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

Phishing Goes White Collar

I was reading up on some posts from over at the ISC and I came upon an interesting read. A visitor to their site wrote in and had a pretty surprising phishing scam to tell about. Now, I don’t know that this will impact many of my readers (we’re all poor, here, right?) – but if you’ve ever rented a home to stay at for a summer vacation or similar trip, this may deserve your attention. I’ve also got a story, beneath that, of my recent personal experience dealing with a defenseless family.

The reader wrote in that they were an employee of one such rental firm, that rented out nearly 600 properties – what he experienced, was a client of his writing in and bringing something to his attention. The problem appeared to be a normal renting site, which had a Photo Shopped ‘dream vacation home’ for rent. The contact information was scarce, just a single Yahoo! Mail address. Doesn’t seem very trustworthy to me.

Upon contacting this Yahoo! address, the experienced renter received a reply which told him that the property was in demand, and urged him to quickly send some form of payment, and then his keys would be mailed out. That was it. Cut and dry. “Send me money, and I’ll send you keys.” If you really think this is how business works, you’d best be checking your credit reports right now. Even eBay has at least a few checks and balances in place to try to avoid you getting ripped off.

Last week, at work, I came across a family of distraught computer users. Odd, I thought, I’m always cheery when I’m around a computer (sure). They were using public access computers because they were away from home, on vacation – being as such, they were confused about the state of things with regards to their eBay account. They relieved an email “from eBay” saying their account as in danger… at least, that’s what they thought. Trouble was, the email was in Spanish. But it provided them a link and a log in! So they figured that if they just logged in to their eBay account, they could read the message on the site. But after the log in, they just kept getting error messages saying it couldn’t process their login.

My jaw about hit the floor. This phishing stuff really does work, doesn’t it? IE7, and similar browsers, are going to change the world – with their automatic phishing detection schemes. It’ll be a good thing, too. People are going to need it.

Needless to say, I immediately tried to help the family log in to their eBay account – but their password had been changed. I didn’t ask if they had a PayPal account, and I pray that if they did, their passwords weren’t the same, but I worried it might be. The biggest fright of all was that this family was SELLING THEIR HOUSE on eBay at the time they got locked out. The phisher could just finish the transaction, bank the money, and vanish.

The devastating size of this matter shook me to my most human core. All this was going on to this poor vacationing family in my town with a population under 15,000. I told them to call their bank immediately and talk to the fraud department.

If you get an email, even if you think it’s 100% legitimate, that contains a link to the site they want you to log in at, I encourage you to open a separate web browser and type the address yourself, and log in from that site’s homepage. Always know what site you’re at – and for heaven’s sake, if it’s in a language you don’t know – don’t give it your password! For all you know it could flat out say “I’m going to take this and you will have your first identity theft experience later this month” – and you would be none the wiser. Always know what you’re signing in to, just as you should always read contracts you sign. And never, ever just ‘send money’ without something else in place – use an escrow if you have to.

Peace on ya,
-G