Actually it's not new. But that's nothing new either; many scams, spyware, viruses, ect. online are just new versions of old ones or different variations. The latest scam is another facebook "clickjacking" scheme. Somewhere on your or a friend's feed you'll see a message saying something like "You can't watch this video for more than 15 seconds" or "90% of people can't watch this video for more than 15 seconds." Then there is an embedded video or a link to a video. It's usually just a kind of gross video (like lancing a boil, or a bad bone break, that sort of thing.) But there's also things like an age verification with your date of birth, and question fields that ask you things. Simple things like the state that you live in, county or city you live in. Zip code where you live. YOUR STREET ADDRESS AND TELEPHONE NUMBER.
Yeah, this isn't simple anymore, they are phishing for your personal information. And they are getting personal information from people in exchange for watching someone lance a boil to see pus come out? How stupid is that? Plus, this is the internet. There are plenty of places you can go to see "gross out" videos without picking up malware or falling for phishing scams. Youtube or Ebaum's World will have you covered if that's your thing (although Ebaum's has been known to have spyware issues from time to time, which is why I won't link it.)
And if losing personal information isn't bad enough, the information can be used to hack your facebook account, ensuring that all of your facebook friends get hit with the same clickjacking scam. That's a quick way to get un-friended.
Likewise though, you can't be too lenient on facebook friends who don't follow basic security precautions and wind up getting hacked. In that case the hackers can see your private profile and can post to your wall. And that's unacceptable. And if someone is mad or upset that you un-friended them, just tell them that you are still their friend. But it's just an online safety precaution that you have to take to protect yourself. Once they resolve their security issues, you can friend them again.
I've said I'm not a fan of social networking, but I can see the allure and usefulness of facebook and twitter. But ever the increasing spiderweb of social circles on sites like facebook is a tailor made way for scammers to spread their malware. So use caution.
I’m the resident “tech correspondent” for KNSS and Steve and Ted in the Morning (in a very unofficial capacity anyway.) So I’ve been following the antics of the hacker group calling themselves “Anonymous” for some time now. A couple of hacker groups like “Anonymous” and “LulzSec” have gone on kind of a tear over the last year, hacking business and government websites. The hacking goes something like this. The hacker group communicates a “threat” warning the company (or whatever) about the impending hack attack and giving the reason for the attack. Then on the day of the attack the victim’s website will go down, and that will be followed by a “victory” message released by the hacker group, usually on social media like facebook or twitter.
The latest threat Anonymous has made is against Fox News. A few weeks ago they called out Fox, stating that they believe Fox slants their coverage to promote a conservative viewpoint. A little political aside here, I think Anonymous is totally right about Fox and their very slanted coverage. Where they are wrong is their assumption that anything is wrong with that. Fox’s conservative slant isn’t exactly subtle or any kind of secret. And there are plenty of other news sources a person can turn to if they don’t like Fox. My opinion is that “media bias” (whether it’s Fox and its conservative bias or MSNBC and their liberal bias) is a labor saving device mandated because an increasing number of people want to be told what to think. I prefer to be told what happened (i.e. real journalism) and make my own decisions about what to think. But if money can be made spoonfeeding people biased commentary, I don’t have a problem with it (as if that wasn’t obvious.)
But Anonymous does, and they are attacking Fox News’ website tomorrow, Saturday Nov 5th. Get it?
Remember, Remember the 5th of November… Yes, they are attacking Fox News on Guy Fawkes Day. Fox… Fawkes… get it? Clever huh?
Sorry, I don’t think that is as an obscure a reference as Anonymous does. But anyway, Fox fans don’t need to panic. I’m predicting that all that will happen is an hour or 2 (if that) of interrupted service at Fox News’ website. A power outage at the wrong place can be more destructive than that. Now if they go off the air and are interrupted on the web for days… well I will be forced to admit I was wrong about the seriousness of the attack. But if it is like most of the recent hacks it won’t affect most people at all. Least of all me, I don’t watch news over the weekend unless it is a BIIIIGGGG news story. I get enough of that at work.
