Archive for October, 2010

In Episode 156 of the No BS Podcast, we tasked you to come up with a limerick. Not just any limerick: entries had to explain why, exactly, a PC is better than a Mac. The prize? Eternal fame, plus an Asus EAH5830 graphics card courtesy of Asus. 


Winner receives video card. Non-winner gets sense of satisfaction.

More than 150 entries came in. We narrowed the field to our 10 favorites, and now it’s your turn. Read the 10 limericks that made the cut (we’ve removed the names of the submitters for now) and decide which one you think is the best, then leave a comment on this post with your vote!

1.
Bob paid a lot for his brand new device
And I’ll admit that it does look quite nice
“Ah, but the new version’s better”
Said the man in the sweater
“I’ll take one,” said Bob, “what’s the price?”

2.
There once was a man from Nantucket,
Whose card was so long when he stuck it,
Into his PC,
It broke into three,
But it was still faster than a Mac money pit.

3.
Found a Dell and G5 from ’03,
So support is a big deal for me.
For the PC, that’s grand,
Steve Jobs says “Pound sand!”
Toss a Mac in the airlock with glee!

4.
There once was a Jobs-fearing serf
Who leapt up from his desk with a curse.
He’d just done the math;
His life’s Apple tax
Exceeded his present net worth!

5.
Gordon won’t give Apple peace
Nor the Mac, nor his turtleneck fleece
He talks shit about Steve
Like you wouldn’t believe
Oh fuck! It’s their secret police!

6.
Hodgman meets Long for a chat. 
“PC,  you look kind of fat.”
“I’ve been at the buffet. 
Open Source has quite an array.”
To this Long exclaimed: “What is that?”

7.
There is a genius named Kyle,
Who loves the Macintosh style,
He’d always say,
“Screwdriver?, No way!
I’d rather just add to the pile.”

8.
A hipster from Frisco named Dirk,
Had a Macbook that just wouldn’t work.
The genius he spied,
Said “Your hard drive has died.”
So the hipster could only say… <robot voice>  “Okay, I guess I’ll just buy a new MacBook Pro at full retail price…”

9.
In the year nineteen-eighty and four
Ran a Mac ad with jaws on the floor
It referenced George Orwell
Breaking free from control. Tell;
Isn’t Steve just “The Man” all the more?

10.
Unless you wear a turtleneck sweater,
You know that the PC is better.
Custom built yourself
Not a box from the shelf
And won’t cost you quite so much cheddar.

We’ll tally your votes (please, one vote per person!) and announce the winner on the next podcast, along with the names of the folks who wrote the ten limericks you see above. Commence commentin’!

It’s that time of year again – when ghosts, ghouls, and goblins roam the street, when eating candy for breakfast is perfectly acceptable, and scaring the ever-loving crap out of your friends is encouraged…Obviously, we’ve got Halloween on the brain (Editors Note: braaaaaaiiins!), we’ve been screening Dead Set in the photo lab all week, our costumed coworkers are prowling the halls and everyone’s got a good sugar buzz on. But our favorite part of Halloween isn’t the candy – it’s the creepy, crawly, chilling parts. And a computer virus is just as scary as a zombie outbreak. Below, we count down the 13 scariest computer viruses.

                       One botnet, two botnet, hahahaha!

13: ILOVEYOU Worm

The ILOVEYOU Worm was just a simple Visual Basic Script that wreaked havoc on just about every file on your hard drive. As if that weren’t devious enough, the ILOVEYOU Worm really shows off its demented roots with its method of deliveries: disguising itself as a love letter. It proved to be an extremely effective way to infect systems, claiming over 50 million victims in little over a month. We geeks tend to be a somewhat lonely bunch, and it’s just unfair to entice us with promises of love.

12: Here You Have Worm

Even though the ILOVEYOU Worm was defeated ten years ago, its spirit lives on. Just a few months ago, the “Here you have” Worm tricked recipients into opening e-mail attachments claiming to be work-related documents. Fortunately, improved software security prevented this virus from being significantly successful, but its familiar delivery tactics remind us of the heartbreak of reformatting our beloved computers ten years ago.

