Sun shines on second life

I see that some of my former colleagues @Sun are discovering the joys of second life, and like most newbies, they are asking the second commonest question. (Its quite sweet, there is now the “SunMicrosystems” family in SL).

“How can I shoot someone?”

The most common of course, is all to do with the stickier side of human relationships. Wierd, innit.

The answer being of course, create a scripted object, go to a “damage enabled area” and blast your testosteroney heart out. (Its a similar answer getting sticky).

Of course, if you really want to cause strife, I’ve included links in other posts to “griefer scripted objects” (In Second Life, “Greifing” is behaviour designed to annoy, that will not win friends and influence people).

I’m afraid however, that this is all a bit behind the curve. Second Life has been colonised already by Microsoft, Dell, RedHat, IBM, and probably Old Uncle Tom Cobbley ‘n’ all! They run (or perhaps hobble) their servers on Dell Linux, and to be honest, the whole “virtual worlds” thing is a little over-hyped. Its not the next great paradigm, the monetary transfer stuff is frankly suspect, and there are plenty of stories in The Register on how the SL denizens frequently trade images that are as unsavoury as you might expect.

There’s also the minor technical point that each “sim” (think of it as a server running a chunk of the virtual world) can only handle about 40 people on it. If you are carrying around big complicated objects (like guns, or gadgets to make you move more normally instead of the default “dorky robot walk”) then this can drop even further. Its not much of a crowd for a U2 gig, is it.

Networking is very simple.

  1. Meet up with people, and establish a personal relationship, common values, and shared goals.
  2. When you are geographically seperate, use IM, Video calls, phone conferences, and email to communicate.

That really is it. Giant Virtual Lobsters are not required.

419 fun: Taxonomy of Internet fraud

In case its not obvious, THIS IS A SCAM. No question about it.

From: allenbradbury@fdbplc.co.uk
Mr. Allen Bradbury
Tel: +44 7757542903
Dear Friend,
I apologize if the contents hereunder are contrary to your moral ethics. But
please treat with absolute secrecy and personal.
Oops, I didn’t respect his moral ethics.
I am an employee of a commercial Bank here in the United Kingdom and an
Account Officer to a deceased customer who is a National of your country.
No you aren’t. Your language and grammar indicates someone who is from Africa.
We lost this customer and his family in an auto crash here in England some
years back and his account valued at £10,800,000.00 (Ten Million, Eight
Hundred Thousand British Pounds) with us has been dormant and unclaimed due to
unavailability of a next of kin / relatives to claim his estate, since his son
whom he used as his next of kin died in the same auto crash with him.
Wow, ten million!
In accordance with the Es-cheat laws of England, the Board Of Directors of the
Bank met a forth night ago and resolved to turn the estate of the deceased
over to the Government having waited for too long without the deceased
relatives/next of kin surfacing, and if this is done, invariably the funds
will end up becoming Government property too, so it is as a result of this
that I am moved to contact you considering the fact that a known relative of
him have not been Located and since you bear the same last name.
I don’t you know. I know most of the people in the UK who have the same unusual last name as me. And what the billy shears are “Es-cheat” laws?
In view of this, I am seeking for your co-operation and understanding to stand
as the deceased next of kin to enable us claim the inheritance before the time
period given by the Bank elapse.
Hmm, this is too good to be true. Wait, this appeals to my sense of greed, I could end up with the money.
(Of course, this is what you’re meant to think)
Hence, If this proposal is OK by you and you do not wish to take undue
advantage of the trust I hope to bestow on you. Then kindly get back to me
immediately, strictly via my private email address only:
allenbradbury1@yahoo.co.uk write to enable me enlighten you on how we are to
proceed.
The hook.
I will not contact any person or Company until I hear from you, so as to
enable me decide on what to do next. Be rest assured that it is a risk free
project and the proceeds will be shared 50% each once the funds are
repatriated into your account either there in the Canada Or elsewhere.
The line.
I wait for your prompt response.
Regards,
Allen Bradbury.
NB: PLEASE NOTE THAT IT DOES NOT MATTER IF YOU ARE NOT RELATED TO MY LATE CUSTOMER, THE FUND WILL STILL BE PAID TO YOU, SINCE I AM PRESENTING YOU AS HIS NEXT OF KIN, BASED ON THE FACT THAT I WAS HIS PERSONAL ACCOUNT OFFICER, WHOEVER I PRESENT WILL BE PAID.
The sinker.

So what actually happens here is they ask for my account details, perhaps a “holding deposit” if I look like I’m dumb enough, then they vanish into the night.

Having said that, I know of people who have lost their life savings, and been very angry and bitter and have not allowed these people to vanish, and have gone to Africa to seek them out.

They were never seen again.

InGovernment, InSexurity

Every other security guru in town is talking about the loss of 25m records from HMRC, I’m not going to.

