Category Archives: STD Story

[STD] Craigslist Is Great!

Revisions:

4-7-10: Initial release.


Define STD: STD for The Underground Blog is short for Savvy Tech Dude/Dudette. The STD story is my attempt to share some insight into some of my practices, as well as others as to how they are using technology to make their life better, saving money, or perhaps bettering the environment. (Hopefully, I can find a female contributor… :) )

Frequency of Story: When it feels right.

Personal Comment: I really love the STD idea, and with topics so broad, I can go anywhere with this series. The question is, how far down the rabbit hole do you and I want to go? :P

In the meantime, I encourage all forms of interaction. Please sound off in comments, I’d appreciate it. If you have an idea, or want me to consider something different, I will. If you want to spread the word, be my guest. As time goes along, I’m asking for people to contribute, or if you want to be interviewed (I’ll protect your identity), then we can dig deeper. Please consider my offer, thanks!


In the picture above, that is my Dell model number 922 that I got from Craigslist today.  Below is a picture of a bag of chips.

Both objects are vastly different, but in today’s case, can you tell me how they are the same?  Let’s see:

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[STD] The Price Is Right At The Right Time


Define STD: STD for The Underground Blog is short for Savvy Tech Dude/Dudette. The STD story is my attempt to share some insight into some of my practices, as well as others as to how they are using technology to make their life better, saving money, or perhaps bettering the environment. (Hopefully, I can find a female contributor… :) )

Frequency of Story: When it feels right.

Personal Comment: I really love the STD idea, and with topics so broad, I can go anywhere with this series. The question is, how far down the rabbit hole do you and I want to go? :P

In the meantime, I encourage all forms of interaction. Please sound off in comments, I’d appreciate it. If you have an idea, or want me to consider something different, I will. If you want to spread the word, be my guest. As time goes along, I’m asking for people to contribute, or if you want to be interviewed (I’ll protect your identity), then we can dig deeper. Please consider my offer, thanks!


Near my house Blockbuster was going out of business. About two weeks ago, it shut down for good, but through this experience I wanted to share a heartfelt story that despite a recession going on, there are still individuals willing to spend money on movies and not have to resort to downloading.  It’s called buying something because its such a ridiculous deal.

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[STD] A Perfect Pirate X-Mas Story

Just pure sexy.

Define STD: STD for The Underground Blog is short for Savvy Tech Dude/Dudette. The STD story is my attempt to share some insight into some of my practices, as well as others as to how they are using technology to make their life better, saving money, or perhaps bettering the environment. (Hopefully, I can find a female contributor… :) )

Frequency of Story: When it feels right.

Personal Comment: I really love the STD idea, and with topics so broad, I can go anywhere with this series. The question is, how far down the rabbit hole do you and I want to go? :P

In the meantime, I encourage all forms of interaction. Please sound off in comments, I’d appreciate it. If you have an idea, or want me to consider something different, I will. If you want to spread the word, be my guest. As time goes along, I’m asking for people to contribute, or if you want to be interviewed (I’ll protect your identity), then we can dig deeper. Please consider my offer, thanks!


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[How To] play Videos, movies and Mp3s off USB on PS2 using SMS DIVx media player.

Foreword: I was chatting with versatile1, the day before I started this tutorial and he spurred up this amazing thought of ‘PS2s being preferred over DIVx players’. Do you know that the PS2 costs $99, and do you also know that the DIVx players cost like about 40 – 50 Dollars ??.. So, the difference is just $50 of cash. But, the PS2, unlike any DIVx player, is a gaming console and the list of games might arguably exceed the 2,500 mark. And by buying a copy of Swap Magic, we could play backed up PS2 games.  Bottom line ~~> That extra $50, was definitely worth it !!


Revisions: [12-23-09] Initial release.

[12-27-09] Added Versatile1’s ‘Free McBoot’ Video Tutorial.

[12-30-09] Added Versatile1’s SMS video Tutorial.

[1-25-2010] Added links to the latest version of ULE and added Versatile1’s DVD decrypter tutorial.

2-10-14: Fixed video link.


INTRODUCTION:

The PS2, being a legendary console, never lets you down when it comes to surprises. And the Simple Media System (SMS) is one such surprise.
The SMS media player is a PS2 application, which lets you play DIVx media files on the PS2. The SMS media player is equivalent, or maybe even superior to any ordinary DIVx player.

