Digital parenting — Junior gets warned

So I’m cruising through the spam when I catch one from Blizzard, the geniuses behind World of Warcraft, and there is a mail to my son — but sent to me because his WoW account is on my credit card, telling him (and me) he’s been busted for swearing at another player.

“A user of the above account has recently been involved in actions deemed inappropriate for the World of Warcraft by the In-Game Support staff of Blizzard Entertainment.  This decision was made after a thorough investigation of the situation as a whole.”

What follows is a direct quote from his instant message tirade to a player who aggrieved him: “YOU MOTHER#$%^ BS IS THE MOST #W#$^%& IMPORTANT ONE IN THIS ^%&$% BG”

Nice. Whatever that meant. It was like a letter home from school, except WoW isn’t teaching him much more than how to wield The Cosmic Axe of Purple LongHammer against some other 12-year old casting Spells of Sticky Asphalt.

Guess who had their account locked down by Dad this morning?  Sheesh.

Time to pull the boat

Out of the water she comes. Terrific blow here on Friday night made me nervous at the thought of her weathering more storms alone in the harbor. Since we only need the boat for the occasional clamming trip, I can easily pop her in and out with the trailer. So, on go the waders, and down to the beach we go for one final harbor cruise before calling it a season.

The harbor has a penchant for freezing over and I have seen what the ice can do to those boats that stay in too long.

The evils of sciatica

Sciatica sounds so 19th century, like dropsy, consumption, and shingles. A quack term for something that today would be referred to as neuromyathomalgia or “demeaning plebney.”

I have it in a bad way, have had it for the past three weeks, and it feels like a javelin has pierced my left buttock and emerged somewhere deep down on my leg. It makes sitting a total torture, bringing tears to my eyes. Muscle relaxants don’t help it. Advil is my new vitamin. Stretching, hot baths, lying flat on my back on the floor do nothing to help it.

The chiropractor, a diminutive woman, tried to “unlock” it on Friday by folding me into a pretzel and then leaping on me; but alas, she wasn’t hefty enough to produce that satisfying cosmic knuckle pop from spine that always makes paying the chiropractor fee so easy. Lying in bed won’t help it. So, it’s off to work I go this week, hunched over, my posture like a human S, standing in meetings, lying on the floor of my office with the door closed, avoiding sitting and therefore avoiding my keyboard unless I absolutely have to. Three weeks, and according to the online experts, maybe three weeks to go. This sucks. My productivity has gone away, I hate making people wince when I try to stand up, and I haven’t had a stitch of exercise since it first occurred while sculling three weeks ago today. So, with teeth gritted, I am trying to recover something productive other than trying to read the Sunday paper on my back with an ice back shoved down the back of my pants.

A second thought on Second Life

While pulling dead flower stalks out of the ground yesterday another Second Life thought came to me. Here it is:

Second Life is, unto itself, an island, and islands sink in the big ocean of the Internet.

Hit the wayback machine to 1993 — Prodigy, CompuServe, and AOL are at their zeniths. None of them interoperate. To participate in a chat with a celebrity on CompuServe, one must subscribe to CompuServe. Their mail systems didn’t speak to each other. Their content didn’t flow. They were islands — the metaphor in those days was “walled gardens.”

Now, back to where we stand today. I use TCP/IP to get to Second Life. I don’t have to spend a dime to get an account or avatar. I only part with money when I want to upgrade to a premium account which gives me the right to buy “land” and become an economic operator. But, and this is the key “but” — I can’t host that “land” on my server. I can’t develop it and maintain it and profit from it on my terms, only Second Life’s.

Yes, Linden Labs is a very “open” company, building Second Life atop a lot of open architectures, and yes, Linden is trying to open up its APIs. This Linux Journal article is a good place to get the background. 

“More than the blip of CopyBot, there are deep problems that need to be addressed in the context of creating an open source version of Second Life, notably as far as security is concerned. Most of them have to do with how open source clients would interact with Linden Lab’s servers, and how it might be possible to allow users to run their own Second Life servers – effectively creating separate virtual worlds based on the same protocols.”

When and if the 3D equivalent of HTML emerges (wasn’t it supposed to be VRML?) then I would be very interested in the development of a 3D presence for myself or my company. Until then, Second Life feels eerily similar to Prodigy, a 3D walled garden.