That Sony rootkit – and its side effects

Not many days have passed since Sony got negative attention for its DRM protection of Copy Protected CDs, to which they were quickly issuing an update to remove it.Or – did they? The update is 3.5 MB, seems to update all the files, and leaves some more files there, according to Ed Felten, who had looked a bit closer at it:

The update is more than 3.5 megabytes in size, and it appears to contain new versions of almost all the files included in the initial installation of the entire DRM system, as well as creating some new files. In short, they’re not just taking away the rootkit-like function — they’re almost certainly adding things to the system as well. And once again, they’re not disclosing what they’re doing.

No doubt they’ll ask us to just trust them. I wouldn’t. The companies still assert — falsely — that the original rootkit-like software “does not compromise security” and “[t]here should be no concern” about it. So I wouldn’t put much faith in any claim that the new update is harmless. And the companies claim to have developed “new ways of cloaking files on a hard drive”. So I wouldn’t derive much comfort from carefully worded assertions that they have removed “the … component .. that has been discussed”.

But, there’s more – related to the rootkit, unrelated to the “fix”.

Use the rootkit to cheat other companies

Players of World of Warcraft don’t like the game makers, and the controversial tactics to avoid cheating in the game. (To my limited understanding – I don’t play it myself.) The program ‘Warden’ scans the players’ PCs, to make sure there’s no processes running tohelp cheating in the game.

Sony to the rescue – their rootkit DRM helps War of Worldcraft hackers to fool the Warden. After all, with the DRM rootkit installed, all that is needed to hide a process is to start the filename with $sys$ – right?


You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike.

You are on a page which tells about the IF-Competition 2005.
> Read blog entry
You read the blog entry. You feel compelled to try the games.
> Click download link
You are instantly taken to the download page.

The era of text adventures, or interactive fiction, is not yet over. Not completely. I wrota a little while ago about playing Hamlet, as an interactive fiction story.

Interested in more? Well – there is a competition each year, to write the best interactive fiction. If you want to download and play this year’s competition games, go here! You can of course also read more about the competition, and give your vote.

If you want to see a more “adventurous take” on the competition, and links for last years games, have a look in this blog post.


Hamlet as Interactive Fiction

Interactive Fiction – or old fashioned adventure games if you want – may not be particularly visible these days with the commercial interests mostly being in other genres, but it’s still thriving. Also on the web.

I have no intention of writing a lot about IF this time, but the classic Hamlet by Shakespeare caught my eyes just recently. Not the book as such, but a little reworked into an IF story. So instead of encouraging you to read the book, I propose that you try to play Hamlet.


Hooked on Sudoku

A Sudoku puzzle
I noticed them first in the newspaper, these nice little number puzzles. Then I found them mentioned on the web, and best of all, I found a place to play online – one new puzzle each day. I am of course talking about Sudoku.

The rules are simple enough – each number must occur only once in a line, a row, and a block. So, it’s just to put in the missing numbers in the puzzle, which has only one solution. Easy, right? Well – while they can be solved by thinking logically and thus requires no guesswork, you still need to keep the tongue straight in your mouth. The difficulty of the puzzles varies with how many numbers are removed from it, roughly speaking. (Well – the hardest ones may require guesswork to lesser or greater degree…)

The article about Sudoku in Wikipedia is great, with many links to pages and tools about the game. If you just want to dive in and start playing online, try these links:

For more links – check the Wikipedia article.

Have fun.


I got married a few days ago

I got married a few days ago. My young wife is a beautiful girl from Port Royale, daughter of the governor there. …

I got married some days ago. My young wife is a beautiful girl from Port Royale, daughter of the governor there. Actually, I retired after the wedding, having earned myself quite a reputation and properties in four countries – and with top ranks and loads of money I’m not only wealthy but also popular. After retiring from the hard, manual work at sea, I’m now myself working as a governor.

Of course, all this in the game Pirates! that I mentioned in a post earlier. Am I satisfied with the game so far? Indeed!

So, what is it like? As I previously touched, the game is made up of several sub-games; sailing and sea battles, land attack, fencing, dancing, and treasure hunt. All this while coping with a crew that can grow mutinous if they don’t get enough plunder, or stay too long at sea.

Also, when you start the game, you choose in which period you will play, something which will affect the game quite a bit; the hostility between the nations is different, and how many cities and settlements the different nations have varies. This means it can be easy to be a pirate – or hard.

But let me tell a bit more about the different sub games in detail.


DHTML Lemmings

Some may suspect I’m a bit nostalgic when it comes to old, classic games, on the grounds of what I wrote about Pirates! not long ago. And that may be true. Another game I have enjoyed in previous times, is Lemmings – these cute, suicidal creatures which you have to guide safely home. This game is now recreated – if not all levels and not completely – with the use of Javascript.

So, wether you’re a nostalgic or have no idea what I’m talking about, go have a try yourself at DHTML Lemmings.


Sid Meiers Pirates!

When I heard Pirates should come out in a new and updated version for the PC, I thought: That’s a game I shall have.

When I read the first previews of the game, I thought: That’s a game I shall have.

When I read the first reviews of the finished game, they were nice and positive. I thought: That’s a game I shall have.

When I read some more reviews later, they weren’t all that praising. Graphics were updated, and you could even dance this time – but it soon got a bit repetitive. Especially the music. I thought: Oooops!

Well – I’ve got the game, and tested it briefly. I’ve also thought a bit: The game was just as repetitive on the C64 when I played it there, but I enjoyed it a lot still. Sail around in the same area all the time, visit the various towns, attack pirates and the enemies. Get promoted, get rich, get famous. Find your lost family members, find treasures, find a nice town to take over and install a new governor in. Deal with a happy crew – or a mutinous crew. And a bit more.

Yes – it was a bit repetitive on the C64, too, but it was fun. It was playable. And from my brief test with this new version, that’s all still there. And a bit more. I mentioned dancing – not the easiest thing to do. When you sneak into towns now, you really sneak into towns, going (sneaking) through the streets, climbing walls, and knocking down guards. No longer choosing a menu option and cross your fingers. And swordfighting is more fun, looking good with some nice touches.

And still, I’ve just barely tested it yet. Who knows if I’ll find more later on? The thing that can become a bit too repetitive, is the music – but when I tire of it I’ll just turn it off. It’s easy to do, and I’m not a difficult guy.

Well – just a taste, and while it’s too early to say anything definite, I don’t think I had a reason to think “ooops” up above. But I’ll find out in time. 😉