NOTE:  The supported media formats are AVI, DIVx, Xvid, mpeg1, mpeg2, ogg, mp3, ac3, srt (subtitles), wma, asf and pcm.

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[STD] Why Some Gamers Are Smarter Than Others (Financial Wise)

Gaming Cabinet

Define STD: STD for The Underground Blog is short for Savvy Tech Dude/Dudette. The STD story is my attempt to share some insight into some of my practices, as well as others as to how they are using technology to make their life better, saving money, or perhaps bettering the environment. (Hopefully, I can find a female contributor… :) )

Frequency of Story: When it feels right.

Personal Comment: I really love the STD idea, and with topics so broad, I can go anywhere with this series. The question is, how far down the rabbit hole do you and I want to go? :P

In the meantime, I encourage all forms of interaction. Please sound off in comments, I’d appreciate it. If you have an idea, or want me to consider something different, I will. If you want to spread the word, be my guest. As time goes along, I’m asking for people to contribute, or if you want to be interviewed (I’ll protect your identity), then we can dig deeper. Please consider my offer, thanks!


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[STD] P2P Is My Hot Hot Sex

Define STD: STD for The Underground Blog is short for Savvy Tech Dude/Dudette. The STD story is my attempt to share some insight into some of my practices, as well as others as to how they are using technology to make their life better, saving money, or perhaps bettering the environment. (Hopefully, I can find a female contributor… :) )

Frequency of Story: When it feels right.

Personal Comment: I really love the STD idea, and with topics so broad, I can go anywhere with this series. The question is, how far down the rabbit hole do you and I want to go? :P

In the meantime, I encourage all forms of interaction. Please sound off in comments, I’d appreciate it. If you have an idea, or want me to consider something different, I will. If you want to spread the word, be my guest. As time goes along, I’m asking for people to contribute, or if you want to be interviewed (I’ll protect your identity), then we can dig deeper. Please consider my offer, thanks!

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All right guys, I’m back in action to continue the STD stories. Last time around, I dived a little bit into the minds of the pirates, and how casual pirating has become “OK” in today’s society, especially among our youngsters, and even among the elderly. This time around, I want to slightly touch upon P2P scene in general, and what this means for the world around us.

Do not expect me to go into hardcore detail as to what is a torrent and how it works. I will go over a brief overview, but if you really want to learn about the protocol, please see the Wikipedia link at the end of this post. This is based off an interview account with a fellow internet user. His account is below, and we shall name him Cracker Jack.

(Image source: http://crunchgear.com)

[This is Cracker Jack’s Story]

Cracker Jack went to high school during the late nineties, and his first introduction into P2P was Napster. Do any of you remember using the old school Napster? Without Napster, you would not have iMesh, Scour, Limewire, WinMX, BearShare, and the sort.

What was Napster? It was a program that let you search other people’s hard drives for media content. You could find music, movies, pictures, text files, pdfs, just about anything to your heart content if you put in the right search term. See image below for example of the old school Napster interface:

Screenshot of Napster

So Cracker Jack’s family was just coming online with high speed internet and Cracker Jack remembers using 56K since the mid nineties, and when Yahoo DSL came to his neighborhood, he felt like a spoiled kid inside a candy store. Cracker Jack made a long list of must have movies like Terminator 1 & 2, Predator 1, Predator 2, whole slew of Adam Sandler movies, and bunch of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles episodes because he was old school like that.

Then a grim day came in Year 2000 when Metallica found out that their song they had made for Mission Impossible 2 was leaked onto Napster. Since Napster used a centralized system for keeping track of all the files, it was very easy to take down the system. Destroy the central server, and good bye illegal file sharing…right? (Note: Today Napster is a legal music machine, where you pay to download music. Napster is a sell out. :P)

Surprise! The ball for P2P has already started, and there was no turning back. within a short amount of time, you started getting decentralized networks popping up, good examples being Edonkey, and the Fast Track network which used programs like iMesh, or Kazaa.

Kazaa Banner

Well, did you know that the Kazaa program was riddled with spyware? Hell, it probably is still today. Hence, it was no surprise that some programmer came out with Kazaa Lite. Kazaa Lite was everything the original Kazaa program was, but without the spyware. It ran fast, and you can search everything you wanted for without worry big brother is watching you.

