#392 Worms Revolution, Java Security, Nuke & Pave Procedure, Palua & The Life of a Slider

This week Bart from the International Mac Podcast stands in for Allison, while next week it will be Allister Jenks. Please remember to send your audio reviews to Allister at allister@jenks.net.nz. BJ reviews Worms Revolution, we talk Java Security and safely nuking and paving in Dumb Question Corner, Ian Douglas reviews Palua, Bart does Security Light before Kevin Allder joins him to talk about life as a slider on Chit Chat Across the Pond.

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Hi folks, this is Bart Busschots from the International Mac Podcast Mac Podcast standing in for Allison Sheridan here on Nosillacast Mac Podcast, a technology geek podcast with an EVER so slight Macintosh bias. Today is Sunday November 11, 2012 and this is show number 392.

Thanks to the Nosillacastaways who provided lots of great content for this week, and please remember to send in recordings and/or dumb questions to Allister who’ll be covering for Allison next week. You can email him at allister@jenks.net.nz.

Also just a quick reminder about the new Nosillacastaways Flickr group – people are sharing some great photos, and we’ve kicked off some interesting discussions. If you listen to the show and are interested in photography, please join in the fun!

Worms Revolution (by BJ)

Hello to Bart and to my fellow Nosillacastaways, it’s Nosillacastaway-For-Life BJ here, talking about the new Worms game from the venerable Team17, entitled Worms Revolution.

Worms Revolution doesn’t solve any problems per se, but it is quite the nice time killer. If you’ve played any of the other mainline Worms games, you know about what to expect for the most part. However, the graphics style has changed to more of a 2.5D style, where the worms and the backgrounds are in full 3D, but your perspective (that is, how you see your little worm allies) is in 2D.

Also, Team17 went back to the drawing board to completely redo the audio for every voice bank, and there are a few new voice banks, such as the Memes voicebank. Yeah, I know certain folks love it, but I personally do not. Actually, there are a few voice banks that totally annoy me, such as the one where your worms sound like Veruca Salt from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, which is not a favorite of mine. Also, I like the narrator for this game, who is a disgraced wildlife documentary filmmaker by the name of Don Keystone. If you’ve played the game Portal, think GLaDOS mixed with Monty Python. It’s just as awesome as it sounds.

There are also three very serious changes to how things work within the game. First is a new class system within Worms Revolution. There is the Soldier worm, which is how your worms looked and behaved like in previous games.

Plus, in addition there are three new classes, Scouts, Scientists, and Heavys. The Scout is small and nimble, and while he is fairly fragile, he can get to dispatching your enemies fairly quickly. The Scientist gives each allied worm 5 health points whenever it is the Scientist worm’s turn, and he specializes in chemical warfare. The Heavy looks kind of like Jabba The Hutt from Star Wars, and while he is slow as molasses, he packs a mighty punch with physical damage objects like the Bazooka and the Shotgun.

Second is dynamic water, which is sort of how it sounds like. It is now possible for you to wash the enemy worms into the drink, or into a spot where they can drown, taking 5 hit points every single turn, and not just your worm’s. There are new weapons and physics objects (which I will talk about in just a second) that take full advantage of this dynamic water, as it is turned on by default.

Finally are the aforementioned physics objects, which enhance the game, or hinder it if you are so unlucky as to be stuck underneath one of them, or in a precarious spot that will kill you if it is destroyed. Some of the items are water containers of some description that will spew dynamic water when the items are destroyed, as each object has a specific amount of punishment it can take. Some other items are platforms that go away when they’re destroyed, and still others will give your worms (or your enemies) a status ailment, such as poison, when they are either hit or destroyed.

One final point of clarification is if you play any versus modes, and you remember the Shopper mode (some others may remember it as Crazy Crates, which is how it was in Worms Reloaded), you now have to pick up coins in the crates scattered all over the map to buy all the crazy, crazy weapons to destroy your enemies and/or friends with.

Overall, I would wholeheartedly recommend Worms Revolution. While it is not a full-throated revolution, it does take some of the ideas from previous games and turns them on their ear. Worms Revolution is $15 on Steam, with two DLC packs out now for $5 each. Worms Revolution is unfortunately PC-only for now, and here’s hoping Team17 does better with the Mac version than they did with the previous game, Worms Reloaded.

If you want to read this review, along with anything else that me and my cohorts post, you can find it over at 1upgalaxy.com (and a link will be provided in the show notes). Until next time, this is Nosillacastaway-for-life BJ, signing out.

Dumb Question Corner

Question 1 (Java)

Listender David Writes:

I know you’re going to be even busier than usual, taking over for Allison while she’s gone, but I wondered if I could ask you a security question.

I just picked up Scrivener, and, when I tried to compile a project into a MS Word file, it asked me to install Java.

I heard you and Allison talking about Java the other day and am leery about installing it, but I would like to be able to do the compiling from time to time with Scrivener.

This may sound like the Marathon Man, but “Is it safe?”

