16 September 2020

Doctor Who Adventure Games

 If you have a copy of the original installers for the Doctor Who Adventure Games, 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. Use a VPN that isn't part of 5 eyes or 14 eyes
    1. Reduce telemetry with O&O ShutUp
  2. Updates
    1. OS
    2. Apps, firmware, drivers
  3. Credentials
    1. Passphrases instead of passwords, or random passwords and a password manager
    2. Enable 2FA on all accounts
    3. Change default passwords on all IoT devices including the router
  4. Router
    1. Move to WPA3 and hide your SSID
    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
  5. Services
    1. Disable remote access
    2. Disable Samba v1
    3. Pi-hole
    4. Secure DNS
    5. Disable bluetooth and any listening devices
  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)
    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
    2. Wipe and reinstall your machine regularly (attendees of Black Hat conferences go as far as to dump their laptops afterwards)
    3. Encrypt your HDD/SSD
    4. Route all traffic through a local gateway/proxy
  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
  9. Use Linux

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. I suffer from a terrible disability
  3. Scrabble yeet
  4. No-no square
    1. Part 2
  5. Lady attempts to use a sign
  6. Plunger on head
  7. Summon Joe Exotic
    1. Part 2
  8. Bus simulator
  9. No toilet paper?
  10. Why isn't fruit square?
  11. Chicken for dad
  12. Coconut no!
    1. Coconut get away from me
  13. Monsters Inc earrape prank
    1. Playing Monsters Inc earrape at college
  14. Hangry
  15. CEO of air bending
  16. Grandma Sandy tries coke & mentos
    1. Grandma 2
  17. Hitler cat attacks plush cat and falls off table
  18. Gun cat
  19. Grumpy husky
  20. Level Up
  21. 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
  22. The Desperados
  23. Alien wants earth candy
  24. Ferret backs it up
  25. Scaring sleeping girlfriend
  26. Favourite grandson
  27. Dog really wants the buns
  28. Do you want to build a snowman?
  29. Playing an Asian parent
  30. How to deal with telemarketers
  31. Calling Wendys
  32. The Grand Tour - Hoe
  33. The train problem
  34. General Kenobi
  35. Lion King remake
  36. Dog with fireworks
  37. Phucumol
  38. 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
  • Clothes
  • Finance
    • Write a cheque
    • File taxes
    • Buy a house
    • What a credit score is
    • Save money

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

22 June 2020

Re: Mindfulness


I like the slightly more personal touch as well to break it up a bit. Can tell you're putting in more effort in making more engaging videos, keep it up!
Surprised this video isn't an ad sponsored by a certain chicken restaurant...

The point about taking a moment to appreciate things even if they aren't nice can be applied to other things as well, such as being grateful for what you have. In addition to being aware of your surroundings, another aspect would be reflection, which everyone does. A more prominent need is the necessity for taking breaks or thinking mindlessly in general, like Newton with the apple thinking about gravity, or Einstein on a train thinking of the speed of light as he observed a clock moving away from him.

I imagine blind or deaf people might not like this video. I guess also anyone with hypersensitivity may struggle as it may be out of their control.

The way you described it makes me think that wine is a type of creative art, rather than a means to become inebriated. That's an interesting idea I never thought of before.

As for food, I think it's slightly different, as it has texture as well as taste. Only through repeated exposure can you overcome evolutionary responses of disgust, rather than open-mindedness alone. Many people reject marmite or fish for example. Maybe some people are also masochists, like people who like spicy food. It's interesting that astronauts like a lot of spice with their foods because their olfactory senses weaken due to lower gravity making their noses stuffy.

Obviously I wouldn't recommend people who are allergic or intolerant to drinks/foods to try them.

Re: Who's More Free an Addict or a Slave? - Positive and Negative Liberty

In response to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vf4fRe_BqYg

I see liberty and freedom as the following, without doing any research at all except your video:
Liberty is the right to do something (legal protection)
Freedom is the opportunity to do something
Free will is the ability to choose and perform something

An example might be driving a car.
  • When you turn 16, you're afforded the Liberty to drive unrestricted - without fear of punishment. (Given assumptions/restrictions such as driving in an emissions and electrically safe approved vehicle, following the laws of gravity and not flying in the clouds, and abiding by the DVLA)
  • Freedom is having the resources to actually drive, such as money, time, a parking space, a licence etc. This is partly 'driven' (pun intended) by equity.
  • Free will builds ontop of that and is basically a decision tree of to drive/to not drive/to buy a car/to not but a car/to run people over/to clean your car/to pick up your nan from hairdressers, and all possible permutations.

