Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Grand Theft Auto can be your reality too

Wow, I just know Jack Thompson would have had a lawyergasm over this: Man thinks he's living inside Grand Theft Auto.

A young man was admitted from prison to a psychiatric facility after reports that he had been acting in a bizarre manner. He had been arrested for stealing motor vehicles and assaults with weapons. At interview he was found to be experiencing the delusion that he was a player inside a computer game (adult-certificate game, widely available) in which points are scored for stealing cars, killing assailants and avoiding police vehicles. Psychotic symptoms had emerged slowly over two years.

Even though Jack Thompson is no longer allowed to practice law, you just know people will scream bloody murder over this and claiming that it proves the link between violent video games and violent behaviour.
Even though the aforementioned young man has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Paris Hilton in jail roundup

Since every damn celebrity website has been posting about this non-stop, and even FOX and CNN have bene broadcasting several hours of this stuff, I'd figure I'd jump on the bandwagon and post about the topic you all seem to love (but mostly hate):

Paris Hilton going to jail.

The following is a timeline of what happened during this whole ordeal. I'll try to be as complete and impartial as possible.

September 7th, 2006: Paris Hilton is arrested by the LAPD for DUI. The breath test showed 0.08 alcohol percentage, which is the minimum DUI level in California.

January 22th, 2007: Paris Hilton is sentenced to a 36 month probation for reckless driving. She loses her driving license and has to attend alcohol education, and pay fines totaling $1,450.

March, 2007: Paris Hilton's driving license is reinstated after a five-month ban. NOTE: this news is doubtful.

February 28th, 2007: Paris Hilton is arrested for misdemeanor driving with a suspended license, violating her probation. She was driving without her headlights on at night.

May 4th, 2007: Paris is sentenced to 45 days in county jail. She claimed to be unaware if her license was suspended, even though papers stating this were present in her car when she was arrested.

May 8th, 2007: It's probable the sentence will be reduced to 23 days for good behaviour, and possible it will be reduced even further due to cell shortage.

May 9th, 2007: Paris Hilton is spotted driving, four days after being sentenced to 45 days in jail for violating a driving ban.

May 10th, 2007: Two petitions appear, Free Paris Hilton and Jail Paris Hilton. 19,881 people have signed the petion to free Paris Hilton, 40,134 people signed the one to jail her.
At time of writing this (june 10th), the number are 31,966 signatures to free Paris, 89,962 signatures to jail her. None of the signatures on the 'Free Paris Hilton' petition list a name or comment, whereas almost all signatures on the 'Jail Paris Hilton' do.

May 17th, 2007: Paris will serve her time in jail in a 'special needs housing unit' reserved for high-profile inmates. She will be allowed outside one hour daily.

May 22nd, 2007: Paris Hilton is spotted carrying around a Bible.

June 1st, 2007: Three days before her sentence will begin, it becomes known that Paris has ordered a make-up team to meet her next monday to make her look her best when she checks into jail.

June 3rd, 2007: At the MTV movie awards, comedienne Sarah Silverman openly mocks Paris Hilton, saying 'the prison guards will replace the bars with penises to make her feel more comfortable'. Paris wasn't amused.

June 4th, 2007: Paris Hilton checks into L.A. county jail 'Twin Towers' to start sitting out her 45-day sentence. She is quoted as saying 'This is an important point in my life and I need to take responsibility for my actions. [..] Although I am scared, I am ready to begin my jail sentence'.

