?

Log in

No account? Create an account
An important PSA for everyone trying to run Vore Tournament 2.0.0. Due to changes to how GitLab works, the download link mentioned in the announcement post is no longer valid: It will now download the latest Master version rather than the 2.0.0 tag, which is no longer compatible with Xonotic 0.8.2 due to updated config files! Please download VT 2.0.0 from this link instead:

https://gitlab.com/voretournament/data_voretournament/-/archive/2.0.0/data_voretournament-2.0.0.zip

The rest of the process remains unchanged: Unpack this archive, make sure the base folder it extracts to is named data_voretournament, drop it in the Xonotic root directory next to the data folder, and run xonotic with the required parameters as "xonotic.exe -customgamedirname2 data_voretournament".
Time to speak my mind on another thing which is apparently, in fact, a thing. The cycle of learning new things every day never appears to end on this amazing world.

So it seems a new meme has emerged within this fandom: Blocking people from watching you on art sites (especially Furaffinity) if you don't like the social and political opinions they express on social media (namely Twitter). It's one of those things you don't even have a reason to imagine until you actually see it happen, and the sad part is it can even include people you would least expect it from: Every once in a while when I try to fave art, FA randomly informs me that people I've been watching for years have blocked me... without me ever speaking a word to them, nor they ever contacting me.

In none of those cases do I even have any idea what the reason is to begin with: I'm left asking myself "what the heck is this person's problem, how did I offend them"? I suspect it has to do with Twitter as it seems to have started happening after I've become more active there... which includes commenting on political stuff daily, whereas recently I've been involved in trying to break up witch hunts against several figures in the fandom. This sort of behavior is disgraceful in my opinion, and I condone it for a variety of reasons:

  • First it's transmitting the idea that you see yourself as superior for whatever difference of opinion you have, and that this difference is what everything revolves around to you. Basically you're saying "this person thinks something I don't agree with, how dare they exist anywhere near me at all... I'm gonna go all around the internet and block them from engaging in any of the unrelated things I do, just to show how important I am because I have this different opinion". It's true that I occasionally bring up personal grievances and political stuff here... however this is still an art site, why do we need to be at each other's throats here over life opinions exactly? Is it impossible to share ideas on various projects, comment on each other's art, or do anything else... all without having to bring up and dwell on a point someone expressed over on Twitter? It's not like I ever follow people around and rub my beliefs in their faces, I only make posts or journals about them and if you don't like those you can simply not read them... what is the deal then?

  • It's making it clear that you're unable to tolerate opposite ideas under any form, by reacting radically to anything that doesn't fall in alignment with your view of the world. With some things I may be able to understand that, such as people who think being transgender is a mental illness which is hard not to get angry over... to go all out against someone however, they must have actually done something horrible! Other than defending people who I believe to be wrongfully judged and having strong views against what's happening in the world today, I have never harmed anyone nor supported any harm but quite oppositely want freedom for everyone to live their lives in peace, which is the exact opposite of bigotry. Yes I have my fair anger at the world and say some dark things in the process, but I think most people can see past that.

  • This counts both as cowardice and complete lack of respect toward the other person. I for one was thought that if you have a problem with someone you know, you go through the minimal effort of explaining to them what your problem is, and why not asking them to clarify what they actually think and why they think it? To turn against someone overnight (the longer you knew them for the worse) the moment you discover they like something you dislike is pretty much saying "whatever, I never valued you at all anyway". Grow some balls and at least talk to them... other people have to face actual difficult situations for actually good reasons! People who do this might wanna let all their friends know just know how little they generally care about them in comparison to their precious opinions over random bullshit.

Overall my view of the furry fandom has changed a lot after this experience. The whole thing about furries being accepting people is just another lie... as is every good thing presented to you in this world: This fandom is as (in)tolerant as all of mainstream society, which sums up to "you are very welcome and we all love you... till we're offended by something then you can burn in hell". It's just the surprise that's a little bitter, as I convinced myself I've seen everything by now and couldn't possibly be disappointed by anything new. The rest I'm more than used to: My entire life I've been surrounded by people who judged me for who I am, I've lived fighting against their hatred for over 20 years now... at this point I'm dead inside from it, every day I feel like a soldier on the battlefield surrounded by troops and mines and guns... I know every friend may be fake, just another enemy in disguise ready to strike the moment they discover you're not one of them. The funny thing is I still haven't given up, and never will for as long as I exist... keep that part well in mind, all of you who hate others for refusing to conform to the strict views and way of life you try to brainwash them into!

