The Wolf who worked for ABC

27 02 2014

I would like, if I may, to take you on a strange journey

The Criminologist from The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

They all kept telling me that I should do it, they told me over and over again, those friends of mine on a forum I was on, It could do this, it could do that, I wasn’t interested, because Second Life looked too much like a game, and I wasn’t a gamer, there would be no way that I’d ever use it.

Then I saw it on “Beyond Tomorrow” on Channel Seven, and decided that I could try it, and if I didn’t like it, I could simply leave.

I signed up.

I found myself on an island where avatars were born, and I couldn’t get off that Island, I was getting frustrated and may have logged out forever, except a friend found me and teleported me, to her.

Things started to look better, except I was still somewhat lost, but I found other friends were already in there, and they helped me get started. One of the first things I wanted to do, was to shed my human form, something many of us furries would eagerly do in real life, if it were possible.

One of my friends felt he could see the potential of Second Life and so bought us an island, which would be our home base, I was kind of shocked, buying an island was expensive, but I couldn’t stop him from getting one, and about a week later, there it was.

We were just feeling our way around, the experience was like being on another planet, and one where we were free to be ourselves completely, like some sort of hippy commune, we would walk around “naked” in this world. It’s funny, but it doesn’t take long for the avatar to feel as though it’s an extension of yourself, so when someone catches you naked, it’s a little bit embarrassing.

Furry culture thinks that sex, of any kind, is quite a normal thing, and that genitals are merely another part of the body.

I had genitals, multiple kinds for each avatar… human, equine, canine and dragon and we wore these proudly and flashed them about with gay abandon.

Psychologically it was quite interesting, there was a certain child-like thing about this stage of our lives in this virtual world.

Then I found out, via a friends forum, that ABC were investing in an island, and they wanted help, So I offered to help which was accepted, but it took months before the island opened, and there was lots of speculation and rumour about the island.

Abi, who was going to be the owner of the island, met with us on our own island, and we had a talk about how we’d set up our island, I think in general, most people want newbies to set up an island just like theirs, I think it’s an ego thing, I think we had a certain amount of pride in our island too.

The island did finally have a grand opening and loads of people went in to see it, I thought it started off really well, and I would meet some new people that day who I would get to know well over the next few years…

…Oh yes, did I say I was using Second Life every day now? It was now my main reason for using the internet, it ate data like crazy.

Later that day, a group of us were made Admins of the island, which allowed us to look after it, the fact was that ABC staff couldn’t keep an eye on it 24 hours a day, but the users could.

We could remove pests from the island, if we needed to, and we could report any technical issues with the island if anything went wrong.

Once something went very wrong, the island had pretty much vanished, and we thought that it was due to “Griefers” (a sort of internet vandal). Before we could get a definite reason for what went wrong, the story, and a photo of me flying around a deserted island, was published… but of course the story was laughable, it was a complete cockup, but loads of people read the story and many believed it.

The real story was that the computer which runs each island on Second Life, makes a backup of the island, every twelve hours or so, and during one backup, either the power failed or the computer crashed, resulting in a partial backup… so when the faulty backup was used to re-start the island, it looked as though someone had destroyed the place.

The people who run Second Life were told, and the island was started using an earlier backup, and everything went back to normal.

That’s all it was, but it’s not as exciting as the first story, is it?

I was on ABC Island a lot, trying hard to get people to come in and use it, but most people, like me at the start of this story, didn’t want to, and refused to even try it.

If they did, they’d get to the difficult first stage and give up.

Or their computer was too old and too slow to cope with Second Life.

Some people found the learning curve too steep, they either just wanted to play a game, or chat, this was over-complicated.

Or they lived way out in the country with extremely slow, or no broadband.

I knew that If we had the NBN back then, Then Second Life would have been wonderful for people in small communities around Australia, but sadly, with the woeful internet we have in regional areas, that wasn’t possible.

The Admins worked hard to get people to try Second Life, and especially our ABC Island which we were very proud of.

I should say at this point that many people thought I worked at ABC, because I was on ABC island so often, I told them that wasn’t the case, but  I did work *for* ABC, though only on a voluntary basis… Oh yes, it was work, it was surprising how much work there was, just to keep it going. If I had kept my own home that clean, the place would have been spotless.

