Taking it to the street(s) – I’m providing an open WiFi node…

Continuing on in the vein of community content, I’ve just started running an open wireless access point, segregated from my network and throttled to protect my cap from leechers, but open none the less.

People joining the network are greeted by a splash page prior to continuing on to their content

This is an experiment in offering open wireless access to the community in which I live.
I have throttled the speed of this network to protect my usage cap, but it should be fine for commuters pulling down emails etc. (Don’t read and drive 😉 ). This network is UNSECURED so it is up to YOU to protect YOUR machine, and make appropriate choices about what data you transmit across this link.
If you are interested in seeing how this project is going, please check out the following:

[A Graph Goes Here]

Please do not abuse this network or I will be forced to block your PC and/or pull the access from everyone.

I’m hoping that no one does screw with the network as it’d be nice to think that people will appreciate the access for what it is, freely given as a service to SHARE with others.

WoW – A Chinese Gold Farmer Article…

I’ve heard references to a movie on gold farming via The Instance podcast, but this is one of the first major papers I’ve seen to carry an article on the virtual goods trading phenomenom.

It’s been awhile since my last post on this subject, so seeing the $1.8 billion figure quoted was interesting, given that around this time last year when I wrote, it was projected that there would be a $5 billion market for non-subscription revenue (i.e. virtual goods trading) by 2011. That’s still 4 years away, looks like we’re well on track, of course, if gold farming offends your sensibilities, you could always start up a player community centric website to support an MMOG, then sell it for over $1 million. That’s what WoWHead did, and now they’re part of the same conglomerate which owns the 2 other major World of Warcraft community sites, Thottbot (my personal favorite) and Allakhazam.

So what you ask? Well, Affinity Media – the conglomerate which now owns 3 of the most trafficed player sites for World of Warcraft used to own IGE, which is/was one of these gold dealing companies. They now claim that they have sold that company and based on that, it appears that the people over at WoWHead are now comfortable selling their online property on to Affinity. So, a well designed site, rich with publically avalible information, embracing a niche community is worth some good (real world) coin. Who said community content would never make anyone any money?

Virtually there

Todays entry was sparked by a story from WoW Insider, one of many sites which features in my RSS feeds. The column, from Azeroth Interrupted, tells a story of two brothers who are using the WoW universe to reunite and learn about what has happened in the many years that they have been seperated.

This got me to thinking of my own WoW interactions (I use that word because it scares me less than the ‘addiction’ word 🙂 ). I’ve been playing for little over a year now and have made many friends, some of them quite close and most of them I’ve never met in real life. My collegue Karen started around that same time as me (in fact, she babysat me through the Night-Elf starting zone and explained the acronyms that everyone was using) and we are both Guild Masters (well GM2’s) in our guild Searing Sun (Guild Site / Armory Profile). It’s been loads of fun and we’ve even got my wife to play after much initial reluctance – and now she’s loving it! (and hating it, pretty standard feelings for most WoW players I think). Anyway, on the back of this ‘getting to know each other’ story, I started reflecting on the relationships that I’ve made in the game. There was the husband and wife team who invited me to their guild whose marrage since dissolved (along with the guild), there was the annoying twink guy who bugs my banker toon whenever I log in to check my auctions with continual duel requests, and there’s my other family – the people in my (our) guild. Things in our World of Warcraft guild have taken a turn of late, and I too must admit to starting to become disengaged once more…

