Archive for the 'Microsoft' Category

Month of Apple Bugs: So VLC is Apple software?

moab

I have been reading up on this ubiqutous ‘Month of Apple Bugs’, and in light of this article, I have become increasingly angered with the website. The article on AppleGazette makes very valid points, as to why effectively the MOAB project has lost all of its credibility. I want to state upfront that I’m not writing this as an Apple Fanboy (though I am), I am writing this as a user of OS X and Windows, and various Apple products.

The MOAB project aims to show off a vunerability in Apple products over the 31 days of January. The first bug was understandable, a Quicktime based Buffer Overflow that has a “vulnerability in the handling of the rtsp:// URL handler allows remote arbitrary code execution.” This affects Windows an Mac OS X. This is a real flaw in Apple software, and can allow the execution of malcious code, via this buffer overrun, so it is critical.

The second vuneralibility however is debatable. In my eyes, this flaw is neither OS X, nor Apple. This flaw is based within the popular VLC Media Player. Now lets stop here for a second. VLC? Yes, the cross platform and open-source media player available on Windows, Linux, *nix and other platforms. However you look at it, I have no idea how this is an Apple Bug. Yes remember the title of the project. Other than running on OS X, and the actual vunerability allowing execution of arbitrary code (as with the Quicktime flaw above) which as you can see it would allow execution of code on OS X. But does this mean the problem is anything to do with Apple themselves? NO. Do we blame Microsoft for 3rd party software that has holes in it which can cause Windows to get a buffer overrun? Abosultely not. We blame the software developers. Why should Microsoft (or in this case Apple) deal with an application that they do not develop? It makes no sense. If you call your project ‘Month of Apple Bugs’ then please use Apple bugs, and not an open source software that has the same vunerability in every other distribution!
As AppleGazette pointed out, they do state on their website:

Are Apple products the only one target of this initiative?
Not at all, but they are the main focus. We’ll be looking over popular OS X applications as well.

Yeah they do defend themselves, but for goodness sake, if you create a title, which is then missleading what do you expect people to do? How is an OS X application an Apple Bug. It is only on the same OS. I’ll re-iterate myself: Do we blame Microsoft for flaws in developer ‘x’ software? Hell no. The developer is blamed. It seems that they are only seeking attention by putting Apple and Bugs in the same title. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for this. After all publicising vunerabilities helps to get them fixed faster, and thus leading to a more secure application. However I don’t like the other statement on their website:

John Doe has written a ‘post’ in his blog, saying he debunks the XXX bug, what’s that?
No worries. It’s probably someone begging for attention or PR-brainwashed.

Maybe they should have a look at their answer, because when you post titles of the project on social websites like Digg, del.icio.us, forums, etc, people will be miss-lead on what the actual flaws are on. Posting an open-source software bug on the second day is no good way to get started, and with their title it seems like they are the ones begging for attention.

The third vunerability is similar to the first one in that it is a vunerability which allows the execution of arbitrary code through Quicktime, but in Windows. Specifically it is “A vulnerability in the handling of the HREFTrack field allows to perform cross-zone scripting, leading to potential remote arbitrary code execution.” I understand that this is Apple bugs, and again this makes sense, even though the proof of concept “uses Microsoft Text Driver ADODB connection which requires an anonymous FTP login to the exploit location, for an unknown reason“. After all, Quicktime is Apple software. It’s like Microsoft patching flaws in Microsoft Office for Mac.

How many actual flaws do they have that are Apple software / OS X bugs? I would like to know, as it seems to me they have little. Displaying a flaw in an a open-source and cross-platform (Windows & Linux included) which is not even developed by Apple on the second day is really shoddy. I for one am quite annoyed, not for the fact that they are displaying Apple bugs, but because they don’t! Granted we have only seen three, and 2 out of these 3 were Apple software (Quicktime) related. I am saying this for all the Diggers and those alike who like to skim read articles and are a lot of time miss-informed by such things.

Get your act together MOAB, this is not a good start (a pretty bad one at that).

DIY Component to VGA Adapter

component to vga adapter

The way I connect my Xbox 360 to my LCD Screen, is using Elgato’s EyeTV Hybrid tuner and the EyeTV software. This works fine, however the picture produced is only SD. I wasn’t happy with the way the picture looked, especially on my 17″ Dell Monitor. I looked around the net and I found a page with lots of details on the wiring on how to connect a component (PbPrY) to a VGA out. After spending lots of time working out what pins go where and stripping all the cables, connecting them all together, it ended up not working. I double checked the leads with a multimeter, and everything was fine, all the cables were connected the right way. My Dell screen just showed: “Error: Cannot display input mode”.
I searched over the internet, and I found the problem was listed on the original page I visited. The problem is, the cable doesn’t convert the PbPrY signal to a VGA, it just hooks it up to the VGA. This means your input device has to support component input, which my LCD obviously didn’t. Converting the signal is much more complicated and requires IC’s and software. All that work for nothing! I even cut my finger! Let’s hope I can put the cable to good use somehow else.

