Thursday, February 4, 2016

PC GAMING - Fallout 4

I just realized I posted about the 'Song From Fallout Fan Word' which is Fallout 4 but have not posted in general about Fallout 4.

Here's my take on Fallout 4: OUTSTANDING

I've been playing for over 320 game-days, several new-games since 11/11/2015.  The game takes place in the "Commonwealth" aka Greater Boston area.

Review from IGN:


Most of the way this huge roleplaying-shooter game works is carried over from its excellent predecessors, Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas.  It is the Skyrim to Fallout 3’s Oblivion, if you will – it iterates on the previous game’s already amazing systems, and it’s similarly dense with locations to explore, genuinely creepy monsters to fight, and superbly engrossing post-nuclear atmosphere that blends unsettling gore and death with dark comedy.  After more than 55 hours played I may have seen an ending, yet I feel like I’ve only begun to explore its extraordinary world; from the look of it, I’ll easily be able to spend another 100 happy hours here and still see new and exciting things.

A story that begins as a basic search for your lost family evolves into something much more complex and morally nuanced.  Like in Fallout: New Vegas, we’re drawn into a struggle between several groups competing for control of the region, and deciding which of their imperfect post-apocalyptic philosophies to align with made me pause to consider how I wanted events to play out.  Even the highly questionable Institute has a tempting reason to side with them, and turning away from them in my playthrough wasn’t as clear-cut a choice as I’d expected.  I was impressed by the sympathy shown toward the villains, too - even the most irredeemable murderer is explored and given a trace of humanity.

There was a BIG problem.  The initial version downloaded from Steam has a restrictive screen resolution, would not display in my native 1280x1024.  Note I said "was."  Found fixes for this problem via Google, see below.

Also, there's no "Data" option in the Launch Dialog, so you cannot easily add MODS, but this is a minor problem for me.

The biggest feature of Fallout 4 that I really like is crafting.  With the proper Perks, you can craft/upgrade any weapon or armor you have, as long as you have the proper Crafting Items.  There's even an Crafting Item List online.

Fallout 4 is a big improvement of the Fallout series.

How to correct display resolution:

1)   Find C:\Users\[name]\Documents\My Games\Fallout4\ Fallout4Prefs.ini and edit the following entries to read...

  • bTopMostWindow=0
  • bMaximizeWindow=0
  • bBorderless=1
  • bFull Screen=1
  • iSize H=1024
  • iSize W=1280

2)   Get “Fallout 4 1280x1024 HUD Fixes” MOD and copy contents to your game folder, example C:\Steam\SteamApps\common\Fallout 4\Data\  (note that this MOD has no .esp file, it modifies scripts)  From MOD readme.....

   1.   Copy Data folder contents into your Fallout 4 Data directory

   2.   Edit \My Documents\My games\Fallout 4\Fallout4.ini

   - Find sResourceDataDirsFinal=STRINGS\,
   - Change it to:  sResourceDataDirsFinal=STRINGS\, INTERFACE\

   - ADD under [Interface] section

  • fLockPositionY=100.0000
  • fUIPowerArmorGeometry_TranslateZ=-18.5000
  • fUIPowerArmorGeometry_TranslateY=460.0000

How to skip intro when loading game.

First go to C:\Users\[name]\Documents\My Games\Fallout4\ and open up Fallout4.ini and under [General] ADD:

  • SIntroSequence=1
  • fChancesToPlayAlternateIntro=0
  • uMainMenuDelayBeforeAllowSkip=1

Now you should have no more pesky long intro video, key [Space] to get the game Load Menu.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

"Google artificial intelligence beats champion at world’s most complicated board game" by Nsikan Akpan, PBS NewsHour 1/27/2016


An artificial intelligence program developed by researchers at Google can beat a human at the board game GO, which some consider to be the most complicated board game in existence.  And this AI program — dubbed AlphaGo — didn’t defeat any ol’ human, but the European Go champion Fan Hui in a tournament last October by five games to nilThe findings, published today in the journal Nature, represent a major coup for machine learning algorithms.

