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Archive for September, 2010

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Guardian of the Light, FMA

lara-croft-and-the-guardian-of-light-logo-590x348

So I’ve been a bit quiet over here with new posts as I’ve mainly been doing some forum-based stuff and posting on there. Besides I’ve not been doing too much of interest lately, just playing civilization 5 and watching some series as I mentioned here. So because of that I didn’t really feel like I had anything to write about.

But today there’s been the release of Lara Croft and the Guardian of the Light of which I’ve seen some footage and it looked really good to me. It is however a c0-op game in essence as that adds to the gameplay value. So I’m definitely looking forward to playing that, the puzzles and combat seems like it would just be fun. The only thing that worries me is the length of the game. I’ve not actually read reviews to know about the length as that’s generally not how I judge a game, I judge them by watching gameplay as that’ll give you the best idea of what it is really like. But I’m thinking of let’s playing it as it just seems like plain old fun.

Other than that I’ve been watching quite some Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood. I had watched the original Full Metal Alchemist anime before and very much enjoyed that though it felt like it ended very suddenly. Brotherhood’s loner, in better quality and all-around more polished I think. Even if you don’t like anime, you should probably check it out if not only for the opening song, which I’ve actually made the “Featured Video” of the site for a while now. :D

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Package in the mail

Sabaton logo

So I got a package in the mail and it’s one with awesome contents. It’s not game-related but music instead. As some of you may know my favorite band has been Sabaton over the last bunch of years. I’ve seen these guys several times now and I love them even more after every show, it certainly was the best birthday I’ve ever had due to one of their concerts. ;) So I’m a pretty big fan, however I don’t own their oldest albums as the music quality isn’t that great on them and I like their newer style a tad more.

They recently announced a Re-armed version of all their albums bar the last one which only just released. To make it worthwhile they also included demo’s, live’s and extra songs on there, about 5-6 per disc as well as a poster. I think that’s pretty amazing as most other bands (from what I’ve personally seen) just remix the album and perhaps add 1 or 2 songs and a live on there and then charge full price. To be honest I really like their personal approach as well as you can see on the photo’s I took of the cd covers, do read that text. ;)

So I’ve not ripped all of the albums yet(I don’t actually really listen to actual cd’s…) but from what I’ve heard so far, I’m really pleased with what they’ve done. They’ve really blown new life into their old songs and they sound absolutely great. :) Also included is a shirt I hadn’t actually bought before about the song 40:1, which is one of my favorite songs(And that’s saying quite something!), it’s about the battle of Wizna.

If you like rock at all and these guys tour near you, you should check them out. ;)

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Botnets

Number of Botnet Control Servers

So I’m kind of interested in  network security and therefore exploits and botnets are things I often read about. Many people are not at all aware of what is going on on the internet with exploits and happily just buy an anti-virus package and think they’re safe. I’m convinced that that’s not the solution at all but that’s another topic all together. I figured that I would talk about some of the botnets alone that are going around recently(some though, have been around for many years).

So what is a botnet even you may be wondering. A botnet is a term for a group of computers, home and office machines and high performance servers that have been exploited and are now listening to a central server(called Command & Control, C&C.). Then at the C&C the owner can issue commands to take down sites or machines, you’ve probably heard of a site going down, it was probably because of a botnet.  You’ve probably heard  of some kind of internet worm or virus going around and spreading, they’ve made news over in The Netherlands at least. Those are just some examples of exploits going around to (often) recruit for botnets so that they can be used to send spam, take down a site, steal your information such as passwords or simply spread to more machines. It’s kind of typical to see that the amount of attacks my company’s servers receive are much higher during working days than during the weekend for example.

Recently the IMDDOS botnet was in the news all over the tech sites and even some more regular newspages. This was because this botnet is very commercially selling it’s  services to take down sites, ranging in price from free to $1500/year which is actually really cheap for most botnet software, most of such software costs many thousands of dollars to purchase. Now IMDDOS is a very rapidly expanding botnet, mostly in China and other asian countries but there have been a number of infections all over the world. The actual growing rate has been reported to be 10.000 machines per day for this botnet alone.

