The Cat and the Coup

The Cat and the Coup – A documentary+game

“The Cat and the Coup” is a documentary in form of a game about CIA’s ousting of Iran’s Mossedegh. It’s technically not a game in the “game” sense, it’s just a story told in a very interesting manner. You get to play as Mossedegh’s cat, and your job is to coax him out of each room and in the end uncover the story of Mossedegh’s ousting by the CIA and the events that led to it.

The art is intricate and beautiful, and so is the soundtrack, and you will be immersed in this game for the short time (it took me 15 minutes) you’ll take to play it through. You’ll either enjoy it or learn something new, so it’s totally worth your time.


I won’t really reveal much more here as it’s just 15 minutes of gameplay, so saying something at this stage will be equivalent to ruining it for you, though there’re technically no spoilers for a documentary.

It’s completely free and just a 59 megabyte download on Steam, so you should go ahead and give it a whirl. Here are the links to the game and the official game website.

You can also just download it off the website if you want.

 

A simple way to stop someone from using your Wi-Fi (mainly for Binatone Routers)

I checked some of my blog’s traffic stats recently and discovered that a lot of the people coming here were searching for a way to block someone from using their wireless connection. Now, I understand that a rudimentary way of doing so is changing the password, but this will not always work, especially if the people involved have easy access to your password.

Now, with this post, I will show you a simple way to block access to your wireless connection without having to change your password. This method is very basic; it will certainly not stop the most determined attacker, but it works when the people you want to block are say, family members. Here’s how to do it:

  1. You will have to block every device individually, so for starters, you will need the MAC addresses of the devices you want to block. If you don’t know what a MAC Address is, go here. You’ll find the MAC Address of a device somewhere in its network settings. If you still cannot find it, just go to Google and put in something like “how to find the MAC address <your_device’s_platform>. You will need physical access to the device you need to block. There is another way to block devices when you don’t have physical access to them; I will discuss that at the end of this post.
  2. Open your router’s configuration page (should be something like 192.168.1.1). Key in the username (usually admin/administrator) and password (the default password is generally password; you may also try leaving it blank. Once you are in, change your default log-in details.
  3. Once you are inside your router’s configuration page, go to the interface setup portion. For Binatone routers, it’s usually just a tab that says “Interface Setup”. For other routers, it’s usually somewhere near where your wireless connection’s password settings are.
  4. Go to the wireless connection settings (for Binatone) and for other routers, search for a similar sub-category or option.
  5. Search for the wireless/MAC Address filter. This is where you will do the actual blocking. Make sure you have the right MAC Address and put it in one of the text fields which will usually say 00:00:00:00:00:00. Once you have done this, select the required action, in this case, Deny Association. Now, click on the “Activate(d)” radio button and save your preferences.

That’s it. You can put in whatever MAC Address you want to block and save (remember to activate the filter and choose the correct action setting). Note that this won’t really stop a very determined attacker or someone who has a physical link with your router

If you do not have physical access to the devices you want to block, there is another way to go about this. This is by changing the action setting under the MAC Address filter. Change it from “Deny Association” to “Allow Association”, and instead of keying in the MAC Address(es) you want to block, key in the MAC Address(es) you don’t want to block. What this will (obviously) do is only allow certain devices access and block everyone else out. This is useful if you want to add an extra (but still basic) layer of security or don’t have physical access to the devices you need to keep out.

Warning: Take care while changing your router settings and only do so when you are completely confident and sure of what you are doing. If you block yourself out by mistake, you can always use a device with a physical link to your router (i.e. ethernet/USB connection with it [not wireless]) and access the router’s page, enabling you to remove the erratic settings.