11: FakeAlert Trojans

FakeAlert Trojans have become alarmingly common lately, showing up in a multitude of flavors, such as Internet Security 2010, Antivirus 2011, Desktop Security 2010, and Security Essentials 2010. They infect their victims by creating advertisements that look like very convincing virus alerts. Clicking the ad then installs the “antivirus” program, which is actually the virus. Corporate and family computers are the most common victims, simply because workers and children are too embarrassed to admit they stumbled upon a virus and attempt to repair it themselves. Why is this so scary? Well, who do you think has to fix all these computers? Us, the computer geeks

10: Alureon

The Alureon virus has come and gone over the years, but it is making another comeback by bundling itself with various FakeAlert Trojans. While its MO isn’t all that different from most Trojans, stealing passwords and credit card info, and causing Blue Screens of Death, it also does something very annoying. Alureon can hijack your search engine, turning simple Google quarries into links to even more viruses. Because it can redirect any link in your web browser, it makes downloading removal tools extremely difficult if you don’t have a spare computer.

9: Fake Virus of Doom

Geeks have been pulling silly computer pranks on each other for as long as there have been computers. Some of the pranks are simple, like taking a screenshot of someone’s desktop, setting it as the wallpaper, and then hiding all of his desktop icons. Others are a bit more complex, like the Fake Virus of Doom. Just placing a simple flash video into your buddy’s Startup folder is all it takes to scare the crap out of him.

8: Kenzero

Kenzero is a recent virus, first popping up just a couple months ago. It’s not particularly prevalent, nor is it particularly destructive. Because it is distributed through P2P networks, the majority of its targets are those partaking in illegal file sharing, sort of like a villainous hero, but its MO is a bit more disturbing. Kenzero monitors and records the victims browsing habits and threatens to post them to the public unless the victim purchases certain items or installs certain programs. It’s a bit frightening and unsettling to think that our private lives can be exposed by a virus.

7: BooNana

Mac commercials are always telling us that OSX is the most secure operating system available, completely impervious to viruses. Of course we all know that it isn’t true, but Mac systems do have the advantage of being less of a target. The BooNana virus is evidence that the tides are starting to turn. BooNana itself is a problem enough, commandeering your Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter accounts, but the scariest thought is considering what all of these upcoming viruses might do with all of the magic that Steve Jobs has put into the Apple line.

 


 

6: iKee

Another virus targeting an Apple device! iKee isn’t a particularly malevolent virus (more of an exhibition really). It targets users with jailbroken iPhones and performs a sort of Rickroll, changing the background to a photo of Rick Astley. iKee doesn’t affect those running official Apple firmware, but some may argue that succumbing to the will of Apple is worse than making yourself vulnerable to hackers.

5: AndroidOS FakePlayer

With jailbroken iPhones being Rickrolled and open to certain forms of attack, it’s not surprising to hear that Google’s Android OS is susceptible to viruses as well. FakePlayer was the first virus to be discovered targeting Android OS. It spread in the form of a Trojan disguised as a media player, and once installed, it began sending SMS messages to charge-per-text phone numbers, raking in profits for the scammers and sending your phone through the roof. Not even our smartphones are safe anymore!

4: Mariposa Botnet

While it wasn’t the result of any single virus, the Mariposa Botnet was a very large network of over 13 million zombified PCs, and even though it was dismantled and its creators arrested earlier this year, one very scary fact still remains: the entire Mariposa Botnet was created by just a couple of amateur hackers using Kiddie Scripts. It used to be that only a handful of people in the world had the knowledge that it took to create such a complex network of bots, but now anyone with a basic understanding of computer programming and access to the write scripts can accomplish the same thing.