But if you are a fan of Fox, and check their website on the weekends…
To set this up I have to reveal a few things about myself. I am a horror junkie. That’s right, in addition to a sci-fi and gaming nerd, I also really enjoy horror movies and the grotesque in general. And I enjoy them on a number of levels. The “make your date jump” type of “shock/scare” movies are fun in a way, but I often find them severely lacking in any kind of substance. I can place most of those in the same category that one does the overdone “campy” genre films that are as much about laughs as they are about scares. Don’t get me wrong, those things have true entertainment value and are fun if you are in the right mood. What I’m talking about today is different though. I’m talking about genuine horror today, calculating and merciless terror. These are the things that actually scare even me, and that’s really tough to do because of the level of de-sensitizing I have from exposing myself to such things for years and years. So, some really frightening things ahead.
Continue if you dare…
“The Watcher in the Woods.” Uncle Walt Disney should have been shot for this one. This so-called “Disney” movie was easily responsible for screwing up a pretty large number of kids over the years. And I wouldn’t want it any other way. I saw this movie when I was about 7 or 8 and it scared the crap out of me. Nostalgia wise it can still get to me a little. 2 things stand out about TWitW. 1st, it’s the casting. Everyone does a great job in this movie, but the woman playing the creepy old lady… has the “Betty Davis Eyes.” Oh wait, it WAS Betty Davis, and she made the creepy factor push all the way to up 11. Second (and this is a common thread in all of these “truly frightening” things) it never showed you what you were afraid of. Step one in overcoming fear… is IDENTIFYING what it is that is making you afraid. When you can’t see it… YOU CAN NEVER GET OVER YOUR FEAR OF IT. TV and movie writers need to have that tattooed on their foreheads, because showing the monster or bad guy too soon is one of the first mistakes they make. A person’s own imagination crafts the worst horror, and when shown the reality of the situation it is almost always a little bit of a letdown.
Cthulhu Mythos. This would be the exception to the above rule. H.P. Lovecraft theorized that there was a horror BEYOND what the human mind could comprehend. A terror so great that just a glimpse at the enormity of it would drive a man completely insane. And that was the very basis for a large number of his stories. And “Lovecraftian” themes outlived him and are stand-up examples of horror to this day provided that the author is good enough. The upshot of that… you don’t have to go back to early 20th century literature to find a good Cthulhu like scare. Some good examples; (and fun if you are like me and like a good scare) John Carpenter’s “In the Mouth of Madness,” the artwork of H.R. Giger, and the black and white silent film adaptation of “The Call of Cthulhu,” which was filmed in 2005 and is really awesome. Some new internet memes are also kind of Lovecraftian and scary. Like "The Slender Man." If you want to, watch the video here. Also Lovecraftian is the Silicon Knights video game “Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem.” A game that actually does its very best to try and make the player think that they are losing their mind. I’m pretty sure that it didn’t work on me, but I’m also pretty sure it did.
Huh? Well anyway…
In the video game world the best of the “true horror” type tales is that of Silent Hill. There are a number of installments in the world of Silent Hill, but I’d suggest that the best is “Silent Hill 2.” Although it is a game with a number of technical faults, the one thing that it does (and better than most other games) is mood and atmosphere. The hero of the story, James Sunderland, has come to the town of Silent Hill after getting a letter from his wife telling him to meet her there. Which he does despite the fact that his wife died of cancer 2 years prior. In “Silent Hill 2” one gets the feeling that it’s not anything but the town itself and perhaps even James’ own mind is the true villain of the piece. The streets of Silent Hill are mist filled and quiet. And those people that you on rare occasions come across don’t seem to be reacting to the same reality that James is seeing. Creating the idea that either they are all crazy… or YOU are. It’s a video game that could leave you feeling desolate and totally alone even if you were playing it in a room full of people doing Jell-O shots.
By the way, if you did go to youtube to watch "the Slender Man" video... it's all fake. I know it looked kind of well researched and real, but it's fake. It was an attempt to "create" folklore that went viral on the internet. And was pretty successful.
Do I even have to say “It.” The book is bad enough, but the mini-series adaption of Stephen King’s “It,” is truly one of the most frightening things anyone could watch. Tim Curry as Pennywise the Clown… just thinking about it is enough to scare anyone.
