Archives for: "December 2004"

The joys of being a webmaster

Today was interesting to say the least (well yesterday now). I came back home from work at around half one for my lunch break. I did my usual e-mail check, site/forum check. All looking good some weird activity from some people on the Oblivion forums mainly people from another Oblivion website. Didn't take much notice and went to make a cup of tea.

Came back continued browsing over the web and stumbled upon my Oblivion topsite list which I setup a week or two ago. What did I find? "Could not connect to SQL database........" and so on. So I login to the server to check the database is up and running, it was. So I continued to hunt down the problem - login details to the SQL database had been changed. So I change them back and notice that all the links are totally broken. So I go grab the backups and restore the entire directory make sure it's all working, one thing I notice is one of the sites listed had been renamed to blablablabla, with remove as a description, not having time to deal with that I do a password change on all important areas of the site and download the logs, not having time to check them out before having to go back to work. My entire lunch wasted by this nonsense, I was obviously not in the best of moods.

Anyway I got home at around half six. Check to make sure it's still up. No. "Could not connect to SQL database........". So I upload the configuration files again, all back up and working. Within ten minutes it had changed back. Bingo, at least now I'd have a narrow time frame to check in the logs what was happening.

There it was someone accessing a private install script I had hidden away. Easy to sort. What was interesting was the IP address of the user(s) doing this. They match up with a certain forum posts from earlier. A quick lookup confirms my suspicions over who it was. One of the staff on a site competing with the Oblivion Portal the site that had been renamed blablablabla on the topsites list.

Now these guys have seem to of had it in for me right from the offset. They opened their doors a few weeks ago with a short interview with Bethesda, the developers of Oblivion, which I point out on my news page getting them most of their early traffic. I also add their link up on the contents bar and the links pages. A week or so later I setup the topsites. They join up within a few days and pull up in second.

All cool? No far from it. I get an e-mail from one of their staff going on about the Oblivion Portal "cheating" in the listings some how. I wasn't really sure what he was on about, English isn't his first language, he was going on about having the topsite code on all of my pages? How's that cheating? That's what you're supposed to do. So I just sent a polite e-mail back explaining how the system worked, I get an e-mail back in the same kind of tone as the first one, hardly nice language. Accusing me of cheating doesn't get my nicest side. I just choose to ignore it.

I also notice they were getting about 8 or so people, their staff mostly (as far as I can tell) to vote 1/5 for every other site on there and 5/5 for theirs. Over and over. However I decide to ignore it.

After a few days I get another e-mail from him. This time in extremely aggressive tone. Accusing me once again of cheating because I had a surge of hits from sending out a mail drop to some of the forum members. Sites obviously can't have traffic that is above their average can they? Of course not! So I must be cheating according to him. So once again I just ignore the tone of it and send another polite e-mail back, explaining to him that I sent a mail out to several hundred people going on about some of the new features on the site. What's even weirder is he said he had been visited the topsites page all day at least once every five minutes? Don't you have anything better to do? Seriously, there's hundreds of far more important and helpful things you could be doing with your life then pressing refresh over and over.

Anyway I get an e-mail back apologising, I send one back saying not to worry about it. This was a few days ago.

All was quiet until today when the above mentioned posts happened on the forums and the accessing of private areas of the website.

An example of one of the posts:

As we all see it as admins from [snipped] it is war. You asked for it, you just don't wanted to stop, so we will see how this is going to end.

Riiiight okay... Whatever you say.

They also have the nerve to personally attack the Oblivion Portal on both their website and the official Elder Scrolls boards. Why? Do they all have screws loose or something?

I've tried to bite my tongue over this, but this just needed to be said. Oh one more thing, any comments or e-mails from any of the mentioned website's staff are subject to be publically published as I see fit.

Attack of Mr Moo

Mr Moo

Mr Moo should be considered extremely dangerous, he ate a mouse made entirely from sugar and was seen trying to hump the webcam. If you see him in your neighbourhood please inform your local law enforcement agencies.

