At first i was like “Oh shit, a bunch of crap is about to fall out” then i got close enough to realize that it was just a badass painting…
that’s a dog in the bottom left.
Just how rampant is piracy in PC casual gaming? In a startling installment of his regular Gamasutra column, Reflexive’s director of marketing Russell Carroll (Wik, Ricochet) reveals the 92% piracy rate for one of his company’s games, and what worked (and didn’t work) when they tried to fix it.
â€œIt looks like around 92% of the people playing the full version of [the pictured] Ricochet Infinity pirated it.â€ Itâ€™s moments like those that make people in the industry stop dead in their tracks. 92% is a huge number and though we were only measuring people who had gotten the game from Reflexive and gone online with it, it seemed improbable that those who acquired the game elsewhere or didnâ€™t go online were any more likely to have purchased it. As we sat and pondered the financial implications of such piracy, it was hard to get past the magnitude of the number itself: 92%.
In the casual games space, where the majority of the industry is tied to an internet-distributed product, piracy is a common problem. Search for any casual game through Google, add the word â€˜crackâ€™, and the search engine will help you find and illegally acquire every casual game you can imagine.
One way to fight the search-engine facilitated piracy is to work to remove the ever-expanding number of links to illegal copies, but in many cases improving the Digital Rights Management (DRM) system to be more secure can be more effective as it renders a large number of those links obsolete. This is tricky to be sure, because improving the security must be done without making the DRM so onerous that it keeps honest customers from purchasing games.
Reflexive, where I work, is in a peculiar position in this regard. Whereas most of the casual games industry licenses their DRM from a vendor, Reflexive has its own in-house DRM. Over the years it has undergone many improvements, including several changes made specifically to combat piracy.
With that background, my penchant for actual numbers, and a lot of help from Brian Fisher, Reflexiveâ€™s king of number crunching logic, letâ€™s tackle the question of the 92% piracy rate on Ricochet Infinity. Could we realistically assume that stopping piracy would have caused 12 times more sales?
I know a lot of you guys use ImgBurn. The new version was just released yesterday (the previous version, 18.104.22.168, was released 4/12/07). The change log is gigantic. Among it are the ability to create and burn audio CDs, HD-DVD discs, Blu-Ray discs, the usual insane list of bug fixes, language files for localization, and a ton more. The user interface has been improved, too. Go get it!
There is a new local root exploit found in linux kernels 2.6.17 to 22.214.171.124. Here’s a proof-of-concept, which basically works as a “passwordless su”.
I have tested the exploit on a few systems I manage, and it just plain works on a number of them. The distros I have around that are vulnerable are:
- Fedora 8
- CentOS 5/5.1 (and therefore presumably RHEL as well)
- Debian Etch
- Ubuntu 7.10
On one oddball Debian Etch system the exploit segfaulted, but to me that doesn’t rule out that the hole is still there. On older boxes (tested on a couple Debian Sarge systems), the kernel is too old to have the vulnerable vmsplice feature.
The hole is patched in 126.96.36.199, but compiling and installing that on a production system really isn’t a viable alternative.
I’d hate for this to turn into a flamewar on Linux security, or how dangerous a local root exploit really is. It’s there, it’s not the end of the world in any way, but it very much needs fixing. I am really interested in hearing if anyone has seen patched kernels for the main distros, or when they show up. Most of the vulnerable systems I have don’t have any users on them (other than people who have root access “the normal way”), but I currently have a couple of machines locked down (sshd stopped or normal users disabled). Both of those are Debian Etch, and those guys generally are quite snappy in providing security updates.
Even with strike over, Heroes seems grounded until next season.
February 11, 2008 – While the strike looks just about over, Heroes fans shouldn’t expect new episodes in the immediate future. The news filtering out seems to confirm that the NBC superhero hit won’t be back until this fall, despite writers almost certainly going back to work this week.
The reason for the delay seems centered around issues unique to Heroes from both a production and structural standpoint. Heroes creator Tim Kring told ew.com last week that he felt that they could probably only finish three more epsidoes of the series if they attempted to film more to air by the end of this TV season in May.
