26 May 2021

Antivirus / Internet security products reviewed

 I've done technical tests of AV products in previous blogs, but this one is of my personal experience.

  1. Norton - generally slow
  2. BitDefender - good, but monumentally performance degrading, and features don't always work as advertised
  3. Avast - has always caused BSODs because of the network filter driver
  4. AVG - loaded with advertisements - do not recommend
  5. ESET - very lightweight load wet performant. High granular control esp over the firewall which does not interfere. Brower sandbox.
  6. McAfee - bloated, fragmented, slowly updated, archaic
  7. Kaspersky - one of the best, but no longer trusted by UK or US governments, and dropped by Barclays
  8. Webroot - all scanning is done online similar to how VirusTotal operates - so useless if there is no internet connection
  9. F-Secure - not bad
  10. Windows Defender - very basic
  11. Malwarebytes - poor detection
  12. Firewall products
    1. Glasswire - blocks rather than leaves requests pending

Not tried:
  • Trend Micro
  • Panda
  • Avira
  • Bulldog

6 February 2021

Broadband providers reviewed

If going for a new connection I'd recommend going to Topcashback, Quidco, Hotukdeals or Compare the Meerkat for some very good deals and check the reviews.

Rated best to worst:

Hyperoptic: Excellent speeds and very good customer service

Zen: best service, very rarely drops out, great router, just initially pricey and may include hidden fees or different prices on the phone to their website.

Plusnet: Good but regular disconnections and waited a month just for them to cancel an installation

BT: Most of the time okay but a nightmare when you have problems

Virgin: Dropouts once a month and speeds aren't as advertised. They may still be oversubscribed.

Sky: Avoid, many dropouts, bills doubling in price for no reason

TalkTalk:  From one of my neighbor's experiences 10 years ago I would say no, but maybe things have changed since.

Take a pinch of salt with any reviews site:

https://uk.trustpilot.com/

8 January 2021

Predictions

 Here are some predictions with guesses on years.

