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#911: Women in Video Games, Take out the Trash, Spotlight on Yosemite, TOR networks

 
     
 

The very first computer I used was an Apple IIc. There was no modern internet at the time, so I wasn’t browsing the web, and I wasn’t old enough to have any writing or computing to do, so there was only one thing left: playing video games. But the blocky 2D graphics of Lode Runner and similar titles are very different in appearance from the realistic 3D renderings of today’s offerings. And these graphics aren’t the only thing that have changed since video games went mainstream more than 20 years ago.

In a YouTube video titled, Women as Background Decoration: Part 2 – Tropes vs Women in Video Games, blogger and media critic Anita Sarkeesian brought into light the ubiquity of violence against women as a method of adding authenticity to modern video games. The video catalogs instances where women are used as a prop to indicate a non-player character is evil or some similar effect. A small group of people on the internet vehemently disagreed and the backlash against Sarkeesian was swift and frightening. Threats became so severe that she left her home temporarily.

Some argued that these instances of violence were only added to these games to make them seem realistic. But how realistic is a game where a driver mows down a sidewalk of people only to escape by painting his car a different color or for that matter a fantasy RPG pitting sorcerers and knights against skeletons and dragons? In an excellent analysis of the situation, Adi Robertson in an article on The Verge, states: “Games with realistic stories are still built on unrealistic mechanics and stylized environments…Realism is as much about what you leave out as what you put in, and an unfortunate number of games pare down the feminine experience to nothing except sex, childbirth, and vulnerability.”

I love the world of technology, and it has allowed me to play some pretty epic games, including some of the ones on Sarkeesian’s list. But I also live in a world where women are people, not props to cheaply develop a protagonist’s character. The more we remove these misogynistic depictions from the media we consume, the less they pervade our real lives.

Please keep reading for less ranting about important topics and more tips, reviews, and stories about the technology that you use. Today we’ll talk about managing your digital garbage, check out the next operating system from Apple, and further explore TOR networks and internet privacy.

Mike D
miked@smalldog.com

 
   
     
  You're Your Own Trash Collector, Bub  
   
 

The trash feature of any operating system is quite vital. Sure, we all take for granted the fact that we can delete files as quickly as we create them, but what if you couldn’t move a file to the trash or worse empty the trash successfully?

Well, I’m happy to inform you that there are ways to resolve this issue, one that if it goes unresolved, can create a space limitation on your hard drive. Think of it this way, simply because you put trash in a garbage can doesn’t mean the trash collector is going to come each week. Here are a few tips/tricks that can resolve your trash can issue. In the case of owning a computer, you are essentially the trash collector that’s responsible for emptying your trash. This might seem like common sense but you’d be surprised how many people operate on a “out of sight, out of mind” mentality when it comes to file organization.

Hopefully the following tips and tricks help provide you a resolution:

In Mac OS X, each user account has a separate, invisible Trash folder that is in the home folder. When you view contents of the Trash, you see only items you placed there and not the Trash folder of any other accounts. If other writable volumes are present, you may also have individual Trash folders on these volumes.

How to delete a file:

1. Drag an item’s icon to the Trash (in the Dock), or select the item and press Command-Delete.
2. Choose Empty Trash from the Finder menu.

Note: If you’re trying to delete a file that wasn’t completely downloaded or copied, check out this document.

Tip: In Mac OS X v10.3 or later, you can securely delete items by choosing Secure Empty Trash from the Finder menu.



If you change your mind about deleting the item before you choose Empty Trash:

1. Click the Trash icon in the dock.
2. Drag the item out of the Trash.
 

If you can’t empty the Trash or move a file to the Trash:

For example, this message might appear when you try to empty the Trash: “The operation could not be completed because the item ‘(item name)’ is locked.”

First, try holding the Option key as you choose Empty Trash from the Finder menu.

If that fails, check for these conditions:

Is the file locked? If files are locked, unlock them before deleting or delete using the tips in the “Deleting locked files” section below. Also, see this article.

Do you have correct permissions to modify the file?

 Every file and folder in Mac OS X has some permission settings to help define what you or other users can do with the file or folder, for example whether you may modify it or not. If see an alert box with a message that says you do not have “sufficient” privilege or permission, see the tips in the “Emptying the Trash” section of this article. 

Does the file or volume have special characters? Usually, Mac OS X can delete files whose names contain special characters, but sometimes you might need to follow this advice.


1. Note the name of the volume which the files are being deleted from. If you are not sure of the item’s location, you can verify that by selecting it then choosing Show Info from the File menu. If the name of the volume contains any special ASCII characters, such as a bullet or trademark character, temporarily rename the volume so that it does not contain these characters. 



Example: If you cannot delete files from a volume named “·Dox”, rename the volume to “Dox”. After the Trash is empty, restore the volume’s original name as desired.
 

