Nyana playing the Wii !

Ok , its been more then a week since the last update. But .. We have an excuse .. or should I say WII have an excuse. In the long honored tradition of combining a Wii, a digital camera and a cute looking wife. Add Imovie to the mix, ask the Beasty boys to join in and .. Voila : our very own .. Wii video.

 

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Getting your Wii through social engineering.

Anticipation.
Well , I did some blog-posts on me and my Wii before (you might want to check them out ) and last Friday : It was the day ! Time to pick up my Wii. I called the toy store where I ordered it on thursday , just to check if they did not have any models in early. But no such luck. Like rain-man-on-heels the lady stuck to the story telling me that Friday is Wii day.

 

wii

Disappointment.
Thus friday comes along and Knight picks up his cellphone and calls the toy store. "Has my Wii arrived" still sounds like the expression of somebody with a bladder issue , yet it is the standard line when checking the order of ones console.  "I'm sorry sir" the not quite Harvard material store clerk informs me. " But our order does not come in for another two weeks". As blood drains from my face a mile long parade of possible swearwords marches up into my brain. But i'm a nice guy, I know its not the nice lady's fault. I double check whether they can confirm that my order will be in in two weeks , but they can either confirm nor deny. When I hang up I get caught in a strange sensation.

 

 

wii

Wii-crave.
I'm not one for hypes. To be honest : If more then 100 people are into something, I'm tempted to shake of the whole thing. But suddenly I start feeling this 'urge' to .. have a Wii. The same urge that lets people stand in line for hours for a game console, pay twice the amount on ebay for it , or shoot-or-get-shot in real life when trying to acquire a game where they can "shoot-and-get-shot" (talk about infinite pixel density). In shorts : I've got the Wii-crave. A sensation possibly triggered by an ancient caveman-instinct to hunt-and-acquire. So I start ringing up toy stores, hammering them for Wii-avalability .. Nothing ! All the units they have are either out or reserver. I'm losing a battle here. No one seems to have a spare unit. Tipical : its 2 o'clock in the afternoon on launch date. Most Wii-owners are already in hospital with a shoulder injury after playing to much Wii-tennis. Where the frack am I going to get one now ? After 20 or so calls .. I hang up and try to talk mysellf into believing we will find one Wii in the next few weeks. ( Right after Santa has a run in with a stray ufo that will cause a Wii to fall from the sky and into our lap.)

Defeated ?
I know when I'm beat. I know when all the orders are taken and there is nothing more to do. All the nice Wii's are reserved. They boxes labeled with white peaces of paper with the names of their future owners written on them. … Names … Written … owners .. The power of the dark side arises in my head .. And I have an idea.

 

 

Social engineering.
Here is the deal. All the Wii's are reserved. Probably on a last name basis. So … time for some social engeneering. Unless a down paiment was made on the Wii and a receipt was issued to the owner .. there is no way that the toystore nows who is the actual person that reserved it. When i reserved mine I just gave my last name and they wrote it down. There is no "identity check"  Who says you just cant walk in , give the name of somebody who reserved a unit .. And pick it up.
Time for statistics : I don't know WHO reserved a Wii , but i can do an approximation : I can pull up one of the three most common lastnames in the country , call a toy store .. Ask them if the Wii for the "peeters" family has arrived and say that i'm picking it up. Buy a game console : Game the game console. Find a flaw in the reservation system : GAME the reservation system.

 

Ethics.
Ok , I know the risk. Lets say the "peeters" family has five kids who are going to be very disappointed when I swipe their Wii for Christmas. But all is fair in love and war. You can"t be a  "hacker" and a saint at the same time.  Push comes to shove and i start calling up a toy store in our neighborhood, asking them if the Wii for the peeters family has arrived …

Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.
The storeclerck puts me on hold and goes looking for the reserved unit.  I hear her rustling through papers, mumbling to her collegue that she cant realy find it by that name. I allready anticipate that they don't have a unit reserved for that name and that i'm gonna have to try a second store. But suddenly the girl picks up the phone and says the following : I'm sorry , I can't find a unit reserved on that name. But we do have a unit here that has been reserved but that does not have a reservation slip on it .. It must be your unit.   Napoleon said : Never interupt your enemy when he is making a mestake . I reply at the drop of a hat : "Yes , because I did call your store to make a reservation, i'll be right over to pick it up".  "No problem sir" she says. I hang up and a big grin settles on my face.  One hour later.. my very own Wii boots up and me and my wife are playing tennis on our own "aquired through social engeneering" Wii.

