* Posts by Scott Butterworth

9 posts • joined 27 Nov 2007

Net game turns PC into undercover surveillance zombie

Scott Butterworth


I tried this little game and was immediately asked by my Adobe flash plugin (which is the latest version btw) whether or not I wanted to allow it access to my webcam and mic (Privacy settings ftw!!).

I clicked "Allow" and was immediately prompted by my firewall/security suite that the Adobe plugin was attempting to to use a dll to access my webcam (and then a subsequent one for my mic) and whether i should deny or allow.

I don't think this is going to work on a lot of people. I think Vista will also question this type of behaviour if you have Windows Defender and UAC activated (need to test this).

Blockbuster: DVD to Blu-ray shift slower than VHS to DVD

Scott Butterworth

Blu-ray is a storage medium

I think a lot of people here are falsely buying into the popular marketing scam.

Blu-ray discs are primarily a storage medium and an IO technology. With the technology you can store/read more MB per disc at a faster IO rate.

This added storage capacity and bandwidth allows you to do funky things like store loss-less uncompressed versions of video and sound which means less potential degredation from common compression techniques. If used in that way it also frees the player up from having to perform the decoding (though that is not a very significant advantage since most modern day media players do this extremely well).

From the software industry's standpoint it also allows you to store a crap-load of files per disc which makes it ideal for backups/libraries and also overall cheaper for distributors when releasing media compilations and large software products (especially games).

The BD+ media standard/protocol (not to be confused with the actual Blu-ray disc and reader technology) adds a whole set of additional layers for players to implement on a firmware/software layer that define the user interface, APIs, supported video & sound formats, encryption/decryption, digital rights and overall user experience of common media formats (as well as many other things).

The Blu-ray technology when taken as a whole offer some very significant advantages over DVD, but the way it currently is being implemented by the media industry for home movies means that the average consumer will see little to no benefit when comparing movies on DVD vs Blu-ray unless they have a VERY large 1080P HD-TV (at least 50") and the studio actually bothered to take advantage of the additional storage capacity and available BD+ features (instead of just porting over a version of the DVD bitstream and serving it up as "fantastic Blu-ray high-def version!!").

This is one are where expecting to take advantage of the usual "buzz" terms and overall consumer ignorance won't work for them. They will actually have to put some money and effort into making the media more attractive on Blu-ray.

A third of Vista PCs downgraded to XP

Scott Butterworth


I had Vista Ultimate SP installed on my latest Alienware machine (a little higher specced than your average user's home PC I will admit) and so far I have had no real issues on it apart from uninstall my software firewall and download the "Vista Compatible" version.

Of course I did disable (or set to manual) about 30-35 services, disabled approx 10 startup programs and also switched off: "Security Service", "Windows Defender" and the silly "Sidebar/Widget" app. I thought about turning off "User Access Control" (the program that prompts you for permission to run things) but decided to leave it on for the time being.

The OS is performing nicely at about 400-500MB of RAM being used by it plus my "essential" apps (firewall/anti-virus, messenger progs, proxomitron, etc). I could probably free more memory by turning off Aero (the shiny desktop theme) but I like the look of it and it doesnt really intefere with anything I am running.

It's a nice OS. I like the way things are laid out (its very "mac-like") and how fast the new explorer file indexing is. Predictably my wife oohed and aahed about how "pretty it is".

My only compliant is I do hate this version of the Windows Networking Stack -- it might be "more secure" but its about 25% slower than the version included in XP SP2. Someone else on this thread was complaining about how annoying it was to try to monitor network traffic while playing DVD's or streaming media -- I agree, and thats why I went out and invested in a nice Killer K1 NIC for about $85 (it has its own built-in stack handling and avoids the clunky OS one). Problem solved.

16-card GPU bangs-per-buck mega shoot out

Scott Butterworth

Dual GTX280's for me thanks

Dual GTX280s for me. Best $600 I spent. Blows everything and anything in your little graphs away. Contemplating a 3x280 config once the prices start to drop.

Automated crack for Windows Live captcha goes wild

Scott Butterworth

Automated webpage security

These spammers typically use sofware that either:

a) Uses javascript or Windows API interactions to navigate the DOM of the "Create New Web Account" to select-from/fill-in the controls on the form before simulating the relevant control interactions (eg. button clicks) to cause the postbacks.

b) Generates a proxy page that transmits the correct values to the receiver page. They'll often spoof the page path/name and domain to make it look legitimate enough to bypass any basic security checks

c) Uses any unsecured web services that are designed to automate server interactions (such as account creation) for legitimate customers/partners. Due to the rise of AJAX people are creating web services more and more often these days and a lot of people forget to secure them adequately (merely using the SOAP protocol does not guarantee an adequate level of security).