“In a nutshell, by publishing this work as peer-reviewed research, we at Nature want to stimulate the debate about transparency in artificial intelligence,” senior editor Tanguy Chouard said at a press briefing yesterday.  “And this paper seems like the best occasion for this, as it goes- should I say, right at the heart of the mystery of what intelligence is.”

Known as wéiqí in Chinese and baduk in Korean, GO originated in China over 2,500 years ago.  The board consist of a 19 by 19 grid of intersecting lines.  Two players take turns placing black and white marbles on individual intersection points.  Once place, the stones can’t be moved, but they can be captured by completely surrounding an opponent’s marble.  The ultimate objective is control more than 50 percent of the board, but since the board is so intricate, there are numerous possibilities for moves.

“So Go is probably the most complex game ever devised by man.  It has 10^170 (that's 10 followed by 170 zeros) possible board configurations, which is more than the numbers of atoms in the universe,” said study author and AlphaGo co-developer Demis Hassabis of Google DeepMind.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

SPAM - More Than Ever

Ever since the expansion, and loosening of controls, of domain-names (especially in Europe) I've notice an vast proliferation of SPAM.

Example domains:
What I noticed (as shown in example above) is these sites only change the characters between "@" and 'dot-whatever' sometimes changing only one character.

REF:  The Spmhaus Project

ALSO:  Google's Fighting Spam

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Saturday, January 16, 2016

PC GAMING - Tomb Raider 2013

Now that my PC Desktop rig is powerful enough I installed "Tomb Raider 2013" (Steam) and WOW what a game.

This is the first time I've seen a console game that was very well ported to PC.  With really usable PC controls.

The graphics are outstanding, the story line very consistent, and the 'puzzles' neat.

"Tomb Raider" is addictive.  Hail Lara Croft, ultimate survivor.

Down side, check-point saves and saves at campfires.

Monday, January 4, 2016

CYBER WARS - The New Law

"Will a new cybersecurity law make us safer?" PBS NewsHour 12/29/2015


SUMMARY:  Folded into the massive spending and tax cut bill was a significant and controversial new law on cybersecurity.  The act encourages private companies to share data about hacks with the government, but it's raising questions among security advocates and privacy groups alike.  Jeffrey Brown talks to James Lewis of the Center for Strategic and International Studies and Elissa Shevinsky of JeKuDo.

GWEN IFILL (NewsHour):  Before the president and Congress left town for the holidays, they managed to enact a massive 2,000-page package of spending and tax cuts.  Typically, these laws draw attention only for the chaos they create, like shutting down the government.

But there’s a lot more deep inside, in this case, a significant and controversial new law governing cyber-security and Internet data.  The new law encourages private companies to share data about cyber-hacks with the government.  It protects companies from liability, and it also allows data to shared with other companies and with the Department of Homeland Security.

Lawmakers from both parties said it was a good deal.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN, D-Calif.:  If someone sees a particular virus or harmful cyber-signature, they should tell others, so they can protect themselves.  That’s what this bill does.

REP. DEVIN NUNES, R-Calif.:  We believe that sharing is an area where you really can’t do any harm.  It doesn’t hurt anybody to have a way to talk.  But, right now, they can’t even talk.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS, R-Maine:  Does it make sense that we require one case of measles to be reported to a federal government agency, but not a cyber-attack?

GWEN IFILL:  But there are some security advocates and privacy groups who say the law manages to go too far and not quite far enough.

Jeffrey Brown has that debate.

JEFFREY BROWN (NewsHour):  To understand more, we’re joined by James Lewis, senior fellow for the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and Elissa Shevinsky, founder of JeKuDo, a tech start-up designed to provide private communications to customers.

Monday, December 28, 2015

PC GAMING - Far Cry 4

As my followers may know I am a big-time PC game player.  My latest game is Far Cry 4.

I also have Far Cry 2 & 3 and Far Cry 4 is the hardest because of one mission; "Death from Above" (needed to open Act Two) given by CIA agent Willis.

That is because you have to use a "Wingsuit" like those you see in many dare-devil videos.  The ones with 'wings' between your sides and arms, and between your legs, so you can glide down.  What makes this quest so hard is (near quest end) you have to glide through canyons and thread-the-needle at the end of a very narrow canyon.

I would likely be easier on a game console.

