Wednesday, August 27, 2008

An early update

I am releasing the final game for August a few days early due to the fact that a family situation is going to be taking my time for the next few days and I may not be able to update my site or even have time to check my email for a while. The final game this month is One of those Weeks episode 42: Solid Light. At one time I was going to do a more elaborate version of this game and next month will have a poll to see if there is any interest in me doing an extended version of this game.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Spoofed Emails

On Monday the 18th I received an email accusing me of sending spam. Actually, the email was sent a few days earlier but due to the family situation which I am not talking about at this time I never got the email until Monday. I responded immediately explaining that I did not send the spam and that the reason a blazing games email address was on the reply to field was due to the fact that spammers also spoof that address. I then suggested that they check out Security Now episode 79 which clearly explains this. I never did hear back from this person but did receive a rather strange phone call on Friday. While these things were probably unrelated, I really am dealing with way too much other things at the moment so don't need this type of crap. After thinking about things for a while, I thought that I should properly prepare a reply in the off chance that I get such an accusation in the future and am posting it here so that anybody else can use it.

Spam or phishing emails are sent by people who do not follow the rules. These are fake emails often with the intent of getting the recipient to go to a fake page that looks like the real one in order to steal their account information or try to get them to download some type of software which is actually a Trojan horse The email standard, unfortunately, is not very secure and all the fields in an email can be set to whatever the spammer wishes. As a result all of the fields are set to fake addresses (based on real domains to prevent spam filters from easily detecting them) to prevent the email from being traced back to it's originator.

Many email programs will allow you to look at the header information used to send the email. It is within this information that you can look at the received from fields. Every mail server that the email passes through will add an entry to this list so it is theoretically possible to trace the email back to the sender's ISP. This, sadly, does not necessarily help as more often than not the spammer will be using bot networks to send the spam. What is a bot network? Remember the Trojan Horse I talked about earlier. People who are fooled by the spam and do install the Trojan Horse essentially are giving up their computer to the bot network without their knowledge. There are known bot networks that are made up of thousands of computers. These computers are the ones that are used for sending the spam.

So what can you do if you receive one of these phishing emails? About the only thing that can be done is to forward the email to the company that is being spoofed. This way they can attempt to look at the address that the email message is directing you to and get the fake site shut down.

I can not do anything about spoof emails. If you would like more information about such emails, I would recommend that you go to your favorite search engine, such as google, and do a search for Security Now. This is a podcast that covers all types of security issues. Episode 79 covered email spamming.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Hotdogs and Knees

The classic version of Hotdog Stand has been posted on Blazing Games, I came close to having a breakdown, and my doctor told me something that I never expected to hear in my lifetime. While I do plan on writing a series of articles explaining how my hotdog stand simulation works, which would also act as a strategy guide for the game, I am really not in the right state of mind to do that at this time, but will eventually do so. The interesting thing about hotdog stand is that the classic version is almost as much fun as the modern version. I just wish it was as easy to earn money in the real world as it is in this game. Then again, I suppose that is part of the reason we play games.

The family situation is still going on and I am still not talking about it. It is quite stressful, and has really had a negative impact on how much coding I have been able to accomplish. When you take into account that in addition to next month's games, I have some third party projects that I am working on, coding slowdowns are not a good thing. One of these projects is actually something that I can talk about, but right now am not in the right state of mind to do so meaning that the announcement will be made next week if I remember.

My knee injury did swell up slightly and I had a disturbing incident with my knee giving out. I went to the doctor and she told me something that I never expected to hear from a doctor. "It is actually a common sports injury." While I am sure there are many programmers who are also athletic in nature, I am not one of them. Essentially I was right about the injury but in addition I bruised the menisci, and may have torn a ligament. I am suppose to let it heal for a couple of weeks and if I am still having problems may have to see a specialist. After a week, it is actually quite good. While my knee gets sore when I use it too much, I can walk just fine. Stairs, however, still bother me.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Weeks like this inspired One of those Weeks

Not a good week for me. Though I have posted the open source release of episode 24 of One of those Weeks. I have also posted the Making of One of those Weeks chapter that covers the creation of this episode. As the title of todays post suggests, I have not been having a very good week. This streak of putrid awfulness started on Friday when something really bad happened that I was asked not to blog about happened. To be honest I really wanted to write a post about what was going on just to get it out of my system but it is not programming or game related so perhaps it is for the best.

