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Cybercrime is just Crime

I read Kidnapping, Theft and Rape Are Not “Cyber” Crimes a few weeks ago and have been mulling it over.

The argument being if I understand it correctly that cybercrime is just… crime.

Which as I think about it… seems like an interesting distinction.

I don’t think it’s helpful for the average person to distinguish between the two a whole lot. Much like burglary victims often experience depression and feelings of violation after the “safety” of their homes has been compromised. Even though there is no “person” crime as there is with murder or rape, the victims of “cyber”-crime that I have crossed paths with often exhibit similar signs of feeling violated that resemble the behavior of the victims of “real” crimes that I’ve interacted with.

What happens in the real world and what happens in the legal world are two different things. A computer vandalism may not meet the requirements of a law concerning physical vandalism and so from a legal perspective it can be very useful to make a distinction between the two. Rewriting the law to address both instances in one law may be overly broad.

Perhaps it is useful for the court room to make a distinction, but for the average person I’m not sure it serves much purpose. At what point does a cybercrime become something that you can call the police about?

While there certainly are some interesting entanglements in the boundaries between crimes committed in the digital world and the physical world… I get the impression from people I talk with that some think that cybercrime is less serious than “real” crime. Followed by thinking that you can’t really expect a response from the police about cybercrime. Granted I’m not aware of too many police departments that have well staffed and equipped cybercrime departments. However, there certainly are more than there used to be and will continue to grow. Also in their defense most PDs are far understaffed and under equipped to address all the crime. It’s unrealistic to expect to be able to address all crime. They certainly can deal with a lot of it and at the very least clean up the mess and write a report. However, the idea that our law enforcement can stop crime and protect us from harm is really just a pipe dream. Unless you have a police officer who shadows you’re every move there will always be lag time between someone committing an offense against you and the police response. Assuming of course that a single officer can address your problem.

For the average person though there seems to be a fuzzy line between when cybercrime can be addressed like “real” crime by law enforcement. It’ll be interesting to see if this distinction changes as cybercrime has grown more organized and continues to do so in the coming years.

Google Voice

It is very likely that I hate voice mail more than any other person on the planet.  Having to call up the service and punch in numbers to make a selection makes me feel like I’m back in the early days of the Internet connecting to a BBS to look for tips on Space Quest 2, but instead of being the early 90′s it is actually 2010.  No thanks.

After avoiding setting up voice mail on my droid for the first six months of ownership, it eventually set up itself (curses!) and I’d racked up a healthy collection of messages since May.  Finally getting around to checking them, I figured I’d do some searching to see any one has solved the “voice mail problem”.  Lo and behold, Google has.

To set it up on my personal phone, all I needed to create an account and call a number it gave me.  Then after, Google Voice was my default voice mail.  The primary reason I’ve enjoyed it so far is that upon receiving a new message, I get an email with a transcript of the message, a link to my Google Voice account, and since I use GMail, a widget that lets me play the message directly from email.  I was so thrilled to not hate my voice mail that I even set up a custom message from the Old Spice guy.

I can’t speak for other phones, but on the Droid there is a mini version of Voice that lets me browse the transcript and play the messages directly.

It has a decent number of features that I don’t see myself using at the moment, but others might benefit from them.  You can set up the same voice mail for multiple phones.  You can set up different greetings depending who the caller is. (One to your friends, one to your family, one to your coworkers).

Anyway, figured I’d pass it along.

I got my hands on an HP Mini 1000 Netbook to try this weekend and decided to install Ubuntu 10.04 Netbook Remix on it.

The installation process was simple and straightforward. Downloaded the ISO and used the Ubuntu USB Creator on another machine to install the image on a 2GB USB stick. The default installation instructions were followed to install the OS on the netbook.

The first two problems to crop up were both related to networking. Neither the ethernet port nor the wireless appeared to be functional.

To solve the non-functional ethernet port I followed the instructions at this blog.

