Writing Blog

August 8, 2008

Project 119

This is one of a series of articles I posted for Gambling News.
You can view the original version at:
* http://newsgamblingnews.blogspot.com/2008/08/project-119.html

During the XXVII Olympics in Sydney, the Chinese team won only one gold in traditionally Western dominated sports such as athletics, track and field, and water events such as swimming, canoeing and sailing.

The Chinese State General Sports Bureau introduced shortly thereafter “Project 199”, aimed at getting more medals in those sports, which combined account for 119 (updated to 122 in Beijing) of the 302 gold medals available . During the following 2004 Athens Olympics, the Chinese team won four gold medals on sports covered by “Project 119”.

The government has also pumped money into other not-so-popular sports such as archery and shooting, in an effort to overtake the USA (Russia doesn’t seem to have much of a chance these days) as the country that will win the most Gold Medals in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

On a personal level, large cash bonuses, access to university and generous sponsorship deals await those athletes that make it to the podium.

Everyone is betting nowadays on who will win the win the most Gold Medals in Beijing.
The Wall Street Journal, for example, is predicting that the U.S. will likely continue its Olympic winning streak, both in golds (47 to 38 over second-place China) and total medals (110 to 93, with China second and Russia third on both counts).

PriceWaterhouseCoopers has concluded that China will win 88 medals overall, compared with 87 for the US, a close call that nonetheless would make Chinese very happy due to their belief on number 8 being a lucky number. It’s not a coincidence that these Games have started on the 8th day of the 8th month of the 8th year.

In any case, there’s no doubt that these Olympic Games are going to have an added spirit of competition not seen since the Cold War period, when the Soviet Union topped the medals board on eight occasions.

Darryl Seibel, spokesman for the US Olympic Committee, recently said that:

“We expect this to be one of the most competitive Olympics in recent history. That is down to a combination of China’s investment in its Olympic programme, Russia’s decision to do the same and the policy of some nations like Britain, which are targeting specific medals in sports that are important to them. China has to be considered the favorite. Every host nation receives a huge boost.”

Ant that’s the key to predict who will win the win the most Gold Medals in the 2008 Olympic Games, a variable that many forecasters seem to have failed to include in their formulas.
Remember Australia, Spain or Korea? Those countries received a lot more medals that they are used to when hosting the Games.

My prediction on who will win the win the most Gold Medals in Beijing? China, of course.
And all bookmakers seem to agree.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9Yuvr5PCxs

November 7, 2007

Get a Second Life

This is one of a series of articles I posted for magiKomputer.
You can view the original version at:
* http://magikomputer.blogspot.com/2007/11/get-second-life.html
Second Life is a virtual online world with a growing population of subscribers (or “residents”). Currently, the community has well over 10,000,000 residents from all over the World.
By providing the residents with robust building and scripting tools, they can create a vast array of in-world objects, installations and programs in the fields of Animation, Audio, Music, Building, Architecture, Clothing, Fashion, Communications, Maps, Scripting, Textures, Prim, etc.

Although Second Life’s interface and display are similar to most popular massively multi-player online role playing games (or MMORPGs), there are two key differences.
First of all, Second Life provides near unlimited freedom to its Residents. This world really is whatever you make it, and your experience is what you want out of it. If you want to hang out with your friends in a garden or nightclub, you can. If you want to go shopping or fight dragons, you can. If you want to start a business, create a game or build a skyscraper you can. It’s up to you.
And you are the legal proprietor of anything you create. Since its early stages, Linden Lab (the producer of Second Life) has allowed its residents to retain full IP rights over their own creations, thereby insuring that their contributions to the community remain truly their own. As a resident you retain full IP rights over any of your in-world creations.

Second Life is the size of a small city, with thousands of servers (called simulators) and a Resident population of over 10,742,897 (and growing). Residents come to the world from over 100 countries with concentrations in North America and the UK.

Demographically, 60% are men, 40% are women and they span in age from 18 – 85. They are gamers, housewives, artists, musicians, programmers, lawyers, firemen, political activists, college students, business owners, active duty military overseas, architects, and medical doctors, to name just a few.