Gaming News in Review: Part 2

xbox hd-dvd

Part deux of the gaming news round-up over the last few weeks.

  • Could the Wii not support game saves to SD memory cards? According to the manual it is, but not according to the console itself. That’s what Joystiq found out. Lets hope Nintendo fix this in time for the release, as we wouldn’t want to replay an entire game when at your friends house, do we? [link]
  • Engadget’s Wii software walkthrough video and gameplay walkthrough videos allow you to see what it would be like if you owned a Wii. Shortly it will come true for a lot of people, or at least we hope.
  • Microsoft revealed the HD download service for US Xbox 360 owners. These will allow you to download 720p HD TV shows from CBS, Comedy Central VH1 and more. Deleted TV shows can be re-downloaded for free in either HD or SD. Movies are ‘rent-only’, whereby you have two weeks to watch a movie, but after you start watching, you have 24 hours to finish the film. After that the film will no longer play. During the 24-hours, you can watch the film an unlimited number of times. [link]
  • Engadget open the retail version of the Xbox 360 HD-DVD player and have a play around with it, naturally with tons of photos (above) [link]
  • The PS3 gets dismantled before it is even in circulation. The four part videos take you through a detailed disassemblement of the PS3 showing the CPU, heatsink, the blu-ray drive, etc. [part 1] [part 2] [part 3] [part 4]
  • PS3 kiosk is a fake! The PS3 behind the glass in retail outlets are not even functional, no, it seems that Sony may be scared of the PS3 overheating or exploding, so they placed a separate version enclosed in the kiosk. The actual console is very well ventilated to make sure the heat dissipates as much as possible. My, my… [link]
  • Size comparison of the Wii, the PS3 and the Xbox 360. The PS3 is the largest, and the Wii is the smallest (though it’s not like we didn’t know that) [link]
  • The Xbox 360 HD-DVD player is fully functional in PC’s. Hook it up using the USB, and some Toshiba drivers you can not only view the files on the HD-DVD, but if your PC can handle it, it can also play back the movie. Nice. What’s more, the Mac recognises the drive instantaneously without any drivers, but there is no software to playback the video. Oh well! [link]
  • A DVD ‘enhanced’ version of the Wii will be released to the US and Japan in the 2nd half of 2007. The current Wii’s contain the DVD drive, however they do not have the software capable to play movies. The most likely reason for not including the software, is to avoid licencing fees which would increase the price of the console. [link]

Gaming News in Review: Part 1

the wii house

While I was unable to post during the last two weeks, there has been plenty of gaming news floating around, so be prepared for a awfully long post.

  • New Halo 3 Info: 1up.com have revealed lots of new information about Halo 3. There will be three different editions of Halo 3, a standard, a collectors and a Legendary edition. New brute weapons, Spike Rifle and Spike Grenade. The Mongoose ATV, like the Warthog, however there is no turret. A new assault riffle as the starting weapon, Bungie hope to improve the tactics of the game, so it is more fair. Save multiplayer, and single player gameplay videos and watch them again. The left and right bumpers are being used as the reloading buttons for your weapons, so what happens with the X button now? [link]
  • PS3’s SIXAXIS controller is completely disassembled to reveal its innards. A layer by layer documentation takes you through the motion sensing parts, the non-replaceable battery, and the rest of the gadgetry. [link]
  • The Wii house of fun in London. SPOnG managed to take a look around Nintendo’s secret house which is kitted up with Wii gear, for the press. They took lots of photos and described their experience with the various games and such. Photo shown above. [link]
  • 70GB Hard drive for the Xbox 360 spotted. While the photo could be a fake, the most likely explanation is, Microsoft wants you to be able to store those Movie and Video downloads somewhere (currently for the US only, more in the next post) The video marketplace allows you to download various movies, tv shows and short films, some in HD, which obviously needs plenty of space. [link]
  • Sony fanboys hijack the Nintendo Wikipedia entry and cover it with “nintendo sucks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1″, for a mere few minutes, until the Wikipedia admins notice. “In the short moments before Wikipedia admins could get the correct page back up, the assailant successfully misled several would-be Nintendo fans to assume the company had gone out of business, then deciding to ‘switch teams.’ [sarcasm]” [link]
  • Engadget get down to business, and get hands on with their final production unit of the Wii. Plenty of high-res images of the unboxing, the console and all its accessories. What more could you want? [link]

I split down the post into two separate articles. It’s probably more helpful for the eye.

Gaming News in Review

lik-sang logo

A lot of gaming news has happened while I was away, so I thought I’d summerise it all.

