Saturday, July 30, 2005

Small Dog Rescue and Humane Society

Today we transferred the two dogs to this organization Small Dog Humane. They agreed to take the dogs in, run a microchip check, get them dewormed, caught up on meds, and neutered. We dropped them off this afternoon. We never did settle on nicknames, as that probably would've gotten us to attached to them.

They will update their website soon with a picture of the dogs (they are a pug/pekenise mix), and will also state when they have placed them in a good home. We have received no word from the fliers placed out where the dogs were found. It is now believed they were dumped there and are not runaways.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

EA - Battlefield 2 - Community Update - Weapons Unlocked

EA - Battlefield 2

Forgot to grab the official notice in the previous article to the offical EA blurb about the issue. Quoted below as well,

Profiles with all Weapons Unlocked

Many users logged into Battlefield 2 today to discover that they had access to all of the game's weapons unlocked in their profile. We have fixed the root issue that caused this to occur and by tomorrow morning all users will return to having access only to the weapons which they had earned. Once our solution is in place, if you find that you do not have access to weapons appropriate to your in-game rank, please direct inquiries to the Support sites linked below. In some cases users may be prompted to re-select the Unlock weapons that they are eligible for (if you are eligible for two weapons you will get to choose the two you wish to have unlocked)...

Electronic Arts (EA) BattleField 2 (BF2) Stats Servers Hacked

Electronic Arts (EA) BattleField 2 (BF2) Stats Servers Hacked

This topic is being discussed in many forums online as many people (myself included) have all the weapons unlocked for their accounts when playing on BF2 Ranked servers. The following quote is from one of the persons who has claimed responsibility,

Well, what a wonderful few days it has been. Since EA didn't take the time to respond (or maybe even read) our emails about various stats-server security holes, it clearly showed us how much they care. Therefore, we came to the conclusion that modifying 5 million accounts wouldn't be that big of a deal.

That being said, accounts with ids from 40,000,000 to 45,000,000 now have all of their weapons unlocked.

What will be next week? Perhaps we'll give everyone their Distinguished Service Medal, or maybe we'll elevate everyone to the rank of Sergeant Major.

The ball's in your court, EA. Time's up at the buzzer, how well will you play?

In addition, the following quote is from an EA representative,

In the future, if you really are concerned about "exposing security holes" to EA (which I sincerely doubt) rather than grandstanding, please e-mail me personally since it appears that you don't have the correct contact info. I will PM you the address.

All of the changes made will be rolled back in the next couple hours. Users may have to rechoose any unlocks they would have legitimately made in the last day or so as a result of the roll-back, but no stats should be lost.

-ben aka [EA]Die Fledermaus

I deal with many vendors and many different patch methodolies and vulnerability report methodologies in the course of my professional services. The question has been asked about the vulnerability reporting in entertainment products before and now here again.

These incidents are no where near as interesting as mission critical servers and services being patched/hacked (usually containing sensitive information such as social security numbers, credit card numbers, etc.) as is the case in the broad IT field, these are usually proprietary applications and services which do not contain sensitive personal information. However, where are the clear guidelines for people to report issues and vulnerabilities with the software?

The retail helpdesk and support services? They often are hard-pressed to handle their current jobs and are not trained enough to handle such escalations, its not that they cannot it is just they there are not trained nor do they have the support infrastructure to do so. When and how will this change things for EA? Is this going to be a small time issues swept under the rug? On the other hand, is this going to wake things and be a catalyst for some improvements in the gaming industry, that the rest of the IT and business world have already been forced to come to grips with.

If as is stated in the claim to the hack, EA was notified? However, not through the “correct” channels? What are the correct channels? I have worked in the gaming industry, and I currently deal with the security industry on the IT side and know what to look for and where, but there exists little information to direct an individual to the correct contact point. (Does one even exist in the some organizations?)

Does that make the actions right, no. As stated by numerous laws local and federal, a crime was committed here, and as such, I am sure EA will pursue all legal interests in this going forward, but there is clear room for all entertainment companies to improve the vulnerability reporting of their products going forward.

More Information:

DSL Reports (AKA: Broadband Reports),13979964

Total BF2 (Thread 1)

Total BF2 (Thread 2)

Total BF2 (Thread 3)
Claim to hack is Post #1 and EA response is #42

Monday, July 25, 2005

Doggie Guests

Doggie guests. This weekend, my better half rescued two small dogs from a busy road. They were winding along the roadside, and all the homes along the way have fenced in yards, such that the animals could not get back into their residence if they were from the area.

Could be they dug under once of the fences and escaped, but they have no collars on them at this point, so hard to say. We will get them scanned for microchips in short order, however in the mean time the house is a lively place with pets galore!

Cute little buggers, Suggestions on nicknames. Click-n-Clack? Ratchet-n-Clank? Bits and Bytes?

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Google Weather Maps

Google Weather Maps

Seems the folks linked in the previous blog entry have a new site they are migrating towards. It is up at the above link, and supports the radar overlays driectly on the website, if you don't have the Google Earth client loaded. (However the full client is half the fun!)

Monday, July 11, 2005

Weather Radar in Earth.Google

I have posted about and referred many people I know towards the old keyhole trial and now as it is branded Earth.Google… This is a very interesting and novel application, which can have many uses both for business and for recreation.