In ending, let this be a word of warning to everyone else: If you agree or disagree with the wrong person or idea on social media, expect to find yourself randomly blocked by friends on art sites. Blocking is no longer a system to defend yourself from people harassing you, but a tool in imposing social conformity. It's sad what both the online and offline world have become, but this is what it is today.
I wanted to take a moment to share something that might be very important to a lot of artists here... namely 2D / 3D artists who create NSFW video clips and films. If you are or know of any animators in the fandom, please spread the news to them: This may help make their lives a whole lot easier!

As some of you probably know, life hasn't been very fair to furry animators; When it comes to drawn art, there are several furry sites that let us share content more or less freely (Furaffinity, Inkbunny, Sofurry, Weasyl, many more). But since video is much more complicated to stream and takes a lot more resources to host, none of those sites let you upload it... unless of course you convert to flash and downgrade to an abominable quality so that it fits under 10MB. So far there have been no alternatives in this department either: Video sites are dominated by a few monopolies, with Youtube at the top followed by a few others such as Vimeo or DailyMotion... all of which have very strict rules against NSFW content, to the point of deleting anything that even looks remotely sexual. A few animators tried uploading there and most have eventually lost their channels.

Now remember how I said the decentralized internet is coming to the rescue of those who are being left out by the mainstream web? Well today I just found out it's already happening for video platforms! While I was looking for news on the progress of the IPFS protocol, I came across this little beauty:

https://d.tube

DTube is another attempt to create an alternative to Youtube. Unlike previous attempts however, such as vid.me which tried hard and ultimately failed, DTube has an ace up its sleeve: It's based on decentralized technology... including my favorite the IPFS protocol for distribution, and the STEEM blockchain for account management. You don't need to install special software: It works like any video website, allowing you to create an account and watch video from your browser. I understand the platform also has a cryptocurrency system, so you might get paid for your videos in addition... it's probably different from ads on Youtube, and I haven't yet checked how much the revenue compares. Oh... and there are no limits to how large your videos can be either, although there is a warning saying that large files might not upload or may crash your browser.

The best and most relevant part is that it's uncensorable. Yep... no admins, no moderators, no community guidelines, no one taking down any videos: Community voting can apparently be used to decrease rewards or down-list uploads, but since it's decentralized there is no moderator team policing the content. In the about section they explicitly mention that NSFW video is allowed, and they only ask users to label it as such:

https://about.d.tube

I'm definitely gonna be breaking this news to the animators I follow. I can't wait to try the platform myself soon, once I find time to register and examine how it works. This is the first time in a while that I've been so excited and glad about something... both for providing an alternative that I've been gasping for like fresh air, as well as bringing justice against the strictly censored platforms that currently dominate the internet. Whether you're terrified or excited, get ready for the decentralized revolution... it's coming, and it's coming hard :)

Tags:

April status update

Since a few things are happening at once this month, here is a status update on what there is to look forward to this April.

First off, I will be sharing the promised art source pack during the upcoming weeks. Special thanks go to one of my patrons, who adapted their pledge to help me meet the 400$ goal this April as my pledges to continued to decrease. Like I said in my announcement on the matter: The art source post will be exclusive to the 10$ tier for a while, however I'll be setting it to go public... so feel free to grab this tier if you want early access to them, or check the post late this month or early next month when they go free. I'll make a new post and link to the them here after I publish the Patreon post in cause sometime in the following week.

Until then, expect this year's Easter render very soon... and don't worry, this one won't be rendered on an unstable quantum CPU :) I finished rendering it yesterday as I had to correct an issue that slipped past me in the first final render... now I have a result I'm very happy with and am sure you'll all enjoy! Over where I live Easter falls on the 7th, unlike the US where I heard it was the 1st... therefore expect it in roughly 3 days from now.

Last but not least, Vore Tournament: I'll be ready to announce a lovely new feature (technically a game-changing bugfix) later this month. I still need to polish a few issues introduced by this change before I fully declare it as stable, but for the most part I've done my testing and everything should be okay.

http://patreon.com/MirceaKitsune

My initiative for a decentralized web

I'm still trying to take my mind off the shit that went down those past couple of days, which just now seems to be dying down at last. I'm not yet in the mood to work on anything honestly, but I should have a few good things before the end of the month so don't worry. Till then I figured I'd put up one of the questions I had planned for my watchers and Patreon supporters, which I've been interested in hearing your opinions of ever since the idea came up. This should give us something less depressing to discuss, and maybe people can also offer useful tips on how I should go about this.

