Archive for the ‘Tech’ Category

Why I modded my xBox360 and got banned from xBox Live

Not more than 2 hours after buying my xBox360 it was ‘modded’. The console was opened, and the DVD ROM Drive in the unit had the stock firmware flashed over with iXtreme that allows disks to read while skipping the DRM checks. This allows me to play downloaded (stolen), and then burned games on my xBox360.

Now I didn’t do this because I am cheap, my extensive repertoire of paid for PC games on Steam would attest to this.

I did this because I have been a gamer since Quake 2, and in the last 7 years or so I have been seeing nothing but horribly produced, buggy, junk games fly off the shelves of retail outlets with a ship-now-patch-later mentality. I have probably wasted over $500 in ‘junk games’ that had a lot of hype but never delivered. I was sick of getting burned. After Cryptic released Star Trek Online I damn near quit gaming all together.

For about a year I downloaded title after title playing each for no more than 30 minutes before losing interest, and hardly ever on xBox Live. Even @jr33ca thought I wasted my money on a xBox360 and he was the one who convinced me to buy a console.

But I used the console a lot as a media center. Eventually the console was banned from xBox Live. I didn’t really care, it still played videos and games. But trying to play a game on xBox Live is pretty much baby sitting some bad parents 8 year old kid in Call of Duty.

Then one day a miracle happened. Rockstar Games released Red Dead Redemption… Actually it was before release. This game was so good, so engaging, with amazing single player play. After burning over 40 titles I finally found ONE game, just one, that I liked. I thought right away I would hop down to EB Games and snag a copy on release day.

But then I thought about it. Why bother? xBox Live already banned my console. I wont be able to play multi-player, get expansions. So I never did. I completed the game to 99.93% and then forgot about it.

To me this was bad. I am what I call a ‘Ethical Pirate’.  I download stuff to try it out, if it is good I buy the retail copy. This protects me from wasting $500+ of poor quality games. I honestly feel that if we don’t pay for the good products, there will be no more good products tomorrow. But I also feel that by buying the poor quality merchandise that we are basically telling manufactures that it is OK to produce and sell us garbage.

That being said due to my xBox360 being banned with no access to xBox Live I will absolutely not by a Windows 7 Phone. Rockstar did not receive any money from me (But they will once I get a PS3!), and my view on Microsoft in the game sector has been tarnished.

I do believe xBox Live was in the right with banning my console. But by closing this door they also closed many avenues where they could make money off me. Like a Windows 7 phone. Why bother buying a Win7 phone if it wont work my banned xBox360? For a company desperately clamouring to get into the smart phone game, they sure effed up. With over 1 million banned consoles how many other people like me wont buy the Win7 phone?

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Edit April 2011:

I bought a PS3, and bought Red Dead Redemption with it. Also bought all the downloadable content.

Cheers @rockstargames!

Google owns up and explains fault in WiFi data collection with street view

Google Street View Car in Chinatown Toronto

Recently search engine giant Google has been under fire for unintentionally collecting payload data from unsecured WiFi networks with it’s innovative Google Street View Cars. The reason they are harvesting data is for geo location, the driving force behind apps like Google Maps, Yellow Pages, and my personal favorite TimmyMe. If you are anything like me you love these apps and have incorporated them in to your life by now.

The problem was that those funny looking cars were collecting a little bit more information than they should have, but only from open, unsecured/non passworded WiFi networks. Networks I just so happen to love when going for a walk with my iPod Touch.

They also did not collect too much data as the hardware is designed to rotate through WiFi channels quickly, not stay on a channel and snoop. But snoop they did, but just a little. Google said in their defense on their official blog.

“So how did this happen? Quite simply, it was a mistake. In 2006 an engineer working on an experimental WiFi project wrote a piece of code that sampled all categories of publicly broadcast WiFi data. A year later, when our mobile team started a project to collect basic WiFi network data like SSID information and MAC addresses using Google’s Street View cars, they included that code in their software—although the project leaders did not want, and had no intention of using, payload data.”

What that breaks down to is that they picked up a piece of code that could do the job, a job that adheres to the informal company slogan “Don’t be evil”. But they didn’t look at the code thoroughly enough to know that it had another function unknown to Google Engineers, who placed the errant code into the current project that ended up collecting small segments of data.