Master Chief vs Mr Moo

Additional - the Chief has been called in... This is the last known communication with him. It is believed he has fallen victim to Mr Moo.

Another nail in the iPod's coffin

One of the UK's biggest music retailers, HMV on Wednesday announced it was developing an online store to be ready for February next year which would be based on Microsoft's Windows Media format.

From the BBC:

Record store HMV has teamed up with Microsoft to launch its own digital music downloading service. HMV will plough around £10m into setting up the service, which it hopes to roll out by February next year.

The two firms are developing software and hardware that will allow customers to download music directly onto PCs.

HMV added the system will be compatible with Microsoft's Windows Media Audio, and therefore with 75 types of portable music players, but not Apple's iPod.

An HMV representative also stated that they plan to stop selling iPods when the service goes live.

Microsoft UK managing director Alistair Baker:

It's great to be involved in such a leading-edge retail project that will support an explosion of choice, enabling music fans to buy music in-store and online - in fact anywhere - on a whole range of devices from different manufacturers. The partnership extends to the development of the [software], which will be constructed by a joint team from Microsoft and HMV.

It's happening, the same mistakes that killed the Mac are killing the iPod. Apple wake up, you have to license your technology and open your technology to even stand a remote chance of winning this war.

Apple at it again

Apple Computer is eyeing a technology that could make the iPod more likely to survive a fall.

The company has applied for a patent on technology that would allow a portable media player to detect when it is falling and then stop reading or writing to the hard drive. Such technology would work by detecting the acceleration that accompanies a drop.

"The portable-computing device protects its disk drive by monitoring for such accelerations and operating to avoid usage of the disk drive during periods of acceleration," Apple said in the patent application, which was published Dec. 16. "Through such protection, the likelihood of damage to the disk drive or loss of data stored on the disk drive is able to be substantially reduced."

Oh dear, I guess nobody told them that IBM already have a patent on this technology, straight from IBM's mouth:

"IBM's patented hard drive protection technology helps protect people's data. The IBM Active Protection System, similar to the technology used in automobiles to deploy airbags, uses a microchip on the system board to detect system acceleration (such as in a fall) and responds by temporarily parking the drive's read/write head. This rapid response can help prevent some hard drive crashes that occur in some falls, helping to prevent total data loss and ultimately reduce downtime and warranty costs."

What's up Apple? Can't you afford real advertising?

More Jobs BS

I don't think we're seeing trendiness here," Jobs said of the iPod. "I think we're seeing a product that's truly revolutionizing the way we listen to music."

What a total lying bastard. Revolutionary? I had an MP3/WMA player before the iPod even existed.

Steve Jobs has done nothing but steal other people's ideas since he rejoined Apple in 1996. Here's a hint Jobs - stop ripping off other people's ideas and claiming them as your own.

In reply to some of the comments:

West Crosby wrote: "Are you saying the iPod is ripping off someone else's ideas? Sure there were hard drive mp3 players prior to the iPod, but as I recall, there isn't anything out there that works quite like an iPod."

No you're right, nobody would ever dream of something so stupid to have a circle to go up and down through a menu. Jobs isn't talking about the control system being revolutionary, he was saying that the iPod was revolutionary - which it isn't.

John Papola wrote: "A world where draconian DRM is being aggressively pitched to content oligarchs like the MPAA and RIAA while ignoring what consumers really want."

Yes, it's called Apple with it's iTunes and "Fairplay", so terrified of the RIAA that they break any 3rd party applications that use the iPod, take people to court over it. They're so terrified of the MPAA they won't even support video. Don't you think it's funny that Steve Jobs, who's also a film company's CEO sees no interest in video, while Microsoft and it's partners already have devices out that can do this kind of thing. That's true innovation right there - from Microsoft. Steve Jobs avoids doing video because, like Sony (who also long refused to support MP3 in their players) they have an interset in music and/or film, so they don't want to make it easy for consumers to enjoy thier media the most, by easily transfering and copying it amoung their machines and devices. Who's really ignoring consumers?

"Or port their fantastic software products to Windows."

