AUTHOR: The Grimace DATE: 1:52:00 PM ----- BODY:
I never thought I'd have to clarify this, but I am not an overweight 18-year-old girl named April. Never was, hopefully never will be (although I wouldn't mind the freedom to wear a skirt once in a while). Anyway, a few weeks ago I started getting emails from MySpace saying that people were leaving comments on my page there, and requesting to be my MySpace "friend." The problem with this is the fact that until that day I had never even BEEN to MySpace. So I go there to see what's up, and try to sign in with my email address- only I don't know the password. I'm not surprised by this, of course, since I'd NEVER FUCKING MADE AN ACCOUNT THERE. No problem, though- I use the "forgot my password" option and the appropriate information was immediately emailed to me. So, I finally log on, only to find THIS. This is my account! "Female, 18 years old, HODGENVILLE, Kentucky." WTF? So there are all these comments on my page from some feller from West Virginny named josh200621 (he has since changed his username to vamplovericp and replaced his photograph with some bizarre looking logo) who apparently really has the hots for me... or at least for this young woman with my email address. So what the hell is going on, I wonder? My first guess is that this April is Josh's real-life girlfriend, based on the comments he's left on her page, and that perhaps when she signed up for MySpace she accidentally entered his email address (or, rather what she THOUGHT was his email address) when she created her account. Why would she do this? Well, obviously because she's incredibly stupid. Anyway, I had no way to contact her, so I informed Josh (he has my same last name as well, by the way... he's removed that from his page as well) that I was not his girlfriend, and would he please tell her that she's a fucking idiot, thanks. His sole response was, "What?" I updated the MySpace profile to inform the world that I wasn't April, and moved on. Until today. This morning I'm going through my inbox and discover all sorts of messages from a site called Gothic Inside. Interestingly, it's more people leaving comments on my page and asking to be virtual friends. Of course, however, I've NEVER EVEN FUCKING HEARD OF THIS SITE!!! So I go there, try to log in, no password, yada yada. Once I've reset the password and logged in, here's what I find. That's right, folks- I'm an 18-year-old named April again! Only THIS time, I'm actually kinda hot! Oh... but wait a second. What's that web address in the top of my picture? Well after several redirects, we discover that the young lady in the pictures is NOT April from Kentucky, after all, but Mara Cortes- a goth model from Spain! So what in THE HELL is going on here? Well, I think I've figured it out. I belive this other Josh- let's call him Bizarro Josh- goes around to web sites pretending to be a girl so he can get flattering comments from other users. This is why he used his own email address- or attempted to, rather, and accidentally entered my apparently very similar email address instead. On MySpace he was leaving public comments on April's page- an account HE had created- apparently to give the impression that he actually had a girlfriend. This also explains why he didn't do too much to get the account back; he may have thought I knew more than I actually did at the time and didn't want to push it. If it really were an honest mistake on the part of this hapless 'April' I'd expect her real-life boyfriend to bombard me with death threats and whatnot until I relinquished her maliciously hacked account back to his one true love. It's quite possible he is doing the same thing on Gothic Inside; I just haven't looked over the profiles there too closely to see. I own both of the April accounts now, and I've changed the 'About' information so people know what's what (to some extent), and now I'm just waiting for Bizarro Josh to sign me up at Facebook or whatever. One final mystery, though. If he wanted the world to think he had a girlfriend on MySpace, why oh why did he pick the poor lass portrayed in the photos? We may never get to the bottom of this one.
-------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:AliceGirl COMMENT-DATE:6:05 PM COMMENT-BODY:It's probably his sister. -------- AUTHOR: The Grimace DATE: 1:45:00 PM ----- BODY:
Just found this one- I've seen others like it. The auction title is "Microsoft Xbox 360 Link." The auction itself is just a bunch of information about what's included in the Xbox 360 Premium bundle. But at the very bottom is this sentence: "This is for the link for how to get wholesale pricing!!" So it's clearly not for an Xbox 360, but a link to a web site about wholesale pricing- and yet there are 39 bids, and the auction closed at $680? Do you really think all those people were bidding that much for something they could just find via Google? No, neither do I. Actually, I'm tempted to contact the winner to see if he/she knew what the auction was actually for. The seller's feedback profile reveals a history of buying and selling cell phones- nothing remotely gaming related. What's this link all about, anyway?
Thanks for sharing your experiences. Its amazing what you'll find when you read the fine print. In the ever-frustrating quest to find that elusive Christmas gift (this year its Xbox 360), I have learned to read all the way to the bottom as you suggest. Fortunately, I have not fallen prey to scammers thus far. We need 2 systems, but guess what? The kids (14 & 19) understand these units are limited. No promises that SANTA can deliver! A wrapped up picture of the 360 will work just as well, no need to be the HERO here! My kids would have 'a fit' knowing an extra $100-$500 were spent trying to get a system under the tree by the 25th. Yeah, we'd like to be the first of all the friends to have the system, but to just blatantly bid/purchase from these websites without knowing what you're getting is absurd!! What are these buyers thinking? Gotta impress the kids/neighbors with the first 360 on the block! I would bet that if they get ripped off by one of these sites, they won't be admitting it to anyone. Maybe that's the premise these ebayers go on, hoping to not get caught. Thanks again, my sermon's over. :)
Jill -------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:Josh COMMENT-DATE:7:30 AM COMMENT-BODY:Hehe. Thanks for your comments. I've seen quite a few other scams since, but they all follow the same patterns I've listed here. It sounds like you've got some pretty well-disciplined kids. Also, you may be better off by waiting anyway; I've been reading reports of people having severe problems with their new Xboxes, possibly due to the giant power supply overheating. If there is indeed a problem here, it should be fixed a few shipments from now. -------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:Mordekai COMMENT-DATE:6:22 PM COMMENT-BODY:Hey Josh since this is your most recent post I added a coment here. I wanted to ask you about the WOW Binder you picked up, and weather (sp?) or not you still play... I found your entry through a google search and was wondering if you would be interrested in selling the binder, if you no longer play. You can contact me through my bulk email account for now till I can send you the real one
what with putting real e-mail addresses on the open internets. -------- AUTHOR: The Grimace DATE: 11:30:00 AM ----- BODY:
People, just because the Xbox 360 is highly anticipated and attractive machine that you probably won't be able to obtain at your local retailer for the first few months after its release does not mean that you have to get all stupid when you try to find one online. I've been watching eBay for the past couple of weeks and have seen so many obvious, even blatant scams that multiple people are actually bidding on- sometimes for thousands of dollars. The first scam I saw (this auction has since been removed) had a title something like: "Xbox 360 Premium- email sent". And the auction had a photo of the 360, details about what came in the premium package, and at the bottom it said "If you win this auction, I will send you an email with the following instructions" and there were typical instructions that an eBay seller might give, like send me your money and address, etc. But nowhere in the auction did it actually say that the bidder would actually receive an Xbox 360. I checked the seller's feedback and lo and behold, he had pulled this same sort of scam with the iPod Nano... a user left negative feedback saying, "Who'd pay $125 for a stupid email?" When I saw the auction there were already 10 bids on it... however both the auction and the user have been deleted. Good for eBay. But who are the people who bid on it? Lesson: Read the fine print (and, uh, the auction title) and check the seller's feedback. Next, I saw an auction titled "Enter the Matrix Xbox 360" (auction is now closed, I can't find the link anymore on eBay- there were numerous bids though). I immediately knew this one was fishy because Enter the Matrix is not an Xbox 360 launch title. It's a terrible game that came out in 2003. Anyway, the auction said that the game played on regular Xbox, but was "enhanced for" Xbox 360! At the very bottom of the page there was a note saying that all "best selling" original Xbox titles would be backwards compatible on Xbox 360, if not at launch then soon after. So "enhanced" isn't exactly the appropriate word, eh? But get this- Enter the Matrix is not even on Microsoft's list of original Xbox games that they even plan to support on Xbox 360, either at launch or in the future! This game simply will NOT run on Xbox 360, "enhanced" or otherwise. Apparently this seller has a habit of making misleading claims in his auctions, because numerous times in the auction's text he tells visitors to check out his "About Me" profile which claims he will only issue refunds if he "grossly misrepresents" the items he's auctioning. Clearly the guy knows that many people don't read very carefully and he intentionally uses that fact to mislead buyers. Lesson: Read the fine print, check the seller's profile, and do your homework! Now this one is probably the most suspicious I've seen so far. The auction title is "Wholesale lof of 20 units XBOX 360 Platinum + 10 Games." Some tip-offs right away: The seller can't spell the word 'lot' correctly in the auction title? Also, 20 units? That's as much as most retailers are getting to cover the entire holiday season this year- how the hell did he get his hands on 20? It gets worse, though: Open up the auction and you'll see he claims to be selling them in lots of over 100 units!!! It is simply not possible- not even you local Walmart is getting more than 20. Stranger still is the line, "We are a legitimate business registered in the United Kimgdom." Okay, so he misspells 'Kingdom' for one thing, but why does his user information say he's in the United States? Winnabow NC, to be exact? And if his business is in the United Kingdom, how can he have USA Xbox 360 models (they're not compatible due to different power requirements and television standards). On top of that, the guy's account was created just a couple weeks ago and he has zero feedback as either a buyer or a seller. And yet there are 35 bids on this auction, which is now up to over $10,000. You freaking idiots!!! Lesson: If the seller has no feedback, don't buy. Avoid sellers with conflicting user information. Avoid sellers making impossible claims. There was another auction that I almost thought may have been legitimate, but something just seemed wrong. (And it's been yanked, so my instincts were right.) The seller was offering a lot of five Xbox 360s, but he also said that he'd include various 'mystery bonuses' to bidders (even non-winning bidders) as the bids reached certain milestones. For example, once the auction ran up to $1,500 he said one of the random bidders would get a free iPod. Every time the bids went up, the seller would add little notes to the auction, congratulating the people with the highest bids and offering new bonus goals. The last time I saw it, the auction was over $5,000. Anyway it's gone now. Lesson: Avoid auctions where the seller offers incentives that simply seem geared to drive the bids up; the item you're bidding for should be enough. Also, unusual offers (like giving bonuses to random non-winning bidders) should be a red flag. Here's another fishy one for a single Xbox premium bundle. What seems strange to me is the bulk of the auction text seems like boiler plate stuff- doesn't sound like the seller wrote it. Also, I'm pretty sure I've seen auctions by different sellers with exactly this same auction text. It's possible he just swiped it from other sellers, or also possible that one person or organization is spamming eBay with virtually identical auctions which may or may not be legitimate. Anyway, the seller adds this single line to the very bottom of the auction, which is in a completely different font from everything else: "For the note my dad works on base and has a few of these guaranteed with the exchange, so I can probably do about 3 more, but serious inquires only." What does this mean, "my dad works on base?" What base? The seller's only got a feedback score of 4, and he was a buyer in every case. He's never sold an item before. I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt and guessing he was just too lazy to write his own auction so he just took someone else's text, but I don't see anything here that instills confidence that the guy's going to have an Xbox 360 to sell any sooner than anyone else. Another odd thing is a question asked by a bidder: "I would like to pay via paypal. If we need to discuss this over the phone let me know and I will speak with you. I saw where you were scammed. Landon". I didn't see anything in the seller's feedback that indicated any scamming had occurred. Also interesting is this sentence in the seller's public response: "I am hoping that all understand that I have 3 weeks after the 22nd to ship this out to you, more then likely you will get it way before that but just incase some of you didn't read." Almost all other sellers are claiming shipment on the 22nd or 23rd- the ones who are confident they'll have them. Oh yes, one more thing... near the bottom of the auction it says you can "pick any one game of your choice from here" but one of the games listed is Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, which isn't going to be released until March 21. Whoever this kid took the auction text from isn't being honest. Lesson: Do your homework and avoid sellers who make numerous qualifications.
-------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:Anonymous COMMENT-DATE:1:41 PM COMMENT-BODY:Great that you are posting these possible Ebay scams, I saw many "Xbox 360 PIC" on Ebay and one reached over $1000! I am not sure if the bidder could do anything since the seller was quite clear that these are just pictures to remember the hype of the launch. The thing I hate most is the seller copied a very long description somewhere and the actually sentence about this item is just a picture is burried somewhere in the middle. I am not sure if Ebay could pull this one out since he didn't lie but just simply taking advantage of other's desparation. The highest bidder I saw just probably a woman trying to buy for a kid. So unethical. -------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:Josh COMMENT-DATE:4:08 PM COMMENT-BODY:Wow, that's a new one. I just did a search and there are indeed a number of 'Xbox 360 PIC' listings. I also found one where the high bidder is apparently a vigilante called 'ibidonxbox360pics'. While that's funny, I'm not sure I agree with violating eBay's terms of use to get back at these scammers. I've contacted a few bidders who were bidding on obvious scams though, just to alert them. -------- AUTHOR: The Grimace DATE: 5:45:00 PM ----- BODY:
I previously posted an explanation of why a lot of gamers are having problems with missing files. In that post I linked to a site that has mini installers for some of those missing files. I just got a report that some of the files on that site might be corrupted, so I just threw together my own mini-installer for D3dx9_25.dll, which you can download right here. Enjoy.
-------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:Anonymous COMMENT-DATE:2:43 PM COMMENT-BODY:hi just downloaded your mini installer and its still asking for the dll file -------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:Anonymous COMMENT-DATE:8:05 AM COMMENT-BODY:I previously posted an explanation of why a lot of gamers are having problems with missing files. In that post I linked to a site that has mini installers for some of those missing files. I just got a report that some of the files on that site might be corrupted, so I just threw together my own mini-installer for D3dx9_25.dll, which you can download right here. Enjoy. -------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:Anonymous COMMENT-DATE:12:54 AM COMMENT-BODY:I know this post it old, but I found it on google when I was looking for a way to get black and white 2 to work again. Thanks a lot mate, it worked perfectly.