So IMDDOS is actually a very classic botnet other than it’s commercial approach, there are some cool concepts going around in the world of botnets as since the launch of twitter several have switched from the traditional IRC channels(Chat software) to using twitter to regulate themselves. Now I think it’s quite an interesting and cool way of controlling the botnet and the techniques used in some of them aren’t actually that hard to understand. One thing that a control method such as twitter has though is that it allows the person to essentially walk up to a company and extort money from them or take down their business with the push of a button. If you’re thinking “Why don’t the Administrators just block the traffic?”, sadly it’s nigh-on impossible to really block it without an expensive device costing several tens of thousands of dollars and that’s not something most companies can afford to spend on the off-chance that it happens to them.

The problems of these botnets is often that they’re nearly impossible to destroy as they have many command servers spread all over the world, there have been many instances of people talking to many internet and hosting providers and lawyers for several years to arrange a day to take all the servers offline, rendering the botnet useless, only for them to miss one or two servers and seeing the botnet being back to full operating stature within 24hours. It’s not some kid sitting in his mom’s basement, it’s actually very organized and there is a lot of money going around in the underworld.

Another interesting factor among these bots is that they’re highly competitive, even going so far as to wage wars on eachother and actually attack eachother. A good example of this and probably the best known too is if your PC has been infected with the rampant Zeus trojan and manage to get infected by SpyEye, another big name, it might even remove or convert the Zeus infection to weaken it’s competition.

So perhaps it’d be a good word of advice to not simply trust your antivirus and pay attention to what you’re doing and what is being installed on your machine as anti-virus software often gets a miserable detection rate against the stuff you really don’t want on your system. There are other more effective measures you can take instead.

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Forum is a go

Forum

I had been thinking of setting up a forum for a little while as youtube just doesn’t always cut it. Information goes everywhere and isn’t really searchable. Especially so since I’ve got a very nice group of commenters and others I talk to, some on a nigh on daily basis. So now there’s a place where we all can talk and have some fun while we’re at it. Plus to be honest it’s kind of fun to have a place of your own and to improve it. :)

Now I must say that the basic forum is up but there will be changes I’ll be making over time, user ranks/groups and some small UI options that I think would make it look even better than it does currently. I still need a nice looking forum banner picture though. But mostly I want to run it in a way where you guys will be able to say “Look Aeterna.. we really need feature A or B.” and then I can look into it. So a community driven process. ;)

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Thoughts on Mirrors

mirrors-intl_m

I recently got the movie Mirrors recommended to me, after that person recommended Shutter Island to me which I really enjoyed. Knowing nothing about it I sat down and watched it.

So the movie starts and we’re introduced to Kiefer Sutherland playing Ben Carson, an ex-police officer who’s been through a dramatic event of shooting an innocent due to his alcohol abuse. He’s been off the force for a year and is really struggling with it. He’s also not allowed to see his children as he’s seperated from his wife. He does however enter the house to visit his kids who are happy to see him, he buys his son a gift as it’s his birthday. Role established I’d say.

Before that though there were a couple of scenes of a man running around being afraid.. which didn’t make much sense at the start. Finally he enters a locker room where all the lockers open and he can see himself in every mirror, including the big one on the centre wall. He then freaks out and breaks a piece off the mirror, which his reflection then picks up and uses to cut open it’s throat.. which then also happens in the real world.

But let’s return to the main characters, we learn that Ben’s gotten himself a new job at this building that was destroyed by a fire 5 years ago. He has to make rounds and guard the premises at night. Now ofcourse at his first shift there’s some crazy stuff happening with doors opening and closing and he even hears screaming at another run. He then notices he can see things in the mirror that aren’t there in the real world, which is a really creepy thought. Eventually Kiefer sees himself on fire in the mirror and then begins to yell from the pain of being burnt. Now ofcourse everyone thinks that he’s simply still freaking out about the innocent man he shot and don’t believe him.