Google admitted that they made a pretty big boo-boo, stopped the collection of WiFi data, and is bringing in 3rd party companies to audit the data, and tweaking their own internal procedures to minimize something like this from happening again. Standard damage control.

Google ends their blog posting with a note of apology that lacks the dusty corporate face one would expect from a company so large.

“The engineering team at Google works hard to earn your trust—and we are acutely aware that we failed badly here. We are profoundly sorry for this error and are determined to learn all the lessons we can from our mistake.”
A few things we need to take into consideration here. The data is rather useless and it wont be shared, nor would have been shared with 3rd parties as it would not have been part of the the Geo Location API as you can see in an earlier posting on this issue that was amended due to some factual inaccuracies.

I think it is rather sad that Google makes a mistake and the world lashes out at them. Google has given this world so much, do you honestly think they really had evil intentions with all of this? Looking on the bright side I am happy this lesson was learned with something rather minor, it raised some awareness about not leaving your WiFi open, and it gives the paranoid something to type about.

I will still stand by Google after this, and I hope you do to.

We are about to reach the end of the Internet

NO VACANCY

Over beers and crude jokes about YouPorn, my friends have often humored that I have been to The End of The Internet and back. And the sad part is, they are right. And soon enough, so shall the rest of you, and you wont even notice.

I am not talking about some mythical end where one day all our computers, Blackberries, and iPhones suddenly don’t work. What I am referring to is the end of the 4 octet IP addressing scheme known as IPv4 that was invented in the 1970s.

The End of The Internet

The Problem

By now you have probably heard of IP addresses, to put them in perspective and to sum it up quickly, think of them like a mailing address to your mobile device or modem. A IPv4 Address looks something like 127.0.0.1 in decimal notation, and there is only approximately 4 billion of these to go around… THE WHOLE WORLD! (256 x 256 x 256 x 256) When you go to a website, you are sending a request to them for information. Like any good mailman the internet needs to know where packages/packets are supposed to go. And even then not all of those addresses are publicly usable. They are broken into different classes A-B-C (and more). Explaining IP classification would go beyond the scope of this document.

Now take into perspective all the computers, mobiles, and other nodes attached to the internet, yes sometimes even printers have IPs, and most have a unique number. If your mind is a little small and your thinking 4 billion is a lot, think about Asia, Europe, and North America, and every friend you know with a smart phone. 4 billion should be looking pretty small by now.

Back in the 1970s 4 billion was a massive number considering there was not a lot of internet connected nodes. But people predicted the end of the IPv4 Protocol was near back in the 1980s, and the internet didn’t really start taking off until the mid 1990s. That’s right, even before the big .com bubble we were running out of numbers.

Other than the limitations of how many IPv4 connected devices there are on the internet there was also another flaw in the IPv4 protocol. It was not built with security in mind, though later on it was patched with IPsec.

The Solution

IPv6 Protocol is on the horizon, and has been since 1998. Though adoption of the technology has been slow if else nonexistent, IPv6 will give us a lot more addresses to choose from. And how many is that? Oh lets say about 3.4 x 10 to the 38th power, take 34 and add 37 zeros.

Another great thing is that IPv6 also increases our bandwidth. Today, that might not seem like a big deal as IPv4 on DOCSIS 2.0 can still theoretically give us 42.88 Megabits per second or 5.1ish Megabytes per second if for some strange reason you like to think in data storage size rather than in data transfer speeds, and yes there is a difference. Your ISP will give you speed regulated in Bits not Bytes (8 bits to a Byte).

In theory IPv6 will give us speeds well beyond the scope of IPv4 if you are using a DOCSIS 3.0 compliant network. I say in theory because most ISPs are not giving you a completely unbridled internet. Even with IPv4 I am happy with my 10 down 1 up from Shaw.

A IPv6 address looks nothing like a IPv4 address. This is sad, because for years I have been storing often used IP addresses in my head and pulling them out like phone numbers. But with how IPv6 looks, there is no way I could do this.

Here is an example of IPv4 versus IPv6 in dot decimal notation. All you Network+ people keep in mind I am not talking Hex or Binary to keep this simpler.