Backtracking a little for context, WoW is a game which used to have a level cap at 60 (i.e. you could get to Level 60 and that was it, no more levels for you – go kill some super l33t monsters to get awesome gear so you can… kill some more super l33t monsters).
At this point a number of our high level players branched off to for an ‘Elite’ guild so those characters could focus on end-game raiding. Things get pretty serious in these kinds of guilds as people are solely focussed on gear and, due to the difficulty of the monsters you must now face, mistakes by anyone can kill the whole party. We stayed in our guild, happily helping out the lower levels get to 60, and building our own alts (other characters). Then came the release of the Burning Crusade, with a level cap of 70 and a whole new world to explore and better gear to get. The ‘Elite’ guild had imploded by this stage due to a number of reasons, but mainly due to the personality issues between the members of the guild, some who were taking things too seriously, some who just wanted to enjoy their game. These guild members all went off to join other guilds, and we got a number of them returning ‘home’ to us. With their experience and drive, we all started heading to 70, then trying to get the reputation and quests needed so we could all head to the big scary end game zones (where the cool gear drops). We found ourselves getting ‘too serious’ and we’d lost the culture of assistance which we’d previously been so proud of. Our guild master (mistress?) pulled the plug on the drive toward raiding, asking us to focus on recovering our previous culture. Interestingly, the week after she did this we started getting a large number of new recruits, I started back on leveling up my priest alongside my wife (who also plays) and all was well… almost.
The people who were looking forward to raiding (and I count myself amonst that number) started to leave, unrelated reasons of course, we lost our main tank (MT) and main healer (MH) to another guild on another server where they were going to meet up with their friends from school, our Raid Leader soon followed them, others left for raiding guilds within our own server. The interesting thing was, by and large, most of them left one or more of their alts in our guild, so they could come back and say hi. Our raid leader even went so far as to create an identical character to the one who had left, albeit without the level 70ishness and the funky gear 🙂

And now, on our guilds forum is a posting from our guild master – she too has left the server to follow her friends. She has been the rock on which the guild has been built and the glue which has held it together. Following her announcment, we lost 2 more of our high level players to the same server and it will be interesting to watch and see how the guild reacts to the news over the next few weeks and months. It’s with a heavy heart that I watch the changes which are happening to my group of close, but virtual friends – What started out as an investigation into the psyche of MMOGs and the people who play them has almost become a lifestyle. I am missing the people who have left already and am tempted, if they don’t plan on playing their alts too often, to start looking for a new home myself – time will tell, we’ll wait and see.

A new look for the geek…

If you’ve been here in the past year or so and are only just returning, you will probably notice that I’ve started using a new template.

I wanted a change, not only because the ‘other’ header graphic was just, well, offputting, but also because this template suits the evolution of WordPress and the gadgets that I’m starting to use in the side bar (do you like my tag cloud?)

Anyway, just thought I’d drop a quick post to let you know you were still in the right place, and – if you can’t find anything you used to use – please leave me a comment so I can make the function/page/content more apparent in this new look. 🙂

Workplace Blogging – US Military Blogs to get a whole new set of regulations

Ars Technica (via Wired‘s Noah Shachtman) are running this story on a raft of new regulations about to hit the US Military which could see the end to US troops being able to run their own blogs. Basically, bloggers will need to seek a commanders opinion prior to publishing a blog entry to ensure that said entry does not contain any operational security related information (the Military term being OPSEC – see, they make up acronyms like I do!).

“Fair enough” you might think, “it’s important to keep the troops safe and the enemies guessing” but then the article introduces you to the man behind the new regulations, Major Ray Ceralde, who has an (apparently well advertised – i.e. he bangs on about it at any opportunity) pizza theory.

“…Specifically, he’s concerned that an upswing in pie “deliveries to a headquarters [could] be an indicator that a major operation is underway” — and therefore be useful to an enemy…”

Yow, you can’t really argue with that eh? The Ars Technica article covers the issue a lot better than I will here, but what I really want to discuss is the realities of enforcing this. As a rule, information wants to be free, and there’s enough free hosting blog spaces online which, in conjunction with the right anonymizer and proxies to route through, will allow you to post what you want, from where you want. Who, as a commander, is going to take the risk of authorizing a post anyway? From what we’ve seen over the last few days on Digg around the HD-DVD Linux key, it’s nigh impossible to put the geni back in the bottle once the blogosphere has got hold of it. The Digg staff made a good point, they were taking down stories because they were required to, and then – under the pressure of thousands of voices, they’ve stated that hey, there’s not a lot the community owner can do if the community members wants certain information to be available.
More on this later I think… time to go pickup the boys for rugby practice

I’ve been Social Networking with Laurel Papworth

Wow, and ouch – my brain is full… I’ve just spent the last 2 days with Laurel Papworth, University of Sydney lecturer, and online communities consultant. She’s been over this side of the Tasman to chatting about the opportunities and futures in the online communities space, specifically around the social networking area.