June 7th, 2007: After 72 hours, Paris Hilton is released from jail due to 'medical reasons'. She has been fitted with an ankle bracelet and will serve the remaining 40 days in house arrest, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff's Dept. spokesperson Steve Whitmore.
Later that day, law enforcement sources state that the 'medical condition' is purely psychological and that Paris Hilton was on a verge of a nervous breakdown. Sheriff Lee Baca gave the final approval for springing Paris out of jail.
It's rumoured that a van with party supplies was sighted at the Hilton mansion just after Paris got home. [source needed]

June 8th, 2007: Judge Michael Sauer orders Paris Hilton back to jail after it became apparent that Sheriff Lee Baca did not even have the authority to release her from jail. The judge even specifically ruled that Paris was not allowed any work release, furloughs, use of an alternative jail or electronic monitoring in lieu of jail.
Paris was initially not present during the ruling, and wanted to attend by phone, but was picked up by the LAPD in handcuffs after this was ordered by judge Michael Sauer.
Paris Hilton was in hysterics after the ruling, shouting 'It's not right!' and literally crying for her mother who was present during the court.
Lastly, a dubious source reported that Paris was initially released from prison because she had a stress-induced herpes outbreak that had 'spread to her anus and had taken on abcess-like features that required more serious medical attention'.

Finally, because it is easily the most awesome thing that came out of this whole ordeal, here is the picture that was snapped after Paris was handcuffed, being excorted back to the courtroom where she heard she had to go back to jail.

And now, I FINALLY hope to hear nothing more from this parisite for the next three weeks. For crying out loud, these last few days she's had more publicity on high-profile news stations than the September 11th attacks did in 2001.


UPDATE: June 10th, 2007: Paris didn't eat or drink in the past three days, afraid of going to the bathroom - a prison guard may take pictures/videos and put them on the internet.

LAST UPDATE: June 26th, 2007: Paris was released from prison and has shown what was most likely her first genuine smile ever:

Smile, Paris.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

StarForce and Trackmania Nations

If you play Trackmania Nations, this may be relevant to you. If not, you probably won't care.

Trackmania Nations ESCW is a free racing game that is part of games of the yearly Electronic Sports World Cup (ESCW). It's lots of fun to play on the online servers, and it's free. If you have ever played Stunts, you will love Trackmania.

Trackmania Nations installs the very controversial StarForce copy protection system. The popular BoingBoing blog has had a lot of articles about this thing, and rightfully so. The above Wikipedia article as well as this BoingBoing article mentions that the Starforce copy protection software degraded IDE transfer speeds to the point where it physically breaks CD/DVD drives.

Why am I telling you all this? Well, because today I wanted to play some Trackmania and there was an update available. Specifically, an update that upgraded Trackmania from version 1.7.8 to 1.7.9. After I installed it, when I wanted to re-benchmark my system to configure the graphics settings, I saw this pop up:

Starforce protection system

Some Googling showed that this was, in fact, the Starforce protection system. While I was aware that older versions of Trackmania Nations had the Starforce protection software bundled but only actually installed it when it was already on your system, this update makes the Starforce drivers MANDATORY. It installs them without asking or informing you, silently. Things like this REALLY tick me off.
A bit of uninstalling/reinstalling showed me that all updates for Trackmania Nations trigger or require the Starforce install. Only the original version (1.7.5) does not come with Starforce, and attempting to play online with this version will get you disconnected from the server with a message telling you to upgrade.


  • Trackmania Nations is a free game
  • Trackmania Nations has copy protection software installed called Starforce
  • Starforce installs itself at ring 0 in the Windows architecture, the same level used by antivirus software, firewalls and several other copy-protection systems.
  • Up to Trackmania Nations 1.7.6, Starforce was bundled with the installer but not actually installed. Unless you already had it on your system.
  • Starting with Trackmania 1.7.9, Starforce is always installed.
  • Starforce is not mentioned in the Trackmania Nations EULA
  • Starforce is not mentioned in the installer
  • Starforce installation is not visible
  • Starforce cannot be uninstalled from the Add/Remove Software applet
  • Starforce can physically break CD/DVD drives
  • The people who work for Starforce are abusive assholes [1] [2]

How do you know if you have Starforce on your system? Easy. Go to Start > Settings > Control Panel > System > Hardware > Device Manager. In the Device Manager, select View > Show hidden devices from the menu. Scroll down to Non-Plug and Play devices and look for the three Starforce items.