However, the one item I immediately wanted to see was a real time link to weather data. Would that would be cool. Well it is, this site has tapped in to the database to generate real time weather data,

Real Time Weather Data
Note, the site may be slow, as it has gotten popular…

Development server is having difficulty keeping up with high levels of site traffic. Investigating migration to more stable production environment. Migration to Google Maps version 10 should fix some of the reported issues with Opera, Safari, and Internet Explorer.

However the interesting thing I noticed on this site was on the bottom right hand corner of the page was a pull down to down a .KML file, which is an overlay for Google.Earth. This is what I have been looking for in regards to some of the weather data imports. Should only be a matter of time before someone has something truely wicked pieced together.

Choose your state, and download the .KML file. Then (as long as you have the Earth.Google client loaded, double-click on this file and it will load up the radar data into the application.

By default this is loaded in a temporary place, which you can then choose to save into your “my places” once you have done so you can then view the properties of the specific radar source and then change the update interval. The default is 5 minutes.


Google Map Hacks – Weather Maps Blog

What is a KML File?

Probably the greatest technological advance in Google Earth is the patent pending Network Link(TM) mechanisms described by Google's Keyhole Markup Language(TM) specification. These Network Links allow individuals, businesses, governments, and other organizations to easily publish dynamic geospatial data layers and have them seamlessly integrated into the unified Google Earth environment where it will be seen by millions of users as they search the globe.

Keyhole Markup Language

Sunday, July 10, 2005

War of the Worlds

Despite my little rant about rehashed movies I have just contributed to the problem a little bit further… My better half wanted to see War of the Worlds in the theater. So we went. (Cha-Ching goes Hollywood)

It was a decent flick, but you know what. It was the same rehashed storyline just “modernized” and had a plethora of eye candy. I did not need to see it, and if she did not want to see it, we would not have until later (when it was free for me to view it, thanks to advertising dollars).

All in all it was a decent movie, but Spielberg could have been better served working on new IP material. Watching the movie you saw all the “typical” Spielberg directorial fingerprints. I would state that nothing new was added from him. The one good thing, is that the storyline eclipsed Tom Cruises persona so you really only see him as his character (that is a good thing too).

If you do not mind forking over money for rehashed material and (literally) nothing new under the sun, then this is a good flick to see. However if you are tired of the rehashed movies and sequels then you can let this one slip by. You will be able to see in 12-24 months anyhow on TV.

Friday, July 8, 2005

More Rehashed Movies to Come!

Movies. Most people love them right? Well of late, I have become rather disenfranchised with Hollywood. Why? There is nothing original under the sun (heh, sorry could not resist). Seriously, though, they are releasing more crap-rehashed movies than ever before!

Now I have heard the age-old adage that there are no new stories, they are only six plot variations for any actual story, but that is not what I am talking about. Hollywood is just dumping rehashed and remade movies for us to consume… and you know what?

It works.

They no longer have to take risks on some new IP material new directions in story telling you have the same old movies being remade after an appropriate cooling down period.

They sell at the box office enough for them to post a profit and continue. The only problem is I do not want to see that shit. My in theater viewing experience has dropped from one a week to about one every six months or so. If I watch a movie it is when it hits the streets on normal television or the odd pay-per-view, I rarely even rent DVDs anymore. It is not because I do not like or enjoy movies, there is just such schlock being released it is not worth my time.

Here is quick list example list of movies for this year and next year and I am sure if I took the time I could flesh out a nice and robust listing too, keep in mind this is just what I can think of off hand and pluck from a page or two on Google.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
War of the Worlds
King Kong
Don’t Look Now
The Pink Panther (2006)

Then there are plenty that have already been remade in the past couple years

The Ring
Texas Chainsaw Massacre
The Manchurian Candidate
Dr. Zhivago

Now when it is not a remake of an already good classic movie, then it is a sequeldom of a moderately successful new IP plot.

Blade 1, 2, and 3 (Okay, based on a huge plethora of stories from the comic book, a bad example perhaps.)
The Santa Clause (1, 2, and soon to be 3)
Austin Powers 1, 2, 3
Stuart Little 1 and 2

What is the moral of this little rant? Well just this… Hollywood, if you want a shot at my money do not create another meaningless sequel, do not remake something already made, and if you need ideas for some good and fresh IP (intellectual property – The modern term for stories and ideas) to bring to the big screen, by all means give me a call and my agent will get back to you.

Wednesday, July 6, 2005

Tom's Hardware Guide Business Reports: Dual Core And The Future of Gaming - Introduction

Tom's Hardware Guide Business Reports: Dual Core And The Future of Gaming - Introduction

I previously blogged about an interview GameDailyBiz had with Mark Rein about next generation consoles, rising development costs and more. Tom’s Hardware guide recently posted an article which explores some of those concepts as well.

There is no clear direction or guidance provided by either articles and leave more questions than answers, but you can start to see some of the trends in gaming industry and what is more interesting the clear technological advances already present and those just around the corner.

This holiday weekend (BTW: Hope you had a good Fourth of July!) G4’s show Icons highlighted the history of Star Wars games starting back with the Atari 2600. I always knew there were many Star Wars games, but I had failed to realize how many they were and how well these products can also parallel the technical advances of the gaming industry in terms of platforms on both the consoles and the PC. If you have an interest in looking at the advances in game play and of the Star Wars gaming universe this may well be worth catching a replay.