $4000 out of game).

Interesting partially to see how these communities work and partially for an insight into the mind of a 15-year-old geek (or thereabouts).

The epilogue (what he did with the money) was particularly interesting.

Doom3 thoughts

It's pretty, very pretty. The lighting, movement and textures are all incredibly well used. It looks better than any other game I've played.

It's dark, very dark. I don't know if this is going to continue to be the case, but so far I've been constantly swapping from the torch to my current weapon and back. I frequently have to shot blindly because the enemy is over 5 feet away and the room is too dark to see that far.

It's flexible, very flexible. Monsters can now come out of walls, through stairs, from ceilings, etc. There's just so much more flexibility as to where you can be surprised from.

It's scary, very scary. We may have 4000 years of civilisation behind us, but turn the lights off and have a demon leap out at you and it's _still_ brown-trousers time. People have complained that the techniques of scaring people haven't changed since the original Doom, but I'm willing to be that that's because my hindbrain hasn't changed in a few hundred-thousand years either.

I'm running it at 1024x768 in Medium quality on an Athlon 2400 with 512MB of RAM and an ATI 9600. The game looks gorgeous at 640x480, so those of you with a lower spec machine should still give it a go...

Chocolate Party

I was at the Museum of Scotland's party with Lilian last night, which was one of the best-staged parties I've been to - there were members of the Opera there when I started, singing from strategic places in the crowd, handing off microphones to each other (you couldn't tell who was a singer and who wasn't until they suddenly got handed a microphone) and then sweeping up nearby party-goers to dance with them until they got a microphone back. There were acapella singers from Oxford University, who were having a fantastic time with everything from a couple of blues numbers to Sweet Home Alabama. And then there was music to dance to, largely dating from the 40s, 50s and 60s - Frank Sinatra, James Brown, The Shadows. Absolutely great fun.

Oh, and was well as the usual munchies, there was a table with a variety of different kinds of fruit and a _chocolate fountain_. Chocolate cascaded down the sides of it and you impaled fruit on a stick and then held it under the dripping gorgeousness until it couldn't take any more.

If I had £3000 I'd be darn tempted.

Jude Law wants to be in Watchmen!

Jude Law told the Empire Online Web site that he is interested in playing Ozymandias in Darren Aronofsky's upcoming film version of Alan Moore's graphic novel Watchmen. Law told the site that he is an avid comic-book collector. "I still go to comic shops, Forbidden Planet, and look through back issues of the ones I love," he said. "I was a big fan of Johnny Nemo and Strange Days, Parallax, you know those? But I haven't gotten into anything recently, not like I did with [Moore's] From Hell and Watchmen."

In Watchmen, Adrian Veidt, aka Ozymandias, is a former superhero and the smartest and richest man in the world. When informed of Aronofsky's film, Law reportedly said, "Darren Aronofsky? I'm on the phone now! Adrian Veidt, king of kings!" And then, as if to show off his Watchmen fanboy credentials, he whispered conspiratorially, "I'm tattooed with Rorschach, did you know that?" Empire reported.

Watchmen is considered one of the greatest comic books of all time. X-Men screenwriter David Hayter wrote the script for Watchmen, the site reported. Filming is tentatively scheduled for late 2005, allowing Aronofsky time to finish The Fountain, his SF epic starring Hugh Jackman.

Takedown (a clearly sensible suggestion)

I've been reading about ISP liability lately - going over some of green_amber's writing on the current situation and thinking about what would be a decent solution. The problem is this:

If your ISP is hosting something which is somehow illegal (defamatory, obscene, breaking copyright, etc.) then there are three broad methods of dealing with this:
1) Decide that the ISP isn't liable - the user themselves are liable. Despite it being on the ISP's webspace, it's space that's leased out to the user and therefore they are responsible for removing it and for any damages.
The problem with this is that it can be very hard to track down an individual user and it can take long periods of time to move things through the courts to get something taken down.

2) Hold the ISP responsible - after all, it's on their space, they're effectively publishing it, therefore they hold responsibility for it being there (in addition to the user, of course).
The problem with this approach is that ISPs don't have anywhere near the manpower necessary to look at every item they host. It also makes them into defacto censors of the internet, despite their likely lack of legal knowledge. Imagine if every corner shop was responsible for the contents of every newspaper they sold - nobody would be willing to sell newspapers at all.

3) Waive the responsibility of the ISP, so long as they respond to a 'take-down' notice in a prompt manner - so if they're told that a user is hosting child-porn on their site, they have to remove it at once in order to avoid responsibility.
This is the most common compromise - ISPs get treated as 'common carriers' like the telephone company - not responsible for what they transmit. However, the problem is that issuing a take-down notice is very easy to do and can be done for simple nuisance value. In one experiment researchers put a copy of On Liberty by John Mills (quite horrendously far out of copyright) online and then sent letters of complaint to the ISP. The site got taken down.

The problem being - ISPs are not experts in what is legal content and what isn't. If they get a take-down notice, knowing that they will be held responsible for the content if they don't take it down, the safest thing for them to do is to simple take it down and then wait for the space-renter to complain to them.

Having thought about this (and argued with green_amber about it) for some time it seems to me that the most obvious answer is to take the decision away from ISPs entirely. If a newspaper is going to publish something and someone wants to stop them - they get an injunction from a court. If a book is published containing libel, you go through a court to claim damages from the author/publisher/etc. What's needed is a central, governmental body which can make decisions that have legal backing.

If a content-owner wants content to be removed, they would contact this centralised body and say "The page at address XXX violates our copyright as shown in an attachment/at address YYY." The centralised body would make a decision, attempt to contact the person who is in violation and then issue a take-down order themselves. The ISP would not have to do anything unless told to do so by the centralised body, in which case they would have to act immediately. The centralised body would have the resources to do the job properly (probably paid for through a levy on each ISP that would be less than each one paying for their own IP lawyers).

The Internet Watch Foundation does something like this at the moment for child pornography in the UK, but it seems obvious to me that this needs to be extended to other areas of illegality if we're going to be removed from the current mess of contrasting interests.