You mean like Quicktime and iTunes? If it wasn't for Real Player they'd have the honour of being the worst players on Windows.

"No non-mac user has a reason to hate Apple the way you clearly do. At least none that I can see. Apple-bashing always amounts to wishing away user choice."

User choice? What do Apple know about choice? Are you so blind that you can't see what they're trying to do. They're locking you into Apple, Apple software, Apple hardware, neither of which are very high quality. The advantage with the Microsoft platform (yes platform) is that it's open to choice, you can play your music on any player, on any phone you want, you can setup a playlist and have it available in your car, in your pocket in your room with the decent speaker system in. Apple is lack of choice. I've been clear in what they need to do to win this war. That is open themselves up, stop being closed and crazed with the idea that they alone can handle this - they can't that's clear with video they've been left behind due to the Portable Media Centers.

Sorry I don't want to buy several thousand pounds worth of music, only to have it all utterly useless when the iPod repeats the events of previous Apple products. The Windows Media platform can't go under because it's a rich ecosystem of dozens of companies, anyone can go ahead and license it. Apple refuse to license anything. There's no competition and no choice within their "system". You go Apple you're stuck, you go Microsoft you're free to choose any store you like, any device you like.

nony mouse wrote: "Steve Jobs stop ripping off other peoples ideas.. hahaha I have officially heard it all. I should say Im surprised at how ignorant some people in the world are"

Yes... Like some a certain vocal minority, Apple didn't invent the MP3 player, the hard-disk based MP3 player, or the online store.

Take Two pick up Amped, Top Spin and Links

The Salt Lake City based development studio behind titles including Top Spin, Amped and Links has been sold to Take Two Interactive.

Those were the best sport games on the Xbox!!! Now they're going to be reduced to PS2 garbage. Worst of all this all started falling apart because of the EA Live deal - which Microsoft should NEVER of made. Thanks a lot EA, I'll see you hang.

Advice to Microsoft:

1) Refuse to allow EA to publish any titles on Xbox.
2) Rebuild sports games.
3) Cancel Take Two deal.
4) Stop acting like an old hippo and get some teeth.

San Andreas

Well it looks like my prediction for the Xbox version of GTA: San Andreas was dead on, early June, the 10th of June to be exact for those of us in Europe. Here's the actual press release from Rockstar:

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dec. 16, 2004--Rockstar Games, the world-renowned publishing label of Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. (NASDAQ: TTWO), is pleased to announce that Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is making its way to the Xbox(R) video game system from Microsoft. Developed by world-class designers Rockstar North, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas for the Xbox(R) and PC will be in stores in North America on June 7th, 2005 and in Europe on June 10th, 2005.

About Take-Two Interactive Software

Headquartered in New York City, Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. is an integrated global developer, marketer, distributor and publisher of interactive entertainment software games and accessories for the PC, PlayStation(R) game console, PlayStation(R)2 computer entertainment system, Xbox(R), Nintendo GameCube(TM) and Game Boy(R) Advance. The Company publishes and develops products through its wholly owned labels Rockstar Games and Global Star Software; and distributes products in North America through its Jack of All Games subsidiary. Take-Two also manufactures and markets video game accessories in Europe, North America and the Asia Pacific region through its Joytech subsidiary. The Company maintains sales and marketing offices in Cincinnati, New York, Toronto, London, Paris, Munich, Madrid, Vienna, Milan, Sydney, Breda (Netherlands) and Auckland. Take-Two's common stock is publicly traded on NASDAQ under the symbol TTWO. For more corporate and product information please visit our website at www.take2games.com.

All trademarks and copyrights contained herein are the property of their respective holders.

About Xbox

Xbox (http://www.xbox.com) is the video game system from Microsoft that brings people together for the most exhilarating game and entertainment experiences. Xbox delivers an expansive collection of breakthrough games, powerful hardware and the unified Xbox Live online service. The new tagline, "it's good to play together," captures the spirit of Xbox as the social hub of the new digital entertainment lifestyle. Xbox is now available in North America, Asia, Europe and Australia.

