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Bacon/Gates Love Child
February 25, 2003 6:48 AM   Subscribe

Kevin Bacon and Bill Gates spawn love child. In a surprisingly un-clumsy attempt to a) figure out what teens really like to do online, b) create an app to tap into this behavior, and c) rule world, a skunkworks project inside MS has beta released the surprisingly clued-in threedegrees. It most literally rocks.
posted by i blame your mother (33 comments total)

Looks like Groove , but targetted at 12-year-olds rather than corporates.

Didn't MS invest heavily in Groove a while back? Hmm...
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:57 AM on February 25, 2003

btw, i've read that this is supposedly similar to helloworld, which I've been waiting for long before I stumbled onto 3degrees... There seem to be three main differences between these two apps. 1) helloworld is more flexible about platform 2) helloworld has no music streaming (which i think is the primary killerapp portion of 3degrees) and 3) helloworld is still, sadly, vaporware.
posted by i blame your mother at 6:57 AM on February 25, 2003

yeah, ms is a big investor in groove, and the newly formed dept. of homeland security is a big user of it as well. but then again I use it with most of my clients to the point that I would be significantly less efficient without it... it's truly a killer app. No question MS sees the P2P/XML writing on the wall.

there was a lot of hype about p2p and when it failed to materialize immediately people got burned, but i think you raise a good point in the similarity of these apps. they are both great examples of p2p getting it very right.
posted by i blame your mother at 7:03 AM on February 25, 2003

Cool program, I would prob---


Hey what's that? It's the Clue Phone! I think it's for you Microsoft, it's a bunch of teenagers telling you completely fucking suck donkey ass for using lingo like "411" and "getting the lowdown." WORD TO YOUR MOTHER, my homies!
posted by Stan Chin at 7:10 AM on February 25, 2003

Threedegrees will be available free (three, and currently “there’s no business plan,” says Savage.

MS: your virtual crack dealer.
this is how they are going to get DRM onto every machine.
posted by quonsar at 7:12 AM on February 25, 2003

Sucks a donkey's dick. Does not whup a donkey's ass.

I don't know which is scarier, the utter condescension of this, right down to the supafly wording, or the threat/promise "More will be coming soon."

(Isn't M$'s current campaign "one degree," anyways?)

The ugly truth here.
posted by adamgreenfield at 7:22 AM on February 25, 2003

drm... its already there if you are running wmp9. anyhow, i'm streaming mp3s fresh from kazaa on my pc to my girlfriends xp laptop via threedegrees with no ill effects.

sec, i'll be right back. someone's at the door.
posted by i blame your mother at 7:24 AM on February 25, 2003

I don't know which is scarier, the utter condescension of this, right down to the supafly wording, or the threat/promise "More will be coming soon."

The scarier thing is that most people will volunteer to feed this thing and gleefully eat what it shits out.

Idaho cabin. Shotgun. Someday I'll be there.
posted by jonmc at 7:26 AM on February 25, 2003

During this time, the WMA, MP3, or WAV file is being transcoded to a 64 Kbps WMA file , custom encrypted, and transferred to everyone participating in the session.

Cool, I wish more of my files were "custom encrypted" It's like they're making it special just for me. My only wish is that Microsoft would come up with a plan so that more of my files could be "custom encrypted".
posted by rhyax at 7:32 AM on February 25, 2003

From the FAQ: "Even if I am in a group with only myself, why is 3* still sending and receiving network traffic? [Answer:] This is due to peer to peer code and how it maintains itself. The only way to stop this traffic is to quit the 3* application." Huh?i
posted by carter at 7:36 AM on February 25, 2003

Wow, technology sure is progressing! It's like SixDegrees (now defunct), only twice as fast and half as cool!

Seriously, this must be a marketing department's wet dream. Call me a hardened cynic, but I seriously doubt this software isn't "phoning home" with some usage data. From the FAQ:

Even if I am in a group with only myself, why is 3o still sending and receiving network traffic?

This is due to peer to peer code and how it maintains itself. The only way to stop this traffic is to quit the 3o application.

