Guide for governments: Resisting Detekt

Ahh, yes. I’ve been reading the news, and somehow it got me to a group called ‘Resist Surveillance’. The group is organized by a few human rights groups, as shown as on their site. The purpose of the software? Detect government spyware by running it and viewing the results (obviously).

This isn’t really anything new, but the software itself is quite interesting. The stand-alone application is 26MB in size, and it looks pretty good. But there are a few buts on this one. First, it dumps debug information into a log file in the same directory; including the results. Second, it starts a webserver on your local system, on a random port (you can actually open it in a web browser — but it obviously won’t ‘work’).

The program also features multiple languages, including German, Italian, Spanish, and Arabic.

So, I ran the software to see if it was any good, but I was quite disappointed. The software threw me multiple errors.
Unsupported

The first one, as seen in the picture: “You are running an unsupported version of Microsoft Windows”.
It seems the developers did not implement the “Windows 8.1 with Media Center” string. Obviously, selecting a compatibility mode (Windows 7), did work.

Or well… it kinda did at first.

internalservererrorohnoes

It surely looks like great software, but I haven’t really had the chance to do anything, except fooling around with the program and looking at the source code.
Eventually, after restarting the software, it finally started scanning. It only scanned the memory and ‘known’ files, it took around a minute before it was done. It gave my new laptop a clean bill of health, but I’m not sure if that’s true.

The concept of this software surely is great, but the software itself just lacks about everything. And because it runs a server on localhost, it’s not that hard for governments to circumvent the program; just implement a function to check for the webserver running, killing it, and set-up some other service. This way, a government could even serve another page saying you won the lottery.

Congratulations on writing the software.

Windows 8.1: More choice and less clutter.

I’ve installed Windows 8.1 on my main laptop, and it’s even faster (performance) than Windows 8.

Some games (and websites) do not seem to agree though, but I haven’t really installed any games which will drain a lot of performance; let alone to test it. So I’ll just assume that games don’t really work (though, Microsoft recently fixed that issue in an update).

There are a lot of new standard apps installed in 8.1, the most notable one is Skype. It’s not the so-called “Desktop” version of Skype, but the Modern version. I have to say that a lot of bugs in this version have been fixed and it’s more accessible, but I still prefer to use the desktop version.
Another app, called Food & Drinking which is targeted at home cooking users, includes thousands of (online) recipes and very nifty tools. One particularly interesting feature of this application is that you can actually use your hands to slide though the cooking instructions, called “Hands-free mode”.

Hands Free Mode
Hands Free Mode

There is another interesting app, called “Health and Fitness”. This app features advice and tips to keep you healthy, and has integration for apps like HealthVault (more to be added in the future, so it seems) to track your burned calories, have personal advice, and to measure your progress.

It features pictures of hot men and women too.
It features pictures of hot men and women too.

And since last week, Facebook (finally?) published their new Facebook app for 8 & 8.1. This does not really have anything to do with Windows, but it’s still worth to take a look.

You could also take a look at the new customization options for your Start screen.
You can resize the tiles to either elephant big, or to ant tiny now, change the background to match with your Desktop mode, or set whatever color you want to have.

Big icons in 8.1
Big or small? It’s your choice.
Small icons in Windows 8.1
… or just Medium and small.
Colors!
I didn’t know what color to choose, so I went for blue.

The other notable thing in Windows 8.1 is that there is a button.
A button, you ask? Well, it’s called a “Start” button.
People complained about it’s ‘absence’ or rather, ‘hiddenness’ (since it’s still there, but in the corner), so Microsoft added it back. Despite hundreds of users complaining about the return, since “it was much easier” and “it doesn’t take up space”, Microsoft didn’t add a control switch to turn it in “8-mode” button, or rather “old fasion”.

 

 

 

So the button is almost permanent by default, with no option (at least not in Windows) to remove the annoying space filling annoyance. Thus, somebody made a pretty clever application called “StartIsGone”. It’s simple. It injects itself in to the Explorer process, and disables the new code. And automatically bringing back the new (or well, new…) Start ‘button’.

 

If you want something new and something better, I’d recommend Windows 8.1.

Zarmark: Taobao shipping with guarantee

Recently, I found out about a site called ‘Zarmark’. They ship product from a Chinese alternative to eBay, called Taobao, which (normally) doesn’t operate internationally. Zarmark solves this problem by using their own address in China.

At first, I couldn’t find many reviews. I just took the chances and ordered on Zarmark.

First, I went to Taobao combined with Google Translate. I needed some new sunglasses, so I typed sunglasses in Google Translate to Chinese and searching the website with the translated word. After a while I found a cheap set of good sunglasses. All prices are in Chinese Yuan.

I copied the URL as the site instructed. The price was automatically calculated, and I didn’t need to convert the currencies via XE or Google. Then, I added money to my account, ordering the product, and just wait.

The sunglasses order
The sunglasses order

It took 3 days to arrive at their office. Then, a second payment needed to be made, for international shipping. This was around $3 in my case. Then, it took 3 weeks before it was in the Netherlands. The tracking number was included.

