I received a call from the folks at “Quantum PC Support”. You might know them better as the Indian PC support scammers. Apparently they “detected” some kind of malware on my PC. I’ve had this call at least ten times and I usually hang up on them or say something smart like I’m using a Mac. But this time I decided to go through the process and see how they go about “rectifying” my PC.
First they get you to go to the Windows Event Viewer. You go to Start, Run, type in eventvwr and then click OK. They get you to click on System on the left hand side. Now click on the ‘Type’ Column header to sort them. Now they get you to scroll down to the bottom so that you can see all the warnings and errors. They ask you if you are aware of what the errors are all about. I said I did not know. In reality these errors and warnings are completely normal and nothing to be worried about. But to a novice PC user they could look suspicious. They told me that these errors were caused by malware and that these were responsible for slowing my computer down. Not to worry because they have a “solution”.
At this point I was put through to another person. They must have needed someone who could seal the deal so to speak. She introduced herself as Catherine Anderson from Quantum PC Support who is based in Auckland. If I needed to contact her again, the contact number was 09 973 5669. I briefly Googled this but the company is not based in Auckland and the number is fake.
Catherine asks me which browser I use. I say I use Firefox. They want me to go to their website www.qpcs123.com . But they must want me to access this with Internet Explorer. So she tells me to go to Start, Run, type in iexplore, then click OK. This is another way to start up Internet Explorer. However, I go to their website using Firefox (the safer browser) and am presented with a box to type in an Invitation Code that she gave me over the phone. This is presumably so Catherine can get her commission. Immediately after I enter the number and hit the Join button this box pops up.
Here you have the option to save it or open it. They want me to open/run it. At this point I cancel out before I get in too deep.
And the conversation went a bit like this:
I have good knowledge with issues to do with computer security and there is no way that I am going to run this software you have got me to download.
Excuse me sir, what is the problem?
You want me to run this software but it has a Trojan in it and it will make computer accessible to hackers.
No sir you are wrong. You need to run this program.
No, I know what I doing. My computer is fine. It has no malware on it. I am not going to do this because it will infect my computer.
Why did you say that you did not know what all of the errors in the Event Viewer was about?
I went through the process so that I could learn more about this unethical business model so that I could blog about it and warn others.
Well if you are so smart why don’t you just Run it. You should know that nothing bad will happen”.
No thanks. So how did you know my PC had malware on it? How did you associate my IP address with my phone number?
They hung up. I had more questions to ask. But what I really want to know is why NZ landline providers are not blocking these calls. After some more Googling it turns out that Elsinore Screen Connect software probably wasn’t Trojan. However it would have allowed somebody to remotely control my PC. And once this was done anything thing could have ended up on it
I just finished my Android application which is Pong variant. It’s been uploaded it onto Google Play (formally the Android App Market). I started this project in February 2012 and have gotten it to a publishable state. It was good to learn something new and see it through to completion. The game is based on the Solo-Pong HTML5 canvas game that I created a while ago. There are a few differences like bonus items and the way it is played with a touch screen. The theme for the game is based around Jamaican dancehall rhythms(riddims) and the accompanying sci-fi sound effects . In Jamaican patios this is also known as bashment. Over time, I had created a few dancehall rhythms and this game provided a good outlet for this music to be heard. Seven of my rhythms are featured in the game and it seems to work out well with many of the familiar bashment sound effects. There are two versions available (free and paid). The free version is supported by ads and the paid version has no ads but costs $NZ 2.00.
I made this Pong game so that I learn some new skills. Particularley with the HTML5 Canvas Element. I also wanted to have a crack at learning some AJAX since I’d never really used it before. The game runs well in browsers that support it. Apparently it should work in Internet Explorer 9 when it comes out.
For a long time, the best score I could get was around 50 but then I managed to get 99 when will be really hard to beat. So have a go. You’ll need to log in so that your scores can be tracked. Click here to play Solo-Pong. Enjoy!!!
