Category Archives: is that still a thing?

The Rabbit Done Died

But it’s NOT what you think…

We missed this announcement last week, not so much from inattention, but from astonishment: We did not even know Second Life was still a thing, but apparently so.

Now featuring dead sleeping bunnies…

Virtual rabbits across Second Life will fall asleep on Saturday then never wake up, now that the their digital food supply has been shut down by a legal battle. The player-made and player-sold Ozimals brand of digirabbits are virtual pets that players breed and care for in the sandbox MMO, and even need to feed by buying DRM-protected virtual food. But they rely on servers. Waypoint reported earlier today that the seller of Ozimals and the Pufflings virtuabirds has received a legal threat he says he cannot afford to fight, so they’ve shut down. By Saturday, rabbits will run out of food and enter hibernation.

The rabbits aren’t dead, they’re sleeping. They simply can never wake up. 1

…At least the Ozimals’ birdy cousins, the Pufflings, had a swift death. They shut down instantly on Wednesday when the servers went down, while rabbits hold on with the food in their cyberbellies.

Ozimals did give rabbit owners a brief chance to save their rabbits. Before shutting down, they gave away items which make rabbits not need food — and leaves them sterile. Some rabbits will live on forever, the last of their kind. If you wish that fate upon your rabbit, apparently some kindly players have a stash you’re welcome to.

The Rabbit Done Died

Show 1 footnote

  1. If you’re a SL aficionado, and had one of your rabbits die go to sleep forever, drop us a line and let us know how you’re handling the emotional trauma. Seriously.

MP3 is Dead; Long Live MP3

If you read the news, you may think the MP3 file format was recently officially “killed” somehow, and any remaining MP3 holdouts should all move to AAC now. These are all simple rewrites of Fraunhofer IIS’ announcement that they’re terminating the MP3 patent-licensing program…

MP3 is no less alive now than it was last month or will be next year — the last known MP3 patents have simply expired…

MP3 is very old, but it’s the same age as JPEG, which has also long since been surpassed in quality by newer formats. JPEG is still ubiquitous not because Engadget forgot to declare its death, but because it’s good enough and supported everywhere, making it the most pragmatic choice most of the time.

AAC and other newer audio codecs can produce better quality than MP3, but the difference is only significant at low bitrates. At about 128 kbps or greater, the differences between MP3 and other codecs are very unlikely to be noticed, so it isn’t meaningfully better for personal music collections. For new music, get AAC if you want, but it’s not worth spending any time replacing MP3s you already have…

Until a few weeks ago, there had never been an audio format that was small enough to be practical, widely supported, and had no patent restrictions, forcing difficult choices and needless friction upon the computing world. Now, at least for audio, that friction has officially ended. There’s finally a great choice without asterisks.

MP3 is supported by everything, everywhere, and is now patent-free. There has never been another audio format as widely supported as MP3, it’s good enough for almost anything, and now, over twenty years since it took the world by storm, it’s finally free. 1

MP3 is Dead; Long Live MP3

Show 1 footnote

  1. We’re assuming her that this means the Fraunhofer codec can now be shipped with free wit all *NIX distros, which should actually improve the quality of MP3s.

ISIS

As Philip Gourevitch succinctly points out, “Every American President in the past quarter century has now gone on television during prime time to tell the nation and the world that he has decided to bomb Iraq.”

Wow. That’s so much indefensible war in one spot we’re surprised it hasn’t already become an innernetz meme.

Hilariously Congress is fence-sitting the whole thing; they may or may not pass a FY15 CR (to which is attached the necessary funding mechanism for Obama’s little escapade) by the end of September. Of course…our memory fails to recall even a single year out of the last 25 when Congress actually performed this constitutionally mandated task on time, so, you know…plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

As for Obama’s authority to murder people in their own homelands, well…that’s on even shakier ground. The original AUMF has long since expired and Congress has yet to bless this latest bout of military adventuresomeness: what’s a Noble Peace Prize winner to do?

Fortunately, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.-Land of the Vaginal Probe) spoke up last week concerning his new (putative) bill. Wolf’s proposed bill would authorize the use of military force against terrorist groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) infinitely, and with no limitations. In fact, Wolf’s creation is so vaguely worded that it would allow the use of military force virtually everywhere and against anyone or any group designated as terrorist.

Forever: there’s no expiration date in the language.

What could possible go wrong there?

In another funny 1 connection to “terrorism”, Dropbox has just announced it received 268 data requests from the US Government this year. Surprisingly not a single one of those were for business users.

Wake up, people.

The Palins

Show 1 footnote

  1. If by funny you mean  in a “mwahahahahahahahaha” kinda way.

Selfie

When does self-esteem cross over into narcissism?

Simon Blackburn: “A modest degree of self-esteem is what Milton called a ‘pious and just honouring of ourselves’. It is no more than a decent self-respect. It can actually stand in the way of vanity, which is an undue concern for the admiration of others.

“The road to narcissism, or a fixated self-love, goes via conceit: if the vain person is too concerned with how he stands in the eyes of others, the conceited person has learned to ignore the others and just thrive on his own good opinion of himself. Narcissism is the fatal extreme of this.”

Is technology making us more narcissistic?

“Probably not. It gives us more opportunities: I can interrupt your life and that of dozens of others with an Instagram of my breakfast, which I couldn’t have done 10 years ago. But I think of that as having more to do with vanity – and, indeed, lack of self-confidence – than with true narcissism. And there has always been the tendency to impose oneself on the scene.

“Byron scratched his name into the supreme temple at Sounion, and compared with that a selfie is quite harmless.”