Then it’s up to Ben to figure out what’s going on using his police contacts to help him out. I feel if I would try to explain this process I’d give away too much of what is going on in the movie, but it definitely keeps the suspense going all the way through, the mirror-scenes are usually well done and the actors really do a good job overall, there’s no real weak spots there. The only faults I have with the movie is that it never properly explains what’s going on. I have my idea but it never lends more than a line or two to support it. If you’re into scary movies, this one is definitely a recommendation, it’ll keep you guessing, having compassion for the characters and the end’s definitely a mystery. ;)

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Assassin’s Creed 2 Frustration

ac2

So I’m still playing through Assassin’s Creed 2, and really enjoying it overall. I tend to do a mission with some exploration per sitting and finally I tend to buy some stuff with the money I’ve earned, so a very relaxed way of going through it. However I’ve just now completed a mission which really truly frustrated me. It made no sense what-so-ever. This is in Venice where I had to sneak into this giant structure, the palazzo. Now first I got a mission to go ‘scout it out and find a way in’.. so I ran to it, saw the front heavily guarded and ran around and found a way in, which took me about 2minutes. So then I’m about to drop down into the courtyard and notice that my objective is far away from me…

So I run over to the objective, which had me run around the entire building again, only to find the objective to be on a rooftop where a cutscene showed Ezio and his friend talking about the palazzo being an impenetrable fortres….. Then I had to go to the back of the building escorting that friend (Who just ran into the guards in the restricted zone, which ended up in me having to save him from 20guards..), but not directly, that’d be too simple. I first had to climb another tower in the area. Then another small cutscene took place about again them not seeing a way to get up on the building. Then finally the objective was on the roof of the building and they decided that it was impossible and that they needed another plan.
That plan beeing the flying machine from Leonardo Da Vinci, which to me seems entirely unncessary. But I guess they really wanted to show a new feature. What then followed was a little testlight by jumping off a tower and them getting the idea to have fires on the roof of buildings which somehow would create enough lift for Ezio to remain in flight. So then we finally get to the mission where Ezio jumps off a tower and you just steer him over the fires.. Do this about 10-15times and you make it to the palazzo again where you finally land. The only fun thing about this whole ordeal was the reaction of the guards just yelling “AAAH, shoot the flying demon!!”.

The rest of the mission was actually shorter than any of the other part of this mission, all it took was a  couple of small jumps and a couple of running steps to get to your target. I must say that this mission wasn’t enjoyable to me and just seemed very forced, many of the previous missions were a lot more enjoyable and I’m guessing ones after this will be as well.

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Downtime explained

downtime

Starting in the afternoon of monday sept 13th, this website become unreachable with an error stating “Error establishing connection with database.”. Now this is a fairly self explanatory error and I checked my webhoster’s control panel to see if I could still access the database, I could not, the server wouldn’t respond to database arguments. So I then contacted my webhost about it and they ensured me that they would have it fixed very quickly.  Then time just passed and by the next morning it was still down and I had heard nothing, no update, no reason…

So then on tuesday I decided to call them. The support employee was actually helpful and explained that the server was up and running and thus the data was secure but it wouldn’t respond over it’s service port. I then suggested that they could give me a database dump(all the data within the database) and I could run it on another server and that’d help me get rid of this problem. So the guy said okay to that and that he’d e-mail it to me that day…

Finally it’s wednesday and I still hadn’t heard anything, while the problem persisted. In the morning I finally e-mailed them about it  as they didn’t pick up the phone. At the end of the day I got an answer back stating that they had asked the engineers for the dump, but they hadn’t gotten around to it yet. I then asked for an estimation and apparently none could be given… So after work I decided I’d start looking for another webhosting  provider. It was a bit sour as I had paid 6months in advance at the last hoster..

So thursday morning I had made a choice and called the new hoster to check the tech-level of the support and stated I’d want to test the site out with a DNS record pointing to their server. I got someone on the line who said it was no problem and I sent in the request for the account. They then called to make sure(another employee must’ve seen the request first) and I explained briefly and got the account. The fact that they checked was very promising. So then I ran a couple of tests and it all seemed to work well, and it seems faster too. I then  asked my old provider to send me the authorization token to transfer the domain over to the new host and luckily they sent me that within 2 hours, so they can do something right!

And that’s pretty much the status now, the transfer is queued (it takes 5days for .nl domains) but the site’s running on the new hosting provider which I’m feeling much better about. Though it sucks that I basically threw money away on their services, on paper they did look very good and professional. As a sidenote: I’ve still not received that database content from them, if I hadn’t switched the site’d still be unavailable right now.

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Work in Progress

work-in-progress

New webhost, might aswell set this up fresh. ;)
Many changes coming in the upcoming days for sure.