Which involved editing the /etc/default/grub file and modifying the following line to look like:

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT=”quiet splash acpi_os_name=Linux”

Followed by a:

sudo update-grub

With the ethernet port functional I took a look at the Ubuntu Documentation for supported hardware in the netbooks category: https://wiki.ubuntu.com/HardwareSupport/Machines/Netbooks#HP%20Mini%201000

It listed the HP Mini 1000 under “Tier 2″ which is defined as: “These are netbooks that work somewhat, but have problems that may interfere with typical activities at the moment, or many smaller issues.”

Again the instructions were for an older version of Ubuntu but after doing a:

sudo apt-get install bcmwl-kernel-source

Followed by a reboot resulted in the wireless working as well.

The GUI has been modified to take advantage of as much screen real estate as possible which is particular useful on this netbook. I found it to be intuitive and easy to use.

Noscript and Adobe Flash in Firefox both installed with no problems.

The only tested site that didn’t work was crunchyroll.com. While Youtube streamed videos with no problems Crunchyroll’s video streams were choppy though the audio was normal.

I downloaded and compiled from source Nmap 5.21 and installed the packages for Kismet and Wireshark. The next few days will be spent testing those for any quirks.

Final Fantasy Remix

This very well could be old as sin, but it’s new to me so I’m linking it.  Hit up the FF4 remix page for details.  It’s great stuff, been listening to it all this week.  You can download the torrent of it all or by the individual songs themselves.  Here is a sample, one of my favorites.

Mount and Blade: Warband

I tend to avoid buying video games on a whim.  The high price tag and large pool of games ensures that I typically only buy a game if I’ve been following the development for a while.  (The one exception are Steam sales, curse you and your reasonable prices!)  I do however, also troll the pc games sections on torrent sites in case there is something I haven’t heard of.  The latest find is Mount and Blade: Warband. Occasionally I will find a game worth buying, and this is one.

Officially classified as a stand-alone expansion pack, Warband starts you off as a lone man (or woman) in a big world that lets you do whatever you want.  If you are the type of gamer that prefers a linear story without deviation, this game will probably give you a nose bleed.  After your first quest to rescue a merchant’s brother, you will find your quest log empty and will wonder just what to do next.  Hell yes.

The focus of the game is large scale medieval combat.  You can do anything from attack a group of desert bandits, fight an enemy force in the field, or even try and capture an enemy keep.  The fighting system is very well done.  While you only have direct control over your own character, you can assign your units into different control groups and give them on the fly battle commands, such as posting your archer units on a high hill firing into the enemy while you and your cavalry units circle and attack them.  You personally have up to four weapon slots so you can bring different weapons depending on the situation.  You may want to join your archers on the hill with a crossbow or wield a spear to defend your archers from enemy cavalry.

There are roleplaying elements as you build your own character up and decide his focus.  Skills vary from how well you can ride a horse to how quickly you can build siege engines.  You build relationships with enemies and friends, can woo an eligible lady, and can become lord over a village or fortress.  You can faithfully support your king, support a rival heir, or even try and become king yourself.  From what I can tell so far, the only stopping point to the game would be your characters retirement from adventuring.  It seems feasible to conquer the entire map but that would not be an easy task.

There have been some occasional bugs to the game which should hopefully be lessened with each new patch, but overall it is easily my favorite game in the past year.  The game is hard, and you can choose to make it even harder by turning off the option for Realistic play, meaning you have to live by the consequences to the actions you take.  You don’t die in the game, but if you are captured in combat you’ll return home to your fellow lords who consider you weak because of your loss, your units will be dead, and your NPCs will be locked inside some foreign prison that you’ll need to rescue them from.  Other types of consequences can be a fellow lord suddenly turn enemy because you decided to decide a tournament win to his lady, or the king of your region threatening to have you hanged for warmongering because you attacked an allied countries caravan.

