Posts Tagged ‘Real Life’

Online Privacy And Why It’s Important

There’s been a lot of talk recently about online security and privacy, particularly directed at Blizzard. Although these issues affect every MMORPG, World of Warcraft is the most popular and thus most susceptible to the issues of account hacking and our rights of privacy.

Body Scanners - The new WoW Authenicator

Body Scanners - The new WoW Authenicator

Although WoW account hacking seems to be on the rise, it’s a minor concern to me and one I’m not actually that bothered about it. At the end of the day, the principle of hacking relies on security flaws in a system or how educated the user is in avoiding scams and attempts to get them to willingly reveal their password. Both of these things can be dealt with and don’t seem to lead to any deep moral quandaries. My real concern, however, is our privacy.

As you probably know, Blizzard recently made their WoW Armory feeds public. This means that anyone and everyone can view a list of your in-game achievements and accomplishments. Big whoop, right? Not quite. This apparently innocent feature has caused quite a storm and lead many to deride Blizzard for invading our personal privacy.

The scariest thing to me though is how the act itself is indicative of a lack of responsibility by those we should be trusting. We are entering a world in which everything we do is monitored and logged and we have to trust companies to be responsible with our information.

Let me explain. As a web programmer, I know a fair bit about the workings on the Internet and here a few tidbits of information that may shock you (although they’re probably/should be common knowledge).

  • Everything you do online is logged by your ISP. They keep logs of all of your incoming and outgoing traffic as well as a history of every website you visit.
  • Your ISP can monitor and read the emails you send.
  • Your email hosting company logs emails received and can read them.
  • Depending on the country you live in, websites you visit are first matched against a blacklist of sites before providing you access. The number of attempts to access the site are logged along with possibly even your IP address.

Pretty freaky, right?

Now, it may seen innocent enough when Blizzard are revealing your WoW activities to the general public but what if your ISP decided to create a publicly viewable RSS feed of every website you visit? How would you feel about that? Or what if they just decided to start checking your emails and posting them online? It doesn’t seem that unlikely consider Google already scan the content of your GMail emails in order to generate specifically targeted ads and British ISPs have come under fire for trying to implement behavioral targeting services based on your Internet activies.

This is the classic argument of “don’t reveal my private information” vs “if you don’t have anything to hide, why do you care”. Fact is, I know that my activities and information are tracked online and it doesn’t bother me. That’s not my issue. My issue is that it should my choice as to whether or not it’s revealed.

This issue with the WoW Armory reminds me a lot of the Facebook scandal last year when they decided to make everyone’s profiles publicly searchable. These matters boil down to trust between the user and the facilitator and, frankly, companies need to behave in a responsible manner if they’re going to hold on to personal and private information about us all.

P.S. Even your cell phone text messages are logged and stored for several weeks by your provider. Creepy stuff.


I’m A Swedish Hero

I’ve always considered myself the heroic type (I once thought about joining the Army but then dismissed it because it might be dangerous and require physical exertion) but it’s never been confirmed before. Until today.

I received an email from the Swedish Government stating that they consider me a hero to their people and an inspiration to both young and old people alike. There was a press conference earlier today and then parades in the streets of Stockholm. Shucks.

Just a shame they picked such an unflattering photo of me but I guess it was all they had to hand.

Still don’t believe me? The entire thing was broadcast on TV. Takes a moment to load but well worth it.

I guess this means I’ll be getting fan mail from Petter over at Don’t Fear the Mutant for some time to come.

P.S. If you want to make your own heroic movie to impress your friends and family with whilst boosting your ego at the same time, head over to http://en.tackfilm.se/.


Engaging With The Internet Can Be Hazardous For Your Health

2010 seems to have kicked off with a bit of a blogging bang (and not in a good way). Not only did I manage to cause a bit of a shit-storm myself (which in retrospect was a little bit akin to a 10 year old hitting a hornet’s nest with a baseball bat and then crying when he got stun) but then Matt (from World of Matticus) revealed that he got shafted over by Blizzard, an event only to be followed quickly by the ol’ chestnut that is the Tobold vs Syncaine rivalry (to put it politely). Fortunately the latter has come to a close and everything seems to be returning to a sense of normality in the world of the Interweb. Perhaps.

Beware of the Internet!

Beware of the Internet!

I was just starting to relax again when I was cruising around the cyber streets of Netville and I found some rather impolite feedback to a comment I had posted on a blog the other day. It was very mild really and didn’t offend me but it did make me wonder what the heck is happening to the Internet. It seems like as it’s growing it’s becoming an ever more hostile environment absolutely lacking in any restraint whatsoever. Or maybe it’s just that I’m noticing it more for the first time. Or maybe we’re just becoming more thin-skinned to abrupt feedback. Or maybe I’m just developing a new found knack for pissing people off.