IPv4: 127.0.0.1
IPv6: 128.91.45.157.220.40.0.0.0.0.252.87.212.200.31.255

IPv6 also opens the doors to new technologies. You might have noticed certain things in Windows Vista and Windows 7 require IPv6 functionality to operate like Windows Meeting Space. Things like these can not be used securely with IPv4 and Network Address Translation (NAT) as IPsec (That security patch in IPv4) and NAT do not get along well.

What this means to you

As a standard home consumer you really do not have much to worry about. IPv6 has been implemented on all major operating systems in use in commercial, business, and home consumer environments for quite some time. And with a very short life your computer or mobile has compared to a toaster, you probably will have more trouble adopting to HDTV than you will IPv6. In fact you might already be on the IPv6 Bandwagon and not even know it.

You might be given a new modem by your ISP sometime in the near future that is DOCSIS 3.0 or DOCSIS 2.0+IPv6 compliant in the event your ISP runs out of IPv4 addresses and has to assign you a IPv6.

As someone in the IT Industry you may stumble over the concepts at first but it will soon enough become so common you won’t even really care. In fact, you will probably hate working around all the IPv4 stuff eventually.

The end is near

You might be wondering exactly when the IPv4 addresses will run out. Well it is impossible to say exactly, but there have been many scripts made to estimate the end of the IPv4 Internet, And I just so happened to include one in this post for your pleasure. At time of writing the ticker is at 483 days.

There has to be more

Actually, there is a lot more. I left things out and simplified others just for the sake of keeping this within the scope of the average user, and to make this document as short as possible while getting to the point. I left out the parts about how slow ISPs are in adopting IPv6, and I did not touch on DOCSIS too much, or that 4G Phones are all IPv6.

I also did not discuss IP Reclamation Projects going on through out the world, where we are taking back unused blocks of IPs and using existing block more efficiently. There are also many tricks we use everyday with out thinking about it. For example, you might be like me where you have over 7 computers or devices in your house all connected to the internet. By using NAT our home routers are giving our computers behind it IP addresses that are not public while still sharing one public internet accessible IP address from your modem.

If you read this hoping for the Holy Grail of IPv6 information you sure went to the wrong blog. But I do hope this sheds some light on the IPv4 issue.

Wikipedia Links:

IPv4, IPv6, DOCSIS, IPsec, IPv4 Address Exhaustion, Chuck Norris, NAT

Is your son a computer hacker?

I found this on adequacy.org and thought it was funny enough to repost on.
This was written long ago and was featured on Tech TV. It has some really funny points to it.

As an enlightened, modern parent, I try to be as involved as possible in the lives of my six children. I encourage them to join team sports. I attend their teen parties with them to ensure no drinking or alcohol is on the premises. I keep a fatherly eye on the CDs they listen to and the shows they watch, the company they keep and the books they read. You could say I’m a model parent. My children have never failed to make me proud, and I can say without the slightest embellishment that I have the finest family in the USA.

Two years ago, my wife Carol and I decided that our children’s education would not be complete without some grounding in modern computers. To this end, we bought our children a brand new Compaq to learn with. The kids had a lot of fun using the handful of application programs we’d bought, such as Adobe’s Photoshop and Microsoft’sWord, and my wife and I were pleased that our gift was received so well. Our son Peter was most entranced by the device, and became quite a pro at surfing the net. When Peter began to spend whole days on the machine, I became concerned, but Carol advised me to calm down, and that it was only a passing phase. I was content to bow to her experience as a mother, until our youngest daughter, Cindy, charged into the living room one night to blurt out: “Peter is a computer hacker!”

As you can imagine, I was amazed. A computer hacker in my own house! I began to monitor my son’s habits, to make certain that Cindy wasn’t just telling stories, as she is prone to doing at times.

After a few days of investigation, and some research into computer hacking, I confronted Peter with the evidence. I’m afraid to say, this was the only time I have ever been truly disappointed in one of my children. We raised them to be honest and to have integrity, and Peter betrayed the principles we tried to encourage in him, when he refused point blank to admit to his activities. His denials continued for hours, and in the end, I was left with no choice but to ban him from using the computer until he is old enough to be responsible for his actions.

After going through this ordeal with my own family, I was left pondering how I could best help others in similar situations. I’d gained a lot of knowledge over those few days regarding hackers. It’s only right that I provide that information to other parents, in the hope that they will be able to tell if their children are being drawn into the world of hacking. Perhaps other parents will be able to steer their sons back onto the straight and narrow before extreme measures need to be employed.

