Computers, security, politics, freedom… and whatever else

BorderSpace – Indie Dev Grant Nomination

Hello there!

Been a while since I’ve felt like blogging, life has kept me generally busy. However, I’m very pleased to announce that BorderSpace has been nominated for a Bundle in a Box Indie Dev Grant. Our nomination can be viewed here.

Voting is simple. You must purchase the current bundle from Bundle in a Box (the minimum purchase price is just $0.99). Once purchased you can vote for BorderSpace on your user page! We appreciate any votes we can get! At the time of this writing BorderSpace is tied for fifth place.

Additionally, feel free to check out our latest development update video from October.

Diablo 3 – Initial Impressions

Nine days ago Blizzard released Diablo 3. I was planning on writing a full review for this game, however, instead I will just say this: it is awesome. Visually striking, fun, addictive and plenty of replay value. I cannot ask for much more than this when I pick up a game.

I should clarify, however, that I would not have bought this game if it had not been free through the World of Warcraft Annual Pass program. I had never played a Diablo game before, so the hype of this long-awaited sequel did not really make me want it. Additionally, the always-online DRM (Digital Rights Management) really turns me off any game. However, I had intended to remain subscribed to World of Warcraft for the year anyway, so getting Diablo 3 for free this way was appealing.

If you have strong feelings about always-online DRM, I would recommend you do not buy this game. The only way to get it across to a company that consumers do not want draconian DRM schemes in their game is to deny them your money. You may call me a hypocrite for saying this, however, I do not think I am being hypocritical. If you do not have issues with this type of DRM and you are looking for a fantastic ARPG (Action Role-playing Game) to play, you would not be making a poor choice by picking up Diablo 3.

BorderSpace Press Coverage – Interview with Creator and Lead Designer

Brian Rubin of Space Game Junkie and fellow JumpGate veteran has interviewed the creator and lead designer of BorderSpace Chris “Teeleton” Regan, the first bit of press coverage our game has received. It answers a lot of questions about the game and our design goals, I strongly recommend you take a look at the interview which is available here.

As always, feel free to stop by our forums to let us know what you think.
We can also be reached on our Facebook page or on Twitter.

For further information about BorderSpace, please see the BorderSpace Wiki

The Relevance of Cory Doctorow’s “Little Brother” Today

A little over a year ago now, I was introduced to a novel, Little Brother (available free on his site as well – in multiple formats), by Cory Doctorow co-editor of Boing Boing (his own website is I had started the book late at night, only intending to read a couple of chapters. As I started reading I was completely engrossed in Doctorow’s story. Not only was the book well researched, intelligent and immensely entertaining – it was also extraordinarily relevant when related to the world’s (and in particular America’s) current events. I finished the book a few hours later – far later than I’d intended to stay up that night and went into work the next day very overtired.

After reading the novel, I knew I wanted to write a blog post about it on my previous blog, drawing comparisons to the world and the novel, however, I never did get around to it. I also knew I wanted to read it over again at some point. Well, that re-read finally came the other day when I picked the book up, once again intending to read only a couple of chapters. Of course, I was immediately engrossed, this book is truly incredible and absorbing. What struck me is that over the past year, Little Brother has become even more relevant. Let me provide a brief synopsis.

The novel’s central character is a teenage high school student from San Francisco, Marcus Yallow. He’s a pretty average teenager, into computers and in particular hacking. He is extraordinarily efficient at getting around the school’s security measures in order to spend class time messaging his friends and cutting class to participate in the novel’s fictional alternate reality game (ARG). Marcus and his best friend, Darryl, bust out of school and meet up with their other friends, Van and Jolu, searching for the latest clue in the game. Unfortunately, there’s a terrorist attack that destroys the Bay Bridge. In the chaos that follows, Darryl gets injured and they flag down what they thought was an emergency vehicle. It turned out to belong to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Marcus and his friends were taken into custody and brought to a secret prison where they were interrogated about the bombing – Marcus was treated particularly rough for not co-operating with them from the start. Humiliated and angry, he eventually was freed, under the condition that he didn’t tell anyone about what happened to him while in custody. He made a vow to himself that he would do whatever he could to take down the DHS.

