Thursday, December 4, 2008

Last Journal

When I think about what will happen 10 years from now, I have to look back 10 years ago what did happened 10 years ago. One of the big impacts that happened was the internet. The World Wide Web was original started in 1993, but it started to get its popularity a few years after. I actually started to play the internet around 1997 and created my first email account in I never thought that the Internet will actually change the way for the communication to this level. The world seems connected as easy as a mouse click.
The internet has become another way of life-style for many people. It made life a lot easier and comfortable. People have another choice to be able to do so many tasks without going outside, but just to sit in front of computer and typing and mouse-clicking. People don’t have to go out shopping. Instead, they can just order stuffs online and let the parcel services such as UPS, FedEx, or USPS deliver to you. There are so many things else that we can do through the Online Internet such as online gaming, online gambling, online searching, online communication, online job, online school, and so on. They have changed many people way of living, so in the next ten years, I believe that it will continue to change to the next level.
Something else that we can’t forget about predicting the future is global warming. Global Warming is the big issue. It will change the way we consume natural resource. Of course, I believe that we will eventually switch from oil consuming to some other natural resource such as solar power, wind power, heat power and such. Those sources of energy will be easy to find and consume in a lower price which I believe it will cause to the better economic status around the world. We may be more electric cars since it’s safer and very cheap. It may cause people to buy cars a lot easier. Plus, the consumers don’t have to worry about destroying environment from oil burning fossil fuel. If more electric cars were made, people might go out and trying to buy more cars for themselves since it’s cheap. The car price might be dropped down like a pc price. Who knows that we may see 5-6 cars per one owner, just like we have many alt characters in World of Warcraft.
Another thing that could happen is that online internet and new technologies may emerge the virtual world and reality together. That was just my assumption. We have witness many online activities over the past ten years not just order online stuffs or do some certain tasks like searching or googling, but we all want to create some avatars or a profile of yourself on the internet as we can see in myspace, facebook, or hi5. Almost everyone who is not even a gamer may have one. I feel that those profile creator site would go to the next level. For example, we might be able to create some playable myspace profile, so you can interact with other people with some visual activities that we can all share and play together with other myspace player. This might not sound like a new thing for MMORPG gamers. It would be good if I can see myspace working like the game. The good thing about it is that, you can distinguish whether they are spam or not. The problem that I hate for these online profile sites is that many unknown spams or commercial messages are often shown in your profile. With this “game-like” myspace profile avatar idea, you will be able to distinguish who are spams who are not. For some reason, I feel like it is easy to track down a commercial or spam inside World of Warcraft because most spam character is level one with random unreadable letters. Anyhow, this idea would make it easy if you want to get to know other people. Just like in World of Warcraft, people in the guild don’t even see the actual face, but they can actually build a strong tie between guild members. It is a lot easy to send the feeling toward each other people though actions rather than you see the comment on the profile like “You are cute” or “You are awesome” like we usually see in profile site. Some people don’t even care about those, but if myspace or maybe other dating site shapes their idea to a playable profile like gaming, I think it will take the internet users to the next level big time because it will be more engaging into the site program.
To cover some other questions about how the government, the country, the law will change in the next ten years, I think they will change. Because we have more people using online and more problems were caused through online activities, I feel that there will be a law or some restriction that can prevent us from taking advantage of other people through the internet. There will be a big shift for the new generation. Everything will be more visual than text because many people in the new generation are drawn to visual presentation of media such as TV, Games and pictures rather than text. I am the visual leaner, so it’s easy to learn from watching media rather than reading the book. If we all have more visual learners then we may need more people doing graphic related jobs. I just feel that more programmers and graphic artists will be needed to help create some new presentation of information such as the dictionary with computer animated scene explaining in every single word. That would be awesome.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

