jackofallgeeks: (Decepticons)
I have Gamer's Fever. After reading This Article about upcoming quad-core computer processors, and recalling my current woes of gaming performance (Annie's a good girl, but when a lot happens she tends to get tired), I'm thinking that an AnniePlus may be in the works within the next year or two. She'd probably only need a new motherboard to support the new processor, and I may get her some accessories to pretty her up a bit, but I'm currently fairly content with her sound and video, which are half of gaming anyways (RAM and Processor power being the other two). Depending on power-requirements, she may need a new power supply, too. And, of course, I'm still planning on cannibalizing Unicron's internals to boost Annie's current RAM and hard-disk space.
jackofallgeeks: (L33+)
So, I've been trying to find $1200 to build a new computer. Because Oblivion is out. The game i've been watching for the last 18 months. You know, the new Elder Scrolls game? The follow-up to Morrowind? The latest bit of that series I've been playing since Arena launched in '94.

Anyways, UnicronPrime is showing her age. She can't run Oblivion. She can't even upgrade to be able to run Oblivion. And as her drives are being filled to capacity these days, her time is coming. Before long, she'll be little more than storage, and eventually not even that.

Maybe I'll scrub her clean and give her to my brother. She might get a few more years of life then, maybe. It's sad to watch and old friend fade away.

So right. Building a new computer. I think her name will be Annie. Just toying with that idea, we'll see. Her specs make her roughly twice as powerful as UnicronPrime in almost every way. But her specs were coming out to $1200. And I could do that, but it'd hurt a little. And I just managed to get her specs down to just under $1000, without losing much capability (none, for most intents and purposes). And, oddly enough, I can justify a $1000 computer more readily than I can justify a $1200 computer.

And now I have $200 I've already mentally allocated.

I'm probably going to order this machine this weekend and be playing Oblivion before the end of the month.

I should be doing more constructive things. Like my homework.
jackofallgeeks: (pl4y with 3vil)
I woke up this morning and before I even dressed and coffee'd, Unicron was at it again, complaining about how her C: drive didn't have enough space, and that Windows likes 200megs of space to play with, and it only has 143megs, and if I didn't do something, Bad Things would happen -- like she'd keep complaining.

This has been going on for some time now, and while it really gets under my skin, it's not really her fault. Several months ago, I decided to partition Motherbrain (Unicron's C: dive) in two -- Motherbrain would hold the operating system, and Hindbrain would pick up her slack. I figured "it's only an operating system, how much space could it need?" I mean, we've had operating systems since before hard-disks was more than a few K big! So I partitioned Motherbrain at 3gigs and figured that'd be fine.

Not so, as became apparent. And so after cleaning Motherbrain several times a day, and uninstalling every unneccessary component, and even moving some necessary components to other drives, I caved. Unicron and I sat down and had a nice long chat, and after getting everything sorted, I formatted and re-partitioned (or rather, re-partitioned and formatted) Motherbrain and Hindbrain. (It's worth note that neither Ridley nor Kraid were touched in this, so most of my data didn't know anything was up.)

Then the trouble began. First because I'd forgotten to move my video-card drivers onto Ridley before the wipe. So I had to go online -- but wait, no internet access. I'd forgotten to move my wireless drivers, too. This is a little matter; I fired up Azrogs (my laptop) and had him download the drivers from the website onto Grasshopper (my flashdrive), and everything was peachy. Except when I found that the drives I'd downloaded were corrupted (and remained corrupted regardless of how many times I re-downloaded them) and that my card was old enough that it's no longer supported, meaning those corrupted drivers aren't going to be fixed any time soon. So, I headed out to BestBuy for a new wireless card.

Now, the plan was that I'd get a new wireless card because I needed one. I would then get a nice new video card and a massive new hard disk because I wanted them; if I was going out, I was coming back with some new toys. Unfortunately, BestBuy sings at a price roughly 3x what I could get online (shipping included), so that didn't happen. Disappointed, I stopped by Subway. It didn't help much, but it was tasty. I should have held out for Quiznos.

I did stop by Circuit City, though, and get a male-to-male stereo cable. the reason I did this was several-fold: (1) Unicron's DVD drive is on the fritz. Sort of. It'll read CDs and DVD-ROMs and the like, but it simply will not play DVDs. Part of me wants to say it's a software issue, but a clean uninstall-and-reinstall didn't fix it, so who knows. (2) Azrogs plays DVDs fine, except that his monitor and speaks leave a little something to be desired: namely quality. I didn't get him to be pretty, I got him to be portable. (3) My monitor, who I now feel I must name, is able to take multiple inputs. If you actually read this far, especially if you go on to finish the piece, comment to let me know. Unicron is using her Digital Video, which leaves two bits for regular video inputs -- one of which Azrogs can use since I have an extra cable laying around. So that fixes Azrogs' display issues. (4) With this connector, I can plug Azrogs' sound directly into Unicron's board, and since she has Surround Sound...

