Friday, December 15, 2006

My Evil Fishing Scheme

In the spirit of my last post, I have decided I am going to set up an automated stupid-recruiter fishing scheme. I need some help tho. Here is the plan:
  1. Create a resume that has unreal qualifications. Something like "3 years experience deploying Windows Vista in production environments". You get the point. This is where help is requested, I need some good but not too retarded qualifications of this nature.
  2. Create a gmail account that will be the contact email on the resume.
  3. Create a blog dedicated to this project. Enable email blogging.
  4. Set up forwarding from the gmail address to the blog email address.
  5. Place resume on Monster and other job sites.
  6. Optional: Put an auto responder on the gmail address such that it sends a nice message with a blog link back to the recruiter.
  7. Watch the blog, point and laugh.

Put the suggestions in the comments for this post (or email me) and stay tuned for the link to the blog.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Stupidity makes me laugh

I receive a number of contract notifications throughout a normal week due to all the websites and agencies that I have sent my resume to. Sometimes they are legit and I would consider them if I was available. Sometimes they are outright retarded. I got one today that had the following requirement:

Description: 1. At least 3 to 4 years experience in Biztalk 2005

Do the math. I swear I am not making this up.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Could this be an evil strategy?

Reading slashdot today I saw that there is a new attack on Microsoft Word. The quote was:

"Simply opening a word document will launch the exploit. There are no pre-patch workarounds or anti-virus signatures available. Microsoft suggests that users 'not open or save Word files,' even from trusted sources."

Ok, attacks happen and this is nothing to blog about. What was interesting however was that this attack has no fix and that it effects every version of word except the brand new one. I wonder, will MS be inclined to provide fixes for something like this? Is this sort of attack not the perfect catalyst for user adoption of the new Office 2007 suite?

After that idea crossed my mind, I had a more sinister thought. I wonder if any software companies are using the following strategy:

1. Release version X of your product
3. Release version X+1
4. If X+1 is not being adopted fast enough, secretly release a virus/attack/worm that makes version X of your product less usable while ensuring that X+1 is not effected.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Virtual Currency and its Importance in the Real World

My friend and fellow blogger Mr. Locoweed has a post about the taxation of virtual currency. Lately I have been giving virtual currency some thought and his post drove me to put my thoughts down.

Virtual currency such as World of Warcraft Gold or Linden Dollars from Second Life was created to enable trade in its respective virtual world. Each virtual currency was irrelevant to the outside world until the moment that players started to trade it outside of the system. At that instance, the virtual currency was valuated against some real currency and an exchange rate was set.

Today there are exchange rates being kept for most of these currencies, and some such as the Linden Dollar even have dedicates exchanges running online. The volume on one such exchange reached in excess of USD 100,000 for certain days in December. While that's not monumental, it is certainly significant.

What are people buying when they buy a virtual currency? This is the scary part. When you buy Linden Dollars, you are essentially giving your money to Linden Labs and buying a currency that is not backed by any bank, it is not backed by any tangible assets, and in essence it is not much different than monopoly money. If Linden Labs went under tomorrow, I suspect all those Linden Dollars would be worthless. And yet it doesn't feel like that. It feels like there is some real value there.

I think it will help to think of Linden Labs as an independent country that has a certain currency, and the stability of that currency depends on the government of that country. This means that Linden Labs has in essence created an economy governed by a corporation.

If Linden Dollars are starting to look and act like real money, what can you do with them and what's coming? As Mr Locoweed mentioned, governments are seeing the value being created in these virtual environments as their real currencies are being sold for virtual ones. They are afraid that people are going to be spending (and making) more and more of their disposable income in these environments and they are afraid of losing their slice. After all, there are many things that people already buy online - so why not move it into the virtual world where you can buy it tax free. An mp3 store would work just fine. Thus taxation is an issue that has recently started getting some attention. It will be interesting to see the various schemes tried by various governments, and the reactions from users. I can imagine people who make their living in Second Life moving to countries with better taxation laws. As long as they have an internet connection those people will be able to live anywhere. This is not some far away future by the way. There has already been a USD millionaire from earnings in Second Life.