Positive and negative liberty as you described them seem to map to my definitions above - negative is my liberty, and your positive is my freedom or even free will. A parasympathetic pathway/prohibition/hinderance/negative liberty is a bouncer stopping you from entering a club. A sympathetic pathway/entitlement/positive liberty is you having the personal ability to choose to go to the club in first place, the money to pay for entry, clothes on your back, etc. You can see how free will gets mixed up there.

In the case of the driver's addiction, in my opinion their free will is being obscured. Legally they can smoke. They obviously have the money/freedom to buy cigarettes. But the addiction in their mind is simply cutting off options from the decision tree. It closes doors and narrows the possible permutation paths down to forced destiny.

Best mental health advice I've received

  • Don't worry about what everyone else expects you to be, or do, or think about. If you keep comparing yourself to others, you'll have no time for you.

  • Don't get hung up on someone who dumped you. Why should they go off and be happy with their lives when you have to suffer?

  • Optimism and pessimism are sometimes the reasons you put things off or put barriers in your life, like getting a car, going on holiday, signing up to the gym. There is a comfort zone that people don't like to get out of too.

  • Capitalism, and through it, consumerism and advertising, is designed to make you feel inadequate to convince you that you need more in your life to be successful and happy, when really, you don't need a pretty car or a pretty bra or make up.

  • Where a lot of thought and behaviour comes from is often down to mental health causes (autism, anxiety, ADHD, bipolar disorder, depression…), or your personality type. Familiarising yourself with how you have behave can help a lot in knowing how to help yourself.

  • Learning about philosophy and psychology can help understand human behaviour more, but can equally distance you from humanity. Ignorance is bliss. However seeing and experiencing distressing situations can help mould you to be prepared for the worst, like horror, violence, poverty etc. The bad point is when you get PTSD.

  • (Maybe) meditation can help, but I think just give yourself a break and don't push yourself too hard (or allow it to come to that).

  • Listening to the ringing bells, reading, and empathising with others can help you be a better friend and person


And my own:
  • Breaking down a problem into bitesize chunks makes something insurmountable actually achievable
  • Don't be jealous (envious) of your friends and what they have, be happy that you are friends with them and you can refer to them, show them off and be proud of them
  • Give yourself a break, time and space when things are on top of you, and tell people you're feeling that way. It is not a burden, it is a relief.
  • My social media banner https://twitter.com/rjc_uk/header_photo:

Animal Crossing - Giving Up

I'm giving up with Animal Crossing. Here's why.


  • Progress in the game is very slow. You are very limited with the progress you can make in 24 hours at a time.

  • The only way to make meaningful progress is to be forced to agree with Tom Nook's unsustainable capitalist regime of bigger and better, in which his demands are really unnecessary and incompatible with someone who prefers a minimalist lifestyle.

  • In order to make that progress you need money, And you get that money through work. However, that work is menial, demeaning, repetitive, mindless, and unintellectual. All you can do is either sell everything you own or has been gifted to you, or you pick up flotsam and jetsam and any crap lying around the place and flog it.

  • There are now too many loans and people and responsibilities for them that I have to keep track of that it had become stressful tending to everyone's needs.

  • Fishing often simply doesn't work and no introduction was given. Controls generally are inconsistent. Digging using a shovel often hits the wrong tile, it should be illuminated or selectable instead.

  • Dialog is overly repetitive. You wouldn't have the exact same conversation and introductions with someone you meet every day in real life. You can't even skip them.

Solving Violence

I am a pacifist. I've never fought back from bullies. I don't watch WWF. Violence to me is abhorrent.

However, in the world violence continues today in the forms of harming and murdering innocent people with knives, guns, acid, rape, bullying, domestic violence, explosives etc. Why do people do this?

In cavemen times when were were more primal and animalistic, hunting for food and killing animals was the pretty much the only way to stay alive and feed your family. Obviously in our modern society, we've industrialised food production, cooking, storage, delivery and consumption. People need not hunt anymore.

But that doesn't mean our biology hasn't stopped us from being predators. Our canine teeth are designed for tearing meat. Adrenaline (and testosterone, to some extent) brings an elevated heart rate, aggression, focus, energy, and passion.

So, violence is fundamental to us. What our options?
  1. Prevent violence. Clearly with modern society making all forms of violence illegal, this isn't working.
    1. Genetically removing the production of adrenaline seems extreme.
    2. There are only so many police you can have before it becomes a police state and may have curfews.
  2. Middle ground - permit some forms.
  3. Allow violence. Basically America and some African/Asian countries. Hello anarchy.
I think the answer lies in the middle ground. Here's some options.
  1. Controlled environments
    1. Fight Club. The first two rules of 'not talking about Fight Club' is essentially defeating the need to let out the adrenaline.
    2. WWF, sumo wrestling, any other contact sports
  2. Video-games and simulated violence
    1. A 'healthy' way to let out violent tendencies, with first person shooters and VR games like GORN and Boneworks

29 April 2020

Final Fantasy VII Remake Review

SPOILERS!