Umm, yeah...
posted by mkultra at 7:44 AM on February 25, 2003

©2003 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
better listen, i hear they have good lawyers!

posted by gottabefunky at 7:45 AM on February 25, 2003

From the MS press release:

This exercise was just one in a series of efforts by Microsoft to determine how today's teenagers and twenty-somethings -- the so-called Internet Generation -- work, learn, live and use technology. The company plans to use this knowledge to ensure its products and services keep pace with the generational and technological evolution of its customers.

They're not even pretending it's not spyware.

Behind Winston's back the voice from the telescreen was still babbling away about pig-iron and the overfulfilment of the Ninth Three-Year Plan. The telescreen received and transmitted simultaneously. Any sound that Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it, moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision which the metal plaque commanded, he could be seen as well as heard. There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live -- did live, from habit that became instinct -- in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.
posted by eustacescrubb at 7:48 AM on February 25, 2003

looks to me like yet another innovative microsoft product: an intrusive, current configuration destroying, feature removing, impossible to uninstall piece of utter shit. thanks again, microsoft! i'm glad my kids are grown and there's no possibility of this thing creeping onto my box via them.
posted by quonsar at 7:49 AM on February 25, 2003

I don't know which of the scenarios I'm imagining is worse: The one where a crazed developer with MS Paint gets that past QA, or the one where the design team achieves group consensus to prove they're the gang that's down with the kids.

posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 7:50 AM on February 25, 2003

Even my 12-year-old laughed at a site that offered to give him the "lowdown" on "the 411".

I was reminded of Larry Miller's character in "10 Things I Hate About You" trying to speak "teen".
posted by Cerebus at 8:05 AM on February 25, 2003

Sigh - yet another session of Microsoft-bashing. If they put out bad code, then it gets hammered. If they put out good code, then it gets hammered - hey, it's Microsoft.
posted by FormlessOne at 8:08 AM on February 25, 2003

So it will be ok when MS RestrictYourPersonalFreedom 2005 comes out, so long as the code is good?
posted by walrus at 8:18 AM on February 25, 2003

Does it bother anyone the Code of Conduct is commented out? On the plus side, titactually looks halfway decent in Mozilla.
posted by yerfatma at 8:21 AM on February 25, 2003

posted by walrus at 8:24 AM on February 25, 2003

So it will be ok when MS RestrictYourPersonalFreedom 2005 comes out, so long as the code is good?

isn't it possible to appreciate what they've done, even if you don't like the company? to me, it looks very very impressive (maybe that's a bad sign, because i'm not their target audience). combining the music streaming with a limit of 10 users is a clever compromise, but at the same time restricting the number of users is an integral part of the appeal - people have been playing around with groups for a while now (i'm thinking of various things out of mit and a page mentioned a while back here which allowed clients visiting in parallel to interact).

is it really xml-based? (someone above mentioned p2p xml). if so (and without encryption) then does that suggest microsoft is very confident about how dmca and drm are going to play out (if they're not even bothing with obfuscation)?

i'd download a copy and run it on my windows box while ngrepping the stream at the firewall to have a peek at the data, but i really don't want to have to install im etc... anyone care to do it, or know of somewhere more technical that might already have the info?
posted by andrew cooke at 8:52 AM on February 25, 2003

You make some good points andrew, and to tell the truth I was being a little flippant. I believe there are some good ideas there. And I have liked certain applications and innovations which MS have come up with in the past, don't get me wrong. But they have also been shown to be a monopoly-grabbing company which appears to sometimes shift buggy and/or over-controlling software without a thought for user consent. I do think an element of caution is called for in adopting their creations, and I'm thinking I'll wait this one out until they or someone else gets the product right for me, like I do all the rest of their stuff.
posted by walrus at 9:02 AM on February 25, 2003

isn't it possible to appreciate what they've done, even if you don't like the company?

If the code is broken, then MS sucks because they release broken software. If it works, they suck because they've been clever and succesful at creating invasive spyware that furthers their corporate bid for being Big Brother.
posted by eustacescrubb at 9:04 AM on February 25, 2003

It's horrible. You need broadband, beta IPv6 stack, and Windows XP SP1, among other things. It doesn't quite work as intended, and the whole thing is very annoying. It also has problems working with my router.
posted by riffola at 9:47 AM on February 25, 2003

I certainly am glad they didn't release a Mac version of this software. Of course, if they had, it would be missing several features and install itself with other applications without asking.

