Where in your bunghole is Carmen Sandiego?

Please note that all blog posts before 8 April 2007 were automatically imported from LiveJournal.  To see the comments and any LiveJournal-specific extras such as polls and user icons, please find the source posting at http://brianenigma.livejournal.com/2003/06/

Some people play too much Everquest. “20 percent of participants in a large survey attested to living their lives mostly in Everquest’s Norrath, 22 percent of respondents expressed the desire to spend all their time there, and 40 percent indicated that if a sufficient wage were available in Norrath then they would quit their job or studies on Earth.” [source: Castronova, Virtual Worlds, supra note 6, at 22.]

This was lifted from a very nifty article on the laws of virtual worlds. I have not yet read all of it–considering the introduction is 12 pages and the entire article is over 100–but at page 18, it is shaping up to be pretty darn good. Plus, it is one of the few legal briefs I have seen that use the word “nifty” (page 12).

After watching an X-Files episode about vampYres and/or people into bloodsports, I wonder how different the vampire phenomena would be if it were instead about watersports.

I was at the local supermarket today, and there were two big changes to the way they are doing things. First, a little background: this is the same supermarket that has the four self-service checkout lanes. I thought I had an entry in here describing the new “test market” self-checkout lanes, but I could not grep any entries that describe it. They are basically really efficient if you are under 30 and know how to use them, and confusing and slow (and hold up others that want to use them) if you are over 40. A little more searching made me realize I had posted it to the local mailing list I am on and not here, so if you care I have the content behind the cut…

Enigma:
Anyone who has not been to Ralphs recently needs to check it out. I
stopped by this morning and they were training the employees about some
new devices. Remember when they ripped out one of the express lanes a
month or two ago? They have put in the space it occupied (and a little of
where the flower counter occupied) to install four self-service
stations. There are four stations and a counter for a sentinel to watch
for monkey business. Each station has a place to put your shopping
basket, a barcode scanner, a touchscreen, a digital voice to tell you what
to do, an ATM acceptor and a cash acceptor. From what I overheard, it
sounded like you scan in all your items and any coupons you may have. It
gives you a total, and you pay it (cash or ATM, an it even gives you
change). Supposedly the shopping guard is there to ensure you scan
everything you take out of the store.
I am very curious as to how this will work. I think I will get a lot
of use out of it, but I am just worried about four different slow grandmas
in front of me…”How does this contraption work? Why won't this take my
crinkled dollar bill? This scanned in as $1.99, and I have a double
coupon, but the price on the shelf was different, and my coupon isn't
being doubled properly…”

Les:
i talked to one of the cashiers there and she said that there are scales on
the bag holder things that will keep track of the weight of what goes in
them. I guess it tracks weights before and after and during the scanning
to try to make sure that you scan everything and everything goes from the
basket to the bag…

Yeah, so basically, I guess they had two problems they were trying to simultaneously address. First, people were walking out of the store with stuff without paying for it. They already have those little radio frequency sensors around the doors that beep when you try to walk out with something you did not pay for. Now, instead of beeping, they also talk to you. Something like “Stop where you are while an employee comes to verify your receipt” or something. You would think I would remember because it is loud enough to hear all through the front of the supermarket and prone enough to false alarms that I heard it about three or four times while I was there. Still, everyone seems to ignore it, just like they ignore car alarms, even if (and ESPECIALLY IF, in some cases) they are the ones that sound like a child's ray gun that makes 5 different zapper noises.
Second, I guess they were getting too many false shoplifting alarms from the self-service checkout that they needed to install a new thing to the scanners. It is a little area that you need to place your items before bagging them to disarm the shoplifting alarms (of course, do not place your credit cards or magnetic media there, or they will be erased).

So basically, these two technology-based solutions to their problems tend to conflict with one another and are not implemented very well. First, the self-serve anti-shoplifting things do not work. They beep when I put my batteries and sunscreen on them, but they never stopped beeping. They never disarmed the tags. The new computerized speech on the alarms (that I got to hear not just second-person, but first-person when I walked out with my batteries and sunscreen) is not audible OUTSIDE THE STORE. You just hear the beeping you have always heard and learned to ignore because there are so many false alarms. Only the people IN the store are able to hear the new computerized speech, not the supposed shoplifter.

Anyway, today was nice. It consisted of lounging around outside in the warm sun with a good book, some good MP3s, some sashimi, and a beer. I may have mentioned this before, but for those that do not know the magic of the local Japanese market (Mitsua, in this case), sashimi meat is really cheap. The same raw salmon and tuna that can be had at a restaurant for a couple of dollars a slice (on a bed of rice, blah, blah) can be found at the Japanese market for about $6 a SLAB. You are able to get about 15-20 sashimi/sushi slices from a single “slab.” I did not feel like rolling sushi or building up nigiri, but I did chop off slices to eat plain. So, anyway, the afternoon was fairly kickback and mellow: food, drink, tunes, and a mix of H.P. Lovecraft and OS X power-user tips.

Edit: I just realized that what I was listening to was not a collection of MP3s, but a collection of M4Ps (an old R.E.M. album that I somehow never managed to collect). I am not quite the iTunes Apple Music Store target audience, but am pretty damn close. If they were to get more small labels, more industrial, more gothic, and more indy, I do not think I would ever have to look elsewhere for music.

Posted in: Dear Diary Games

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