Must say, I didn’t expect this.

You know.. It’s been an interesting read the last day and a half. I actually have learned quite a bit from it. I’m not a real big “rage against The Man” kind of person, but I can see a lot of that going on here, and I suppose that’s inevitable.

I believe it’s always good to try to do things nicely the first time. A bit stronger the next time, then get harsh if it’s warranted. I’m more than willing (as you have seen) to skip a step if I get a flack from someone (as in this case). If that comes off as Draconian then I guess that’s life. I much prefer the gracious approach… there have even been times when I’ve had to bite my lip while writing emails telling people to stop what they are doing, because a part of me actually understands it and maybe even agrees with it but it still has to be done. In the end though had I recieved a response asking just “why.. what’s wrong with this?” I would have been more than happy to explain, but still firm about the end result.

Is my writing that email going to get the Guide Manual taken down from everywhere? Of course not.. but it is important to protect Copyrighted material. Read thru the manual again and you will see a lot of the same information that’s up on our website. There are also some things that frankly I would have prefered stayed internal.. most of which are commands guides use, etc. The last thing I want is everyone asking to be “/buff/index.html”ed. I’m quite sure most of you could understand this if you think about it logically.. I also don’t want every hacker in the world to have any starting points, because we have better things to do with our programmers time.

At the end of the day, I don’t send out a lot of emails like that exchange with Lum. If that 2nd email seemed harsh, well.. guess what I’m human too and just maybe spending time chasing down stuff like that can get frustrating. It would be nice if people like Lum would maybe send an email saying “Hey.. someone just sent me this and I’d like to post it, but I’m not sure if I should.. it kinda seems a bit confidential” he would have gotten a really nice response from me asking him not to and explaining my reasons.

But, That’s the way it goes…

My email address for replies is jsmedley@verant.com.

John Smedley
President and CEO
Verant Interactive, Inc.


Getting a LOT of email about this one, as you can well imagine.

If you’re looking for the Holy and Apostolic Verant Guide Guide, first off it’s a fairly dry read and no 3l33t s33krits are really revealed therein. But if you insist, a couple of mirrors that I have no control over and personally disapprove of are here and here. I suspect they will disappear shortly, to be replaced by others.

There’s precedent for all this, and it’s not a very pleasant one, both for myself (who would prefer to remain financially solvent, thank you) and for Verant, who I suspect really does not want to be equated in the public mind with the folks I’m about to equate them with.

The Church of Scientology is neither a church, nor particularly scientific. In fact, they are a fairly decent exhibit in how in America, if you have enough money, you can buy respectability no matter how bugfuck in the head you are. Their schtick is to “clear” your “engrams” of bad things, a fairly expensive and somewhat invisible process. L. Ron Hubbard, a bad science fiction writer who allegedly founded Scientology on a bet, turned Scientology into a church/cult after its initial incarnation as a health and fitness tool was looked down on by the Feds in the 50’s.

If you pay enough money to Scientology, you get to learn more and more 3l33t s33krits. Pay LOTS of money and you eventually learn that Hawaii was nuked 65 million years ago and some alien named Xenu is fighting for YOU against other evil aliens. Or something. At any rate, you had better hope I got most of that wrong, because according to Scientology if you read the previous and aren’t an “Operating Thetan” (someone who paid in a LOT of money) you will immediately die. (Possibly from laughing yourself into a coronary.)

There’s a bunch of folks on the Internet, some ex-Scientologists, others just really sick of lame cults making lots of money, who congregate on the newsgroup alt.religion.scientology. One of them started posting the SEEKRIT DOCUMENTS of the church, and they started going up on websites.

The Church’s response? Sue ’em. They asserted in court that the SEEKRIT DOCUMENTS, in addition to causing instant death to unbelievers, were copyrighted and those people disseminating and distributing them were violating Scientology’s copyright.

The dissident’s reponse were that the SEEKRIT DOCUMENTS held a newsworthy value beyond the copyright held by the church and thus the posting of them without profit motive was legal.

(Any of this sound familiar yet?)

Well, guess what, campers. The Church won. The dissidents retreated to offshore hostings of the SEEKRIT DOCUMENTS, but not before several of them were financially ruined. (Netcom, at the time one of the largest ISPs in the country, was a defendant and settled out of court for an undisclosed sum.)

Of course, I’m not really saying Verant is an unstable cult firing off legal missiles at dissident netizens, but the tactic of using legal bullying to inhibit Internet-based disclosure of source material is nothing new.