DHS in Little brother

The story was pretty much talking about the problem with the Department of Homeland Security of the United States. One day, there was the terrorist attack by bombing Bay Bridge in San Francisco, CA. The main character was Marcus who was the smart kid that knows very well how to operate with a computer and networking stuffs. He liked to play online game with four other friends. He had three important friends that had been mentioning throughout the story and witnessed all the dirty method of DHS investigation to find the terrorists who responded for this attack.
One day four of them decided to skip the school, so they could find the clue which was the part of their game, and then something happened. Some terrorists attack happened, four of them were trying to escape to the ground level. The crowds were so thick, so they decided to go out from that spot to the above. One of Marcus’s friends got stabbed and bleeding. Marcus was trying to stop cars to get some helps, but instead, all four of them were kidnapped by the group of army. They were later found out that they were sent to the prison and being interrogated by the US Department of Homeland Security. They went to hardship during investigation by guards, and were released after five days. Unfortunately, one of his friends was missing. It seemed that he might be dead.
The homeland security was mentioned throughout the story, and there were people who took side with the government and some people did not. Marcus was one of them who turned against government methods of security. He mentioned that every innocent people were being asked and questioned about abnormal pattern way of life. If something that you do that differed than usual, the police could come to you, be suspicious about you, and, for the worse case, you could be accused of being terrorists if you or any citizen do not cooperate.
When Marcus was during interrogation in prison, he was forced to tell his private identification, password for his email, phone etc. He had no choices but to tell everything to them to exchange with his freedom, wishing to be released from this place with his parents. After he went home, he found out that his laptop were being opened and modify with some secret surveillance device inside. He was doubted in the government security system and wanted to exploit their bad system.
The story talked about privacy matters. Everything was being watched through surveillance cameras. Even in Marcus’s school, there were many surveillance camera placed on every part of the school, so the school could track down if the students were trying to escape from classes. The camera was being able to identify people by watching the movement. The story also mentioned about XNET where Xnetters were being surveillance while in chatting conversation. Government was trying to find the suspicious conversation, so they could find who actual terrorists are.
The questions were split into two. One group thought that being excessive surveillance were a good solution for solving the problem, and another group who thought that being this many level of surveillance were way too much and intrude individual privacy. Almost everything were being watched and questioned from what we are doing which gave people less freedom. Instead of being secured by the government, people were uncomfortable and afraid more about terrorists.
In my opinion, I think that I agree with Marcus that being surveillance on everything was not the good idea to the solution. It’s rather waste of time and money if the government were too excessive of their security measurement. We never know if the terrorists will ever attack again. But then again, if we don’t do anything, it would be too valuable for them to attack us again. I think we should do that in appropriated amount of security measurement. Not like being watched on everything. People don’t have time for that.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Reflection on Halting State

The story plot of the book “Halting State” had a very interesting point of view when we look at the relationship between virtual world and reality. Halting State took place in 2017 which is ten years from now in Scotland. The story started off with cyber crime that was committed by a group of avatars in the virtual world. In one of the MMORPG game, there were a group of orcs and a fire breath dragon break into Avalon Four, the central bank of the game. They stole many important items such as weapons, gold, and magic items from the vault. Then the story was divided into the story of three characters that involved in solving this cyber crime. There were the police Sue, the investigator Elaine, and the gamer and programmer Jack. Those three teamed up to solve the criminal in-game bank robbery.
Jack and Elaine were sent to the MMORPG game called “Spook” to find out who was the man that robbed the bank. They later found out the root of the problem came from the server in China. Chinese hackers got the important key information of the game though black market.
Charles Stross’s idea of the future doesn’t seem too far ahead than what has been happening in the virtual world now a day. Today we have a popular MMORPG game such as World of Warcraft which has similar theme to the story. I feel like Stross’s idea of online crime is already here. Even though I never heard of any game company that has similar issue to Stross’s story yet, I feel like it could happen. I have been in other countries beside US, and there’s a lot of black market of selling illegal software in another country. They could hack the code and generate the serial number, so they can use software for free. At the same time, it could damage the US economy. If the black market be able to get the secret code or the key information from online game such as in-game bank system, it would be a chaos.
Somehow the virtual world economic and the real world economic are actually related. Many people spent a lot of money pay for subscription monthly to the online game company. World of Wacraft already have 10 million subscriber world wide, so when the popularity increases, there’re more demand in the game. We could see many groups of people starting to make the real money by farming gold in virtual world and sell it as the real money. Some people can even sell their own high level avatar to another player. Since the game demands so much time to play, there was another way to acquire those high level characters and gold in a short period of time. Those shortcuts were simply paying the real money for the virtual money. The online game has become the real place for exchanging currency. You can do the same thing in another country and be able to obtain better money than in real life job. For example, if you farm gold from China and sell it to US people, Chinese people will get paid in US dollar.
There were a gap between virtual world money and real world money. I will give the example of Thailand money and US dollar. One US dollar equals to 35 Thai Baths. In the virtual world, if you play in game in Thailand, one gold in the game is still as same as one gold if you play in US. Stross’s idea in the story was trying to point out that stealing money from the game Bank is really the same thing as committing the crime in the real world. It might be because of that virtual world money can, at some certain methods, can transfer to the real money, so if the player steals money from the game bank, it would be the same as robbery the real life existing bank.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Journal 7: culture of gaming

