December 1999


Jacob writes:

You need to set the font color diffterent for someone else’s speech.

Example: your text would be grey, but the text of the person whos
message you post would be red or light blue.

This makes your page easier to read and understand.

Oh yea, you need to indent your paragraphs. the HTML command is
“&nbsp”, without the “”,.

   &blow me.


Got this note from a reader. Bear in mind that this is of course all totally unconfirmable, yadda yadda yadda. You’re here for the dish, so here it is.

The scary thing is that, if this is true, posting wedding announcements on a web page pays almost as much as maintaining multi-million dollar database systems. Jesus wept.

FYI: I make zero from this website.

Admittedly, I’ve been behind in reading the boards on your site and the news section, but a thread caught my eye today regarding the Vault network.

See, I know Thalshara of the UOVault. What should interest you is that I know Thalshara is personally making $2500 a month off her work on the vault. And she’s just one person. It is indeed a business. I don’t know how they’re making their money (view banners, I imagine), but the question of news ethics has been discussed among her and

Here’s the deal: In order to keep the currency flowing, they must have open access to information. Where do they get the best information? Well, OSI of course. OSI feeds the Vault information as long as the Vault refrains from criticizing OSI. This is basically why most scandals, screw ups, and just plain stupid behavior on the part of OSI is rarely found on the UOVault. If it is reported, it’s in passing, sugar coated, and largely ignored. The only time you will see UO Vault post anything bad about OSI is when the issue is so large that they would look dumb for not posting it.

Basically, the UOVault is OSI’s PR machine. Of course, this is pretty obvious to anyone with half a brain, but I thought you’d like to know that not only do Vault operators know about it, but they profit well from it and will continue to provide biased information to the players as long as there is money in the bank at the end of the month. They’re very proud of themselves, and basically sold out to OSI quite some time ago. They know full well what they’re doing. I know Vault operators personally, and I can truthfully say they are a group of greedy a**holes that no longer care about the game or the players. They used to, but now all they see is green.


Another note on preserving (or alternately, taking back) your account…

Regardless of the information being changed either Credit card or user info, you can get your account back. 3 things you need:

1 The account name
2 The password that was originally the set up
3 The final and most important info is the Jewel Case. That has the
registration code on it. This is the determining factor of who owns the account. not CC not anything. IF you think I’m lying just email GM Ed — remember him? He’s now head of the accounts Security.


Recieved this:

Lum have you taken absolute complete leave of your senses? Are you taking lessons from Dr. Twister? The coverage you gave the story about OSI returning accounts to the original owner was completely biased and I cannot even BELIEVE you posted all those rants by the psuedo-lawyers that came out of the woodwork by the thousands on this one.

First off, not one of these “lawyers” bothered to call OSI and see what the actual story was. A close friend (real life friend — not just online) did call as he had bought an ebay account and was concerned. OSI told him his account was not in danger as he had bothered to change the cc info, the user info and the password — in short, all the info that can be changed was changed. They said this type of thing had been going on since accounts started being sold on ebay and that they are not in the habit of just turning accounts back over to the original owner. They went on to say that in this case, while they could not comment on in particular, chances are that the person who took over the account did not bother to change the cc or user info. If that person only changed the PW then yes, they would turn the account back over to the original owner after investigating it.

Now I don’t know exactly what was changed on the account and neither do any of this idiot lawyers. And that is the point here. They are offering legal advice on the basis of posted heresay. No lawyer in their right mind would do such a thing. These people are all blowing smoke out of their asses.

Tanada of Great Lakes didn’t even read the story well enough to realize that no money changed hands and that no one was scammed. This is an argument between former ‘friends’ and an account that never should have changed hands in the first place. I have no idea what his or her credentials are other than being a part of Stratics and the advice may or may not be good if one is scammed — but no one was in this particular instance.

The Smiling Bandit at least read the story well enough to know that no money changed hands — but then s/he goes on to talk about being scammed on ebay. No one here was scammed on ebay — no one. And as far as I know no one has been scammed (in the manner we are speaking about) on ebay.

Then there is the Canadian twit who posted somewhere. Why a Canadian attorney would profess to offer advice about an American situation is beyond me. My parents are both attorneys — one is a tax lawyer and the other a patent lawyer. I live in the Metropolitan DC area. Both my parents are members of the bar in DC, VA and MD — as they should be. THEY CANNOT PRACTICE OUTSIDE OF THESE STATES!!!!! Why? Because they don’t know state law outside of these states. A Canadian attorney cannot practice in America. Why? Because s/he doesn’t know law in America. Furthermore my parents are neither qualified nor willing to offer advice in a matter such as this. Why? Because they are not familiar with the law in this area.

