Local payments update

Frank Ambrose – FJ Linden – is an unsung hero of Linden Lab and Second Life. Since he’s been a part of Linden Lab, he has worked hard to communicate openly and directly with users in a manner that really cannot be faulted – and which should be taken as the standard be which others in the Lab should communicate.

Changes in the way non-US users can make payments has been the source of much controversy of late. Overseas Paypal payments were no longer acceptable, and the new local currency system has been less than confidence-inspiring.

These issues have lead to concerns among users as to what happens if payments fail – as has been the case – and Frank’s latest post on the subject is clear and concise on matters, and provides precisely the required level of reassurance on matters that is needed.

It’s also good to see that it actually shows up on the Featured News list on the Dashboard for once. Is this a sign that that particular problem is being fixed?

Another Alt detector surfaces

It seems there is another Alt detector on the loose. This one is a little less noxious than RedZone, and the speculation is that it is a variation on the previously banned Quickware scripts – although the author denies this.

As with all these things, it requires media streaming to be enabled on the target avatar’s Viewer – if they don’t have media enabled (or run Sione’s excellent Media Filter available in most Viewers) then the tool is a useless box of hot air. If one can talk favourably of the device, one has to say that the author is up front on this fact. Indeed, reading the advertising blurb gives reasons enough not to part with even L$250. I quote:

“* This method only works on Viewers having media enabled, there are no scripts or filters to stop it (NO THERE ARE NONE!) but simply deselecting media in preference is however an effective way to protect yourself from this and these kinds of devices. 
* This method is not 100 % reliable in any way and alot can go wrong. Actual detection means nothing more then that the target and detected share the same way into secondlife as in PROXY,Public Wifi-points (like mac Donald) etc. So take this into account when a positve match has been made !” [sic]

There is also mention of the detection method being flustered by dynamic IP addresses, which concludes, “It is important that the target ‘visits’ you often” in order to avoid the device being fooled by Dynamic IPs.

More interestingly, the author intimates that the tool is “safe” as it does not actually reveal IP addresses, nor does it collect or save them in any way. Technically, this would seem to bring the tool within the letter of the revised Community Standards, which restricts itself to the sharing of private information. However, whether this remains the case or not remains to be seen; if nothing else the tool does stand against Rod Humble’s own comments (to Dusan Writer) on people’s right to privacy where their alts are concerned – and it is really time that LL indicated they are prepared to stand behind Rod’s comments rather than staying silence on the matter of privacy, for reasons I’ve gone into elsewhere.

Overall, this new device is clearly intended to feed of Drama: it’s a one-avatar-per-box solution – that is, each purchased unit can only detect one designated target Avatar’s alts (allowing for all the caveats as to why it most likely won’t work).  This means that mass bans aren’t possible (unless one is willing to part with considerably more than L$250 in order to “protect” one’s venue).

But again, this isn’t really the point; if this tool is allowed to stay, there will doubtless be some 14-carat blockhead out there who will take it as a sign that they can make something even more intrusive, and we’ll be back on the merry-go-round once more.