I can honestly say that I’ve barely written anything, anywhere that I wouldn’t say to someone’s face in real life. Of course, in real life I can inject humour or sarcasm or subtly into my tone making it apparent what I mean and how I mean it and I can’t do that on the Internet. I have to rely on you guessing how I mean something and that doesn’t work very well.

I’m far from perfect but still, I don’t think I’ve ever just blatantly called someone an idiot or a dick (or worse) on a forum or in a game over something they said. I don’t think that way and I tend to not get emotional about people’s personal opinions. Yet this type of thing happens a lot on the ‘net and I can’t decide if people honestly think and behave that way in real life or if they only do it because of the protection that the anonymity of the Internet provides.

Either way, the Interweb seems to be a pretty strange place to reside these days and whether it’s in blogs, forums or within our favourite MMORPG, there always seem to be some drama going on, always, without any exception, over something incredibly petty. And if don’t think these cyber arguments are petty, I’d recommend you buy a ticket to the sunny destination of Haiti. I believe it’s selling a discounted lifetime subscription to something called perspective.


Dealing With Controversy

Anyone who knows me in real life will tell you that I’m a likeable and agreeable chap, usually very mild mannered and polite. However, I seem to have a knack for occasionally writing blog posts that create a bit of a controversy. It’s been a while since it happened last but yesterday Matt over at World of Matticus kindly posted a guest article of mine entitled “Tanks And Healers Should Get The Biggest Rewards” (note to self: remember to phrase articles as questions instead of statements in order to lessen the backlash) and it seemed to cause a bit of a ruckus.

Although the majority of the comments were very interesting, insightful and rational, a few were less so and openly expressed their outrage at the article. The result was a bit of a shit storm that would’ve led anyone to believe that I had written an article about denying the Holocaust or how to drop kick a baby.

Of course my intention (and certainly Matt’s or he wouldn’t have published it) was not to cause controversy but rather to open the floor for an interesting conversation and debate. I was rather surprised at the backslash although given all of my years on the Internet I suppose I really shouldn’t have been. As Matt very wisely pointed out in one of his comments, some people read articles and have a neutral attitude towards it whilst others become extremely energised… and due to the wide audience of Matt’s, there were a fair few of the latter.

I can honestly say that I never purposefully write for controversy as it’s just not in my nature. Althought some bloggers, such as Gevlon, thrive on it and the old adage “any publicity is good publicity”, I don’t. I worry too much about offending people and being seen as a dick to volunteer myself for the usual feedback that such articles generate. I write because I love writing and sometimes my thoughts or style are more edgy than others. However, if you are wondering about the publicity side of this post, I’m happy to share with you that Matt’s link through to my site generated a grand total of 67 visits over the course of two days. I guess I can cancel that server upgrade :)

Even though Matt has probably banned me from ever guesting on World of Matticus again ;) , I at least feel good that I wrote an article that I think is well-written, well-constructed and elicited some excellent responses. My opinions are not carved in stone and I believe in growing, learning and changing and I enjoy nothing more than getting great feedback from a host of different perspectives. In an essence, it’s why I blog. The responses to my post at WoM may have been strong but they certainly gave me something to think about and reflect on which was the entire point.

I’ve gambled on articles in the past and some have generated very positive feedback and some very negative. A few months ago I wrote a post comparing MMORPGs to women and I was sure I would be crucified for it. But I wasn’t. In fact, folk loved it. You just can never tell how people will react.

At the end of the day, blogging is a media for expressing opinion and discussing topics. Sometimes you have to push boundaries to explore topics, just like any good art form. As I said over on Angry Healers (apt name), if every article on every blog was just a positive reinforcement of what we already know and think then they really wouldn’t be worth reading would they :)

So do you think this article was too controversial and was it a mistake to publish? Should we take risks and write about topics or in styles that may provoke emotions to run high? I would love to hear your feedback and thoughts on controversial articles in general.

P.S. Thanks to Professor Beej for his encouraging tweet saying how much he liked the article! It really made me feel good knowing you appreciated it, Beej. Cheers, buddy.


My Goals For Age 28

Ding! Today I turn 28 years old. Having a birthday so close to the New Year is a double edged sword. It’s good in the sense that I have a solid two weeks of gifts and celebrations from Christmas until now but it sucks in the sense that I don’t have anything to look forward to for the rest of the year.

Turning 28 has given me moment to pause and look at what I want to accomplish before I hit 29. Here are my personal goals for the nex year of my life (in no particular order):

  • Be a better husband.
  • Learn Hiragana and Katakana script and 250 Kanji symbols.
  • Implement another design upgrade on the blog by April 1st.
  • Read 10 books (I’m a sloooow reader).
  • Come 2011, I will be able to hold a full, basic conversation in Japanese.
  • Hit 2,000 RSS subscribers (spread the word! :) ).
  • Write two short stories/manuscripts.
  • Play less but more quality games.
  • Overcome my inane OCD and be able to leave the house without checking the door is locked 274 times.