 

wii

Epilogue.
Social engineering is one of the most powerful ways of hacking. The key to the deal is : Analyzing the system (in this case , a reservation system that is based upon good faith and reservations over the phone) Find a flaw in the system : ( There is no 'proof of identity' or down- payment involved) Hack the system : Gamble on a possible "password" (in this case : a last name) to acquire entrance to the system.  Once you are through all of this : the key is to believe in the lies you are telling when dealing with the people inside the system. This is the only way you can be convincing. Don't be nervous, and don't give away to much information. The pretty part about playing ignorant is that people from inside the system will be willing to provide you with information or solutions.  And if they do .. just accept them 🙂 Happy gaming !

 

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The precious one procent : When do I watch video on my ipod.

Movement takes time : What a surprise. 

What I allways find hilariously entertaining, yet impossible to comprehend, is the fact that people can get so increadibly aggitated in their car. I mean : The natural fisical reality that point A and point B are seperated by a certain distace, combined with the fact that you are using a motor vehicle and are not in posetion of a jetplane or personal transporter, does clearly imply that some amount of time is going to be spent traveling this certain distance. And allthough people are aware of all these facts they get increadibly annoyed behind the wheel when things aren't going fast enough , or god forbid, they are caught in a traffic jam.

ipod"Whow Knightwise, A 2 hour commute every day : You must be mad. " they say. Now a two hour commute in a country that is about 2.5 hours wide in driving time , does seem a lot. Yet I don"t mind realy. In these 2 years I"ve been doing the daily shuttle, I have never had the idea that I was wasting my time. Yes perhaps in the beginning. When I listenend to Cd's and to the radio. But I have come far beyond that scenario. 

Thanx to podcasts, my loyal friends for the two hour drive, i've since then seen my "commute" time as a chance to learn stuff , keep up to date and so forth. But occasionaly I run into a traffic jam. As other people eat their respective steering collimns, I check my clock and whip out my Ipod video. As the cars around me hover to a standstill in bonified deadlock, I punch up the latest Video podcasts I've subscribed to … And start watching some tube !

So with some arching eyebrows eyeballing me from the other cars, I sit back and enjoy some great entertainment like DLTv and Hack5 , or even a bit of Geekbrief with Cally. According to study only 1% of your time spent using your Ipod video , is actually used watching video. I don"t disagree. But the timing at which you can do this … Is worth every second. 

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Rest in Peace James Kim.

Today our thoughts go out to the wife and family of James Kim, Cnet editor who died in a heroic attempt to save his family.

james The body of the 35-year-old Kim was discovered Wednesday in a rugged wilderness area in southern Oregon. He had set out across snow and ice with only tennis shoes to protect his feet. He had eaten little in the seven days since his car got stuck.

A biography of Kim can be found on the Cnet Site 

Condolences to the family can be sent Here 

 Our prayers are with his wife and two children who stay behind.

 

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Cardboard Wifi antenna"s.

Wifi is bloody everywhere.

These days you cant stick your laptop out of the door without at least stumbling over one or more SSID signals indicating that multiple wireless routers are up and running in your vicinity. Wonderful wireless routers blast their unsecured unprotected signals at your wifi-card, propagating not only their default SSID name like "linksys" or "belkin"  but also an ip, a chance to hitch a free wifi ride. Thus proving the glorious stupidity of their owners who graciously grant us a wifi mesh to use virtually anywhere.

But there is also the other part of the story. A frustrating story of NOT getting a wifi signal through. Forget broadcasting your signal to far of DHCP-requesting wardrivers. Sometimes you can have a problem in getting your wifi signal to go where it is supposed to go, let alone go beyond.  You come to the point that you think your house must be built by the secret service because no matter how hard you try , its just impossible to get the wifi signal where you want it. Wether its the concrete wall ,the steel in the floor , or the microwave in the kitchen , something is messing up your wifi signal. Why ?

