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

Microsoft Zune – I told ya so?

So, I keep finding more and more stories related to “iPod Like Devices” but nobody but myself seems to believe that the up and coming Microsoft Zune could have anything to do with it.

Microsoft came clean, today, and announced their portable media player device would be named the Microsoft Zune (rumored to be previously codenamed “Argo”). Could this be the device I thought was perhaps an iTunes videoconferencing unit? Slashdot recently ran an article talking about other mp3 players and their designs, and how Apple will stick with the “clickwheel.” I can’t find the link right now, but there was another story I had even submitted to Slashdot that mentioned a different design for the iPod that appeared to be crammed in a cell phone. But now I’m wondering if the sites and articles I have been finding, which discussed strange patents similar to something Apple would work on, were really preliminary Zune patents?

By way of patents, I’d like to remind people that Microsoft and Apple still have open patent sharing, as per a 1997 agreement wherein Microsoft bought around 150 million dollars worth of Apple’s stock. But that doesn’t really matter when Microsoft patented the iPod’s clickwheel first. The words “iPod Killer” have been floating around the web for over a year now – but will anyone finally do it? Doubtful.

I’ll be working on some news with my connection at Microsoft to see what the word is right now. Many of you won’t remember, or had no idea who I was at that time, but I was among the first to provide the web with pictures of Microsoft’s earliest “Tablet PC” running a Windows Whistler beta. I intend to do the same with anything relating to the Zune – so you’d better stay tuned.

Peace on ya,
-G