By the bye: I'm an Xbox Ambassador


It’s been a few months now, but I haven’t made a big deal of this. I’ve just been continuing to do my thing on other forums, sites, and keeping busy enough in the real world. But I figured I might as well let everyone that I was nominated, by friend of the site Thumpthis, and then was actually appointed an official Xbox Ambassador. 18 countries, 30 languages, and now, NuAngel! 😉

For anyone who doesn’t know what the Xbox Ambassador program is, it’s really simple. Best explained on Xbox.com, we’re “community members who have been around the block and are willing to show the new guys around.” When I got my 360 two years (plus a few days) ago, I dove in head first – and really got in to the whole community aspect of the Xbox 360 and Xbox Live. A year after owning my console, I began this website. Almost another year later, it continues to grow, and I continue to welcome all new comers.

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

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