3: Storm Worm 2

The first Storm Worm, from back in 2007, is probably one of the most notorious Botnets of recent history. In its heyday, the Storm Worm Botnet was estimated to be running on as many as 50 million computers, making it even more powerful than the top ten supercomputers of the time combined. The original implementation of the Storm Worm Botnet has been on a steep decline, ironically due to hackers making use of the systems for themselves, but earlier this year, McAfee confirmed that a second version of Storm Worm is on the rise.

2: Stuxnet

Stuxnet is a worm that popped its ugly head up back in June of this year. On the surface, it’s just your run-of-the-mill virus, making use of standard exploits to spread and infect systems, stealing data and wreaking havoc. Things get a bit scarier as you look deeper into the code, though. Stuxnet is actually capable of reprogramming Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs). While home computers are essentially unaffected, industrial, and even military systems, rely heavily on PLC configurations. Stuxnet could be considered to be a very rudimentary version of Skynet.

1: Skynet

Speaking of Skynet, that brings us to our number one scariest computer virus of all. As everything in our lives becomes integrated with everything else, all tied together with a tangle of wires in cyberspace, it’s just a matter of time before every aspect of our lives to become vulnerable to cyber attacks. Encryptions, firewalls and cyber security will increase of course, but how can you stop an evil, super intelligent computer system intent on destroying the world as we know it? We must send the Governator of California back in time!

If you’ve ever played a Diablo game before, you pretty much know what to expect from Diablo III. There will be hacking. There will be slashing. Enemies will drop piles of gold upon death because apparently hell doesn’t have a bank. Been there, done that. Shamefully walked into Hot Topic and bought the T-shirt.

When we went to BlizzCon, we were pretty much in the same boat. But the devil’s in the details, and Diablo III’s newly announced PVP Arena system is a detail the size of the big red guy – no, not the Kool Aid man – himself. Better still, in some ways, it legitimately surprised us. How? Well, let’s run down the list.

Surprise!

1. The chaos – Sure, we expected three-on-three Diablo matches to be pretty wild, but we were still a bit taken aback when our tiny four-sided arena exploded into an ocean of fiery wizard magic, witchdoctor hell hounds, and barbarians hopping around like steroid-fueled, axe-wielding bunny rabbits. Basically, there were more than a few moments when our character keeled over, and we just paused, blinked, and said, “wait, what just happened?” However, confusing though it may occasionally be, it’s also wildly exciting. Matches have their share of tactics, sure, but this is no chess match. If you get bored while playing this game, you might want to check your pulse, because you’re probably dead.

2. The balance (or lack thereof) –
Between the masterclass in RTS balance that is StarCraft and the incessant tweaking WoW’s classes constantly undergo, Blizzard’s not a developer that takes balance lightly. So it was a bit shocking to hear Blizzard announce that Diablo III’s PVP will almost certainly have instances where players get to pick on someone who isn’t their own size. The reasoning? Thanks to Diablo III’s rune system – which allows for all sorts of modifications to each of your powers – there will be approximately 97 billion builds for each character class. We’re not exaggerating either. Blizzard’s words – not ours. Which is not to say there won’t be any balance. Blizzard’s tweaking the numbers on certain skills to emphasize counters over crowd control. In our experience, this held mostly true (teleport escapes and feign deaths being the best examples) – except with the Barbarian, against whom you essentially wind up playing tag. But in order to tag you, he uses a stun attack, and then you get diced to tiny pieces faster than an outlandish ingredient on Iron Chef.

3. The rewards –
Traditionally, Diablo’s preyed on the fact that – on the inside – we’re all still slobbering children who love pinatas. We like to hit stuff and make other stuff come out. In Diablo’s case, of course, that “other stuff” is loot and gold. Amassing a treasure trove of shiny things, then, is one of the series’ central hooks. Satan who? Man, we just want more medieval bling. In the Arena, however, Blizzard’s done away with loot and gold entirely. Instead, you’re risking life, limb, and – thanks to constant flashy spell effects – the occasional epileptic seizure for achievements and titles. Before you hop on the message boards for some good old-fashioned ranting, however, hear Blizzard out. The developer told us that it wants players to slaughter each other in the Arena because they enjoy it – not because it’s a mind-numbing, carpal tunnel-inducing grind for the best weapons and items. Vaguely sociopathic implications implications of that last sentence aside, that sounds like an excellent plan to us.      