The remainder of the book is largely about the Marcus’ rebellion, using technology to get around the various security measures put in place by the DHS. As Marcus and his followers continuously cause the DHS to look foolish, they only throw more money and resources at the problem, further tightening their grip on San Francisco’s population (and allowing more and more to slip between their fingers). This is more or less the exact response we’ve seen in the real world and in particular in the USA with regards to the government’s response to terrorism. As the government attempts tighten control in the book, people lose more and more of their freedoms, much like in real life.

For example, we live in a world where warrantless surveillance is quickly becoming a reality. Canada and the UK have both introduced bills to parliament in an attempt to make warrantless surveillance legal. It’s already a reality in the USA. Little Brother’s San Francisco has an elaborate surveillance system which tracks all the city’s citizens and flags anyone who breaks from their normal pattern. When Marcus and his friends cause the majority of San Francisco’s population to have abnormal traffic patterns, the city grinds to a halt.

Many of the citizens in the novel support the government (something which is true of the real world as well), including Marcus’ father, despite the fact that none of the measures have helped to catch any terrorists. His father points out that it has helped to catch drug dealers and other criminals, people with outstanding arrest warrants, etc. and even if a single terrorist is never caught, it’s worth it because the city’s streets will be safer and cleaner. Besides, it’s only a matter of time before a terrorist is caught by the security measures, so they are making the city safer.

The problem is, most security systems put in place by the government don’t prevent what they are supposed to prevent. Consider the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) airport security measures. People are randomly selected for further screening, either through full body scanners or, if they prefer, an enhanced pat down (which have been described as legalized sexual assault). The scanners have been proven ineffective and their safety has been questioned. There are stories and footage all over the Internet of the TSA terrorizing young children. To date, these scanners haven’t prevented a single terrorist attack, they have, however, created a great deal of fear and frustration among the general population. The full body scanners have even damaged legitimate medical equipment essential for a teenage girls survival.

Airport security is a really good example of exactly what we’re doing wrong to prevent terrorism in the Western world. It has increased the length of time it takes to board a plane well beyond reason and it hasn’t made society any safer. One of the safest airports in the world is in Israel, Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport. There, it’s a big deal if it takes more than 30 minutes to board your plane, let alone hours. How do they do it? They are proactive, using five different check points the airport analyzes the boarding passengers, rather than the items they are carrying. Additionally, Israel’s security agencies provide a series of evolving threat and vulnerability analyses. Their goal, aside from safety, is to ensure passengers are on their planes within 25 minutes of entering the airport.

Ultimately, there is a lot of room for improvement in our society. Is our society as extreme as Cory Doctorow’s version of San Francisco in the book? Not yet. We are, however, well on our way to getting there. Luckily, we live in a democratic society, so as citizens we do have options to prevent things from getting worse. Of course, most Western democracies are experiencing all-time lows for voter turn out. Hopefully people start waking up and realizing exactly what’s going on. The Internet and social networking has been a big help in getting people involved, as the Occupy movement, in particular, has shown.

These are only a couple examples of similarities between our world and Little Brother’s San Francisco. If I went through them all, this post would be far too long. I strongly suggest you read the book and then take a look at your local news paper so you can draw your own comparisons. Most importantly, I urge you to get involved in your municipal, provincial and federal politics (or whatever the format of government is in your own part of the world). Write letters, call your elected representative, let them know how you feel about the issues that you find important. Help shape the future of your own world.

New Project: Media Server

With the construction of my new PC finished, it’s time to start a new project, converting my old machine into a media server.

I’ve added this to my projects page. More details to follow soon!

BorderSpace Wiki – Providing Further Information to the Community

Just a quick update for BorderSpace. Not a video this time, however, I felt it was worth noting that our Wiki has been populated with some information about the game, it’s setting and it’s mechanics. While it isn’t complete, it provides a taste of what’s to come. We will be sure to keep the Wiki updated as we continue to make decisions and progress on the game.

As always, feel free to stop by our forums to let us know what you think.
We can also be reached on our Facebook page or on Twitter.

Building a New PC

I’ve been toying with the idea of building a new PC for some time now, finally last week I decided to go ahead and do it. I picked up a couple of the parts last week from Canada Computers and ordered the rest from Newegg Canada. I’ve been waiting for the shipment from Newegg to arrive, however, Purolator had some issues with my address. Luckily there customer service department was quick to respond and I’ve arranged to pick it up from their depot tonight after work.