  • Sony sues games importer Lik-Sang out of existence. Sony originally filed a motion against Lik-Sang in August of 2005 for exporting PSP’s to the UK before the release of the console there. Just last week a high court judge in London ruled that the sales were illegal in Europe and blocked them, even though Lik-Sang argued they broke no Hong Kong laws.
    Last week, Pascal Clarysse, Marketing Manager of Lik-Sang.com argued; “Fighting multiple lawsuits in different countries at the same time and paying high premiums to expensive lawyers is an overwhelming situation for a small company like Lik Sang. Launching separate court actions with separate claims and different judges is completely unnecessary, except for the fact that it helps reaching one single target: outspend Lik-Sang to death. Pay beyond.” [link]
  • Could there be a Xbox 360 Dashboard update waiting for us in a weeks time. Xbox Live’s Major Nelson mentioned on his podcast that he has been testing out the Xbox 360 Wireless Communicator on his development kit, which has “excellent” sound quality. Major Nelson goes on to say that “even if you went to the store today and bought it, you couldn’t use it until you have the fall upgrade to the dashboard.” With the Wireless communicator being released on 31st October, it makes us wonder whether the dashboard update would be released on or before the 31st; and that day is just looming. [link] Major Nelson’s Podcast, mentioned at around 1:16:30.
  • Sony has cleared up good and bad things about the PS3. Some of the postive notes are: HD Movies can be stored on and played directly from the hard drive, although codec support is yet unknown; Reports are that within 10 seconds of selecting the movie from the menu, its playing. The bad sides include: no HD cables in the box for definite; PS3 does not upconvert DVD’s, and will not enhance PS1/PS2 game’s graphics; no included remote, one can be bought separately for $24.99, and uses bluetooth not IR, so say goodbye to your universal remote. [link]

Xbox 360 could get DivX support

360 divx

A Dutch Xbox 360 fan site (X-life) is reporting that Microsoft will be officially supporting the DivX and XviD formats within two months. This means that no 3rd party software will be needed to stream XviD and DivX files to the 360, and presumably, it also means that XviD encoded DVD’s will also be able to be played on the 360. However this is just a rumour so far, as it has not been confirmed by anyone else. The following excerpt, was translated from Dutch, during a Microsoft retailer training session.

After the event I had a short talk with the host and asked him whether there’d ever be support for DivX and Xvid playback. Much to my surprise, he started telling me that Microsoft is working hard to implement this and a firmware update is expected within 2 months allowing you to play DivX and Xvid directly on the 360.

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Links for 12/10/2006

egg cuber

The shorts for Thursday 12th October:

  • The EggCuber in action – above (video) [link]
  • It’s been four years, but Windows XP SP1 support ended on Monday [link]
  • Developers are from Mars, Programmers are from Venus [link]

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Microsoft to offer discounted versions of Vista

windows vista screencap

Microsoft may be making an ingenious move by offering Vista for free or at a discounted price to those who buy a new PC with Windows XP after October 28th. Those who buy a new computer with either Windows XP Pro, XP Tablet Edition or the 64-bit version of Windows XP will be eigible for a free upgrade to Windows Vista (presumed to be the premium edition).
For those with Windows XP Home, will be able to upgrade for $49 to the Basic Edition and $79 to the premium edition. This seems like a very good move, which will allow customers to effectively dodge paying for Windows Vista, and most people will have to upgrade their computers anyway if they wish to be able to run Vista on it. So far Microsoft are keeping a tight lid on things and are only saying that they are “working with partners”.

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Windows Vista RC2 not working on Macs via Boot Camp

vista logo

David Chartier from TUAW has found that on his iMac, he has had no success of installing Release Candidate 2 of Windows Vista. Even with the new Boot Camp 1.1.1 update, which was supposed to offer compatibility with the new iMacs, the installation fails. Windows Vista reports that it doesn’t like the drive Boot Camp creates, thus it doesn’t even format it. Other users have also reported this, but some say it works fine for them.

Judging by what’s being said I would say that despite the updates, Vista will not work on Core 2 Duos, perhaps cause they’re 64bit?” – TUAW Commenter AeronPrometheus

David said that he downloaded the 64-bit version, which doesn’t work. However others suggest that using the 32-bit version may work. We’ll have to see if Apple says anything about it.

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Microsoft updates firmware of Xbox 360 DVD Drive

ms 360 firmware

As a counter measure by Microsoft to stop people from using the Xbox 360’s DVD drive to copy Xbox 360 games, they have updated the firmware of the Hitachi/LG drive. As seen in the picture above, they have also put a lot of plack glue over the chip, as if to stop hackers from physically gaining access to the chip, and flashing it that way. This does now mean, however, that the Team-X kit which was used to allow gamers to ‘back-up’ their 360 games using their computer is now rendered useless.
It was a long and arduous process of taking apart the 360, removing the drive, connecting it to your PC and flashing its ROM, but it got the job done. For those who are interested a new episode of IPTV show the broken shows you how to back up your 360 games. For the meanwhile, sit tight, as I don’t think it will take long for the Xbox-scene crew to work out how to hack it again. Read on for the full technical details.

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