But it was like having a really serious hobby which I was heavily involved with, so I enjoyed it.

I never had been put in a position of responsibility before, and because I wanted this project to work, I put as much into it as I could. and now I was dealing with new psychological changes, I found myself becoming strict, and if anyone disobeyed the rules, I’d get cranky about it and they’d suddenly “leave” the island.

Eventually there was another point where I gave myself a really good shake-up and told myself to lighten-up, I didn’t like what I was becoming, I wasn’t nearly as nice to people as I ought to be, at least that’s how I felt, I’ll let any of you who met me in world be the judge.

I had also, mostly been left with the job, You see, the other Admins, although they liked ABC Island a lot, and certainly helped me when I needed it, had found other creative interests and had decided to set up their own islands. They had developed and wanted to do their own things, which was great, but it had the effect of fragmenting the group.

A documentary crew had asked me to make a film about Second Life with them, which I did, but sadly, a lot of the facts about what I did on Second Life were dropped, I knew this at the time, but felt that making a film would still be fun. There was no mention of ABC because the film was made for another network, so a big part of what I really did on Second Life was left out.

I don’t blame the Director, She was under pressure from the network, who, after all, were funding the thing, but I was really quite unhappy about the result… ahh well, at least I had a few free meals and some fun.

The Doco involved Katie, My Alaskan Malamute, She had a few car rides out of it so she was happy.

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Katie and I, Taken during filming of Alter Ego: Photo – Matt Calissi, December Films.

I waited for a long time to see this Doco on air, and find out what people thought, but the network held onto it for ages, and then had some sort of review and changed from a station which played documentaries, into something which was more about general entertainment, the doco was shelved until one night, at 11pm on a December 23rd, thus, very few saw it.

As a good friend says “That’s Showbiz”.

Alas ABC was getting fewer visitors in later years, and I found myself standing around for hours, hoping someone would turn up, it was clear to me that Second Life wasn’t working, I had created Rockit, a music quiz show which did get people back to the island, but I was the only host, for what would always be a very small audience, as only a small number of people could ever be on an island at one time, We needed more hosts and more shows, Whenever anything was done which would draw an audience, it often did… but the logistics of getting it done were always difficult, there were roadblocks from ABCs side which couldn’t be overcome.

Second Life was an idea which came along at a point when computers weren’t up to the task and the internet wasn’t up to it either, If Second Life can hang in there for another ten years, then maybe it can regain some ground, but it’s going to take some imagination and some serious forward thinking, something we might have, but our government (like any right wing government) completely lacks.

This was also a time when I thought the ABC could do no wrong, but I have since seen it’s other face, and didn’t like it one bit.

When ABC Island closed down, I left Second Life completely, I had no purpose there anymore.

Wolfie Rankin

* I didn’t explain what Second Life was, Those who were there know exactly what it is, and those who weren’t, won’t care.





Bandwidth explained

14 04 2013

I sometimes write for people who may be raw beginners on the internet, and this will be one of those posts.

There’s a word going around at the moment which you may have heard, especially in discussions about the NBN here in Australia.

It’s Bandwidth.

I’m going to explain to you exactly what bandwidth is.

Imagine that data, is water, and your computer is an empty bath.

Now, imagine there are three sets of taps over your bath.

One tap is really small, it’s only about as wide as a drinking straw.

The second tap is the normal sort of tap that anyone would have over their bath.

The third is huge, it looks more like a fire hydrant than a tap.

Now out of those three, which do you suppose would fill your bath the fastest?

The big tap!

And yes, there would probably be some splashing involved if it was turned on full.

Because the big tap is really big, a lot of water can go through it all at once.

That’s really all it is.

The tiny tap represents Dial up internet, Very slow, It will take hours to fill your bath.

The normal sized tap represents Broadband over copper wires, Fast-ish, but nothing amazing.

While The Big Tap represents Broadband over optical fiber, BIG SPASH, All Done!

Easy?





Routed

23 03 2013

I thought about power being wasted recently, and considered that my router is on when I sleep, and I don’t need it when I sleep.

Yes I could just manually switch it off each night, but I’d probably forget, so I went out and bought a digital timer, which will turn it off, while I’m likely to be asleep, and on again the next day when I am.

But I wondered, The timer is using power too so,  am I using more power than I’m saving?