In the video below this canyon-glide starts at the 3:14 mark.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

My New iPhone 6 iOS9 (Updated)

(Right-hand Pic edited to my arrangement)

My old Android (Google) was dying, so I just got an Apple iPhone 6 iOS9.

I found out that if you are running iOS9, Android has a Move from Android to iPhone app.

This made getting all my data (contacts, pictures, etc.) transferred to my iPhone easy.

It is a very nice smartphone, but it took me about 20hrs tinkering to get it the way I wanted it.  Then there's the cost (don't ask) even though I use Consumer Cellular which provides low cost phones, no-contract account, and you customize you plan.  Also give AARP discounts, which is great for us 70-somethings.

The madding thing is Apple insisting in forcing you to use iTunes to upload/sync anything.  I had a very @#!@@#! time figuring out how to get my ringtones on the iPhone.  In fact, it's iTunes that loads the driver so you can see you iPhone on your PC.

Finally found a YouTube video on how to do that, but if you watch it you'll see it is complicated.  But its better than trying any sync/download app to work as advertised.

UPDATE:  There are some mistakes in the above video, the author seems to be using an older version of iTunes.  Also there is a ringtone download site that you can use to get ringtones in the correct .m4r format.  ZEDGE Ringtones (screenshots below)

Home Page for my iPhone

Example Download page
I suggest you download to your computer so you can drag-drop to iTunes, therefore be available for new phones.  On my Win7 Pro 64bit rig, downloads go to the Downloads folder, do drag/drop to iTunes is easy.  Since the downloaded files are ringtone-ready, no need to go through the complicated steps of creating .m4r files.

CORRECTIONS:  Here are screen shots for newer versions of iTunes you need.

There were several sites that helped, here's two:

So far, I do like iPhone 6 iOS9..... so far.

Monday, September 28, 2015


"Inside the British government’s sweeping cyber surveillance program" PBS NewsHour 9/26/2015


SUMMARY:  For years, the British government has reportedly tracked and stored billions of records of Internet use by British citizens and those outside the UK in an effort to track every visible user on the Internet.  Ryan Gallagher of "The Intercept" joins Hari Sreenivasan via Skype from Brighton, England, with more on UK cyber surveillance.

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  For years, the British government has reportedly tracked and stored billions of records of Internet use by British citizens and people outside the U.K., in an effort to track every visible user on the internet.  That finding comes from “The Intercept” Web site, which is publishing findings from National Security Agency contractor (traitor) Edward Snowden’s leak on government surveillance practices.

“Intercept” reporter Ryan Gallagher wrote the story and joins me now via Skype from Brighton, England.

First of all, explain the scale of surveillance that was happening from the British equivalent of the NSA, the GCHQ.

RYAN GALLAGHER, THE INTERCEPT:  Well, the skill is quite phenomenal.  I mean, it’s hard to translate it when you just see the numbers.  But you’re talking about 50 (ph) to 100 billion metadata records of phone calls and e-mails every single day.  So vast, vast quantities of information they’re sweeping up.  And they were talking by 2030 having in place the world’s largest surveillance system, so, a system that surpasses even what the NSA and U.S. has built itself.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  OK, when somebody hears that there’s millions and billions and possibly trillions of pieces of data, they’re going to say, you know, what, how do you actually identify this is specifically me that’s doing this, or going to the site, or saying this thing in a chat room?

RYAN GALLAGHER:  Uh-huh. Well, I mean, we have — we don’t actually — one of the interesting parts of the story is that we had a bunch of specific cases where, for example, we had monitored something like 200,000 people from something like 185 different countries, so almost every country in the world, they have listened to radio source (ph) through their computer.  In one case, they decided to pick out just one of these people.  It seems like at random, and what web site he had been viewing.

So, it’s kind of an all-seeing system.  When you’re gathering that amount of information, it’s going to be something that does have an impact and effect in all of us really.

SPYWARE - Lenovo Machines

"Lenovo in the News Again for Installing Spyware on Its Machines" by Manish Singh, Computer Help Forums 9/24/2015

Despite launching a number of interesting products this year, Lenovo has perhaps got more press time for the things it has done wrong.  The Chinese technology conglomerate is back in news, this time for allegedly installing a program on at least some of its refurbished notebook lineup that is programmed to send users' feedback data to Lenovo.  Upon further inspection, the program seems to have an association with a third-party marketing and Web analytics firm.

