Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Score One for Humanity

Andrea Yates found not guilty by reason of insanity. Postpartum psychosis is no joke. Combine that with other mental illnesses, and you get some really bad news. I am so relieved that a Texas jury could actually find someone innocent. Not only innocent, but innocent by reason of insanity. Andrea will be committed to a mental hospital for a few years--perhaps longer, perhaps shorter--but she lives every day with what she has done. I cannot even begin to imagine what must go through her head every day. It will take her decades to get over this. But I am so glad that the second jury correctly found her innocent by insanity.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

"Second Life" Casinos Cheat

If you're into chat rooms and online social stuff, you might want to check out a massive online somewhat-RPG called Second Life. Second Life has a lot of potential - you can build things, hang out with interesting people, run a virtual business, .... and yes, you can even gamble.

But there's only one small problem: in Second Life, the house really does always win. There is absolutely nothing stopping a user-created casino from using automated gambling games that cheat. A naive player may think that the gambling games on Second Life follow strict rules as in real life, but any script kiddie can tweak a game so that the player is cheated out of a lot of money.

Without any regulation, you can never trust a game whose source code you can't see. I suspect that a few of the games in Second Life are cheating, and after talking with others, I'm not the only one who suspects this. Keep this in mind: a smart black jack player will win a little under half of the games even if the deck is shuffled every game. You'll find that in a lot of black jack games in SL, that's far from norm.

Furthermore, the whole legality of gambling in Second Life is dubious at best since the creator of Second Life advertises, facilitates, and profits (through fees) from the exchanging of virtual credits to real dollars. Several states in the US have anti-gambling laws that address this very scenario, including Delaware, and our attorney general is already aware of what's going on.

But the legality aside, I urge players to steer clear from automated gambling games unless you can see the actual code the machines are running (as in viewing the scripts live from the gambling machine while the machine is executing, something most entrepreneuring script kiddies aren't likely to allow.)