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Yes, I hear you already

Please folks, stop emailing me about the theft of virtual furniture in Habbo Hotel. It's old news. In fact, anything you read about in "Halting State" is old news, with the possible exception of quantum supercomputers in Leith and a Chinese gaming clan trying to pwn the IT infrastructure of an entire European country.

(That's why I'm writing a kinda-sorta sequel: "Halting State" is cooked.)



you would appear to be a part of my virtual wavefront. this is the first i'd heard.
it is a leisurely thing and ables along at about a 0.1C as measured on the Disc.


Halting State is cooked, served with all the trimmings and absolutely delicious.

(Eagerly awaiting the dessert.)


I just came accross this:

I thought you might be interested.

(Apologies if it's old hat, but I did search your site first and didn't find any direct references)


This isn't even the first time this sort of thing has happened with the Habbo Hotel. I recall a similar story from around three years ago.

And people can spend a lot of real-world money in the Second Life system, but it's more to rent space in the game world than to "buy" things.

There's been a bit of talk about Jihadists using such environments as a way of meeting, communicating, and even training. I can sort of see how some of that might happen, but a lot of stuff is logged in SL: once law-enforcement notices, your secret plotting isn't a secret any more.

You get the risks of something moving from virtual to real--doesn't even depend on the internet--but I wouldn't use current virtual worlds as a training tool. There's a big difference between sitting at a keyboard and actually running around with the weight of a gun.

That's why the NW Frontier, both sides, is such a worry. The bad guys have too good a chance to do their running around with guns.


"Halting State" may be mature technology, but it's still a rattling good yarn; in fact its sheer plausibility was always one of its greatest strengths IMO.


I see this as a good thing. "Halting State" is more widely readable today than when it was published back in the dark ages a couple of years ago.


Out of curiosity, do you keep track of plot elements or background flavor bits of Haling State that actually occurred in the Real World(TM)?


When I read Halting State a month ago, it felt like it was set pretty much now, with the tiniest of changes.

And I enjoyed the hell out of it.

(Now finishing up Iron Sunrise, which has the most awesome explosion in the history of literature in it. After that I think I'm out of non-merchant prince Stross, and I'll have to dive into that. Oh no, a seven part series from one of my favourite authors, poor me.)


do you keep track of plot elements or background flavor bits of Haling State that actually occurred in the Real World(TM)?

I've mostly given up.

I was thinking about HS from 2003-2005, and writing in 2006. At this point, it's old hat to me -- five years old, in some parts.

The sort-of-sequel, "Rule 34", is not about ARGs or MMOs or virtual reality: it's about the future of organized crime, and the difference between morality and law.


Charlie, I still think you stress out too much about history passing you by.

I'm currently reading another author's book, written in 1995, set in 2011. The technology is clearly wrong, there are quaint bits of old technology (VCRs), impossible new technology, people who died in the interim (Sagan) and those who didn't. But the story is still good and transcends all that. I don't doubt that reading your works in 50 years will still be enjoyable, even though we will have a different perspective and history by then. I can still read 50 year old SF and enjoy it, even though actual events clearly never reflected much of the story.

Good stories transcend time and place, and you write them.


If I understand correctly--which perhaps I don't, if so correct or refute as needed please--Mr. Stross's praiseworthy interest here is in making stories that reflect and examine the possible (the probable even) instead of the stale or impossible. I for one intend to appreciate what he's trying to achieve instead of kneecapping him with tepid praise and justifications for the value of works that don't reach that goal.


If the sole purpose of a book is to be timely for a very short period after publication, on the assumption that it will make all its money on release and disappear from readers' memories, then certainly it makes sense to focus a lot of attention to details that won't make the book obsolete before of shortly after release. It's a laudable aim. However, if the book is to be judged solely on that criterion, then obviously it will date quickly and have little value. Good books don't have that feature alone, they tend to be lasting in value as reads. If they were not, you could not enjoy works, not just SF, from the past, as the events they depict will be false history by then. Are the classics of SF really so valueless - not to me, at least. I think Charlie's work will generally be very readable in the future, even when technology and history diverge significantly from that depicted. The purpose of illustrating the point with another author's near future SF work was to show that even though the events and technology have diverged from the author's 1995 expectations, the book is still a good read and therefore transcends it's time.


Ref comments #10 thro #12 inclusive, I agree with Alex; the strength of a "near future" book is at least partly independant of whether or not it is now probable that we can get there from here.


I haven't read Halting State yet, I guess I won't bother now then! :)


I'm guessing this theft involved more than just digi-towels and electro-ashtrays then. I'm now plagued with the image of two people attempting to saunter out of the Waldorf-Astoria through the revolving door while stealing a sofa.


You can't help but love stories about virtual theft.
You check in to your virtual hotel room only to find that the thieves emptied out the virtual mini-bar...

Meanwhile back in reality, after getting laid off from AT&T in March, I found a job in under 3 months. The US Government is going to want to sign me up as their poster-child of the month success story.


    Are you the proud recipient of a W-11 (April 2010) form, a.k.a. Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act Employee Affidavit?  Or is the new gig more closely related to gov't, thus offering more/greater Poster Child opportunities?

    Either way, congratulations and condolences on your unrecovery.


A 17-year-old got arrested in Amsterdam for nicking furniture from Habbo Hotel in November 2007. The suspects got convicted of theft in 2009 according to Z24 (Dutch).

An earlier case that got decided in 2008, about a game called Runescape, had already established jurisprudence in the Netherlands that said virtual goods can be goods too, and therefore fall under the statute that defines theft.

(The first link leads to my own website. If you consider that spam, please delete or replace.)


University position actually, so I'm not quite sure which category this falls under...Nuclear research reactor as their senior electronics technician / reactor operator in training. Still using vacuum tubes in some of the equipment, so the technology is very antiquated. Most likely I'll be ordering spare/replacement tubes from Russia...

The job market is so tight right now I'm very happy to have gotten the position. Hiring manager was looking for a long term committment (5+ years and it's 8AM-4:30PM M through F). Where can you find that anymore?

18 years in the semiconductor industry (Sun Microsystems/Intergraph Advanced Processor Division) and it turns out my US nuclear navy training is what got me the job, and I aced the job interview.


Some think cyberwarfare is pure fiction:

Unfortunatley, it makes a case for more oppurtunisitic financially motivated attacks rather than any state-sponsored pwnfests.



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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on June 2, 2010 8:30 PM.

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