Online Escapism by Any Means Necessary

Online Escapism by Any Means Necessary
I develop and create things in Second Life that translate to enjoyment and actual Real Life profit.

On a Thursday morning, somewhere in Nevada…

I wake up and twist the hot water handle, shove the cup beneath it, and catch the ridiculously hot liquid that will burn me if I’m not careful and then crank the handle to a close. Tea steeps in silence with the steam billowing up to catch the light in the window and I take these moments to go shuffle around and gather up my wits. Wash my face, brush my teeth, lather, rinse, and repeat and go through the motions that will start the ignition and pump fuel into the rest of my pistons. I stand there in the hallway for a brief moment and ask myself if that’s an actual headache I’m having or if steak knives have been plunged into my skull. Splash some Motrin in my hands and continue forward. When the synapses start to fire off, I clutch my tea and push the lid down to start in on a day filled with phone calls, recording podcasts, audio editing, dozens of email chains, and connection with loved ones. This, my friends, is while balancing a huge family on the other side of my door. Life never stops and my every single moment is scheduled and I live on a constant timeline that, when you call and ask if I want to do something, you can hear the millisecond of terror in my voice where I let my brain rearrange my day to fit you in. The electricity is crackling in the tight spaces between every single activity I have. My naps are brief and never meant for rest and relaxation but a quick re-charge in the middle of the day, like giving your cellphone just fifteen minutes to make it last until you get through the day before yanking its cord away.

This is my every single day.

I am compiling thousands of years of data in mere hours and my memory serves as a library that never dumps its older books. It gets filled up to the brim in here with stacks of old tomes, magazines, and newspapers serving as kindling for the eventual fire if this place ever goes up in smoke. You know what I need sometimes? Just sometimes?

I need to walk away.

But, how do you walk away? I’m a mother, a daughter, a sister, a best friend, and a lover. How do you walk away from all of these things and not feel that co-dependancy (that you’re quite okay with) start to creep in and addle your every moment?

You escape from within the confines of your own reality. That’s how. These worlds within the Internet have given us countless songs to sing and in every note and key you could ever imagine. I turn to my friends and I see them doing the exact same things and living the same lifestyle where we go-go-go and then quietly adventure from the comfort of our homes. How else can we? For those people who have the ability to stand up and leave for a weekend, scaling mountains and adventuring through the wildnerness at the drop of a hat, I’m impressed. I cannot do any of those things without weeks upon months of planning, so good on you. You post your pictures on Facebook and I’ll like every single one of them. But for now? I’m going to log in to Lord of the Rings Online and pretend I’m an Elf who has to save Middle Earth.

Online Escapism by Any Means Necessary
Lord of the Rings Online: For the mild-mannered adventurer at heart. Tell them Dollinger sent you.

My friends and even my family spend time in games like World of Warcraft and I know I was never built for an addiction to any MMO. Ask my poor friends who plead with me to log on and spend any real amount of time there with them: I’m not coded for it. My brain does not shut off to the outside world for any longer than three hours, and that’s every couple of days. The only way I can truly enjoy any intense form of escapism — be it Lord of the Rings Online or anywhere else — is if I can combine a few of my usual experiences with it. When my family can log on or my friends can be there to play with me, it suddenly becomes like I’m getting to put all of my ducks in a row. I can enjoy myself andspend time with my loved ones so that they know they’re important.

This leads us to Second Life. I have a very interesting alternate reality there and it’s private and quiet, fueled with almost as much work there as I have in my First Life. However, it is creative and inspiring and it is the release I don’t get in my everyday life. There are no complications that cannot be fixed by simple mouse-clicks and every single human being can be coordinated within that tiny space. If I am too tired or too worn out, I simply don’t log on.

My everyday life doesn’t have that option.