That’s it! Thanks for reading.🙂

Port Forwarding on the Binatone DT 845W Router

A lot of people have asked for this, since there are not many tutorials on port forwarding on your home router. In fact, I did not find even one useful tut on port forwarding on a Binatone router, except for forwarding on the ADSL2000 and ADSL2001 series. Here I have explained how to port forward on the Binatone 845W ADSL2+ Wireless Router. I hope this is of use to people, owing to the fact that many other home routers use the same, or similar settings:

  1. Type your Internet Protocol address in your favourite web browser’s (mine is Mozilla Firefox) URL bar and press the return key. This should open up your router’s log-in page. Usually, typing 192.168.1.1 (or a similar address) will suffice, but you may also type in your public Internet Protocol address for this purpose. If you want to find out what your public internet protocol address is, open Google and search for my ip or what is my ip. This should make Google give you your internet protocol address above the search results.
  2. When you have opened your router’s page, type your user name and password to log-in to your router. Usually, the user name is admin, and by default, the password is password. The user name will be admin for you in most cases, while if you have changed the password, well, put in whatever password you set it to. If you don’t remember your router’s password, you might want to reset your router by sticking a pin in the hole which houses the reset button. Press it for about 10 seconds till the router begins to restart. Now, log in to your router’s page, and enter the default log-in details, admin for user name, and password for password. Remember, once you are in, change your password to something else instead of password. Write down your new password in case you forget it.
  3. Once in, click on the Access Management tab, for DT 845W or search for the ACL option (Access Control Listing) on other routers. For 845W, now click on the ACL option below the Access Management tab. Make sure that Access Control Listing is set to enabled. It should be enabled by default. Now, in the Access Control Editing option, set the ACL Rule Index to 3. You might want to set it t another number; though I said 3 because by default Rule 1 and Rule 2 are already defined. You should check the Access Control Listing table below first. Suppose the number of entries in that table is n, set the ACL Rule Index to n+1.
  4. Now, for the option Active yes/no, set it to YES by choosing the appropriate radio button.
  5. Leave the Secure IP Address section blank unless you know what you are doing. If you want to allow only a specific range of internet protocol addresses, you can set the range there. The default entry for this option is 0.0.0.0 ~ 0.0.0.0, which means “All Internet Protocol Addresses”. If you are setting up a game server or a web server for which you want to forward ports, it is better to not change this setting and let the default setting remain.
  6. Now, for the APPLICATION drop-down menu, you must select the application you wish to port forward for. Though I don’t think you can enter custom ports through the ACL page, you might as well snoop around and find a similar option.
  7. Set the Interface option to LAN or WAN or BOTH as per your requirements, though you needn’t do so for LAN, because by default, the first ACL rule opens up every web application for LAN.
  8. Now press Save. The first step of our operation is completed.
  9. Now click on the Advanced Setup tab and go to NAT. For other routers, search for the Network Address Translation option or the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) option. For 845W users, after clicking on NAT, click on DMZ. Set it to enabled and enter the relevant Internet Protocol Address over there. To find out the address you need, open the command line or terminal, and enter ipconfig for Windows or ifconfig for most Linux distributions and press the return key. You should have an address in front of you of the type 192.168.1.x or 192.168.x.y, I believe. Note down this address or simply copy-paste it to the text box in the DMZ option.
  10. Press Save and close the router configuration page. You are now good to go.

This tutorial teaches you how to open up your ports for traffic on port 80, 20, 21, Telnet, and IRC ports among others. Through this tutorial, you might also select ALL from the Applications option and open up either all of the above ports or all of your ports, but I strongly recommend to refrain from doing so. Do not mess up with these fragile security settings unless you know what you are doing.

I will soon put up another tutorial to teach you how to port forward on custom ports on home routers such as the DT 845W ADSL2+ Wireless Router!🙂

Bitcoin and The Taking of Pelham 123

The Fluctuating Bitcoin!

Bitcoin has been fluctuating like hell of late, and to blame are mostly DDOS attacks on the exchanges. The DDOS attacks, here, clearly have been performed for the specific purpose of making the value per Bitcoin fall. These attacks are reminiscent of the Denzel Washington-John Travolta movie, “The Taking of Pelham 123”. For the people who haven’t seen this 4-year old flick, let me give a simple summary:

John Travolta plays the role of a former private equity manager who is convicted and sent to prison for stealing from a public pension fund. To fill up his coffers, he comes up with a very ingenious plan: he takes over a train, called Pelham 123 (If you are curious about the name too, let me tell you that the name is so because the train departs from Pelham Bay Park Station at 1:23 precisely, giving it such a unique name). Now, Travolta takes the passengers hostage and demands a ransom. Initially, the “good guys” fail to see the true motive behind Travolta taking over the train – they believe it is for the ransom. Soon, they realize that the actual reason is way different. The taking of this train causes stock exchanges to fall, leaving space for Travolta to put big bucks in investment – the ransom is just the capital; and when the stocks rise back up and normalize, his money basically multiplies by many times over, making him really rich. He is caught in the end, but this article is not a movie review, so we’ll just stop here.

