Keeping track of the virtual world, chickens and you

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Don't fret: You're not the only one wondering how to make a real buck in the virtual world of Second Life. In an effort to promote entrepreneurism in-world, PR agency Edelman and virtual world content developer Electric Sheep Co. partnered last December to sponsor a Second Life Business Plan contest. The winner, announced last month, developed a plan that focuses on the women's fashion industry and provides custom market research around the Second Life community. Jonah Gold, a producer at Electric Sheep, said winner Mary Ellen Gordon, managing director at Market Truths, beat out the competition by cultivating a plan that had the most profit potential and by being a seasoned veteran in the market research industry. Gordon, aka Pebbles Hannya in-world, said she thought the contest was important for Second Life because it is in a transitional stage. "People who viewed [Second Life] as a hobby are now starting to see it as a possible real-life job," she said. "Also, more and more real-life companies are now seeing [its potential] from a business standpoint." Her prizes include a Second Life private island for six months, as well as $350,000 Linden Dollars, in-world currency. Although she did not win actual U.S. dollars, Gordon said winning the virtual environment's contest has created a lot of buzz for Market Truths. "It's brought us to the attention of big and well-known companies," she said.

—Tequia Burt

Call it a case of "What's good for the goose is good for the chicken." Last month, the U.S. Postal Service published a notice for public comment in the Federal Register, proposing new requirements for containers used for mailing adult chickens. Currently, the Postal Service requires all mailable adult fowl other than chickens to be mailed in containers approved by the manager of mailing standards. With this proposal, the post office said it intends to require that adult chickens be mailed in approved containers as well. Current mailing standards permit adult chickens to be mailed in containers that pass basic package performance tests. By contrast, standards for mailing other adult fowl, such as turkeys, guinea fowl, doves, pigeons, pheasants, partridges and quail, as well as ducks, geese and swans, are more stringent. The Postal Service said that "because there is no compelling reason to treat adult chickens differently from other adult fowl, the revised standards will require adult chickens to be mailed in the same containers approved by mailing standards for use with other adult fowl. But the big question remains: Do the same rules apply to the Aflac duck? Or does he fly coach?

—Carol Krol

No, you're not getting fingerprinted for a prison ID. No, you're not going to spend any time behind bars. You are, however, getting fingerprinted for work. The next time you clock in, you may be met with a new biometric time clock that scans your fingerprint instead of a clunky ID badge. This time attendance tool from VeriTask Software uses fingerprint authentication and biometrics to record employee attendance. Workers place their finger on a small scanning device to sign in and out, and the software records the time and verifies that the fingerprint matches the one recorded in the system earlier. Preventing what VeriTask calls "buddy punching," the tool was created to stop employees from clocking in and out for one another. In the case that the scanner fails to read the fingerprint or, as the Web site says, in the rare case that the employee does not have a fingerprint, a PIN number can be used instead.

—Emerald Morrow

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