Here's what this is about in a nutshell: I've been following a superb project called IPFS for the past couple of months. IPFS is a decentralized networking protocol which will revolutionize how the internet works, similar to Substratum or Zeronet but as a file system rather than a plain product. It mixes the world of websites with torrent technology and other cutting edge software; Whenever you access any file or website in your browser, you automatically seed and share it for other users to download the data from you, of course for a limited amount of time unless you choose to pin that content. The project is still in its infancy and it will be a while until it becomes mainstream, but once that happens it will be one of the biggest upgrades coming to the internet. Hosting through IPFS will offer several huge advantages, with the following being most notable:

  • Hosting costs are reduced or wiped out altogether, as anyone can make a website without having to worry about a server to put it on. IPFS is a worldwide file system in which every computer viewing content shares it to others, thus it's distributed globally. All you need it so have enough viewers regularly accessing your stuff in order to seed the content reliably... if not you do have to pin and host the content until you do.

  • Loading speeds will increase as demand for bandwidth will decrease. With the existing internet, you download the data from a central server whenever you access a site... with IPFS however, you instead get the content of a website from other users who have recently viewed it! If any of them are close to you physical location and have a decent connection, you can expect much faster speeds than any official server would normally offer. Imagine you just watched a Youtube video and your computer caches it for a day, then your next door neighbor watches the same video during that day... instead of downloading it slowly from far away, your neighbor will download it from your machine in a matter of seconds.

  • Censorship by any third party is rendered technically impossible. Normal websites can be taken down or forced to moderate themselves because they're hosted on a central server... pull the plug on that server or intimidate the admin running it, the whole site goes down. In IPFS content will continue to exist as long as at least one computer on the planet still seeds it... thus the only way to take something down is to go after potentially thousands of people across the entire planet, which is beyond impossible for any single government or institution.

I suggest looking up IPFS and seeing the in-depth demos and descriptions explaining how it works. You can get started from their official website if you are interested:

https://ipfs.io

Now onto my actual idea: I wish to do my part in supporting this movement, by building my own piece of software that will run on top of IPFS. The plan is to basically create a platform which will serve as a free alternative to both social media (Facebook, Twitter) + art websites (Furaffinity, Deviantart) + video platforms (Youtube) + other. It would work like this: The platform itself consists of a general purpose interface (JavaScript file) which simply receives a link to a settings file (your profile) and translates it into a readable HTML page. Every user creates a profile by generating a json file containing their settings and links to any media, that file is literally your entire profile! Each profile you create works like a site of its own, which communicates with other profiles through this interface to offer certain functions (search, notifications, replies, etc). Profile and post tags are used to both follow and block content using a scoring system, and you can also use external lists maintained by third parties... this will make sure that everyone can watch or avoid anyone and anything they please. The site will be flexible and modern, offering customizable layouts and colors and banners and more.

This initiative is primarily intended for those of us who want to be free, at least in the online world when it's not possible outside of it. Once such a platform will be constructed, we will have the internet we've always dreamed of: A place where no government or corporation can silence us, where we can truly express ourselves without fear of being persecuted, where we follow our common sense instead of a TOS or AUP based on someone else's vision of right and wrong. As every profile is treated like a separate site, you are the one and only moderator of your page... there is no such thing as admins deleting your posts or banning you, no one can have control of the network itself. This does NOT mean there is no protection and anything goes: It only means you are in charge of deciding what you want to see for yourself. My approach will make it possible to block any tag or profile you don't want to connect to, and further more I'd be designing it to allow external files to be used as blacklists so that third parties can dedicate themselves to keeping track of offending accounts in case you trust that their lists are accurate for you.

Unlike other projects, I decided to ask for feedback before getting started on anything. That's because this is different from what I normally do, and I might have less time for game development and animations if I also dedicate myself to this task. The main question is how much you care for this: Do you want an alternative to Facebook or Furaffinity or Youtube which is open-source and where you are in full control of your data? Mind you, once IPFS goes mainstream, others will probably attempt something similar to my idea here... however I feel I have the opportunity to start one of the earliest projects in this regard.
First of all, I have to inform everyone of a potential delay in new content. It shouldn't be too long so don't worry: Hopefully only a few days or at most two weeks. I had some things planned for the next couple of days, however I'm currently not in a state to work on them and present them. I apologize and I hope you understand. Expect those updates in the second half of this month none the less!