I would like to discuss about the game that I am currently playing “World of Warcraft”. It’s very interesting to look at social aspect of the game because I think it’s the big reason for drawing many people into this game. It’s not just fun to play the game with great content and graphic, but it’s also enjoyable to play with some other people and helping each other out. It’s something that the game itself does not provide the players. The players have to go out and find the right people that they can associate with. Then, they will be able to have fun playing the game together with whoever has the same intention or goal for helping to complete the game.
I pick the game “World of Warcraft” as the example because this game involves greatly on social aspect of the game. In order to complete the end game, the players need to help each other out to defeat the enemies. By lacking of any important roll in the group, it could result in incomplete the game. For example, it’s impossible to defeat the elite bosses in the instance if the players don’t have enough people in a group or missing some key players in a group. In regular dungeon instance, a group needs to have five people which consist of one tank, one healer, and three DPS (damage per second). It’s nice for DPS people to be able to use CC or crowd control ability such as Frost Trap by a hunter or Polymorph by a mage, so the group can concentrate on defeating one enemy at a time. Missing one of those people could jeopardize the capability to finish the instance. The group instance run is the main reason why we need to build a social group which we call a guild, so the players can finish the game content as a team. And upon building the guild, there’re many commotion, drama and social attachment between the guild members.
Mark Stephen Meadows talks a little bit about a secondary avatar called alt. He mentions that the players can have many avatars, so I remember before I made a first alt. There was a little incident happen during an instance run. I believe it was in Shadow Labyrinth. I was a warrior tank level 70 and some other 4 people in the group. Two of them were from the guild that I was in. At some point in the middle of the instance, we got wiped by the 2nd boss, so one of the guys in my guild was kind of blaming me for the reason that we got wiped. I knew that I wasn’t the best tank, so I felt down a bit. Also the bad thing about it was that he was the one in the guild that I was in. For some reason, I didn’t feel like playing my warrior, so I decided to start playing new character and joining the same guild, but I was trying to act like no one knows me before, act like I was a different person. The reason for that was that I can spy and see if anyone talks bad about me in the guild which is the best way. I have fun playing different character, so people can look at me different as long as I don’t reveal my true identity. I can be another person and there’s no way they can find out who I actually am.
The book “I, Avatar” talks about if the sin can be committed by an avatar. I remember there was the time I did bad thing, not seriously bad. I was doing a quest in Tarren Mills where I have to Hillsbrad Foothills where I have to kill one NPC. There was another guy from the same fraction as I am, trying to kill this same NPC guy I do. He was waiting to kill this NPC before I got there, so I did bad thing by killing his pray before that guy did. Later, he was cussing me like crazy. The thing about in game is that there’re no social rule, so if you do some wrong thing but still within the game rules, there’s no police going to come and arrest you. The worse case scenario would be only got banned from the server if it’s been reported.
The last thing I want to talk about was the social connection between the guild members, I am fortunate enough to stay with the good guild. There was one guy who happens to be our guild master. He claimed that he was addicted to WOW. He told guild members that he was having a conflict between his dad and his girlfriend because the time he spends with WOW was too much, so he decided to retire for WOW. The rest of the guild members hate to see him go because he is the nice guy. Somehow, he came out of the retirement a week later. He says he missed the guild because it took a long time to build a guild and find a nice people to play with. In the same token, he told our guild members and his in-real-life girlfriend that he will play less than it used to be. Now, he decides to leave again because he has less time sleeping due to his night-shift work, so he decided to call it quit for the second time. I doubt if he will come back from his retirement again.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Journal 6: Environment in Virtual World

