Archive for December, 2004

The fox is in Microsoft’s henhouse (and salivating) | CNET

December 20, 2004 in General | Comments (0)

This will be interesting to watch. While I like Firefox and use it, and while I have converted some people I know who can’t seem to avoid getting hijacked by spyware into Firefox users, and while I love to see Microsoft having to deal with this sort of problem, it may not turn out the way many expect.

I’ve said more than once, when discussing Windows versus Linux security issues, that if Linux had market share on the desktop that hackers would target Linux with their exploits. While Linux may be more fundamentally secure, there are vulnerabilities lurking, but most virus authors target Windows because they hit the largest number of target machines with their exploits.

Likewise, if Firefox becomes the predominant web browser, the makers of spyware, malware, popups, hijacks, and other browser exploits will turn their attention away from Internet Explorer and concentrate on making Firefox user’s lives more miserable.

I know that Firefox has been patched to correct security vulnerabilities during its beta stage. This month, flaws were corrected in PHP, another open source, Linux grown product. Today, a story ran about how Google fixed a security flaw in their Desktop Search product.

While I have no great love for Microsoft or Bill Gates, I do get a bit frustrated when people claim that products are bad or inferior or insecure just because they’re from Microsoft. I love Linux, but I still get a secret thrill whenever a Linux product is exposed with a security flaw because so many Linux zealots think that Linux is immune.

There’s no such thing as immunity on the web. If an exploit is found and an exploit is publicized, it will be utilized, no matter what product or platform it is on. Perhaps Firefox will be more resilient, since it isn’t buried so deep in the Windows core like the Microsoft Web Browser Control that drives Internet Explorer, but it is not immune just because it is not Microsoft’s. I’ll be anxious to see how it goes, simply from a point of curiosity.

I use both products. I have no religious attachment to either.

Then again, maybe products actually are more insecure just because they’re from Microsoft, because Microsoft is always in the cross hairs when it comes to malevolent programmers. I don’t look forward to a day when Firefox users can get hijacked as easily as today’s Internet Explorer users can, but I can certainly envision it.

Still, when it happens, I’m sure we’ll find out that it was Microsoft’s fault after all.

December 16, 2004 in City of Heroes | Comments (0)

Flavor of the Month Club

December 15, 2004 in City of Heroes | Comments (0)

Someone posted some analysis of how to make a Radiation Defender Super Team on the official forums, making it the Flavor of the Month. Being a card carrying member of the Flavor of the Month Club, naturally I had to go and create one to see how well they worked. My main server is Freedom, and all 8 of my slots are full, so new alts have to be invented elsewhere (in this case, on Victory).


New Hero: Stinkfoot

I’ve run Stinkfoot up to about level 6 so far, and he really is pretty effective. He’s a Radiation/Dark Blast Defender. With the Radiation Infection power, he’s able to debuff opponent mob’s defense and to hit stats, then stand there and pound on them with Brawl and Dark Blast. He can solo lone red-con mobs, or groups of 2 or 3 orange-cons. Yellow on down he can manage some pretty large groups all alone. I have yet to try teaming up with some other Radiation Defenders to see if the super team concept really works.

I took about zero time in developing Stinkfoot’s look. I just kept hitting the Randomize button until I got something reasonable. He just happened to turn out in those weird yellow colors with a mask over his mouth, like maybe his feet really do smell bad. When the Radiation Infection starts to swirl, you can almost imagine that it’s some sort of mutant athlete’s foot that everyone is spreading around.

My only regret is that he’s not on the Freedom server so I can’t run with my usual crew when I play him. That’s why he generally just gets a few minutes of play here and there when I can’t spare much time online. Eventually they’re going to give us the ability to move heroes from one server to another.

Inflicting Pain on ‘griefers’

December 14, 2004 in City of Heroes | Comments (0)

This story at discusses the issues with on-line “griefers” in multiplayer on-line games. Being an avid City of Heroes fan, I was pleased to see that they got such high marks in their handling of the issue. Quoting:

Game developer Cryptic Studios took a more hard-line approach to troublemakers in designing the hit online superhero game “City of Heroes,” which pulled in nearly 200,000 subscribers in its first fourth months on the market. The game had to be accessible to casual players and newcomers to online games, said Jack Emmert, lead designer for the game. That meant limiting interactions between players solely to chat. An upcoming expansion will include an online arena for player-vs.-player battles, but the outcomes won’t affect character development or assets.

“The entire game design is about getting somebody who isn’t an insider into the MMOG genre and having fun as quickly as possible, and griefing would just ruin that,” Emmert said. “We just eliminated that possibility. If one player can’t harm another player in a game, you can’t really have griefing.”

Now, griefers are a creative lot, and there are still ways to grief in City of Heroes, but it’s a lot harder to do.

Work the Wall, Work the Pipe

December 11, 2004 in Blaster,Tips & Tricks | Comments (3)

I posted earlier about how you can use the window ledges on the building walls to keep yourself safe from stunners and mezzers when fighting Rikti. I found a good spot for doing the same trick when you’re on a sewer map.