Book wise, check out “Phantoms” by Dean Koontz. They made a movie out of it, but it was really stinky. Did not do the book justice at all. Short stories by Steven King are usually better than his long form novels, and you get a lot of them in his collections like “Night Shift” and “Nightmares and Dreamscapes.” And classically, you can’t go wrong with Poe. Try reading “The Raven” sometime when you are all alone at night in an empty space, usually alive with people, but sullen and desolate when un-populated. Kind of like me when I get here to work at KNSS at midnight. While I ponder weak and weary over daily news stories galore. Suddenly I hear a rapping, as if someone gently tapping, tapping on my studio door…
IT’S MACINTOSH, AAARRRRGGGGGHHHHHH.
But seriously, Poe is one of the reasons I’m like I am today (i.e. not normal or so screwed up.) His fault, and the person who thought an illustrated version of “The Masque of the Red Death” would make a great children’s book. A drawing of Prince Prospero’s guests bleeding from every orifice like they got a weaponized version of super Ebola makes a permanent impression on the mind of a 6 year old.
Reading is fun.
And from all of us here at Steve and Ted in the Morning… Have a safe and fun Halloween.
It’s one of my favorite 2 hobbies; I’m just not sure why I’m blogging about it. Last week I made a promise to discuss video games this week. So I guess I will. But first, here’s a scenario for why an average non-video game player might want to continue reading. This is going to be a list of some of my favorite games out there, but it is not going to be in a “top ten” fashion. I’m going to give it in a sort of “places to start” manner, for someone who might be bored and looking to pick up another hobby. I’m just going to suggest a favorite hobby of mine. Here’s how to break into the video game world.
Step 1. Do not go out and get a top-of-the-line current generation game console and the latest best-selling games. First, that’s way expensive and a hobby you may or may not ultimately get into shouldn’t cost you an arm and a leg. Second, just like in the movies, 90% of the top selling games out there are part of long standing game franchises. No one would suggest getting into Harry Potter by watching the 4th movie first, likewise to get into videogames it helps to understand the history. I’m not advocating eBay-ing yourself an 8-bit Nintendo system and starting off with the original “Mario Brothers” game. That’s not a bad idea, but that’s so far back that we can still cover “history” and still not have to go that far back. Plus the average smartphone can emulate the original NES and its contemporaries. I’m not (repeat) NOT advocating downloading a NES emulator and finding a site where you can download NES ROMS. Because that would be illegal. Even though it’s free, easy, and something no one gets busted for because millions of people are doing it every day… I’m not advocating it. Even though it would be as easy as going to your phone’s app store and searching for “NES Emulator” and “NES ROMs…” I’m not advocating it. Even though doing the same searches on a laptop or desktop computer will get you the emulator programs and the ability to play those games on your computer… I’m not advocating it.
That would be wrong.
But if you do start with NES (however you do it, I’m not askin’) I’ll say that the “Metal Gear,” “Final Fantasy,” “Legend of Zelda,” and “Metroid” franchises all got their start on the NES. And while it’s not necessary to start that far back, it is kind of good to know how all those franchises begin. And they are some of my favorites.
“Metal Gear,” probably my favorite game franchise. Described as “tactical, strategy, action” the games in the MG series requires a fast thinking and resourceful player. The game provides action movie style action; and while it gives the player the option to use deadly weapons and lethal violence, it rewards players for finding a more peaceful solution via avoiding fights or using non-lethal methods. The story can get a little transparent and preachy sometimes, but I’ll tolerate a strong anti-nuclear weapons message considering the game was made in Japan. It’s understandable. Otherwise the story is as engaging as TV’s 24, and twice as deep. I recommend starting with “Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes” on Nintendo’s Gamecube. It’s a better remake of the first in the “Metal Gear Solid” franchise and contains a synopsis of the story up to that point. Otherwise “Metal Gear Solid” is available on the Playstation and PC.
“Final Fantasy.” Honestly, I don’t really know if someone just getting into gaming will like RPG style games like any of the games in the “Final Fantasy” franchise. But there’s no continuity between stories, so you can jump into the series anywhere. There’s no need to start with the first one. My favorites are 8, 7, 3, then 10 in that order. If you can’t get into any of those, then don’t bother with the rest. They won’t be your “thing” and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a matter of taste and there’s no right or wrong. If you start with Sony’s Playstation (PS1 or PS2) you can find most of these titles. Or go with a standalone game by the same company called “Chrono Cross.” CC is one of my favorite games. A little easier than Final Fantasy to start, but every bit as rewarding.