Now for the reason. Yesterday I was involved in something I would classify as a rare occurrence: Internet drama that managed to make me physically sick, to the point where I had some issues sleeping and even now slightly feel like throwing up. When I didn't think humans could be capable of even more horrible things, the world (as usual) provided. I will not give names here as I don't wish to cause trouble to any of the people involved, but I will explain what happened otherwise:

I follow a few furry artists who I watch on FA over on Twitter, meaning I see their posts in my news feed which I now check rather often. Last night I saw a post from one artist addressing another artist who he's recently done a collaboration with. Information was leaked by a third party that this other artist might have been using child porn as reference for his artwork... something that wasn't even confirmed at the time, and was later clarified to be a huge exaggeration. The artist who made the post was expressing their discomfort in having associated with such a person, whereas everyone else in the comments began blasting away at this other artist. I do not take kindly to that sort of attitude especially if I don't believe it's perfectly justified, so I interfered and posted a few replies... this was all that was needed for me to be turned into the next target.

I've deemed the behavior and ideas expressed by some of the people commenting as worthy of demons from hell... because that is seriously the only thing I could associate this degree of hatred and insanity with. I was accused of indirectly supporting the child porn industry, called a child molester lover, cussed at in a variety of shapes and forms, then blocked by people to whom I didn't even do anything wrong and might have even known. My crime? Daring to suggest that people might not be despicable monsters for simply accessing an image off some dark corner of the internet... be it something as controversial as child pornography, granted they had nothing to do with the photo existing. A collage of fundamentally flawed logic followed suit: I was lectured on how what you enjoy in the privacy of your own home without anyone ever knowing can magically cause a crime outside of your home, how refusing to gang up on this person meant that I'm supporting child molesters and am like them, proudly told of how US law can put people in prison for simply laying eyes on a photo, or how drawing fictional artwork should be considered a crime because even that is "normalizing" it. I could literally only compare the things I've heard to the Christian inquisition, back when priests would round up witches and wizards from the woods and burn them at the stake under accusations of being heretics and worshiping Satan... today we're ready to send people to Mars and this shit happens worse than it did back then!

My points were very rational and simple: If for instance I downloaded a video of ISIS beheading a journalist, for whatever stupid reason I'd ever want to watch such a thing (I know some people do it to get a high similarly to watching horror films), I would not be accused of "supporting terrorism" nor would me drawing it mean I'm "normalizing terrorism"... so why is underage porn so special? On the aspect of fiction, I further explained that if this line of thought was expanded, a lot of things would be seen as crimes: Many furry artists would be classified as people who support bestiality, or vore artists would be labeled as people who support sexual cannibalism... why not them? I asked how someone simply being attracted to children, as creepy as I know that is in real life, is automatically a monster who doesn't even deserve to be treated like a person any more, even if they would never imagine harming actual kids in practice! No one could provide a single real argument, they all kept saying "this is different because it's different"... it's literally as if they were on drugs, under hypnosis, or living in a world inside their heads (which they proceeded to accuse me of doing).

Now my problem isn't that a few people think like this, I'd deal with it if that were the case. It's the scale and magnitude this sort of thing can reach: The same attitude was manifested even by folks whom I know aren't bad people, some who even turned against me simply for refusing to think like them! What makes it all the more scary though is that this can't be treated as a mere matter of opinion and discussed like other things at all, because those people act like brainwashed fanatics under some spell making real discussion virtually impossible... the subject is like a magic kill-switch that causes them to maul each other the moment you flip it! If the topic of kid porn can cause them to go like this, I don't see why other things (harmless or not) couldn't, granted I cannot trust the judgment of such beings any longer... I can expect that one day, me or someone I know might easily be assaulted in the streets altogether, all because something we said or thought somehow broke the emotional balance of the apes.

I shouldn't need to iterate that I will never support anything that is clearly, undoubtedly, irrevocably harmful to another person (rape, murder, etc). I will however refuse to judge by association, and will not condemn or discriminate anyone for merely thinking or watching or enjoying things, as long as the act doesn't directly cause harm to others! This is what they cannot understand: If they fear something, anyone who's even watched it or made a drawing about it or refuses to hate over it should be treated as a criminal, in order to set an example or rewrite normality! This way of thinking is beyond dangerous, it's how the Nazis and terrorists (a similarly complex subject) grow, and I will fight this sort of thing for as long as I'm cursed to live in this piece of crap world! To be fair, after what I've seen last night, I'm now more willing to believe that even actual pedophiles (excluding real abductors or molesters of course) aren't even bad people nor someone you should be scared of at all, just a sexual minority that's misunderstood and terrorized like gays were in the 70's... give me one good reason to think otherwise, because I no longer have one.