The stigma attached to these places is one of addiction, desparation, and sickness, and I have to say: it offends me. There are people I love in these MMOs — healthy and realistic people who do good things. Yes, as with anything, it should be done in moderation, but I’m not here to police a world with a tale to tell. No, I’m simply living through my life and needing to escape into a story once in a while. I can listen to compelling music, hop on my steed, and meet with my friends to form a Fellowship that will defeat the hordes of Sauron. I can do all of this, slash through foes, and turn in the ingredients needed to make an antidote for the poisoned Hobbits and still have time to run to the grocery store to get what I need for dinner later.

Online Escapism by Any Means Necessary
Not seen is the workshop I own that allows me to build, create, and be as creative as I want.

Our lives are chaotic and we’re each struggling to find our place in these worlds, be they real or not, and having been on both sides, I can see the importance for this escapism. I need to work on unplugging my real, everyday life a bit more and enjoying it when I can get there — but more people need to contemplate it. When my day-to-day is about struggling, re-adjusting, coordinating, and grinding through the work-related concerns, the familial complications, and my relationships, I need to hammer my fingers down on the buttons that make it all silence for just a moment. I’m human. We’re not all given the opportunity to escape on foot, but if our fingertips can locate a place of fantasy and take us there for a few hours a week…

…why not?

Divorce Lawyers Love Using Facebook Entries As Evidence

Last week I made comment about why we should watch what we post online, but now there is further evidence how such posts can come back to haunt us. Divorce attorneys use online social networking entries as evidence in divorce cases. Some of what people have posted come back to haunt them when they go to court. In a recent news article it stated some of these gaffs made by husbands and wife’s that were used against them:

  • Husband goes on Match.com and declares his single, childless status while seeking primary custody of said nonexistent children.
  • Father seeks custody of the kids, claiming (among other things) that his ex-wife never attends the events of their young ones. Subpoenaed evidence from the gaming site World of Warcraft tracks her there with her boyfriend at the precise time she was supposed to be out with the children. Mom loves Facebook’s “FarmVille,” too, at all the wrong times.
  • Mom denies in court that she smokes marijuana but posts partying, pot-smoking photos of herself on Facebook.
  • While this type of evidence may be only used in about 1 out of 10 divorce cases, it is becoming more common for lawyers to check Facebook and other sites for evidence. It would be hard to disprove these facts when the person themselves post the information. The article also went on to state:

    Social networks are also ripe for divorce-related hate and smear campaigns among battling spousal camps, sometimes spawning legal cases of their own.

    “It’s all pretty good evidence,” Viken said. “You can’t really fake a page off of Facebook. The judges don’t really have any problems letting it in.”

    But here is the biggest mistake people can make:

    Grown-ups on a good day should know better than to post boozy, carousing or sexually explicit photos of themselves online, but in the middle of a contentious divorce? Ken Matthews recalls photos of a client’s partially naked estranged wife alongside pictures of their kids on Facebook. “He was hearing bizarre stories from his kids. Guys around the house all the time. Men running in and out. And there were these pictures,” Matthews said.

    I bet some people really regret being so dump. LOL

    Comments welcome.

    Source – Siliconvalley.com

    What Does Your Avatar Say About You?

    There should be an image here!Old or young, beautiful or sinister — the choices are endless when designing an avatar or a virtual alter ego. In the end, do people choose one that is really different from themselves? Usually not, according to new Concordia University research that shows in most cases, avatars reflect the personality of their creators. The study, published in next month’s issue of Psychology and Marketing, has implications for real-life companies who would like to reach both the virtual and real-world markets.

    “It is estimated that by 2011, 80 percent of Internet consumers and Fortune 500 companies will have an avatar or presence in a virtual community,” says Dr. H. Onur Bodur a professor at the Concordia John Molson School of Business. “There is limited research about these environments thus we undertook the task of understanding the consumers behind avatars.”