Starforce devices

A Starforce uninstaller can be found here:

Why does a free game even have copy-protection software bundled? There are a few other versions of Trackmania that are not free (the original, 'Sunrise', and 'United') so I understand if that needs some kind of copy protection. But the free version? Well, it seems this is to prevent people from cheating at the ESCW tournaments. Which obviously take place in controlled environments where candidates are immediately disqualified for cheating. Huh?
This is all very disappointing. I have had a lot of fun with Trackmania, but I have now uninstalled and deleted it because of this Starforce mess. It was fun while it lasted.

UPDATE: July 2nd - It seems the StarForce drivers were removed from Trackmania: United. This makes me very happy.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Best programming language ever: LOLcode

An exciting new programming language has become available:

It is obvious from the examples that this is the best language ever:


I'd love to use this at work but I'd probably be fired for rolling out of my chair every five minutes, laughing at my own code.

Friday, May 18, 2007

How to be a pirate

Today BoingBoing linked me to an excellent post on a topic that must be of interest to nearly everyone:

The Essential Guide to Piracy.


Sunday, April 01, 2007

Creationists are really, really, really fucking stupid

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you:

The most retarded creationist argument against evolution ever!

Note: this is not an April Fools' joke. It was published March 30, 2007.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Wench, fetch me my cape!

It takes style to ridicule bloggers like Randall Munroe did about a week ago on his XKCD comic.

It takes even more guts to take him up on his ridicule.

Well played, Cory Doctorow.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Converted Blag to GBlag

I just caved and converted my Blogger blog to the new Google format/layout/whatever, and as a result, was forced removed the 'valid xhtml 1.0' banner since the website isn't even REMOTELY valid anymore. Thanks a lot, Google.

After some testing with the W3C Validator and different doctype declarations, I found that the ~800 validation errors are nearly ALL caused by Blogger not escaping its URLs properly (e.g. page.g?arg1=blah&arg2=blah), as well as using Javascript to write HTML tags to each page. Until Google fixes these two problems, it is impossible to get your blog to validate since no doctype declaration allows for unescaped URLs. <:-[

Friday, February 09, 2007

Papa's got a brand new Wiiiii

Oh man, I'm gonna be so popular.

I order a Wii, bitches

Note to other people in NL: Wii's are not yet sold out in Germany! :D

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Short & Sweet

Short post:

One: Jack Thompson may not be a lawyer for very long anymore. Long blog post on GamePolitics. Jack faces five counts of professional misconduct, three of which are related to his ongoing campaign against violent video games. Thompson faces the possibility of disciplinary action up to and including disbarment.

I'm surprised it took so long before court did something about this ass-clown. It was fun laughing at him while it lasted, though.

Two: Best Penny-Arcade comic in a while! Federal Bureau of Taking All Your Shit


Saturday, February 03, 2007

Complete Idiot's Guide to WAMP

So, you got it in your head for some reason that you want to run a webserver on your Windows machine? With PHP, MySQL and all that fancy jazz? Well so did I, so I wrote this little guide after mucking about for two days, following various guides that didn't work, were incomplete, incorrect or outdated.

If you're like me, you have been using one of the preconfigured packages, like EasyPHP or XAMPP. The problem is, after using that for about a year, new versions of PHP, Apache and MySQL popped up left and right. And new versions of those handy packages don't come out overnight. Lucky for you, it's possible to download the components separately, mash it all together and have it come out a working WAMP server!

The following howto is a guide helping you on your way with setting up Apache 2.2, PHP 5 and MySQL 5.0 on a Windows XP machine. Windows 2000 or newer works as well, Windows 98/ME will NOT (stick with Apache 1.3 for those). I tried to make it as detailed as possible without including screenshots of each step in the install process and adding 'click Next on this screen'.