One of the reasons is that most wireless routers/ acces points (and wifi cards) have what we call an 'omnidirectional' antenna. An antenna that sends and receives the wifi signal in all directions and spreads its transmitting power over a 360 degree radius. Now If your router was mounted dead center in the middle of your house that would be ideal. But we all know its not. A setup like that would require you to re-organize all of your furniture and would make your family members do the 24 hour limbo underneath the network cable running to the darn thing.

antennaWhat we need is : An antenna ! Now I can hear you moan in agony. You're a computer geek, not an electro-nerd. You have no idea how to build your own antenna or where until this post blissfully unaware that you could even swap out antenna's on your wifi equipment. But don't worry ! We are gonna go Jodie-Foster-in-Contact-Deflector-Dish style .. With nothing more then a peace of paper.  
The trick is "aiming" your wireless signal TOWARDS the areas where you need it, and possibly away from the neighboring apartment (where you know that your neighbor is using your wifi to surf Russian-goat-porn sites) So , either you BUY a directional Can-tenna like the one in the pic above .. OR you deflect the rays from your own wifi router. You can do this by using two some of these great parabolic antenna's made from nothing more then .. Cardboard.

You can do this in a very simple way like this.

Or go more elaborate like this.

antenna

or keep it a little simple like this.

antenna

THIS great site will show you how to make them and will give you a graphical representation of what your little cardboard deflector will do to the outgoing signal.

diagram

The great part is most setups  come with great diagrams that you can print ant cut out so its easy as pie ! You don't need to read all the math part, best is that you use a program like NETSTUMBLER and measure what you little setup does for you. The good news is that you cant really damage your wireless router , there is no soldering or anything involved, just deflecting the signal.

So have fun, get your scissors and enjoy !

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How Digg destroys the Blogosphere.

About a year ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Sebastian Prooth. An accidental Skype search dropped me in the middle of a conversation between him and mr David Gray. An accidental encounter that would have farfetched repercussions for my personal website and pod-casting adventures.

You can talk to anyone.

articleThe one thing I immediately liked about Sebastian , was the fact that he had Go-Getting attitude that could only be described as being very "american". At first I was a bit taken aback by this strange mentality difference between the skeptical timid Belgian and the "No rules Barred " super ambitious American. I have followed Sebastians adventures on the internet , seen his accomplishments and stood in awe at the way he managed to get in touch with the most amazing people. Where I stood star-struck behind the sidelines, Seb was sending emails or even chatting on Skype with people that I still consider to be "Giants" in cyberspace today. Those who where heroes to me ( Like for example Patrick Norton or Leo Laporte) Sebastian approached in a candid and charming matter. One thing I quickly learned from Sebastian is that people are just people , and you can talk to all of your heroes. One just needed balls


You can do anything you want to do.

If Sebastian is one thing : it is talented. As a pod-caster he has a great voice, he knows how to write and has the balls to step up to just about any challenge and give it a try. Wether its writing, producing audio or video, or even directing a little movie : Seb will give it a crack and claim the trade. For a Belgian like me it was weird to hear somebody call himself a producer, writer, blogger, director and pod-caster over the period of a few months. This go-getter attitude did not only get him quite a few great interviews on his website , he even got an article printed in a national  computer magazine. We Belgians don't claim a trade that  quickly, Even I don't call myself a pod-caster .. but thats just me. The way Americans go after the "American dream" is fascinating to watch when you are not an American.

You can't beat being popular.

But the fascinating part of all this was watching Sebasting chase fortune and glory. Being the one man self-promoting marching band that he was , Sebastains accomplishments where quite frequently the only topics of Sebastians conversations. This would of course open up a lot of doors for him, and he never passed up an opportunity to inform us of his state of affairs. Wether it where the amount of hits on his blog, how much his "blog was worth", where and by who he got mentioned and so forth. The popularity of his accomplishments where paramount, the statistics his god. At some point I was so intimidated by this flow of numbers I started believing I was doing something fundamentally wrong with the knightwise.com website and the podcast. It made me reconsider the personal nature of the content I produced in favor of something that would appeal to "the masses"  I somehow started to believe that perhaps ONLY numbers mattered. Seb's quest for popularity quickly influenced not only his focus (writing / podcasting / directing ) , but also the content he produced stood in favor of all of this. He even moved from Blogging to Podcasting to Producing movies in rapid succession because somehow the short-term-popularity-return was not enough. Sebasting wanted to be popular : The sooner the better. When his first Skype article was sufficiently spectacular to be noticed by the Digg crowd : Sebs site got Dugg and in my eyes things went downhill after that.

