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Friday February 14, 2014

WARNING! Linksys routers infected with self-replicating worm/malware.

ArsTchnica post copied below:

Bizarre attack infects Linksys routers with self-replicating malware
Some 1,000 devices have been hit by the worm, which seeks out others to infect.
by Dan Goodin - Feb 13, 2014 6:20 pm UTC

Researchers say they have uncovered an ongoing attack that infects home and small-office wireless routers from Linksys with self-replicating malware, most likely by exploiting a code-execution vulnerability in the device firmware.

Johannes B. Ullrich, CTO of the Sans Institute, told Ars he has been able to confirm that the malicious worm has infected around 1,000 Linksys E1000, E1200, and E2400 routers, although the actual number of hijacked devices worldwide could be much higher. A blog post Sans published shortly after this article was posted expanded the range of vulnerable models to virtually the entire Linksys E product line. Once a device is compromised, it scans the Internet for other vulnerable devices to infect.

posted by IainB donate to IainB - February 14, 2014, 07:19:00 AM
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Thursday February 13, 2014

The Best Security Suites (2013/2014)

PC Magazine writer Neil Rubenking wrote a massive and very useful review of security suites (antivirus + firewall) for PC Magazine recently, with ratings and detailed observations.

The chart below summarizes our findings for three dozen current security suites, highlighting overall scores and category scores of 4.0 stars or better. It's easy to see that some products earned high scores in all or nearly all the categories, while others got just a few high scores.,2817,2369749,00.asp

I may not agree with everything written but it's darn useful.  See also some newer PC mag security reviews that came out after the roundup here.
See also: http://securitywatch.pcma...ormance-need-not-conflict

posted by mouser donate to mouser - February 13, 2014, 05:44:00 AM
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Thursday February 06, 2014

Why didn't anyone tell me I could make the Windows 7 taskbar height non-obscene?

This is a public service announcement for those of you who do not like the Windows 7 taskbar being so damn tall eating up desktop space for no reason.

You can change it go to back to the sane pre-Windows7 height and format:


It's the small icons setting which reduces the height.  I also change the taskbar buttons (grouping) option so that each program running gets it's own taskbar entry until it runs out of space; I hate the new behavior of combining taskbar buttons for multiple copies of explorer, etc.

Note: One thing that happens when you reduce the taskbar height is you lose the full date shown in the bottom right.  To solve that I install Tclock and configure it to show full textual date+time on the taskbar.

posted by mouser donate to mouser - February 06, 2014, 05:50:00 PM
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Monday February 03, 2014

How In-app Purchases Has Destroyed The (Mobile Gaming) Industry

Nice little article about how in-app purchases in (mostly mobile) games are nickle-and-diming people to death and getting worse.

I don't like writing negative articles that don't include a solution to the problem, but in this case, there is no solution. The state of in-app purchases has now reached a level where we have completely lost it. Not only has the gaming industry shot itself in the foot, hacked off their other foot, and lost both its arms ... but it's still engaging in a strategy that will only damage it further.

posted by hamradio donate to hamradio - February 03, 2014, 12:55:00 AM
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Saturday February 01, 2014

Breaking madden - fun video game experiment

An entertaining experiment (with lots of animated gifs) where someone took a football video game and pitted some lopsided teams against each other.

I'd like to see more experiments with "breaking" video games.

Over the course of the season, I've discovered lots of different ways to hack Madden NFL 25 into a thing that no longer resembles football as we know it. I've played around with rules, injury settings, all manner of player ratings, player dimensions, and anything else the game's developers have made available to us.

This time is special, though, because I'm pulling out every single one of the stops at the same time. No other scenario I've built in Madden has been so abjectly cruel or unfair; no other scenario has even been close.

posted by mouser donate to mouser - February 01, 2014, 02:33:00 AM
discovered on
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Wednesday January 29, 2014

The Descent to C - introduction to C from a HLL perspective

I think this is an excellent introduction to what makes C different than most modern high level languages:

This article attempts to give a sort of ‘orientation tour’ for people whose previous programming background is in high (ish) level languages such as Java or Python, and who now find that they need or want to learn C.

C is quite different, at a fundamental level, from languages like Java and Python. However, well-known books on C (such as the venerable Kernighan & Ritchie) tend to have been written before Java and Python changed everyone's expectations of a programming language, so they might well not stop to explain the fundamental differences in outlook before getting into the nitty-gritty language details. Someone with experience of higher-level languages might therefore suffer a certain amount of culture shock when picking up such a book. My aim is to help prevent that, by warning about the culture shocks in advance.

This article will not actually teach C: I'll show the occasional code snippet for illustration and explain as much as I need to make my points, but I won't explain the language syntax or semantics in any complete or organised way. Instead, my aim is to give an idea of how you should expect C to differ from languages you previously knew about, so that when you do pick up an actual C book, you won't be distracted from the details by the fundamental weirdness.

posted by Jibz donate to Jibz - January 29, 2014, 08:20:00 AM
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Sunday January 26, 2014

A Table Tennis match turns into an amazing display of playfullness

Just wonderful.. I wish we could all remember to not take things so seriously and have this kind of fun with our skills.

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posted by mouser donate to mouser - January 26, 2014, 07:44:00 AM
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Saturday January 25, 2014

Robot Odyssey - An incredible programming game from 1984

This is a great long read about a game I'd never heard about from 1984, called Robot Odyssey.

Robot Odyssey was apparently an impossibly difficult, programming (well really circuit wiring) game, that had a big impact on those that played it.

It was called Robot Odyssey, it took me 13 years to finish it, and it sealed my fate as a programmer.

See also:

When i was just starting to code as a teenager, one of the games that really captured my interests was a robot programming called RobotWar, which I wrote a complete clone for on the original ibm pc.

posted by mouser donate to mouser - January 25, 2014, 06:23:00 AM
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Friday January 24, 2014

Re: Does anyone here use Bitcoins?

From our (sometimes painful) forum discussion on bitcoin..

I try to avoid this bitcoin stuff because the whole world of finance seems completely insane and make-believe to me.  However, i am somewhat interested in the technology issues.

I think the points being made about other currency (gold, diamonds, etc.) being intrinsically mostly worthless -- and in that sense not particular different from virtual/digital currency, are all valid.

But what I think eleman touched on which is odd about bitcoin is that, if i'm understanding it correctly, one of the key ideas of bitcoin is that by design it MUST require huge amounts of otherwise-useless cpu cycles, in order to simulate/create scarcity.

It's a key property you have to have scores of high-powered computers doing nothing but churning through useless operations 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to do "work" that is of no value other than to purposefully slow down the generation of these digital tokens.

That does strike one as wasteful.

But now the interesting technological question that comes to mind is, could you flip that?

Could you make a new crypto/digital currency where the work required to virtually "mine" such things was actually PRODUCTIVE USEFUL work?

Like a crypto/digital coin which was generated by successfully solving protein folding problems, etc.

Such a thing would still enforce rarity/scarcity by requiring massive cpu cycles -- but those cycles themselves would be producing useful work. It would be as if coal/diamond/gold mining helped the environment.. Now *that* could be revolutionary.

    Join the discussion..

posted by mouser donate to mouser - January 24, 2014, 10:11:00 PM
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Thursday January 23, 2014

SteamOS : a quick review - plus setting up a virtual environment for testing

A couple of helpful articles courtesy of the Dedoimedo blog regarding SteamOS - Valve's latest bid for world domination.

First up is the review which can be found here.

SteamOS review - Lovely jubbly!

Updated: December 28, 2013

Normally, my game-related content goes into the dedicated Gaming section. But this is a special moment. SteamOS is not just a game. It's a complete, Debian-based distro, and so it merits its own review, right here, alongside all other flavors and editions I've tested in the past. Moreover, some of the stuff will get technical, in the upcoming sequel articles, which makes the Software category the best candidate for this.

Anyhow, SteamOS. Linux based. A dream come true. Now, it's not just a gaming platform, it's a complete operating system, and it may soon land in your living room. The moment we have all been waiting for. But before that happens, let me give you a brief taste of what SteamOS can really do.

Next, and even more interesting, is a step-by-step guide for setting up a SteamOS test environment runnning under VirtualBox. This can be a major PITA if you struggled through it earlier (like I did) on your own. Much easier to follow the steps Igor Ljubuncic so thoughtfully provided. Find them here.

How to setup and test SteamOS as a virtual machine

Updated: January 11, 2014

Note: SteamOS is in continuous development; instructions shown below may change or become outdated or irrelevant. I will follow up with update articles as necessary.

You've just read my SteamOS review. You like it. But you are dismayed by the horrible system requirements. Yup, you need a powerful machine with a modern processor, you need a heap of RAM, a ton of hard disk, and one of the leading graphics cards. Well, not really.

How about we kind of work around all these requirements? This is what I'm going to show you today. How you can install and test SteamOS as a virtual machine, using very limited resources and with zero risk to your physical setup. We will do that using the SteamOS installer archive and VirtualBox. Sounds good. Now follow me...

Great pair of articles! Thmbsup

posted by 40hz donate to 40hz - January 23, 2014, 09:01:00 PM
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Tuesday January 21, 2014

Hard Drive Brand Reliability Data

We occasionally discuss the issue of hard drive reliability on the forum but this it the first time i can remember seeing hard data showing brands with clear differences in reliability..

Hitachi drives crush competing models from Seagate and Western Digital when it comes to reliability, according to data from cloud backup provider Backblaze. Their collection of more than 27,000 consumer-grade drives indicated that the Hitachi drives have a sub-2 percent annualized failure rate, compared to 3-4 percent for Western Digital models, and as high as 25 percent for some Seagate units.


posted by mouser donate to mouser - January 21, 2014, 08:21:00 PM
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Monday January 20, 2014

ArsTechnica article on next-gen filesystems: Bitrot and Atomic COWs

Interesting article delving into why RAID of any stripe (ooh, bad pun) and frequent backups won't always save your bacon, but a 'next-gen' filesystem like ZFS or Btrfs just might (no mention of any new filesystems for Windows).  I jumped into a Btrfs file system about two years ago, and it failed catastrophically about 3 months later.  Granted, it's still in a state of experimental flux and will eventually 'get there', but with all the benefits it promises, I'm hoping that's sooner than later...
Bitrot and atomic COWs: Inside “next-gen” filesystems
We look at the amazing features in ZFS and btrfs—and why you need them.
Let's talk about "bitrot," the silent corruption of data on disk or tape. One at a time, year by year, a random bit here or there gets flipped. If you have a malfunctioning drive or controller—or a loose/faulty cable—a lot of bits might get flipped. Bitrot is a real thing, and it affects you more than you probably realize.

posted by Edvard donate to Edvard - January 20, 2014, 05:29:00 PM
discovered on ArsTechnica
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Tuesday January 14, 2014

Special Edition Newsletter for Jan 14, 2014 - NANY 2014 Roundup

Greetings all.

Since 2007 we have held an annual event that we call NANY (New Apps for the New Year), where we ask the coders who hang out on DonationCoder to create some new piece of free software and share it with the world.

This month we have a special edition of the DonationCoder newsletter.  Instead of our normal roundup of the best posts on the forums in the last month, this newsletter highlights the new software released during our new year NANY programming event.

The NANY event is not a competition -- anyone can participate and everyone who does gets a coffee mug commemorating the event.  Some of these are polished tools with mainstream appeal -- while others are rough around the edges or were written simply as an exercise by the coder.  They are mostly tools for Microsoft Windows.  All are free.

Visit here for descriptions, screenshots, videos, and downloads of all entries:

posted by mouser donate to mouser - January 14, 2014, 11:21:00 PM
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