The package came wrapped in normal packaging, and there was an additional box in it, including the domestic shipping stickers. The quality was pretty good, and was taped pretty well.

Sunglasses - 2 Sunglasses

 

Peerbet: gambling with issues

Last time, on the ‘old’ version of my blog, I covered Bitcoin and SatoshiDICE. I’ve had a small review about it, combined in the About Bitcoin article. I visit Daily Bitcoins on a regular basis, and there was an ad about a service called PeerBet, and the ‘peer’ part in the name draw my attention.

This site claims to have ‘no-house edge’, so the betting usage itself doesn’t cost anything for the user. Gambling isn’t my thing as written earlier, but I was curious since I got a coupon code and saw a hole to review it. The coupon I got was of a low value: 0.001 BTC.

Here is how it works:

  • You can either create a raffle, or join a raffle.
  • This is why it’s called ‘peer’ bet, from user to user.
  • You can create a raffle with a maximum of 16 million tickets: a minimum of 2. (since you obviously win with only one).
  • You can make raffles private with a password.

It’s basically the same as SatoshiDICE, but again, without cost and you have a raffle.

The site itself looks dark and straight boxed, a clean interface. The user created raffles are usually a 50/50 raffle: two tickets. You can’t really sort the raffles though, and even when you do, you don’t have too many options. Also, a huge disadvantage is that you must register: something most Bitcoin users do not like (SatoshiDICE just uses your Bitcoin address).

Summary:

+

  1. User to user without fee
  2. You can buy unlimited tickets

  1. Payments take long and are not instant: payments are done manually it seems.
  2. You must register (including e-mail)
  3. The site needs tweaking
  4. Hack-Sensitive: you must withdraw payments on your own (not automatically), and thus there are Bitcoins on the site itself.

I do not really recommend this site, nor gambling at all. At the moment it is just too rough and quick build. This isn’t a huge difference from SealsWithClubs.

So, if you have a few pennies left, go ahead.

Ubuntu1 – Useful for multiboot – Less for Windows

Ubuntu One, a cloud service by Canonical which servers you 5GB free ‘cloud’ storage. This isn’t very new, but Ubuntu One can be used on almost any OS, such as Mac OS, Linux/Ubuntu, Windows, Android and i-Devices (iPod, iPhone etc.). Very straightforward, and the server speeds are pretty high, and it’s a useful way to (automatically) sync your files.

Even though the advertising is great, the website works great, but the sync-daemon for Windows is pretty unstable. Sometimes it uploads files, sometimes it doesn’t (at the time of writing).  This was the first thing I noticed on both Windows 7 and Windows 8 Pro.

Ubuntu One works like a charm, and supports any operating system. 5GB doesn’t look much, but they have a pretty nice referral program for extra storage. Of course, the version for Android and Ubuntu work great. I didn’t tested the Mac OS X version, but I hope it doesn’t fail like the Windows version. It’s pretty nice when you realize this was once upon a time some small scale project (Ubuntu) and grew just like Apple or Microsoft. Combine it with some Wine and you will have a pretty OS with many, many options.

Ubuntu One in Windows
Ubuntu One in Windows

 

Most people think that 5GB is worthless and too low. Well that’s true if you synchronize your Documents folder. But even when you want it free, use the referral program. Or pay just $3/month. It’s worth it — let’s hope they’ll develop the Windows version to something more stable.

Well, it’s plain and simple and anyone should be able to use it. Because that’s their goal eventually: ease of use and free to anyone.

Also check out the new Thunderbird integration for Ubuntu One included in the lastest versions. It automatically uploads attachments that are above the file limit for your mail server.

Review: Moonbase Alpha, a million dollar trolling nest?

Well, this game by NASA draw my attention yesterday, finding this video which demonstrates the  TTS(Text-to-Speech) feature in this sort of educational game. It seems there is many “aeiou” and “john madden” involved, but the goal remains unknown after you see that video.

After this video, I downloaded this “Moonbase Alpha”  and it was only available via Steam, which is a gaming marketplace, like Games for Windows Live. So, I installed Steam, the game, and launched the game. I selected a server, and quickly after I joined, I was immediately called “ghey nigar”. Funny, the TTS engine says it the ‘correct’ way, while typing “nigger” results in “******”. It was a huge mess in the chat box and decided to turn my sound off. It seems that the goal is to maintain the moon base, and keep enough oxygen running. But the teamplay in most rooms is like 0%, and most people download it for the TTS. Well, it’s fine, but this game was expensive, and it doesn’t seem to have support anymore. A million dollar trolling place.

But oh well, the security against hacks is zero, and with hacks for example, you can fly all around. I laughed when I saw the earth was flat in the game and never rotating.

The only thing well made about this game are the footsteps and the equipment, but the gameplay itself is terrible with all the trolls. But it’s fun if you just join the troll crew and say ‘99999999999999’ and ‘uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu’ all the time.