Get the software

First, you'll need to download everything so you can install everything in one big swoop.
  • Apache 2.2 - the actual webserver. Select a mirror, then click the link for Win32 Binary (MSI Installer).
  • PHP 5 - the scripting language that will be the middle man between Apache and the MySQL database. Click the link for PHP 5.2.0 zip package (the installer does not have all extensions).
  • MySQL 5 - the database software. Click on 'MySQL Community Server', then click 'Select a mirror' for Windows (x86) ZIP/Setup.EXE. Skip past the form and click one of the HTTP links for a mirror close to your location.
  • phpMyAdmin - a PHP 'program' that allows you to configure MySQL. You could use the commandline programs that come with MySQL, but this is way easier. Click the link for

IMPORTANT: If you plan on doing ANY kindof IP-based filtering in Apache, or use PHP for any kind of IP-based verification (with $_SERVER['REMOTE_ADDR']), do NOT get Apache v2.2.4!! There is a bug in this Apache version together with PHP 5 that makes it return instead of the correct IP. This bug also affects any kind of IP address filtering with allow/deny in httpd.conf/.htaccess. Get Apache v2.2.3 instead, it works fine and does not have this bug.

Install everything

This is dead easy. Follow my lead.

Base directory: to keep things together, you might want to create a central folder where you're going to put everything. Preferably without spaces in the name. I chose to make C:\WAMP. If you prefer something else, substitute your path wherever it says C:\WAMP in the below steps.

Apache: Open the MSI installer file and click through the screens. Accept all the default settings until you reach the Destination Folder, where you will change it to C:\WAMP\Apache. If all goes well, you should be seeing a little Apache feather with a green icon in the system tray:

The Apache Monitor in the system tray
This is the Apache Service Monitor, which keeps an eye on the Apache process itself. It's handy for controlling Apache, but if you like, you can shut down the monitor without closing Apache itself.
Now go to http://localhost. If you get the message below, you did everything right.

It works!

PHP: Open the PHP install zip and extract everything to C:\WAMP\PHP. Make sure all the subdirectories are created.

PHP directory

MySQL: Open the MySQL install zip and double-click the Setup.exe file inside to start it. Pick the Custom install, then change the install path to C:\WAMP\MySQL. Let it install MySQL, skip the ' Sign-Up' and continue to configuring the MySQL server.
At the screen for 'default character set', select your best option.
At the screen for 'set security options', enter a root password.
Everywhere else, accept the default setting. Click Execute at the end to configure the MySQL server and you're done!

phpMyAdmin: Open the phpMyAdmin install zip and extract everything to C:\WAMP\Apache\htdocs. Make sure all the subdirectories are created. Open the install folder and rename the long-ass phpMyAdmin-2.x.x-english directory to pma.

phpMyAdmin directory

You now have four separate pieces of software installed! Next up: tieing everything together into a neat WAMP package.


If you did everything correctly, Apache is already up and running. Now all we need to do is:
  1. Make Apache understand PHP
  2. Make PHP understand MySQL
  3. Make Apache understand MSQL
  4. Configure phpMyAdmin
Sounds easy? Well it's not really all that easy, but that's what this guide is for.

Step 1:

Find the file C:\WAMP\Apache\conf\httpd.conf and open it in Notepad (or whatever you prefer).

Find the section with all the LoadModule lines, and add this one to the bottom:
LoadModule php5_module "c:/WAMP/php/php5apache2_2.dll" (note: use forward slashes)
This makes Apache load the PHP module.

Next, find the line that starts with DirectoryIndex. Change it so it reads:
DirectoryIndex index.php index.html
This makes Apache understand index.php (default) files.

Now find the section with the AddType lines. Add these two:
AddType application/x-httpd-php .php .phtml .inc .php3
AddType application/x-httpd-php-source .phps

This makes Apache know what to do with the .php filetype.

Save the file and close it.
Next, go back to your C:\WAMP\PHP directory and do this:
  • Copy the php5ts.dll file to C:\WAMP\Apache\bin.
  • Copy the php.ini-recommended file to C:\WAMP\Apache.
  • Rename the file to php.ini.

The copied PHP.ini file

Open the php.ini file in Notepad, and change this line:
short_open_tag = Off
short_open_tag = On
This allows for writing php using the short <? .. ?> tags.