John Travolta in The Taking of Pelham 123

Now, DDOS attacks on Bitcoin, similarly, caused the stock exchanges to fall by a huge margin, leaving space for the real perpetrators of the crime to invest some serious money, which would grow and make the perpetrators millionaires, at least. This is basically the same thing, it is just that the trigger is different, and is a denial of service attack rather than a hostage situation, though the attack is taking exchanges for hostage. This is a Pelham 123 style attack, if not a Pelham 123 inspired attack!

The solution? Detection of the perpetrators is extremely difficult, due to a technique known as IP Address spoofing. Going back to them and/or tracing back the attacks is just a dream, given privacy measures such as Tor. Note: I don’t blame Tor. I love Tor too, it is just that it is misused very often.

We must prepare for such attacks. A stitch in time saves nine. Dave Piscitello has an excellent article on the prevention of distributed denial of service attacks on the ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) Blog over here.

Oh, and as a conclusion, Cheers!🙂

Why I still prefer Travian 3.6 over 4

Travian is probably one of the most famous browser games out there, because it contains the best game play and environment when you compare it with other browser games. I was a very big fan of this game, still am, and used to play it regularly. Now, as a “veteran” in this game, I do not like the new Travian 4 at all, I mean, it defies the whole concept of a browser game. Here I will state the reasons for this, and if God gives Travian Inc. the sense they need, they will promptly launch the 3.6 competition server they were asking Facebook users about.

  1. Travian 4 is a graphic-intense, heavy game. It takes more than a millennium to load it on a mobile phone; which means that it cannot be played on the go. The image-heavy nature of this new interface ruins the whole “light browser game” effect. This is just a vain attempt at making people’s thoughts shift from game play to graphics. Graphics were never the attraction; it was always the game play, and these graphics are coming in the way of the game play.
  2. The extended role of heroes, sort of makes me uncomfortable. You become more of a person hiding behind a hero who has to be sent to a thousand places to gain experience, do this, do that. This was the case earlier too, but heroes came later in the game, and the owner of the account came way ahead of the hero. Heroes were valuable then, they are commonplace now.
  3. The charm of 3.6 is missing – For instance, look at the “Map” section of the game. The earlier map was “open”, it didn’t have a lot of details but told you all you had to know. Using the map was a fun experience altogether. This new map is like a 2D plane, unlike the previous map, which, need I remind, was tilted and looked like an actual map, not like some barren desert encrusted with craters.
  4. The pieces do not fit; the game’s different parts are not in harmony with each other, like in 3.6, in which everything was perfectly linked and synced, and the game was wholesome.

Travian 4, while it makes some improvements in the messaging system and reports system – has a lot of demerits. I believe that Travian Inc. should just take out the pros from Travian 4, inject them into the 3.6 model, and we’ll be good to go. What is more concrete evidence than all of the above is that thousands of people actually share the same opinion here. Earlier in April, Travian Games on their Facebook page put a post, saying that if the post got 3600+ likes, a new 3.6 competition server would be set up. 3600 likes were obtained in less than one day.

I’m looking forward to this new server, though even if it doesn’t come, Travian is Travian, and even with all of its demerits, Travian 4 is the best browser game out there, in my opinion.

Steam on Linux: Ba-dum Tss

I recently installed Steam, the popular gaming platform owned and operated by Valve, on my Ubuntu Linux distribution, version 12.04 LTS (Precise Pangolin). Installing it was a breeze, using the Ubuntu Software Center, and once installed, it proposed some driver updates to improve my system’s gaming performance; which I did, and which had effect too.

Now, firstly, I must compliment Gabe Newell for introducing Steam on Linux too, because via this, he will be able to reach out to a wider variety of gamers, and people who otherwise use only Linux; a set comprising of a breed of computer users who have much more knowledge of computers, as compared to Windows users. This has definitely mended a lot of broken egos.