Xbox is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.

MSN Messenger 7 beta

Well with Mark informing me that Microsoft have rolled out a beta version of MSN Messenger 7, I thought it was time a give my opinions on it after using it for a couple of hours. It is only the beta version so of course all of these things could be rendered obsolete with the arrival of the final version.

Things I like:

MSN Messenger 7 (beta) signin

Very snazzy, now displaying the users image file along with it!

MSN Messenger 7 (beta) main window

Nice new look!

MSN Messenger 7 (beta) hand writing

Handwriting support, or "mousewriting", you can go ahead and draw with the mouse all in the message box, something that was only previously found on things like a Windows XP Tablet PC, or graphics tablets.

MSN Messenger 7 (beta) contact card

Very cool idea, however far too limited at the moment - see below.

Things that are bothering me:

I've got "Click here to customize MSN Messenger" on the bottom of my windows, no thanks, get rid of that please.

"Winks" silly full window animations and sounds that pop up every time someone sends you one (you can disable them automatically playing within options). Worse still is having MSN sound disabled doesn't effect these. Something Microsoft need to address in the next build in my opinion.

The contact cards. Too limited, yeah it's really cool that you can see what's happening on someone's MSN Spaces page, their pictures and music etc. But why not make it more customizable? Being able to specify my own RSS feed or something similar would be great. I've got my blog here, I don't really want to setup one at MSN Spaces just to take advantage of this feature. Making this feature more customizable would turn it into not just a feature, but a killer feature, but I can't see it realistically happening unfortunately.

Overall it's a good improvement over 6.2. Perhaps a bit heavy with gimmicky features like the "winks" and custom emote packs, but definitely a worthy successor to previous versions.

London for law or shopping?

It's nice to see Catherine having fun on her trip to London for her Law student type stuff she went to see the Royal Court of Justice and the Old Bailey.

Bear and Cat

I wonder if that giant teddy bear was involved in some kind of murder.

It's definitely very strange evidence to have at a trial and has a very shifty look. I think whatever it is, it's guilty and should be executed any teddy bear with a £100 price tag obviously has great experience with armed bank robbery.

The "mighty" Cell - blown away by nVidia

We all heard the talk, that the Cell processor would wipe away all before it. Of course anyone with any knowledge of this kind of technology would see it for what it is, more Sony bullshit. Remember the PS2?

1000 times the power of any PC. 66Gb/s of memory bandwidth. Toy Story graphics in real time. And such & such.

The same kind of outrageous claims were made with this Cell processor which is developed by IBM, Toshiba, and Sony. They claim this to be completely "revolutionary". It's not you can clearly see it's relation to the Playstation 2's processor. In that it's basically lots of weak processors bolted together, the fundamental reason the Playstation 2 is so insanely difficult to develop for and why developers are dropping it and shifting focus to the Microsoft Xbox. Which like all Microsoft platforms is notoriously fast and simple to develop for. Allowing developers to spend more time creating decent games instead of struggling to try and get their software to even work.

Just days ago the official press release about this Cell thing was released. The Sony fanboys started cheering, I guess they just never learn do they - and what should happen just yesterday? nVidia released a statement saying their graphics processors would feature in the Playstation 3 and other Sony products.

What happened to the mighty Cell? Sony now have to back-off saying the Cell is all mighty, and require a seperate GPU to handle graphics, yes it's 1000 times more powerful then any PC today, right that's why it can't perform GPU-like operations on it. They need a PC manufacturer to remotely stand a chance of coming up with a better graphics processor then their extremely lacking PS2. The hypocracy! Just a few years ago they were blasting the Xbox because of it using PC hardware, it featured an nVidia NV2A chip (which at the time they seemed to think was a bad thing). Of course nVidia have since been replaced by ATi, as the performance/quality graphics leader of the PC market, ATi winning the contract to develop the GPU for the Xbox 2, which they have now completed.

Sony are still lagging behind. Good luck with your Playstation 3, you're going to need it.

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