-Sam. -------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:Anonymous COMMENT-DATE:6:45 AM COMMENT-BODY:Thanx -------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:Anonymous COMMENT-DATE:3:06 PM COMMENT-BODY:Worked for me, thanks alot -------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:Anonymous COMMENT-DATE:2:58 PM COMMENT-BODY:Thanks so much man. This is worked great!
One of my games said it was missing d3dx9_25.dll and I googled it and came across this blog page.

once again. Thanks, it works! -------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:Anonymous COMMENT-DATE:12:31 AM COMMENT-BODY:File is not there. -------- AUTHOR: The Grimace DATE: 5:46:00 PM ----- BODY:
I've been working on an application for Windows XP Media Center Edition (MCE) 2005 for the past couple of weeks, and development had been progressing wonderfully up until yesterday, once my code was complete enough to install and test on my MCE test systems. The application consists of a background add-in that monitors certain conditions on the PC and an HTML UI where users can change the application's settings. I needed a way for my background add-in to notify users of things that might require their attention, but did it in a way that did not interrupt their MCE experience (for example, I didn't want to ever pop up a dialog while people were trying to watch a DVD). Thus I was rather excited when I read about the 'New For Me' feature of MCE, which is an additional menu that appears on the MCE Start page, but is only visible when applications submit new items to it. It works like the messages item that pops up every once in a while on the TiVo main screen when they've got urgent things to tell you. Well based on the tiny amount of documentation on New For Me in the SDK and a couple tips from some MCE developer message boards, I finally got my code working properly. Only the New For Me menu was nowhere to be found. The only difference I could find in the MCE UI when my add-in submitted a New For Me item was that the icon for my app's HTML UL in the More Programs menu now had a little star on it. Weird. Thinking I had done something wrong, I built a new project from scratch, which included a background add-in that did nothing but ask whether you want to submit a New For Me entry and then actually did so when you told it to, plus a couple of simple HTML pages, representing a More Programs entry point and a New For Me entry point. After installing this barebones project I encountered identical results: No New For Me menu, but I did get a little star on my More Programs icon. Also, even though the icon's image and description were the same, launching the program while the little star was visible actually opened up my New For Me page instead of the More Programs page I was expecting. Well I packaged up my little test project and posted around about my issue, asking if people could check it out and see if A) it worked for them or B) I had indeed done something wrong. I also happened to have a conference call with some Microsoft employees on the MCE team, and I took the opportunity to ask them what was going on. It was with great sadness that I learned that what I have seen in my experiments is correct; there is no New For Me menu, and some (but not all) references to it have been removed from the latest version of the SDK (published last month). The menu feature had been planned but never implemented in the shipping version of MCE. Well, I'm now stuck looking for another subtle way to get my users' attention, but not wanting my work to go to waste, I'd like to spend a little time explaining what I've learned in this process and post some sample code for newbie MCE designers. First off, the latest MCE SDK still states that "an add-in creates a New For Me entry when it calls the ApplicationInfo.RegisterApplication method to register itself and its entry points." This is incorrect. A running MCE add-in cannot call RegisterApplication to modify its own entry points. Add-ins can only call RegisterApplication to register other applications. (And by application, I mean the entity represented by the application element in the registration XML. A single MCE "Application" can have many entry points, whether they're add-ins, HTML applications, or even external files.) The correct method to register to be able to submit New For Me entries is to add a New For Me entry point to your initial registration XML. If you want your New For Me entry to launch an external application, you can achieve this by having the entry point launch that launches code local to your application, but then simply navigates to the external app with HostControl.NavigateToPage. If you'll look at the sample XML file in my source code, NewForMeTest application consists of one background add-in and two HTML pages- the More Programs entry point, and the New For Me entry point, respectively. I specified two different pages for demonstration purposes, but the two entry points can point to the same page. Note that although you must specify an image URL for your New For Me entry point, in the current MCE implementation that image will never be seen. The New For Me entry point is permanently registered with MCE; it's just temporarily enabled as needed via a REG_SZ string value in the entry point's subkey named Enabled. "True" enables New For Me for this application, and "False" leaves it dormant. MCE manages this registry value; you should never have to touch it. The ApplicationInfo.SubmitNewForMe method takes two strings, representing the title and description text of the item that would be placed in the New For Me menu if such a thing existed. However, again, this text never appears in the current MCE UI. Now here's a really weird thing about the current implementation of New For Me in MCE 2005: It only does anything if you have a More Programs entry point. If you don't have an item in more programs, but you are properly registered for New For Me, calls to SubmitNewForMe will succeed, but users will see no change in any part of the MCE UI. Stranger still is that although MCE does modify your More Programs item by temporarily placing the star on the icon and changing the actual entry point, it uses neither the New For Me text nor the image you specified in your registration XML to indicate that anything else has changed. If you'd like to check out my sample project, you can download the source here. And if you just want the installer of the Release build of the application, you can get that here. Note that you MUST use Visual Studio .NET 2002 to build the project, or the add-in will not work on MCE. This is a limitation of MCE 2005, which is locked-down to .NET 1.0. (Each version of VS.NET is tied to a specific version of the .NET CLR. Windows Forms apps can target different CLRs, but any other kind of project requires a different version of the IDE.) Also, the installer will only run on Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 or later. Please be sure to read the Readme.txt that's included in both ZIPs for step-by-step instructions. What follows are some screen shots of how the current New For Me implementation behaves. First off, here's what More Programs looks like before my background add-in calls SubmitNewForMe. I'm floating over my HTML app's icon so you can see the descriptive text at the top of the screen: Image Hosted by Here's the (gorgeous) HTML page that loads when you select that item: Image Hosted by Now, this is how More Programs appears after the add-in has submitted the New For Me entry. The only difference from the earlier shot is that there's now a little star on the app's icon. The descriptive text for the item remains the same: Image Hosted by Surprise! Even though the icon looked the same (not counting the star), selecting it now loads the special (and equally beautiful) New For Me page: Image Hosted by That's it for now, I suppose. Now I've got to figure out an elegant and unobtrusive way to alert users without actually interrupting them. Let me know if you've got any ideas...
-------- AUTHOR: The Grimace DATE: 3:07:00 PM ----- BODY:
Have you tried playing a new DirectX game lately only to have the game complain that it can't find weird files like d3dx9_25.dll, or crash because it can't find an assembly like Microsoft.DirectX.AudioVideoPlayback? I have, and it's taken me a while to figure out what was going on, and how to fix the problem. First off, if you're experiencing such a problem right now, you probably want to fix it and get on with your game. If you're looking for d3dx9_24.dll, d3dx9_25.dll, d3dx9_26.dll, or d3dx9_27.dll, just download the appropriate mini-installer right here. If you need the DirectX for Managed Code extensions (necessary for .NET-based programs that use DirectX), you can download my own mini-installer right here. So here's what's going on. If you have Windows XP Service Pack 2 installed, you already have Microsoft's latest version of DirectX (9.0c) installed as well. You can verify this by clicking Start Run, entering dxdiag.exe, and clicking OK. When the DirectX Diagnostic Tool loads, you should see the current version listed next to "DirectX Version." Many games install DirectX as well, and you can even download it on your own. The thing is, Microsoft has produced numerous updates to DirectX 9.0c, whose files are not included in the 9.0c distribution, and aren't obviously available for download from Microsoft's site. You can get them indirectly by downloading the developer versions of the 34-megabyte DirectX redistributable file. (Go to Microsoft Download Center and search for "directx redistributable for developers".) Game developers are also supposed to include these files in their game installers. But if you Google for some recent games (say, Black & White 2 or Battlefield 2) and d3dx9_25.dll, you'll find that this isn't quite working out. Back in the early days of Windows, tech support people and developers complained of "DLL Hell," a state of utter confusion that existed when Microsoft didn't tightly control how its own redistributable files were installed and upgraded. Old versions trampled over new ones, duplicate non-mixing versions got scattered all over the hard drive, programs that once worked ceased working after new software was installed- it was truly terrible. Beginning with Windows 98, Microsoft added "Windows File Protection" to their operating systems to protect important system files from getting trampled. They also tightened down their software logo certification requirements and required that their redistributable files ONLY be installed using their own installers (developers could no longer randomly include Microsoft-authored components in their own installers). This was a very good thing and ended up making Windows software much more reliable in the long run. So, what in THE HELL was Microsoft thinking when they started releasing parts of DirectX piecemeal and not updating the runtime available to consumers? It's just freaking insane! Do you know what most gamers who've encountered these problems have been doing? They've been going to web sites and P2P sharing networks and downloading these files individually. This is dangerous for a couple of reasons: First, these files are scattered all over the Internet and some of them have some dependencies. If you just grab one file at a time, there's no telling how stable your DirectX games that use them are going to be. Second, if you're downloading the files from some random site or P2P network and just dropping them onto your hard drive, you have no way of knowing that the files haven't been hacked or compromised- or are outright fakes. These are some of the things Microsoft meant to avoid by instituting rules about how their files are deployed and they have regressed to a state where users are potentially screwing up their systems again, likely causing both Microsoft and game publishers time and money in technical support calls. Good one! Why can't they update the DirectX web installer to check for any of the new DirectX components and just install those? (The web installer and even the single-file DirectX redistributable haven't been updated since August of 2004.) If nothing else, why can't Microsoft just up-level the DirectX version when they release a new update? (I mean these new files all require DirectX 9.0c to be installed anyway- they're not standalone additions.) Why can't they just call it 9.0d, e, f, etc. and update the downloads accordingly? Anyway, as mentioned earlier in this post, I did my own installer for DirectX for Managed Code, and I also pointed to mini-installers for the D3DX DLLs. These aren't rogue piecemeal installs; they all use Microsoft's DirectX setup program and the appropriate files from the SDK redistributables, and are the only correct/safe way to obtain these files if you didn't get them when you installed your game. All of them require that you already have DirectX 9.0c installed. If you'd like to know how I made my installer, here's the scoop. I read the article Installing DirectX with DirectSetup at MSDN and installed the latest DirectX SDK (I have an MSDN subscription... I don't think you can download the SDK without one) and looked in the Redist folder. Well the article states that you can create a mini-distribution by taking the following files from Redist and placing them into the same folder: dxsetup.exe, dsetup32.dll, dsetup.dll,, and the CAB file of the component you want to install. For example, I needed, for the Managed Code stuff. However, that's not necessarily all. Look inside the cab file and check the enclosed INF file (oct2005_mdx_x86.inf in this case) and see if there are any "Dependencies" entries. You'll have to include any CABs listed here in order for your mini installer to work. To make my redistributable a standalone installer, I used Ace Zip to create a self-extracting archive, and instructed Ace Zip to launch Dxsetup.exe once the files were unzipped. Ace Zip has quite possibly the worst UI I've ever seen, but it works. Also, before you visit the Ace Zip site please be aware that some of the banner ads there are pornographic.
-------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:Anonymous COMMENT-DATE:11:24 AM COMMENT-BODY:I have downloaded the WINZIP file for D3DX9_dll which downloaded fine.
When i go to open the file however, it says that my system is not configued to view this file and then opens it up in notepad which is just garbled writting.

