Thief Thoughts for the Holiday

I never update the blog, I don’t seem to have time for a whole lot, it seems. But the more I think about things like data security, and the possibility of employment and moving on to “real life” at the end of next semester, I keep wondering what I’ll end up doing. Writing has been my major, computers a passion and almost an expertise. But nothing proves skill more than experience.

Experience and intuition. With all of the worry about identity theft and computer criminals… they forget about simple crimes… robbery, breaking and entering, things like that. During the holiday season, there is generally a spike in these types of incidents – people know there are gifts in the house.

Shows like Discovery Channel’s “It Takes a Thief” have done a good job bringing this back to the attention of the masses; their website even reminds you that a theft takes places every 15 seconds in the United States. So, why not take one simple precaution in protecting yourself this year.

Do not dispose of all of your gift boxes. Think about this. It’s very simple, yet very effective. You got lucky and got a Playstation 3. I did (and I’m currently selling it on eBay {I will not include the obligatory link, for fear that people think I am just trying to plug my auction}). Let’s say you didn’t get lucky with it – let’s say you forked over $1,500 for it!

Your child opens it for Christmas, sets it up, enjoys it… everyone is happy. Then you throw the box in the trash. Now, me, I was always a pack-rate when it came to that stuff, I figured if I sold my Super Nintendo, or my Nintendo 64, years down the line, and I had the box, somebody might pay more for it. Some people hang on to that idea, others don’t. Let’s say you don’t. You throw the box away.

Thieves are scouting for prime targets. Do they think they’ll make off with your 62″ Plasma TV? Not unless they’re brave. Throw that box away, it’s too big to keep around. But that Playstation 3 box by the trash can lets someone know that inside that house, there must be a PS3. And thus, a target is born. It doesn’t matter if it’s weeks before they act on it – they might case your house several times to make sure there is little or no security. But the fact remains, if someone knows there’s a PS3 in that house, it’s the kind of item that a thief would love to go in, get, and get out.

I know, I know, you’re rolling your eyes and ignoring this – I would be, too – that’s why I tried some catchy writing! But the fact remains, if this happens “every 15 seconds” – then it could happen to any one of us. Just store the box in the attic for a while – if you are that hard-up for space… maybe… shred it?

Just a simple tip. Now I’m not saying there is a theft epidemic, I really don’t even know how this got on my mind, but I just thought it should be shared. I’ve been so out of my blog loop that I just wanted to drop something that people might want to read. If you made it this far, I commend you.

Peace on ya,
-G

Microsoft's answer to HD-DVD & Blu-Ray fuzzy at best

We’re still trying to adjust the rabbit ears on this one. Let me see if I can clear the picture up for you.

Microsoft first says “we won’t support Blu Ray & HD DVD” at an Australian conference. The news spatters all around the internet. I wasn’t surprised. Why? Microsoft doesn’t support DVD play back in Windows XP, either. At least, not without additional downloads. Once you have something like PowerDVD installed it will work fine – even in Windows Media Player. That might give users the impression that Windows has always played DVD’s – but, in reality, without having installed some 3rd party DVD software and the files that go with it, Windows Media Player does not natively support DVD Playback.

Microsoft went on to correct the statement that it will “not support HD-DVD & Blu Ray” – but with the same answer that was actually already stated. Not “out of the box.”

This article on C|Net’s News.com states that “Playback is possible with Windows Vista in 32-bit. The decision of whether to offer that support, the representative said, won’t be made by Microsoft but rather by the third-party software makers that create DVD playback software” Well, duh. Just like we thought.

At least, just like I thought. Windows XP doesn’t do it, we shouldn’t expect Windows Vista to. Not unless we all want to pay MORE than we already will be shelling out for legit copies of Windows Vista (no, it’s true, no official pricing has been released, as of yet, but we can assume “Ultimate Edition” is going to cost far more than a tiny $75 upgrade fee). There is a fee to pay for DVD decoding technology – and I, for one, don’t want that added in to what I expect to be a high priced OS.

So, “out of the box” – the reports are right, Vista will have no HD-DVD or Bluray playback support. Of course, out of the box, Vista wont have ANY DVD support. You will need to get your hands on a copy (probably OEM with most ‘new’ computers, and DVD-ROM/RW drives) of PowerDVD. I remember a time when Windows didn’t have native mp3 support – things like WinAmp were required – Windows didn’t come with any kind of MP3 CODEC. DVD, HD-DVD, and BluRay are all things we can worry about later. I’m sure your Blu-Ray collection won’t be so big, in January-February, that you’re going to die if Vista doesn’t include support without 3rd party software.