So Cracker Jack used Kazaa lite for a long time, but after awhile he and others got sick of it. Fake music files, and incorrectly named movies was becoming the norm. Cracker Jack dabbled into the IRC scene, downloaded music, and even messed around with the AOL Warez scene. He had been on serial key websites, and even made his own (short lived though). Since then, Cracker Jack had visited Warez sites, and underground forums with links to rapidshare and all kinds of digital media.

Life was good, but was it? In 2001 the biggest thing since sliced bread was the invention of BitTorrent, created by Bram Cohen. Now I won’t go into all the technical details as to how that works, but what it does is it allows people to distribute files very quickly and efficiently.

What you do is you get a “torrent” file, and the torrent file is like a pointer file that points to the complete file that is hosted on a bunch of computers that are sharing the file, or otherwise known as seeders. When you download a file, you are considered a leecher. The whole entity of seeders and leechers is considered the swarm.

Unlike traditional HTTP downloads, bitTorrent throttles its bandwidth. The beauty of the protocol is that it allows the user to download a file very fast, since it downloads bit and pieces of the file simultaneously from all computers in the network. The interesting part of bitTorrent is that when you download, you also upload at the same time. Thus, the file never dies until there are 0 seeders in the system. See below picture for more clarification.

Now in the P2P torrent scene, there is something called trackers. Trackers are employed by both public and private torrent websites. What these trackers do is keep track of the files activity, and it is what tracks the upload/download ratio of any specific user, as found on private websites like Demonoid.com.

Now I (Versatile1) won’t go into all the details as to how to get involved with torrents, but just know there are programs called torrent clients that allow you to use torrent files so you can download whatever to your computer. To find torrents, you can visit private membership sites (demonoid.com), or you can go to public sites like torrentz.com or isohunt.com. (See end for more resources).

With the advent of torrents, it has become the prime medium for file distribution. Please note that bitTorrent protocol is not illegal, it is sharing of copyrighted materials that make it illegal.

This is why you hear stories of the MPAA, BSA, and the RIAA cracking down on file sharers. When you use a torrent client, it effectively shares your IP address with the rest of the world. The copyright organizations can effectively log onto any torrent, collect all the IP addresses that they see at any given time, and then hunt you down. *shivers*

Of course, programs like Utorrent and Azureus allow you to use encryption, but I don’t think it saves you from having your IP address shared. Hence, we talk briefly about another program called PeerGuardian 2.

In short, Peerguardian 2 is a IP blocklist program. It allows the user to connect to a blocklist website and download a list of IPs that is affiliated with evil organizations. Of course, the protection of the user is only as good as the robustness of the blocklist. Nonetheless, using PG2 is better than using nothing at all. I still use torrents today with PG2, and if you use torrents, you should too.

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The bottom line: Peer to Peer technology has come a long way. As people find ways to share digital media online, it is a battle between sharing items without being undetected, while at the same time achieve optimal network efficiency. The P2P scene started with decentralized technology, but now everything has either moved to decentralized networks, pay to play schemes, IRC, UseNet, or underground DC++ hubs. File sharing will always exist, and it will be here forever. The only thing we as consumers need to do is just be careful in what you decide to download/upload, because big brother will be watching.

In summary:

  • Napster started the P2P scene for the general public. It used a centralized system, but was easy to take down because of its centralized server.
  • Today Napster uses a music subscription system, and is considered a sell-out to hardcore P2P fans.
  • When Napster first went away, new decentralized programs took its place such as Kazaa, iMesh, Scour, Limewire, BearShare, and more. Many of these programs still exist today.
  • BitTorrent came in 2001 and is the most popular technology today to distribute files. Never ever use the original bitTorrent client, as it sucks. I used to use Azerus, but I highly recommend Utorrent instead.
  • To protect yourself in any forms of P2P media, please use IP blocking programs such as Peerguardian 2 or Protowall. Both of these programs will help protect you, although it is not 100% foolproof. It is better than using nothing.

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Versatile1 comment below:

I realize this STD story is very long, but you can see, I wanted to show the life of the P2P scene. Cracker Jack let me use part of his story, along with my explanations to get the message through. I think it worked quite nicely for the most part, don’t you think? :p I’m sure other people live in the P2P scene. To stay current and to learn more about P2P items, please refer to the links below:

Update 5-28-08:  I didn’t touch upon anonymous P2P, but it does exist.  Thanks to Commentor Ezzy, I have a new link for you undergrounders to try out: www.dargens.com.  It is a another program that lets you trade P2P files anonymously.  I have not tried this out, but it is worth checking if you want to try out something new.

