Just a few idle thoughts late at night on little sleep.

So computer games are getting faster, more fluid, more realistic. The last ten years have seen a huge improvement in the visual quality and complexity of games. Though development has slowed somewhat recently, we’re not far off being able to render Toy Story in real time. So, let’s assume that the technical stuff is beaten and the artistic stuff is good enough: in another ten or twenty years, we can simulate reality on our home machines. Effectively, we have our own Matrix.

What does online society do then? Do we all meet up online because we’re too afraid to meet in real life? Do we live out alternate realities as different people? Do we learn kung fu? Do we get addicted to online soap operas where we live as characters in a cheesy plot? Or do we just use it for interactive porn?

Note your predictions on your blogs now people, and the Wayback Machine will let you know later how clever you were now.

OK. Here’s a nerdish idea to encourage English/Drama students to enjoy English. Don’t know how it’ll work.

Imagine a role-playing game. Swords and sorcery, sci-fi like Paranoia, whatever. Doesn’t really matter. Now take away all the crap that makes it boring and nerdy: the dice, the character sheets, the maps. The Game Master makes it all up as they go along (or not, they can prep if they want to). Players need nothing.

The fun bit: characters in the game can accomplish things by extending their vocabulary and expressive power. You can’t just say “my fighter attacks the goblin”, you have to speak as the character and defeat opponents with your wordsmithery.

So goblins are easy, yeah? One might say “arg, you die now!” and to successfully knock them off your character could say: “defiled vermin, may thine guts be curdled with foul malice” and the poor outclassed little thing will drop dead. As enemies get tougher, the exchanges get longer and more complex. Vampires quote from Mary Shelley, and the ultimate enemy is probably a lawyer. Or Tolstoi.

Could work nicely for poetry students too; maybe you have to speak in rhyme? Thoughts?

If you’ve missed the recent MSBlast outbreak, check this for some background: Wired News: Geeks Grapple With Virus Invasion.

Microsoft says “apply our patches” and of course most people don’t. Some of those who do have been burned in the past, details above.

All OSes will have security problems to some degree, but MS have a poor record and a huge installed base in which to spread viruses. With Blaster, it’s no longer just email that’s the entry point. Plus, as long as department and school heads chase a PC monoculture in the name of consistency and ease-of-support, this is going to continue to happen.

Say the net’s a forest: if we’re chopping down all the interesting trees to make way for fast-growing pines, there are going to be problems. Disease, lack of change, no animal life, and eventually the ground will become devoid of nutrients. (Um, I think I lost that thread a bit.)

And at some point, with some future security leak, the first virus out is going to be a destructive one, and millions of people will lose all their photos, music and writing.

Easily avoided if you don’t join the herd: don’t use MS Word, don’t use Windows, and you will never get a virus. Not an option for everyone, but it’s worth thinking about for a home system. Dammit, I just want to say Get a Mac without being a crazy zealot. Did I do OK?

This isn’t really blogworthy, because it came from Daypop, and so you’ve probably seen this before-and-after-retouching site already. But it’s interesting for me, because I used to do it. Six months ago or so, I used to retouch models on [a major UK company]’s underwear packaging. Let’s just say that none of them have perfect skin, nobody is free from wrinkles, and everyone has hair on their arms. Cleavage is just a little shadow.

Once you’ve done this, you never, ever trust any image you ever see anywhere — they are all forgeries. Be happy in your body image!