While you're at it, change this line:
;session.save_path = "/tmp"
session.save_path = "c:\windows\temp" (or wherever your temp folder is)
This lets PHP know where to store sessions.

Double-click the Apache icon in the system tray and click Restart to make Apache read the new configuration. Apache is now configured to understand PHP!

To test this, create C:\WAMP\Apache\htdocs\index.php. Then open it in Notepad and type <?phpinfo()?>. Save the file and close it.
Go back to http://localhost and refresh. If you see a boatload of PHP information, you did it!

phpinfo() demo

Step 2:

Now the next part is adding MySQL support to PHP.

Find the file C:\WAMP\Apache\php.ini and open it. Find the line:
extension_dir = "./"
and change it to:
extension_dir = "C:\WAMP\PHP\ext"
This lets Apache know where to find the MySQL extension for PHP.

Find the line:
and change it to:
This loads the multi-byte string extension so phpMyAdmin can handle strings correctly.

Find the line:
and change it to:

This lets Apache load the two MySQL extensions from the PHP extension directory.

Save the file and close it. PHP is now configured to use MySQL!

Step 3:

All you need to do now is make Apache load MySQL. Easy enough!
Find the file:
Copy it to:
This makes Apache load the MySQL library.

Go back to the Apache Service monitor again (double-click the icon in the system tray) and restart Apache once more to load all the new settings and libraries.

Step 4:

Now go to http://localhost/pma to load phpMyAdmin.
Since you haven't configured it yet, it can't access the MySQL database.

phpMyAdmin error screen

To do this:
  • Go to the C:\WAMP\Apache\htdocs\pma directory.
  • Rename the file to
  • Open the file in Notepad and find this line:
    $cfg['Servers'][$i]['auth_type'] = 'cookie';
  • Change it to:
    $cfg['Servers'][$i]['auth_type'] = 'config';
  • Below it, add this line:
    $cfg['Servers'][$i]['user'] = 'root';
  • Below that, add this line:
    $cfg['Servers'][$i]['password'] = 'your MySQL root password';
  • Find the line with controluser and delete the part pmauser between the quotes.
  • Find the line with controlpass and delete the part pmapass between the quotes.
  • Save the file and close it.
If you reload http://localhost/pma now, it should give you the main screen for phpMyAdmin.

phpMyAdmin main screen

You're done! Everything is setup now. Your WAMP server is finished!


  • If you can't get to http://localhost, Apache isn't running. Go to Start > Run > services.msc, find Apache2 in the list and start it. If it's not in the list, reinstall Apache.
  • If Apache doesn't start, there is an error in the httpd.conf configuration file.
  • If no one can get to your webserver, make sure your firewall and/or router allows it.
  • Make sure you did everything correctly!

Monday, January 29, 2007

This is a Belgian virus. Please forward it to everyone and then delete all your files.

Today I received my first spam message to my private university email account. I haven't read spam messages in a long time, but this one caught my eye for two reasons. The full body of the spam was:

Good day,

Viazzgra $1, 80
Ciazzlis $3, 00
Levizztra $3, 35

http://www.printeryml.*com ( Important ! Remove "*" )

Dobby stood for a moment, quivering all over, horror-struck by his own daring then he rushed over to the nearest table and began banging his head on it very hard, squealing, Bad Dobby! Bad Dobby!

First off, that URL is not even remotely valid. It includes an asterisk, and the message instructs the user to remove the asterisk before going to the address. That's INSANELY STUPID. A while back there was an email virus that evaded email scanners that blocked suspicious .zip files by sending .rar files with the payload. In a password-protected .rar file. So the spam message instructs the spammee with detailed instructions to save the file to disk, open it in WinRAR (which is not as commonly used as WinZip), extract the file, enter the password, find the extracted file, and then open it to launch the virus. Erm, I mean, porn movie. Whatever. Understandably, the virus was not very widespread.

Secondly, does anyone recognize the text at the bottom, cleverly intended to fool spamfilters into thinking it's not spam since it has full sentences?


It's from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

I gotta say, spam is getting more Belgian every day.