[STD] This Is The Beginning

Pirate on computer

Welcome guys to the very first ever STD (Savvy Tech Dude/Dudette) post. I’m still working with logistics as to how I want to organize this, and this probably won’t become a weekly thing, just a random thing as life goes on. The STD story is my attempt to share some insight into some of my practices, as well as others as to how they are using technology to make their life better, saving money, or perhaps bettering the environment.

With topics so broad, it be interesting how varied these stories will go. As time goes along, I’m asking for people to contribute, or if you want to be interviewed (I’ll protect your identity), then we can dig deeper. I am entertaining the idea of posting this concept to other forums where techies live, and see if I can even get a larger response. If it works out right, this will become a magnificent concept.

Without further ado, here is the first story – a background of Versatile1 and his journey with technology:

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There is no doubt that the advent of computers have spawned a realm of underground activity, the most profound that has hit mainstream population is casual piracy. Don’t deny it, I’m sure most households out there engaged in it without them realizing it. Do you remember the audio cassette tapes? Did you try to tape music from the radio, or maybe from CDs that you borrowed?

How about copying VHS movies from one VCR to the other? I was one of those guys who engaged in this back in the day. In my house, we had at least 2 VCRs, so it made sense to find a good movie at the library or blockbuster or one of our friends and just copy the movie. Yes, it took about 2 hours to do it, but at least I could fit 3 VHS movies onto one VHS cassette if I used EP mode.

VHS Tape

Eventually DVDs came, and you couldn’t copy those straight off the bat because they have DVD encryption on it. Well, now there are programs that take off that DVD encryption so you can rip the movie to your hard drive and copy it or encode it to .AVI file for example. Now it is so easy to copy DVDs and encode them to .AVI files.

Now I don’t recommend this as it is dishonest, but there are people out there who have an account at Netflix, Blockbuster, Family Video, or your favorite video store and all they do is rent movies and copy them. Are you surprised? Heck, there might be some teenager kid in your neighborhood who does the same thing, or the equivalent by downloading movies and archiving them in some secret hard drive or burn them to some DVD binders.

Blockbuster

I assure you, piracy is found everywhere whether you realize it or not. Are you a parent of some high school kids? I am sure these high school kids have MP3 Players, and you think the music they put on their iPod is legit? I’m sure at least 90% of the music they are listening to it was illegally obtained. Heck, maybe the parents are doing it to. What I’m saying is even the nicest people are casually engaged in piracy because they believe its OK.

This single song is great, the rest of the album sucks, so buy it? Or it could be the other way. I download the album and listen to it. Album is great so I buy it. Worst case scenario: I download the album, it sounds great and I”ll keep it without buying the album. There are others who are just media pack mules and just download anything because they can. Are you one of these people? You are saving a buck, but it is the artists that lose is the saying.

I’m not here to say what is wrong or right. What I am saying is there are some underground practices that people are involving themselves under the impression nothing wrong will happen. Of course, you hear stories of college students now getting sued by the RIAA for downloading music, but now more and more of the college scene are going underground. They are starting to trade music internally on the school network, a place where the RIAA cannot get into.

There is so much left I want to talk about. I didn’t even dive into the subject of P2P, or torrents yet. Maybe I’ll let leave that for the next story.

Quick summary:

  • Piracy has always been around since technology became affordable for consumers.
  • People engage in casual piracy because it is convenient, and it saves them money. Individuals are starting to become tech savvy.
  • VHS piracy has always been around, and now DVD copying is the new rage.
  • The newest trend is downloading of music/movies from online or ripping them from the retail shop or friends. Obviously, this is wrong in terms of copyrights, but as a home user, who cares? This is the mentality that many people hold, and it will never stop.
  • RIAA is evil, and people are starting to wise up and getting their music in a smarter way.

Was this story helpful? Next time, I will dive a bit into how people are getting smarter in their technological means, and perhaps give you the reader insight into how you can do the same thing. Please leave a comment, or I’m under the belief no one cares enough about the STD story. Thanks!

Sources:

Wonder RIAA Picture: http://www.shedreamsindigital.net
Blockbuster picture: http://hoboken411.com
VHS: http://www.chromaservices.ca
Pirate Picture: http://www.cnn.com

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