Before tangling with a Mentalist (or a Headman Gunner, or anyone else who can stun you), scope things out for a vertical pipe that doesn’t run all the way to the ceiling. Fly up and hover just above it. Now if you get stunned or mezzed, you’ll fall on the pipe, out of reach of any nefarious villains. Notice in this picture that, while I’m getting some much needed rest, the Vicious Rikti Monkeys are unable to disturb my slumber.

Working the Pipe

The technique was working well… I was duking it out with a Mentalist who kept chain-holding me, but every once in a while I would get a shot off when he missed. I had him on the ropes, but then a patrolling drone (you can see him cruising by in the background) came by and nailed me while I slept, so check for patrols before you try this at home.

I guess it went to my head…

December 10, 2004 in City of Heroes | Comments (0)

Got so used to raking in experience and leveling fast down in the Hydra’s lair by killing Hatched Krakens that I guess I got sloppy. Got defeated at least 5 times last night, maybe more (lost track). Had racked up about 135k of debt by the time I logged off (which means I had worked it down to that level). In the Hydra hole, you’d work that off in about 3 Kraken runs, but topside it takes a lot longer.

I had several contacts who were waiting for me to hit 39 before they would give me any more missions. I rang them up since I’m 39 now, and they all gave me new contacts. Flew around to these new contacts, and they all want me to be level 40. That kind of stinks. I guess I have to grind through 39 with no missions.

Oh well. Another Kraken run or two ought to solve that.

Disco Down

December 9, 2004 in City of Heroes | Comments (0)

I have a nice, solid, high speed connection through RoadRunner. Still, somehow I manage to disconnect at least once, if not several times, every time I play City of Heroes for any period of time. The last two times were particularly annoying. The first time, we were Kraken hunting, and had a Kraken on the ropes, a mere sliver of life left in him. Just before the killing blow, I lost connection to the map server, forfeiting the 40 or 50k bonus I would have gotten for nailing the fat bastard. This was the last Kraken in the cave, and it was late so I had to go, so it sucked especially hard.

The second time, we were Kraken hunting (I admit it, we go Kraken hunting a lot). It was exactly the same story, except that this time it was an earlier Kraken, so I did get to nail enough to hit level 39, but after that first one it was hard not to worry every time we got near the bottom of his life bar.

Kraken Hunting

December 8, 2004 in Tips & Tricks | Comments (0)

Kraken hunting has turned out to be in incredible way to level fast in the 36 to 41 range. When in that range, you can pick up a mission from a contact who’s name I don’t recall (I’ll have to get it, but she’s in Founders Falls). First she’ll want you to kill 150 Rikti down in the abandoned sewers, so be prepared for that. There are plenty of other unfriendies in the Abandoned Sewers, like Hydra and Circle of Thorns, but they’re not all bad. Here I found I few Hydra who were actually quite cuddly and nice.

Hydra buddies

After you’ve killed your 150 Rikti, she’ll give you the mission to Defeat the Hydra Head. It’s a timed mission, and, interestingly enough, if you don’t finish it, she’ll give it to you again. There are a whole bunch of Rikti and six Hatched Kraken on the mish, everything seems to range in level from 40 to 42, so it’s going to be all purple for most of us. The Kraken pay off at around 50K apiece, so they’re worth killing, plus, if you die in the mission, one or two Kraken will usually clear your debt (and fill your Influence coffers), so it’s a good gamble overall.

A couple of tips:

  • Don’t go alone. You need to have a team of at least four (I think) to even stand a chance. The quantity of mobs doesn’t change based on team size, so you need enough firepower to lay waste to some high power Rikti and Kraken hatchlings.
  • Take a tank. A strong Scrapper could probably do it, but you have to have someone along who can go toe to toe with a Hatched Kraken and keep the aggro at all times. Everyone else should be killing the Kraken and supporting the tank. Don’t go in without a tank, and don’t plan on tanking with pets. It won’t work in this hell hole.
  • Clean out the Rikti before you light up a Kraken. This is the easiest mistake to make. It looks like there is plenty of room to mix it up with a lonely Kraken, but the Rikti are on high alert, and if they come waltzing in while you’re working on the Kraken, a few dirt naps will be in order for some heroes.

Here’s our tank and our scrapper from my most recent foray into the Abandoned Sewers.

Kraken Fighters

You have to pound on a group of Rikti to get into the pit, plus there’s a Kraken you need to pull and pound on. Here’s what it looks like.

Kraken Pit

You can pretty much ignore everything else along the way and fly down and see the Hydra’s head.

The nasty Hydra head itself

I’m tired of typing and behind on my blog, so I’ll just post this picture of Pyrorage blasting one of the Kraken and think about writing more on the subject later. I was able to get this perspective because I was lying face down in raw sewage at the time.

Pyrorage and the Hatched Kraken

More blasts from the past

December 7, 2004 in Photoshoppery | Comments (0)

Another picture I did for Something Awful’s Photoshop Phriday feature. This one actually made the front page. The topic, if memory serves, was Useless Electronic Devices:

Holy Cow

December 6, 2004 in City of Heroes | Comments (0)

Stadium Pal Cathether

I’ll admit that I’m hooked on City of Heroes, but I’ll still get up once in a while to hit the head. Apparently some people don’t.