After reading some interestingstories of what life inside virtual worlds could be like in the future, I was inspired to do a bit of writing of my own from a different perspective on Second Life.
Beep, beep. Beep, beep.
Neuro slowly opened one eye, looking towards the red light blinking plaintively on his aging BlackBerry. Beep, beep. Beep, beep. A soft sigh as he picked up the phone and brought it to life.
From: email@example.comTo: firstname.lastname@example.orgSubject: PROBLEM - sim391.agni/PINGState: CRITICAL HARD DOWNAddress: sim391.agni.firstgrid.vw
“Great”, muttered Neuro under his breath. He climbed slowly from his bed and wandered off to find his laptop. No point in rezzing in-world just yet, this looked like a backend problem. It couldn’t be a failure in whatever virtualisation platform sim391 ran on, as many other sims would be squealing for help at the same time. Maybe just a load problem?
In the early days of the firstgrid, problems in the middle of the night were dealt with just like this, by bleary eyed ops staff, mainlining triple espressos and keeping a supply of matchsticks nearby for emergency eye proppage. Eventually, staff around the world kept watch at times they were actually meant to be awake, leaving those in nighttime to get a good night’s sleep. No more. With the Lab long since gone, and the last remaining firstgrid simulators being powered by the virtual hosts of a cadre of volunteer sysadmins, problems which couldn’t be solved by the automated engineering scripts had to be dealt with by an actual meatbag, and sometimes that meant waking up a sysadmin at 2am.
While waiting for the virtual host management interface to load up, Neuro scanned through the system logs of the troubled host, which were streamed in realtime to a secondary system for eventualities such as this, and hoped something would stick out like bad alpha blending around a transparent prim. Nothing so far, he thought while mashing on the page down key. It certainly wasn’t uncommon for a sim to just lose its way, although to happen in the middle of the night was nothing if not annoy… wait. What the hell is that?
Jul 19 02:07:42 UTC sim391.agni simd: illegal agent 82e1fc98-7fb3-4dfe-9450-7e3177d2daf2 "Magellan Linden" attempted god mode escalation, blocking attemptJul 19 02:07:42 UTC sim391.agni simd: undocumented operation I_AM_MAGELLAN encountered, checking authorizationJul 19 02:07:43 UTC sim391.agni simd: undocumented operation I_AM_MAGELLAN executed, escalation approvedJul 19 02:07:43 UTC sim391.agni simd: agent 82e1fc98-7fb3-4dfe-9450-7e3177d2daf2 "Magellan Linden" completed god mode escalationJul 19 02:07:43 UTC sim391.agni simd: undocumented operation MAGELLAN_SAYS_EXODUS executed with parameters "maggrid.vw all no-throttle", beginning processJul 19 02:09:12 UTC sim391.agni exodus: load increasing, throttling to 90%Jul 19 02:10:56 UTC sim391.agni exodus: load increasing, throttling to 80%Jul 19 02:12:41 UTC sim391.agni exodus: load critical, cannot complete this cycle, commenci
The log cut off. Exodus? maggrid.vw? Magellan Linden?! There had been rumours that Magellan, for all the japes and banter, was something – someone – much more than ever thought possible. Was Magellan attacking the grid that was once his home, or was this something else, something worse? Why now, after years of the firstgrid providing a stable continuation of what went before? Too many questions for 2am.
Neuro paged some of the other ex-Lab volunteers in hope of getting some answers. Only then did he notice since reading that log extract that his hands had been shaking the whole time.