Five reasons why Second Life is shit

1. There’s no point to it.

World of Warcraft and other online games and spaces have a point – make friends, complete quests, shoot people, etc. Second Life is like when you were 14, hanging around outside Doncaster Shoppingtown with no money, window shopping. Without Linden Dollars, you ain’t shit.

2. It’s becoming an amateur catalogue of bad advertisements.

When there’s no point but to look around, then you need something to see. Companies aren’t embracing it as a genuine “third place”, they’re simply turning it onto a showroom – look at Toyota et al. TEST DRIVE HERE!

3. Visually, it’s not very good.

It looks like those bad “virtual reality” prototypes from the late 80s, except not 3D. Graphically, it leaves a LOT to be desired.

4. LAG!

Not only are the graphics second rate, but the nature of the “download to watch” means it is bandwidth hungry. I’ve got a whopping ADSL2+ connection but it’s still very laggy.

5. There’s bugger all people on it.

That 2,000,000 people are on it is a furphy. I’ve never seen more than 10 people in any one spot, and that was a very busy area. World of Warcraft and America’s Army has immense areas filled with people. That’s ultimately what these online areas are about about – social interaction. WoW and AA have multiple means of communication – whispers, chats, group chats, party chats. Second Life isn’t about sharing. It isn’t about shared experiences. It isn’t about achievment with colleagues – no matter how nerdy those achievements might be!

It’s a shame because I think conceptually, it could be very, very cool. But right now it’s not.

US Deaths in Iraq

Interesting statistics regardless of where you stand on the issue of the
U.S. involvement in Iraq – here’s a sobering statistic:

There has been a monthly average of 160,000 troops in the Iraq theatre of
operations during the last 22 months and a total of 2,867 deaths.

That gives a firearm death rate of 60 per 100,000 soldiers.

The firearm death rate in Washington D.C. is 80.6 per 100,000 persons
for the same period. That means that you are about 25% more likely to
be shot and killed in the U.S. Capital than you are in Iraq.

Conclusion: The U.S. should pull out of Washington and move to Iraq.

The new AFL site is utterly dreadful

The new AFL site has just come online. Sorry, the BETA site, from the little sign they’ve got on the top, has gone online.

Unlike most over BETA sites though, this one isn’t off the main site, for use in testing, it’s the REAL DEAL! So it’s not BETA, it’s the RELEASE site. We don’t have the option of going back to the main AFL site if we are having troubles, that’s it.

The new site uses flash modules and info to display information, much of which is totally superfluous. We’ve got a whopping big graphic in the middle of the page, news way out of the way, TINY litle mini thumbnails of the club logos and the most dreadful, illegible match preview module I’ve ever seen. No details of upcoming matches, no times, no dates, no nothing. It’s a bloody shoddy first draft of a site at best. And even then, the user experience is really bad – hard to build a good design on top of a bad skeleton.

Telstra, SPIN Communications, CFour and the AFL should be ashamed of themselves for letting this shite get through to the public. A lot of work to go before this is even presentable.

Westpac have created the worst bank ad of all time

There’s an ad on TV (or at least it was on TV) which is absolutely infuriating and appaling. It shows emotive footage of pollution, small seabirds covered in oil, burning refineries, clouds of smoke, barren landscapes and then has a text caption: “Some of the biggest problems in the world today were financed by banks”, and then goes on to say, in essence that banks are evil – except for Westpac. This utterly shit, cheap thinking is so bad, that I can’t help but think that the marketing leads and agency should be dismissed. It shows gross incompetence and worse.

Westpac makes so much of it’s corporate reputation, and yet damages in entire image of the banking industry by basically legitimising the rubbish hurled at banks by the most uninformed. Furthermore, it builds Westpac up as a target for future backlash WHEN (not if) one of the millions of projects that Westpac funds has some environmental or social issue attached.

Obviously some goose at an ad agency came up with the concept and the CMO has approved it with absolutely no foresight into the unsustainable and quite frankly stupid messages this ad sends in the broader context of social and public affairs. Who was the planner on this garbarge? a 16 year old Greens wannabe? How on earth did the CMO think it would be a good idea?

What’s worse – instead of focussing on the products at hand, the methodology with which Westpac is going about improving the environment or their lending process, it simply goes the emotion angle. It highlights the negative with emotion, rather than building up the positive – that banks are in a position to enforce greater transparency and accountability of projects it funds. This negative emotion hurts the bank and worryingly, it also hurts the credibility of all banks and financial institutions.

Westpac, you should be ashamed of yourselves.

I loathe LED / fluorescent lighting

Since the sun was formed in a mass of burning gases in a grand galatical ballet, burning gases or burning elements have provided all of our light. Whether natural light or man made, we’ve had a particular natural wavelength that has defined our illumination. But of course some unimaginative politicans want to take that away and replace it with an artificial glow from a plastic strobe.

Quite frankly, Malcolm Turnbull can get stuffed! If I want to buy a traditional, warm, lightbulb, I should be able to buy one! But Malcolm and co want to BAN THE BULB?

What is the world coming to? Australia is now going to be bathed in artificial, flickering, hard on the eye, flourescent/LED bulbs. This is something I would have expected from the ALP, not the bloody LIBERAL Party. When Latham decided he was going to ban plastic bags, John Howard called him “Mandatory Mark”. What’s the difference?

If I were to decide to sell traditional light bulbs, I would be a criminal on par with someone who sells weed? WTF?

Apart from the obvious – that it is a slap in the face of personal freedom, what about the increase in headaches, in sore eyes, in people being effected by flourescence? And aesthetically, please don’t tell me “nu-breed” lights look anywhere near as nice as traditional “burning filament” lights?

This environmental push is bullshit. All in the name of the next Killer Bees/Yellow Peril/SARS/Y2K Bug, we have to compromise our personal freedoms. What a joke.

“Another Budget Airline?”

There is talk low cost carrier Tiger Air, a joint venture between Singapore Airlines and Ryanair, will be coming to Australia soon.

The Age has a poll on it’s website asking: “Do we need another budget airline?”. I laugh at the word “another”. We don’t have one in the first place in Australia. Jetstar and Virgin Blue are NOT low-cost/budget airlines, they simply have a “budget” moniker which means they save on serving food, but they still charge huge money for flights.

Budget is not $200 inc taxes for Melbourne-Sydney return. Budget is $80 inc taxes Melbourne-Sydney return, or even less, which is what I paid for a London-Amsterdam and London-Copenhagen return a year or two ago.

I would welcome a genuine low-cost carrier with open arms and a big hug.

Jobs’s Volte Face on Music?

Steve Jobs, guru extraordinaire of Apple Computer, has published a very interesting essay on the Apple website entitled “Thoughts on Music”.

It describes how he has always only ever wanted DRM-free music, however the record companies have forced his hand and made him adopt a DRM system which locks people out of transferring music. It has caused some controversy, but mainly a very impressive show of liberal ideology, corporate transparency and understanding by the CEO of this global leader in technology and entertainment.

I would have preferred that he called the essay, “On Music”, which would have been a sexy little homage to John Stuart Mill’s “On Liberty“, which was of course one of pioneer theses in liberty and freedom.

Eat Your Greens – The truth behind “fair trade” and “ethically sourced” goods.

Although I’m only about two months late in reporting it, The Economist has done it again with a wonderful piece on buying “Fairtrade”, “ethically sourced” and “local” foods.

The main premise of the article is:

The aims of much of the ethical-food movement – to protect the environment, to encourage development and to redress the distortions in global trade – are admirable. The problems lie in the means, not the ends. No amount of Fairtrade coffee will eliminate poverty, and all the organic asparagus in the world will not save the planet. Some of the stuff sold under an ethical label may even leave the world in a worse state and its poor farmers poorer than they otherwise would be.

If farmers aren’t getting enough for their produce, then it’s mainly due to oversupply – they shouldn’t be artificially encouraged to produce it by being paid more – and by paying more, well meaning Westerners are actually subsidising their retailer rather than the farmers in any case.

If goods are being transported by truck in a piecemeal fashion from small farm to small retailer – then what impact do those logistical “food miles” have on global warming? Large supermarkets have the most efficient and environmentally friendly means of transporting goods (ie: in a large scale, in large semi-trailers, in large warehouses, to large retail outlets). These large scale deployments seek to lower cost, thereby lowering the energy usage and environmentakl footprint.

U2’s business practices

For many, many years we have admired U2’s business practices. This band has succeeded in not only writing and recording multi-million selling albums and lucrative world tours, but their ability to create corporate structures which allow them stable and quality income streams which can even out the rollercoaster ride which is typical in the music industry.

Today, we read a very interesting Bloomberg analysis of U2’s business operations.

It’s a really good read, but the point is, it outlines that the reality of U2/Bono’s private personae is far different to the pro-charity public face. It’s well and good for him to be asking Peter Costello to give more of Australia’s tax money to charity, but Bono himself minimises paying taxes in Ireland. It’s well and good for Bono to be talking about giving money to the poor, but Bono himself doesn’t have any significant record of donations. Funnily enough, in terms of promoting the welfare of the underprivileged, U2 never paid a cent to the 400 or so extras which spent a gruelling 12 hours shooting the new U2 film clip at the Corner Hotel in Richmond during their recent Vertigo Tour. The best Bono could do is, once filming had finished, yell: “You deserve a couple of beers” and shouted the bar. As Andrew Bolt wrote: “Want to save the world? Yes, yes! Want to pay for it? No, no!

This is the same U2 that sued the PRS in the UK in 1994 in an effort to gain a greater share of publishing royalties and the right to negotiate their own performance licences – getting 80% of the fee from a gig and leaving the remaining 20% to support acts (rather than the 50/50 split which preceded it. That they brought legal action against the PRS to remove themselves from a collectivist organisation is the ultimate in business freedom; their stance should be admired by free thinking people around the world. But how this contrasts with the left’s obsession and heritage in collectivist thought is humerous, to say the least.

U2’s tactics are totally justified in that they are able to do it – they look after their own interests, ensure their talent and work is rewarded sufficiently and well done to them for doing so. They have the power, cache and talent to demand such mechanisms and they are rewarded for it.

But for Bono to claim that others aren’t doing enough for the poor or that countries like Australia and the US should give more taxpayer money to charity reeks of the highest hypocrisy. Again, they should be admired and congraulated for their global capitalism – it has created jobs, wealth and has brought joy to the lives of literally millions. But it is equally as wrong for them to use their position of power to then espouse a philosophy at diametric odds with their own personal actions.

It’s not to say their capitalist behaviour is in general at odds with kindness and charity. Not all all. Personal contributions and donations are a complementary factor of personal freedom and self-interest. If I make money, I should have the right to decide where it goes to and how much should go. It is, however, the notion that a central, collectivist organisation such as a Government (or for that matter a copyright collection agency) should decide and distribute a donation on my behalf which is highly disturbing. It is that element of Bono’s stance which is illogical and downright rude.