As per many users' report, the company ships its factory refurbished laptops with a program called "Lenovo Customer Feedback Program 64" that is scheduled to run every day.  According to its description, Lenovo Customer Feedback Program 64 "uploads Customer Feedback Program data to Lenovo."

Upon further digging, Michael Horowitz of Computerworld found these files in the folder of the aforementioned program: "Lenovo.TVT.CustomerFeedback.Agent.exe.config, Lenovo.TVT.CustomerFeedback.InnovApps.dll, and Lenovo.TVT.CustomerFeedback.OmnitureSiteCatalyst.dll."
As he further pointed out, Omniture, as mentioned in the suffix of one of the files, is an online marketing and Web analytics firm, which suggests that the laptops are tracking and monitoring users' activities.

On its support website, the largest PC vendor noted that it may include software components that communicate with servers on the Internet.  These applications could be on any and every ThinkCentre, ThinkStation, and ThinkPad lineups.  One of the applications listed on the website is Lenovo.TVT.CustomerFeedback.Agent.exe.config.

This isn't the first time Lenovo has been caught shipping what appears to be a spyware on its machines.  Earlier this year, Lenovo was found bundling a spyware called "Superfish" on its machines.  In August, the company was caught covertly downloading and installing software on its Windows PCs.  The program modified the BIOS to force the computer to download its programs upon each login.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

MICROSOFT - Privacy Invasion Port to Windows 7 and 8

"Microsoft backports privacy-invading Windows 10 features to Windows 7, 8" by Joel Hruska, Extreme Tech 9/31/2015


Every time Microsoft releases a new version of an operating system, there’s always a few users bitterly unhappy at the company’s decision not to support new features on older products.  Microsoft has finally listened to these die-hard devotees of older operating systems.  If you felt like Windows 7 and Windows 8 offered you a little too much privacy, rejoice: Microsoft is updating those operating systems with the same telemetry gathering software it deployed on Windows 10.

What?  You wanted DirectX 12? has discovered four KB updates for Windows 7 and 8, each of which is described as an “Update for customer experience and diagnostic telemetry.”  Each is detailed below:

KB 3068708:  This update introduces the Diagnostics and Telemetry tracking service to existing devices.  By applying this service, you can add benefits from the latest version of Windows to systems that have not yet upgraded.  The update also supports applications that are subscribed to Visual Studio Application Insights.

KB 3068708 is listed as collecting diagnostics about functional issues on systems that take part in the Customer Experience Improvement Program.  Determining whether or not you are a member of the CEIP, however, is less than obvious.  The KB also notes that “Most programs make CEIP options available on the Help menu, although for some products, you might have to check settings, options, or preferences menus.”  This is a recommended Windows update.

KB 3022345:  This update has been superseded by KB 3068708, but previously provided the same telemetry-tracking services.  It’s not clear how the two updates differ, but if you want to remove all traces of telemetry tracking, you’ll want to remove this update as well.

KB 3075249:  This update adds telemetry points to the User Account Control (UAC) feature to collect information on elevations that come from low integrity levels.  What this appears to mean is that MS wants more information about the kinds of applications that trigger UAC in the first place, presumably because it wants to know what they do and why they need that access.  This update is classified as Optional.

KB 3080149:  This update is described in identical language to the first two.  “This package updates the Diagnostics and Telemetry tracking service to existing devices.  This service provides benefits from the latest version of Windows to systems that have not yet upgraded.  The update also supports applications that are subscribed to Visual Studio Application Insights.”  It is provided as an Optional update, even though the first was classified a “Recommended” update.

Hard-coded phoning home

One of the assumptions made by various privacy advocates and journalists, including me, is that third-party utilities would be able to shut down the tracking Microsoft deployed in Windows 10.  To some degree, that’s already happened, but there are certain new “features” of Windows 10 that can’t be blocked by any OS-level tweaks, including the hosts file.  The updates listed above connect to and  These addresses are hard-coded to bypass the hosts file and cannot be prevented from connecting.  It’s been reported that software firewalls aren’t sufficient to block them, though this is unclear.