How much power does a router use anyway?

Apart from saving power, turning off the router now and then is quite a good idea.

It’s strange, but a lot of people think they’re not allowed to turn the router off once it has been installed, but there’s a few reasons why it’s not a bad idea.

1. It saves power when it’s not in use, so switch it off at the wall now and then.

2. Nobody can steal your wi-fi when your router is switched off.

3. Sometimes your wi-fi can get a bit flaky, Switching your router off and on will generally reset your wi-fi signal and you’ll get better performance. NOTE: It’s best to turn your wi-fi off on your computer, or re-start your computer after switching your router off and on.

But back to my timer, I suspect that it uses less power than the analog type with the revolving disc which clicks as it operates, this one has an LCD clock in it which was operating while it was in the shop, and I suspect it uses a lot less power than the Router.

So, I’m iffy about it, will I save any power at all? not sure.

Could Routers be built with something to wake them up on detection of a familiar computer? and then go to sleep when all familiar devices are off?

Wolfie!

 





Being Boring.

28 01 2013
Kids typing “I’m so bored” on twitter, holy shit.

I survived the 70s, B&W TV with Four Stations and AM Radio.

You’ve got THE INTERNET now,

THE WHOLE FUCKING INTERNET!!!,

Can’t you arsehats find anything online to keep you amused?
Holy fucking shit!

Whenever I see “I’m so bored” on twitter I feel a strong urge to bitchslap whoever typed it.





That NBN thing

17 05 2012

A lot of us in Australia are either talking up, or talking down the NBN, as you know.

I think those of you who are talking up the NBN need to get your message across to this person.

This person has only recently bought a computer,

They think Internet Explorer is the thing that turns on “The Internet”.

They have an ADSL connection but when asked about how they’re connected to the internet, They’ll say Bigpond or Google.

Speaking of Google, this person thinks it’s something ON their computers.

I think of the time before 2000 as the “black and white era” of the internet, anyone who has just got online may have no real sense that one file is larger than the other, To them a short text file is the same as a Movie, I have seen one person burn a single short text file, to a CD.

This person has never experienced the effort of downloading an mp3 file, on dialup, which took a whole hour to download.

I’ve seen a computer ruined because someone downloaded “a song” from a P2P program which was only a few hundred KB in size, a huge red-flag to me, (virus) but they thought it was the song they were after.

They have no understanding of why Apples insistence on a closed app store is a bad thing, and probably think that everything is on the app store anyway. I’ve met an apple owner who doesn’t know how to use the app store.

When I got my first computer, an Amstrad CPC 6128 for my 21st Birthday in 1986, I was very aware of the size of files, I had to be, as I could run out of disc space very fast. The same when I moved to my Amiga A500 and my Amiga A1200… and I learnt about the limits of my machines and it’s software.

Newbies never had that education.

And while I fully appreciate the idea of having an NBN, this person won’t understand any of it, and probably think they’re fine with what they have.

This person will accept any of the rubbish they hear from Tony Abbott, about how a wireless system would be better.

To the techie, you need to explain yourselves very clearly to this person, and fast, You need to sell the idea that an NBN is a very good thing, you need to make it sound as appealing as a new Apple gizmo… and realise that even if all the customer understands is that they can buy a white one, then sell them a white one.

To the person who is new to computers, who may be reading this, feeling a bit confused, would you like some things to think about? If so, here’s a few.

Speed.

There are three ways to send data.

1. Cable

2. Regular copper wires

3. Wireless

Now I know some of you confuse Wireless with Wi-Fi, I’ll get to that shortly.

Consider this, do you recall from school what the fastest thing of all was?

If you said light, you’re right, and deserve a gold star.

Light is the fastest thing of all, and that’s what will travel along the fiber cables of the NBN.

Now there is some talk about different cable systems being faster than others, so some people worry that perhaps all the old cable will have to be dug up again and replaced with the new technology, this is highly unlikely… instead when it’s time for an upgrade, it will be as simple as the NBN people replacing their computers with new ones, just like you would if you need a new machine.

Wireless.

Wireless is fine, and I’m not against it. But radio waves cannot ever go as fast as light can, and it doesn’t matter what politicians of either side say, the fact is that nothing in the known universe, is faster than light.