Heroes is formatted in large story arcs, the next of which is called “Villians.” Doing just three more episodes this season would mean either making that story much shorter than intended, or making the audience wait several months for the story to conclude in the fall. Says Kring to ew.com, “With a show like Heroes that’s so strongly serialized, and given what we wanted to accomplish with the new storyline, to come back with just three episodes could be creatively dangerous.”
In what can only be classified as yet another crushing blow to the embattled HD DVD camp, rent-by-mail giant Netflix has just announced its intention to only stock Blu-ray titles in the future. Netflix justified its decision by pointing out the fact that most Hollywood studios seem to be converging solely around the Sony-backed format — a fact that’s all too familiar to Toshiba and friends. With both Blockbuster and now the ‘Flix having eschewed HD DVD for BD, it’s gonna get harder and harder to even find a place to rent those former discs in the first place, let alone one that has a decent selection.
Update: It looks like all hope is not lost for HD DVD renters. Not only does Blockbuster Online still carry titles in the endangered format, but Netflix should continue offering a limited selection of discs until current stock is phased out around the end of the year.
Leopard finally gets its second patch, and boy does it fix a lot of stuff. The first patch hit back in November, with test builds of the second making it out a month later. Here’s a list of the major things the 10.5.2 patch fixes (including menubar transparency and Stacks).
â€¢ Airport connection reliability and stability
â€¢ Back to my Mac for third-party routers
â€¢ Dashboard widget performance improvement
â€¢ Stacks fix! List view, Folder view, and updated background for Grid Vid View
â€¢ Menubar transparency disabling
â€¢ Less translucent menus
â€¢ Several iCal recurring meetings supports, bug fixes overall
â€¢ iChat Bugfixes
â€¢ iSync support added for Samsung D600E and D900i phones
â€¢ Finder bugfixes
â€¢ Mail bugfixes
â€¢ AFP network volume hanging fixed
â€¢ RAW support improved
â€¢ Preview bugfixes
â€¢ Time Machine bugfixes (some external drives not being recognized)
Plus lots of various other fixes (we tried to cover only the hot ones here). Isn’t it funny that Vista has been out for a year and they are still working on a service pack. Apple has Leopard out since October, and they have had two service revisions. Go Apple.
Asus use to make a laptop called the s200, also known as the JVC MiniNote or Victor Interlink, which came with a 8.9 inch screen at 1024×600 resolution. Placing a JVC Mininote xp5230 side by side with an Asus eeePC: They’re practically the same size, and it was very surprising that Asus didn’t go with the 8.9″ screen originally, but I guess it all comes down to cost.
The main things I prefer on the JVC:
- of course the 8.9inch screen at 1024×600 resolution,
- the keyboard is a tiny bit bigger, which makes a hell of a difference when trying to touch type.
- I much prefer a trackpoint to a touchpad.
Things I don’t like about the JVC:
- it gets stupidly hot, to the point you can’t have it on your lap.
- this model has a lack of builtin WiFi, some of the higher models do have it though.
- the VGA out needs a breakout cable.
- this model takes stupidly small 144pin MicroDimms, that only allow memory expansion to 384MB.
but overall they’re very similar machines.
more photos after the jump…
A range of hoodies which covers the face is sparking fears they could be used for criminal activity.
With designs like skeletons, or Hannibal, referring to the cannibal villain in the movie “Silence of the Lambs”, the masks are meant to stir up a reaction. The masked hoodies range in price from 30 to 600 British pounds (60 to 1200 USD).
Cindy Martin reports.
I’m still kinda messed up in the head about it so bear with me.
I was delivering some computers to a small shop in the ghetto of Colorado Springs. I happen to be carrying a box of hard drives.
all of a sudden I hear “BLAP BLAP BLAP BLAP BLAP”
I hear some whizzing and suddenly, it feels like I got pushed hard!
I hit the ground, took me about 3 seconds to realize I was hit, but I couldn’t see any bleeding.
that’s when I saw the hole in the box. I went inside the shop and looked at the drives.
BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) â€” When Sebastien Boucher stopped at the U.S.-Canadian border, agents who inspected his laptop said they found files containing child pornography.But when they tried to examine the images after his arrest, authorities were stymied by a password-protected encryption program.