Now all I need to do is get one of those hookups so that my mouse and keyboard can interact with both Unicron and Azrogs... I'm thinking that it's not really Unicron who will become So Much More; it's looking like So Much More may become something of an amalgamation of both Unicron and Azrogs (with maybe Grasshopper and Nightingale, my mp3-player, thrown in for good measure).
jackofallgeeks: (Geeky)
So, a friend of mine recently got a message from LiveJournal telling her that her password was weak and that she should change it. Like so many users, she's was confused, because surely there was no way that anyone could guess her password. Someone else commented that they got the same, and their password was really hard to guess, too.

The thing is, yes, 'wubbliewoo' may be very hard for a human to guess, but we're not concerned with people sitting at the login screen trying to guess your password themselves. The problem is that a computer program may be trying to crack your password, in which case 'wubbliewoo' is trivial.

Special attacks aside, a computer program can do a Brute Force attack, where it tries all possible combinations of characters based on the alphabet in use and the length of the password. It tries 'a' then 'b' then 'c' moving onto 'aa' and 'ab' and 'ac' into 'ba', 'bb', 'bc' until it's trying 'hyttj' and 'hyttk' and so on. It tries everything, and when it finds a match, it has your password.

Brute Force will find your password, guaranteed. But it's a relatively slow process, if you make your password sufficiently difficult to guess 'for a computer.' This means a long password made of characters from a large alphabet. If you have only lower case letters in your password, you have an alphabet of 26 characters. If your password is then 4 characters long, there are 26^4 possible strings it could be, from 'aaaa' through 'zzzz'. That's nearly 500,000 strings, but we're talking about a machine that can make hundreds of thousands of guesses in a second. if you add a capitol letter to your password (even one capitol is enough to make the program have to try harder) then your alphabet is 52 characters, and 52^4 is a lot bigger than 26^4. Generally speaking, a strong password is considered to be at least 8 characters in length, using three of the four types of characters (upper case, lower case, numbers, and symbols). This puts you in the range of 92^8 or so, which will take a computer 6 to 12 months to break -- and presumably you'll have changed it by then. These policies about password make-up and duration aren't made to make your life difficult -- I've personally used a program that could crack a 52^8 password in under 5 hours, max.

The math in all of this is fascinating, but I'm saving you all from most of it.

"But how will I remember it?" My friend asks. Well, if you have a weak password, it's not hard to do minor changes (as far as a human's concerned) that will make it significantly harder for a computer to guess. The password 'foobar' is not the same as 'Foob@r', and just those two changes bump it from a 26^6 password to a 92^6 password. Additionally, though they say "don't write your password down," as long as you aren't concerned about someone in your immediate vicinity cracking your account, and you take precautions to keep it mostly-hidden from visitors, there's no reason not to. it's a bad idea for a manager to write down his password at work and leave it on his desk, but an LJ password at home is a significantly different situation.

DO NOT post your password online, anywhere. Seriously. if something's online, it can be found, period. The internet is so complex, and the 'rules' can be gotten around so simply by someone who knows what they're doing, that it's just a supremely bad idea. I'd advise stenciling your password to the side of you monitor before posting it online; much, much safer.

Caveat: OK, I really don't like making people paranoid, so I thought I'd add this in here. Yes, the internet is a dangerous place. if it's on here, it can be found. And yeah, if someone wants to crack your password badly enough, they will. But that brings us to the biggest protection anyone has on the internet: you're simply not important enough. And I don't mean that personally; in general, none of us are that important. If someone got my Bank info, he might be able to get, I don't know, a couple hundred dollars. If they hijacked my LJ, they could probably make me look pretty bad socially. But with the effort needed for either, the pay off just isn't that big. Now, someone like TheFerret, who's so well known her gets a mention in blog entries totally unrelated to him by people who don't even read his stuff -- he might want to be particularly careful about his security. The point is, you aren't important enough to put a lot of effort into, but if you have a weak password, it's not a lot of effort. No one's going to run a program for three months to hijack your account (unless you're the aforementioned TheFerret, maybe), but if they just have to run it for 5.2 seconds, it's trivial. The point is to make the payoff not worth the effort.
jackofallgeeks: (Contemplative)
My world radiates to me through a computer monitor. It is a land governed by mathmatical equations, which can all be simplified into black and white - yes and no - open and closed. Or, as I like to think of them, 1s and 0s. In a vague sense, those 1s and 0s can be organized into a seies of binary numbers, powers of two, but if you think about it, a computer can't really understand 258, or 64, or 32 - Hell, it can't even understand 2! Just on and off.
Yes or No. )

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John Noble

August 2012

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