I don't know who will even understand my view at all, nor do I know who will turn on me over this or not... at this point though I don't even have the energy to wonder. I've tried fighting various forms of tyranny and madness and broken mentalities over the last years, because I found them dangerous or repressive or frankly ridiculous. It's sad what a target the mere act of doing so can paint on you... all because you want everyone to have the right to be happy as much as possible. I will continue it however, the hate of this world will not stop me... I just wish I didn't have to be seen as some demon over it by the mindless ones, and go through difficult experiences every day (more or less) just to oppose wrongful persecutions or broken views ingrained within society.

The state of open-source hardware

I am a great fan of open-source software and have been for over a decade now. Recently I've been asking myself a few questions, regarding the state of FOSS and how much of it we truly get to rely on in our everyday lives. Note that this post will be a bit long, and might require a good understanding of hardware and firmware in general (I'm not above average at this chapter myself).

Many of us choose to install and use open software for various activities: Some of us have a FOSS operating system (Linux instead of Windows), others just use free alternatives to commercial software for their work (LibreOffice instead of Microsoft Office), some gamers prefer free games over commercial alternatives (Xonotic instead of Team Fortress), and the list goes on. I'm among those who take comfort in the idea of going full FOSS, which I have since I permanently made the switch to openSUSE Linux. While for me it's an ideological thing too since I feel that I'm supporting something free that was created by others like me, I also take comfort in knowing that I'm always using trusted software: When the source code and compiled binary are both in a trusted repository that anyone can check, you know it's far more unlikely that someone would sneak in programs that spy on you or attempt to control your machine... things that Windows 10 or Apple's OS are notorious for doing.

Recently however, I've become more aware of something that doesn't stand out right away: You can't truly go full open-source... at least not very easily. While you can install a FOSS operating system like Linux, you're still using a computer that has a proprietary BIOS coded by the manufacturer. The BIOS is just the tip of the iceberg: Various other components have proprietary firmware which cannot be changed. This is most obvious with video cards, who rely on a binary blob for the video driver to work with... however the issue exists for every component at the end of the day, including motherboard chips and the network card and the hard drive and the monitor on your desk.

To this day this hasn't been something people had to give much thought to: The firmware is only responsible for providing an API for other drivers to work with, you almost never need to modify and update such a thing, usually it's easy to forget it even exists to begin with. But with computing power increasing, firmwares are becoming an increasing concern... especially among the surveillance and online censorship scandals society has found itself in during the past year. There will come a day when the BIOS will be capable of secretly sending whole files from your machine to an external server, effectively stealing files off your drive or logging pressed keys (which can reconstruct messages you type or your passwords). Censorship in the name of safety from random dangers has also been forced on us, and there may come a day when network card manufacturers could be required to include content blacklists directly in the firmware of network cards. In the very distant future, video cards may even come with firmware that can detect copyright in images using an external database, effectively blacking out your screen if something forbidden pops up! We need to have an alternative ready before those kinds of disasters can start happening.

Amid such concerns, I've grown interested in how much open-source hardware and firmware we have access to right now, to protect ourselves from hidden software or applications being forced on us by devices themselves. I want to imagine a world where every motherboard and video card and hard drive has FOSS alternatives on the market shelves, meaning they come unlocked software wise and anyone can code a firmware for them... including the ability to install and update your own firmware of choice after you take your device home and plug it into your computer. Unfortunately this idea faces at least three major issues I'm aware of:

  1. Most computer hardware manufacturers create their products with intent for their software to not be modified, making that difficult both by design and by law. It's easy to see why this happens: The production of motherboards or video cards or LCD monitors is an industrial scale business, which requires large costly factories and employees that must be paid well... it's not something you can do at home, or that a few people can create a Kickstarter campaign for.