To this end, I have decided to publish the top ten signs that your son is a hacker. I advise any parents to read this list carefully and if their son matches the profile, they should take action. A smart parent will first try to reason with their son, before resorting to groundings, or even spanking. I pride myself that I have never had to spank a child, and I hope this guide will help other parents to put a halt to their son’s misbehaviour before a spanking becomes necessary.

1. Has your son asked you to change ISPs?

Most American families use trusted and responsible Internet Service Providers, such as AOL. These providers have a strict “No Hacking” policy, and take careful measures to ensure that your internet experience is enjoyable, educational and above all legal. If your child is becoming a hacker, one of his first steps will be to request a change to a more hacker friendly provider.

I would advise all parents to refuse this request. One of the reasons your son is interested in switching providers is to get away from AOL’s child safety filter. This filter is vital to any parent who wants his son to enjoy the internet without the endangering him through exposure to “adult” content. It is best to stick with the protection AOL provides, rather than using a home-based solution. If your son is becoming a hacker, he will be able to circumvent any home-based measures with surprising ease, using information gleaned from various hacker sites.

2. Are you finding programs on your computer that you don’t remember installing?

Your son will probably try to install some hacker software. He may attempt to conceal the presence of the software in some way, but you can usually find any new programs by reading through the programs listed under “Install/Remove Programs” in your control panel. Popular hacker software includes “Comet Cursor”, “Bonzi Buddy” and “Flash”.

The best option is to confront your son with the evidence, and force him to remove the offending programs. He will probably try to install the software again, but you will be able to tell that this is happening, if your machine offers to “download” one of the hacker applications. If this happens, it is time to give your son a stern talking to, and possibly consider punishing him with a grounding.

3. Has your child asked for new hardware?

Computer hackers are often limited by conventional computer hardware. They may request “faster” video cards, and larger hard drives, or even more memory. If your son starts requesting these devices, it is possible that he has a legitimate need. You can best ensure that you are buying legal, trustworthy hardware by only buying replacement parts from your computer’s manufacturer.

If your son has requested a new “processor” from a company called “AMD”, this is genuine cause for alarm. AMD is a third-world based company who make inferior, “knock-off” copies of American processor chips. They use child labor extensively in their third world sweatshops, and they deliberately disable the security features that American processor makers, such as Intel, use to prevent hacking. AMD chips are never sold in stores, and you will most likely be told that you have to order them from internet sites. Do not buy this chip! This is one request that you must refuse your son, if you are to have any hope of raising him well.

4. Does your child read hacking manuals?

If you pay close attention to your son’s reading habits, as I do, you will be able to determine a great deal about his opinions and hobbies. Children are at their most impressionable in the teenage years. Any father who has had a seventeen year old daughter attempt to sneak out on a date wearing make up and perfume is well aware of the effect that improper influences can have on inexperienced minds.

There are, unfortunately, many hacking manuals available in bookshops today. A few titles to be on the lookout for are: “Snow Crash” and “Cryptonomicon” by Neal Stephenson; “Neuromancer” by William Gibson; “Programming with Perl” by Timothy O’Reilly; “Geeks” by Jon Katz; “The Hacker Crackdown” by Bruce Sterling; “Microserfs” by Douglas Coupland; “Hackers” by Steven Levy; and “The Cathedral and the Bazaar” by Eric S. Raymond.

If you find any of these hacking manuals in your child’s possession, confiscate them immediately. You should also petition local booksellers to remove these titles from their shelves. You may meet with some resistance at first, but even booksellers have to bow to community pressure.

5. How much time does your child spend using the computer each day?

If your son spends more than thirty minutes each day on the computer, he may be using it to DOS other peoples sites. DOSing involves gaining access to the “command prompt” on other people’s machines, and using it to tie up vital internet services. This can take up to eight hours. If your son is doing this, he is breaking the law, and you should stop him immediately. The safest policy is to limit your children’s access to the computer to a maximum of forty-five minutes each day.

6. Does your son use Quake?

Quake is an online virtual reality used by hackers. It is a popular meeting place and training ground, where they discuss hacking and train in the use of various firearms. Many hackers develop anti-social tendencies due to the use of this virtual world, and it may cause erratic behaviour at home and at school.