I had a big box set of old horror DVDs that hadn’t got round to watching yet. And on the computer, I had a few dark dubstep and dancehall rhythms. So I indiscriminately ripped some audio samples from a handful of the films and surgically spliced smashed them into some beats with a blunt instrument. The result was an unholy abomination of a mix that will take you on a wicked ride through a few horror subgenres. More info is at http://bimbimma.com/ripper/
One of the things that annoyed me when I moved from Freemans Bay to Glenfield in 2006 was that I would not be able to tune into Base FM anymore. This radio station broadcasts on a low powered frequency (107.3) out of Ponsonby. This pretty much meant I was out of luck if I wanted to listen to it at home. I even spent about $100 on a big VHF aerial in the hope that I could pick it up. Unfortunately there must have been another low powered radio station on the same frequency closer to me than Base FM’s transmitter in Ponsonby. So all I could hear on that frequency was some oldies music.
So I was stoked to learn the other day (quite by accident) that Base FM is now available on Freeview. I did a service search on my satellite receiver and it found it pretty much straight away. All in crystal clear digital audio.
For those new to Base FM, It’s basically a station where DJ’s specialise hip hop, drum & bass, reggae, funk and soul. The DJ’s play what they want and they are not under any commercial pressure to play rubbish. They only play music they are truely passionate about. So now that this awsome station is available all over Aotearoa, I think down the line this will have a positive influence on the creative output of New Zealander’s with an intertest in producing quality hip hop, drum & bass, reggae, funk or soul. Aspiring artists can draw from a wider range of influences instead of just what they see on C4 in primetime or by listening to banal commercial hip hop and R&B on radio stations like Mai FM and Flava.
I’ve been seeing a few stunning High Dynamic Range (HDR) images lately on the blogs so I thought I’d have a crack at it myself. But with an added twist, I have combined it with a fake tilt shift technique. Disclaimer: I am not a photographer and my Photoshop skills are pretty average.
This image is made up of three exposures. One underexposed at shutter speed 1/1600. One overexposed at shutter speed 1/400 and the other in the middle at 1/800. I used the auto exposure bracketing feature on my wife’s Canon EOS 5D. The three exposures were then combined into a HDR image and tone mapped using Photomatix. By exaggerating the dynamic range, the detail in the image looks as though it was hand painted. Lastly the image was opened in Photoshop CS3 where a fake tilt shift technique was applied. The aim of the tilt shift was to create the illusion of a miniature model by blurring the immediate foreground, background and horizon but leaving the center of the image not blurred. As you look at the image you can imagine that you are looking at a photograph of a miniature model of
With a little know how it is pretty easy to set up your laptop so that you can get it back again if it’s been stolen. There are a few commercial products available that can do this but it’s more fun to make your own. This only works if your computer is used on the internet once stolen. It will automatically poll a web server which then logs the IP address of your computer. The server then emails the IP to you and you can then use a traceroute command to find out what ISP the thief is using. Once this is known, you can then get in touch with your local enforcers of law. They’ll hopefully be able to work with the ISP to locate the physical address of your laptop. So there are a few things that will need to happen for this to be able to work.
A thief will need to be able to log into the computer. So avoid using login screen or if your computer is set up so that it requires logging into then provide a guest account and provide the user name and password on a post-it note stuck to the laptop. If the crook can’t log in then they will just end up reinstalling the OS and all will be lost.
The crook will need to access the internet. If they can’t get online then you can’t get them. Try to stick to a pretty straight forward network setup that will work with most DSL routers. The more complicated it is, the less likely it is to work. Perhaps you could provide a link on your desktop to your dial-in account. Some ISPs offer a dial-in service, so you could create a shortcut to this as a courtesy to a scumbag thief.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Know-how in php and Java
- A web server on the internet that runs php scripts with mail sending enabled. The (email part is optional). There are several free web hosting services you could use however many of them have the php mail function disabled. Most commercial php web hosts have php mailing enabled.
