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Tags: Apple, Firefox, Google, iPhone, Mozilla, PRISM
Categories : AngryPanda, Politics, Rants, The Dark Side, The Intertubes, USA
With the recent news about the US-government data mining all the silicon valley giants the internet is suddenly full of guides on how to protect your privacy. Ditch Google, use DuckDuckGo, get a VPN Tunnel, use encrypted cloud services. Unless you want to turn yourself into some sort of technophobe outcast with no connection to the rest of the world there is almost no way to avoid Prism. You can do all these things and be moderately secure but no matter what you will not be able to keep using the internet as we know it today. Now that I think about it that means my dad is save from Prism… anyway on to the rest of us.
If the news about the government now owning every single private email or chat conversation you had for years (and who would blame you?) it is time to ask yourself some tough questions:
- Do you belong to Steve Job’s faithful cult of Apple users?
- Do you actively use Facebook?
- Do you use Smartphones and Tablets in your daily routine?
If your answer to any of the above questions is yes, then congratulations: you’re screwed. You gave up your privacy to huge cooperate players a long time ago and you did it in the political climate of the aftermath of 9/11 in which trading liberty for security and control is so en vogue you’d think it is the new black. The electronic footprint we all left is not going away and if any of us truly want to keep it from getting bigger we need to start the sort of paranoid nutter normal people in the office shake their heads at once they’re out of sight.
- Are you willing to stop using main brand mobile communication tools starting with smartphones and tablets?
- Are you willing to cut the chords Facebook has connected to your social life (and your spouse and your kids as those all help monitoring you too)?
- Will install new email-clients, change services and learn how to use encrypted chat systems?
Yes? Well sorry its still not enough. You also need to ditch your phone service provider, hide yourself behind a VPN provider outside of the US and stop using mobile phones. Short of shutting yourself of from modern electronics nothing will prevent them from at least the basics of your daily routine. Remember the cage Gene Hackman used to hide in Enemy of the State and consider that the technology seen there might as well have been the stone age compared to the sheer amount of data available today.
Now assuming no one reading this wishes to become a hermit and build a cabin in the mountains there are a few things you can do to limit the tracks you leave, this will not hide no one completely but will at least protect your privacy a little bit. Some of this is the same advise you read all over the net right now but I’ll limit changes in electronic service to the things that are so easy you could fix them on your parent’s computer and still be reasonably sure they won’t screw it up. In order of priority:
- Be careful what you post on social networks. You don’t have to completely avoid using them but the less you tell about yourself the better. And try to avoid any service that wants to know your current location for anything.
- Which brings me to mobile devices. These things are the worst problems as they broadcast your location and activity step by step but on the other hand they are so essential in most modern lives you can’t just ditch them so they didn’t make it to number one. What you can do is limit your use, try to keep it for work or important stuff. You could even leave it at home sometimes. Contrary to what most people think the world will most likely not end if they can’t be reached for 30 minutes. Most important, do not use it to connect to social networks or other services unless you absolutely need those. The mix of these two is so explosive the rest of the data mining operation almost doesn’t matter in comparison.
- Change your web browser to Mozilla Firefox. The protection is small as your service provider can still log you activity but so is the effort. Firefox will import your bookmarks from your current Browser and is the source of half the innovations that made the others more user-friendly anyway. Its 2 minutes to install and maybe a day to get used to it. You won’t get a better effort to security ratio.
- Be anonymous as often as possible. A lot of sites let you use your existing Facebook account to log in with just one click. As a famous fish once said: “It’s a trap!” The moment you do this you tie all the information about you together. Get some spam email accounts, register with code/fake names on message boards and other sites where your real identity isn’t important.
- Get a firewall and virus protection from a non US-based company like Kaspersky. If you don’t want to be spied on it really helps to at least make sure the guy guarding your door is not subject to the spy’s laws.
All of the above is just fighting the symptoms though. The problem isn’t that our computers aren’t secure. The problem is a government so paranoid and in need of control it has declared the whole world a criminal suspect. This issue will not be solved by installing new software or throwing your cellphone of the next bridge. It will require you to get up and let the people in charge know that they’ve crossed a line and this madness has to stop.
Disclaimer: The author of this article uses Gmail, Facebook and has an iPhone so he had it coming as much as anyone else.
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Tags: saruman, Smaug, The desolation of Smaug, The Hobbit 2, The Hobbt Trailer
Categories : AngryPanda, Fantasy, Movies, Trailers
by Angry Panda
I admit it. I was disappointed by the first Hobbit movie. Not because it wasn’t good or fun, but because the standard set by the first Lord of the Rings movie is so high not even the others of the series could reach it. Two things really stuck out for me, one being the unbearably long and gimmicky rollercoaster through the goblin city and the more important one the forced humiliation of Saruman in the meeting of the council. Remember Gandalf speaking of Saruman in the first movie? Yeah, he really respected that guy and the Hobbit gave you no indication why as they forced him into the role of the normal incompetent movie boss who refuses to accept facts. Still the actor were fanstatic, the world was beautiful and let’s face it except for each other there is no competition. They tried after the Lord of the Rings but essentially there are no other fantasy movies of note. Unlike with Sci Fi there is no midfield here. Its like Avatar were the only noteworthy sci-fi production and the next best one was Flash Gordon.