    Second Life a burgeoning virtual world

    Dr. Bodur and a former graduate student, Jean-Francois Belisle, studied the avatar-creator behaviour in the virtual community Second Life. “This virtual world stands out because it has its own economy, where real-money transactions occur,” says Belisle. “Membership in the avatar world has increased more than twentyfold between 2006 to 2009 and has reached about 15 million.”

    Avatar-creators were asked to fill out a questionnaire about their personalities and these characteristics were compared with the impression their avatars made on viewers. Physical traits such as hair length and colour, body shape, style and type of clothes provided visual clues about the human behind the avatar.

    “Overall, the impressions made by the physical traits of the avatar match certain dimensions of the true personality of the creator,” says Dr. Bodur. “For example, attractive avatars with stylish hair and clothes were perceived to be extroverted. This was confirmed by the personality measures obtained from Second Life participants.”

    “This correlation between avatar and creator helps identify the consumers behind the avatars and will lead to improved avatar-marketing strategy. Our findings will also help guide the choice of visual cues in the design of corporate avatars representing real-world companies.”

    Fiona Downey @ Concordia University

    [Photo above by rafeejewell / CC BY-ND 2.0]

    [awsbullet:second life virtual]

    WoW – That Is An Expensive NIC

    As I type this, my brother is likely at home playing with his latest install of the new World of Warcraft “Wrath of the Lich King” on his computer. While I have never really been able to get back into gaming myself, others have found that World of Warcraft or “WoW” is the next best thing to getting in touch with your inner adventurer.

    Despite that appeal, some users seem to go so far overboard with the investment they make in this hardware that it goes from reasonable to insane. For example, take this NIC. Clearly, a quality device that undoubtedly provides every ounce of value promised. However the fact remains — do you really need this much networking card to enjoy your favorite PC game? Apparently in the case of the “Killer Gaming Network Card,” the results for gamers speak for themselves.

    So here is where it gets a little strange — these cards range from US $150 to $250. No, that is not a typo, this is more than most of you will ever spend on wired networking for your PC and not end up with a new router. Any doubt aside, I would agree that a strong network card along with other quality components will make or break most popular video game experiences, but spending that much on a NIC is just insane! Am I wrong? Can you justify the $250 large for gaming with a new NIC? Hit the comments; set me straight.

    VPN Madness

    I have to admit, this latest question that ended up on my desk through the grape vine honestly has me completely stumped. I do not know what to think about it? Here is what was asked initially.

    My friends and I are using VPN programs to connect a virtual LAN over the Internet. The current one I run is VPN-X server/client. It works for both Mac and Windows.

    The problem is we connect, and can see each other, ping each other, and view shared files. The problem I am having is if I or another Mac hosts the game, Warcraft 3, I can’t see the game or vice versa. If an XP hosts the game, all can see it. And we had problems with Vista hosting it, but I think we have nipped that in the butt. So the problem is running Mac OS X and hosting the game, I can’t have another Mac “see” the game. If I am hosting the game, and an XP signs on, they see it. Vista sees it. So I know I have the right ports open; I just think there is something the Mac does not want to do to “see” the game when connected via VPN.

    Side note for clarification. If I am on an actual LAN, and host a game, any and all computers can see it. Macs included. Please help if you can. Short of jumping over to the Boot Camp, which does “solve” the problem, but it’s not a solution I prefer as I do not like having to shut down all that I am multitasking just to play one game.

    If you do read this and want to answer it, can you respond with an “I will talk about it this day or under this title.” Or simply just responding here is best, unless you want to do it on the cam. Thank you for your time if you can help me. — Troubled VPN User

    So here is a basic breakdown:

    • VPN programs being used to connect to a virtual LAN.
    • Each VPN participant can view and ping one another.
    • Mac hosting WoW translates into visibility issues when connecting to the game.

    This is where I am going to tap each of you, the Lockergnome collective. While I may not play WoW myself, I can understand how frustrating this situation must be for the person that wrote in above. Hopefully one of you out there, have some ideas you can share in the comments area to get the individual above back on the right track.