Instead, I turn to another consumer fraud favourite – online dating. I know that other security researchers are looking at sites like AdultFriendfinder.com (In summary: “Avoid, its all guys and fakes”).
On eHarmony.com, they make an effort to match people using a secret algorithm, which I have to say has found very sweet women miles away from me. It also found me “Gabriel, Westminster”, who decided she wanted to bypass eharmony’s “guided communication” and go straight to chatting. (First Red Flag)

Gabriel West: Hello
Kensei: Hi there!
Gabriel West: Good Morning
Kensei: And good morning to you
Gabriel West: Wow it’s really good to see you online here
Kensei: Thanks, I don’t have many Yahoo contacts, perhaps you’re special somehow
Gabriel West: Wow
Gabriel West: You are gonna me start Blushing
Gabriel West: How Am i Special Jon?
Kensei: Well, I’m hoping you can play the piano with your toes, that would be awesome!
Gabriel West: Hnmmn Thanks
Gabriel West: so tell me what are you really looking forward for on Eharmony?
Kensei: So, what brought a stunning woman like you to eHarmony?
Gabriel West: I am on Eharmony to look for a man that can have me as wife somedat
Gabriel West: y
Kensei: What do you look for in a man?
(She drops, and returns)
Gabriel West: Sorry i got Disconnected
Kensei: No worries
Kensei: So, do you live or work in Westminster?
Gabriel West: No
Gabriel West: I am Originally from Westminster…but Presently in West Africa with my Mom
(Second red flag)
Gabriel West: You?
Kensei: I live to the West of london
Kensei: How long have you been in West Africa?
(She drops and returns – notice the pattern when I ask a question that’s not on the script)
Gabriel West: Sorry i got Disconnected again
Kensei: no problem.
Kensei: So how long have you been out in west africa?
Gabriel West: I’ve been here for a very long time
Gabriel West: my mom, She brought me along with her to west africa when i was a little girl,cos she used to work for the missionaries lately but not anymore
Kensei: What did she do for the missionaries?
Gabriel West: she quited cos she developed a very serious heart problem which affected her breathing system, so right now she’s under medication and hoping to getting better real soon, she needs an urgent operation to be carried out on her lungs and after that she’ll be alright by God’s grace….. She works as a Medical Missionary
(Third Red Flag: This will be the “money hook”, perhaps together with an appeal for money for a flight home)
Kensei: I havnet heard of those – what do they do?
Gabriel West: She Grant Applications Information about Medical Missions
Gabriel West: So tell me what do you do and what are you looking for on here?
Kensei: Well, I’m a fraud expert, and I’ve recently been exposing people who are scamming money on dating sites.
Gabriel West: Oh Ic
Gabriel West: Are you Married? and what would you like to know about me?
Kensei: Do you enjoy long distance relationships?
Gabriel West: Ask Google
(She drops and does not return – finally, the penny has dropped)

For those of you looking for love and romance, go and join a choir, take up Ceroc dancing (or tango if you must), do anything that is less likely to cause you grief that picking up strangers over the Internet.

For those of you still interested in the HMRC records thing, have a look on ebay.

Defending against the AyieeeDefender.

I received the following email a few days ago:

My Internet Explorer has been infected with a pop up screen marketing ieDefender www.http://[link deleted 'cos you don't want to go there].com/ that has rendered my Explorer useless unless I subscribe. Anyone have thoughts on how to remove this negative style of marketing?

This then got followed up with:

Clarification added 4 days ago:
see response from ieDefender:
Hello Mr..K ,
May be you’ve got a spyware at the Internet, so you can get our popups in that case please download this file:
http://[link deleted, won't somebody think of the children].com/fix1.exe
Close ALL windows and run the file!
That could help. And please, keep your antivirus updated! Good luck!
If you’ll have more problems just send me info you get from our scanner. Thanks!

So, you install their package which at the very least, can be described as “troubled”. And their solution is to send you MORE stuff to install, which must be ok cos its called “fix”.

You can see the RIGHT solution (and the perpetrators getting spanked) at CastleCops.

I, Cringely . The Pulpit . There is No Free Lunch | PBS

I, Cringely . The Pulpit . There is No Free Lunch | PBS:

CHANGE YOUR DAMNED PASSWORDS!!

Most people don’t do this — ever.
They have one or two passwords they use for everything, often associated with one or two user names. If a system forces a password change they’ll move to password B in hopes that when the next move is forced they can move back to password A. If you have an eight-character password that mixes numbers, letters, and non-alphanumeric characters in various combinations of upper and lower case — in other words a REALLY GOOD password — I can pretty much guarantee you’ve been using that exact same password since 1998. People are lazy. People don’t want to learn arcane eight-character passwords on a regular basis. But identity thieves aren’t so lazy, especially when they have technology to help them. They can start a sweepstakes website that requires only free registration to win that cruise of a lifetime to Bora Bora. And in doing so the thieves can know that a majority of registrants will use a username and password combination that they also use at a lot of other sites, like bank and brokerage accounts.

