Archives for November 2008

A decent and free online survey tool

I was requested by a client to set up an online survey on a short timeframe and at minimal cost. I did a decent scout around and throughly investigated three:

1. Survey Monkey

2. Zoomerang

3. Survey Gizmo

I’ve used Survey Monkey before and really like its interface. Unfortunately, the free option only allows ten questions and this survey was nearly thirty, so that ruled Survey Monkey out.

Zoomerang is also a nice option and allows thirty questions but only 100 people can respond.

So, Survey Gizmo won out – lots of templates, unlimited questions and 250 responses per month – all for free.

1929 – then and now

Back in the 1929 Financial Crash, it was said that some Wall Street Stockbrokers and Bankers JUMPED from their office windows committing suicide when confronted with the news of their firms’ and clients’ financial ruin.

Many people were said to almost feel a little sorry for them.?

In 2008 the attitude has changed somewhat:

Linden Lab: standalone servers soon

AVWW 2008 continues (a wrap-up of Day 1 will appear soon), with some superb presentations and discussion.

This morning I attended the presentation by Linden Lab’s Chris Collins, who gave an interesting overview of Linden Lab’s approach and future plans. Two standouts for me were:

1. The 2009 beta of a standalone Second Life grid – this, like the OpenSim platform, will allow users to run their own grid. Expect to hear more on the beta program in the very near future.

2. When asked on the delay in Australian Second Life servers, there was an admission that the ‘real soon now’ of 18-months ago had stretched considerably, with no commitment given on when, if ever, this may occur.

The standalone servers will provide a great opportunity for Australians in addition to current offerings like Openlife. Once further work is done on being able to move between grids, Australia may actually have a higher performance option than currently exists.

More on AVWW presentations soon – if you have the chance today, jump into the Second Life AVWW sessions for some fascinating insights.

Global Facts

The Global Facts … At Any Given Moment:

Fact: 79,000,000 people are engaged in intercourse right now.
Fact: 58,000,000 are kissing.
Fact: 37,000,000 are relaxing after having sex ..

 Fact: 1 lonely bugger is reading emails…

– You hang in there sunshine! 

Weekend Whimsy

1. Tiny Nation Premiere (Second Life)

2. Angels of Light in Second Life

3. Baby when the light….

AVWW 2008 commences

The Australasian Virtual Worlds Workshop is underway today and continues tomorrow (all day Friday and Saturday 28th / 29th November Australian time). The base for events is Swinburne University’s Koala Island.

It’s still not too late to get involved and it’s even free to join the Second Life component of AVWW (click here for landmark)

We’ll be covering both the RL and SL event over the coming two days – the event organisers have arranged a comprehensive program so do take some time to participate if you can. We’re proud to be a media partner for this event.

Check it out in-world

Linden Lab goes narrative

Its only been a day since Linden Lab released a podcast on a Second Life innovator, but they’ve now released a text-based story on another innovator, Languagelab.

It’s great to see some further showcasing of Second Life success stories – Linden Lab just need to work on their communications strategy.

The podcast released a little over 24 hours ago was stated as being part of a new podcast series called Stories from Second Life. The story released today is part of “an occasional series” called Stories from Second Life, but it’s not a podcast.

My best guess is that Stories from Second Lifeis an occasional podcast series that contains some non-podcast material released non-occasionally….

Pedantic observations aside, this sort of profiling can only benefit those profiled and the broader cause of illustrating some of the benefits of virtual worlds. If you’d like to suggest future profile subjects, here’s where to go.

A wife’s duties

Three men were sitting together bragging about how they had given their new wives duties.

Terry had married a woman from Greece.

He bragged that he had told his wife she needed to do all the dishes and housework. He said that it took a couple days but on the third day he came home to a clean house and the dishes were all washed and put away.

Jimmie had married a woman from Italy .

He bragged that he had given his wife orders that she was to do all the cleaning, dishes, and the cooking. He told them that the first day he didn’t see any results, but the next day it was better. By the third day, his house was clean, the dishes were done, and he had a huge dinner on the table.

The third man had married a Australian girl.

He boasted that he told her that her duties were to keep the house cleaned, dishes washed, laundry and ironing twice a week, lawns mowed, windows cleaned and hot meals on the table for every meal.

He said the first day he didn’t see anything, the second day he didn’t see anything, but by the third day most of the swelling had gone down and he could see a little out of his left eye, just enough to fix himself a bite to eat, load the dishwasher, and call a handyman.

God Bless Australian Women

Linden Lab launch another podcast

Linden Lab have had a couple of attempts at regular podcasting, and the latest is a series called Stories from Second Life. The subject of the first one is Studio Wikitecture, a collaborative architecture project.

The prolific Torley Linden is producing these podcasts so hopefully this will become a true series of podcasts. Strangely, you can only play the podcast directly from the Linden blog – given that adding podcasts to services like iTunes is free, it’d be nice to see that option in the future.

Don’t forget, we have our own podcasts – our next episode is being recorded this weekend.

Who’s your Daddy?

Mark Kirk

US Congressman Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) would like to be your parent. At least, he would like to act as though he was your parent.

Starting back in May 2008, Kirk has been singling out Second Life for special attention: he would like legislation to be introduced that prevents children from accessing Second Life– both the Teen Grid and the Main Grid (he makes no distinction), through public libraries and in schools.

On the surface, it sounds alright. We all want to protect the kiddies, right? Who is going to say an ill word against legislation that looks like it is designed to protect our children? But then you have to wonder: why should teenagers be excluded from a place designed especially for them? How will adults who want to access Second Life through libraries and schools do so?

There is no easy, cost-effective way to restrict access to content in public libraries and schools. Unless the Congressman wants to spend many more of the limited dollars already available to libraries and schools on solutions that would allow some people to access Second Life but not others, then Second Life would effectively not be available to anyone at these venues.

Legislation banning access for kids is not considered to be censorship – law that acts in place of parental control is often seen as advantageous.

Legislation that also functionally causes a service to be banned for adults is a bit stickier. It may not strictly constitute censorship, as the law would not state that adults are banned. However, functionally, censorship would be the end result.

Does it depend on the end result, or on the original intent, as to whether this is in fact a case of censorship?

For those who are not US citizens, here are the words of the First Amendment (1791):

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

This is the fundamental piece of law protecting US citizens from censorship. Formally, censorship is prior restraint of communication based on content and enforced by law.  Censorship by the government is broadly unconstitutional.

What Kirk seems to be trying to achieve, intentionally or unintentionally, is an end-run around the constitution. There’s precedent for the State acting in loco parentis, but this sort of legislative restriction barring adults would never fly. Because it’s targeted at kids, and catches adults as collateral damage (something Kirk must have considered), it could squeak through to the detriment of everyone.

On another tack is this related idea, which to some extent makes the legislation pointless:

Thinking members of Congress, teachers and librarians have said that website filtering in the schools and libraries won’t protect kids because they aren’t finding predators in schools and libraries, but from their home computers that they surf alone in their rooms because they have nothing to do after school as many after school activities have been cut.

Perhaps a more useful way to spend Congress’ time and funds is:

  • To put more effort into providing alternative activities for children after school

and, maybe even more importantly

  • To put more effort into educating children about the use of services provided over the Internet.

An educated child is more likely to be self-monitoring. A restricted child is more likely to see excitement, danger and really wild things in those services that have been restricted.

So, what do you think? Is this legislation “in loco parentis”? Or just plain loco?


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