Law is very specialized. One of my friends is an environmental lawyer. He knows a lot about environmental law. If I want to know about a company putting pcbs into the ground water he’s the person I would go to ask about it. I wouldn’t ask him about fraud because he doesn’t know a goddam thing about it. HE would have to find an attorney to represent him in a fraud case. And he wouldn’t offer legal advice based on some person whom he didn’t know posting what may or may not have been a real letter from OSI. He would at least look for hard evidence before he opened his yap. And so should all of these yahoos that wrote in urging people to seek out attorneys and SUE SUE SUE!!!

This whole thing has been blown out of proportion. It really is nothing more than an argument between two former friends and none of any of our business. Litigation is expensive, painful, and often not worth the trouble. Attorneys fees are also expensive and while some will expense a little advice without charging you for it that is often the exception and not the rule. Furthermore, unless you really have been stolen from, crap like this just clogs up an already overloaded court system. Do yourself and your readership a favor and quit posting bullshit like this.


A couple of points here.

First off, while the person who sent me the “Help! My Account Was Stolen” letter in fact had nothing to do with eBay, the fact remains that account fraud on eBay is commonplace. Most of what I’ve heard takes place on the Everquest side, probably because it’s the more popular game at the moment and high level EQ accounts go for more money. There have been many instances of folks selling accounts then simply taking them back (and in one case, actually selling the account again). This is a valid issue for discussion.

Tyrant seems to think so, anyway. He’s solicited advice from the public on what policies OSI should set for account transfers.

Second, as for your friend’s situation in particular. Obviously I nor anyone else knows the details of this situation. I simply posted what I recieved. To my eyes, the newsworthy part wasn’t that he was scammed – sadly, scams happen in UO on a daily basis – but that Origin had set an account transfer policy that was, to put it gently, inane.

My policy on posting email like this is to post as much information as I recieve and let you decide. I’m not some godlike filter that can say “He’s right! She’s wrong! So let it be written, so let it be done!”. I’m just a fairly opinionated gamer like yourself. When I post an email like this, it should be obvious that it’s just one side of a story (and I always post the other side when it hits my email). I don’t presume to say how things should be done, I just suggest topics for community conversation.

Except for smurfs, of course. There I do in fact presume to say how things should be done. Well, we all have our character flaws.


From Tyrant, via the AustralianUO mailing list:

Your outpouring of ideas and contacts have been extremely helpful. You have sent us so many in fact that it will take us several more days to sort through and follow up on them. So don’t despair if we have not called/contacted everyone before early next week. Just for your information, we are only looking for folks that currently provide hosting services to multiple other companies, as our requirements are such that a vendor have significant experience at hosting. And that they have existing 24×7 full on site service capability. Anything less puts our service delivery capability at an risk level we do not consider acceptable.

Normally we only look at the largest 3-5 backbone providers within the country for a hosting / bandwidth partner. Even though I used the term ISP, we are not particular at all about whether the company provides end-user services, more with how their hosting facilities are outfitted, their local service capabilities, their network topology and their peering arrangements with other providers. And of course a pricing model more in line with our business model and costs in other parts of the world.

As several people on the list have noted, the underlying problem in Australia is the primary in-country provider is selling bandwidth on a per byte basis. This skews the vast majority of other providers in that direction, since almost all buy from that provider. The number of bytes pushed by a UO server (which we expect to be near full) is quite substantial and even given the smallest price we have heard to date, it really is 3x+ more expensive than the maximum we pay for bandwidth per shard in any of our other 6 regions. This is compounded by the fact that we don’t prevent people from other regions from playing on a UO server, except for a short time after launch, and overseas bandwidth is particularly unattractive to Australian providers (with good reason).

Everywhere else we are now (or are expanding to shortly) sells bandwidth on a peak usage basis per month. For example, if a shard peaks at 5 megabits per second, then we contract for and pay monthly for the 5 megabits in other markets. If we go over that some month, the bandwidth is available and they charge us a premium fee for going over (this does not happen in practice btw, we contract for the worst case in our other regions). Our business model for UO is based on this type of predictable charge.

We are continuing to look at NZ and Singapore as options, but your efforts have given us additional Australian avenues to explore.

Thanks again for the help, and I hope this communication brings more clarity to the situation for you.

P.S. Those of you who are upset with us are fully justified, as I probably should not have let the cat out of the bag until we had a hosting partner locked. We remain committed to getting a shard in place with better connectivity for the Australian and New Zealand customers ASAP.

And an Australian writes:

The remains of the current Australian UO’ers usually discussed their… things on a messageboard which Miasma ran, but he Massacred it, so hence, we do not have a messageboard. So I took the liberty to modify my board to the new Australian UO Messageboard, Heres the URL . If you could be as so kind as to make it clear to your leigons of… ummm… readers and post this on your board somewhere, that would be very much apprecieated. Thank you.