Secondly, Linux systems are generally lighter than Windows systems, and are “quite snappy out of the box” (not my words) and take up much less of the computing power available. Another thing that can be done to improve gaming performance on Linux systems is too boot into xterm instead of the default GNOME or Unity interfaces and run Steam from there. All this guarantees a major boost in Frames per Second and results into a better gaming experience altogether. In fact, if I am to believe myself, this change, though for the better has come very late. Gaming on Linux PCs would have been better if it would have from the start.

Apart from all of that, I think Ubuntu has distinguished itself as the best suited distro for gaming at the moment and in the near future, unless someone develops an even more lightweight distribution based on the Linux kernel that is explicitly suited for this purpose.

Though for now, it is best to leave all of that and enjoy the Steam experience mixed with the Linux experience.

Have fun gaming with a few more fps!!!!!!

Author’s Note: This review was written by me originally on my own phpBB forums with the handle “deltascrow”. The forum was only for experimental purposes, still is, in fact, and I wasn’t going to let an article get wasted like that.😉

000webhost Woes

In the recent past, I have used 000webhost on numerous occasions which include personal and professional projects, all requiring free web hosting. Till I hosted static HTML/CSS/JS based pages on the website, functioning was smooth and I was quite happy with 000webhost, until I decided to install a phpBB forum on one of my websites; as an experiment. 000webhost on the registration screen has put forward a claim stating that the Fantastico Script Installer is available to free users with a limitation of ten fixed scripts. Incidentally, phpBB was one of the ten. I tried to install using Fantastico, but experienced an error I had experienced every other time I tried to use the script installer: “The installer is under maintenance, though you can use it if you are a premium user”, to put it crudely. This error message is always there, whenever free users click on Fantastico. How is it that the installer is always under maintenance? I believe it’s just a scam to make free users upgrade to a premium account.

Without giving a damn about their “available” script installer, I went in for a manual installation. Installing phpBB on a forum is not that tough, it’s a simple process, you just have to click through it. Setting up the requisite MySQL database wasn’t a pain as well. This was the easy part, and installing the forum on the website from scratch up to the point where the /install directory is deleted was no hardship. The problem arose during the usage of the forum.

Let me put this is a time-sorted fashion.

Zero Hour to First Six Hours: No traffic except me on the website, only one account on my forum, with me posting random threads. Functioning was smooth at this stage and I experienced no problem.

Next six hours: Sixth hour to Twelfth Hour: Minimal traffic on my website, a few friends began to show up, and the twelfth hour saw 4 members on my forum. Occasional error in loading, the server was “apparently busy” because only 4 users on a minimalistic forum were somehow managing to take up 100 GB of the monthly allotted bandwidth. (Sarcasm)

Twelfth Hour to End of Day 1: Complete mayhem. The server was down more often than up. It was during this stage I lost my patience and filed a ticket with the support staff. Oh, and to put a mention: I knew the site was down because I had retried after clearing my cache, then through a proxy, then finally I used a website to check whether my website was just down for me or for everyone (http://www.downforeveryoneorjustme.com/). The results, unfortunately, were that the website was down for everyone. Towards the end of this stage, support shot me back a reply (co-incidence, the speed, I believe). The reply was most unhelpful and the volunteer staff advised me to do the things I had already tried, stating that the problem was not at their end, but mine, most probably. Of course, the person who replied did so in a very dulcet tone, but the message got through. Oh, and just so I don’t forget, the support staff gave me a really shining solution to my problem: UPGRADE TO A PAID ACCOUNT.

It didn’t take time for them to roll back their words and say that that problem was at their end, and not mine with a message that “the problem will be rectified soon” and if not, the users will be informed of the status in one hour. One day passed; there was no change in the status of the network, nor was there any information supplied as promised by 000webhost. The error message disappeared soon, but the problem did not; it persisted.

Miffed, I have closed my existing support ticket and soon plan to port from 000webhost. As a final conclusion, I’ll just say that 000webhost is good for standard 5-page static websites, but beyond that, it doesn’t get worse. I don’t say that the free 000webhost account is useless, because it has its advantages too, and is not like some other free hosts like 5gbfree where you have an e-mail limit when you send e-mails via PHP scripts, but out of 10, I’d give it only 4.

Any feedback, or an account of your own experience(s) with 000webhost or any other web host, good, or bad, would be appreciated.