Overall super impressed. It has brought to life a cherished game of mine. The original game to me is my favourite game of all time. The remake so far hasn't taken that spot, but it's certainly given me strong feels, shocking moments, kept me entertained, and intrigued. I've wanted to cry, jump for joy, have had huge nostalgia, and just love seeing the game in the best possible way it can be.

The game has deviated in some ways (especially the Whispers and some minor plot points removed), but overall it is highly faithful and I am genuinely impressed. I am very much looking forward to the next one. Given the changes made, I really hope the rest of the game is only 1 more part as they've made significant investment in building up hopes for the rest of the story, and I don't think 2 or more parts properly justifies the deviations made. If I could know it was a closer match story wise, then I'd be up for 3 parts, but imo it could break the immersion and continuity a lot.

The game is very, very stable. Some weird camera controls sometimes, but no bugs. Had 1 crash when loading from an autosave in the collapsed freeway, it froze during the loading screen so I killed it and loaded a full save instead. However I'm impressed how glitch free the game is.

Visual quality is absolutely stunning and the characters are brilliantly brought to life. They are absolutely nailed in terms of voices, behaviour, look, animation, everything. Cloud and Barrett especially are exactly as they should be on all fronts. I am in love with Cloud more than before and can't wait to see the rest of his story unfold.

Some textures are really low quality such as the doors in sector 7 slums, and the view of the other plates when climbing the tower in some shots towards the end of the game is very poor and reminds me too much of the old game with static low resolution backgrounds!

Some weird plot changes such as the Whispers. In my opinion, pointless, and are there only for dramatic effect, and are a bit meta as a representation of oh, let's kill Barret, but then actually the rest of the story needs him, so bring him back. That's destiny! Or more, that's the plot.

There are some good plot changes, such as the side story with Jessie and new character Roche, I thought that was excellent. The majority of the game is all excellent in its deviations until the end.

President Shinra was killed on view, I thought it was more more impactful in the original seeing blood everywhere and his corpse. It was more shocking in the original when you look inside the Jenova chamber as well and see the severed head. I remember that scene scared me before but all that has been lost in the Remake which is a real shame.

I'm surprised by the amount of shots of future scenes like Nibelheim and the reactor there, the end of the game, and hints at Aerith.

I like the extension of the use of the Sephiroth clones as puppets, from what I recall that only was used in the original once you'd left Midgar.

I'm not happy with the scenes removed at the Honey Bee Inn with Cloud and the creepy music plays, and when Cloud gets on the bike at Shinra rather than waltzing in already on it.

I'm hoping they bring back all the scary elements because so far it's completely missing the scary factor that out the game on another level of creepy.

29 March 2020

Star Trek Voyager - Favourite Episodes

Top favourites:
Good episodes:

  • S02E21 Deadlock (duplicate Voyager)
  • S06E04 Tinker Tenor Doctor Spy (Photonic canon)
  • S05E22 Someone to Watch Over Me (Doctor introduces
  • S04E14 Message in a Bottle (Mark 1 EMH meets the Mark 2)
  • S05E06 Timeless (Kim and Chakotay travel back to save Voyager)
  • S06E12 Blink of an Eye (Planet that evolves super fast)
  • S02E24 Tuvix (Neelix and Tuvok become one person)
  • S05E25 Equinox (Evil Voyager)
  • S04E26 Hope and Fear (Dauntless is a trap)
  • S03E25 Worst Case Scenario
  • S03E08 Future's End
  • S07E25 Endgame
  • S03E26 Scorpion
  • S04E23 Living Witness
  • S01 Eye of the Needle
  • S02 Dreadnaught
  • S05 Counterpoint
  • S03 The Thaw
  • S05 Bride of Chaotica


And some good moments:


By season:
  • S1, great
    • S01E01 was really off-putting, had many false starts getting into it because of that one.
  • S2, not a lot stood out for me
    • The Q return was very welcome
  • S3, back on form
  • ...