2021 Magnetic hangers

22 Intel releases ARM processors

23 First Earthbound city to city SpaceX flights

24 Prince Charles dies. First female US President.

25 David Attenborough dies

26 Queen Elizabeth II dies

27 Apple Car released, PS6 and Xbox 2 released

28 iPhone 20 released. Half Life 3 announced

29 Donald Trump dies

30 First people on Mars

31 Russia cuts themselves off from the internet for 3 months

32 Drones available for delivery

33 PS7 and Xbox 3 released

34 Lab grown burgers available on the market

35 VR affordable to most, Some watch can detect seizures before they happen

36 Hydrogen fuel cells used for 10% of transport

37 Large Hadron Collider finds new particle

38 AI replaces nearly all telemarketing

39 Baron Trump runs for presidency

40 Electric cars overtake diesel and petrol cars

41 PS8 and Xbox Infinity relased

42 Smart beds

43 Cure for Alzheimer's/Dementia

44 Cure for most cancers

45 Self driving cars are standard. The Matrix movies are rebooted

46 Los Angeles earthquake of 9.7

47 All coral reefs destroyed

48 PS9 and Xbox Infinity 2 released. Final Gorillaz album released

49 Asteroid comes very clos e to earth

50 Kim Jong-Un dies

51 Renewable energy makes up 50% of all UK power

52 HIV eradicated using CRISPR

53 Brain interfaces available on public health

54 Coal runs out

55 Most homes are smart houses

56 New element discovered

57 Tigers go extinct

58 Sony acquired by Microsoft, releases Playbox 1

59 Hurricane Sandy makes Florida unrecognisable

60 Oil runs out

61 Fibre networks nationalised

62 Heatwave in Spain kills 3 million

63 First designer baby born

64 Nuclear fusion power station in China explodes killing 60 million people

65 Population reaches 10 billion

66 The Internet v2.0 proposed

67 First people head to outer solar system

68 Planet of the apes reboot

69 Plastic recycling using enzymes can be done from home

70 Natural gas runs out

71 King William dies

72 First robots used all all purpose home assistants for cooking, cleaning, DIY

73 3D printable organs 

74 Polar ice caps are mere fragments

75 AI assistants are standard use in government

76 Wireless power in homes is standard

77 Nanobots widely available for killing viruses, bacteria, cancer cells

78 HS5 completed

79 First successful brain transplant

80 Universal basic income in at least 25% of countries

81 AI assistants help with most household tasks and have unique payables personalities like in 'Her'

82 Avengers movies reboot

83 Telomeres successful extended leading to an extra 40-50 year life span

84 Millennium Dome roof has to be replaced

85 VR sex

86 Evidence of Atlantis found

87 Hoverboards

88 Mega spiders

89 WW3 

90 Fission reactors achieve 10% efficiency

91 Brain of a 5 year old running in a computer simulation

92 Talking pets

93 Enzyme consumption replaces cremation and burial

94 Flying cars

95 Historical figures cloned from DNA

96 First robot and human marriage

97 Phones are dropped in support of AR projections through brain interface

98 Probes at edge of the solar system

99 COVID-52 and all previous iterations eradicated

2100 First 3D printed flying car




16 September 2020

Doctor Who Adventure Games

If you have a copy of the original installers for the Doctor Who Adventure Games (contact me on the form at the bottom of the page if you want them), you'll find out that they will fail to run with an error message, because they are validating them against the Doctor Who BBC website, and they were taken down due to a licensing issue with the developer.

However, it's not too hard to remove the validation on the underlying installer's code so that you can always run them.

Some things to be aware of:

A. The installers are partially cumulative updates on top of one another - meaning that by the fourth episode, a lot of the code in the previous versions was updated. The installer automatically replaces any old files based on their date - whatever is older automatically gets replaced with the latest version. The order is as follows:

1. City of the Daleks

2. Blood of the Cybermen

3. TARDIS

4. Shadows of the Vashta Nerada

5. The Gunpowder Plot (has its own launcher so can be done separately)

B. The Steam versions appear to put a valid keyfile.txt in the installer so that the games can be run and skip the validation entirely. It might be unique to each person's copy. I've not tried running it without Steam installed. Some other code was updated in the Steam version to add achievements, alongside general map and audio updates, so you won't want any of the achievement code if you're using these versions.


Here's a summary of the changes made:

1. Extract the EXE file with an InnoSetup extractor such as UniExtract

2. Using Resource Hacker, or a hex editor, you'll need to edit the file DoctorWho_Pc.exe as per the following screenshot. By changing the JNZ (Jump if not zero) to a JMP (always jump) - explained here, you can skip over the code that performs the validation. Here I am editing version 4.0 of the file which was in the fourth episode, Shadows of the Vashta Nerada. You can use this version with the three others without issue.







3. You need to create the file keyfile.txt inside the {app} folder, and it's just an empty file.

4. You need to edit the install_script.iss to not copy the InstallValidator.exe file, and instead copy the keyfile.txt




5. So to summarise the changes needed. The Output exe is created in the next step.




6. Next, you need to use Inno Setup Compiler to open the install_script.iss and compile the binary (Build > Compile). The output is the .exe file as above.

7. Rinse and repeat for all 5 of the installers. I'd recommend replacing the file DoctorWho_Pc.exe in each of the installers you recompile so that all of them can be installed. Note that The Gunpowder Plot uses a different EXE entirely so the hex edit will have to be reproduced for just that one.