I seem to be having some trouble to get wordpress bridge nicely with phpbb using wpbb or wp-united. So.. would you guys really dislike to register seperately for the blog and forum?

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Week in review

amnesia-the-dark-descent

This is one crazy week for me and many along with me. There’s some great games releasing which I also mentioned in a previous blog post. I’ve played about 6hours of Puzzle Quest 2 and well, it’s puzzle quest. Nothing needs to be said there really. It’s simply great fun and can totally kick your ass when you’re not paying attention.

The other game that recently released is Amnesia – The Dark Descent for which I’ve only seen the intro for. All I did then was… prepare my settings to record. It took a good 15-20minutes to get the settings decent to look as good as I think I can get away with while getting good frames per second.  So… for the future I’m set to start recording, whenever that will happen. I’m really looking forward to this game and judging from the amount of messages I’ve received of people asking me to lp the game.

Then another game that came out this week is R.U.S.E, an interesting looking rts game. Now I’m not a fan of the RTS genre, which is also why I haven’t bought starcraft 2, but Ruse has a certain charm to it after having watched some videos on it. And my initial impressions is very positive after spending about 2hours in the campaign. I’ve only just been introduced to the building of barracks and supply depots though so I’ve not been introduced to everything yet. But all the battles were kind of fun to go through, although they were kinda of easy. If you set up well you can fight off an incredible amount of enemies it seems, which is definitely a blast to watch.

Then finally a somewhat different subject; subscription fees for websites, specifically gaming websites. I’ve always felt like this wasn’t ever really worth the price as most didn’t offer any real benefits to them. However today Giantbomb.com and whiskey media they announced their subscription plans which can be viewed here, which I immediately purchased for the next year. Now my reasons for this are mainly that I like viewing HD videos(who doesn’t), I frequent them daily, mainly for their video content which is excellent and hell, I’ve been with them from the start and I really appreciate those guys and I watched both of their endurance runs(Persona 4, Deadly Premonition 1, Deadly Premonition 2). For those alone I don’t feel bad about donating. I still feel kind of strange about it but, I love that site.

After having played through the first 2 weeks of Recettears, I can only say; I love this game. I’ve met several named characters, who I’m guessing are adventurers, around town or them simply wandering into the shop and starting a conversation and that’s been great fun. One especially comes in and demands to speak to the manager about an order, so Recette says she is it and doesn’t get believed and a hilarious argument ensues. Finally resulting in us having everything in stock that the guy wanted, which made for a really funny(and profitable) outcome. Other than that I’ve gained my second adventurer, a thief named Charme who has some really cool abilities, such as making clones of herself and dashing through enemies which makes her a ton of fun to play as. Outside of dungeon crawling there also is a bratty girl who’s inheriting a big store chain who has it in for poor little Recette and.. I hate that girl, though her “stealthy observation” methods perhaps aren’t entirely adequate. All in all I can really just say; try the demo, watch gameplay videos and buy it if you like it, it’s more fun to play than to watch, believe me. :)

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MiniRecorder

If you’re a let’s player and you use both fraps and audacity to record the game and the commentary seperately like I do, you’ll probably know of the real drawback that has. Namely the fact that you have to manually sync up the video and audio files as you have to start the audacity recording beforehand. Now this has always bothered me very much as I wanted it to match up perfectly, which took quite some time. I received a private message from xIntenso over at gameanyone saying that he has written a small application that’ll help with recording.

This application he’s named MiniRecorder and what it does is it lets you define a button(which you will want to set to your fraps record button) and you can then simply go to your game and hit your fraps button. Because MiniRecorder is running it’ll tell Audacity to start recording at the very same time. This then results in the same length being recorded at all times. This has essentially reduced my editing time to mere minutes. So how to use this application then? It’s simple enough, all you really have to do is set the record key, a sound file if you want to play one when you start recording and finally the Hz at which to record. Then press Save Settings and you’re done. You can set it to start at windows startup so you can’t forget to run it if you want to.

It also has crash “support” built-in so it’ll play a loud beep if audacity hangs or crashes so you won’t lose any commentary while you otherwise would’ve recorded away.

It’s a small application, but it’s a blessing in my eyes. If you want to download it, click the link: MiniRecorderFinal.