There's no such thing as free tech

There's no such thing as free tech

Can hackers really ruin your day? Consider the story a friend of mine recently told me. He has been playing the game Stronghold Kingdoms for a couple of years now. Apparently, as a result of hacking, some players gained points and certain advantages and had their accounts spoofed. 

My friend was somehow caught up in this and banned without warning. Neither his gameplay nor, according to him, his action history had anything to do with this, but apparently the game administrators were not in a mood to listen, so the ban is permanent and after two years and some real money investment he can no longer play. Yes, his wife is now happier, but it does raise a couple of interesting issues.

Some games require you to make a one-off purchase after which you own the game and can play as much as you like. Games like Stronghold Kingdom and others work by encouraging people to make continuous monetary investments even though they are advertised as free.

These online games put you both at the mercy of the controllers and hackers and over time often cost a lot more than buying a game to call your own. In both cases and in the above example there is no mercy to be found. There is no way to appeal and no way to encourage the administrators to investigate further. Keep this in mind with any games like this that you may be involved in as you could potentially be cut off at any time regardless of your investment in both time and money.  

Be thankful you are not living in Australia when it comes to internet access. According to the latest Akamai State of the Internet report, while the year on year averages for download speeds in the antipodean continent have risen slightly, they are trailing behind other nations so competitively they have dropped to 44th. By comparison, Thailand ranked 28th globally for peak connection speed and 15th on broadband connectivity ahead of Singapore at 20th place. Thailand beat Australia in most areas apart from 4K readiness which is not really anything to be concerned about, this year at least.

The UK adds itself to the growing list of countries that want access to your devices and the removal of encryption technology. Iran made similar comments recently and the US has been actively involved in snooping and having backdoors placed in all manner of devices. Places like China and the like have also been doing this for a long time. Like many suggestions, this banning encryption will only affect the law-abiding population because the criminals will continue to use it anyway, regardless of the rules.  

As of Jan 13 this year, Windows 7 went into extended support status. Windows 7 is still the most popular version with 55% of people using it and well ahead of all versions of Windows 8 combined. Windows 7 will expire in 2020 probably well after Windows 11 has been released. From now on there will still be security updates but no new features will be added but then most people are satisfied with it as it is.

Fujitsu has demonstrated a ring-based peripheral aimed at supplanting the mouse. This device contains a near-field communications (NFC) module, an accelerometer, a gyroscope, and other sensors to track the motion of the wearer's finger in the air, and a button to make things happen. It also has low-power Bluetooth. It currently weights 10g. By waving your finger a pointer will move and drawing with your finger can be used to enter text or, draw. Fujitsu claims 95% character recognition with a little training, even for complex character sets like Chinese. Battery life is an issue and the units will be available for general use this year. I'm not convinced it will replace the mouse but it will be interesting to try when available.

According to Gartner, and also my earlier predictions, the PC has not died and sales increased during Q4 of 2014. Also, as predicted, tablet sales have flattened.

There are a whole range of new dot domain names on the horizon and the primary target appears to be money rather than any real usefulness. The marketing hype is at a high with claims of more secure domains and the usual rubbish, but when you boil it down a domain maps to an IP address and are no more or less secure for the most part. This attitude is also reflected in more recent domain name sales with prices generally lower than they were. 

Toshiba has released a 3TB small form factor hard drive making them first to market this time around. Called the MQ03ABB300, it has four platters of 750GB each. At 15mm thick these will be the next range of external USB drives that people will carry around with them, and it follows on from the earlier 6Gbit/s SATA 2TB version. Samsung, Seagate and WD all have 2TB versions now, so expect them to come in soon with an equivalent, but this time Toshiba came first.


James Hein is an IT professional of over 30 years’ standing. You can contact him at jclhein@gmail.com

James Hein

IT professional

An IT professional of over 30 years’ standing. He has a column in Bangkok Post tech pages and has been writing without skipping a beat every week all these years.

Email : jclhein@gmail.com

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