6 August 2020

Keeping your home network secure

  1. Privacy
    1. Use a VPN that isn't part of 5/9/14 eyes, has unlimited data, doesn't log you https://www.vpn.com/guide/spreadsheet/
    2. Reduce Microsoft telemetry with O&O ShutUp - and why
    3. Pi-hole
  2. Updates
    1. OS
    2. Apps, firmware, drivers
  3. Credentials
    1. Passphrases instead of passwords, or random passwords and a password manager
    2. Unique passwords for everything - haveibeenpwned.com
    3. Enable 2FA on all accounts
    4. Change default passwords on all IoT devices including the router
  4. Router
    1. Move to WPA3 and change and hide your SSID so your model of router isn't publically available and it can't be tracked to your name. Disable older methods (be exclusive, not inclusive)
    2. Disable WPS, UPnP, remote management, port sharing, update the router or move to one with granular control like creating a second network for IoT devices
    3. Disable DHCP and use static addresses and known MACs, and change the IP range from 192.168.xxx.xxx
    4. If feasible, turn off the just the WiFi when you're not in so there is less chance of attack. Keep anything critical on LAN connections.
    5. When travelling, take a travel router with you, and/or use an SSH tunnel to your home address (the Firewalla has the option of a VPN server)
  5. Services
    1. Disable remote access
    2. Disable Samba v1
    3. Secure DNS
    4. Disable bluetooth and any listening devices e.g. Google Home, Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri
    5. Port scanner e.g. nmap (use internally and externally) - prefer instead of website port scanners
  6. Internet
    1. Use an internet security product rather than just antivirus (e.g. sandboxed browsers for banking, phishing filter, granular control of incoming and outgoing apps)
      1. https://rjcuk.blogspot.com/2021/05/antivirus-internet-security-products.html
    2. Use more than one AV product or set of tools
    3. On any downloads, check SHAs where possible and use VirusTotal, enable SmartScreen, run apps in sandboxes where preferable
    4. Setup a honeypot
    5. Network/IP/LAN monitors and scans including scanning from the internet for open ports
  7. Isolation
    1. Use VMs, containers or sandboxes (Windows 10 has one now)
    2. Wipe and reinstall your machine regularly
      1. Attendees of Black Hat conferences go as far as to dump their laptops afterwards
      2. If you're going to the US, use burner equipment - why
      3. Elliot in Mr Robot uses the microwave, but I don't recommend it - more advice
    3. Encrypt your HDD/SSD
    4. Route all traffic through a local gateway/proxy e.g. Raspberry Pi
      1. Squid proxy for just HTTP/S
    5. Firewall e.g. Firewalla
    6. Use a guest network for IoT devices and friends
  8. Physical security
    1. Turn things off when not at home
    2. Don't leave any devices "on display" - lock them away when not using them
    3. Scheduled offsite backups - encrypt the data itself (some tools can provide this) e.g. cloud
    4. Cameras e.g. Ring. Either keep wireless ones on a separate guest network, or get wired ones instead.
      1. You could use Powerline but it doesn't work for everyone and your electrical grid may be shared with your neighbours.
  9. Use Linux
  10. Other general advice
    1. Online safety
    2. Cyber aware
  11. Security hardware
    1. linitx.com
    2. ebuyer.com
    3. novatech.com

26 July 2020

Ethics and suggestions for government

Unethical:
Things I consider unethical (actively bad for the majority of people)
  • Credit cards
  • Stocks and shares
  • Driving diesel/petrol
  • Smoking (especially in public)
  • Excessive drinking
  • Excessive ownership of money (large spending should be regulated, advised and approved)
  • Excessive gambling (more than your excess income)
  • Cruelty to others, animals (i.e. physical abuse, domestic violence) and abandonment
  • Funding anti-LGBT business (or any anti-equality-based division)
  • Public possession of guns

Ethical:
Things that I think may be controversial, but are the right way forward
  • Pornography
  • Eating meat irregularly, sustainably or being vegetarian/vegan
  • Opting for renewable energy resources
  • Adoption (submission and selection)
  • Euthanasia

Improvement required:
Things that the government really needs to work on
  • Universal basic income
  • Mental health walk in centres
  • Online systems for voting and more regular votes
  • Learning and education past 18 for changes to UK law or curriculum, to cover finance, jobs, looking after yourself, cleaning, DIY etc
  • Self assessment tax returns - should be much more automated
  • Tax rebates - Should never be so problematic
  • Prohibition of drugs
  • Driving licences should require regular reassessment of updated practices