Seems like I can do groups now, AIM has chat rooms that I can create... ICQ lets me send messages to multiple users... Yahoo! has similar features. The only thing that might be any good is the music feature, but then I could just zip off one of my MP3s to my buddies, assuming fair use still exists for sharing music with your friends on a small scale so they know whether they want to buy the CD or not. And all of my files won't be fed through the "Microsoft Wants to Know Everything You Do" filter.
posted by benjh at 9:48 AM on February 25, 2003

Also, you may not use these services for chats relating to illegal drugs.


Oh my god. I've become one of those people who type "lol" when they are not actually laughing out loud!

Btw, what in the hell is the deal with all Microsoft software requiring the very latest version of windows? And all their APIs digging into the core of it? I mean, can't they implement their super-l33t p2p XML system as a bunch of .dlls that will run on everything from windows '95 to XP? And why the hell can't I use whatever media player I want?

The bizarre system requirements are enough to stay away from the software. I guess their success in legally bundling IE has caused they to try to 'integrate' everything into the OS, but Microsoft is 'innovating' their way right off my hard drive. win2k will probably be the last version of windows I ever run, personally.
posted by delmoi at 9:56 AM on February 25, 2003

This thirddegrees thing is so cool 2b real!

Ah, America's marketers: their elbows firmly on the pulse of America's youth.
posted by solistrato at 10:12 AM on February 25, 2003

Sigh - yet another session of Microsoft-bashing.

I don't care if this thing cures cancer, ends war and promises to get me off -- that site is one of the worst examples of trying to market to kids I've ever seen in my life, and they deserve as much scorn as we can shovel in their direction for that alone.

The fact that they're trying to use this to wedge unneeded, unwanted, anti-consumer Disabling and Restricting Mechanisms trojan horse style is just more grist for the mill.

It isn't an MS thing. I don't care what company tries to shove their shit DRM down our throats. When Apple does it (as I'm sure they will), consumers will scream about that too, because consumers don't want this junk breaking their computers.
posted by willnot at 10:29 AM on February 25, 2003

If they put out good code, then it gets hammered

I'd like the opportunity to test that assertion...
posted by inpHilltr8r at 3:05 PM on February 25, 2003

So what is this anyway? Reading through the '411' and the FAQ was most unenlightening. I get the idea (from the postlinks and above comments) that it's some integrated chatroom and mediaplayer and filesharing service, but you'd never figure it out from anything said on the site itself. I'm not an 'oldster', I just think some actual information about what you're being encouraged to download would be appropriate to share somewhere on the site. Unless that's Microsoft's plan in the first place. "Just download it! Trust us!" ^_-
posted by SenshiNeko at 3:37 PM on February 25, 2003

there's a video on the ms site that explains it (shows it in action). one of the links on the main page.
posted by andrew cooke at 4:44 PM on February 25, 2003

Just yesterday, a bunch of metafilter people were online in a group talking, sharing music. It was great.

But get this, after you hear the songs, you can keep them, and you can have lots of people talking in the same group, even more than 10! You don't need broadband, and it works on pretty much every computer system ever! What is this fantastic software and who developed it you might ask! Well, it's just stinky old irc developed in 1988 by Jarkko Oikarinen.
posted by rhyax at 6:10 PM on February 25, 2003

rhyax: I think MS is counting on the teen demographic not knowing about anything as old & dusty as IRC. Why else would they reinvent that particular wheel, only with the added bogosity of DRM etc., and the buzzword compatability of p2p & XML? Unfortunately, given a decent marketing push, they might succeed.

Then again, they might not. Seems to me they're trying a little too hard to engineer not just the software itself, but the community & culture that will spring up around it. Online communities seem to work better if they grow of their own accord, rather than being created by corporate fiat. And I suspect the DRM thing is going to be the number one thing users wish to ditch. Well, assuming they fix the "it hoses your whole system" thing.
posted by arto at 3:29 AM on February 26, 2003

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