IMPORTANT:  You should uninstall updates in reverse order starting with KB3080149 and Restart after each uninstall run.  Uninstall KB3068708 LAST (it is the key update, the others are updates to this one).

The upshot for Windows 7 & 8 users who want MORE privacy, uninstall the listed 'updates' and hide them when they come up again.

There is more in the full article.

Monday, September 7, 2015

MICROSOFT - More Bullying, Browsers

"Microsoft steering Windows 10 users away from non-Microsoft browsers" by Cindy E, Computer Help Forums 9/6/2015

Microsoft is aggressively pushing its new web browser, Edge, to Windows 10 users when they attempt to search for other browsers - like Firefox or Chrome - using Microsoft's own browser.

The tactic was first spotted by VentureBeatand also picked up by MarketingLand, which ran several searches in Bing on Windows 10 to show the various ways that Microsoft is pushing Edge.

Right now, when Windows 10 users try to search for and download Google Chrome or Firefox from Microsoft's Edge browser, a dark bar appears at the top of the search results page saying that Microsoft recommends they use Edge, with a 'Learn Why' button.  Learn Why simply leads to a marketing page for the Edge browser.  (This experience was only reported in the U.S., by the way; we can't confirm whether this is something that Windows 10 users in other markets are seeing, as well.)

Tech companies promoting their own browsers, or preferred partner browsers, isn't new.  Google, for example, often suggests consumers use Google Chrome as their default browser while they're running Google searches.

But since Microsoft (and others) have been pointing fingers at Google for years for what they believe are anti-competitive practices, the move by Microsoft to push its own browsers when users try to download others is...interesting.

Mozilla CEO Chris Beard had already accused Microsoft of making it too difficult for Windows 10 users to choose Mozilla Firefox as the default browser in the new operating system.

"Microsoft Edge was designed exclusively for Windows 10 with features and functionality that enhance the browsing experience such as Cortana, Web Note and Quick answers," a Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement to The Verge.  "These notifications were created to provide people with quick, easy information that can help them get to know these experiences better.  That said, with Windows 10 you can easily choose the default browser and search engine of your choice."

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

WINDOWS 10 - Food For Thought, Ubuntu (Linux)

NOTE:  Ubuntu is free for non-commercial users.  Also, I have a Ubuntu laptop.

"Windows 10:  is it finally time to migrate to Ubuntu?" by Maria Bonnefon, Ubuntu Desktop 8/27/2015

Public and private enterprises across the world have been using Microsoft Windows for years, but it calls into question whether this is in fact the best choice or simply force of habit?

With recent security and performance issues coming to the fore, an increasing number of companies are exploring the benefits of using alternative Operating Systems, and harvesting the benefits of ultra secure, robust, high performance options.  Plus, the cherry on the top is that royalty, maintenance and training costs for users can be reduced by as much as 70 percent!

Ten years ago, such alternatives were only something companies could dream of.   They were locked into proprietary models that financially squeezed them, yet still failed to provide all the services required.  This is slightly reminiscent of Henry Ford’s choice of color for ‘Model T’ …. ‘you can have a car painted any color so long as it is black.’

Increasingly, CTOs are questioning whether they actually need to remain in this locked-in situation.  Frequently asked questions include: can I deploy an alternate OS in our computer park without compromising on productivity whilst reducing costs?  Will the performance of the OS deliver on its promise?  Will I be able to drive down royalty costs without having to make hefty financial investments on technical support and training?  The answer is yes.  Ubuntu can offer this and more.

So, now that Windows 10 has been announced, customers should ask themselves is this the right time to transition?  The ‘comfortable’ next move would be to simply upgrade; however, the heavy resource constraints on devices and meatier royalty fees have turned off even the most fervent Windows followers.  Top media across the globe are analyzing ways to snub Windows 10 (see Le Monde August 4, 2015 article ‘5 operating systems to snub Windows 10’) and, in my opinion, for mainstream users who care about their privacy, this is probably the best possible time to take a closer look at other choices.

Ubuntu continues to grow in popularity, not only with mainstream consumers, but also with Fortune 500 companies.  Moreover, government and top notch education entities across the globe have realized they can save millions of dollars, and invest funds more prudently for social programmes.