Now that Apple has let go of its version, will special care need to be taken to keep it updated?

All the best!

David

First to the easy Q – will Oracle’s Java keep itself updated – it shoudl do, it does on every other platform.

Lets start with going back to first principles. When you visit a web page there are two types of code executed – server-side code on the server, and client-side code on your computer. The client-side code is the dangerous stuff. Your computer is executing code given to it by the website. This is code you never installed, and all you did to get it was go to a URL. Because executing foreign code like this is so very very dangerous, client-side code is executed in a sandbox of some sort to protect your system and your files from that code. Each type of client-side code manages it’s own sandbox. The browser itself takes care of sandboxing JavaScript, Adobe look after sandboxing Flash, Microsoft look after sandboxing Silverlight, and Oracle’s Java run-time looks after Sandboxing Java applets (clent-side Java programs embedded in websites are referred to as applets). Notice how all these technologies have proven to be securtity nightmares!

Histoircally there had been relatively few problems with the Java sandbox, but recently, attackeres have succeeded in punching massive holes in the Java sandbox, allowing malicious websites un-fettered access to the computers that visit them.

In other words, the danger is no Java per-se, but the ineffectiveness of the Java Sanbox that is supposed to keep your system isolated from web-based Java code. The solution is simple, disable Java in your browser if you can. If you can’t, disable it in your main browser, and use a different browser for just the Java stuff and nothing else. This will limit your exposure to the risks.

So where does this leave regular Java apps? It actually has no effect on their security at all. Java apps that you downloaded and installed have never been subject to the sandbox, that was only ever for Java on the web, so no need to worry. It’s perfectly safe to have Java installed, just don’t allow your web browser to use it.

Question 2 (Upgrading)

Listener Dorothy AKA MacLurker writes:

Hey Bart,

I’m not sure this is really a dumb question, but if you need something for this week’s show:

A friend of mine owns a small recording studio. He uses the Mac Pro to record and mix music for himself and clients. So he has a lot of special audio hardware hooked up and drivers installed. He is now on Snow Leopard and wants to upgrade to Mountain Lion. He says things have been running really slow too. Also he’s really fond of downloading and trying out plug-ins for his various apps. So there’s a lot of debris and unused stuff lying around. But he’s been bad about keeping track of what drivers, apps, and plugins are installed. I recommended that he nuke and pave for the upgrade, only installing what he really uses.

We want to develop an upgrade plan that ensures that 1) he can keep his business running as he upgrades (he can be down for 1 week or so but not much longer); and 2) nothing gets lost; and 3) we can backup a step if needed. I figure, if we lay out all the step ahead of time, the actual upgrade would go more smoothly.

So the question is: Could you provide a generalized upgrade plan or even some helpful tips & techniques? Is there a way to list all the plug-ins and drivers installed so we can make sure there are ML-ready versions available before we start?

Thanks. Can’t wait to hear the show, Bart-style.

Firstly, I’m not aware of any way of seeing all plugins in all apps. I think that will very much depend on the app, so you’d have to go through them one at a time. As for drivers, my advice woudl be to check the vendor’s website for each piece of hardware and see if they are supported.

I think the key is to backup well before you start. When I do this kind of thing I take two distinct backups for two distinct purposes:

  1. The first thing I do is a full bootable clone backup onto an external drive. If all else fails, you’ll be able to boot this backup and continue to work. If things really fail badly you can restore from this backup to fully un-do your upgrade. This would be quite a short-term backup. (use something like SuperDuper or CarbonCopyCloner for this)
  2. The second backup I would take would be a full snapshot of my entire home directory, or, if space was at a premium, just my entire Library folder. This backup should be kept long-term, at least 6 months, but ideally even longer. This is the backup you’ll use to restore the setting, preferences, and libraries for the apps you do decide to re-install on your new system. If you only install things are you need them, you could find yoursel referring back to this backup months down the line when you first need an app that you don’t use often.

If you have these two backups in place you can be confident that you can always recover yourself to a workable situation.

My process would go as follows:

  1. do full bootable clone backup – AND TEST THAT YOU REALLY CAN BOOT OFF IT
  2. backup your home directory to an external disk – AND VERIFY THAT THE DATA REALLY IS THERE
  3. format the disk
  4. install the latest OS X
  5. install just the apps you need, and restore just the needed folders from your Library to get those apps back to where they were before (this is a the fiddly bit, can take some experimenting to get all the files coppied. Most are in ~/Libreary/Application Support and ~/Libreary/Preferences though)

Palua (by Ian Douglas)

Hello Bart and greetings Castaways — It’s Ian Douglas with a quick review of a utility program for OSX.

Let’s start with my issue. I like the hardware functions buttons, and I expect them to work when I need the volume & brightness adjusted. And I need to have them act like F-buttons more often than I care to admit.
Happily through system preferences I was able to force them to be Fn buttons full time, but I always hoped there would be a quick way to toggle this functionality.