    Considering Some Windows Migration Options

    I have been putting off a family related project for sometime now, largely due to me living in a different area than them over the past few months. Anyway, my brother is a serious World Of Warcraft player and is quite happy with his Windows XP Home box. Unfortunately, as the expansion packs keep coming, his hard drive space is becoming something of a premium.

    So here in January, I plan on upgrading his hard drive to a 250 GB Seagate Barracuda. The challenge however, is deciding on the software that will be best for the job. After doing some research, I think I want to stick to the Acronis line of options, as their software has never once failed me, unlike that of other competitors. The exact application I am thinking of using is Acronis Migrate Easy 7.0. If it is half as good as other Acronis products, I suspect it will produce a simple transfer of his XP install over to the new drive.

    And with that said, I would like to point to you, the readers, for additional thoughts. Are there other applications I ought to be considering instead? I am open to pretty much anything with the strong exception of anything using the brand Symantec, as they have produced nothing I will ever use again. Short of that, the comments section is open.

    [tags]hard drive migration, drive clone, World Of Warcraft, hard disk[/tags]

    PC Gaming Is In Trouble? I Doubt It

    After discovering this article exploring the possibility that PC gaming could be losing traction, I found myself wondering – how can console gaming even hold a candle to that of the PC world? Now, considering what Vista will bring to the table in the gaming world, I believe that PC gaming will be seeing a fresh shot of adrenaline here very soon. As new titles begin coming out, designed to run on the new OS, I suspect people will see the advantages to true online gaming with a PC versus a console.

    Is Microsoft simply competing with itself, or instead, hedging its bets?
    There is no question, Microsoft is looking at taking advantage of both platforms and it should be given a thumbs up for doing so. Even with the Xbox 360 offering so much to the would-be gamer, I am simply too old school to care. I cannot even begin to get into a game that is not controlled by a mouse and keyboard. Creature of habit, maybe. But I would much rather spend my time pimping out a Vista gaming rig versus trying to coordinate my clumsy hands around yet another unfamiliar controller.

    So is PC gaming really on its way out? Nope.
    I believe that PC gaming, instead of becoming obsolete, will instead evolve into something for more games like World Of Warcraft. Because I will tell you this much, if Vista can bring some fresh features into this title with WoW’s next expansion pack, Xbox 360 will quickly become an aging “First Person Shooter box” while the Vista gaming PC will have evolved into the toy that receives the most love from hardcore gamers.

    Am I nuts here? Maybe there is enough love for both the console and the new game titles set to be coming out this year? Thus far, I think it is rather foolish to say that the PC will ever become obsolete as a gaming appliance. There are just too many possibilities here I think.

    [tags]gaming,vista,xbox,wow,windows, wow, world of warcraft[/tags]

    World Of Warcraft Rides Again

    This weekend had me running. But it was Monday that really had me scrambling. I had decided to head out with my brother to see what the big deal was about this upcoming expansion pack for World Of Warcraft. The latest addition to the series, was released last night at 12am.

    As we stood there in the longest line I have been in during my life on this planet, I was rather surprised at the wide range of people who apparently play this game. Ages ranged from upper forties down to the teen crowd. Goths, geeks, and jocks – this game seems to know no bounds.

    What I saw first hand gave me a whole new respect for gaming and the industry that powers it. I was so impressed, that I may spend some time learning a little more about it from the angle of the player. Generally don’t have a lot of time for “games”, but I will admit, this has me intrigued.

    Because of things being so hectic over the past few days, expect the next Ubuntu tutorial to be here come Thurs. Also, I appreciate the huge response from my request for help with my upcoming recipe site. However, it looks as if there may have been some miscommunication. All I need is a person or two that is willing to write about their favorite recipes once a week – that’s it. So if you are still interested, email me again and let me know what your schedule looks like.

    [tags]World Of Warcraft ,wow,gaming,EB Games[/tags]