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Sim City Arcologies are Becoming a Reality

Launch Arcology from Sim City 2000Back in the day, I was huge fan of Sim City, Sim City 2000, and even Sim City 3000. So much so that I put up a small fansite and was constantly bombarded by emailed requests to download Sim City for free. Sim City was a great game but it never was a completely accurate city simulator. In Sim City 2000, for example, filling every square of land with high-rises would only get your population to 100,000 or so. In order to reach the millions, you had to wait past the far-flung future year of 2000 and build arcologies. Now we are seven years past 2000, so where are the arcologies? On their way. There a number of projects being proposed and built that could qualify. First, there's this huge pyramid proposed for Tokyo Bay. Shimizu Mega-City Pyramid is obviously an arcology, just take a look at this clip from Extreme Engineering: [youtube]vfsoBAT27pA[/youtube] The Burj DubaiNow Simizu may never be built, but another arcology-sized building, Burj Dubai, is well on it's way to completion. When it's completed, it will be the world's tallest building by a huge margin - the current tallest, Taipei 101, is 509.2 m / 1,671 ft. Burj Dubai will be 818 m / 2,684 ft. The tower will have a hotel, offices, apartments, and probably some retail. Still, you could make an argument that it's not intended to be a complete city in a building, so it's not a real arcology. If you include the nearby highrises and Dubai Mall, all surrounded by harsh desert and built in the last ten years, it's hard to argue that this is a totally different way of building human habitat. If you are despairing at the prospect of yet another world's tallest building going up outside of the United States, birthplace of the skyscraper, take heart. The Chicago Spire, planned to hit 609.6 m / 2,000 feet, shows that America is not yet out of the supertall game. This one is even less like an arcology, though, since it will be entirely residential. Apparently architect Santiago Calatrava skipped right on to Sim City 3000.

The Virgina Tech Shooter’s Last Victims: Logic and Sanity

The Virginia Tech murders got plenty of coverage in the press and on the Internet, but none of the writers here at Unsought Input weighed in on the subject. Really, there wasn't anything left to say that hadn't already been said a hundred times on a hundred channels already.

But now there is something interesting going on that isn't getting enough coverage. Did you know that there are two more casualties to add to the list of 32 people killed by Seung-Hui Cho? In addition to murdering and wounding all those people, Cho somehow managed to kill common sense and reason in thousands of commentators and high school principals across the country.

For example, school officials at Clements High School in Texas kicked out a student because they thought he posed a threat. No, he didn't threaten anyone, or buy guns, or stalk girls, or anything like that. He made a level in the game Counter-Strike based on a map of his high school. And posted it on his MySpace page.

For those of you who are out of the video game loop, Counter-Strike is a first-person shooter where you fight a bunch of terrorists, or alternatively fight a bunch of anti-terrorist troops. As you can imagine, it involves a lot of shotting and blowing stuff up. It's most fun when you compete and cooperate with other players.

Now why would a student replicate his high school in such a game unless he was using it as a simulation to train for an attack on his school? In the weeks since the VA Tech massacre, thousands of people would think that's a very good question. That's because they are scared out of their wits.

Why would he do such a thing? Listen, in high school I bought a game named Sim City 2000 (no I will not let you download it for free). One of the first things I did, after getting the hang of how to build a city, was build my home town. My home town was a dismal failure because I lived in a suburb with no industry and there were some scale issues, but that's beside the point.

Later in my high school career, I was president of the computer club. Yes, I know that also makes me king of the nerd patrol, whatever, I have to represent. One of our projects was to build a map of the school in the game Doom (or maybe Duke Nukem, the memory is getting hazy). It was a lot of fun, trying to get the textures right, figuring out where to put the power-ups so that the game would be fun to play.

It never occurred to us that we were doing anything wrong, or that we could use this map for plotting elaborate scenarios. It never occurred to me that building my little home town in Sim City and then unleashing tornadoes on it was wrong. That's because the whole idea is ludicrous.

Why do people play video games? Because, like any game, they are interactive. Some games take interaction to the next level, allowing you to do more than just explore virtual places - you can build your own. This appeals to the same kids who loved Legos when they were younger, and while they may not be the star quarterback or head cheerleader, they are hardly murderous misanthropes.

