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.

Panama Papers & Ransomware

Before we dive into ransomware, we thought you might enjoy a readable overview of the latest and largest data breach. Have fun.

Panama Papers & Ransomware

We’ve mentioned before the reason most people don’t get hacked is they’re too poor. It’s far more lucrative to go after banks, to include the IMF et alia, where the hackers can be sure they’ll score actual money and not just overdraft fees. 1

Where the lumpen masses are affected is the hyper local – their own PC/laptop, via ransomware. And this works surprisingly well even on a larger scale: Short of banks and idiotic companies like Target, the easy money turns out to be in…hospitals.

That’s right – hospitals. They are increasingly becoming prime targets for ransomware. Last month it was Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center that dolled out the coin…bitcoins, that is, in order to regain control over their network. $17k worth.

Two weeks ago another three hospitals were nailed.

And just last week a whole hospital chain was attacked by ransomware, holding hostage the entirety of the MedStar server network in Maryland and WDC.

Naturally, the FBI was called in. 2

Interestingly the ransomware forced the MedStar hospitals to reroute ER patients to outside hospitals; the attack prevents patients from receiving timely care. It’s also possible some of thos patients may suffer a negative outcome does that make the hack more? Does the act morph into, say…assault and battery? Then there’s the fact that hospitals are considered part of our “critical infrastructure”: does this ransomware attempt now get classified as terrorism?

Panama Papers & Ransomware

Show 2 footnotes

  1. This doesn’t include CC theft/identity impersonation, which is its own distinct sub-genus.
  2. It’s too early yet to know if the FBI will issue yet another subpoena to Apple. Naw…who was I kidding? Of COURSE they’re going after Apple again.

Mechanical Sensei

The holiday shopping season officially kicks off this week with the frenzy of profligacy known ominously around much of the world as Black Friday.

There will be two vastly different common experiences among those who indulge in this annual rite. Customers of traditional stores will encounter crowded aisles, long lines, limited parking, and overworked employees as they jostle to grab the hottest holiday gifts. For some, the chaos will be energizing. Others will return home slightly traumatized, credit limits dinged by bulging bags.

On the Web…The shopping process is almost entirely curated by computers. Algorithms decide what products to recommend, how to display them, what price to set. and how an order can be most expeditiously and inexpensively shipped.

At mighty Amazon, the omniscient computer program that practically runs the company’s supply chain is known internally as the Mechanical Sensei. The program tracks all the items and orders coursing through Amazon’s systems. It makes millions of small decisions, such as how much of a particular product Amazon should buy, and—given the geographic dynamic of demand for that particular —where in its massive network of fulfillment centers to store it. As I researched my recent book on Amazon, The Everything Store, some employees even asserted that the Mechanical Sensei’s simulations helped to decide where the company should locate its newest fulfillment centers.


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The site maps in real time whenever the F-word is dropped on Twitter. America and Britain are leaders in cursing online, according to the interactive map, with New Yorkers tagged as the biggest offenders.

Thanks to its creator Martin Gingras, a junior at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, the map not only tracks the F-bombs as they happen, but also features pins that can be clicked to see a tweet and who tweeted it. On Twitter, @FBomb_co retweets random tweets that make up the map.


F-bombs – whodathunk?

The map shows the entire tweet, along with links (should any be present.)

Knockoffs are a certainty: it’s like, you know, fer shure that like some, you know, frustrated old will like code a real time map of you know, like whenever people like use the term ‘like’ in their tweets…

Which all by itself will bring down the fuckin innernetz.

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