“Legend of Zelda” and “Metroid.” Nintendo exclusive franchises that don’t really carry much continuity between episodes and are very generally well received games on any of the Nintendo platforms they are on. Some people consider “Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time” one of the best and most important games ever made. It’s hard to argue against that.
Of course if I were, I would argue for “Shadows of the Colossus.” Released on the PS2 and recently getting a hi-def remake, SotC is one of the most heart-stoppingly beautiful games ever made. Amazing visuals and graphics, even on a console that is a more than a generation and a half behind cutting edge. And when you get and understand its story… just WOW. Deep and meaningful… and painfully sad. Before playing SotC I wouldn’t have said it was possible to tell such an amazing story with as few words as they use. I was wrong. I’m going thru SotC again right now. And it will be a game I play every so often just to remind me why I love good video games.
And even if you don’t want to buy a gaming console, well you are reading a blog. Chances are you have a computer and games on the PC have a rich history as well. It’s easy to get some older really good or important games for the PC. Go to GOG.COM. That stands for Great Old Games, and you can buy and download classic PC games, tested and ready to go on today’s higher speed machines. Check out the best sellers list on GOG. Some of my favorites on GOG… Fallout, Fallout 2, and Icewind Dale. Oh and a little game called Masters of Orion 2.
I mentioned some good ones, but have already thought of about a thousand more I could recommend. If you want a recommendation of a game or my opinion of a game (if you’ll like it or if it is appropriate for kids) just leave a response for me here or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. And as always, have a nice day.
Kind of a grab bag, like “pot luck” but… never mind. Terrible joke anyway.
Steve Jobs. I’ll get this out of the way. I’m not a fan of the man. I didn’t like his company, products, or business model. The model seemed to be “charge twice as much for making it cutting edge and pretty.” No offense meant to any Apple fans out there, but it wasn’t the “blue collar, workin’ man’s” tech. Apple products were for the people who had money to throw away, or had no bills to pay. No question it was cutting edge and powerful. But I didn’t need the sort of “modern styling” that Apple put into its products. I didn’t care that my MP3 player didn’t match my computer and wouldn’t “dock” with it. I had a wire that connected the 2 and it was less than half the price of an iPod. It could have been shaped like a dog turd for all I cared about style. Styling was no excuse for charging what they did for their products.
Having said that, America (and the whole world) has lost a great man. He was visionary and genius in a way that is truly rare and always has been. He blazed a trail in the high tech world that EVERYONE followed or got lost along the way.
“Breaking Bad.” I just started watching this on Netflix’s Instant streaming service. WOW, Why didn’t anyone tell me how good that show was? Oh wait, they did. Constantly. People wouldn’t shut up about it. It kept winning all those awards. My apologies for being annoyed at its popularity and fans. It’s worth getting Netflix streaming just for that series.
While we’re talking about it, Netflix. I am almost afraid to write this paragraph as fast as the company is changing its mind about making changes. First a price increase, then splitting DVD and Instant services. Now the split is not happening, but prices are still up and STARZ (who provided lots of content) is no longer providing content to Netflix. And I don’t care and am still with them. What product’s price DOESN’T go up at some point? A price increase was inevitable. Losing STARZ, oh no, they’re losing old and dumb movies and a couple of useless TV shows (the exception being “Torchwood” which rules.) Netflix blazed a business trail making its movie and television content easy to access and cheap enough for everyone to buy (and a lot did.) And they made boatfuls of cash for giving customers what they wanted at a price they could afford.
“Are you listening up there Steve Jobs?”
Aww, I just made myself sad.
Anyway, Netflix is adding video games to its mail content. I’m ashamed to admit that when I first found out about that I actually made a girly squeal of glee. I had already made a huge dent in the DVD queue of my Netflix account. I almost didn’t need it anymore. Now I will probably never stop using it and paying for it. A while back I promised to tell everyone what I’m reading at the moment. Just going thru an old favorite, the Deryni series by Katherine Kurtz. Well researched medieval fantasy, fun stuff. But there’s no reason I shouldn’t mention what video games I’m going thru. There may not be a lot of video game enthusiasts listening to Steve and Ted in the Morning, but it’s never too late to learn. I’ll do that and give some recommendations next week. I promise.