    Star Trek Next Generation - Favourite Episodes



    Not necessarily using episode titles... will update when I can.
    • Rascals
    • I, Borg
    • Unification
    • Return of Scotty
    • Data sentience
    • Picard kidnapped
    • Day in the life of data
    • The Traveler
    • Scientist who died for Lwaxana
    • The overtake (parasites)
    • Trapped in an asteroid
    • Disguise ship
    • Romulan dream team
    • Black guy builds enterprise
    • Klingon trade riker
    • Darmok & Jalaad
    • Picard flute
    • Picard borg
    • Up the long ladder, funny
    • Worf funny moments. Mr Woof.
    • The enemy
    • Kidnapped picard
    • Barclay clever
    • Remember Me
    • Space creature
    • Disaster
    • Data emulated boy
    • Next phase
    • The chase
    • Frame of mind
    • Thomas Riker
    • Descent

    24 March 2020

    Healthy

    Healthy is a big wishy-washy purely contextual-based term. In my opinion, only diet is healthy or unhealthy, no particular food or restaurant is healthy or not. Healthy is a trendline of "what recommended allowances count as part of a nutritious, varied and balanced diet?".


    For example:
    • Meeting AND not exceeding Recommended Daily Allowances (RDA)s on all nutrition types
    • Avoiding known carcinogenic foods such as processed meats
    • Fruit and vegetables "5 a day"
    • Calorie-counting and watching Body Mass Index (BMI)
    • Self-determining RDAs for items that don't have them, such as antioxidants
    • Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) for specific E numbers that have known effects such as E129 Allura Red AC which can cause hyperactivity.
    There is some conflicting advice:
    • 'Smaller, more regular meals'
    • 'Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dinner like a pauper'
    • Maintain alkaline pH in mouth to prevent gingivitis / brushing teeth twice a day and leaving 30 mins before and after

    14 January 2020

    Things I wish I knew or understood growing up


    • It's very easy to be too modest about your achievements. If you've ever been the only person doing something at work, that makes you its owner. You're not 'a' system administrator. You're 'the' system administrator. Seeing it from this perspective was an instant confidence booster for me.
    • Don't go to interviews or promotion panels without ensuring your clothes are ironed. It seems a waste of time, but it's very easy for others to judge you on it. Those little details count.
    • Research the job and products/services of a company well before the interview.
    • All the endless, crazy thoughts and judgments you have as a kid about whether you should have a girlfriend/boyfriend, know what you're doing in life, having lots of friends, FOMO, etc., can get too much on top of you. I was lucky to have a Connexions advisor who put everything in perspective and explained I should ignore all that.
      • Focus just on what I want.
      • There's no rush to solve everything tomorrow. Let everything fall into place and come naturally to you.
    • Knowing your personality type can help explain many things about your behaviour. Use 16personalities. Also look at other things like autism, anxiety, depression, dyslexia, dyspraxia, discalculia, bipolar disorder etc.
    • Knowing your genetic traits and risks can give you further insight to your behaviour. I recommend 23andMe.
    • Try and listen to any bells. Your conscience may make you aware of emotions that you dismiss.
    • Try not to push people away; being introverted and cynical makes it difficult. Know the different between offence and banter.
    • It's very easy to be stubborn. Open your eyes to other views and listen.
    • Be prepared to be criticised.
    • Admit when you are wrong rather than invent lies.
    • Defence mechanisms - learn Valliant's categorisation and know when you're not being mature. These are also related to the seven deadly sins and virtues.
    • Jealousy - instead of being jealous of what your friends have, turn them into a 'reference'. Be proud that you're friends with them and that you can show them off for how cool they are. It's not a competition.
    • Don't wear your heart on your sleeve: do that and your heart will break too easily. Not that you shouldn't fall over in love/lust, but getting too emotionally involved can be creepy and overbearing. Try not to turn partners into projects, let them come to you.
    • HAIL (TED video)
      • H - Honesty: Being true - straight and clear.
      • A - Authenticity: Be yourself. [Standing in your own truth.]
      • I - Integrity: Be your word. [Doing what you say.]
      • L - Love: Wish them well.
    • Give yourself space; don't take on too much stress. You're allowed to say no.
    • Study and do homework early, don't leave it to the last minute as tempting as it is. Breaking things down to smaller chunks is the best approach. As soon as you see a problem as insurmountable, break it down again and again until you can do something right now.
    • It's okay to be humiliated or embarrassed. It will happen sooner or later. Try to see the fun side of it, and don't take yourself, or anything too seriously - take a pinch of salt.
    • When pressured on the spot, take a moment to breathe so you have a calm approach.
    • Use Reddit to find communities, as well as others like Meetup.
    • "Wear sunscreen".
    • Laugh.
    • Complement others. Be polite. Do good deeds and sacrifice a little effort to help others. It can be rewarding knowing you've helped someone else.
    • Put yourself in other's shoes: try to think how you feel in their situation. It's easy to show sympathy, but harder to have true empathy. Respect others regardless of their characteristics.
    • You are alright. You can stay.