  2. Updating the firmware on a device is very difficult. I am a casual programmer, and even I wouldn't have any idea how I could possibly take my webcam or drawing tablet and replace the software embedded into it! Is this even physically possible through the USB cable, granted the firmware is most likely mounted on a read-only chip? Further more, components the computer rely on to run are hard to update while the computer is running, however the computer must run to do the update thus creating a paradox... imagine taking down your chipset to update it for instance, it would be the equivalent of plucking out your RAM while the computer is powered on and processing data!

  3. Updating the firmware on a device is extremely risky. One little mistake and your device will be bricked, which basically means you'll have to throw it away and get a new one. This happens because the firmware you're updating is often also the firmware used to make the device communicate with the computer: If that is erased or corrupted, you have no way to connect the device again in order to get a new firmware installed.

For this ideal world to be possible, a few changes would need to be made. For point 1, we'd need corporations willing to produce FOSS hardware without seeking any control over the software we put on them... I believe there have been attempts in the past, this is definitely not impossible. For points 2 and 3, the device would need to have two different chips and essentially two firmwares: One that handles only connectivity (allows you to read and write to the chip) and said chip which contains the actual firmware (operates the functionality of the device)... this way the device can always be repaired if you brick the firmware, as you're not affecting the area which writes to the medium where the firmware is stored. The computer itself would have to allow booting into a special mode, which basically shuts down usage of all connected devices (including its own chipset) so that the firmware can be updated safely... in realtime this would almost never be possible as you'd need to suspend access to the CPU / video card / hard drive which would instantly crash the system.

I wish to know to what extent this has been done so far: Are there any open-source motherboards (including the BIOS) and video cards and other components, which are available in shops now or any of us can order online from across the world? If not then I'm wondering if this might ever happen: Could we live to have affordable computers and laptops and smartphones that are fully FOSS, meaning we can put our own firmware into any component without requiring advanced technical knowledge or there being a risk of breaking it?

I've recently been pondering a pretty scary theory, yet one that's looking more likely by the day. If my belief is correct, I couldn't stress the urgency of sounding the alarm as quickly as possible and asking everyone to spread the word about this. I know I'm going to sound like a conspiracy theorist here, but people need to be aware of this possibility.

I'm slowly growing certain that what's been happening to the web recently may be part of a worldwide initiative to undermine the open internet, which has been carefully planned and coordinated by governments worldwide for years. The proof in my view is how the web as a whole came under fire starting last year, in basically every part of the democratic world and for seemingly unrelated reasons. To list only the most well known examples:


  • The repeal of ISP privacy protections in the US.

  • The repeal of Net Neutrality in the US.

  • Censorship machines and link taxes in Europe.

  • A total and reckless porn ban in the UK.

  • Attacks on encryption in Britain and Australia.

  • Fining social media in Germany to censor speech.

  • Censorship over sex trafficking (SESTA) in America.

  • Censorship proposals over fake news in the EU.

  • Mandatory website blocking proposed in Canada.

  • VPN / TOR software was banned entirely in Russia.

  • Smartphones declared on par with drug addiction.

  • Social media censoring more aggressively every day.

And there are even more examples. Much of this is unprecedented in any democracy, yet it all began at once: Year 2017 or late 2016. If more than two years ago you would have proposed most of those things, society would have lit on fire and few would have even imagined the thought... yet today we see proposals worthy of some kind of futuristic dark age! What am I to make of this?

My theory is the following: Governments and corporations want more power and control over society. They know this is in part achieved through ideological control, whereas the internet also allows people to organize. News organizations and other powerful groups began using terrorists / nazis / pedophiles / other groups as scarecrows to convince us that a free internet is dangerous, so that we would approve of their control and censorship (without even thinking of it as censorship to begin with). Now that a good part of society has been scared off, they're slowly trying to copy the same internet model as Communist China and other repressive regimes across the globe.

Do you believe this is indeed what's happening? If so then how can we expose and fight it for what it is? Again I know I'm proposing unproven ideas, but I do feel the possibility of this having been coordinated needs to be discussed.

Firstly I ask that you consider sharing this post to spread the news: Everyone needs to be warned about this sort of thing and know that it's happening! Anyone can be a victim of such practices, and since it comes from trusted companies they won't even have a reason to suspect it. Victims can have their usernames and passwords actively stolen and their accounts compromised!

https://torrentfreak.com/flight-sim-company-embeds-malware-to-steal-pirates-passwords-180219
https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/pamzqk/fs-labs-flight-simulator-password-malware-drm

The summary: A company creating DLC for a Microsoft product called Flight Sim (an aeroplane simulator) was caught hiding malware in the installer of their product. The virus accesses your browser cache if you're a Google Chrome user, reads all usernames and passwords stored in it, then uploads them to the servers of FlightSimLabs. As unbelievable as this may sound, it's real and there is no mistake: It has been done deliberately which was confirmed by a spokesman of the corporation once its discovery went viral on Reddit. The scheme was uncovered after a player noticed the installer kept triggering their antivirus software... they got curious and checked why that is, then upon further diagnosis they discovered that a file called Test.exe collected and sent data from their hard drive to the producer.