21 July 2020

Favourite TikTok videos

Funny (Laugh out loud)
  1. Don't flood the house!
  2. Scrabble yeet
  3. No-no square
    1. Part 2
  4. Lady attempts to use a sign
  5. Plunger on head
  6. Summon Joe Exotic
    1. Part 2
  7. Bus simulator
  8. No toilet paper?
  9. Why isn't fruit square?
  10. Chicken for dad
  11. Coconut no!
    1. Coconut get away from me
  12. Monsters Inc earrape prank
    1. Playing Monsters Inc earrape at college
  13. Hangry
  14. CEO of air bending
  15. Grandma Sandy tries coke & mentos
    1. Grandma 2
  16. Hitler cat attacks plush cat and falls off table
  17. Gun cat
  18. Grumpy husky
  19. Wife is on period 1
    1. Girlfriend on period 1
    2. Girlfriend on period 2
    3. Girlfriend on period 3
    4. That time of the month
  20. The Desperados
  21. Alien wants earth candy
  22. Ferret backs it up
  23. Scaring sleeping girlfriend
  24. Favourite grandson
  25. Dog really wants the buns
  26. Do you want to build a snowman?
  27. Playing an Asian parent
  28. How to deal with telemarketers
  29. Calling Wendys
  30. The Grand Tour - Hoe
  31. The train problem
  32. General Kenobi
  33. Lion King remake
  34. Dog with fireworks
  35. Phucumol
  36. Some sugar

Funny (Subtle)

Dancing

Creative (artistic)
Cute
Scary
Educational
Inspiring

BLM

LGBT

20 July 2020

Things that should be taught in school (WIP)

In my opinion education should be an ongoing service provided to all ages - learning shouldn't stop at 18. Especially for when things change for kids, but then that education isn't disseminated to adults except via news outlets.
  • Jobs
    • Fill out a CV/resume
    • Apply for jobs
    • Be confident
    • Frame yourself in a positive way
    • Communicate proactively
  • Transport
  • House
  • Be social
    • Visit museums, tours, theatre
    • Go to hotels
    • Go on planes
    • Plan a holiday
    • Meet people
    • Attend gigs, functions
  • Health and hygiene
    • Cook and eat healthily
    • Look after yourself mentally (relax, techniques, know when to take a break)
    • Exercise
    • Get help
    • Make appointments for doctors, dentists, opticians
    • Use your time well
    • Shave
    • Tend bad behaviours
    • Go see an ear wax removal specialist to fix hearing problems, or get an ear vacuum
  • Clothes
  • Finance
    • Write a cheque
    • File taxes
    • Buy a house
    • What a credit score is
    • Save money
    • Register for a government gateway ID
    • Check for any benefits that apply to you
    • Use MoneySavingExpert, Quidco, Topcashback and HotUkDeals

Favourite game levels/sequences

  • Ashtray Maze, Control
  • Clockwork Mansion, Dishonored 2
  • Return to the Tower, Dishonored
  • Cloud's Subconscious, Final Fantasy VII
  • Asylum Grounds, MediEvil
  • Wulfrum Hall, MediEvil 2
  • Loading the game after the first playthrough, NieR Automata
  • Xen, Black Mesa
  • The Citadel, Half-Life 2
  • Gnasty's Loot, Spyro The Dragon
  • The Part Where He Kills You, Portal 2
  • The World That Never Was, Kingdom Hearts 2
  • Zora's Domain, Breath of The Wild
  • Hall of Heroes, Bioshock Infinite
  • EOS, Red Faction Guerrilla
  • Mission 10 (Bio-weapon factory), Silent Bomber
  • Forbidden Forest, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (PS1)
  • Fort Frolic, Bioshock
  • Obtaining the black cube, Antichamber
  • The Great Pyramid, Tomb Raider: Anniversary
  • The Tower, Talos Principle
  • Specter Land, Ape Escape
  • City of the Sun, Horizon Zero Dawn
  • Busker's Square, Machinarium
  • Home planet, Samorost 3
  • The Stanley Parable Adventure Line, The Stanley Parable
From scary games:
  • ATC Headquarters, F.E.A.R.
  • Back Hall, Amnesia
  • Reactor, Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs
  • Lamba, SOMA
  • Obliteration Imminent, Dead Space