Revved Up Already

What happened while we were away? Not the summer, that's for sure. A Wellie friend was gloating before Christmas about how awful El Niño summers are in Auckland, but he had to eat his words soon after. I don't know if the weird weather's behind it, but 2007 seems to have kicked off with a bang for the tech sector. None of your usual après-holidays hiatus, just full-on activity straight off the bat.

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Revved Up Already

- RDF set to stun

- Romper Room for retards or a reality extended?

Redactor, revamp

What happened while we were away? Not the summer, that’s for sure. A Wellie friend was gloating before Christmas about how awful El Niño summers are in Auckland, but he had to eat his words soon after. I don’t know if the weird weather’s behind it, but 2007 seems to have kicked off with a bang for the tech sector. None of your usual après-holidays hiatus, just full-on activity straight off the bat.

Luckily, we’re prepared for bouts of business at Computerworld with a new editor. Called Roboneill, it’s a very clever android that makes the Honda Asimo look silly. Very impressive technology indeed, but I am a bit concerned the Sony batteries in it might explode. Be OK as long as the heat output is kept in check I reckon.

You really need to head over to the Computerworld website too, as it’s received an overhaul. I like the new, clean design – beauteous it is, in fact. What do you think?

- Admire the excellent work by Cindy Park

RDF set to stun

Wow, it’s an iPhone and it’ll change the world and revolutionise communications. Boom! BOOM! BOOM! Apple’s iPhone certainly mesmerised the media and even made it onto the front pages of our local technophobic mass media, which is no mean feat. Journalists were falling over themselves pestering Vodafone over a phone that probably won’t ever make it to New Zealand, not in its current format at least.

Microsoft must be kicking itself for launching Vista at the CES, which ended up completely overshadowed by The iJobs Show, errm, Macworld I mean. Faced with the withering power of the iPhone, it looks like the local MS people threw in the towel completely because we didn’t get a single CES-related press release from them.

However, the Reality Distortion Field is starting to wear off and probably sooner than Apple would like. The iPhone coverage in the aftermath of the announcement has focused increasingly on what it can’t do. Some of it is surprisingly practical things that other mobile phones have already, like swappable battery, 3G data and support for third-party applications.

Despite the omissions, you can bet your last dollar that the iPhone will sell like hotcakes. It’s expensive, so it’ll bring in loadsalolly for Apple but... because it costs so much and is so desirable, people are holding off buying iPods in the meanwhile. Whoopsie.

- Steve Jobs Boom Remix

- Jobs introduces iPhone, AppleTV

- 20 things we don't know about the iPhone

- Apple iPhone for now ignoring synch to email platforms

-GigaOM: Apple’s Morning-after iPhone Headache

Romper room for retards or a reality extended?

I took it easy over the holidays and avoided the computer as much as possible to spend time outside, but there were plenty of people who got out less instead.

Some headed over into virtual reality, to MMORPGs (you look up what the acronym means) like World of Warcraft which is amazingly enough not just still going, but growing phenomenally – it has eight million subscribers around the world now.

I was asked last year if all this virtual life stuff wasn’t just hype and nonsense and... in the strictest sense of the word, it is. Gawker called Second Life a “Romper Room for Retards” for instance. None of it is particularly necessary as such, but we like it for the same reason that we bothered with elaborate story-telling and books in the past: virtual reality extends your existence.

The most successful existence-extenders are those that mimic real life well, and make it more interesting. I’m going to put the Wii remote into this category, as it fuses the game on the screen with you in a far better way than any other controller so far.

Likewise, you get a similar frisson from places like Second Life. These have virtual economies that are joined with the real ones, meaning you can earn money there. Like “Anshe Chung” or Ailin Graef, a virtual world real estate agent who has become a millionaire. There are fraudsters too of all kinds – some use software, others just tried and tested scamming methods.

Even without the lure of money however, I think people would be drawn to virtual worlds. Want to take a chaingun to Nazis like the National Front? In Second Life you can, because Le Pen’s fascists have set up office in there and there’s a virtual war being waged against them. James Wagner Au, a Second Life reporter, has that story plus many more.

Every now and then though, there’s a rude reality check for the virtual worlds. Griefers (as in causing grief) who disrupt events (“hypervents”) has become common. Anshe Chung suffered an invasion of flying virtual penises and had to flee. When the Big Brother TV show launched in Second Life, it was griefed for four hours.

That sort of silliness is one thing, but I am disturbed by the ability to purchase rape roleplays in Second Life. Now that’s extending real life too far...

- New World Notes: Fighting the front

- The Huffington Post: Why the Media is obsessed with Second Life

- AdRants: Second Life rape role plays

- Blizzard Entertainment release: World Of Warcraft® Surpasses 8 Million Subscribers Worldwide

- Techsploder: World of Warcraft funeral ambush

- Google Video: Room 101 versus Anshe Chung (not entirely worksafe)

- Second Life Herald: Big Brother Opening Hypervent Griefed for 4 Hours

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