Some are obviously harder to achieve than others but I want to give it all a shot. Honestly, I feel a little strange about not only revealing my personal life goals to everyone but also about writing them down. I guess it’s a commitment thing. However, by putting these down in black and white (or in this case, 1s and 0s), I’m setting myself up a challenge.

It’s good to have things to aspire to. What are your goals for the next year of your life?


One Year Of We Fly Spitfires

Not only is today Christmas Day but it also marks the first anniversary of this blog. Crazy huh? I can’t quite believe it’s been one year since I started it, it’s just passed so quickly, nor can I quite believe how popular it’s become! When I first started writing I thought I’d be lucky to get a handful of visits and now I’m getting hundreds, sometimes thousands, every day. I’m incredibly thrilled that people seem to be genuinely interested in what I have to say and, as a blogger, it’s very rewarding to get such excellent feedback and comments from so many people.I’d like to take this opportunity to say a huge thanks to everyone who reads We Fly Spitfires and takes the time to comment here. A blog is nothing without an interactive audience  and your feedback and comments have not only spurred me on when I needed it but helped me gain understanding and insight into such a fascinating and deep gaming genre.

Since today marks the first birthday of We Fly Spitfires, I’d like to highlight some of my most favourite articles, ones that I’ve got a true kick out of writing and have hopefully given you as much pleasure as they have me:

MMORPGs Are A Lot Like Women
With a shadow of a doubt, this is my most favourite article that I’ve written so far. I was worried that it would be misconstrued as being sexiest or some such when it was released but the feedback was both tremendous and overwhelming. I’m so glad so many people got as much of a laugh out of reading it as I did writing it.

Zombie MMORPG
With a staggering 116 comments, this is the most popular article that I’ve ever written… now I only wish I could actually create the game we were all talking about! I discovered in writing this that people are crying out for something new to hit the genre, something a little different from your standard run of the mill fantasy MMO.

When Did Groups Become PUGs?
My first ever article. It sucks. Don’t read it. But I guess it will always have a place in We Fly Spitfires history.

I Have An Ogre Fetish
The moment when I announced to the world that I had a well-hidden Ogre fetish. The news was surprisingly well received.

The Sting Of Dead
I died for the first time in EVE Online and it inspired this article about using consequences to invoke emotions in our MMORPGs. It wasn’t until I wrote this that I truly started to understand and appreciate the design behind EVE and all of the clever ways that it subtlety affects us.

So there you have a brief selection from some of the articles of We Fly Spitfires Year One. I hope the next 365 days are as fascinating as these last ones have been.

Oh and merry Christmas everyone :)


Need Suggestion For A High-Spec Game

With an imminent desktop upgrade looming, I’m pondering what games I should try out on it. Strangely enough, 2008 was a year for big hitters with heavy requirements that interested me (Age of Conan, Warhammer Online, BioShock, Mass Effect for example) yet 2009 has been relatively mild in comparison. Aion and Champions Online are both quite demanding but neither of them interest me and I haven’t seen many single player games with high system requirements that tickle my fancy either. This year I’ve mainly been playing less demanding games like World of Warcraft, EVE Online and Torchlight so I’d like to try out a game that really shows off my new PC. Anyone got any suggestions?

Of course, I’m tempted to install Age of Conan on the new PC just so I can see the glistening sweat roll off my tubby old bald men characters as I engage in battle, admiring their flab fly as they decapitate someone in full DX10 glory. I know AoC wouldn’t hold my interest for long though and a months subscription plus the pain of a 37 GB install and gigantic patches puts me off.

My system specs will be decent but not massively over the top (I’m not one of those guys who buys the latest CPUs and overclocks them just to squeeze out another 2fps in my games). I’m looking at an Intel i5-750 CPU, 4GB 1666MHz RAM, GeForce GTX 275, Asus P7P55D motherboard and Windows 7 64-bit. This is a significant enough upgrade over my old, and now dead, desktop and although I’m not expecting miracles, I’d like to see what it can do.

I’m considering trying out Champions Online as it’s an MMO that I think could be quite fun and demanding enough to give me a little thrill, y’know, down there when I see it run. WoW is fun ‘n all but it doesn’t quite provide the ga-ga factor that the more bueatiful games out there do.

2010 looks pretty slick in the games department though so maybe I should just hang in there and wait for the likes of Star Trek Online, Global Agenda, Mass Effect 2 and BioShock 2, all of which will be able to utilise my PC far more than WoW and EVE. But if you do have any suggestions for a good game, single player or MMO, that will show off a new computer though then please let me know. I have some ladies to impress. And by ladies, I mean guys. And by impress, I mean mildly bore as I geek out to the max.