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Monday, 20 July 2009

Since we are on the subject of ID theft...

Since we are on the subject of ID theft...

Normally when I watch Carte Blanch, I am emotionally detached from the stories they show. It is stuff that happens to other people. However Sunday evening’s Carte Blanch episode struck a cord with me – identity theft. It happened to a friend of mine and it destroyed his business and he nearly faced criminal charges. 

While on holiday this friend of mine received a phone call from the police – he is under investigation for fraud. As you can guess, that phone called ruined his holiday. 

In his spare time he traded on the Bid or Buy website, making a nice income on the side. It takes time and a lot of dedication to build a solid reputation as a good trader online and it all of it was destroyed with one single phone call. 

The police officer informed him that he has received several complaints about him. All of the complaints where basically the same, they bought merchandise from him but then never received it. 

Trying to log on to Bid or Buy he found that his password has been changed and so has the password to his email account. How and when it happened he does not know. All he knows is he has some very angry customers and that Sergeant-Police-Officer-man is looking intensely at all business deals he has done in the past. 

He went through a long and painful process to prove his innocence and his name was finally cleared but his online reputation has been destroyed and all credibility he had on Bid or Buy. In short he was very lucky not to face criminal charges and he has lost his business. 

The moral of the story is identity theft can happen to all of us and we must act to protect ourselves! I will not pretend to be an expert on the subject but I do know that it is important to get the basics right if you want to defend yourself against id theft online.
Make sure that your operating system, anti-virus and anti-spyware is updated with the latest patches and security updates. This will help prevent most (but not all) Trojans / Viruses and Spyware from getting on to your computer.  

Passwords – choose good passwords. In other words, choose a password that is eight characters or longer. Use lower and uppercase letters, numbers and punctuation in your password. This protects against dictionary and brute force attacks against your account. 

There are lots more do’s and don’ts, for more information on how you can protect yourself:

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Audio Visual month - NVidia 3D Vision

In the spirit of Audio Visual month - NVidia 3D Vision

In the spirit of Audio / Visual month I will take a look at a new development in Visual technology:

NVidia recently announced their new 3D technology. I could not personally test because it is not available in S-A yet (you can import it for a lot of $$$ but I do not have a lot of $$$). However people that have tested it say it is – well, um, ok-ish.

All it is, is a pair of 3D glasses that work together with a NVidia graphic card to produce very life like 3D images while you are playing games.

People that have personally experienced games with this new tech say that the 3D is really good. It is a lot better than previous attempts where the 3D were just red and green shadows that looked more 2D that 3D. If you have recently seen the movie Coraline in 3D you would know what I mean. Objects appear to float in front of the screen and sometimes seem to come right at you.
Setting up the whole system is very easy. A wizard guides you through most of the installation and technical stuff. After the installation is done, the user can tweak a few of the settings on their own.
If the 3D is so good and it is so easy to use, why would they just give it a so-so rating? It is the fact that the overall experience is not very good.
First of all, prolonged used could give you headaches. Second it will only work with Windows Vista. The third reason, there is only a very limited amount of games that really work with this technology and than there is the price tag.
You need to buy –
  • the glasses;
  • a graphic card that can support the glasses;
  • a screen that can support the card and the glasses.
  • (and of course a game that will work with all of the above)
It is by far the best attempt yet to bring 3D to computer games and although there are a few snags, it is definitely a technology to keep your eye on.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

A small review - Sims 3

A small review - Sims 3

Sims 3 logo.
Sims 3
The Sims 2 was the best selling game ever with more expansion packs than I have fingers and toes. Sims 3 was released recently and is topping sales charts everywhere. All over the internet you can see there is a lot of hype and excitement about the new Sims 3. I have never played Sims and was curious to see what the fuzz was all about. Boldly I ventured where I never ventured before and got the new Sims 3.

Almost immediately you get an idea why this series is so successful. Starting the game you are filled with a sense of wonder… There are so many things to see and do, you want your Sim to experience it all. Like a good parent you just want what is best for your Sim.

A few hours into the game I realize I am not a very good parent.

While my Sim was sitting and watching television I had some time to take stock. My Sim watch too much tv, hardly ever exercise, the kitchen is stacked with dirty dishes and he is always late for work. Long story short, the little Sim is living my life.

I was stunned to realize that I created my own version of the real world in the virtual world of the Sims. It’s like looking into a mirror.

So if you want a glimpse into your own life, play Sims for a while.


If you have a mad scientist inside you, go check out how much fun you can have experimenting on these poor Sims - Exploring the Mysteries of the Mind with Sims 3.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Win some

Win some

Online Competitions South Africa
Do you like free stuff? Of course you do. is a South African website trying something completely different.

In exchange for you answering a few questions about certain products you get the chance to win some cool prizes. It is a bit time consuming but if you win a large flat screen or a laptop, the 20 minutes spend answering questions is totally worth it.
There are lots of prizes to choose from – a car, a scooter, house hold appliances, holidays, etc. etc.

Personally I used all my entries on the Xbox competition.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

A tale of two New York cities (part 2)

A tale of two New York cities (Part two)

Last week a described the hell that is New York, in ‘A tale of two New York Cities’ when I reviewed Alone in the Dark. At any moment in New York there is a monster waiting to kill you. In Prototype it is the same, living in New York is a death sentence.

Review: Prototype

Prototype is an open world type game like Grand Theft Auto, but unlike Grand Theft Auto you have awesome mutant powers.
Again, you are the victim of some terrible government experiment. You can’t remember what happened but you do know that you want revenge. Good thing the experiment left you with some kick-ass mutant powers.
To get your revenge you must find out what happened to you by completing some missions. Each mission you complete helps you to remember what happened to you.
A very unique feature of Prototype is your ability to absorb other people’s memories. Other people’s memories are essentially small movie clips with some information on what happened. Every memory you add to your own will add extra pieces to the puzzle. Completing a mission will give you new chunks of memory. When you are between missions you can hunt in New York for people with special knowledge (like high ranking army officers and scientists) and absorb their memories. How do you absorb somebody’s memories? By eating the poor bastard alive. Living in New York must really suck.
If you don’t want to complete missions there are lots of other tasks and sub missions to do. Some of these sub missions are really hard and they will keep you busy for a long time.
Every task / sub mission or mission you complete earns you experience points.
I really liked this RPG element they brought into this game. You can spend your experience points on upgrading your character, making him tougher, stronger and giving him extra skills like running up vertical walls or driving.
You can get extra weapons, offensive abilities and defensive abilities. You have a lot of different offensive and a lot of different defensive abilities. Combine them to create different attack / defense combos. The number of combos is only limited by your imagination. Couple that with the fact that you can use guns, tanks and a lot of other assault vehicles you really have lots and lots of options when you want to attack or defend yourself.
Prototype is an exciting new game that combines the open world game play of Grand Theft Auto with the RPG elements of games like World of Warcraft. Running around New York wrecking havoc is fun, you feel like Wolverine, nobody can touch you, and if they try, you throw a bus at them or you throw a tank at them or get in the tank and drive over them…the list of things you can do is endless. It is no wonder that this game is a best seller.

Remember to check out part one of this article –
the Alone in the Dark review