Feb 242010
Authors: Ryan Gibbons and Glen Pfeiffer

If regular spelunking equates to the exploration of caves, then tech-spelunking is what we do when we delve into unexplored technological realms.
We did such activity this weekend, so you get to hear about it.

Some of you know what Second Life is, and some of you don’t. In a nutshell, it’s like a game where you control an avatar based on yourself in a world similar to ours, except for a few exceptions, such as the ability to fly.

It’s similar to a massively multiplayer role-playing game (MMORPG) like World of Warcraft, except that there’s no point. You don’t go on missions. You really just live life in the game by interacting with other people in the game.

Glen first made an account when a former professor invited people to play for a few hours in a controlled environment in Second Life as part of a multi-university study of people’s interactions online.

There was no compensation except extra credit in class and some in-game money, but the way our brains work, playing online games in the name of research for a few hours is just fine by itself.

So what happens when four online avatars get together on a private island to work together to solve a mystery in three hours? And the island’s creator has a thing for the type of strange kittens you find all over the rest of the Internet?

Massive entertainment. It sounds like the setting of a reality show doesn’t it?

In any case, our ragtag group of detectives in the game –– including an avatar decked out completely in red, white and blue named Stinky Ruben, carrying an American flag –– gave the researchers plenty of fodder for their reports.

We’re personally still not sold on using Second Life much, but participating in the study was still entertaining.

The game is unpredictable. Don’t assume you’ll be bored just because you begin by wandering aimlessly. That’s what Glen did when he first logged on. But by the end of the night he was ballroom dancing in a classy jazz club with a girl who, through talking, told him she was a recent college grad living in Utah.

We should probably hook him up with someone who lives a little closer.

The lack of in-person social interaction described above was also solved this weekend by one of our Binary Boys dates, when we go out together to check out the latest on-location tech spectacle, all in the name of reporting.

This weekend it was the …

CSU Surplus Warehouse:

We all know that when gadgets die, they’re properly disposed at your nearest recycling facility (or posted for sale on Craigslist). But any gadgets that are just starting to feel their age, usually when they hit about 3 or 4, get sent to a retirement home.

The retirement home in question, set among the quaint rolling hills of our university, is the CSU Surplus Warehouse on Lake Street.

This is where our schools old tech gadgets sit on shelves keeping each other company, reminiscing about their golden years sitting at the desk of a professor who was too stubborn to learn how to use it. Or maybe sitting in a dark corner of the Library where shady students looked up certain videos, later to be called out for it in RamTalk.

This is where the general public can, for a small fee, give these outdated, but perfectly good gadgets a new home.

When we made our visit last weekend, we were able to find a smorgasbord of used tech that needed a new place to crash. We stumbled across old flat panel monitors, Dell laptops and towers, Apple iMacs and G5s plus video projectors, just to mention a few.

Most of the computers seemed to be missing their hard drive, likely for security purposes, while others were labeled as “for parts,” implying they were less than working.

But gadgets aren’t CSU Surplus’s only forte. You can also find office furniture, cooking utensils, printing presses and even a $10,000 polymerase chain reaction system.

The prices are fair: $130 for a projector, $250 for working computers, $50 for flat panel monitors and just $1 for cables and adapters.

So if you’ve got a free hour between classes or you’re looking for a server tower or spare parts for your own PC, we’d highly suggest you take a trip over to 201 W. Lake St.

Columnists Ryan Gibbons and Glen Pfeiffer are arguing over grilled cheese making techniques. Send feedback on this or any other issue to verve@collegian.com.

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