What programme do i open the file up in then?

I have also downloaded your mdxOctober2005 which when i ran it, says that it installed successfully.

But still i get the annoying
"The application has failed to start because d3dx9_25.dll was not found" when i try to start playing a new game i have purchased.

What do i now do?? -------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:Josh COMMENT-DATE:5:42 PM COMMENT-BODY:Hmm, it's possible that the files on that other site I linked to for the 9_25 installer got corrupted. The mdxOctober installer that I made only installs DirectX for Managed Code, which is unrelated to the 9_25 file. Never fear though... I just threw together my own quickie installer for d3dx9_25.dll, and you can get it right here. -------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:Anonymous COMMENT-DATE:10:10 PM COMMENT-BODY:thank you so much! Your website helped me through my frustrations! -------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:Anonymous COMMENT-DATE:4:33 PM COMMENT-BODY:ok im having the same problem it says d3dx9_25.dll was not found and ive downloaded it from your site and i have the directx 9.0 but it still says the same thing -------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:Josh COMMENT-DATE:4:38 PM COMMENT-BODY:The installer that I mentioned in this post (the one I made) is only for DirectX for Managed Code. To get D3dx9_25.dll, you need this installer. As long as you have DirectX 9.0c installed (it MUST be 9.0c) this is all you need. -------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:Anonymous COMMENT-DATE:5:21 PM COMMENT-BODY:it says directx could not find a file necessary for instalation -------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:Josh COMMENT-DATE:8:34 PM COMMENT-BODY:Okay, have you varified that you have directx 9.0c? You can verify this by clicking Start Run, entering dxdiag.exe, and clicking OK. When the DirectX Diagnostic Tool loads, you should see the current version listed next to "DirectX Version." It should say 9.0c. I just tested the installer I linked you and it does work. Use the link in my previous post to get Directx9.0c if it turns out you didn't have that version yet. -------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:Anonymous COMMENT-DATE:1:24 PM COMMENT-BODY:I already have directx9.0c but it still says the file cannot be found -------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:Nick Vaughan COMMENT-DATE:8:23 AM COMMENT-BODY:Totally agree with you there. We heavily use Directx Managed and are just going through the hell of telling all our customers that they need to install April2005 OVER THE TOP OF June2005!

What the hell?? -------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:Anonymous COMMENT-DATE:1:05 PM COMMENT-BODY:thanks man, i never thought i'd get out of this d3dx9_25.dll crap -------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:Anonymous COMMENT-DATE:3:37 PM COMMENT-BODY:YEah, it isn't working for me either, and I checked to see what DX I have. It says 9.0c like you said, and I'm getting the same problem as the other anonymous person said. This is really rediculous...The whole DX problem in general. -------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:Anonymous COMMENT-DATE:6:31 AM COMMENT-BODY:yer try extracting to your Windos sytem 32 file
localdrive/programs/windows/system32 -------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:Anonymous COMMENT-DATE:12:30 AM COMMENT-BODY:I am trying to install godfather the game but it says I need direct x 9.0 c
but i already have it what should I do? -------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:Josh COMMENT-DATE:1:05 PM COMMENT-BODY:Anonymous (with Godfather) here's what I recommend, and this applies to all new DirectX games. See, the game publishers usually include these supplemental files in their DirectX installers, but most people (me included) skip the install because it makes no sense to have 9.0c installed and still not have the latest files. If the installer asks if you want to install it, ALWAYS say yes even if you know you already have it. DirectX installers will only install the components you need, so it goes really quick if you really only need the supplemental files. Also, DirectX will never backlevel your files, so if you have newer versions of anything already, they won't be replaced. Just make it a habit to always click Yes with DirectX from here on out. -------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:Josh COMMENT-DATE:1:09 PM COMMENT-BODY:oh yeah, and if you skip the directx portion during initial setup you can always go back to your install cds and run directx setup manually. it's usually on the last install cd of multi-cd games. -------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:Anonymous COMMENT-DATE:11:10 AM COMMENT-BODY:i have got LotR: battle for middle earth 2 and whenever i try and open it, it says d3dx9_27.dll was not found and will not allow me to play.
plz help!!! -------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:Anonymous COMMENT-DATE:11:12 AM COMMENT-BODY:i have got the new game LotR: battle for middle earth 2 and whenever i try and play it says d3dx9_27.dll is not present.
Plz Help!!!