Another thing that I believe will become much more prominent in the near future will be banking in the virtual worlds. There are already banks in World of Warcraft and Second Life, but these don't offer financial services as we think of them. There is some lending in Second Life but it is at a very high interest rate and from a 'Bank' that is not controlled in any sense. It has been described as banking in the wild west. Wells Fargo has already made a venture into Second Life, although only to promote their brand and educate their customers. I think it will not be long before a bank from the real world decides it is worth their while to set up shop in Second Life. Real estate is a big deal in Second Life and it would only seem natural that real banks realize there is a money lending market in the virtual world. It will be interesting to see what position Linden Labs takes in this since they are essentially the central bank of that virtual world.

As with any new financial instrument, there will be opportunities for criminal activities of all sorts. Surely there will be plenty of scams , cons and other conventional crimes happening within these virtual worlds. This is not what I am talking about however. Since the Linden Dollar is something that one can buy and sell with real currency, it offers a means to transfer value from the real world to the virtual world and back. Money launderers will surely be some of the first to exploit this system. Moving money from one country to another via banks leaves a paper trail. A money Launderer can use Second Life as a tunnel to send money anywhere they choose. Sometimes it is very difficult to send money via the banking system. Think of 'terror harboring countries' moving money to the US. Again, Second life can potentially be used to tunnel money around such a barrier. Bribes are another thing that can be done nicely using virtual currencies.

I expect that I have not even scratched the surface of how virtual worlds and their economies will influence our lives in the next few years. I wonder how long before I am working for a virtual client.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Power of the (IT) people

Related to my last post, I wanted to explore the power that IT people wield over society today. There has been a dramatic power shift over the last few decades and no one seems to have noticed or care. What am I talking about? Think of what is run by computers these days. Everything from our financial to health to transportation systems has a vital dependence on some sort of computer system. Now ask yourself who holds the power over that system. Legally it is the management of whatever company we look at, but practially it is the IT folks.
Now why do I bring this up? Consider the consequence of an IT strike or even more unlikely an IT coup. If the geeks wanted, we can just turn off a significant portion of civilization. Now I don't expect anytjing like this to happen, but it's something to think about.

IT Culture and Politics

A friend and I were discussing politics over a few pints last night, and a few neat ideas came out of that discussion. At one point we were talking about the many positive aspects of IT culture, and how it's a shame that the world of politics is not somewhat similar. Here are some of those:

* Most IT people get a kick out of achievement. There is an obvious necessity for financial reward, but there is a financial comfort level above which there are other more powerful incentives driving the IT folks. Creating something new, something better often carries an intrinsic reward that outweighs financial rewards. This is rarely seen in politics where greed seems to have no limit.

* Skills are by far the number one factor on which IT people judge one another. No-one cares what sexual orientation an IT guy is, whether he smoked dope in university (or last weekend) or the fact that he passed out under the table at the last company Christmas party. Some of these may generate some good 'point-n-laugh' material but don't influence how that person is viewed professionally. That's cause who you sleep with generally has little effect on your code. It's irrelevant. We all remember the fiasco Clinton went through when he had some oval office Oh-face fun. I think his wife should have given him shit and that's that. It had nothing to do with how well he could do his job. Sadly it's just the thing that the political system loves to judge individuals by.

* It's very rare that an individual IT person takes the heat for a mistake. There is a general understanding that mistakes just as successes are owned by the entire team. Everyone makes mistakes. The idea is that other team members catch them and fix them asap. Politicians don't seem to be able to do this too well. It's more common to finger point and scream about how someone screwed up. Shut up and fix it.

* Good ideas are accepted regardless of who came up with them. At least in the IT world. Even companies who are rivals will copy good ideas from one another. It's very rare in the world of politics to see two rivals discuss something, and to hear one of them say "You know, that's a really good idea. I have to put that in my policies."

I'm sure there are many reasons for this, but one that we found interesting is that a large number of politicians are ex-lawyers. Anyone trust lawyers?