Needless to say, Saturday was a perfect day to do a Game in a Day challenge, but due to what happened on Friday I knew I would not be able to concentrate enough to do the challenge. Perhaps this weekend, but I kind of doubt it.

Monday through Wednesday were not bad, other than continued worrying about Friday's event, and with all the phone calls and company and other tasks I was unable to get any work done on any site games. The rest of this month is pretty much ready to go, but next month might be lacking in content. I know some of you are saying, "You mean the other months weren't lacking in content!" I am trying to keep the content levels up but running a game site in your spare time when you are developing the content yourself isn't the easiest of challenges.

Today I somehow managed to post the content, and considering that I am still alive I should actually consider today to be an exceptionally good day. Step ladders can be very dangerous things. This is especially true when you have placed them in an unsafe position due to the fact that it happens to be the only position where you can reach the area you need to reach. After finishing what I was doing I went to climb down the ladder and somehow lost my balance and fell off the step ladder. Nearby were some cement stairs which I then proceeded to fall down a couple of steps of. I don't know how I managed to stop myself from falling down the rest of the steps and breaking my neck but I did. The pain I felt in my right leg made me immediate think that I may have just broken my leg. After sitting down for a few minutes the pain subsided. There is no swelling or bruising but it is still sore especially if I try to turn my leg. Walking on it doesn't seem to bother it at all, however. If it is still sore tomorrow I might see my doctor and have it checked out.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Shut the Box is open for play

The final version of Shut the Box has been posted on Blazing Games. This posting includes the development diary that regular readers have had a sneak preview of. It also includes downloadable source code for anybody who wants to play around with the code. It was written in Flex so anybody who has a copy of the freely available Flex SDK can play around with my code.

There are still four games to go in the Dozen Days of Dice series and as with other games in this series, they will be completed in a day. That is to say that each game is finished in a single day, not that I will finish the last four games in a single day. I have no idea of when I will take a day to create episode 9 but it will probably be sometime this month. I will probably have early access to the design diary once I have written the game.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

August 2008 Blazing Games Schedule

Sorry for the delay of my monthly preview and notification of Ultimate Retro Hotdog Stand being posted on the repository. My ISP problems still sort of continue. The status page says I have a lot less bandwidth than I am suppose to have but I am being told not to be concerned that it is a web site issue and that the correct information is in the billing computers. Still, I am going to be very careful with the amount of bandwidth that I use until my bandwith limit numbers are correct and have the feeling that this is not the last technical support call that I will be making. It is sad that there are so few broadband choices here. Bandwidth caps suck but I don't have much choice so am stuck with them.

Of course, One of those Weeks episode 41 has already been posted. It is the start of a new day so it is a dream sequence. I think I did a good job on the penguin, but am sure most people will disagree with my self-assessment. As there are five fridays this month, episode 42 will be released at the end of the month. I am withholding the description and screenshot for a few weeks, partly because I want to have another pass at the artwork. The middle of the month will have chapter 24 of Making of One of those Weeks.

The Dozen Days of Dice episode has already been sneak-previewed to readers of this blog so I don't think I need to go into further details here.

Finally, the classic version of my ultimate retro project:hotdog stand simulation will be posted. For those of you who don't want to wait and know how to compile java classes, the source code has already been posted to the ultimate retro project's subversion repository. This was a fairly substantial update and probably should have been posted as a number of repository updates but I just kept forgetting so ended up with the complete game before I finally got around to posting it.