If your son is using Quake, you should make hime understand that this is not acceptable to you. You should ensure all the firearms in your house are carefully locked away, and have trigger locks installed. You should also bring your concerns to the attention of his school.

7. Is your son becoming argumentative and surly in his social behaviour?

As a child enters the electronic world of hacking, he may become disaffected with the real world. He may lose the ability to control his actions, or judge the rightness or wrongness of a course of behaviour. This will manifest itself soonest in the way he treats others. Those whom he disagrees with will be met with scorn, bitterness, and even foul language. He may utter threats of violence of a real or electronic nature.

Even when confronted, your son will probably find it difficult to talk about this problem to you. He will probably claim that there is no problem, and that you are imagining things. He may tell you that it is you who has the problem, and you should “back off” and “stop smothering him.” Do not allow yourself to be deceived. You are the only chance your son has, even if he doesn’t understand the situation he is in. Keep trying to get through to him, no matter how much he retreats into himself.

8. Is your son obsessed with “Lunix”?

BSD, Lunix, Debian and Mandrake are all versions of an illegal hacker operation system, invented by a Soviet computer hacker named Linyos Torovoltos, before the Russians lost the Cold War. It is based on a program called “xenix”, which was written by Microsoft for the US government. These programs are used by hackers to break into other people’s computer systems to steal credit card numbers. They may also be used to break into people’s stereos to steal their music, using the “mp3” program. Torovoltos is a notorious hacker, responsible for writing many hacker programs, such as “telnet”, which is used by hackers to connect to machines on the internet without using a telephone.

Your son may try to install “lunix” on your hard drive. If he is careful, you may not notice its presence, however, lunix is a capricious beast, and if handled incorrectly, your son may damage your computer, and even break it completely by deleting Windows, at which point you will have to have your computer repaired by a professional.

If you see the word “LILO” during your windows startup (just after you turn the machine on), your son has installed lunix. In order to get rid of it, you will have to send your computer back to the manufacturer, and have them fit a new hard drive. Lunix is extremely dangerous software, and cannot be removed without destroying part of your hard disk surface.

9. Has your son radically changed his appearance?

If your son has undergone a sudden change in his style of dress, you may have a hacker on your hands. Hackers tend to dress in bright, day-glo colors. They may wear baggy pants, bright colored shirts and spiky hair dyed in bright colors to match their clothes. They may take to carrying “glow-sticks” and some wear pacifiers around their necks. (I have no idea why they do this) There are many such hackers in schools today, and your son may have started to associate with them. If you notice that your son’s group of friends includes people dressed like this, it is time to think about a severe curfew, to protect him from dangerous influences.

10. Is your son struggling academically?

If your son is failing courses in school, or performing poorly on sports teams, he may be involved in a hacking group, such as the infamous “Otaku” hacker association. Excessive time spent on the computer, communicating with his fellow hackers may cause temporary damage to the eyes and brain, from the electromagnetic radiation. This will cause his marks to slip dramatically, particularly in difficult subjects such as Math, and Chemistry. In extreme cases, over-exposure to computer radiation can cause schizophrenia, meningitis and other psychological diseases. Also, the reduction in exercise may cause him to lose muscle mass, and even to start gaining weight. For the sake of your child’s mental and physical health, you must put a stop to his hacking, and limit his computer time drastically.

I encourage all parents to read through this guide carefully. Your child’s future may depend upon it. Hacking is an illegal and dangerous activity, that may land your child in prison, and tear your family apart. It cannot be taken too seriously.

A Study of Geekdom

I reposted this from http://www.energymech.net/emech/geek.html . I really did get a good kick out of it.
Copyright is on the bottom… please don’t sue me 😉


by KangaMitz

Warning!

Geekdom is not only an inherited trait, it is also an acquired one. They have an ability, not unlike the BORG, to assimilate anyone who comes too close. Keep your distance and by ALL means, do NOT give them caffeine.

Bloodshot eyes… Finger cramps… Speaks in abbreviations… Thinks in Comic Sans MS… Can put a computer of any sort together in less than 5 minutes… Pale, sun-starved skin… Blunt fingernails so as not to interfere with typing… Spends much of their spare time wandering around Best Buy and Circuit city in a trance… Can’t leave Wal-Mart without visiting the electronics department…

Sound familiar? These are the telltale qualities of a geek.

