Second Life and the World's Worst Children's Book

The rabbits aren't dead, they're sleeping. They simply can never wake up.

Virtual rabbits across Second Life will fall asleep on Saturday then never wake up, now that the their digital food supply has been shut down by a legal battle. The player-made and player-sold Ozimals brand of digirabbits are virtual pets that players breed and care for in the sandbox MMO, and even need to feed by buying DRM-protected virtual food. But they rely on servers. Waypoint reported earlier today that the seller of Ozimals and the Pufflings virtuabirds has received a legal threat he says he cannot afford to fight, so they've shut down. By Saturday, rabbits will run out of food and enter hibernation.

The rabbits aren't dead, they're sleeping. They simply can never wake up.

[...] At least the Ozimals' birdy cousins, the Pufflings, had a swift death. They shut down instantly on Wednesday when the servers went down, while rabbits hold on with the food in their cyberbellies.

Ozimals did give rabbit owners a brief chance to save their rabbits. Before shutting down, they gave away items which make rabbits not need food -- and leaves them sterile. Some rabbits will live on forever, the last of their kind. If you wish that fate upon your rabbit, apparently some kindly players have a stash you're welcome to.

Your DRM-addicted pet bunny can be like Cancer Puppy from The Magicians! It can spent eternity with its viscera riddled through with botnets and blockchains!

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DNA Lounge: Wherein the parklet has returned!

Just about a year after we were forced to take it out, the parklet is back! We re-installed it today. And there was much rejoicing.

This is what the parklet looked like sitting on the shelf in our baker's warehouse for the last year.
There's a little more work to do. It's not as stable as I would like, but we will be reinforcing it in the next few days. So no moshing in the parklet until then, ok?

This work was made possible by the contribution of an extremely generous donor who wrote me last week and said, "The comments on your blog post don't really scream, 'I wanna buy you a parklet'. Can I join in that solo and ask 'Can I buy you a parklet?'

Which was kind of amazing!

I hadn't really reached out asking for donations specifically for the parklet, because I wasn't sure it was our highest priority, but when someone says "here's some money, spend it on the parklet", I say "Ok!"

We've also ordered some new stools for it. They should be here in a week or two.

Now we have to figure out if SFMTA is going to reinstall our bike racks, or if we're doing that ourselves...

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I got your "Sanctification Rod" right here:

Russian Orthodox cleric summoned to spritz computers with holy water to fight ransomware:

Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church is a powerful reactionary figure in the country's toxic political scene, which has welded a tale of thwarted imperial destiny to a thin-skinned fundamentalist theology that can't bear the slightest sign of mockery; he's blamed ISIS on secularism and Pride parades and says that marriage equality literally heralds the imminent apocalypse.

So there's a lot of context behind this photo of Kirill spraying holy water on sensitive Russian government computer systems to fight the Wcry ransomware worm [...] the real nexus of this photo is the government official with the "you've got to be kidding me" expression, who exists in a power-structure that requires solemn professions of belief in this powerful weirdo's dumb rituals.

Patriarch Daniel:

The leader of Romania's Orthodox church has been mocked for using a paint-roller dipped in holy oil to bless new TV and radio studios, it's been reported.

A church spokesman later told Adevarul that it's not the first time Patriarch Daniel had used the "sanctification rod", one of a number of tools of his trade, as it helps anoint rooms with higher walls and ceilings which would otherwise be difficult to reach.

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Please insert next floppy

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MP3 is finally free

"MP3 is dead" missed the real, much better story:

If you read the news, you may think the MP3 file format was recently officially "killed" somehow, and any remaining MP3 holdouts should all move to AAC now. These are all simple rewrites of Fraunhofer IIS' announcement that they're terminating the MP3 patent-licensing program. [...]

MP3 is no less alive now than it was last month or will be next year -- the last known MP3 patents have simply expired. [...]

MP3 is very old, but it's the same age as JPEG, which has also long since been surpassed in quality by newer formats. JPEG is still ubiquitous not because Engadget forgot to declare its death, but because it's good enough and supported everywhere, making it the most pragmatic choice most of the time.

AAC and other newer audio codecs can produce better quality than MP3, but the difference is only significant at low bitrates. At about 128 kbps or greater, the differences between MP3 and other codecs are very unlikely to be noticed, so it isn't meaningfully better for personal music collections. For new music, get AAC if you want, but it's not worth spending any time replacing MP3s you already have. [...]

Until a few weeks ago, there had never been an audio format that was small enough to be practical, widely supported, and had no patent restrictions, forcing difficult choices and needless friction upon the computing world. Now, at least for audio, that friction has officially ended. There's finally a great choice without asterisks.

MP3 is supported by everything, everywhere, and is now patent-free. There has never been another audio format as widely supported as MP3, it's good enough for almost anything, and now, over twenty years since it took the world by storm, it's finally free.

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Emoluments Welcome


Robin Bell said he kicked off the colorful display from a van parked across the street around 9:15 p.m. Monday.

It lasted 10 minutes before a security guard for the Old Post Office stood in front of the projector, blocking its feed.

"We had a couple great moments. A tour bus pulled up, people started clapping and taking photos," Bell told the Daily News. "Everyone on the street, except for the security guard, seemed really happy."

I was only able to find this one looping, blurry 6 second video clip.

Also, sick burn:

When the World Is Led by a Child

But Trump seems to have not yet developed a theory of mind. Other people are black boxes that supply either affirmation or disapproval. As a result, he is weirdly transparent. He wants people to love him, so he is constantly telling interviewers that he is widely loved. [...] Trump's statements don't necessarily come from anywhere, lead anywhere or have a permanent reality beyond his wish to be liked at any given instant.

We've got this perverse situation in which the vast analytic powers of the entire world are being spent trying to understand a guy whose thoughts are often just six fireflies beeping randomly in a jar.

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Hacking Couture

John Waters:

"When I was young there were beatniks. Hippies. Punks. Gangsters. Now you're a hacktivist. Which I would probably be if I were 20. Shuttin' down MasterCard," says Waters, 65. "But there's no look to that lifestyle! Besides just wearing a bad outfit with bad posture. Has WikiLeaks caused a look? No! If your kid comes out of the bedroom and says he just shut down the government, it seems to me he should at least have an outfit for that. Get a look!"

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The Aestivation Hypothesis for resolving Fermi's Paradox

That is not dead which can eternal lie:

If a civilization wants to maximize computation it appears rational to aestivate until the far future in order to exploit the low temperature en- vironment: this can produce a 1030 multiplier of achievable computation. We hence suggest the "aestivation hypothesis": the reason we are not observing manifestations of alien civilizations is that they are currently (mostly) inactive, patiently waiting for future cosmic eras. This paper analyzes the assumptions going into the hypothesis and how physical law and observational evidence constrain the motivations of aliens compatible with the hypothesis. [...]

As the universe cools down, one Joule of energy is worth proportionally more. This can be a substantial (1030) gain. Hence a civilization desiring to maximize the amount of computation will want to use its energy endowment as late as possible: using it now means far less total computation can be done. Hence an early civilization, after expanding to gain access to enough raw materials, will settle down and wait until it becomes rational to use the resources. We are not observing any aliens since the initial expansion phase is brief and intermittent and the aestivating civilization and its infrastructure is also largely passive and compact. [...]

As noted by Gershenfeld, optimal computation needs to make sure all internal states are close to the most probable state of the system, since otherwise there will be extra dissipation. Hence there is a good reason to perform operations slowly. Fortunately, time is an abundant resource in the far future. In addition, a civilization whose subjective time is proportional to the computation rate will not internally experience the slowdown.

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