So while I may not have enjoyed ever minute of the last one I very much look forward to the next. I’d be even happier if they allow Saruman a chance to shine as that is very much-needed to make his fall as tragic as it should be.
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Tags: Apple, DRM, Microsoft, next console generation, XBox One
Categories : AngryPanda, Games, Rants
by Angry Panda
If you haven’t lived without internet for the last week (and if you do not have Internet you can not get an XBox one to work so you’re out already) you have already hurt a ton of valid reasons why buying into this new console generation is a terrible idea. My favorite is that so far they have not shown any advance in games that would make it worthwhile. And no, a dog in a gaming series that is already boring as hell doesn’t count. Anyway instead of my usual rants here is a seriously qualified opinion on why Microsoft’s new attitude is a problem.
Almost exactly a year ago, at the end of an E3 press conference in which Microsoft heralded fitness software, Kinect, Internet Explorer, Bing and dying action games as the future of entertainment, I wrote that anyone who has paid attention to Microsoft’s business over the years should not be surprised by its apparent lack of self-awareness.
“If we are entertained by what Microsoft chooses to do for its own gain,” I suggested, “then that is simply a happy coincidence.”
Guess what? The coincidence is over.
The fact that Microsoft’s policies governing game ownership, sharing and privacy are not surprising does not make them any less devastating to consumer rights, should they be formally adopted and become a standard. They sacrifice our freedom to own and trade games for no other reason than corporate self-interest.
To save you skimming large tracts of condescending prose about how much Microsoft loves and respects you as a human wallet, here is a summary:
- You do not own the games you buy. You license them.
- Discs are only used to install and then license games and do not imply ownership.
- People can play games installed on your console whether you’re logged in or not.
- 10 people can be authorised to play these games on a different Xbox One via the cloud, but not at the same time, similar to iTunes authorised devices.
- Publishers decide whether you can trade in your games and may charge for this.
- Publishers decide whether you can give a game you own to someone for free, and this only works if they have been on your friends list for 30 days.
- Your account allows you to play the games you license on any console.
- Your Xbox One must connect to the internet every 24 hours to keep playing games.
- When playing on another Xbox One with your account, this is reduced to one hour.
- Live TV, Blu-ray and DVD movies are exempt from these internet requirements.
- Loaning and renting games will not be possible at launch, but Microsoft is “exploring the possibilities”.
- Microsoft may change these policies or discontinue them at any point.
Read the rest of the article on Eurogamer, it is absolutely worth it. Now its no surprise that Microsoft is trying to copy the business practices of Apple in this way. Unfortunately many people will accept this and claim this is not a big issue, the faith of people (sadly this seems very common in the US) the market and cooperation is flat out stupid. They do believe that of course companies will not be completely unreasonable with their access or make things unplayable because it would be bad business. Here’s a hint: Half of these companies have no idea what they are doing. They are perfectly willing to provide bad service in the name of some imaginary gain for them. Also they can and will cut your access to any service they provide at any time and yes even if that service is still making them money. They might just decide they want you to spend your money on something else they offer, even if they can not be sure you will do that. They will make such decisions. They have made such decisions. Believe me I speak from experience.
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Tags: Battle Reports, Games Workshop, Tactics, Wargaming, WH40K
Categories : AngryPanda, Games, Uncategorized
Remember my last post? If not you’re a winner ’cause I already ditched those plans. Looking at some of the wargaming blogs out here I realized the people who read those are not a crowd I really want here. Plus I’m happy with my no-readers number which keeps me happily free to write whatever garbage I feel like. Anyway this means I split of the tabletop/wargaming project and it now its own blog. So now I can have two that I don’t write for. My plans are just that awesome.
40K Plus-Raise your gaming!
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Categories : AngryPanda, Uncategorized
Its mighty ambitious to already have plans after I just started writing again. In the time I didn’t this blog has lost what little reader base it had but that’s life. What I do want to go is change to self hosting since I can’t use the tools I’ll need while working directly with wordpress. I plan to keep this generic section for everything but create a second and third page, one for tabletops and tactics and the last for my terrible short stories.
While it’s probably a waste to put up a whole site for outdated games it’s what I’m good at and I may actually have something worthwhile to say for it once in a while. Sadly I can’t exactly afford to go to self-hosting right now. I may have a chance next week. And even then I still have to work out how to run 3 pages that can have updates. I’m pretty sure wordpress can do it, the mighty google has said so. Now I just need to find out which is the best host and how to make that all work. And pay for it of course. Fuck.
As an afterthought I’m not even up to date on most tabletops so it will probably obscure thoughts on some but mainks a focus on Warhammer 40k one of the most terrible games in existance. You’ll see why.