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Archive for November, 2008

Mumbai Under Attack: Graphical Pictorial

November 29th, 2008 No comments

Unless you’ve been living under a rock the last few days you would have heard about the shocking development in India (Mumbai – India’s business capital) come face to face with an onslaught of terrorism. Thankfully today, the commandos have successfully brought an end to the 3 day seige.

According to reports, upwards of 60 young men entered Mumbai in small inflatable boats on Wednesday night, carrying bags filled with weapons and ammunition, and spread out to nine locations to begin their attacks. Lobbing grenades and firing their weapons, they entered hotels, a railway station and several other buildings, killing scores and wounding even more.

Mumbai disaster official R. Jadhav told AFP that 195 people had been killed and nearly 300 injured in the battle, which began when the dozen or so militants split into groups to attack multiple targets across the city, including the main railway station and a hospital.

TV channels described the attacks as “India’s 9/11”.

But I came across a post on the Boston that shows (at times quite graphically) the extent of the chaos.  Surreal and unbelievable that such attrocities can be carried out in the name of a religon or ideals.

For a deeper look at the situation, see the article on TheAge titled Mumbai: attack on all fronts.

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Xbox 360: The new xbox 360 experience FTW!!!

November 22nd, 2008 1 comment

I have to admit, I haven’t actually played my 360 (oh crap!) for months, I just cant find the time these days – which is strange, considering I’m only working these days with no uni. After hearing about The New Xbox Experience I knew I had to update the Xbox 360 to check it out.

So what exactly is this new experience? Its a whole revamp of the 360 dashboard plugging in a more “social” entertainment focus. Gone are the old dashboard “Blade” look replaced by a sleeker user-interface:

You also create a more unique avatar, I spent a good 10 minutes just flicking through them and eventually settled one one, customised it to the way I look.

So if you’ve never seen what I look like, heres a rough guide – but no-where near as cool  as this looks like.

Ofcourse I dont wear Timberlands everywhere but I definately where my shades and a jeans + polo shirt type of guy. Whats impressive is that the avatar is heavily customisable unlike the Wii, from face, skin color, eye-brows, smile, nose, hair, watches, jewelery, shoes, clothes heck even the ears.

Another classy feature is the preloading of games to the HDD, this means your loading times are significantly reduced (like Halo). You still need to verify the game media by inserting it everytime to avoid piracy, but thereafter its loaded from the HDD.

Unfortunately NetFlix isnt available in Australia so I wasn’t able to try it out, but if you _do_ have a 360, get the update… You’ll be tripping. An update will include (maybe?) a browser much like the Opera extension for the Wii dubbed IE360.

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Windows 25 Years old

November 22nd, 2008 No comments

Completely forgot about a birthday, Windows turned 25 on the 10th of November.

On November 10th, 1983, Bill Gates first unveilled Microsoft Windows (v1.0) to the world at an unprecedented elaborate event at the Helmsley Palace Hotel (Wikipedia) in New York City. Windows 1.0 boasted a graphical user-interface to the MS-DOs world with menus, icons and multi-tasking. Not that I was around back then (I was born just under a year later) but here’s some screenies for your pleasure.

Windows 1.0 Boxshot

Windows 1.0 Boxshot

All for a cheap $99 and it even comes with Reversi. Steve Balmer, crazy back then, still a crazy guy today.

Belated Happy Birthday.

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Microsoft Releases Singularity 2.0 Research Development Kit (RDK)

November 18th, 2008 No comments

Microsoft has just unleased the initial release of the Singularity 2.0 Research Development Kit (RDK). Singularity is a research operating system started around 2003 by Microsoft Research to write an OS in managed code. The inner-workings of Singularity taken from Wikipedia:

The lowest-level x86 interrupt dispatch code is written in assembly language and C. Once this code has done its job, it invokes the kernel, whose runtime and garbage collector are written in Sing# (an extension of C#) and runs in unsafe mode. The hardware abstraction layer is written in C++ and runs in safe mode. There is also some C code to handle debugging. The computer’s BIOS is invoked during the 16-bit real mode bootstrap stage; once in 32-bit mode, Singularity never invokes the BIOS again, but invokes device drivers written in Sing#, an extended version of Spec#, itself an extension of C#. During installation, Common Intermediate Language (CIL) opcodes are compiled into x86 opcodes using the Bartok compiler.

This new release brings some funky changes:

  • Support for AMD64 64-bit platforms
  • Updates to the Bartok MSIL-to-native compiler and the Sing# compiler
  • A new, more modern and extensible bootloader
  • Several new applications and application documentation
  • Eventing support
  • More extensive ACPI support
  • A unit testing library
  • A ramdisk device
  • An SMB client service
  • Can now check out the most recent version of the Singularity RDK directly from CodePlex source control

Its released under Microsoft’s shared source academic license which in basically means you can do what you like, just don’t make any money out of our hard work.

For convenience there’s even an ISO already baked ready to slap into a Virtual Machine 🙂

There are others that deviate from Singularity that tackle the use of a managed operating system slightly differently and I wrote about them a while ago.

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Youtubing: Ken Block Gymkhana Practice (MY06 Subaru WRX STi)

November 18th, 2008 3 comments

Now thats what I call skills, Gymkhana encapusulates everything to show your true skills in handling a car – in this case a MY06 Subaru WRX STi. Damn I miss my MY03 STi 🙁 – not that I could pull _any_ of those styles of driving (except maybe a half-assed powerslide).