Now Boucher is caught in a cyber-age quandary: The government wants him to give up the password, but doing so could violate his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination by revealing the contents of the files.
Experts say the case could have broad computer privacy implications for people who cross borders with computers, PDAs and other devices that are subject to inspection.
“It’s a very, very interesting and novel question, and the courts have never really dealt with it,” said Lee Tien, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based group focused on civil liberties in the digital world.
For now, the law’s on Boucher’s side: A federal magistrate here has ruled that forcing Boucher to surrender the password would be unconstitutional.
This week Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu Linux, announced a partnership with Parallels, maker of the Virtualization products Parallels Workstation and Parallels Desktop for Mac. Consequently, the Parallels Workstation virtualization software is now available to download and install in Ubuntu Linux, completely supported by Canonical, and done entirely through the Add/Remove programs interface. This makes four different virtualization programs — three of which are installable via the package repositories — that run on Ubuntu Linux.
Virtualization is the technique of running a “guest” operating system inside an already-running OS; for example, Windows inside Linux, or visa-versa. This article compares four virtualization products available for Ubuntu Linux: the free, open source x86 emulator Qemu; the closed-but-free versions of VirtualBox and VMware-Server, and the commercial Parallels Workstation.
Jesus these goons don’t know when to quit. If they could make you install a brain filter that prevented you from hearing pirated music I’m sure they would.
At a Washington, DC, tech conference last week, RIAA boss Cary Sherman suggested that Internet filtering was a super idea but that he saw no reason to mandate it. Turns out that was only part of the story, though; Sherman’s a sharp guy, and he’s fully aware that filtering will prompt an encryption arms race that is going to be impossible to win… unless usersÂ somehow install the filtering software on their home PCs or equipment.
Last night, Public Knowledge posted a video clip from the conference that drew attention to Sherman’s other remarks on the topic of filtering, and what he has to say is downright amazing: due to the encryption problem, filters may need to be put on end users’ PCs.
The issue of encryption “would have to be faced,”Â Sherman admitted after talking about the wonders of filtering. “One could have a filter on the end user’s computer that would actually eliminate any benefit from encryption because if you want to hear [the music], you would need to decrypt it, and at that point the filter would work.”
Wouldn’t this “encryption arms race” that is “impossible to win” be done in “software” by “users,” making filtering connection hardware useless as the data is already encrypted?
Unless they want to block all encrypted data, because after all, you have nothing to hide if you aren’t doing anything wrong.Â Ugh.
Have you ever heard of a “sealed” PDF? I don’t mean password-protected or branded with your name (as some eBook sellers do). This is a different beast. Let me introduce a company called SealedMedia. Their business is protecting electronic documents (PDFs), a form of Digital Rights Management (DRM) which has always been a topic of ongoing debate. One of their most notable clients: Harvard Business School Press.
I had to write a paper on case #698-004, entitled “We’ve Got Rhythm! Medtronic Corp.’s Cardiac Pacemaker Business,” which is a great case by the way. Unfortunately, my experience purchasing and reading the case was not.
The HBSP Online Store allows visitors to purchase cases individually, in PDF format, well actually SPDF format. The .spdf extension indicates the document has been “sealed” by SealedMedia, and consequently Adobe Reader cannot properly render it without the SealedMedia plug-in and a valid license.
When you purchase the case, you receive a license with a login name and password. When launching Adobe Reader, you must authenticate to the license server to view the document:
Today is a great day for all the people waiting for the first bits and pieces of Amarok 2 on Windows. Amarok developer shakes worked hard to get it ready for you. Enjoy! Please be aware that it is only a tech preview with a lot of known problems. From the amarok.kde.org posting:
I’ve had the killer combination of being both sick and busy lately, so I haven’t got much done on Amarok recently.
However I do have one announcement that might make a few people happy: the windows installer of KDE now has packages of the Amarok 2 tech preview available.
You can download it by grabbing the installer and following the instructions over at the KDE techbase. It should be pretty self explainatory, just run the installer, select a mirror, and download the amarok package: all the dependencies should be automatically downloaded and installed for you.
Since so many Mac users are also child porn enthusiasts, I thought you might like to know that the newest version of TrueCrypt came out last night and they support OS X now.
