Archive for August, 2008

How SL Primitives [Really] Work

Here’s a first stab at the missing documentation for LLVolume.cpp — not on a line-by-line basis, because frankly, the code today looks way more complicated than the code I originally wrote. But this should, if I did my job, explain how prims work and what can be done under the hood. It doesn’t cover what could be done with new systems, but I’ll leave that for another day.

This is version 1.0. Comments are welcome, and I can take a 2nd pass at it later.

 

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Just a note on Science

[I debated which blog to post this to and came down on the side of science and technology, though there's certainly a religious and political angle to consider.]

Measles is back. There is no scientific evidence — beyond the ramblings of a few celebrities and anti-science wackjobs — that vaccines cause autism. There is unquestionable evidence that measles causes measles.

Measles is very contagious and potentially deadly. Vaccination does a pretty good job of prevention, although its effectiveness is reduced if other parents decide not to vaccinate their kids and measles becomes more prevalent in your community. There is, unfortunately, no vaccine against stupidity — besides education, that is.

Bottom line: if you choose not to vaccinate your children, you are committing child abuse, against your children and mine, in the same as way parents who let their children die without medical care.

If you are concerned about stories you’ve heard about mercury in MMR vaccines, then demand a vaccine without mercury. Don’t stick your head in the sand.

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Facebook Promotes Identity Theft

Update: Of all the various email aliases I tried at Facebook to get that profile taken down, the one that finally did the trick was to allege a copyright violation over the picture of me that the scammer found (on Flickr). Now I just need to send a small check to the EFF to balance it out.

Here’s the bit of text that I think did the trick:

The picture is definitely of me, and it is unlikely there is another Avi Bar-Zeev in Seattle Washington who might mistake himself for me...

Original:

This post comes as a result of having my identity stolen on Facebook.

Now, you hear about this happening for celebrities quite a bit. But why would anyone want to impersonate me? What could they possibly gain, except some fine fake friends, right?

Well, having a look at the fraudster’s current friends list indicates he’s already sent invitations to people at Microsoft. Perhaps all of them, I can’t tell. Those who friended him back probably know me and were just trying to be nice. And as result, the fraudster now has some idea who I know at Microsoft, or who the other targets know, which could be telling.

Ironically, Microsoft folks are so friendly in general, so many of them friended ‘me’ without ever having met me (some just saw a division-wide "welcome" email about me) that the usefulness of that list is diminished. But the potential exists for the criminal to email them from his faked account to obtain additional information about me or them, or at the very least violate their privacy by bypassing their "friends-only" controls. But more likely, the scammer will eventually put up some phishing attacks.

This is a major design flaw with Facebook, and a potential liability, IMO (note: I am not a lawyer).

Why?

Facebook has active controls to prevent you from changing your name to something they don’t like, but nothing to prevent you from stealing someone’s name in the first place. It has a place to report a copyright violation — god forbid anyone should use a stolen photo. But I couldn’t find a single link to report that an entire profile’s identity was falsely claimed or in violation of the terms of service in any way, nor do I see any attempt to resolve such issues thus far. I’ve emailed what I can only guess are the appropriate links and contact forms.

And if this exploit works in general, as it definitely seems to do, there’s nothing to stop someone from creating a false profile to parallel anyone’s real profile and inviting co-workers who might never do a search to see there are two profiles with identical names. It’s an open hole that Facebook seems to do nothing to fix. And that is why they are liable, IMO. (again IANAL).

Bottom line: if you received any email from my apparent Facebook account or from bar_zeev@live.com (the apparent account used to sign up), please report it to the abuse areas on Facebook or Live, if you can find them…

BTW, I use only one social network, LinkedIn, and there’s no way in hell I’m going to use Facebook now, except to post a note saying to stay away from this bullshit service.

Facebook’s new advertising slogan should be "Join Facebook, before someone else does it for you!"

 

 

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What is a Virtual World?

Which reminds me…

I got an email the other day that asked me if my comments in a recent interview indicated that Microsoft "was going to get into Virtual Worlds in a big way."

I was somewhat taken aback, to be honest. Not to be overly ego-centric on behalf of my new employer, but by my standards, Microsoft is into Virtual Worlds in a big way already — consider Virtual Earth (mirror world), Halo 3 (multi-user worlds, with very good machinima/storytelling capabilities), and even MSN Messenger’s video chat (2D telepresence) as examples of virtual worlds.

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Notes from Inside the Empire

So everyone wants to know what it’s like working at Microsoft. Well, unfortunately I can’t really answer that yet, since I’ve only been there two weeks — I just got my first paycheck, which allays my subconscious fear that someone was going to come up and tap me on the shoulder, saying "Avi, your interview is over. Go home."

In truth, people have been very friendly and welcoming, despite the fact that I’m coming in during a  crunch period for both bugs and strategy, which must be very much like planning to have a second baby while delivering your first.

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Open Discontent

Even though I’m now at Microsoft, I’ve always favored OpenGL for its simplicity and ease of getting things working. It’s what I started my professional career on, and something I’ve stuck with for 16 years. Read the rest of this entry »

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Volumes of Reading

Here’s an interesting chain of progression from yesterday.

I read yet another TechCrunch article on virtual worlds (dying a little inside, given the wacky coverage). In this instance, Erick Schonfeld interviews Philip Rosedale at a conference of smart people over the coming age of "browser-based" virtual worlds, which PR says are not a threat to Second Life, and to which Schonfeld asks/implies (off-camera) that Rosedale is in denial.
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