Continuing from last time, I picked the Night Elf character then I travel to the city called “The Exodar”. I have never been inside any major city on Alliance side, so this is kind of new place for me to explore inside World of Warcraft beside Horde territories because I always play Horde side. I used my Night Elf travel to “The Exodar”, the major city of Draenai. I had to ride the ship from Darnassus which is the major city for Night Elf and I popped up on another island, apart from the big land. The first impression when I saw the city, is that it made me think of the movie “Superman”. The Exodar looks like the place from another planet. It has many huge crystals surrounding the area and many on the building. It looks like Alien planet for me. The city has only one building and it has very tall look. When I got inside the city, I didn’t really have to walk up the stair, but instead, I have to walk down below the ground. It’s like everything is underneath the land surface. Even though this city is not located in the Outland, I still feel like it’s not a part of the world. Maybe because of the purple fog around the area, it made me feel like which place on earth has the purple fog, but it might be the reflection coming out of crystals around the area.
The Exodar is full of some details on their building. The floor has symbols on it. The material that is used for the building looks like concrete but it might be some special material from out of space. As I walk inside the building, there are probably some pink or purple electric or some kind of effect coming out from the crystals. The building itself looks like being destroyed a bit because there’re some ruin and broken part of the building, but not too many spots. The color inside he building are purple, blue, and pink. The color of the city is matched the skin Draenai race. Again, inside the building, there’re full of decorative symbols pattern on the floor, on the wall and on the roof. I went into the inn and the room looks like you are inside of the spaceship. I didn’t see the bed or place from sleep like I saw in Horde inn, but I saw something looking like a big capsule and it can be open. I assumed that when a Draenai sleeps, he would have to get in there and close the shell. The capsule shape looks like an egg. There’re also a few beds at the front of the front desk. It has some strange symbol on it.
There’re not many things to interacting with around the area other than NPC character and some of the object for professional skill. I went to the room called The Vault of Lights and I saw something that looks like the time machine or teleport machine that we normally see in the movie such as Star Trek. I didn’t know what that is and I couldn’t rollover to see the name of it. The Draenai NPC is pretty interesting. Normally, when you keep clicking on the character too many times, it will start to say to you like “going away”. “I don’t have time for this” or “move along”. The Horde NPC character is pretty rude, but Draenai’s response from clicking their characters too many time, it will reply for your action politely. The Dranei accent is like good polite people with English accent and high class manner. It’s like I am living in London or some European country with some polite people.
I don’t know if I can compare this with any real city. The Exodar is pretty quiet. I don’t see many players running around, unlike Orgrimmar or Under City. I can’t compare The Exodar with some big City like New York City or San Francisco. If we let the density of population of Orgrimmar equal to NYC, I think the density of population in The Exodar is still pretty low. I don’t know because I played this at night. Maybe more people would show up on the weekend. This is kind of interesting that more people will gather around the weekend or in evening time. It’s like real like where you go shopping Mall on the weekend and you tend to see more people on some special occasion like Halloween or Christmas day in online virtual world. For example, in the world like World of Wacraft, they have quests to get special items to celebrate in real life holiday in virtual world such as the items like fire works, snowball, trick or treat for extra XP, candy or pumpkin head.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Diamond Age

There are so many interesting about the story and so many confusing how the story progress. There are also many interesting advance technologies that is presented in the story such as different mites that there are. Mites are microscopic artificial organisms and programmed by humans to do special tasks. At one time in the story, they mentions that mites are used as security where flow in the air and scan for invaders to protect the city. Some mites look like charcoal or black powder-like substance that are used in laser printers and photcopies.

The story also mentions about real clothes are wore by the noble, but poor people can only wear clothes that made out of plastic. The world seems to divide into high class people and low class people.

I was a bit confusing toward the end of the story. As I progress through the reading, the story somehow jumps from real life to virtual world where Carl meet with Princess Nell. Also princess Nell meet with her mother Miranda and saves her at the end. I kind of speculated that they probably meet each other in the theater or brothel, but they ends up meeting in the virtual world.

They also included sexual content into the story which I think it's way too explicit because it involves a huge orgy group of men and one woman. A group of guys having sex with one woman and burn her into ashes is pretty awful when I am trying to visualizing in my head. It's interesting, but it's too hardcore in my opinion.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


My noticeable thing in the timeline was that 1995 are the year that have the most cyberpunk related movies in the 90s. I think I remembered that Summer 95 was full with cyberpunk movies coming out one after another. This is when the movies started using technology to create realistic special effects, so there were a lot of movies that related to the future era and new technologies coming out during this period of time.