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Friday, July 25, 2014
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Published: Tuesday, 6/7/2005

A real problem, sort of, eventually

Welcome to another online world that encourages players to create a character and try to live a fantasy life. If your life isn t interesting or busy enough, in "Second Life" you can build your own home, or island online. Or you can go bar hopping with other characters online.

However, "Second Life" players use the game s scripting language to write code to alter their creations, or add to their possessions. Then, inevitably, people end up squabbling in real life over virtual things, and the law must make a real appearance in the fantasy world.

Virtual property rights have begun to be debated in online gaming.

Most game developers say that all characters and objects created in digital worlds belong exclusively to the game company. However, "Second Life" players supposedly own the characters and objects they construct.

While you re wondering about your local school district s funding for the next year, consider that players in such games as "Ultima Online," "EverQuest," and "Second Life" trade $880 million worth of virtual goods each year, according to IGE Ltd., (www.ige.com/) an online currency and property trading site. Also note that eBay currently has more than 10,000 virtual items for sale.

Need "World of Warcraft" gold?

It s selling for as low as $47.99 per 500 gold on some servers.

Players use real credit cards or PayPal, request a meeting time in a game s virtual bazaar, notify IGE of their character name, and take possession of something, sort of.

U.S. case law has yet to speak in detail on virtual property rights. But last December a Beijing court ordered the restitution of a "Legend of Mir 3" player s stolen virtual dragon sabre, giving the People s Republic the current lead over the United States on the idea of property rights.

Go figure.

Reporters Without Borders reported this week that an Iranian writer arrested in a crackdown against online dissent has been sentenced to two years in prison for "insulting the supreme leader" Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Mojtaba Saminejad is also due to be tried soon on a separate charge of insulting the prophets, which carries a possible death penalty.

Saminejad, 25, of Qom, who has been jailed since September 2004, was arrested with some 20 other Internet writers and technicians working for pro-reform Web sites.

On February 22, an Iranian journalist and blogger Arash Sigarchi, 28, was given 14 years after a set of charges ranging from espionage to insulting Iran s leaders was applied. Sigarchi is a newspaper editor in Gilan, Iran. The Reporters Without Borders Web site said that Sigarchi had been updating a blog tracking the arrest of Internet journalists, and other bloggers.

On to China, where authorities have ordered all Web sites and blogs to register before June 30 or be closed down. Commercial publishers and advertisers face fines for failing to register, according to documents posted on the Ministry of Information Industry Web site.

At least 54 people have been jailed for posting essays or other content online that is deemed subversive. The Chinese government has developed a new Net Crawler System that monitors sites in real time and searches each Web address for its registration number," said one document listing questions and answers about the regulations. The government has also installed surveillance cameras and is requiring visitors to Shanghai Internet cafes to register using their official identity cards.

According to the site, "a China-based blogger told Reporters Without Borders on condition of anonymity that the Shanghai police recently rendered his Web site inaccessible because it had not been registered. He then phoned the MII to ask what he had to do in order to register, and was told that in his case it was not worth bothering because there was no chance of an independent blog getting permission to publish. "

According to San Diego-based research firm Current Analysis, notebooks have for the first time outsold desktops in the U.S. in a calendar month. Current Analysis says notebook sales in the U.S. accounted for 53 percent of the total personal computer market last month, up from 46 percent during the same period last year. Some other numbers:

• Notebook prices fell 17 percent during the past year (desktop prices only 4 percent).

• 95 percent of notebooks offered WIFI this year (80 percent last year).

Look up the stock quotes of information juggernauts and find that the market value of Internet search engine Google (GOOG) was listed at $80.82 billion, while the world s largest media company Time Warner (TWX) was listed at only $79.75 billion.

Only 10 days remaining before the June 18 Grandma s Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota. Fine time to learn a lesson about heat.

Our last long training run (20 miles) occurred Sunday, coincidentally a record day for temperatures in the Toledo area. Even a 7:30 a.m. start on the University Trail was not soon enough to avoid 10 a.m. temperatures in the 80s. By Mile 13, the heat had melted the run into an awkward jog, shuffle, and walk. When we finished 20 and the color returned to my face we consulted the "Runners World" heat guide.

Lessons learned: There is no such thing as too much liquid when the heat index is in the 90s; find trails (Wildwood) that are more shaded than trails that are exposed to the sun (University Trail); complete the majority of the run before sunrise or after sunset.



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