Why on Earth would they ever do such a thing? Their excuse was simple: Trying to catch people who pirated the game. The producers consider this a form of DRM, and want to use it to get a list of any potential pirates who have accessed sites like ThePirateBay. In other words, if the installer believes that you've pirated the game (which can even happen mistakenly), they're going to steal all of your usernames and passwords from your machine... technically giving them access to every account you have online (Facebook, Twitter, etc) unless you're protected by two-factor authentication. They even went on to brag about how the data they obtain this way may be used in courts to convict people! They tried to water things down by clarifying that the process is only activated if the software detects an incorrect serial number, or that the system was created to target a specific person who they thought use Chrome... it should be obvious how little that matters to anyone who understands and is concerned about basic software security.

Apart from being an insidious thing to do, it's easy to see how this practice has huge potential to become a tool used for gathering data on people and persecuting sensitive communities. Imagine if someday software companies teamed up with law enforcement to include leaking tools in operating systems or video games, which scan your drive for specific content and send proof of you breaking the law to an organization: People can be arrested for what they search on the web, the porn they watch (there's already high interest in this area), the games found on their drives, and so much more... not to mention secretly giving the usernames and passwords to third parties in order to compromise the accounts of inconvenient people as a means of censorship.

Being a tech person, I have a list of security tips I normally offer in such circumstances: If you're a Windows user, run antivirus software and make sure to check every alert before clicking the "allow" button... tell your browser not to store your username and password in the cache for sensitive sites... and for the love of god, do not enable DRM in your browser even if some sites (like Netflix) want you to trust them to use it! Ideally you can use open-source software exclusively, which makes such attacks far more difficult since anyone can check the source code thus it's impractical to try hiding such a tool. You can also look up software before downloading and installing it to see if anyone else reported such malware.

At this stage the news comes as no shock to me. The only thing it does is to further turn me against copyright culture, making me more eager to see copyright abolished alongside other forms of prohibition: If something has been released into the public domain, people can and will copy it... it's impractical to try controlling the free flow of data by force, in the delusional and simple-minded hope that people are guaranteed to give you more money if they can't find something elsewhere. Jesus Christ... we live in a world where you can be fined or arrested for singing a song on the street or even saying a word out loud, because copyright has become a disease eating away at the most simple and fundamental freedoms a living being can have! I'm so glad to release everything I create under a Creative Commons license and steer free from this repulsive insanity, which I'll keep doing until the day I die.

Rent debt fully payed, huge thank you

So here is some positive news for a change. Over the past few months and years, I've dealt with enough disappointment to stop believing that anything good could ever be possible for me again... yet something amazing and unexpected recently happened, that I really wouldn't have anticipated and didn't see coming.

After posting a photo roughly two weeks ago, showing my apartment on the public debt list of our block, several people jumped in to help. One of them made the amazing donation of 500$, whereas another person made the also amazing donation of 100$. Combined, they were just enough to cover this debt and bring us back to zero... something we haven't been able to do in over 3 years if I remember correctly.

Other than a huge "thank you", I really don't know what to say. Seriously... that was amazing! I understand it must have been hard for folks to offer such a large sum, especially to someone they don't even know that well personally... I can at least assure you that you've made a huge difference, and helped me and my mother out of something I wasn't seeing us getting out of anytime soon.

Obviously we still have a lot of other unpaid debts, the problems are definitely not over... however the block administration bill was by far the largest and most legally dangerous of them all, the rest can wait a bit longer and some of it is more personal. Thankfully we might be able to get to these as well, now that the penalties for not paying the administration are finally gone.

In the meantime, my Patreon is also climbing back to +400$ which is what I released Vore Tournament 2.0.0 for. Again, huge thank you! Patreon's notifications are being wonky and contradictory, so I'm not fully sure what the exact sum is right now. If it stays over this milestone in the future, I should be able to avoid ending up in such a bad situation again.

Tags: