(*And a conclusion that, I guess, could be considered a fifth thing, but that’d really be reaching.)
Fallout 3: Operation Anchorage is the first drop in an irradiated stream of DLC that Bethesda has planned for its fantastic revamp of the Fallout universe. It sees your wastelander – presumably, by this point, an Iron Man-esque mishmash of cutting-edge weaponry, cold steel, and a 40’s-era radio – stripped right out of his/her tin can and flung (via simulation) into the future’s past that’s still technically our future. Once there, it’s your job to play border patrol for Alaska, keeping China’s Communist government from nabbing Democracy’s swank American job. And make no mistake, son – this is war. But is it a war worth fighting? Well, yes and no. Here’s why.
1. Installing it is like giving birth – Er, not that I’d know what giving birth is like, but I’ve installed Fallout 3: Operation Anchorage, which I’ve heard is a comparable experience. So here’s the rundown: Remember when you feverishly chucked GFW Live into computer limbo because, right after buying Fallout 3, you just wanted to play Fallout 3? Well, that’s actually important now. In order to purchase and subsequently install Operation Anchorage, you must rent out a portion of your precious hard drive to GFW. Then, if you don’t have a GFW or Xbox Live account, you have to snooze your way through some paper work too. Next up, purchasing Microsoft Points. No, your hard-earned dollars are about as worthless as bottle caps here, so you’ll need to have them irreparably mangled into Microsoft Points. After passing Microsoft’s battery of trials (note: I still haven’t said “finally”), you’ll be deemed worthy of downloading Operation Anchorage. Oh goodness, what’s this? Why, has this amount of ridiculous hoop-jumping necessitated a paragraph break – the first in “Five, or Four, or Whatever Things About’s” history?
Jump past the break to, er, find out? Really though, I think the answer's kind of obvious.
Spam senders suffered a few temporary setbacks in 2008, including an FTC bust on HerbalKing, one of the largest global spam networks allegedly responsible for sending billions of unsolicited emails, and the shuttering of web host McColo Corp, who the FTC said was responsible for roughly 75 percent of the world's spam. It may have taken a few months, but spam levels have now risen back up to 150 percent, according to Postini Message Security.
"As spammers fill the void left by McColo, it's reasonable to anticipate a decreasing rate of growth as spam reaches November 2008 levels," wrote Amanda Kleha of the Google message-security team on the company's blog. "However, since the November levels weren't even the peak for the year, and since spammers appear to be quickly recovering, the question remains: Where will spam volume top out in 2009? Will it be near the November 2008 level? The April 2008 level? Or higher?"
Symantec also notes a concerning rise in spam, noting that it has seen spam volumes return to within 5 percentage points of the pre-McColo shutdown numbers. In other words, the break is over and barring another bust, spam levels could rise even higher than what they were before a series of crackdowns took place.
If you followed David Murphy's path to building a budget PC with a cardboard chassis, then why not compliment it with your own homebrewed Surface, also with a cardboard exterior?
Microsoft technology evangelist Paul Foster posted a YouTube video showing how you can build a functioning multi-touch surface using budget parts. Items you'll need are paper, scissors, picture frame with glass, tape, cardboard box, a webcam, and multi-touch software such as Touchlib.
From start to finish, it takes Foster less than four minutes to complete the project and run a short demonstration. Of course, that's with a cardboard box - skilled modders will want to invest a bit more time coming up with custom enclosure.
Google's rap sheet when it comes to goofy exploits gives us pause to wonder if the company might be spending too much time concentrating on Cloud computing and not enough on security fundamentals. Back in July of last year, a SecurTeam blog exposed a Google Calendar flaw which made it possible to expose any Gmail user's real name with minimal effort. More recently, an exploit in Gmail allowing hackers to redirect your email was discovered. Now someone has stumbled onto an interesting vulnerability in Google's Chrome browser.
When you visit a site with an http password protected directory -- or try logging into your router, such as 192.168.1.1 for Linksys owners -- an Authentication Required pop-up appears asking for your for your login credentials. Your password should look something like ••••••••, but according to NeoBlog user tekmosis, if you let Chrome save your credentials to auto-fill the form, the next time you log in, copying and pasting the hidden password into a plain text application will reveal the actual ASCII characters.
We put tekmosis' discovered exploit to the test and as it turns out, you don't even need to have Chrome save anything. We tried logging into our router, typed our password, and it was immediately revealed when we copied/pasted it into Notepad.
While it might take a little work on the part of a hacker to take advantage of this vulnerability, it's one that should never have existed in the first place. You could make an argument that all exploits should never have existed, but this one just seems like a particularly glaring oversight.
Malware is everywhere. You can't browse on any Internet tech forum without someone mentioning this word (with disdain), usually in search of a remedy after being infected with spyware. No matter how careful you are, we’re guessing that many of you have had malware inadvertently installed on your system and may have even ended up reformatting your computer as a last resort. While that may have been the most thorough solution, it is in a sense admitting defeat. Or worse yet, you took your computer to get cleaned and was charged anywhere from $50-300 -- a high price for humiliation. But don't fret, because you can actually purge your system of malicious software for free! Just follow our comprehensive guide.
Activision Blizzard, aka gaming’s Death Star lurking in a system of Alderaans, is about the only game company to avoid placing hundreds of jobs on the chopping block in order to fuel rapidly waning economic fires, and there’s a reason for that: World of Warcraft.
According to Stern Agee analyst Arvind Bhatia, WoW subscriptions likely made up about half of Acti-Blizz’s earnings during its previous fiscal year. This means that World of Warcraft was responsible for earnings per share of around 30 cents out of a total 60 cents. The bottom line for those who don’t follow @thestockmarket on Twitter: Activision Blizzard pulled in $400 million from a four year-old game about orcs, elves, and cow people. Say what you will about Blizzard’s games, but they have some serious staying power.
So then, after all these years, do you still play WoW? You know what? Actually, that’s a dumb question. How about this: why are you still playing WoW, and do you see yourself continuing your genocidal rampage through Azeroth over the next year – even knowing that Blizzard probably won’t release another expansion until 2010?
Microsoft has released the source code for its Sandbox virtualization technology, offering Web developers a new method for protecting the contents of a Web page from malicious exploits and code injections. The project has been released under the Apache 2.0 license, a source no doubt familiar to Microsoft, as the company began sponsoring the Apache Software Foundation to the tune of $100,000 annually last July.
While the Apache Software Foundation isn't sponsoring or endorsing Sandbox--Microsoft's just using the software license--the move is nevertheless the second time Apache and Microsoft are tangling up this year. Microsoft announced its intentions to donate code to Apache's Stonehenge project on January 19.
We've explored Microsoft's increased interest in the world of open-source solutions before. Click the jump to find out why the software giant is so interested in letting everyone else play in its Sandbox for free.
As it turns out, those of us responsible enough to have a computer generally aren’t responsible enough to keep ourselves safe online. Sure, we might get Norton or McAfee at checkout, but that’s generally the easiest step to take. When it comes to surfing the net, if the browser doesn’t update automatically, we probably won’t take the time to update it on our own.
At least, that’s what a study by a pair of Swiss academics and a Google employee revealed. The study, which ran Google results from January 2007 to April 2008, revealed that as a general whole PC users are reluctant to swap software. The swap from IE6 to 7 came gradually, with a primary boost from sales of new PCs with Windows Vista (and IE7) preinstalled. Mac users “seemed more willing to live on the cutting edge, as the Safari 3 beta release was accompanied by a major jump.”
To security conscious users Mozilla’s Firefox came out on top. Its self-updating nature made it a favorite, opposed to others like Opera, which have an update that basically functions as a manual download followed by a new install.
The analysis suggests that most users of web browsers aren’t filled with thoughts of Internet security, but rather with thoughts of convenience. If you’re interested in checking out the study for yourself, you can be sure to check it out in its entirety, here.
Having an internet connection will no longer be mandatory to read, compose, or search through your Gmail. Instead, you'll soon be able to do all of these offline as Google rolls out an experimental feature in the next couple of days to everyone who uses Gmail in the US or UK.
To turn the feature on, you'll click on Settings in your Gmail account, select the Labs tab, and select Enable next to Offline Gmail (our account didn't yet have the feature). After you save the changes, your browser will reload and display a new 'Offline' link which, when clicked, will download the open-source Gears. Google then uses Gears to download a local cache of your mail.
"As long as you're connected to the network, that cache is synchronized with Gmail's servers," Google writes on its blog. "When you lose your connection, Gmail automatically switches to offline mode, and uses the data stored on your computer's hard drive instead of the information sent across the network. You can read messages, star and label them, and do all of the things you're used to doing while reading your webmail online"
Google says not to worry if you have a dodgy or slow connection - enabling the "flacky connection mode" will synchronize your mail with the server in the background, but browsing will take place in the local cache for immediate access. Sounds groovy.
If ever there was a case for parental controls, it's this: According to Virtual Worlds Management, there are now over 200 youth-oriented virtual worlds live, planned, or actively being developed. In other words, rather than grab a ball and glove after school, kids left on their own with access to a computer will literally have hundreds of virtual worlds to choose from and plenty of opportunities to spend their allowance.
When broken down into worlds targeting kids (7 and under), tweens (8-12), and teens (13+), VMW says "the kids market is the clear leader," noting 107 worlds are banking on at least part of their audience consisting of kids in the under-7 range. To make money off these markets, 59 of the virtual worlds use micro-transactions, giving users free access to the world but charging for virtual goods. Another 57 worlds follow the subscription based model, and 46 use advertising, VMW says.