So just what did I get for my new PC? Check out the list below:

Motherboard: ASRock Z68 Extreme3 Gen3
CPU: Intel Core i5 2400
RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 8GB DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 2133
GPU: EVGA GeForce GTX 560 Ti
HDD: Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB SATA3 7200RPM
SSD: OCZ Agility 3 120GB SATA3
Case: Cooler Master CM Storm Trooper

I forget what the exact total will be once I’ve received all the money I’ll be getting for mail-in-rebates, however it is somewhere in the neighbourhood of $1200-$1300. I also intend to get a second GTX 560 Ti in the near future when I have a little more money available. Additionally, I’ll be looking into getting a new monitor (or perhaps two).

I’m excited to get this machine put together, it’s been a while since I’ve had a good computer. Now I’ll have to get a new project started to convert my current PC into a media server.

Borderspace Progress Update

It’s been a fairly long time since our last video update. This one was delayed due to a few issues we were having with some of the new code. Take a look here:

It doesn’t contain anything too fancy from our previous updates, which you can see on the Borderspace YouTube channel. The HUD stuff is basic placeholder stuff, but it works. Radar is working for the most part, however, as mentioned in the video there are a couple things not complete there. Aside from the HUD stuff, explosions are the most noticeable part of this update. They do splash damage and apply a force to your ship if you’re close enough to the source of the explosion (so it can shake your ship around and stuff). Most of the other stuff we’re working on is background stuff, so nothing we can really show off. Work on the network layer has begun, though there is still a lot to do in that area.

Feel free to stop by our forums to let us know what you think.
We can also be reached on our Facebook page or on Twitter.


So it’s been a while since I’ve posted here. Life has been fairly busy. Between my work schedule changing back to shifts for a few weeks, studying for my Security+ certification exam, going to Toronto to visit friends and family and trying to relax when possible I just haven’t had time to post. As such, a few updates are in order.

First and most importantly, I passed my Security+ exam on March 17th! I am now Security+ certified and simply waiting for the certification to arrive in the mail. Time to update my goals list! I’ve taken a short break from studying but I think soon it’ll be time to start working toward another certification.

As mentioned above, I went to Toronto recently, primarily to see my doctor, though also to attend the TIFF Game of Thrones Exhibition at the Bell Lightbox. While in town I also got to see some friends and of course hang out with my family.

Unfortunately on my way back I dropped my new Galaxy Nexus and the screen cracked. It was severely disappointing as in about ten years I haven’t once dropped a phone on a hard surface. I’ve already dropped this one twice. Regretting turning down Bell’s service plan now. I have been a little lazy about getting it fixed because it will be pricey and because the crack is primarily in the bottom right corner of the phone, so while it’s frustrating that the phone broke, it’s still very usable.

In other Game of Thrones news, season 2 is well under way and season 3 has been given the green light! I still need to watch the second episode of season 2, will likely get around to that later this week.

Not too much else going on really. Went back to the GTA for Easter weekend, it was my grandmothers 90th birthday on the 2nd so we had a big party for her. Easter Sunday my nephew sadly had a seizure (he has epilepsy). It was a little scary but now my entire family knows what to do if it happens when he’s with us alone (this is the first time he’s had one since he had two in one day a couple years ago and was originally diagnosed, so none of us really knew how to handle it). Finally, I’m also done with shift work at the end of April, my boss offered me permanent days, so I’m looking forward to that!

Whew! That was a lot of nothing to get through, most of which no one probably even cares about! Hopefully I can keep on top of things a little better now 🙂

Stop Overreacting Over Bill C-309

In my last post, I praised the reaction to bill C-30. It was certainly a wonderful example of democracy working as intended. I of course also called for a similar reaction to bill C-11 and other copyright legislation that will be rather likely to come our way in the near future. However, this is not the reaction we need for every little thing that parliament does.

In this case I’m referring to bill C-309. I’ve seen plenty of talk about it on the web. People are claiming that it makes protesting with a mask on illegal. This is simply not the case. Looking at the bill, it does exactly what Conservative MP Blake Richards says it does. Importantly, it does not make it illegal to wear a mask while protesting. It simply makes it illegal to do so while participating in a riot or unlawful assembly. You can still wear a mask if your protest is peaceful and lawful. Additionally, it makes exemptions for religious and medical concerns.

I do think this bill is largely unnecessary, as participating in riots/unlawful assemblies is already illegal, however, I don’t think this bill warrants the public response it’s been getting, especially considering that the bill does not do what people are claiming.