Microsoft is offering a free download of Windows 10 for a limited time.  This is great for many users, but it’s only available to those running Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and selected Windows Phone 8.1.  For everyone else, it’ll be available for $199USD for Windows 10 Home* or $199USD Windows 10 Pro*.

This is great if you are in the category of people that are able to spend this kind of cash.  However, that money might be better put towards more altruistic or even epicurean objectives, whilst still allowing you to benefit from a tremendous OS.  Food for thought?

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

WINDOWS 10 - Violates Privacy

"Windows 10 violates your privacy by default, here's how you can protect yourself" by Conner Forrest, TechRepublic 8/4/2015


Upon installation, Windows 10 defaults to some pretty serious privacy invasions.  Here are some steps you can take to keep your personal data private.

Since the July 29 release of Windows 10, the tech world has been talking about the latest OS update from Microsoft.  A mere 24 hours after its release, more than 14 million users had downloaded Windows 10.

The quick ramp up was due, in part, to Microsoft releasing the update as a free download for existing Windows users.  Windows 10 also came with a new service model as Windows will be releasing service packs every few months to users.

The model itself got some backlash, especially from organizations that don't want to upgrade their system that frequently.  More recently, though, some criticism has arisen over privacy concerns brought on by the new OS.

The first issue is that Windows 10 automatically assigns an advertising ID to each user on a device tied to the email address that's on file.  Using that ID, the company can tailor ads for web-browsing and using certain applications.

The next concern is that much of users' personal data is synced with Microsoft's servers.  Some of this information, like your WiFi password, can then be encrypted and shared with your contacts, using a feature called WiFi sense.  Although, some have argued that this isn't a security risk, because the user must choose to share the network.

Additionally, Microsoft's personal assistant, Cortana, must collect data as well to provide the kind of service it does, but it is likely not better or worse than its Apple and Google contemporaries.

One of the biggest worries, though, is Microsoft's policy on disclosing or sharing your personal information.  The following is an excerpt from the privacy policy:

"We will access, disclose and preserve personal data, including your content (such as the content of your emails, other private communications or files in private folders), when we have a good faith belief that doing so is necessary to protect our customers or enforce the terms governing the use of the services."

The problem is that many users want personalized services, but it's difficult to draw the line at what data should be collected.  Forrester's Tyler Shields said that instead of making these features default, Microsoft could have allowed users to opt-in later if they wanted to enable them.

"This is more of a privacy-friendly stance that may have been palatable to the general public," Shields said.  "However, Microsoft would have had less adoption to its value added services had it made them opt-in, thus lessening the potential success of the Windows 10 launch."

So, how do you protect yourself from these issues?  Here are some steps you can take to opt-on or disable some of the problematic features.

The first thing to note is that, if you haven't yet installed Windows 10 but you plan on doing so, make sure you that you do a custom install so you'll be able to pick and choose what is enabled at the onset.  But, if you installed Windows 10 using Express settings, you can still disable some of the default privacy settings.

From the start button, click "Settings" and then click "Privacy" and click the "General" tab on the left sidebar.  Under that tab you'll see a few sliders where you can toggle certain features on or off.

The top toggle button is the most important as it disables the advertising ID for each user.  But, if you want to cover your bases, you should go ahead disable the rest of the options as well.

NOTE:  Full article has screenshots of settings that need change.

Monday, August 3, 2015

WINDOWS 10 - Not Really Ready for Prim-Time

Like ALL previous releases of Windows the initial release of Windows 10 should be installed with a very big grain-of-salt.

I have been a desktop user of Windows since Windows ME.  Upgraded to WinXP and now use Win7 64bit.

The initial release of distributions of Windows have always been very faulty.  The upshot for those who are thinking of 'upgrading' to Windows 10 is 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it.'

If your present version of Windows works fine, DO NOT upgrade to Windows 10 for at least a year AFTER release.

"Windows 10 Vs Windows 8 Vs Windows 7:  What's The Difference?" by Gordon Kelly, Forbes 8/02/2015

NOTE:  I personally have no intention to 'upgrade' to Windows 10.