Now my trendy Mac friends can stop having to mess around with their USB keychain, mirroring their passwords and bill pay confirmations from a Mac sparseimage to a TrueCrypt vault and back again.
If you’ve never heard of TrueCrypt, it’s basically a paranoid’s wet dream, open-source encryption app where you can do needlessly complicated things like hide an undetectable real vault inside a dummy vault so the NSA can’t get your Flickr password. It provides two levels of plausible deniability, in case an adversary forces the password out of you… and now it’s cross platform. Yay!
Some of you might already be using Unlinker since I have posted about it several times before. A lot of you have asked, what does it do? Hopefully this brief post will help you see the usefulness of this relatively simple but powerful Firefox Extension…
Suppose you are on a forum, blog, Apache index page, or any other page full of links to photos. You want to view and possibly save all of the pics. What do you do? Well, you could use my BASH script if you’re using *nix… but if you’re like most of my friends/family, that’s not an option. Do you really want to click on each image link one-by-one, when you just want to view/save them all easily? There’s got to be an easier way. Well, now there is. See the simple example below.
Click the images for a larger view.
The best part about Unlinker is: it’s NOT a resource hog. It weighs in at just 43 kilobytes and still feels as powerful as similar Firefox Add-ons that are bloated with too many features you would seldom use. Feel free to play around with Unlinker and try out it’s MANY other features. We will go into more detail about these at a later date.
From the Consumerist: “Did you know a “closed” checking account is never really closed? Today I walked to the local BofA for the third time to close a checking account that every month seems to magically re-open with a $5.95 account fee. What the manager told me was quite shocking.”
While checks that come in for a closed account will “bounce,” any electronic credit or debit will automatically reopen the account. So that one bill-pay with the electric co-op you forgot to change? Yep, that’ll reopen your account. That one direct deposit of the two cents of interest you earn on a CD? Yep, reopened. Or in my case, the $5.95 account fee that the first two people who “closed” my account forgot to turn off – yep, reopens the account. “All we’re doing is honoring the electronic debit agreement you signed with other merchants,” he told me. “So,” I said, “ten years from now if someone I had an agreement with previously decides they want to try and electronically deduct $200 from my account – that would reopen it.” “Yes,” says he. Seems like the transactions should just “bounce” and I should have to fix whatever problem it creates. I hate this idea of the bank trying to “help me.” At least this month the guy waived the $6 fee. Last month they made me pay it to close the account and I was in too big of a hurry to put up more than a 2 minute fight. I live in Charlotte – maybe I should pay Mr. Lewis a visit and ask him why he thinks this is good for consumers.
Here’s a FAQ on how to name your computer from 1990. Follow the link at the bottom to read all the “tips.”
Avoid alternate spellings.
Once we called a machine “czek”. In discussion, people
continually thought we were talking about a machine called
“check”. Indeed, “czek” isn’t even a word (although “Czech”
Purposely incorrect (but cute) spellings also tend to annoy a
large subset of people. Also, people who have learned English
as a second language often question their own knowledge upon
seeing a word that they know but spelled differently. (“I
guess I’ve always been spelling “funxion” incorrectly. How
By now you may be saying to yourself, “This is all very
silly…people who have to know how to spell a name will learn
it and that’s that.” While it is true that some people will
learn the spelling, it will eventually cause problems
For example, one day a machine named “pythagoris” (sic) went
awry and began sending a tremendous number of messages to the
site administrator’s computer. The administrator, who wasn’t a
very good speller to begin with, had never seen this machine
before (someone else had set it up and named it), but he had to
deal with it since it was clogging up the network as well as
bogging down his own machine which was logging all the errors.
Needless to say, he had to look it up every time he needed to
spell “pythagoris”. (He suspected there was an abbreviation,
but he would have had to log into yet another computer (the
local nameserver) to find out and the network was too jammed to
waste time doing that.)
In another stunning blow to the security and integrity of Diebold’s electronic voting machines, someone has made a copy of the key which opens ALL Diebold e-voting machines from a picture on the company’s own website. The working keys were confirmed by Princeton scientists, the same people who discovered that a simple virus hack on the Diebold machines could steal an election. Absolutely incredible and another example of how Diebold’s e-voting machines pose a great threat to the electoral process.