If It Ain’t Broke…

1. The simplicity – While Diablo’s more cerebral than most hack ‘n’ slashers, it’s still – at heart – a game about fast, simple fun. The Arena definitely subscribes to a similar philosophy, and if you can click a mouse, odds are, you can have a blast with it. For now, the game’s only mode is a team deathmatch sort of affair. No fancy flags to capture or 45-minute Leeroy Jenkins-style pre-match formation talks. You charge in, weapon held high, and then you come out with either a hand raised in victory or slumped limply in defeat. But even if you kick the bucket within the first 15 seconds of a match…

2. The pace –
Diablo III’s PVP matches move at a clip that makes other multiplayer games look downright glacial. If, say, DOTA walks and Quake runs, then Diablo III teleports. Matches last a minute or two on average – maybe more depending on how competitive it is. The most obvious benefit here, of course, is that even if your main strategy consists of running at your enemies, screaming a bunch, maybe wetting yourself, and then dying, you can still hop back into the fray moments later. It also contributes to…

3. The addictiveness –
We would sell our soul to the real devil to play more of this game about the fake devil. Seriously. The rapid-fire pace combined with the gruesome satisfaction that comes part and parcel with Diablo’s particular brand of carnage had us glued to the screen right up until the moment we had to leave to make way for other players. We considered beating up a particularly impressive Worgen (WoW) cosplayer and stealing his outfit for another go in line, but his axes looked suspiciously real, so we decided not to chance it. Point is, Blizzard’s definitely not phoning in its PVP multiplayer arenas, and – while we’re not counting on it – we really hope Diablo III launches within our lifetime so we can leap back into the fray.      

It’s yet another Friday, meaning it’s time, yet again, for another Photo Awesome.  To start off,  brace yourself for a “say it ain’t so” moment. 

 

Can you believe it?  We were actually pretty damn impressed with Gordon’s re-creation of Steve Jobs horrendous grey quasi-turtle neck and loose but waist high blue jeans.  During our Halloween costume contest, Gordon vied for the top spot by presenting Apple products to the crowd, including the “iArm”, a mount that can turn your arm into a makeshift mini-desk for your iPad.  It was hilarious. 

And so was the entire afternoon, where we all gathered for pizza and soda dressed (for the most part) like total jackasses.  But I made a promise to you guys 12 (!!!) weeks ago to document what goes on behind the scenes here at Maximum PC and Future US, so sit back, relax, and have a look at the year’s Halloween costume contenders.  Let us know in the comments who takes the win! 

 

 

 

We’re Future US, and we like to party.

 

Cooler than Jobs.

Holy $#[email protected], it’s a Big Sister!

Go Giants!  Go Yoshi!  Go…hooded…red eye…person…!!!

Me, a year ago.

Matches the can of diet Coke.

The 80’s Girls…


…and the freaky deaky ones.

An interesting afternoon to say the least.  Have an awesome Halloween everyone!  We’ll see you next week!

Sprint isn’t actually selling iPads, but Sprint CEO Dan Hesse told GigaOm that it’s seen brisk sales of its Overdrive 3G/4G modem to iPad owners. The iPad is available in a Wi-Fi-only flavor, as well as one that supports AT&T’s 3G bands. Verizon recently began selling the tablet in-store bundled with a Verizon MiFi. 

Both the Overdrive and MiFi are mobile data devices that create a small Wi-Fi hotspot. Consumers that are in areas with Sprint’s 4G WiMAX technology have reason to pick up an overdrive, but that’s only available in 55 cities. If anything, this just shows how anxious people are to get an iPad with mobile data that isn’t tied to AT&T.

overdrive

 

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