- Your laptop will need the Java Runtime Environment installed. You may wish to port the Java code to some other language if you prefer.
- RealVNC installed
The iplogger.php script will log and email the IP address of your stolen computer to you. This is to be uploaded to your web server. You will need to modify line 11 with your own email address. Also in the event that your computer is stolen you will need to modify line 5 with the id that you have assigned to your computer. For example:
$stolenuser = “mattslaptop”;
You shouldn’t need to modify the Main.java unless you have installed RealVNC to a different location. This change is made on line 51. If you don’t want to use RealVNC then just delete lines 48 to 53.
Compile the main.java program into a class file and create a shortcut to it. The target of the shortcut will look something like this:
%windir%\system32\javaw.exe “C:\Main.class” http://mydomain.com/iplogger.php?id=mattslaptop
The url of the iplogger script is passed in as an argument and the name of the computer to track is included as part of the url. Change ‘mattslaptop’ to your own computers id.
Note that we use javaw to start the Main.class. This is so that the process runs in the background without a window.
Copy the shortcut into: C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Start Menu\Programs\Startup
That’s it. You can test if it’s working by looking at the following url on your own web host:
The output will be something like :
18.104.22.168 Local Date/Time:27-04-2008_12:39 Server Date/Time:26-Apr-2008 19:34
Once your computer is stolen, remember to change line 5 on the iplogger script so that is matches the id of your computer. This will enable regular email updates of IP addresses.
Once you have the recent log of the IP address, you should also be able to VNC to your computer but only if it is not behind a network firewall. Remember to unblock VNC in your laptops firewall. You should VNC in listen mode only to watch what the bandit is doing on your computer. If you try to remote control it, you will give yourself away. You may see the culprit enter personal info that may help to identify them and this can then be given to police.
Okay, so there are a lot of conditions that need to met in order for this to work. Hopefully the villain is not too smart and doesn’t realize this risks of using a stolen computer on the internet. But I guess it’s safe to assume they probably don’t otherwise they would have a higher paying job and wouldn’t have to jack other peoples shit. Good luck.
Of course, there are more elegant ways of doing this. A cleaner way to do this is by avoiding Java altogether and code to a Windows service in Visual Studio. Also VNC should be run as a service also. This would be much more covert. The solution that I’ve provided here was just hacked together yesterday just as a proof of concept. So there’s plenty of enhancements you could make to this.
The V 48 Hours Furious Filmmaking contest is creeping up on us again. It’s 16-18 of May to be precise. I’ve been involved in this for three years now and I’m always amazed at how much the films improve over the previous years. The part I play in our team (Fractured Radius) is to produce the music. 48 hours is a pretty tight deadline to try to write, shoot and edit a film and to then provide appropriate music for. So while the writing and shooting is going on, I’m on my PC composing music, stings or other sounds that will be added into the film during the editing.
What I like most about the contest is that you never know which genre your team will have to make a film for. Personally I would really like to get Horror or Sci-fi. As I have a the Arturia Minimoog V plug-in that will be ideal for this type of film. If you’ve heard the music on Planet Terror then you’ll know what I’ m on about. The genre that I would like to get the least would probably be musical. Only because I would have loads more responsibility in making the film work. You will never know how it may turn out. It could be a masterpiece.
Anyways if your interested in checking out the films that I’ve been involved in previous years, check out the links below.
Way back in 2005 I started writing a beginners guide to recording a demo using a PC. This was to be my first big foray into the info-publishing business. Basically the book was pretty much finished and resided on the computer until now. I just opened the Doc about an hour ago and made some minor changes. It’s probably still full of typos but the content is pretty good.
I was planning on selling it but the information is nothing new and is easily found elsewhere. So if you looking for a step-by-step guide for recording vocals and instruments into your computer through to mixing, then download Recording a Demo DIY Style. The ebook is licensed under creative commons so you can share it as you wish. I’ll probably convert it to HTML and run some adds on it to make some money that way. So this will probably be done in 2010. In the meantime here’s the pdf.