Windows 7 and PunkBuster

When you resort to tactics within the realm malice, are your actions still benevolent? Even Balance should consider this question while working on PunkBuster. While hackers/cheaters are an annoying, when the tools that keep them out operate maliciously the tool maker has gone too far. PunkBuster’s behavior is absolutely uncalled for.

There is absolutely no reason for a legitimate piece of software to download itself from a remote site and reinstall/restart every 15 seconds to 5 minutes. This is how PunkBuster works right now with its PnkBstrA.exe and PnkBstrB.exe services. PnkBstrA.exe will redownload, reinstall, and restart PnkBsterB.exe periodically while in a game “protected” by PunkBuster. If anything goes wrong PnkBstrA.exe will kick the user from a server and give a error in the 13xxxxxx range. PnkBstrB.exe is what actually looks for hackers/cheaters and kicks them. PunkBuster also looks for unknown APIs and will kick you if it finds any, this is the issue it has with Windows 7.

“Why are you playing games on a beta OS?” What’s the point of a beta OS? To test things, that’s the point of beta releases. By playing, or rather try to play, a game I’m testing Windows 7. Since I built a new (for me) computer that is running Windows 7 (64bit), there really is no going back to XP (I do not have Win XP 64bit edition). My gaming is limited to offline games, any Valve title, or Test Drive Unlimited. Basically, anything that doesn’t depend on the horribly broken PunkBuster.

The real shame is that Even Balance has not made any visible effort towards supporting Windows 7. The beta is very solid, a release candidate should be out soon, and at that time the Windows 7 “API” will be “locked” and Punk Buster should be able to be updated to work with Windows 7. If, upon public release of Windows 7, PunkBuster still does not work properly, I’d like to see a someone bring a class action lawsuit against Even Balance for negligence (yes, PunkBuster has angered me to that point).

-John Havlik

[end of transmission, stay tuned]

Access to the Internet: It is a privilege

It’s not just broadband providers who are lobbying to be allowed to create a tiered Internet, it’s the telephone companies. Instead of comparing the Internet to cable/satellite television a single fact will be shared: the media wouldn’t stand for an a la carte TV system. The nature of the media is to deliver to the consumer what ever they feel is appropriate for mass consumption, regardless of quality or popularity.

Recently, due new technologies, the process of delivering different content at different speeds via the Internet has become much easier for ISPs. Cisco Systems with their next generation packet shaping routers can be thanked for this. Given this new power ISPs are limiting the bandwidth available for VOIP, p2p, streaming media, and online gaming. This is an end-user experienced tiered Internet, relative to the looming threat the damage this can do is minimal.

The big fuss is over what telephone companies ATT and Verizon want to do to the Internet’s backbone. Think of the Internet’s backbone as the water main that feeds the entire city. If it is decided that even though the main is at capacity the city decides to run a telephone utility line inside of the water main, taking up space that is already used. Now imagine that the city utility company was allotted several billion dollars to install a new water main and instead the money was lost within the management of the utilities company. In a sense this is what is happening today, and the cheapest solution for ATT and Verizon is a tiered Internet. Verizon and ATT have plans of rolling out their own VOIP and IPTV networks on top of their current Internet backbones, which currently are nearly at capacity.

Instead of paying the money to upgrade their networks, the telephone companies want to slow down the traffic to websites that don’t pay an extra fee for access to their networks. The main target is Google. Consumers are supposed to believe that Google doesn’t pay for its Internet connection, and should be made to pay up. In reality there is no such thing as free lunch, and nobody actually gets on the Internet for free.

Promises of more choices are deceptive at best. There already is established competition in VOIP and streaming media. The telephone companies truly desire to eliminate the competition to establish a monopoly choke-hold on the Internet. Packet shaping can do this easily by decreasing the bandwidth allowed for the competition until access to it is so slow that it is abandoned. Any extra cash collected via higher fees will end up financing a new yacht for the heads of the media companies instead of financing improvements to their own network.

Don’t give the telephone companies another chance, they’ve had too many already. Support network neutrality.

-John Havlik

[end of transmission, stay tuned]

Advertisements on Your Vista Welcome Center?