Peace on ya,
-G

Apple Recall

It’s in every other blog in the country, why not mine?

With the Dell Recall (issued nearly half a year ago) making headlines the past few weeks, and today’s “2nd largest electronics recall in American History” issued by Apple, people are wondering what the problem is.

Exploding batteries, however, are not new. Back in 2004, you my recall (no pun intended) the Kyocera recall, after SE-44 and 47 Slider phones would explode in people’s pants! In fact, yours truly discarded his slider after a room mate noticed that, while charging, the phone sounded like “rice krispies.”

But if you’re interested in following all of the news related to the Apple Recall, read up.

Peace on ya,
-G

New MS game to allow PC-Xbox combat…

On November 12, [2004,] Microsoft Corp. filed a trademark application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for the Shadowrun mark. Although this doesn’t confirm a game is in development, it is a positive sign for those waiting for a Shadowrun game.

Shadowrun is a fictional universe that was introduced as a role-playing game (RPG) by FASA Corporation in 1989.

Nearly two years after the application was filed, Microsoft’s Shadowrun is coming to life. Not only does it visually look good, the ideas pushing the game are finally starting to blur the line between consoles and PC’s. With Microsoft recently renewing their dedication to PC games, people thought maybe it wasn’t the end of an era – but with a promise like this, it’s very possible that not only are they not giving up on the PC gaming market – they’re breathing new life in to it.

In a May 9th, 2006 press release, Microsoft stated:

“Shadowrun™” (Microsoft Game Studios) brings the Microsoft vision of “Live Anywhere” to life. “Shadowrun” from FASA Studio is the first cross-platform game for Xbox 360™ and Windows Vista. It is a multiplayer, FPS that propels team-based combat into a new dimension with a revolutionary blend of modern weaponry and ancient magic. “Shadowrun” will be available when Windows Vista is launched.

While I anticipated a former FASA game to find its way to the PC market as an MMoRPG, I’m not sure if World of Warcraft’s numbers have scared developers from trying to compete, or if the game was dreamed up as something different from the beginning. But it appears as though the game will be developed to have a “death match” mode.

From Shadowrun’s prelaunch website:
For the first time ever, Xbox 360 and Windows gamers can compete as a team or as foes. Experience a quantum leap in interactivity as console and Vista PC gamers battle for supremacy online via Windows Vista and Xbox Live®. As you battle endlessly for the right to be crowned the last man standing, you’ll also struggle to answer the age-old of question of which is the more efficient killer: Windows PC or Xbox 360? Through the unprecedented cross-platform functionality, up to 16 gamers using both Windows PC and the Xbox 360 console will participate together in the ultimate multiplayer frag-fest.

Essentially the goal is to turn your XboX live account into the new “Microsoft Passport.” Your Microsoft Live account will act as a ‘buddy list’ for you to communicate with players on either PC or Xbox 360. You should even be able to play the same profile on both machines. It’ll be expensive to buy the same game twice, but hey, who doesn’t have two copies of Oblivion, right?? …right?

Exciting stuff, more to come!

Peace on ya,
-G

MySpace is Under Attack!

My space is constantly under attack. I mean, if I were a malicious spy-ware developer who was out to infect the maximum number of click-happy eager young fools, there’s only one place for me! Now that I’ve picked my mark, MySpace, how do I go about infecting all of them?

MSNBC is carrying a pretty good article that tells you what’s going on, and just why you and all of your friends complain about their computers being “slower than they were when they bought it.” Banner ads that you don’t even have to click on before they infect you with something else.

The games you play, videos you watch, songs you hear, and funny little ‘refrigerator magnet’ message boards you interact with are all potential threats to your safety and your sanity. If they’re not using the backdoors they install on your computer to spy on you, they’re giving you all of the popups you can stand (and more that you can’t). And if there’s something on your computer that can do that, someone else can take advantage of that ‘backdoor’ and use it to their own end. You are not safe, and that’s all there is to it.

But hey, as long as you can check out that blonde chick’s rack, I’m sure you’re happy.

Peace on ya,
-G