March 16th, 2011


Zue and RedZone Gone?

As many of you know, the RedZone debate continues, especially in light of the hacking of zFire's master database and the revelations that he's been telling a lot of lies and tall tales (namely, yes, he could enter people into the database by hand, etc. - see this post).

The latest news is that zFire, his partner, and RedZone are gone from Second Life.

I have been watching this entire privacy debate go on and have one thing to say: It isn't the fact that software like this records your IP address - every site on the Internet does that - it is what they were doing with these IPs that became the problem. They were using them to pair up accounts which may or may not have been alts of each other and using this information without the account owners' consent.

Red flags waved high in the air when it was alleged that zFire was planning to release information to his girlfriend, as well as storing entered and mis-typed passwords that his customers used to access his website for the possibility of hacking into the customer's SL accounts.

The latest to come out is information from zFire's background indicating that he is a convicted criminal. His charges stem from fraudulent dealings on Ebay (see this SLU post for more information). This is something he was sent to prison for, and is still on parole for.

After watching all this information come out, and watching the pieces fall into place, I have been led to the conclusion that Mr. Prime, aka zFire Xue, was intelligent and crafty enough to use his computer skills to whip up yet another scam, this one preying upon SL merchant fears of copybotting. Perhaps he had a slightly altruistic attitude when he started, but by now, it's obvious he intended to data mine and use what he found to benefit himself, in what would likely be yet another illegal manner.

At the very least, he made it clear he intended to attempt to break into people's SL accounts which, by itself, is an illegal activity. What he planned to do from that point would've likely resulted in more illegal activity.

Mr. Prime, didn't you learn ANYTHING from your time behind bars, or are you so much of a sociopath that you are incapable of amending your ways?

I don't feel the least bit sorry for the people that I've dealt with personally, and that others have dealt with, who stood by this man and defended his software to the bitter end. Many of you had your SL password "mined" and could have been a victim. Maybe what you can learn from this is not to let fear of IP theft drive you to extreme preventative measures - especially when those measures are so easily defeated. That fear made you stupid this time. Next time, familiarize yourself with the DMCA process, and should your content BE stolen, follow that process instead.

There will always be thieves, and they will always find ways around the most altruistic and best-written code. That's why we have laws to deal with it. Stop wasting your money and running around in fear. Stop threatening the privacy of others just to give yourself a false sense of security.

Dear AT&T

AT&T Puts Broadband Users on Monthly Allowance

Dear AT&T,

I am one of those people who live in the rural neighborhoods of the Southern California high desert above Los Angeles. You are the only available internet provider, outside of satellite (which sucks).

You have no competition here, and there are many other such places where you're the sole internet service provider.

I think it is both preposterous and greedy of you to suddenly decide to cap our internet usage, especially (as you'll see in the article) since you don't have a congestion problem justifying it.

Your price for bandwidth continues to fall, and yet, you want to squeeze the last friggin penny out of folks like my roommate and I - two disabled people who spend a lot of time on the internet.

We don't have "traditional" TV. We get our news and entertainment via the internet, via websites and streaming sources. We are low-income so we cannot afford to "go out on the town" if at all. What we find on the internet is our entertainment.

I am an artist, and my pallets are virtual worlds. I regularly spend countless hours logged into one of two 3d Virtual World grids, creating items that I consider to be an expression of art. I also use these venues for much-needed social interaction, and last but not least, I conduct a long-distance relationship via these venues.

Are you going to tell either of us that we'll have to cut off what has become a lifeline to us, just because you want to be greedy?

It also might be an outright contract violation. When I signed up, I signed up for unrestricted internet use. I was not warned, nor given any information, that you planned to install caps. Considering that there is no comparable competition in my area, you may be skirting the law doing so to begin with. We are trapped into using your service because of where we live. That, my dear Corporation, is called entrapment of the worst kind. We have a choice - consider limiting our enjoyment of a service we use extensively, or pay extra we cannot afford.

Since when do you get to determine that for us?

We gave up TV because we can do a better job of picking and choosing our news and entertainment sources via the internet.

I use my time as a creative outlet but it requires I be logged into a service for several hours a day, sometimes up to 16 or more, to create my work. I also run small businesses on these systems that help finance my continuing creativity.

When do YOU get to decide if I can watch a program on Hulu, Netflix, Blockbuster, YouTube many of the other streaming services out there? Why do I have to stop streaming music? What makes YOU think YOU can have that kind of control?

We're already paying a premium to have the highest level of internet you offer, and I'll repeat again, there IS no competition we can alternatively choose from. We don't ABUSE your service, and people like us do NOT cause any sort of internet traffic congestion.

So where the hell do YOU get off? Expect a fight from us little people. After all, we're paying your salaries.

Here we go

I looked and looked and finally found an organization that is fighting these unneeded usage caps:

Stop The Cap!

They have some pretty good data to back up what they're saying.

What really pisses me off about this entire thing is that we have no choice. I checked AT&T's site to see if we can get Uverse or a business account - nope. Neither one is available in my area.

They are essentially penalizing me when I can't even use their stupid TV service.

Thanks - NOT - AT&T!