How digg takes down the bloggers.

And perhaps Sebastian can be taken as sad example as a victim to the digg-effect : a quest for popularity. Through social bookmarking sites like DIGG bloggers look only for the holy grail of hits. Popularity is all that counts and to some extent I also believed this. But the truth is that the "DIGG EFFECT"  is bad news for bloggers. Look at it this way : We all have access to this incredible medium of the internet. Wether you are a blogger , pod-caster, vidcaster or amateur Porn Star , we all have the same chance of putting our own unique message out there.  But the quest for popularity effects many. It has them turn their unique content into something that might just be liked by the masses. Twisting peaces of unique personal content into something with a catchy title and a sensational content. Like junkies they crave the high ratings. Forget the uniqueness and talent they have and cross promote themselves into pulp-oblivion, desperately trying to get noticed. Ironically it is their uniqueness that got them noticed in the first place.

And where will it end  ? Will the quest for popularity turn all of them into internet paparazzi ?  Making every blogpost a screaming headline ? Have Bloggers spend more time driving their own propaganda machine then actually writing something worth reading ? I have seen one of my friends fall prey to the digg effect. A painful example was his latest Skype post where a misleading title lured visitors in  but where the content flirted with the edges of being downright wrong. All in favor of popularity ? A quick Google shows us that this brilliant blogger has fallen pray to this digg-effect. Posting EVERY article on digg and other services , desperately trying to get noticed. And burying his credibility in the process.  Using metatags in such multitude they almost outsize the post itself…  It is sad to see. Because this quest for popularity undermines his integrity, his talent, his uniqueness and turns this good friend into "just another blogger". Chasing the ball. Running after the quick-hit-fix in despite his own brilliant talent.

But in  the end I'm even mad at myself. For believing, for even a second, that hits mattered. That one should bend his content in order to be more popular. For thinking about turning my website into the next mc donnalds "bun" instead of the French croissant it is. For getting DUGG is takes no talent. A catchy title, ONE killer post : No problem whatsoever. It is staying true to ones initial talent that is the hard part. Even if that integrity means writing 20 posts that don't have mainstream appeal. Because we all have our unique talent. Its when we betray our integrity in favor of popularity that  Digg is bad for bloggers.

Epilogue :  Why this post  ?

I hear you ask : Why this post ? To flame my friend ? No , I like Sebastian very much. I hope this is a wake up call not only for him but for many bloggers. Content creators who are deleting the wonderful post about their walk in the park in favor of a writeup about an article they found featuring Britney's Breasts. For going for hits and sensationalism in favor of journalism or even art. For depriving the internet of their unique talent and personality in favor of yet another digg. 

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This week on the Geek.

First day of the week and allready a ton of stuff to do. Still rounding up the Knightcast episode 38 with quite a bit of post productionwork ahead. But it will all be worth it so stay tuned for the next episode.

GeekMeanwhile I thought I would share another weekly dose of Knightwise with you and point to you this weeks episode of The Global Geek Podcast. A technology podcast that I do together with my Australian friend Dave Gray about Web 2.0 developements, tech news and the pulse of the net as it exists today. Featuring cool reviews of applications, sites and services and the occasional interview. This week we have Jason Vahn over as a guest, giving us a business side angle at the stories we cover.

It turns out to be quite a hilarious episode, both at Daves and my expense. As I hammer down on him for falling of a chair and I get squashed for using Media player 10. So beam over to www.globalgeekpodcast.com and enjoy !!!

 

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A walk in the High Marshes.

Hmm 🙂 Friday ! Probably my favorite day in the week. Just one more day at work and of it is to weekendland. And in those weekends you will seldom find the Knights at home. Its true, we are downright gipsy when it comes to our saturday afternoons and sundays. If we see a chance to go out .. the door slams shut behind us and of we go to some exotic location in a 100 km radius ( sometimes a bit further , but hey , its weekend , right ? ) So today I am going to take you with us on one of those little outings. 

What do you get if you mash an outing to the high marshes in the Ardennes, together with a digital camera, Imovie, a podsafe track and Youtube ?  Right ! Time for a weekend videoclip 🙂 No long post today, we'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

 

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