p.s i have already downloaded it of your site and am not sure what to do now? -------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:kamlesh COMMENT-DATE:6:24 AM COMMENT-BODY:any idea how to upgrade DirectX 9.0b to DirectX 9.0c?
I install the DirectX9.0c, the installer says finish, but DXDIAG always says DirectX 9.0b....
plzzzzzzzzz help! -------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:Anonymous COMMENT-DATE:10:48 PM COMMENT-BODY:I have the same problem as kamlesh i installed direct x 9.0c but in the dxdiag it still sais 9.0b and when i try to run games i get that d3dx9_25.dll thing plz help -------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:Anonymous COMMENT-DATE:4:29 PM COMMENT-BODY:i have the same problem guys i installed xp pro sp2 and it has dx 9.0b builtin when i tryed the dc9.0c installer it sayd finish and when i check the dx version is still 9.0b pls help anyone -------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:Jaz COMMENT-DATE:9:31 AM COMMENT-BODY:I also can't install the Godfather. It keeps saying I need to install the latest version of DirectX 9.0 or higher, which I already have. But I downloaded it again from microsoft and tried to reinstall, but even though I deleted DirectX the installer told me I have it already. The game still tells me otherwise. I don't even get the chance to install the game or DirectX from the game! I'm annoyed, someone please help! -------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:Anonymous COMMENT-DATE:7:47 AM COMMENT-BODY:Well, I haven't really read the "article" to the end, but wanted to express my gratitude, towards, whoever took the time to write it and post it... God bless and all the best wishes... -------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:Anonymous COMMENT-DATE:5:22 PM COMMENT-BODY:I have the same problem trying to install The Godfather on Windows XP. First, the license agreement is blank, which is the first time I've ever seen that. I accept the license agreement and I get an error message that says I must have DirectX 9.0c (which I already have). There is no option to install or update DirectX. I also ran the DXSetup.exe which was included on the game DVD. Please help. Thanks. -------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:Anonymous COMMENT-DATE:5:49 PM COMMENT-BODY:Hey Godfather installers, I followed the instructions on this page and it worked for me (Godfather DVD on Windows XP):

I'll repeat those steps here in case that page ever dies.

"Copy all the files from Godfather The Game DVD to a folder named Godfather on your hard drive.

Once it is done copying, browse (open) the Godfather\Autorun folder on your hard drive. Inside there, you should see a autorun.cfg file. Right-click on it, and open it with Notepad or some other text editor such as Notepad++ (if you have it (highly recommended)). Edit the line (line 13) where it says


and make it


Save the file, with File > Save (Don't use Save as...!!), to make absolutely certain you keep the original file extension (.cfg)!

Go back to the root folder Godfather. Right-click on Autorun.exe. Go to Properties > Compatibility. Then check "Run this program in compatibility mode for" and select Windows 2000 from the dropdown box. Click apply and/or OK.

Now double-click on Autorun.exe. Setup should start as normal (i.e. like you just stuck the disc in)."

Good luck,
Erik -------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:Anonymous COMMENT-DATE:9:37 AM COMMENT-BODY:I am trying to install Direct X 9.0c but it says a cabinet file cannot be trusted? What does this mean? -------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:Anonymous COMMENT-DATE:12:02 AM COMMENT-BODY:Hello I just downloaded fear combat and it gives me the error d3dx9_27.dll and i went to the link you gave and downloaded it and uncompressed it with winrar but I dont know what to do now. can you help me? thanks -------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:The Great Santini COMMENT-DATE:6:41 AM COMMENT-BODY:I just bought The Civilization IV, The Movies and Need for Speed Carbon(the newest) I installed the Civilization and The Movies and when I try to start a game it says the game cannot start beacuse DirectX 9.0c is required for the game. When I tried to install NFS carbon it want install beacuse I dont have DX9.0c. I played both civilization and the movies without problems before I reinstalled WinXpProfessional( I deleted the whole C disk). After that I searched the internet and installed DirectX about three times, from a different site, but it still says that I dont have DirectX. On the CD of NFS carbon i found DirectX and installed it to computer. When i go to the dxdiag on the control panel it says that I allready have 9.0c. I dont exactly understand your way of installing it. Please help! -------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:The Great Santini COMMENT-DATE:9:36 AM COMMENT-BODY:I looked at the comment about installing The Godfather and I tried it on NFS. It worked and if i am not wrong, it's working for all EA games. After that I still cant launch the game(wich have no connection with DirectX) and a error report came out. I dont know wath to do, I am really disapointed -------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:TECNiCAL.iTCH COMMENT-DATE:5:25 AM COMMENT-BODY:I have a similar problem...
I want to install NFS Carbon.
I enter the CD Code, Click next ---> Next and it says that DirectX 0 or higher needs to be installed..
but the EA Supoort shows me that i have DirectX 9.0c !!!
What soulh i do to fix this bug/problem ? -------- AUTHOR: The Grimace DATE: 5:30:00 PM ----- BODY:
I am posting to this helplessly stale blog to announce that I'm currently trying out LiveJournal. Anyway, you can (possibly) find some new posts at my new temporary blog home, killthegrimace.
-------- AUTHOR: The Grimace DATE: 6:22:00 PM ----- BODY:

I was very pleased with the Audigy 2 ZS Platinum card I got for my desktop PC, so I was excited when I learned Creative was producing a PCMCIA version for notebooks. This is a great sounding card with some nice features- but there are some other things you should probably be aware of before you buy one for yourself.

First off, here are the good things about the card: - Reliable, good sounding card with nice optional effects (EQ, reverb, etc.) - The headphone jack has a cool red light inside it, making it easy to locate the jack without having to squint around looking for the right one. - Optical and analog in/out, and a special cable for connecting to 5.1 and 7.1 speaker setups. - When no sound is playing, this card is silent. I mean so silent that two times I actually thought there was something wrong until a sound actually played. It's very impressive, but takes some getting used to if you're accustomed to always hearing some hiss or hum in your headphones when you're plugged into a computer.

But here are the things that may not be obvious until you actually own one: - When the card is plugged in, you cannot use your notebook's built-in speakers; you MUST use headphones or external computer speakers, and only the audio connections on the card itself will work. If you normally use your notebook with headphones or external speakers, this won't be an issue for you, but if you're used to playing games on the notebook's built-in speakers, your behavior will have to change. - The card comes with no printed documentation whatsoever, other than a little insert saying that you can't use your built-in speakers. To install the card, just plug it in, then insert the driver CD when the Add New Hardware wizard asks you to. After the drivers are installed, you can run the software installation off the CD. (There is an electronic user's guide with installation instructions, but you can't install that until after the card and drivers are already installed!) - Note that you do not have to disable your built-in audio or uninstall any drivers. In fact, you shouldn't because you'll have to use your old integrated audio if you ever need to use the computer speakers. When you plug in the Audigy card it automatically becomes your computer's default sound device, and when you remove the card the integrated audio works again. It's pretty seamless and reliable. You probably shouldn't do it while a game's running though. - I have learned that the card does not plug in to some notebooks correctly. (The thick end of the card that has audio connectors prevents you from plugging the card in all the way.) Check out the forums on for more info- I think Creative is mailing adapters to people who experience this problem. (I have a ThinkPad T42p by the way, and I didn't have any trouble.) - If you're thinking of getting this card as a way to improve gaming performance, don't. Yes, technically, by offloading sound generation tasks from integrated audio to the Audigy card your computer frees some of its own resources for other things, but unfortunately this does not translate into any noticeable difference in gameplay. (In fact, if you're not prudent in your selection of which of the bundled programs to install, you may end up HURTING both performance and reliability.) The real power of the Audigy is its ability to transform audio with digital effects and to deliver high bitrate multi-channel sound. About the only ways to really improve performance on most notebooks are to upgrade RAM, get a faster hard drive, and disable all services/startup items that you don't need. - If you're like me and you like running a LEAN system for maximum performance, don't be fooled by Creative's "drivers only" option. If you don't install at least the Creative Volume Control, Creative Speaker Settings, and Creative EAX Console, your ability to use this card will be severely limited. (It's the same way with the desktop Audigy.) I did a full install of all the bundled software and then used Mike Lin's free Startup Control Panel to disable the following startup items: CTDVDDET, CTPerformanceUtility, Creative Detector, and Creative MediaSource. Plus I had to manually uninstall the idiotic MediaSource Go! launch bar that attached itself to the top of my desktop- I couldn't make that one go away by editing my startup items. (The software also installs a service called "Creative Service for CDROM Access" but I'm not sure what it does yet.) - Note that without the Creative Speaker Settings program installed you will probably not be able to use your computer's built-in volume and mute buttons (again, they're normally tied to the integrated audio). Make sure to check the "Synchronize with Control Panel" option to get that functionality back.