Well I don’t know how I missed this utility for so long — but at $0.99 I had to have this program.

It’s from a small dev team, company branded with Hawaiian flower motifs, called Molowa.

Enough suspense — the software I needed is called Palua 3.0

From their promo page description:

Quickly switch the mode of your Function Keys on any Mac keyboard!

You need to run a game, or start a graphic application, or work on a project that need F1-F12 as function keys, just hit option+command+TAB and the switch will happen.

With Palua, you just need one click – or one hotkey – to toggle the mode your Fn keys.

– SMART Mode: Key mode changes with the application that has the focus. When an application has the wrong mode, hit the shortcut, and the settings is automatically stored in the pref if it wasn’t defined before.

– Fast Switching: Right click the icon in the menu bar to switch the mode.

– Customizable shortcut: Use the one you like, thanks to the shortcut recorder (see About screen)

I hope you’ve enjoyed my review of the function button utility Palua 3.0 available through the Mac App store — look for P A L U A .

I’m Ian Douglas — with an idea worth sharing. Back to you Bart…

Security Lite

First a quick followup – last time I warned people to secure their mobile devices, now Sophos have written a handy how-to article on that very topic on their Naked Security blog.

One other followup before we get stuck in to this week’s security news. The DNT saga takes anther turns as Yahoo side with Apache and ignore DNT cookies from IE 10. This is an on-going protest to Microsoft’s unique interpretation of the prohibition on defaulting DNT to on (as in they do in fact default it to on). More …

Important Security Updates:

  • Adobe have released a critical Flash update.
  • Apple have relased iOS 6.0.1 which contains security updates
  • Apple have released Safari 6.0.2 for Mac which contains security updates. (Lion & Mountain Lion only – so SnowLeopard and Windows users are left out again)
  • Next Tuesday it Patch Tuesday, and all those of your who bought new Microsoft Surfaces are getting patched too – more …

Important Security News:

  • Un-patched zero-day exploit in Adobe Reader seen distributing Windows botnet software in the wild – no patch from Adobe yet, so only defence is to uninstall Reader, or at the very least make sure it is not your browser’s default PDF handler. More …
  • Twitter accounts hacked, then Twitter over-responds, locking too many accounts, and has to apologise

Interesting Reading:

Chit Chat Across the Pond (With Kevin Allder)

Why am a slider

  • Windows to Mac transition in my life
  • Corporate use of Windows and related tools. Current ERP class systems don’t fully support Mac
  • analytic tools don’t support Mac natively

My Mac and Windows problems

  • Track pad at home versus standard mouse, always screws me up
  • Mouse at work has sailed across my desk a few times
  • Turn off natural scrolling
  • Office versus iWork (prefer Excel to Numbers) Black Friday deals I have seen may end up buying Office for the Mac
  • ctrl -v- cmd (Kevin doesn’t have this problem, but Bart does)
  • How I work apple gear into work setup

    • Use ipad to capture notes in meetings
    • Use windows on my iPad via Citrix
    • Camera on iPhone to capture information on whiteboard

    Favorite Apps to use when sliding

    • Docs 2 Go
    • Citrix Xen Receiver — Connects to back end virtual machines within corporate LAN
    • Camera App on iPhone
    • Dropbox
    • Noterize – for quick notes and sketches

    My home setup for a slider

    • 27” iMac with 2 extra monitors
      • Citrix browser plug-in
      • Web based email
    • VMWare Fusion
      • Windows 7 installed
        • Office 2007
        • VB Studio
        • MS-SQL Express
      • Windows 8
      • Linux Mint
    • Parallels
      • Ubuntu 12.10
      • Windows 8

    Some Suggestions from Bart:

    • reminder about how great CoRD is
    • I’ve found file-sharing between Mac and Windows to be hit-and-miss, so I prefer to take SMB out of the loop, and turn on SSH on the Mac (System Preferences→Sharing→Remote Login), and use the fantastic free and cross-platform S(FTP) client FileZilla to push and pull files to and from the Mac on the Windows machine
    • I prefer not to spend money on virtualisation tools, so I use the free Virtual Box from Oracle (was a SUN product)
    • For little things like self-extracting ZIP files I like to use WINE on the Mac. I’ve found the easiest way to install it is via MacPorts

    About Kevin Allder:

    1 thought on “#392 Worms Revolution, Java Security, Nuke & Pave Procedure, Palua & The Life of a Slider

    1. George from Tulsa - November 12, 2012

      Self-extracting Zip Files?

      I am pretty sure Keka will extract them. And I’m pretty sure I’d rather not be running Windows Apps on my Mac in Wine as I looked into it in depth, and Win Apps in Wine can be attacked by Windows viruses and malware.

      Keka is a free and fabulous Mac archive tool.

      Remove underlines to make make text below into URL
      http:_//_www.kekaosx._com/en/

      I’m also pretty sure Stuffit Expander (free) will do the job. If you don’t have it, look on Macupdate.

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