Rêves doux

GFY

Porn is leading us into the future once again.

The ubiquitous GIF, a 27-year-old image format that has grown into an Internet artform, is becoming obsolete. For proof, one only has to look at the impressive new file format taking over the big pornography forums on enormously popular websites like Reddit. The new technology loads faster than GIFs and looks better. What’s not to love?

Meet GFY, the “video moment” technology that bridges the gap between the old-school GIF and new-school video…

For the last three years, communities of millions on Reddit and Tumblr have perfected the porno highlight-reel. Subreddits like r/nsfw_gif (link NSFW) attract hundreds of thousands of subscribers, not to mention the silent majority who patronize the website without officially subscribing.

The GIF makes absolute sense for porn: The best moments are on repeat forever and ever, or at least until the browser window is closed. Consumers don’t have the time nor the energy for, sigh, a five-minute porn video. A GIF is all killer, no filler, and quick enough that your pizza won’t get cold.

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Anbar Province Redux

Earlier in the week many tribesmen fought against the government, following the arrest of the Sunni lawmaker and the dismantling of the protest tents, but when Al Qaeda returned many quickly switched sides. “We don’t want to be like Syria,” said Sheikh Omar al-Asabi, who led a group of fighting men in an area east of Falluja. For many men of Anbar (province) over the last several years, fighting has been a constant, even as the enemy has shifted. “We fought the Americans, and we fought the Maliki army, and now we are fighting Qaeda,” said Firas Mohammed, 28, who is an engineer when he is not at war. “We will not allow any outsider to come here and impose his will on us.”

Lost in the recent din of last week’s Jerry Lewis Bowl Game/Wild Card Orgy Telethon was the above bit of (further) proof that Iraq has returned to the mongrels.

Kerry says we will help, but won’t be returning. Which may or may not be true: we shouldn’t have gone into Viet Nam Iraq the first time, either, but go figure… 1

I hope he sticks to his guns – this is nothing more than a civil war and they’re always best solved internally. Assuming, of course, whether even the most basic governance is possible in this part of the world; as many of us have screamed until we turned blue, there isn’t really any stable Arab state short of dictatorship. The so-called Arab Spring made that painfully clear: the quaint notion the Arab Spring would increase democracies in the Middle East went out the window with the baby, baby parts and the bloody bath water.

The problem lays, has always lain, in the fact that religious and sectarian affiliations in the Middle East count for more than actual nations – how does one effectively lead a thoroughly divisive populace? The short answer is you don’t. What you end up doing is creating an endless series of compromises (that please no one) sure to be riven at the first provocation. 2

Tribes with flags, to paraphrase Bashir.

Leave them to their own devices; we’ve replayed Viet Nam in both Iraq and Afghanistan already. Let’s not go for a fourth loss time.

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Show 2 footnotes

  1. Has anyone else notice a decided similarity between Anbar Province and the A Shau Valley?
  2. The US is not that far removed from this delimma  – the powers that be are just better at marketing it.

Wonder Woman

It’s been said that you’re too skinny for the part. Wonder Woman is large-breasted, is that going to change?

Hmm. I represent the Wonder Woman of the new world. Breasts… anyone can buy for 9,000 shekels and everything is fine. By the way, Wonder Woman is amazonian, and historically accurate amazonian women actually had only one breast. So, if I’d really go “by the book”…it’d be problematic.

The comment section is full of immature males “seriously” discussing the pros and cons of Gadot’s selection to play Wonder Woman. Because….breasts!

As though it makes a plump mammary ‘s worth of difference whether the movie depicts an imaginary comic book heroine in an “accurate” fashion. 1

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Show 1 footnote

  1. Though this is EXACTLY the type of film that makes for a fun Packham review; I can hardly wait.

Vadge Sommelier

This was the first night of OMXperience, a three-day August conference meant to “kick off the industry of orgasm,” with speakers including Naomi Wolf, New York Times bestselling author Dr. Sara Gottfried, and Robbie Richman, the former “culture strategist” at Zappos. Roughly 1,400 people had paid between $200 and $400 to attend.

OneTaste offers sessions ranging from Coaching certification ($15,000) to six-month Mastery Programs ($7,500) to a one-day Play Class ($195) and evening TurnOn events ($10), as well as t-shirts, organic lube, and OM warmers for your legs in the winter. After the conference, a newsletter went out welcoming acolytes to a private social network called the OM Hub, a formalized version of their once-secret Facebook group, accessible with an OM badge ($49/year.)

Daedone…relayed an endorsement from foundational futurist Ray Kurzweil, whose Singularity University counts Reese Jones as a board member. “The next thing we knew we were invited into all of these tech circles and, whoa, man, the testing there was rigorous and crazy,” she said. “But finally we got the blessing of Ray Kurzweil that we are officially a technology, and they said it’s based on scientific knowledge about physiology and psychology and it goes far beyond insight or a piece of advice.”

About that connection: In the realm of OM, “partner” does not connote a prior relationship. It’s not unusual, at OneTaste events, to get stroked by someone you’ve only just met. Over the course of the conference, nearly every guy who asked me to OM — the collegiate startup cofounder, the burly acupuncturist, the weaselly 20-something from Austin, the dashing cognitive scientist, the white-haired yogi — would suggest it within 60 seconds of our first meeting. A couple of times, the request arrived before they even gave me their names…

And now that another presenter had briefed us, like a vadge sommelier, on the “reverent, light sensation” from the clitoral ridge, versus the “rich, deep earthy sensation” down at the base — it was showtime.

Two things:

1. Ray Kurzweill has officially gone over the edge;
2. Cali!

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