On to the mailbag. It’s damn near burst, so we’ll only do the lowlights – er highlights. Delusion writes J. Smedley Esq. and cc’s me with this:

This is in regards to your letter written to Lum (https://www.lum.xrgaming.net/) regarding the removal of your Guide Manual.

If Lum comes off as opinionated and irritable, it reflects upon the staff of his site – namely just Lum himself. What’s more, it’s obvious to the casual reader that his site is about, well, ranting. If you don’t like his attitude and his editorial stance, it’s not because you were sold on a false expectation.

If Lum acts unprofessional and offends your sense of how to do business, again, that reflects poorly on the shareholders of his company. Oh wait, I don’t suppose he has one, does he? So again, I guess that reflects on him.

But here’s what I keep asking myself over and over…

What’s your excuse?

“I like my quake with rocket launchers, not effete elves and potkettle dwarves.”

A former EQ guide reports:

I am a guide, Or lets say I used to be until a power tripped GM decided he didn’t like me and got me “Dismissed”. Frankly customer service at verant is a joke and it is very much the Us versus them attitude up in the Airplane as well as on the guide boards. While this isn’t the way all guides or GM’s are it is a sad majority. I also want you to know I have a version of the P&P; downloaded just last week with NO COPYRIGHT info so if there is one now it was added because of this incident not before it. I prefer not to be named on the site because verant has a lot of my personal info due to my involvement in the guide program.

Someone else writes:

Whatever happenend to common sense over at your place? You post confidental material on your website and then bitch about being forced to put it down? Any sensible person would have checked with Verant beforehand. I mean – did it now dawn on you that GM guidelines might, just might, be confidential material? Ah well, america… (gotta love those ‘common sense applies’ stickers on shampoo boxes)

I probably should have checked with Verant beforehand, just so I could add to my stack of “You are a valued customer! Your feedback has been recieved!” form letters.

And again:

I check your site every day even though I’ve never played Ultima On-line or Everquest in my life. You’ve made the scene interesting enough so that a non-player like myself will read the updates and be wholly entertained.

Supposedly someone will bring cable modems and DSL lines into Fort Collins at some point in time, and I had planned on signing up to either UO or EQ when that day arrives. I had really not made a decision either way before yesterday. The guys in charge of those two games couldn’t — apparently — be any farther apart.

I met Richard Garriot last summer at E3 and he was really a friendly, down to earth guy. Er, as much as someone who lives in a castle can be. The guy has nothing to prove to anybody, yet he still took the time to talk to me personally, ask me about my company and then give me his take on how Ultima 9 was going. If there’s anyone in the industry who could get by on momentum it’s Garriot, but he still made the effort to come off as a solid citizen.

Meanwhile, there’s our boy Smedley — apparently the fricking President of a company, here — with nothing better to do than hunt down evil, rogue news sites and threaten them with legal action. I mean, really — “Is that Bad Cop enough for you?” Who on earth talks like that? The only reason I’m remotely interested in his game to begin with is because guys like yourself let the masses on the outside know what’s going on in there. Hell. If I pay ten bucks a month to play Asheron’s Call it’s probably because I want to see some guy named “Effeminate Sailor” rag on brain-dead leets or meet “Nighthawk”, not because I have a burning desire to replicate the experiences I had playing The Bard’s Tale ten years ago and kill laggy drakes.

As far as I’m concerned, Smedley gave me all the reason I need not to give him any Gammons because he attempted to play net.cop over his laughably awful training guide. Maybe if you need to specifically address and outlaw “doodspeak” then you’re not recruiting through solid channels, hoss. What an awful ambassador for his product.


An anonymous correspondent reports:

Over the past day or so the U.Hall has been flooded with talk from jealous people who have taken a very “anti-AMT” stance. One person has even gone so far as to organize a protest, not against any unfairness in OSI’s system for blessing buildings, not against the lack of housing space, but against AMT directly.

Why are they doing this? Because after seeing that “trash” that was posted on geocities about Tiffric and AMT, they’re all jealous of AMT’s “l33tness”. Now some are coming out with “structured” arguments (that seem to change every 5 minutes) about how AMT is using an illegally placed building, using vendors in a decorated building and profiting off of it, etc..etc..

