Sunday, January 28, 2007

Veronica Mars

Last Tuesday, I just turned the TV on to check what was on and, I stumbled across the latest episode of Veronica Mars. I had heard a lot of good comments about the show from friends and I thought I'd see what it was about.

Anyway, an hour later, I was completely confused but, nonetheless, highly intrigued. As an antidote to my confusion, I started trying to catch up on the first two seasons of the show. It's absolutely amazing! Being an avid mystery fan, I was drawn in by the tight script and the intricate plot lines. I was surprised that the writers could fit in so many side-trails and clues to have a mystery per episode. I'm about half-way through Season 1 now, and I can truly say that the overarching murder mystery for the season keeps the suspense building. And I just love the many levels of characterization and the carefully chosen setting. When I'm watching the show, I can feel the setting and the characters come alive with the multi-tiered descriptions and portrayals. The high school/college setting just makes the story that much more dynamic for me.

Here's hoping that the show is picked up for a few more seasons at least :)

-- Arkajit

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Disclosing Web Vulnerabilities

Today, I was reading this article by Scott Berinato from a link I followed off Slashdot, and I was reminded of some of my own experiences with disclosing web vulnerabilities.

Recently, as I've begun to be introduced to the topic of computer security, I've started to notice vulnerabilities more frequently in my daily online experience. Indeed, I find it quite exciting when I find actual examples of the security concepts or potential vulnerabilities I've read about. It makes the concepts that much more real for me.

That said, I can still relate to the feeling of uncertainty involved with discovering and reporting security vulnerabilities. In trying to be helpful in reporting the vulnerability in an application to the author, am I in danger of being suspected of hacking? Is it then worth the risk and hassle of legal entanglements?

The last paragraph of Berinato's article was particularly ominous:

A gray pall, a palpable chilling effect has settled over the security research community. Many, like Meunier, have decided that the discovery and disclosure game is not worth the risk. The net effect of this is fewer people with good intentions willing to cast a necessary critical eye on software vulnerabilities. That leaves the malicious ones, unconcerned by the legal or social implications of what they do, as the dominant demographic still looking for Web vulnerabilities.

That is truly a scary thought as the potential implications are a decline in the security of the Internet and a loss of faith in its realibility.

-- Arkajit

Friday, January 05, 2007


Cool Game of the Week: Winterbells !!!!

A friend recently showed me this awesome game and, I've been playing on and off since Tuesday to reach the target score of 1 billion points. I'm happy to say that I've finally surpassed that target and as you can see in the screenshot above, my current high score is over 87 billion!

The rules of the game are simple. You are a white bunny. Click to jump and then use the mouse to control where the bunny falls. Along the way jump on bells to keep going up. First bell gets you ten points. The nth bell you hit gives you 10*n points. So the point values increase by ten for each successive bell. And as you progress higher up into the sky, the bells get smaller in size and are more sparsely located in the sky making touching the bells that much more difficult. Along the way there are bonuses, flying birds! If you touch the birds, you double your score!! Object of the game is to get as many points as you can before you fall (game over).

Since I've started playing the game, I've come to realize that Winterbells is more than just a game - it's a metaphor for life! As you continue to climb up the sky, the stakes get higher. Each successive bell is a new harder challenge or obstacle that you have to surmount. Gravity is your archenemy: It tries to pull you down and thwart your success! And the birds are like the lucky breaks and fortuitous occurences in life. Sometimes the bird might be on the opposite side of the screen and you may have to take a risk by trying to reach it. Such is life :-)

Anways, give the game a try and see how high you can go!

Warning: Accompanying background music could be hypnotizing and prolonged exposure to the game could result in dreaming that you are the rabbit in Winterbells jumping from bell to bell! (I speak from experience ;P) Studies are currently being done to see if counting bells is more effective than counting sheep for falling asleep. Enjoy!

-- Arkajit