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Daily Dilbert: Fix your own Computer

November 17th, 2008 No comments

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Call of Duty World at War 24hr Launch Party – Swinburne 2008

November 9th, 2008 1 comment

This weekend saw the 24-hour launch party for Call Of Duty 5: World At War at Swinburne University in Hawthorn (my old uni). With a scourge of ubber nerds and geeks gathering from all around town to come play CoD5 first.

Xbox 360 Setup Library Atarium
Amongst the promoters were Alienware – who provided PCs, Sapphire Technologies – who’s graphic cards donned the Alienware boxes, Razer – Keyboard & Mice, V – to help keep the gamers on the ball and Microsoft who graciously provided a stack (100 or so) Xbox 360s to keep things moving.

Activision even went so far as to keep the troops entertained with several models representing Alienware, Razer and ATI for eye-candy (because you know some geek out there is going to want to get their picture taken with them) – which reminds me:

Call of Duty Babe

I didn’t a chance to take too many shots – far too busy playing CoD5, but everything that was taken is available in the Swinburne Call Of Duty 5 Launch set on Flickr. It was a night of (maybe too much) gaming – which was followed by a quick 4hr ‘break’ to play at a LAN Games at another venue not too far from uni, dinner at the good old Hong Kong Seafood Hut and an overload of caffeine (V, Mochas, Red Bulls). Aside from CoD5, inside the BA building, you could jam out to some Guitar Heroes if all this mindless, senseless killing is gotten to you.

Everyone attending got to take home a show-bag with some goodies – self-heating coffee mug, dog tag, CoD hat, t-shirt, CoD pen, lanyard and just to confuse you, a copy of Spider-Man 3 for PC. You could also buy a copy of the game and gear but if the price was any indication, I doubt many did.

Of course, Swinburne’s big promo of hosting the launch is to bring to light the awesome games oriented degree they offer. The double degree probably takes the cake for having the longest title for a university degree in the history of the world and competes directly with RMIT’s BIT: Games & Graphics Programming degree.

Bachelor of Multimedia (Games and Interactivity) / Bachelor of Science (Computer Science and Software Engineering)

Take a looksy, who knows, you could be working on the next Call Of Duty!

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Breaking News: BD+ Broken

November 2nd, 2008 1 comment

BD+ is the DRM system for Blu-ray discs, as Wikipedia puts it:

BD+ is a component of the Blu-ray Disc Digital Rights Management system. It was developed by Cryptography Research Inc. and is based on their Self-Protecting Digital Content concept. BD+ played an important role in the past format war of Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD. Several studios have cited Blu-ray Disc’s adoption of the BD+ anti-copying system as the reason they supported Blu-ray Disc over HD DVD.

One of the more humorous observations was that unlike DVD (which used DeCSS for its copy protection system) and AACS which powered the bulk of the HD-DVDs of the time that BD+ would uphold its protection for atleast the next 10 years. This may have been one of the key factors in the HD-Wars, but alas it seems someone  has found a way of traveling into the future and finding the break.

Oopho2ei (who claims is not a professional programmer :O) from the Doom9 forums along with a few others (bmnot, schluppo, Disabled, evdberg) have (it seems) successfully broken the BD+ protection scheme in a grand total of 5 weeks and 3 days (started on the 24th of August). They have restored the BD+ protected “The Day After Tomorrow”:

I am glad to announce the first successful restoration of the BD+ protected movie “The Day After Tomorrow” in linux. It was done using a blue ray drive with patched firmware (to get the volume id), DumpHD to decrypt the contents according to the AACS specification and the BDVM debugger from this thread to generate the conversion table. The conversion table is the key information to successfully repair all the broken parts in m2ts files to restore the original video content. This small tool was finally used to repair the main movie file “00001.m2ts” according to the conversion table.

To verify the correctness i compared my 00001.m2ts with the one AnyDVD-HD creates and they both match. The MD5 hash of this 30GB large file is in both cases “0fa2bc65c25d7087a198a61c693a0a72”.

Breaking the code is no simple feat, Oopho2ei and team has had to reimplement the VM that runs the BD+ protection layer and realises that there’s a fair chance that it could be blocked at a later stage and may phone-home:

There has to be some kind of firewall around the virtual machine which validates all communication between the ( potentially hostile ) content code and the outside world (traps and events). Part of the rules which are enforced by that firewall are the parameter checks on every trap call. It’s obvious that the traps and the event handling itself has to be carefully implemented. I believe this additional effort is necessary to prevent the content code from breaking out of it’s sandboxed environment and do nasty things like gathering user information and “calling home” when it detects an unlicensed emulator. So because these additional security measures make things more difficult i suggested to test this code first with the easy traps.

Even a guy from SlySoft (who makes the ever popular AnyDVD-HD product) chimes in early on but backs off after realising he could well get the sacker.

I’ll just say: due to certain properties of BD+, once you’re past a certain point, you can handle it pretty much without reversing – BD+ itself then helps you out – on any player

Actually you’d have to know how BD+ really works, to know what I meant (and even then you probably wouldn’t ).
But if I start unraveling that, I’d be finding myself looking for a new job by next week

Love this bit in one of Oopho2ei posts:

I would like to stress again that this project wasn’t intended to circumvent copy protection and promote piracy. This can already be done using commercial software like AnyDVD-HD. Instead this project was an attempt to enable users of open source operating systems (like linux) to playback their BD+ protected discs without having to use proprietary software. Furthermore only two movies “I Robot” and “The Day After Tomorrow” have been proven to be handled correctly so far. Obviously there is still a lot of debugging to be done.

Classy! Download a copy of the BDVmDbg build for educational reasons and try PortableBDVM which comes in C99 source form.

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