Have you ever had your mobile phone slow down when you tried to access facebook, or poor reception? or worse no reception? Well that’s what it will be like if we all had wireless internet, which would get worse in the evenings as kids tried to play games on it or do their homework, it could even stall completely.

Granted, Wireless internet can be great for accessing things on your computer while on the train, but at home it’s probably not the best.

What’s the difference between Wireless and Wi-Fi?

Wi-Fi is usually the signal which comes out of your router, that box with the blinking lights on it. It’s that box which allows you to connect to your internet via a laptop, a mobile phone or iPad.

Wi-Fi will only work within range of your router, and is usually password protected so that only you and your family can make use of it.

You can access the NBN via Wi-Fi if you want.

Wireless is different.

To access wireless internet on your laptop, you need a small plastic thing which plugs into the USB port.

While an iPhone or iPad would need something like a pre-paid plan with Optus, Telstra or someone like that.

Wireless internet allows you to take a computer or phone with you and use your internet on the go, it would be useful to someone who’s an interstate truck driver, for example, or someone who regularly flies interstate.

But the down side is that it’s generally quite expensive and rather slow to use, and while it’s perfect for E-mails or Facebook, it’s no good for downloading movies, skype or playing fast moving games with.

Old copper wires.

If you have a really good phone connection, then you can connect to the internet via dial up, which is the very old method which makes odd squealing sounds through the phone,

You cannot use the phone when you’re using the computer for  dialup  internet.

Dial up is terribly slow, so slow in fact that it could take an hour to just load a youtube video.

Or you can have ADSL which is a fairly standard method used in most homes in Australia.

ADSL is for the most part, pretty reliable, it will allow most people to do pretty much everything they need to do, however the problem here is that the further away from your phone exchange you are, the slower ADSL becomes, and if you’re in a rural area, it might not work much better than dialup.

So, if you’re on a farm in the bush, your internet may suck more than your milking machines do.

What an NBN would do, is basically give everyone the chance to drive a Ferrari,

And it should cost about the same as standard ADSL internet (Generally ADSL works out to be a lot cheaper than wireless as you get a lot more data for your money).

It may surprise you to know that the internet came out of the 1960s and has slowly been advancing, always getting better.

That Facebook, Youtube and Twitter are all fairly new, and have come about as the new technology became cheaper and easier to use.

And that although things are pretty good as they are, they could be a lot better and a lot fairer to the wider community if we decide on having an NBN.

Well Like what?

People in rural areas would have the same internet experience as those of us in the city would.

It would give doctors life saving information about patients extremely quickly, or possibly allow surgeons in Melbourne to operate on a patient in Alice Springs via a robot.

It would allow anyone to upload high definition videos they’ve made themselves in just a few minutes (It once took me eight hours to do this on ADSL)

Business people could have conferences online, rather than fly interstate or overseas, allowing more time for people to remain with their families, the experience should be a lot better than todays Skype calls.

I really love to dream of possibilities, I’m really not sure what the next step will be, and that excites me.

So far I have met the most amazing people online, people who I thought I’d never get to meet, but what tomorrow brings may be a complete knock out, for all of us.

I say push it hard and as far as it will go, choose the NBN, it’s the best technology we have at the moment.

Wolfie!

The current, cheapest option is $50 per month, which is 30GB per month, with a speed of 12mps down, and 1mps up

(on internode)

*There was an error in my research last night, this has now been corrected.





Things that matter

28 01 2012

As concerned global citizens, we call on you to stand for a free and open Internet and reject the ratification of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), which would destroy it. The Internet is a crucial tool for people around the world to exchange ideas and promote democracy. We urge you to show true global leadership and protect our rights.

http://www.avaaz.org/en/eu_save_the_internet/?fp

As concerned global citizens we urge you to stand with Africa and face down the USA and other countries looking to wreck climate talks and our planet. We call on you to save and strengthen the Kyoto Protocol and work together to agree on a more ambitious legally binding deal no later than 2015. Our climate is in crisis, our future depends on your leadership now.

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/the_planet_is_dying/?aOIHicb&s=1





This little idea about SOPA

23 12 2011

This little idea about SOPA

Makes one think, eh?

Go to http://onecandleinthedark.blogspot.com andhttp://www.cbsyousuck.com for thousands of pages of evidence and links to the original source research on the Internet Wayback Machine.