-------- AUTHOR: The Grimace DATE: 7:53:00 PM ----- BODY:
Well, despite my concerns, I decided I needed to buy World of Warcraft anyway. And I figured if I was going to have to buy two copies and pay a monthly fee to enjoy this game, I might as well do it in style- by getting the World of Warcraft Collector's Edition. Well easier said than done. See, only 70,000 copies of that edition were (or ever will be) printed, and they all sold out within the first few days the game was on sale. (Most of those copies, it seems, ended up on eBay.) Anyway, I made the decision to buy WoW the week after Christmas, when I was still in Cincinnati with my family. Realizing that I had missed the window for finding the Collector's Edition, I resigned myself to just getting the standard edition like most other folks. Problem was (and still is, as I am writing this), even the standard edition of World of Warcraft was sold out pretty much everywhere across the country. I had a hunch though- my family lives sorta near the West side of Cincinnati, which is really pretty rednecky. I highly doubted that there were any role players on that side of town, so I asked my brother to take me shopping. Well, I my hunch was correct- at a time when every online retailer and stores in every major city were sold out of World of Warcraft, I actually found two stores that still had it on their shelves- four copies total. (In fact, I even found- and bought- a copy of the limited edition WoW strategy guide. More on that later.) To my great disappointment, however, every copy I found of the game had clearly been opened (the tape on the top flap of the box had been sliced). I suspected that someone had come in to harvest CD keys off the manuals. Oh well. I returned to Portland crestfallen, bolstered only by the fact that I had recovered perhaps the last remaining copy of the limited edition strategy guide. See, the cool thing about the limited edition is that it comes with this three-ring binder that contains a unique registration code which grants the owner access to free content updates from the Brady Games World of Warcraft site. This was a pretty cool idea since online games tend to evolve over time, and the strategy guide would gradually become inaccurate and outdated without updates. Well, yesterday Brady Games announced they wouldn't be publishing the updates anymore due to meager earnings and layoffs. But no, wait! Turns out that last post was a prank by an imposter! Brady Games is actually continuing to update World of Warcraft content! Whew! Well, on with the story. So, I ordered 2 copies of standard WoW from Amazon, with full knowledge that it was on backorder. (Amazon said "shipping in 1 to 2 weeks.") Well last Monday while I was eating lunch at my desk, I was browsing the news on Google Groups and was surprised and excited to see a recent post stating that EBGames actually had the Collector's Edition on sale! I followed the link in the post (which is now dead) and it was true! The only thing is, it was $150 (instead of the original $80), 1 copy per person, and carried an additional $10 charge on top of the standard shipping cost because of its size and weight. I stared at my monitor, agonizing whether to click "Add To Cart" when Charlotte called. I explained the situation to her, secretly hoping she'd talk some sense into me and urge me to just wait for the copies I'd already ordered. She didn't. After some silence, I told her to get online and order herself a copy. I did the same (both with next day shipping), and all was good in the world. Until the next day when both our orders appeared marked as "On Hold" on the EBGames web site. I called their customer service and they said they detected that two people had ordered copies to the same address, and that they were going to cancel one and ship the other. I convinced them that my wife and I were both customers (I was being honest, after all), and they okayed the second order. The following day (so much for next day shipping) both beautiful, pristine, sealed Collector's Edition boxes arrived on our front porch. Mu-ha-ha-ha-ha! Well Thursday I saw a thread on the official WoW forums about how EBGames was selling the Collector's Edition for $149 and my, people were pissed! I was just trying to find the thread, but the forum's search function doesn't work... oh well. Anyway, I don't know how many people said "I'm never shopping there again!" or "That's illegal" (WTF?) I did feel kinda bad for the few people who said they had actually pre-ordered the Collector's Edition before the game was released, but EBGames cancelled their orders because they had oversold the pre-orders. That does pretty much suck, but I'm just glad we have our copies. Just installed it on both our computers today. We're not going to play it until we finish Neverwinter Nights... but we're oh so ready when it's time. Before I end this entry, I've just got to observe that the World of Warcraft forums are populated by some of the whiniest, most immature, indignant, and ignorant people I think I've ever encountered on the Internet. The general discussion forum's especially bad. I can't believe we're about to spend $30 a month to start playing (or more precisely, co-existing) with these idiots. I hear that most of the players never post on the forums, and I imagine/hope the ones who do post are a minority. I like to pretend that they're all 13, in which case their behavior and stupidity is almost excusable- unfortunately I know that most of these people are quite old enough to know better.
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I'd like to take a brief break from all this Mike Lacey ugliness and post something completely different. The original purpose of this blog (which was woefully neglected until last month) was for me to vent about things that completely angered or annoyed me- but I didn't want to just be a whiner. So, whenever possible, after whining I try to provide some useful information to help people avoid or recover from the problems I've encountered. Here's one of those situations. Well, a few weeks ago when I was at work, I pulled my old HP external CD-ROM recorder out of my file cabinet so that I could back up some important files before I went away for vacation. I plugged the drive in and it didn't work- the power light didn't even come on. After a couple of minutes dorking with the device, I did something that I almost never do when something breaks. I threw it away! I walked the device and its odd-looking power supply to the nearest e-scrap bin on my floor and never looked back. Well, a couple of days ago I had a need to set up a private network in my cube, and I figured my old Linksys BEFSR41 router would do the trick. I grabbed it from the file cabinet and rooted through the obscene mass of cables in the bottom drawer, only to find the power source from the CD-ROM recorder that I had thrown away three weeks ago! You see, both the power sources for the Linksys router and the CD-ROM recorder use the same kind of weird 3-pronged plug. I then virtually kicked myself in the head for a number of reasons:
  1. The CD-ROM drive wasn't broken, I was just using the wrong power supply with it. (Same plug, different volts/amps.)
  2. I had thrown away the power supply for the Linksys router, and didn't have anything remotely compatible with it anymore.
  3. I never throw away broken equipment that readily! I've got four, count them FOUR broken wireless routers in my cabinet right now that I've dragged around with me for the past two years! I was trying to be tidy that ONE time, and look what it got me! Aaaaagh!
Well, what to do? I mourned the loss of the CD-ROM drive, but I still really needed that Linksys. Well, some quick searching on eBay and various shopping sites turned up no info, and I didn't see any way to order accessories on Linksys's site. I called their customer support number, though, and they told me something that I never would have figured out otherwise... except I did find a forum post someplace that said pretty much the same thing, I guess. Anyway, here's the thing: Although Linksys doesn't sell power supplies for their old routers, they will ship you one for free if you fill out an RMA (return merchandise authorization) on their site and only request a power source. Here's how it works:
  1. Call Linksys's customer support number. You'll find that on their contact page.
  2. Tell them that you need a new power supply for a router, and request that they give you an RMA number so that you can fill out the form online.
  3. Browse to their RMA page (you get there by going to Support > Customer Service > Warranty Return from the main page).
  4. Under Shipping Terms, select Power Supply, and then click the appropriate button for your geographic location.
  5. On the next page, enter your RMA number by Case ID Number, and fill in the rest of the information.
  6. Somewhere on the pages after that, they ask for specific information about your router and where/when you purchased it. Be honest- I've heard it doesn't matter how old the router is as long as they still have supplies.
  7. You'll be given the option to accept their free ground shipping or to pay for quicker methods.
-------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:Anonymous COMMENT-DATE:4:30 PM COMMENT-BODY:Josh-- I'm the same way-- never throw anyting away. I lost the power supply for my (fairly new) BEFW11S4 LinkSys. I called LinkSys as you suggested, but the rep said I could only get a replacement if the router was still in warranty (of course, the warranty is only a year). He refused to give me a case number. The guy was named Rajit, so I'm not 100% sure he really understood what I was asking. He suggested I go to the store to get a replacement. Any ideas?

Vic -------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:Josh COMMENT-DATE:1:36 PM COMMENT-BODY:Vic, you know I never posted a follow-up to explain what happened next. Well they sent me the wrong part so I had to start over again. Whereas the first time I called, I had no problems, the second time I called, I ran into the same roadblock you hit. Well, what I did was I told the guy that I had already been greenlighted for a new supply, and they sent me the wrong one- so he sort of threw up his hands and routed me to a domestic (USA) support number, where they gave me a new RMA number no questions asked.

I'm sorry, I do not have that phone number anymore (I looked). However, you might try calling and saying you need the power supply for a router that's still covered by the warantee... you see it's on the RMA form where you specify exactly which adapter you need. As long as you know the correct watts/amps/AC/DC and the model number of your router, you can specify all the correct info when you're filling out the RMA form. What have you got to lose? -------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:Anonymous COMMENT-DATE:1:42 PM COMMENT-BODY:How to PURCHASE a replacement power supply for Linksys products:

#1 Call: 800-546-5797 (Option 3 then option 4 for POWER SUPPLIES)

Power supplies are all $5 and my shipping was $7.

It's that easy. I tried the plan that was listed above and got routed to india, after speaking to 2 different reps I looked around on the Linksys website more and found this phone number. After calling this customer service number I got to speak to someone in the US office.

Problem solved. -------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:Anonymous COMMENT-DATE:3:09 PM COMMENT-BODY:Thanks for the info. This is the right number and options as of April 7, 2006. The only shipping availalble is ground and its coming out of California. Cords are $5.00 and shipping cost is roughly $7.00. Thanks. -------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:Anonymous COMMENT-DATE:10:43 AM COMMENT-BODY:Thanks for the phone info, I just bought a linksys webcam on ebay that did not come with a power supply (I knew it-it was in the ad). Your posting of the phone number and options got me there quick. -------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:Anonymous COMMENT-DATE:12:05 PM COMMENT-BODY:#1 Call: 800-546-5797 (Option 3 then option 4 for POWER SUPPLIES)

Power supplies are all $5 and my shipping was $7.

this works -------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:Anonymous COMMENT-DATE:11:35 AM COMMENT-BODY:

if they have any in stock, they'll send it. otherwise, you'd have to get a universal 5v3a adapter on your own. my befw11s4 version 1 was still available. after a bit of fenagling, i got it free with free shipping. -------- AUTHOR: The Grimace DATE: 5:12:00 PM ----- BODY:
Here's some new information I've learned, as well as some updates on what's been going between Mike and my parents recently:
-------- AUTHOR: The Grimace DATE: 8:46:00 PM ----- BODY:
So, around 7:45 yesterday morning (New Year's Day), my Dad got awakened by a phone call from the Cincinnati police. They were investigating a charge that Mike had filed against my Dad (separate from the protection order), where he claimed my Dad threatened to run him over in a grocery store parking lot. (?!?!?) My dad spoke to the officer for about half an hour, and explained that the only face-to-face confrontation (such as it was) happened in Mike's own parking lot. He also mentioned that my mom had called the Cheviot police that night (even though Mike's protection order made it sound like he had requested their assistance), and recommended that the officer call the Cheviot police department for further details. The police officer said that if the incident Mike reported only happened in Mike's parking lot, then it wasn't even in Cincinnati's police jurisdiction. Then my dad told him about how Mike had warned Amanda that when he filed a false complaint against my dad, he would go to the Cincinnati police instead of Cheviot, because he felt that the Cheviot cops were siding with my parents. The officer ackowledged that it sounded like Mike had indeed filed a false report- which is a crime- and said he was going to follow up with the Cheviot police immediately. About an hour later Mike called my mother's cell phone. He didn't call from his home or his cell phone because he knew my mother wouldn't pick up. Once she answered and realized who it was though, she was about to hang up, when he said (approximately) the following: "Before you hang up, please listen to what I'm about to say. I'm tired of running, and I'm scared. You win, I don't want Amanda back. I just want all this to end..." Then my mom hung up. Tired of running where, Mike- to the police to file a false police report? Also, "you win?" What, does he think he's been playing some game where he beats my sister, terrorizes my family, and then thinks he can just call it off? But wait- there's more: A couple minutes after that, Mom received another call- from a different phone number. Mom hung up without even seeing who it was, and refused to answer subsequent calls. Then her phone notified her that she had new voicemail. It was Mike's "new" girlfriend! (See, Mike had been cheating on my sister with her for months, but now she seems to be living with him.) Anyway, she basically said the following: "Mike is emotionally torn. He's scared and he just wants this all to end. He promises to leave you alone as long as you stop what you're doing." That's nice. He'll stop stalking my sister and threatening my family as long as we stop protecting ourselves from him. You know what? That "as long as" clause makes that last sentence sound like a threat to me. Sorry chump (and chumpette), this isn't over. There are consequences to pay. Now, I must first state that nothing Michael Lacey says can be believed, and that even if he is sincere at one moment, he cannot be expected to keep his word. However, my best guess about what happened yesterday morning was this: The Cincinnati cop called Cheviot police and learned that the statements Mike made in his police report and protection order were false. The cop called Mike to inform him that people who file meritless police reports are on every police officer's top five list of hated criminals (every minute of their time you waste is a minute they could have spent helping someone who needed them). Mike has been to jail before. For a long time. I don't think he liked it there. I believe this is why he called my mom. Of course, by attempting to contact my mother he was violating his own protection order against her! (This is why my mom didn't even bother telling him to F himself before hanging up on him. Duh!) But there's even more! Just the night before, on New Year's Eve, we discovered another crime that Mike had commited in his vendetta against my family. Once we got over our initial anger, we realized what a blessing it would be. I can't provide details about the crime now, because charges have yet to be pressed. I will only say that it's significant, there is solid evidence, and that it can be easily proven in court. Mike Lacey is about to face the music. The only disappointing thing about it though, is that I know he will never be able to recognize that he brought it all on himself. He chose to beat and intimidate my sister, to steal from her and hold her hostage, to threaten my parents and file false charges against them, and to commit the crime that was just recently uncovered. No one made him do any of those things, and he deserves punishment for all of them. But somehow his twisted, pathetic brain will find a way to blame it all on anyone but himself. It's a vain hope that Mike will ever understand that the only person responsible for the suffering he's about to endure is he and he alone. Oh well, at least he'll be suffering. God knows he's made my family (and surely many others) suffer enough.
-------- AUTHOR: The Grimace DATE: 7:01:00 PM ----- BODY:
A grumpy Hamilton County police officer showed up at my parents' house today to serve them each with a Civil Stalking Protection Order (a restraining order) to keep them both away from Mike Lacey! Now they're going to have to go to court and explain that they're the ones who need a protection order filed against him! Following is an excerpt from the order filed against my mother. Please forgive the grammatical issues- apparently the person who typed up the order was just as illiterate as Mike is.
Petitioner states that Respondent has engaged in the following act(s) which create an immediate and present danger. [My mom] relentlessly continues to contact petitioners residence by home phone and cell phone to harass him due to the reconciliation of his relationship with girlfriend [Amanda], [My mom's] adult, daughter. [Amanda] is not a resident at [Mike's address] which does not entitle [my mom] to make calls to the petitioners home. [My mom] has obtained a pass key to the Petitioner home and has entered without permission to take Petitioners personal effects. Records have been placed with Cheviot police department. [My mom] calls the petitioner at all hours of the day to insult, uses profanity and threaten physical harm to the petitioner. On December 26 in front of the petitioner's home, [My parents] stated they would run petitioner over with their automobile. Cheviot police was contacted to escort [my parents] from the premises. [My mom] also states she will have her two sons physically attack petitioner if petitioner continue to agree to see daughter [Amanda].
What on earth does Mike expect to gain by filing such a completely false report against my parents? The following facts contradict Mike's signed statement:
  1. My mom never relentlessly called anyone, especially not Mike. We have known for weeks that there's no point in talking to the sick bastard, so we've had little reason to talk to him at all. I was there this week when my mother called Mike to tell him she was on to him. And she never threatened him in any way- but she did cuss at him a bit, that's true. Heh.
  2. My sister was indeed a resident of that address and had lived with Mike the past few years until she fled the premises for her life! Some of her possessions still remained in his apartment, and those were the things my mom was trying to get back. No one was ever interested in any of Mike's belongings, even if most of them were things he had mooched off my family anyway.
  3. "Obtained a pass key to petitioner's home?" My sister LIVED there, she had a key!!!
  4. Unlike Mike, my mother actually sleeps at night. Mike's the one who woke my sister up by calling her at 4:00 in the morning when she was visiting me last summer, and who woke my dad up when he was abroad on a business trip. Phone records should prove this out. I'm sure he can provide them! (Oh, and the days he stole my sister's and mother's cell phones don't count! Who knows what he did with those phones then!)
  5. No one in my family has ever threatened physical harm against Mike, vehicular or otherwise.
  6. On the night of the 26th, my parents were the ones who contacted the Cheviot police! They had to call the cops because Mike wouldn't relinquish my mother's cell phone! Again, this can be easily proven by the Cheviot police (who are big fans of Mike, by the way- they just love those narcissistic woman-beater types). Also, the police didn't escort my parents from the premises- they ordered Mike to go back into his apartment!
  7. Finally, my mother never threatened to sic me and Chris on him. As much as we hate Michael Lacey, we would only inflict physical harm on him if he presented a clear and present danger to any member of our family and we were there to do something about it. Neither of us were there when he brutalized our sister, and we haven't touched him yet. We're just hoping the legal system will work and punish him if he gives us any more problems.
I know that nothing's going to come of Mike's legal actions. If anything, he'll get charged with filing false police reports. It's just so damned annoying. Mike is like a retarded chihuahua nipping at my family's heels. We've just got to keep our cool and bide our time until the dog catcher comes to scoop his ass up!
-------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:Lezlie COMMENT-DATE:1:47 PM COMMENT-BODY:I like the image of the dog cather scooping up his ass. -------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:Jill COMMENT-DATE:10:55 PM COMMENT-BODY:Ahh, the image of a retarded chihuahua is great. And you can spell too! -------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:Josh COMMENT-DATE:7:27 AM COMMENT-BODY:You have just read the most eclectic (read: disorganized) blog on the 'net. My apologies!