2. Examine the name of the files or folders you cannot delete. They should not contain a solidus (“slash”, “/”) character or any other special ASCII character such as a trademark, quotation mark, or copyright symbol. If the file does, remove the special character or slash from its name, then delete it.



Example: If you cannot delete a file named “Things/stuff·”, rename the file to just “t”, then delete it.

Remember to always delete your trash as the files/data that can accumulate in there are still taking up space on your hard drive.

 
   
     
  10.10 Yosemite Beta - Spotlight Review  
   
 

I was one of the lucky million who was able to download the Public Beta of Apple’s new OS earlier this month. I have only installed it a few days ago and I must say, so far so good. While I have not explored all of the new features of the OS, I must say I have been very drawn to the changes they made to Spotlight.

Spotlight has always been a favorite of mine, but now it’s only getting better. When you hit the Command+Space key a nice window pops up right in the middle of your display. Start typing in anything you want, and within seconds, a list with a full preview to the right of it will begin to appear. In the older version of Spotlight, to activate the preview function you would need to hold your cursor over the line for a few seconds then a very small preview would pop out of the menu. Now its automatic and the preview is nearly full size.

For example, when looking up a contact, it displays all the information, just the same as if I had opened up the app and searched for it in there without all the hassle, and it’s fully interactive. This means that right from Spotlight you are able to find your contact, click on their email address, and Mail will open a new message addressed to that person. For those of us who use keyboard shortcuts all the time, this is a real time saver.

 
   
     
  Continuation on Internet Anonymity  
   
 

My article from the July 29th edition of Tech Tails received some interested responses from you the readers. Apparently I’m not the only one concerned about all my information floating out there for everyone to read. Last article I touched on TOR, the onion router and its use in keeping identities anonymous while browsing the internet. One thing I didn’t mention at the time is that its service is primarily supported by volunteers and anyone can volunteer to be a ‘node’, a point at which other service users will either bounce off of within the TOR network or a point where the user traffic will leave the TOR network and reenter the “clear net”, or normal internet. A researcher looking into online anonymity volunteered to be a node in order to see if it could be cracked and what he found out was quite interesting. Though his node was an exit point into the normal internet, he couldn’t determine who the traffic belonged to, but he could read the traffic. TOR data is encrypted while it bounces around inside the TOR network in order to try and protect it from node to node, however that data needs to be unencrypted or in the correct encryption for the destination server to read. Someone managing the exit node is capable of reading the unencrypted data packets, gleaning private information that was intended to not be read by the user using the service. Though the source of the data was hidden from the researcher, what was contained within the data was not.


This is the Achilles heel of the TOR network: one bad apple can spoil the entire recipe. However, there are many good apples trying to make a great dish. Many volunteers that manage network nodes are doing it correctly and maintaining the network so that average users can take advantage of TOR’s designed purpose. TOR is constantly the target of agencies and corporations. If it can be cracked there are organizations out there that want to know that it can be done and how to do it.

TOR isn’t just a tool to hide your identity when browsing the normal internet. It is also the host of many websites that are not indexed by major search engines, i.e. Google or Bing. These sites are privately maintained and in many cases contain illegal content. A few years ago during the rampage of Anonymous, the nefarious hacker group, many sites hosting illegal content on the TOR network were attacked and taken down for periods of time. TOR isn’t the only “Deep Web” network that hosts non-indexed websites and in fact, the statistic is that around 90% of the internet is actually contained in these “Deep Web” networks. These networks aren’t all that easy to get to and can open you up for attack if you are not careful.

I myself haven’t done more than learn how to connect to these networks, and just the three most known networks at that. I’m still researching how to protect myself and how to know if I am in fact coming under attack. Knowing is half the battle, and knowing when someone is trying to connect to your machine is crucial in protecting yourself. Once they are in, usually there is nothing they can’t do to harm everything on it. A lot of this still makes me nervous whenever I attempt to connect because my specialization is primarily hardware and I don’t have all the proper knowledge to protect myself. I hear either on the news or read online about hackers getting all this information and account passwords to all the most commonly used services and I wonder how it’s done. What do I need to know to better protect myself? How are malicious cyber-geniuses able to get into my system and through what vulnerabilities? While on this quest of knowledge seeking I have learned quite a bit about the different types of attacks, but not how they are executed. If the interest is there I will continue this line of research. Or if there is enough interest in another area that people want to know about, please let me know.

 
   
     
  TT | Save $30 on Samsung LED LCD Monitor  
   
 

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Featuring Samsung’s signature Touch of Color (ToC) design, this stylish monitor stands out in any room.

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  TT | Save $30 on Chill Box Bluetooth Speakers  
   
 

MTS | Save $30 on Chillbox Speakers

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