Even if you don’t know how to do 3D modeling, Second Life makes building an easy task, using the built-in tools. And there are lots of daily Resident-run classes and tutorials to help you learn.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVSzh_QTE00

The Second Life client comes with an updated-daily list of public Events, including games, parties, and contests; the Search window is a veritable traveler’s guide to Second Life—the places to see, the people to meet, and much more.

There are dozens of first-person shooters, strategy games, puzzle and adventure games, even board, and puzzle games.
Several regions of the world have been devoted to role playing, and resemble medieval towns, or futuristic cities. The building and scripting system even enables Residents to create their own version of a MMORPG, including hit points, character stats, and all the other classic elements.
Since gamers are a big part of the Second Life community, friendly games of combat are a regular event.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V7uS6P6ihGk

You can get your own virtual land at Second Life.
Having land in Second Life lets you have an on-going presence in the world, for your home, your business, or whatever other special place you’ve created. Even when you’re not online, your friends or customers can stop by to leave you a message or shop for your latest creation.
To get land you must sign up for the Premium membership. You’ll be able to purchase a 512 square meter plot of land before any land maintenance fees kick-in.
However, you can have as much land as you choose. Change the amount of land you have and your monthly fee will adjust accordingly.
You can also consider purchasing more land through the Second Life auctions or from other Residents. Alternatively, you can join with others who are interested in the project to form a group and pool your land holdings. Groups can collectively acquire and use land.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8jy4QlbbRPY

Another option is to get an island in Second Life.
Special island regions are available as a separate purchase. You can choose from several different topologies, control access from the mainland, or even decide to start your own separate community.

When you join the community you are given a small weekly stipend of L$ (Second Life’s official unit-of-trade) when you sign up for a Premium account. Plus you can earn L$ by making and selling goods and services, holding events, and playing games.

Residents can buy and sell in-world L$ from the Linden Dollar Exchange, or from other third party websites. Some of these operators offer convenient in-world “ATM” machines to facilitate transactions.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8NOHRJB9uyI

You can even start your own business in Second Life.
Shopping is a big part of the Second Life experience for many Residents. You can buy and sell anything that can be made in-world, from clothes, skins, wigs, jewelry, and custom animations for avatars, to furniture, buildings, weapons, vehicles, games, and more. Once you’re ready to bring your products to the market, it’s simply a matter of buying or sub-renting property, for opening up a shop. There are also Resident-owned malls which charge rental fees, or take a cut of your proceeds. As in the real world, the challenge is to build up a reputation that earns a steady stream of customers.
And as in the real world there’s money to be made if you are a successful business person. Real money, I mean.

My overall impression is that this is quite an awesome stuff. It looks like it is going to become the next big thing in our lives, superseding the Internet itself as we know it.
I love the concept, but I have to say that I have this uneasy feeling that somehow there’s something evil in this invention, something that one day will get out of our hands.
Not sure why but it kind of reminds me of the first Terminator movie.
Because the next logical step would be to physically build many of those 3-D human models in the real world. Combine that with the latest advances in artificial intelligence and with the increasing isolation of human beings in today’s societies and you’ll soon get androids living our lives for us.

I don’t know if it happens to anyone else but I’m able to semi-consciously
“choose” my dreams, I mean, I sort of create my dreams to my taste and
discard what I don’t like.
Not always, but many times I can do it. I can even resume some dreams
that I had left half-way through.
One of my favorites is flying. I don’t actually fly, but rather glide
for long distances, as if I were in a place with very low gravity,
just as you can do in SecondLife.

And I’m now having lots of dreams in which I continue to be in that SL
world, flying around, teleporting to strange places, meeting lots of
people, making friends, dancing, meeting beautiful girls by the dozens
and having sex with a large proportion of them. Virtual Sex, that is.
So far.

I am not addicted yet, but all my virtual friends tell me that I will
soon be.

The other day I came across this questionnaire on how Second Life
users are affected by this virtual world in their real lives.
It’s kind of scary, for example, about 30% of users say that SecondLife is the
only thing they find interesting in their lives, or those 30% who say that “The first thing I think about when I wake up is SecondLife”, or the 20% who say that
“In order to be in SecondLife I eat, sleep and/or bathe less.”
Have a look:
http://slsurvey.wordpress.com/survey-result/section-iv-engagement/

I wonder if I should stop now before it’s too late …

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