Welcome to WinBreak's Rebirth!

Founded June 14th, 2006, WinBreak.com was founded as a Windows PC security website. We covered all sorts of news topics dealing with viruses, security exploits, you know, geeky stuff! As I grew more and more involved with my final year of college, I stopped working on the website. It later just became a ‘hobby blog’ – I would post whenever I felt like it, nothing major, just the occasional bit of news in my personal life or bit of news from the tech industry.

As time passed, I found my only ‘stress relief’ from my senior thesis (as well as my post graduation ‘unemployment blues’) came from video games. It was like being in high school all over again. I loved video games, I stepped away from my PC and PC games, and the cash it required to keep up with the hardware, and bought myself an Xbox 360, after being bugged by a buddy of mine.

Sure, I had played around with them, seen how the Xbox Live Arcade games worked and what have you, but once I bought my own, it was love at first game (which, by the way, was Gears of War). After all of the trials and tribulations (yes, the dread ‘3 red lights’), I still enjoy my Xbox 360, and have decided it was time to give a little something back to the community.

QUICK QUESTIONS:

What’s with the name?
As I mentioned, WinBreak was originally a Windows PC security site. WinBreak was taken by pressing the “Windows key” on a keyboard, and the “Pause/Break” key on a keyboard. This “Win+Break” combination is a keyboard shortcut to your device manager, the part of the computer that tells you about the hardware in your computer, all of the nerdiest details. After looking into multiple domains, and attempting various backorders, I have decided to simply “rebrand” WinBreak so to speak.

So, who are you?
That’s the fun question. I’ve gone by one name only, on the internet. NuAngel. It’s been my nick name since the days of Doom and Quake. When I owned NuAngel.net, and worked with other community members on PC gaming news related sites, I really built up a passion for working on the web, and wanted to continue that.

Where are you located?
WinBreak central command is located in a rural town in Pennsylvania, near lake Erie. I get snowed in a lot, so what better way to pass the time than playing video games and reading/writing on the web? Hopefully relocating in the next few weeks, but we’ll have to keep you all posted on that!

Why now?
Well, the original goal was to bring back my first website, NuAngel.net. I purchased that back in 1999, and let it expire once I got busy in college. Unfortunately, my ‘domain backorder’ fell through, and I had to push the launch of this site back a few weeks. Also, the more people I told about my intentions, the more contacts I developed, and I realized I was already creating a back log of work for myself, so I decided to move ahead with it, both ‘behind’ and ‘ahead’ of schedule (interesting how so many things really influenced my decision!).

That’s all for now, everyone. I will start the regular news posting VERY soon (including several exclusives I have lined up).

See you on Xbox Live!

My Xbox got the Red Ring of Death…

This was a forum post written in the Wing Commander CIC / WCNews.com forum back in 2007, I just wanted to archive the memory of my first Xbox 360 “Red Ring” failure! Here’s the original post!

It’s all over! 🙁

Damn shame. I’ve placed an order for my 360 coffin from Microsoft. I will mail it to them, and then hopefully I will get a fixed up 360, or perhaps one of the newer ones with the 65nm core, or HDMI or something… we can all hope. 😉

But it looks like I will be out of commission for a few weeks – and I was supposed to have a long weekend this week! DAMN!

Why I can't make the switch away from Windows

After reading a hefty sum of blogs about how splendid Linux is, and how it’s so close to main stream, I thought I would share what is on the mind’s of the real “level headed” windows users *waits for scoffs of Linux geeks to die down.* Are we ready? Let’s begin.

1) I know where my updates come from.
When someone exploits a flaw in Windows, that flaw is then examined for how likely it will be abused, then patched accordingly. I click Windows Update, and then I chose which updates to download and install. I know that the programmers that made the patch are on the payroll of a company that will essentially decimate their career if they do something underhanded.
When you need to patch something in Linux, you have to find which site has the patch you need, download, compile, install. You have to trust that whichever freelance group of OSS programmers you chose to download the patch from are all on the up and up, or else go through the code yourself to be sure.

2) How can something that is OPEN SOURCE, be inherently MORE SAFE?
Microsoft is a closed door company, and they refuse to share the secrets of their source code. And that is a good thing. Linux users have everything out in the open – it’s open source, anyone can pick through the code and find something and chose to exploit it. But every Linux user blindly is of the faith that “nobody would ever do that.” If you leave a five dollar bill on the table long enough, someone is going to take it. And it won’t take long. (2014 Update: this “blind faith” has come back to bite, everywhere from PRNG’s to OpenSSL).

3) Linux users believe in “community.” I trust the Xbox Live community more than I trust the Linux community. Why? Because Live can’t screw me over. Linux users are a group of elitists who think that because they compile something, they should rule the world. You’re only so “good” because nobody has turned cannibalistic, yet – but give it time. You will not be able to rely on security through obscurity forever, much like Mac users have come to do.

So far, my three points come back to one common theme: trust. Does this make me paranoid? Possibly, but be honest: who do you trust more? A large company with a lot at stake? Or the guy at Best Buy who just sold you that “It Came From Planet X” DVD that you really didn’t want but he swore it would grow on you? Face it, no matter how dedicated the Open Source community is to one another, everyone is going to need to turn a profit, and if it’s not someone selling Linux “support” or selling Linux itself, then it’s going to be someone sneaking some kind of spyware or something in to a program. It’s bound to happen. If you say “no it’s not” then you should just go ahead and keep driving the same car thinking that because it hasn’t broken down now, then it never, ever, ever, ever will. Because it’s been good to you up to this point, it must be invincible, nothing could ever hurt it.

Now, Mac users. You’re not elite bastards, you’re just morons set in your ways. Mac architecture switched to the PC. Now what’s so great about the “Mac”? It’s not a ‘computer’ of its own any more – it’s just another Operating System to choose from. I understand, this will take time for the Mac addicts to come to terms with, but let’s just stick with mocking their foolishness for now.

You think that you do not need antivirus software. You could not be more wrong. You think that you are not infected with viruses. You are mistaken. You are.

Microsoft has invaded your personal space, and a lot of Mac users turn a blind eye and pretend it hasn’t happened. Still, they go on about their daily lives using Microsoft Office, and spreading worms as fast as the Windows users. A large chunk of virii that exist in the world are worms that affect MSWord Documents, Excel files, PowerPoints, and pretty much any Office program. These worms attach themselves to the files, and without proper antivirus software, it propagates itself even more easily throughout the Mac community than any other.

Now I know what you’re thinking: “But that’s Microsoft’s fault, not Apple’s!!” And I want you to know, I agree completely. But does that mean you should disregard antivirus software? No. I have antivirus software. “The problem is with Office, not with the Mac.” Astute observation. But that gives me complete reign to say “The problem is with Office, not with Windows.” Windows is not infected, only Office files.

Mac users are like teenagers without prophylactics. Sooner or later, you’ll get burned.

So there you have it. I think a lot of people might agree with me – and I think a lot of Linux users might be very, very angry with me. Feel free to leave comments about how full of crap I am, and how stupid and ignorant I must be for believing that something that is open source could be attacked. But that’s what I’m here for. Brutal honesty, from the Microsoft side of the tracks.

Peace on ya,
-G

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