Not only don’t they need to actually award the cruise, they don’t even have to break into your bank account in order to benefit from the username/password combo. They just sell that information to another crook. That crook knows your name, address, and likely username and password. Forty percent of the people in your town use the same bank. Fifty percent of his stolen usernames and passwords are valid. Forty percent of bank customers use online banking. Add this all together and that crook has more than enough information to raid the bank accounts of enough folks to make his day and ruin theirs.

It doesn’t take just a fake website to accomplish this kind of phishing expedition. There are thousands — probably tens of thousands — of web operations that require user sign-ons but don’t do anything to protect the user database from being stolen by employees. “We’re not selling anything,” they tell themselves, “so it doesn’t matter.”

It matters.

Half my credit card accounts now require me to go through an elaborate e-mail validation scheme if I try logging in from a new IP address or from a computer lacking the proper cookie. Half don’t require this. The half that do were probably the targets of some huge and successful crime spree — a spree we never heard of because it was never made public. Billions of dollars are ripped off this way each year from banks and other financial institutions but we never hear about it because that might encourage more crime.

So CHANGE YOUR DAMNED PASSWORDS and put an end to this kind of scam. Perhaps remembering new character strings will help to stave off Alzheimer’s.

Like The Man Said. Actually, those in the know in computer security have said for many years that passwords just don’t work. We need to move to having smart-cards – a sort of “chip and pin” for the Internet, if that makes sense. Go get a Digital ID. And tell your bank you want them to use it to identify you.

El Tango de Roxanne.

First there is desire.

Then, passion.

Then, suspicion. Jealousy, anger, betrayal.

Where love is for the highest bidder, there can be no trust.

Without trust, there is no love.

Hmm. And that’s why I prefer Ceroc.

Recipe: Winter Warmer Soup

I just realised I’ve yet to post a recipe on here. Here goes:

Winter Warmer Soup
I was looking through my ‘fridge and I realised that I had bought quite a few vegetables for my parents’ visit, that had gone uneaten, and frankly were going a little mouldy. I took them out of the fridge, cut the mouldy bits off, watched the rest intently for signs of movement and decided to make them into soup.

You can pretty much put anything into a winter warmer soup. I had:
3 Maris Piper potatoes (scrubbed not peeled, and sliced)
3 carrots, peeled and sliced into 2 inch lengths
1/2 head of broccoli
1 head of cauliflower
1 can of chopped tomatoes
3 drops tabasco sauce
1 generous dash worcester sauce
salt
herbs
stock cube (I used 2 vegetable stock and 1 chicken stock)

Prepare the veg, get it all into a decent shape – cut off any bits you wouldn’t be proud to have your girlfriend see. Chop the remaining bits into approximately the same size – this makes the simmering more even. Put all your veg into a large stock pot, add the tabasco (be careful, this stuff is strong), the worcester sauce, salt and herbs (I used herbs de provence).

Crush your stock cubes into a paste and add.

Cover the entire mix with water, and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.

Allow to simmer for about 1 1/2 to two hours. Realise you’ve left it too long when you finish a particularly witty blog post, and your cat strolls past wearing a fireman’s helmet.

Using a hand blender, blend the stewed vegetables into a soupy consistency.

Drink a bowl.

Yummy.

Facebook Fun

I just noticed that a couple of my Facebook Friends have sent me the following message:

TAG UR IT!!!! this is so scary. send this to 15 people in the next 143 mins. when you are done press F6 and your crushes name will appear on the screen in big letters. this is scary cuz it works!!!! if you break the chain you will have problems with relationships

I’m not terribly attentive, so I did break the chain. I am strangely relieved though, this explains why I’m worse than Zaphod Beeblebrox at personal relationships![1]

In other news, I notice that Chris Evans (mange tout) is complaining that he’s being impersonated by someone on FB. One presumes this is definitely the dark side of internet stalking. Its a point of course, how do you prove you are you on a social networking website? I’ve long held the view that social networking sites are an augmentation of the normal face-to-face contact process, but for a celebrity, of course, it gives the opportunity to establish a more one-to-one relationship with their public, which we normal plebs love, of course. But how do you know you’ve got the real one?

One way of course, is if they go “aaaagh” fairly quickly, as Stephen Fry did, and form a friendship proxy group, otherwise known as “If you join this group instead of applying for friendship you might save me a fair amount of heartache in having to turn you down on account of there not being enough hours in the day …”. But still, there are quite a few “Stephen Fry”s on StalkBook, and several of them have pictures of The Most Intelligent Man In The World on their profile. He is intelligent enough for two, but not for 500, unless of course one is thinking of 500 PE teachers.

I’m going back to facebook, to join the movement to elect Jeremy Clarkson for Prime Minister. Vroom vroom, all.

[1]According to screening tests that Zaphod ran on himself in the Heart of Gold’s medical bay, he is “clever, imaginative, irresponsible, untrustworthy, extrovert, nothing you couldn’t have guessed”. Hmmmm.