The issue of whether that’s fair for everyone or not is hardly in debate. Of course it’s not fair. What’s wrong about all this, and what I take exception to is the fact that everyone vent’s their rage on the community-builders who worked their ass off only a year or so ago to get their buildings blessed. It is not their fault there’s no more room for housing, it’s not their fault that the IGM’s/Seer’s wear sunglasses when looking at buildings for blessing, it’s not their fault that not everyone can have a “kewl-d3c0r@ted” building. These are the community builders in the community, the people who broke their backs, put up with all the asshole jerks who tried to make their buildings a living hell, and beat their way thru the OSI beuracracy to get a special building. They didn’t do this for themselves, to be “l33t”. They did this because they believe that the community needs buildings like that.

My apologies Lum, I’m not blaming you or anyone else for this. I’m just ranting about this backlash. I believe that now that it’s begun, it will never stop. The new players will constantly be demanding “fairness” and “equality” when it comes to specially decorated/sanctioned buildings. And, I don’t believe there will be any more rest for the weary community-builders who occupy them now that the masses have “tasted” their own jealousy. That, to me, is a tragedy, and signals of a self-destructive element in the community


My only comment other than what’s posted within:

My god, he registered an email address. And is checking it. Jesus wept.

From: Lum Sucks Real Bad <lumthemadsucks@yahoo.com>
To: Lum the Mad <lum@webtoys.net>
Sent: Wednesday, September 01, 1999 1:36 PM
Subject: You Suck

You just recieved the Official “Suck” Award. Not only are you a whiny weeny w/ a second grade education, you have a whiny wife too! Apparently you are pissed off because you realize you’ve wasted your life and will be stuck w/ that fat thing next to you while you twiddle away at your blue collar job. WELL STOP BITCHING ABOUT IT THROUGH YOUR SITE! NO ONE LIKES YOU! YOUR JEALOUSY OF TWISTER IS APPARENT! Not only do you steal news from him, 45% of your updates are ABOUT HIM! Your not hurting him, your just giving him more traffic! So in closing, I recommend you close your site, and perhaps go back to school, maybe even get a divorce. It’s not too late!

Concerned Fan of Dr. TwisTer

From: Lum the Mad <lum@webtoys.net>
To: Lum Sucks Real Bad <lumthemadsucks@yahoo.com>
Sent: Wednesday, September 01, 1999 2:42 PM
Subject: Re: You Suck

Corrections and annotations to the below:

(1) I did get somewhat beyond 2nd grade
(2) My wife doesn’t whine
(3) My wife isn’t overweight
(4) My job is white collar cubicle monkey, not blue collar “Want Fries With That?”
(5) I’m not jealous of Dr. TwisTer
(6) I don’t steal news from Dr. TwisTer
(7) Somewhat less than 45% of my updates are about Dr. TwisTer
(8) I’m not interested in getting a divorce or going back to school

Other then that, what can I say, you’re dead on the money. You r00l.

From: Lum Sucks Real Bad <lumthemadsucks@yahoo.com>
To: Lum the Mad <lum@webtoys.net>
Sent: Wednesday, September 01, 1999 10:02 PM
Subject: Re: You Suck

Comments on the corrections:

I still don’t like you, and I’m going to tell you that. Now in slow motion: I – DON’T – LIKE – YOU! Ok there, it’s off my chest. Now go get some real news, maybe you’ll go beyond your sub domain someday.


While I sympathize with the Australian crusade to get their own server so that their ping times won’t suck, I don’t exactly see using a cheat utility as somehow making up for it. Then again, I suspect with 600ms+ pings I really doubt those Aussies are jumping all over the screen on horses killing folks even with UOE. Anyway this person seems to be going about it the right way:


I have a HUGE favour to ask of you. As you are probably well aware, with the introduction of this server authentication for walking around UO now, Australian players have suffered greatly and we really need a server of our own!

What I ask of you is to please help our cause. I have put a simple kind of contact on my website (https://www.mainesthai.dropbear.id.au) so that people can contact me with their details so that I can forward this on to my friend at Electronic Arts Australia who is pushing like hell at the top end to get us this server that is set to go at the end of this year, money dependant of course(EA as you probably already know is OSIs boss so to speak).

Could you please post something in regards to this and please contact anybody else you know that has an UO based webpage asking the same of them too. Just a few lines of code is all I ask :D.

Also, you probably remember a push some time ago for an Aussie server, but that guy just forwarded the info to OSI directly, which, as you know, is probably the worst place it could have gone. If you know what ever happened to that guy or have the url even (if its still running) could you please forward his details to me so that I can get inc ontact with him? I am literally the liason between OSI and its players for Australia anyways so any help you could provide you be extremely appreciated!