According to Softpeida Microsoft is planning to release Windows Vista with dynamic advertisements on the Welcome Center, with no way around viewing them. Supposedly Microsoft ‘haggled’ several PC manufacturers including HP and Dell, whom are supposedly not pleased by some of the ‘features’ in the Welcome Screen. If Microsoft includes advertisements in the Welcome Screen this could not only piss off every PC user, but also get the lawmakers, and lawyers scrambling to dig up anti-trust evidence.

My biggest grudge against advertisements in Vista is that, as a consumer, I will have to pay something on the lines of 300 USD for a full version of Windows Vista. Beyond that 300 USD initial payment, I will have to pay with advertisements flashing in front of my face for no particular reason, other than lining Billy G’s pockets. If the best version of Windows Vista was distributed for under 80 USD then I would have no problem with forced advertisements, but for a 300 USD piece of software that is beyond doubt abusing the consumer. If this is true I’ll just use Gentoo as my primary OS and buy an Apple MacBook pro for college instead of an Alienware laptop. If you are going to burden the consumer with ridiculously high prices don’t force advertisements upon them, it just is beyond cruelty, *cough* RIAA/MPAA/Microsoft *cough*.

Here is the link: Softpedia: Vista Antitrust Case in the Making?

-John Havlik

[end of transmission, stay tuned]

AT&T: Pay More For The Internet Or Else

AT&T’s CEO Ed Whitacre is complaining once again, that it isn’t fare that web content owners are allowed to use large volumes of communications companies’ bandwidth for ‘free’. He wants big sites such as Google and others to pay for access to their clients. I read this a month ago but it has come up again. Don’t these people realize that Google doesn’t just plug into the Internet for free? Google must pay for several optical connections to their server farm and ISP fees, which their ISP pays to connect to other networks, such as AT&T’s network. Then the consumers, you and me, pay to connect to AT&T’s network, my Mediacom cable connection connects to the AT&T network. Why should Google and others pay twice for their Internet connection?

The real problem lies with what lies before us in the next five to ten years. About ten years ago we were promised fiber to the wall and all the bandwidth we could suck up, well about 100mbps both ways. What happened was the web 1.0 bubble popped. Suddenly around 2001 these big Telephone Companies found themselves with some fiber upgrades and a large amount of dark fiber, since the demand shifted, they stopped investing in their networks, except when they absolutely had to.

Now as the so called Web 2.0 movement catches fire and begins to run with the economic torch, the telephone companies realize that demand has increased (shifted to the right on the demand curve graph) but their supply capacity has remained the same since they foolishly lined the pockets of their CEOs and management instead of investing in their networks. The entire Web 2.0 movement will heavily push VOIP and IPTV. POTS will more or less die soon, as in by 2010. Once POTS dies as everyone uses VOIP, SBC/ATT will find itself with a bunch of worthless copper. They should have upgraded ever last inch to fiber but now it’s too late. That’s what Ed Whitacre is seeing, though he could be just seeing a plan to line his pockets since as a general rule of thumb all CEO/CFOs are corrupt, self-centered, evil rats. Their profits will dwindle and the new ATT will die a quick painful death, just like Enron.

Here is the link: The 200 Billion Broadband Scandal

-John Havlik

[end of transmission, stay tuned]

MPAA are Hypocrites, Oh Really?

So a day after news started spreading of a horrible virus running-a-muck and I said that there could be a link to media organizations. This link may not exist, but something better has come up. Kirby Dick submitted his film This Film Is Not Yet Rated to the MPAA with an e-mail ordering them to not make copies of his documentary. While rating the film the MPAA has admitted to making copies for its employees to watch.

Nothing seems wrong with this right? No, even if I believe that copying should be fine, the MPAA doesn’t share these views on the subject and is actively attempting to force others to conform to their views. We already know that the media is a bunch of hypocrites and this only goes to further prove this fact. But, we now have precedent, “MPAA officials did this with Kirby Dick’s film, so why can’t I for archiving purposes?” is a valid argument due to their own example. Now, if they used something on the lines of DVD Decrypter or DeCSS they would be in trouble with their own DMCA law.

-John Havlik

[end of transmission, stay tuned]