The following page will offer you more insight into the world of The Geek. No geeks were harmed in this study, except the one improperly captured. However, three researchers were. Two of them were assimilated. The other ran off in a naked frenzy screaming ‘Disconnected AGAIN’ and hasn’t been heard from since. Her left sock was found next to a serial cable. Her logs have been found and will be posted shortly.

A GEEK MOMENT IN LIFE

The silence is deafening. You could hear a pin drop as everybody stares. He realizes too late that he was just pondering the way to make his script work out loud. His companions all look at him with the same ‘what are you talking about’ expression. He blushes profusely and mumbles some incoherent explanation, and the conversation about last nights ‘Friends’ episode resumes. A few minutes later, his friends mention going to catch a movie. He declines. Why? He just got a cable modem…

LOCATION

There is no set location for geeks… They seem to be everywhere and anywhere an electric outlet is located. Their population seems to become more dense in areas of high speed cable access.

ORIGINATION

This field is still under study. Nobody knows exactly how the geek originated. Apparently nobody cares.

HABITAT

The geek burrow ranges in size and intensity. Some are but a small cart, while others are large wooden objects closely resembling a desk suffering from a hostile computer takeover. The more computer equipment you find in a burrow, the more likely it is that you have located one of these creatures. Some Geeks even have a strange habit of stashing computer parts in various parts of their burrows, like closets or in boxes underneath their beds.

BEHAVIOR

The geek is, from time to time, an antisocial creature. It often crouches behind computer monitors and has been known to stare at them for hours at a time. Apparently this is enhanced by their ability to go for long periods of time without blinking. Geeks have a strange habit of not being able to throw computers away, and in the rare event that they do, they strip it in a cruel and methodical manner, leaving only the shell. Geeks are interesting creatures, but only to other geeks, which could explain why they are drawn to each other. Do not, in any way, underestimate the intelligence of a geek. They are highly intellectual and, when pissed off, can turn your electric toothbrush into a genuine weapon (This unfortunately was discovered first hand).

APPEARANCE

Once again, this field is under more study. They have been noted in all shapes and sizes, and there has even been a few sightings of the rare ‘Gorgeous Geek Male’ in and around the area of Pensacola.


ACTIVITIES

The geek prefers to do software related activities. Often scripting, sometimes playing games, but basicaly in front of a monitor. The more true to the breed geek, the more involved their activities. Some true geeks have been known to create their own geek equipment such as mp3 boxes. The actual true geeks write webpages in their spare time, and get their kicks from ritual sacrifices and dissection of their computers. Nobody knows why.

DIET

The geek prefers to graze. It generally consumes quickly prepared meals. Macaroni and Cheese appears to be a geek favorite. Often Geeks will consume foods right from the can, such as spaghettios (the meatball variety is preferable) or beefaroni. Although you may be able to lure them from their computers long enough to eat, more often than not, they will take the food and retreat back to their burrows. If you are lucky, you may even hear conversation coming from the geeks general direction as it retreats.


HOW TO CATCH A GEEK

As the geek is a VERY predictable creature, finding it is not very difficult. Capturing it, on the other hand, is extrememly difficult. You cannot take a geek away from its computer willingly for long periods of time. Many have tried. All have failed. Computers are first and foremost in a geeks life. However there is a technique to getting them away from the computer:

The first step is to sneak up on the geek. This is a very easy task, since all of their senses shut down in front of a computer and they become mere drones. It does help to make modem sounds.

Then, you very carefully throw a pillowcase over their heads, and turn off their computer while they are struggling.

Finally, you must drag them away, kicking and screaming by the foot. More often than not, they must be sat upon while they acclimate to the computerless environment. Be warned, they do not seem to take too well to this practice, so have an ample supply of ho-hos and twinkies on hand.

GEEK BREEDING

Above all odd behavior is the geek breeding. There is no set time, and, when really quiet, one can even observe the mating dance. This dance seems to consist of a LOT of computer lingo and some digressing into their native tongue, html. As it heats up, DOS becomes the language of choice. Unfortunately, our studies have been a bit inconclusive about what happens next, as our researchers seem to get bored and fall asleep.

Techheads Logo Copyright � 2001 NeonGhozt, Content Copyright � 2001 KangaMitz, All rights reserved. Last edited August 13th, 2001.

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