In Microsoft's case I doubt they are stupid enough to be caught out by either (b) or (c) which leaves (a) as the most likely scenario.

In this case, in addition to using a Captcha image the server-side page that renders the "Create New Mail" could also start randomizing client control names/ids per request by a validated IP session (tracking the randomized names on the server so that when they are posted back it knowns how to correctly translate them). This would make it very difficult to write code to target those controls and they'd have to resort to using index values (eg. the first textbox control = firstname) which you could foul-up by generating a random number of fake masked controls on the page to mess up the index ordering.

Also judicious use of secured Flash or Silverlight controls for data capture with no exposure of internal object names or programmatic control methods (basically make human interaction the ONLY means to interact with the flash object) can make like difficult for spammers too.

Japan to lose 20GB and 60GB PS3

Scott Butterworth

RE: Backwards Compability?

Please can someone who actually OWNS the 40GB model in the USA actually confirm 100% whether or not it truly is *unable* to play PS2 and PS1 games.

I was under the strong impression they were planning on simply ommiting the PS2 chipsets and implementing backward compatibility via software emulation.

PS: I am unable to answer this question myself since I own one of the 1st gen 60GB models (which I later upgraded myself to 250GB of HD) which does have all the chips & features and plays PS1/PS2 games perfectly well (with added upscaling/smoothing).

Nintendo Wii hack opens door to homebrew games

Scott Butterworth
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RE: Nintendo will not be happy

Too right. As I recall from my NES/SNES days Nintendo are very tight about who they let develop for their hardware and under what conditions -- one of the reasons they always had very average/sub-par 3rd party dev shop support.

They won't be happy about this at all. Partially their own fault though: console makers should ALWAYS implement sufficient cryptography.

Nintendo takes Japan Xmas sales crown

Scott Butterworth
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One thing I have noticed a lot of people forget (especially the younger crowd) is that Sony have ENORMOUS perseverance and an almost unlimited pocketbook.

When they launch a product it is akin to launching a long grueling military campaign of attrition -- they often beat their opponents by simply outlasting them (regardless of their own losses). They are also very smart about product placement and consumer markets and thus usually end up being top dog in the long term.

This can be seen easily now by simply looking at the PSP and PS2 sales -- both of these consoles came under heavy criticism and negative media scrutiny in the first 2 years of their release and both were losses on Sony's books for quite some time. Now you can see that both platforms have reached peak maturity in the markets and are raking in cash nicely -- though imho I think the PSP still has a lot more potential to be gleaned out of it yet (if you don't own one yet, they are FANTASTIC little devices, especially if you also own a PS3). I predict the Playstation 3 will follow the same patterns over time.

My hat goes off to Sony for making great products and being a pro at making money.

Congrats also go to Nintendo for ressurecting itself in the non-handheld console market.

Blu-ray discs outsell HD DVDs almost 3:1 in Europe

Scott Butterworth

I bought a console, I got a decent BluRay player for "free".

Personally I don't give a rat's arse if either format fails.

I bought a first-generation 60GB PS3 as a HD games console to play PS3 games (I also own an XBox 360, Wii, plus a fair number of the old obselete consoles).

The fact it can:

- Play/upscale DVD's

- Play Blu-Ray movies

- Play PS2/PS1/PSP games

- Play MP3/WMA/WAV/MPEG-4,DIVX, plus various other media formats

- Display photos and pictures

- Read media streams remotely

- Act as a DVR

- Be installed with Linux

- Be hooked to just about every device in my home

~~ plus all the other stuff it does ~~

... actually.. doesn't really matter to me very much.

Sure I bought a few Blu-Ray movies. Why not, since I have the player available and I wanted to test out my fancy new 1080P HD LCD TV. They are very nice, its a definate improvement over standard DVD *shrugs*

But, if the format wins or loses doesn't matter to me at all. I'll still have the player, i'll still have the discs and I'll still be using the console for its purchased purpose -- to play PS3 games on.

I think most consumers on either "side" simply don't care about this "war". A lot of the HD-DVD guys just bought their player cuz it was wicked cheap at Wal-Mart or they forked over $200 for the add-on XBox 360 player. A lot of the Blu-Ray guys are like me, they got it bundled with their game console or it came with their latest PC (I got one bundled in a Laptop I bought for a friend recently)

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