OK, …readers, there you go.

PANDEMONIUM: KAL ORT POR [Author: wirehead]

From Pandemonium, UO coder, posted to several UO mailing lists:

I am leaving the UO development team to pursue other opportunities back in my home state of California.

I will be wrapping up the final touches on skill management and other current dev issues before my last day next friday.

It was an honor and a privilege to work with the many dedicated and talented people at Origin.

And a toast…
*raises his glass*
“To the players of Ultima Online, whose undying passion for the game have helped us shape UO into an unforgettable gaming experience many thousands enjoy today and for years to come”

Hail to the many I have known/pk’d/fought against or alongside on Lake Superior for 2 years, you will not be forgotten.



BOOK EM, DON HO [Author: wirehead]

Recieved another clarification about legal protection for eBay scam victims…

After reading the email sent from Origins about the true ownership of accounts (quote: “the original owner of the account (the person who possess the credit card with which the UO account was opened) is considered the true owner”). However, OSI has made an official announcement in the past that selling your account on E-bay is a legitimate action in their eyes. This is unfortunately a legal contradiction, and, what I don’t think many people realize, is one which could really get OSI into a lot of trouble.

The most important fact to understand concerning this type of scam is that it is 100%, clearly, undeniably illegal. In fact, it is a Federal Offense if it crosses state lines, and being sold over the internet usually puts such a transaction directly into that category. A Federal Offense is deeply serious, one which has far greater punishments to it. And remember, this is a CRIMINAL act, not just a civil liablility for the perpetrator. I highly recommend that the person who was scammed do the following things: 1) Contact the FBI. Yes that’s right, Federal Offenses are investigated by the FBI. This is in the category of Mail Fraud. The FBI is what you pay your taxes for! Let them do their job and get this bad guy!

2) Go to a lawsuit attorney for a simple consultation (most of these types of attorneys have free consultations guys, and many will work for free and take a percentage of your winnings, or they will include in the lawsuit their attorney’s fees). You have a 100% viable case to sue the person who scammed you. This will give the attorney the power to get the person’s name and address (if you don’t already have that from where and who you sent the check to) regardless of any P.O. Box anonymities, or any other means of obfuscation. The attorney can also tell you if you have a case against OSI, because they gave the account back to the person from whom you purchased it legitimately
(remember, they officially announced that they legally accepted such sales as being legitimate — the attorney will take this very much into consideration).

3) Also, talk to your bank where you wrote the check from, they might have ways to go after this person for the lost money. PARTICULARLY if this was a certified check that was used. If you used a credit card with the person, all you need to do is call the credit card company and say that you did not get the promised goods. Their lawyers then go to work for you, and often they will re-credit you the amount.

Standing there and allowing this to go by unpunished hurts us all, both UO users and non-UO users. After all, this person will find it easier to scam the next time, and will not necessarily always use UO to do it. Next target: old ladies on social security and medicare. And look at those options I listed, many of them are free to you, so you can lose nothing by using them!

Thank you,
Tananda of Great Lakes,


I recieved this from everyone’s favorite counselor and satirist, Counselor X:

So GMs no longer want to hear about the castle that was placed illegally. Why should anyone care?

Well, considering the recent accounts of GM abuse (SRC Sex for Stuff Scandal), one cannot help but wonder if this isn’t a case of GMs not crossing “The Thin Blue Line”; or the Thin Red Line, as the case may be.

But that aside, my primary concern has nothing to do with houses, or sex, or females who play UO (which I think may actually be a first for me. Brace yourself as I cover all new ground).

This is yet another case of OSI opting to make an executive decision about UO, and keeping it a secret as long as they possibly can, from the people who send them piles of money every month. It started with thread, and while that case may be justified (imagine what would happen if In Testing said, “soon thread will cost 5 times as much”), it was the vanguard for what is now a fully operational battle station. The following edict was recently fired to all counselors. Untold numbers of ewoks are feared dead:

“Do not forward illegal housing calls to GMs. GMs will no longer track these issues.”

File this under commentary and opinion, but I seriously doubt they ever *did* track these issues. Perhaps they were too busy having some sex to get around to deleting houses. Perhaps they were too busy illegally placing houses to go around deleting illegally placed houses. Perhaps none of those stories are even true – but once the camel’s nose is under the tent, well you know the rest.

What troubles me most is that players are being given lip service about this and a good many other things as well (anybody summoned a skeleton lately? email me!). And when enough players (and counselors) start asking why the houses they reported 8 weeks ago still stand, rather than say, “well it looks like we dropped another ball. Sorry. We’re the Tony Banks of the software industry.” — instead, Gms will no longer take calls about illegally placed houses.

Which means there are no such things as illegally placed houses.

At least, that’s the policy this week. God knows what will be announced in secret IRC rooms next week.