Without sounding too much like a gushing fan-boy (too late?) I must say I was thoroughly impressed with Laurels depth and breadth of knowledge, couple that with her ability to go off on interesting tangents in our discussions (and the fact that she plays WoW), and she fitted right in to the team!

On a personal note, as you may have gathered from the recent flurry of activity on this blog, I’m going to try (once again – I know) to be a little more disciplined with keeping posts rolling over. No one likes a stale site, and to be honest, since I’m using a straight RSS feed to syndicate this content, I’m not entirely sure if anyone is even bothering to visit or subscribe anymore… Sigh, all these little pearls of wisdom may well be decaying out there in the digital ether… it’s all a bit sad really!

But, I can rejoice in the knowledge that ‘Brand Rob’ isn’t subjected to the same scrutiny as most corporate communications, and I can bask in the refreshing reality of being able to express my own opinions and thoughts without adversely affecting my share value. Of course the share price of ‘Brand Rob’ tends to only affect my major stockholder, who initiated her friendly takeover 4 years ago this coming Thursday (awwwww <wink>).

Starting a Second Life

Eeesh – I signed up for a ‘Second Life’ account today – I’m not convinced about how much time I’ll spend on it, given the time investment I’m already giving the World of Warcraft (Ding L65 today!).

Anyway, it fits in nicely with the social networking research that I’m doing at work so – we’ll see how it goes.

The registration isn’t too hard, a 30Mb download for the client and we should be underway… of course, I’m just going to have time to do the client download and no time for the initial ‘orientation’ as work is getting in the way so /sigh… meh.

Second Life Error Message
PMSL – What a great start! At work I’m running Vista on a fairly grunty box attached to our lab network, yet this is my first experience of Second Life… for the record, my graphics card on this PC is an NVIDIA GeForce 6800 series, so it’s no small fry!

Checking out the support section of the website, I’m told (in bold no less) that “Second Life does NOT currently support Windows Vista” so, I guess that is that… You’d think that with a Beta programme as long as Vistas was, their developers whould have ensured that their product would work once the new Operating System was released!

One of my collegues is currently on the phone to our Corporate Hellpdesk to see if they will allow us to install on our corporate machines (instead of the Lab) – we figure we may have a chance given that there’s a few corporates out there already out there who are getting into the virtual world… </holding breath>

Update: 14:29

Potentially – the latest drivers for Vista might fix the problem, so 67Mb is coming down the pipe… 100Mb to view a virtual world.

Update: 14:50

Right – the updated drivers appear to work and I’m currently working through the training in how to use the world. First impressions, I’m somewhat underwhelmed – the graphics seem blocky and basic, the lag is definatly noticible, the learning curve for anything over and above moving and simple chat is steep and the requirement to interact is… well, limited – perhaps it’ll grow on me, but I’m certainly not planning to rush back to SL to meet up with my new friends…

The Boss(es Boss) is Blogging!

Hurrah, welcome to the blogosphere Miki Szikszai!

We’ve been discussing internal communications within our team for some time now, and recently had an offsite at which our profile was hotly debated. Blogging was one of the ways we identified we could raise our profiles internally and (where appropriate) externally.

So, at some stage last week, Miki set himself up on blogspot and you can visit his blog here (it’ll also sit in my blogroll links). I see this as a positive move and hope that it might start the ball rolling to entice others higher up the tree to also start blogging too.

Continue reading “The Boss(es Boss) is Blogging!”

WoW – The MMOGs are taking over!

The boss found this great site last week – makes for some pretty scary/impressive reading!

The website started out as a bit of a personal interest research into Massivly Multiplayer Online Gaming (MMOGs) and, while still not a commercial undertaking, the site has gained quite a following – to the extent that some of the game publishers are sending this guy their ‘actual’ numbers (read into that what you will fudge factor )

Continue reading “WoW – The MMOGs are taking over!”