But what about the link between video games and violence? It turns out the link isn't quite that simple. Apparently only unstable people are really effected by violent video game content, but not any more than they are by violent movies, or even increases in room temperature.

What about the link between Cho and Counter-Strike? Uh, did he ever even play Counter-Strike? Or any video games for that matter? Does anyone actually know, or are they just making it up to get on TV?
After a tragedy like this, people want closure. They want to be able to do something to make sure it doesn't happen again, or find something to place all the blame on. Unfortunately, Cho was a self-important nutjob who refused the help that was offered to him at every turn. There's not really much we can do about that, so bring out the scapegoats and lose the rationality.

How to download video games for free, the old fashioned way

In 1998, there was no bittorrent, no Kazaa, not even Napster. But there was still piracy. Not Johnny Depp piracy, which the MPAA likes, but movie, music and software piracy, which the MPAA hates.

Are you afraid of getting one of those scary letters from the RIAA? In fact, many of the old methods still work today, and so far they are under the lawyers' radar.

Some of you are familiar with the old standbys like IRC, Usenet, and Sneaker Net. In 1998, another method (which very few people remember) was even more popular – especially outside of the United States. This method was called PoE, or Pester over Email.

First, the person desiring a video game must find a fan site. Next they find the site admin's email address and send a message such as this one below:

From: Arturo Soriano Murillo Date: 10/24/1997 7:07 PM To: Jason Subject: hi friend hi i am fanatic of simcity 2000 but my files were destroyed and the friend that have the CD he change of state I want to see if you can sendme a copy of the complete version of simcity 2000 i need play more more more yeah cool cool PLEASE PLEASE send me that at the address of [removed] Javier Bravo Camelo Thanks friend

The above may look like a normal email, but it is fact a message formatted for the PoE protocol. The protocol RFC states that each PoE message must contain:

  1. Shallow declarations of friendship;

  2. Fictional, yet uninteresting story justifying piracy of the desired item;


  4. The string “more more more yeah cool cool,� used to pad the message to the correct byte size.

I happened to have a Sim City 2000 website at the time, and I found myself constantly on the “server� send of PoE transactions. I got emails such as this every week from exotic locations such as Argentina, Costa Rica, Russia, their dad's AOL account, Canada, and their mom's AOL account.

I dutifully responded to each any every one, and since 5 MB emails did not really fly back then, that meant I had to copy disks, booklets, and box art and ship everything via airmail (PoE RFC section 2.3.5). This was at great expense to myself--do you how much it cost to send “the sim cti 2000 2me NOW PLEASE� in 1998?

In the end, I couldn't keep up with the volume, fell below five nines uptime, and was eventually stripped of my PoE credentials by Vint Cerf and Al Gore in a brutal, but efficient ceremony that left me wet, naked, and shaking.

None of that happened. Most of the time I ignored these emails and eventually too many spam bots found that email address and I dropped it like an email address that was very hot or slippery and difficult to hold. But before that fateful day, when I could be bothered, I would reply with this standard email. Instructions for downloading video games with no risk of lawsuit:

From: Brandon Date: 3/29/1998 1:19 PM To: Jason Subject: Hi, could you please tell me where I can download the full version of Simcity 2000,

From: Jason Date: 3/20/1998 2:09 PM To: Jason Subject: Re: Sure, but you're going to need to use an older method of downloading the game. Since a lot of people aren't familiar with it, here's what you do: 1) Boot up your computer. 2) Load up DOS, Windows, or the Mac OS to determine which one your system uses. 3) Determine whether you have a CD-ROM drive, a disk drive, or both 4) Type that information down in a word processor and print it out. 5) If you do not have a printer, download it by hand on to a piece of paper. 6) Turn off your computer. 7) Get in your car, put your seat belt on and turn the ignition. 8) Carefully back out of your driveway and in to the street. 9) Drive to the nearest computer, office, or electronics store. (This is much like anonymous FTP). 10) Find the video games section of the store. If you cannot find it, locate a salesperson and click on "help". 11) Locate a large icon, or "box" labeled Sim City 2000. Do not double click! 12) Using the information from step 4-5, determine which "box" you should purchase. 13) Click and drag it up to the counter. Upload your credit card number or ash to the clerk. 14) Return home.

And just in case you've forgotten, don't copy that floppy.[wmv width="320" height="240"][/wmv]