So far my single great moment in the game was attacking a stronghold.  The father of the lady I was wooing flat out told me his daughter wasn’t going to marry a foreign dog like myself.  In my attempt to raise my standing with him, I learned that his son is captured in an enemy keep on the far side of their kingdom.  To earn his favor, I had to march past several cities and do battle along the way, only to reach the stronghold which had at least twice my men.  I besieged it with my elite Nord units and attempted to take it by force.  I came away with a win, killing over 120 units and losing about half of 60, with the majority of the survivors being wounded.  I rescued the son, returned to a happy father who then gave me permission to see his daughter, and then when I visited her she said she wasn’t serious about the relationship and was really keen on some other noble lord.  Bitch.

Seriously a great game, and that is only the single player.  I haven’t yet tried the 64 player online version, which I am assuming I will just be obliterated in until I get better at the combat.

If you are still skeptical of whether you will like it or not, you can download the full demo version of the game from their website.  When you hit level 7 you will be prompted to buy the game and continue, or start over.  Good stuff.

Dune Remake

Seriously? Please? I locked in on “We’re doing a re-reading, a brand new approach on the book, a very true approach to the book, the original material.”

This pleases me immensely. Dune occupies the spot of “best book ever” in my little world. Much like I was skeptical of the possibility that a LotR movie would not result in a catastrophe so too do I doubt that a Dune movie could live up to the book. However, what I read here gives me a glimmer of hope.

Dune remake starting again: giant sandworms in 3D?

Weekend Movie Reviews

Saw two great movies over the weekend, both surprised me.  The first was Book of Eli and the second was The Lovely Bones.

To say I was highly skeptical about The Lovely Bones would be an understatement.  The trailer did nothing for me, and in truth I only saw it because the lady-friend had read the book and was interested in seeing it.  I didn’t know much about other than the name, which I hate.

The story is about a young girl who is murdered and once that happens, follows two different story paths.  One of the paths follows the murdered girl exists in what I would call the bus stop to heaven.  It isn’t Purgatory because there isn’t punishment.  But she is there for the duration of the movie.  I mostly enjoyed these parts.  The visuals don’t pull any punches here and for some reason reminded me of Across the Universe.  In this dream world she is basically coming to terms with her death and murder.  The narration of the girl was distracting in the same way that was distracting when any elf-chick was speaking in Lord of the Rings.  The Peter Jackson connection on that wasn’t intentional when I first thought of it, but it makes me wonder if they talk like that because of his directing.  (Seriously, pay attention to _any_ time Arwen is talking, and wow I am way off topic here).

Anyway, the second topic of The Lovely Bones is the personal connections that are made after her death.  Her family that struggles with never seeing her again.  That sort of thing.  It’s all beautiful and you’ll cry lots.  Huzzah.

But seriously, enjoyable movie.  If you think that the movie is about a young girl who helps capture her killer from beyond the grave, then you are wrong, and probably think that because of the trailer.  I know I did.  Ignore the trailer, take a date to see this one, or if you are by yourself go see Book of Eli.  Oh you’ve seen it already?  Well watch it again.  Done.

I’ve often said that I will eat up anything post-apocalytpic as the delicious goodness it is, and this is no exception, but the actual goodness of the movie kind of surprised me.

The story follows Denzel Washington as Eli.  Eli is attempting to travel West for reasons which I won’t give away, though as you may have guessed, the book he is carrying is indeed a Bible.  The Book of Eli is a popcorn movie at heart.  It has lots of fights between people in gas masks.  (Win!)  The characters won’t move you to the level that The Lovely Bones does (or closer to home, The Road), but I was pretty blown away by the Christian themes in it.  I mean, the story basically blames World War III on Christianity, the main villian is after the Bible as a weapon to control the weak, and any theology present is pretty meh, but I guess at a personal level it can be a powerful thing to see the protagonist in a movie have real faith.

At the end of the movie I assumed the writer was a Christian his or herself, but to my surprise found it was a video game writer who has written for anything from Futurama to Duke Nukem Forever to Prey.  Though having played Prey (great game), I am kind of figuring that the story was written with [insert religious text] in mind to be the actual Book of Eli.  But bleh, I don’t mind.  Aging Christian travelling West in a post-apocalyptic future is like the Mecca of movies for me.  Go check it out for yourself.

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