I never finished the Mike saga, but I guess I ought to, just for posterity's sake. You may see an update if you ever return. -------- AUTHOR: The Grimace DATE: 9:06:00 PM ----- BODY:
My how things do change. Yesterday I was mourning the loss of my sister, yet today I'm rejoicing that she's finally been delivered to safety. Please note that for reasons that should be obvious (especially after what you're about to read) from this point forward, I am only going to mention my sister's past- not her current status or her plans for the future. Amanda did stay with Mike last night, and this morning when he was leaving to go to work, Mike locked Amanda out of his apartment but kept her purse, so that our mom "can't control the situation." Of course the irony that by keeping the purse he was desperately trying to maintain control escaped Mike's addled brain completely. Amanda called us, explained the purse situation, and promised that she finally realized what a monster Mike is and that she's ready to move on. The purse was recovered, however Amanda quickly realized that her driver's license, credit cards, and some business cards/phone numbers were missing. Mike must've thought that keeping those items would have ensured that Amanda would return. He was wrong. You see, last night when Mike was with Amanda, all he did was intimidate and threaten her- promising to scour the country and hunt her down if she left him, claiming that he would try to get personal information about my parents (for unexplained- and probably silly- reasons). His endless posturing and ranting proved to her that not a single shred of the sensitive, caring man she thought she knew remained in Mike's hideous frame. The Mike she once loved was dead, and she felt that she would be dead too (but in a more literal sense) if she stayed with this blathering shitbag any longer. We watched the clock all day wondering when we'd hear from Mike once he realized that Amanda wasn't coming back. We got our first sign in the evening. My mother received a call from a pay phone (Caller ID), and the caller was a woman claiming to be a friend of Amanda's. My mom was instantly suspicious and gave her some misleading information. We then tracked down the actual person (Amanda's real friend) and confirmed that she was not the individual who had just called my mother. Mike had gotten someone (and we think we know who) to phone us looking for more information. In a moment of fury, my mother called Mike directly to let him know she was on to his schemes. She didn't really get a chance to inform him of this though, because he began making ominous threats against my parents- saying they should look over their shoulders and watch out their windows. In response, my mother immediately filed yet another police report and began proceedings to get a restraining order against Mike. We also learned today that Mike has made a couple more fake appointments at Amanda's salon. The manager told us that if Mike ever actually enters the premises again, she will call the police. This guy's gonna have a record a mile long in every police district in a matter of weeks if he keeps this crap up. And I believe he's stupid enough to do just that.
-------- AUTHOR: The Grimace DATE: 8:52:00 PM ----- BODY:
Well, Christmas Day has come and gone, and the police never came a-knocking on our door- so either Mike was just bluffing or the cops laughed him out of the station. Unfortunately, I still have unhappy news to report. This morning my mother told me that Amanda was moping around yesterday, sad about being away from Mike. Amanda said it wasn't that bad being with him, and that she refused to hate Mike like the rest of us do. On a hunch, I logged on to Mom's computer under Amanda's account and started Outlook Express. There I found several emails she had written to Mike over the past three days which made it clear that not only did she miss him, but she was actively trying to contact him. The most recent email was from 12:30AM today (Sunday, as I write this paragraph) saying she would try to call him this afternoon. I printed these emails and showed them to my Mom. Over the next hour or so we spread the word to my Dad, my brother Chris, and my wife, Charlotte. Mom said she would give Amanda a choice: To leave Cincinnati for South Carolina and begin a new life tomorrow, or move back in with Mike. We waited for Amanda to wake up and confronted her with the emails. The discussion went on for an emotional couple of hours. It basically consisted of arguments like this: Amanda: "Being with Mike wasn't that bad." Everyone else: "He almost killed you a couple of weeks ago. You came home terrified and bruised that morning after he held you hostage." Amanda: [silence] When I arrived at the sad realization that talking to Amanda about Mike was as fruitless as talking to the prick himself, I removed myself from the conversation and disappeared. Amanda said she would take a shower and decide what she would do. Apparently she chose Mike. Due to the circumstances of the afternoon, Amanda ended up driving to Mike's place in my Dad's car and with my Mom's cell phone. My parents made arrangements to trade their car for Amanda's and get the cell phone. But nothing with Mike's ever that simple. He made a number of calls to our house on my mom's phone, for unknown reasons- but when my mom called him from Dad's cell phone he acted like a jackass and pretended he didn't know who was calling. Then when they got to his place, he refused to return the cell phone to them! My mom called the police and he finally gave it back. That's not even the end of it though. I put my son to sleep this evening, and when I came upstairs to see what's going on I saw that Charlotte was on the phone (rolling her eyes) and I knew she was talking to Mike. I asked my mom if it would be ill-advised to get on the line and start cussing the prick out. She couldn't really give me an answer, but I went upstairs to find a phone anyway. I picked up the phone and waited for a point to break in. He asked Charlotte some idiotic question, and I answered, "Because you're a lying white trash sack of shit." This began a lengthy string of colorful epithets that called into question his intelligence, heritage, and sexual orientation. He was surprised, but he thought I was my Dad. (I have a cold and don't sound like myself right now.) When I corrected him, he just started saying that he was recording every word (ooh, scary!) and threatened to press the mute button on his phone (what balls!) and then for some reason he started saying I'd never win a fight with him, even though I never threatened the bastard. He hung up just as I was advising him to try not to hit any women this week. I knew that talking to him wasn't going to mean anything, and it certainly wasn't going to help things, but I still felt compelled to do it. I don't regret what I did (even though I hated to have my family hear those things come out of my mouth), and I only wish I could have yelled at him some more. I did have a legitimate reason for yelling at him, though... see Charlotte had told me that he'd been calling my parents because he wanted to work things out with them now that he and Amanda are 'reconciling.' I just wanted it to go on record that my family has always hated him, from the day he got out of prison for beating his baby (oh, I haven't mentioned the prison stuff yet, have I?), and that attempting to 'patch things up' with my parents would be fruitless because there was nothing there to patch up to begin with. The only difference between now and six years ago is that then we had to put up with the prick because we didn't want to hurt Amanda's feelings- but now that we know he's a cheater, liar, and abuser, we no longer conceal our hatred. And it is true hatred- dark, burning, consuming, seething hatred of him and everything he says, does, and dreams. So, there's the matter of my sister. My poor, sweet, trusting, gullible sister. A few weeks ago, when things started coming out, I was the compassionate voice of the family. I was the one who told everyone, "Cool down- she's an abused woman, and she's simply not thinking clearly," while the others were getting frustrated and furious with her. But today I felt so betrayed by her- all these positive things she's been telling us were just lies. Everyone was going totally out of their way to help her start over and she totally just pissed on all of it. She chose to crawl back to this son of a bitch who hit her, cheated on her, took her hostage, and nearly killed her (at least once) instead of accepting the help of the people who really love her. I know it's common for abused women to do such amazingly nonsensical things, but that knowledge doesn't make it any easier for me to accept it. She's sacrificing any chance she has for a happy, successful, or fulfilling life for this low, vile, pathological cretin. It is sad and disgusting and utterly tragic.
-------- AUTHOR: The Grimace DATE: 8:51:00 PM ----- BODY:
It's getting late in the evening, but I wanted to record this entry as possible evidence should anything happen with Mike tomorrow. See, he's made a few threats against my dad over the past couple of weeks because he claims that my dad made physical threats against him. I think I already mentioned here that my dad had once left a pre-typed message on Mike's answering machine requesting Amanda's things. Well, Mike (insanely) claimed that my dad made threats, and that he's now going to fight back. He told my mother that he would "do something physical." And this past week he informed my sister two times that he would injure himself and report to the police that my father had assulted him. He claimed he was waiting until Christmas Eve or Christmas Day to do it, because that would be the most devastating thing to do, in his mind. Sound crazy? Well, the bastard's actually done it before. We recently learned that he and some reject friend of his once tore their shirts and cut themselves, then claimed that Mike's ex wife had attacked them. (He's also threatened to hand out fliers at my parents' church and to stand at the top of their street with a sign saying what terrible people they are, by the way.) Anyway, like I've said before, there's tons and tons more to report about this moron. But I just wanted to get this info about his threats recorded in case we need some evidence of them if he tries anything tomorrow.
-------- AUTHOR: The Grimace DATE: 9:06:00 PM ----- BODY:
In my first post about Mike, I mentioned how Mike requested a CD back from my sister that had been in her car stereo. What I didn't mention was the fact that she has a cartridge-style CD jukebox in her trunk and that she handed the cartridge to Mike so he could get the CD out of it. He opened the passenger door of her car, ostensibly so he could use the dome light to see what he was doing as he located his CD. Chris, Steve, and I watched him do this, but we were across the street, so we couldn't exactly see what he was doing. It turns out that Mike did something else when the passenger door was open, and none of us noticed at the time. Well, my sister went out shopping today, and this evening when she pulled into the driveway, she reached up to her car's visor to press the button on her garage door opener. Only the opener wasn't there! I had driven her car just the day before the pick-up, and I had used the opener to get into the house that day, so I know it was there that day. No one had driven the car since the night of the pick-up until Amanda went out shopping today. Also, neither she, nor I, nor anyone in our family had removed the opener from her visor (nor had we any reason to). Mike had taken it! The opener had been on the passenger side visor, because the driver side visor was too thick. (You can still see the impression the opener left in the visor.) It would have been simple for Mike to swipe it without us noticing- he was right there, and he had his back to us. God only knows what he was planning to do with it. We have since ensured that he won't be able to do anything with it. That's another $50 he's cost my family. Oh, one other thing... last night Mike left a message on our voice mail, saying he "accidentally" ended up with Amanda's cell phone, and wanted to know when he could see her again so he could return it. Dumbass. We knew he'd stolen it, and we knew he'd try to pull this. The phone has been deactivated, and Amanda's not going to come back for it. Also, now he doesn't have a way to call her without calling my parents' house. This guy is a monster. And you don't even know a fraction of what I'm about to reveal about him...
-------- AUTHOR: The Grimace DATE: 11:04:00 PM ----- BODY:
I'd like to tell you about a vindictive son of a bitch named Michael Lacey. He dated my sister, Amanda, for a few years. Although my family always thought he was a total butt, my sister claims he was always nice to her- for about the first five years they were dating. But then he turned mean. In March of this year, my sister gave him a haircut he didn't like, so he expressed his discontent by lifting her off the ground by her neck- Darth Vader style. A couple months after that, the hitting began. He hit her on the head- possibly to hide the bruises under her long dark hair? He also cheated on Amanda... at least once, although my sister claims to have found love letters written to him by numerous women. My family knew nothing about this... until November when my sister made some confessions about what Mike had done, and my mother commissioned some investigative work to confirm what had been happening. My parents immediately got Amanda out of town. This only lasted about a week... at the time Amanda still had feelings for him even though she knew the things Mike had done were wrong. She still made excuses for him, and she missed the good times they had once enjoyed. She returned back to Cincinnati, and although she officially stayed at my parents' house during this time, she saw Mike frequently, and stayed out with him as late as my parents would allow. Well, on Friday of that week, Mike decided he didn't want her going home- even though Amanda knew that if she stayed out all night with him, she would violate her understanding with my parents. See, my mom had warned Amanda that if she didn't meet her curfew, my parents would kick her out for good. When Amanda made it clear that she intended to leave, Mike tackled her to the ground and held her for a while. Amanda couldn't breathe, and thought she was going to die. After a couple of minutes, Mike made Amanda call my mother to say she wasn't coming home that night. My mom reminded her of the consequences. She says she heard tension in Amanda's voice that night, but she assumed it was just because Amanda knew Mom would be mad. After the phone call, the two of them went to bed, but Amanda didn't sleep. She waited for him to doze off then tried to escape. Each time she attempted this, however, he awoke and followed her around. She tried to make it look like she was going to the bathroom but he never left her side. Amanda later told me that this was the first time that she was ever truly terrified of Mike, and she knew she would never be safe around him again. In the morning, Amanda told Mike she had to go home otherwise her parents would get worried. He agreed, but said he wanted to meet her for breakfast later in the morning at a nearby restaurant. And as she was walking out the door, he ominously warned her, "Don't screw me." Amanda came home bruised and shaking. My mother rushed her to the police. While my sister did file a report, she didn't actually press charges because she was so frightened of Mike that she didn't even want to have to face him in a courtroom. While she was talking to the cops, Mike dropped by my parents' house, where my father warned him never to set foot on their property again. Mike left promptly, and he hadn't seen my sister since then until tonight. You see, even though the police warned Mike not to contact my sister or family, he has called all of them constantly (even calling my sister 60 times on one day last week). Usually my sister doesn't answer, but today for some reason she did. Well, although most of my sister's things were out of Mike's apartment, there were still a few precious items there- especially my sister's scrapbook, which held all of her favorite photos of friends and family throughout the years. She even had a whole page in there devoted to my tiny sister Elizabeth who died at the age of one, when I was four. (Neither Amanda nor my brother Chris had been born by then.) Well, today Mike tells her that he has finally packed up her things and if she doesn't agree to meet him tonight at 7:30 that he will throw them all in the trash. Also, my mother and father were forbidden from attending. Amanda agreed, on the condition that she was allowed to bring friends, and that they meet in the parking lot of the Cheviot police station. I called my brother Chris, and he arranged to have his friend Steve pick me and Chris up so we could follow Amanda to the police station. We were armed with a variety of blunt and pointy things. Amanda pulled into the station parking lot, and we pulled sneakily into the lot of the bar across the street. (But then my brother recognized Mike's car in the same lot.) Mike noticed our car, but thought we were just bar patrons, until he noticed that none of us emerged from the vehicle. (Amanda had told us not to get out of the car until she signaled us.) Once he realized what was going on, a couple of times, Mike approached the car and told us to leave, but each time he did I just told him to get Amanda's stuff out of his car so we could leave. Well, he finally got the box out of his car and took it across the street to Amanda's car. They talked for a long time... I'm thinking about 15 minutes. I tried calling Amanda's cell to tell her to wrap things up. She never answered, though. But then my mom drives up (we had instructed her to stay out of this) and Mike starts accusing her of harassing him. Mom called Chris's cell phone to find out where we were, and then she parked in the street, out of Mike and Amanda's sight. When it was clear that Mike was just gonna keep talking forever, Chris, Steve, and I got out of Steve's car (sans weaponry) and walked to the curb. I yelled across the street, "Amanda, two minutes." Mike told Amanda he needed a CD out of her car CD player. She gave it back to him, they hugged, and she started to get into her car. Mike starts walking back across the street towards us. "You guys have anything you wanna say to me?" he asks. While I stayed silent, Chris responded, "We've got nothing to say to you." "That's right," Mike says, haughtily, but instead of continuing to his car he approaches my brother and says, "You know, I used to have the highest respect for your parents, but now that's just over." He would have said more, but Amanda shouted at him to just leave. I told Amanda to get in her car, and Chris, Steve, and I waited until Mike pulled out of the parking lot. As I expected, Mike pulled up next to my mom, who was still parked. By this time, Steve had started his car and crept up behind Mike on the street. He just honked the hell out of his horn until Mike moved on. It was awesome. Once Mike was gone, our small convoy of cars met in a nearby parking lot. My sister was frantically looking for her cell phone. She explained, "he made me empty my pockets when I first got there, because he wanted to make sure I didn't have Mace or a gun on me." So she definitely had it on her person when they were talking. I tried calling her phone again. This time, instead of ringing and ringing like it did when I had called her a few minutes ago, it went directly into Amanda's voice mail. That only happens when the phone is turned off or when someone's using it. We believe that Mike swiped her phone when they were hugging. He knew what pocket it was in from when he made her empty them earlier. Why would he take the phone? We believe he had two reasons: 1) That it would be another excuse to see Amanda again ('Oh, I somehow ended up with your phone...') and 2) So he could get the phone numbers of her friends, and pump them for information. We already know he's been doing this, and even posing as other people as he tries to learn what Amanda's up to. (Apparently he's not hip to this new-fangled technology called CALLER ID!) So, here's the really cool thing that he did. Amanda gets home tonight, looks through the box he packed, and quickly notices two things: First, the box clearly does NOT contain all the things Mike was supposed to pack for her. And second, every single photograph had been torn out of Amanda's scrapbook. Even the ones of sad little Elizabeth. Mike has repeatedly, and I mean totally ad nauseum, said "This isn't between me and Amanda, this is between me and her parents." Well, do you think he was trying to hurt my parents by stealing all my sister's memories? I didn't think so. There is so much I could say to you about this childish, narcissistic, volatile piece of crap that is Michael Lacey. And it will all come out here, eventually. If you ever have the sad misfortune of meeting this man, run- don't walk- as far in the opposite direction as you can.
-------- AUTHOR: The Grimace DATE: 2:57:00 PM ----- BODY:

Charlotte and I have never played an MMORPG. While her primary reason for this would be the monthly expense, my reasons have more to do with the other players. I sort of keep tabs on the various MMORPGs, and over and over I keep hearing about abuses committed by players for either juvenile or professional reasons. Players who 'gank' lower-leveled characters for fun, players who script 'bots' to level up their characters so they can collect loot and experience, and then sell their characters and items for real world money on auction sites, players who exploit bugs or use hacks to perform better than others. I don't put up with people like this in my real life, so why would I pay to put up with them in a virtual one? Unfortunately, there are very few co-operative multiplayer games for the PC that AREN’T MMOs. In fact Neverwinter Nights is the only good one I can think of. (It actually lets you go through the complete story mode in multiplayer, and- gasp- lets you save multiplayer games!) Also, my very favorite role playing games (Morrowind, Gothic, Gothic II) are single-player only. What I love about them are the huge landscapes and open-ended gameplay. You can go almost anywhere and do almost anything in those games. But I’ve played all of them! No, if I want more of that kind of gameplay, it seems that my only hope, other than waiting for Morrowind II and Gothic III, is going to be signing on with an MMORPG. But with MMORPGs, even though you can play with your friends, you also have to co-exist with some of the lowest scum of the Internet. Well, it seems that Blizzard, developers of World of Warcraft, have made some great strides toward enforcing fair gaming on their servers, and limiting the havoc that disruptive players can wreak. They have banned accounts found to be using bots. They have banned players who are discovered selling their virtual wares on auction sites. They have reduced the frequency of 'kill stealing' by implementing a system where the first player to engage with an enemy is guaranteed the loot/experience from it. Unfortunately, however, there is one rather big problem on World of Warcraft's Player vs. Environment (PvE) servers that is going to keep me from buying the game until it's addressed. You see, even though on the PvE servers, you’re not supposed to be able to fight other characters without mutual consent, some people have discovered a way to force people on these servers into Player vs. Player (PvP) combat. It works like this:

  1. An unsuspecting player engages in combat with a creature.
  2. A malicious player casts the Mind Control spell on the creature, which temporarily makes that creature an ally of the caster.
  3. As a result of the first player being in combat with a creature that is currently being controlled by another player, both players are forced into PvP mode, and the malicious player can now attack the first player directly.
I’ve seen numerous reports of this posted on the official WoW Forums, and many people seem quite upset about it, and rightly so. I mean, people who are simply not into PvP go onto the PvE servers for a reason. It is completely unacceptable that some antisocial ‘griefers’ can force PvE players into combat. I WILL NOT BUY WoW until Blizzard fixes this. To read more about the topic, check the following threads: First there’s the earliest description of the problem I could find. Next, there’s a more detailed account of the problem, where a Blizzard rep noted that the problem would be submitted to the developers for consideration. And finally, there’s another thread where a Blizzard forum representative hinted that Blizzard may be considering a fix. No solid promises have been made yet, however. I will be watching the forums very closely over the next couple of weeks.

-------- AUTHOR: The Grimace DATE: 3:46:00 PM ----- BODY:
I love the idea of Yahoo! AddressGuard: You create up to 500 unique “disposable” email addresses to use for posting things on the Internet, buying things from web sites, and communicating with friends and family- and never share your real email address with anyone. If one of the disposable addresses starts receiving spam, you just delete it and create a new one. If you create your addresses wisely, you can even use AddressGuard as a tool for tracking where spammers are finding your address. Here’s how it works: Say your Yahoo! username is roooooooooooody, and your real email address is [Okay, this is insane… I tried to come up with a username that was not currently a valid Yahoo! account, to prevent that poor soul from receiving spam as a result of being mentioned in this example. I tried Rudy. Taken. Roody. Taken. Rooody. Taken, and so on, until 9 ‘o’s later when I ended up with the above invalid user name. If your name is roooooooooooody, I apologize in advance; unless you like spam you probably shouldn’t create a Yahoo! account with that name now that this has been posted.] In the AddressGuard settings you specify a single ‘base name’ and one keyword for each address you want to set up. The base name must be different from your Yahoo! account name, and should probably not have anything to do with who you really are. The keyword can be anything that helps you identify the address. For example, user roooooooooooody picks a base name of burgundyloaf and creates a disposable address for use at Amazon. His new disposable address would be For each address, you can also specify nifty things such as the name that people see when you send email from that address, whether you can send email from that address at all (in case it’s just for one-way communications), what folder new mail to that address should be delivered to- and you can even assign it a color code. I use the color codes to visually break my received email into categories. Light green for e-commerce sites, brown for general web sites that require registrations, yellow for message boards, etc. Basically, AddressGuard is the reason I pay an annual fee for Yahoo! Mail Plus instead of using Gmail for free. It is the ONLY way to reliably control spam. Unfortunately, the technology is apparently not without issues. I actually have two Yahoo! Mail Plus accounts right now, because my old original Yahoo! Account is finally getting spam… tons of it, and it’s taking a long time to migrate all the various web sites I have accounts with over to my new, pristine, secret Yahoo! Account and assign them all disposable addresses. (If your main Yahoo! Address starts getting spam, you’re out of luck. You can’t change user names, which is why I had to start a new account. Eventually I’ll completely close the old account.) Well, I recently suspected there was a problem when I bought two Christmas gifts a few weeks ago from two different web sites which I had signed into using brand new a unique disposable address for each site. Even a couple of hours after my purchases I still hadn’t received a receipt email or even a ‘thank you for your order’ email from either place, even though both sites said they had sent the receipts. I did a quick test: From my work email address, I sent a single message to each of the 35 disposable addresses I had set up on my new Yahoo! account. 20 of those messages appeared in my Yahoo! Inbox within seconds of being sent. 14 of them didn’t show up until EIGHT HOURS LATER, scattered among the test messages I had received earlier in the day, which had already been read. (Oh and those missing receipts showed up around then, too.) And one message simply disappeared. A full day later I received an error report from Yahoo about the missing email, which cryptically explained: “fstat indicates that we were not given a handle to a standard file: 10000 (10000) I'm not going to try again; this message has been in the queue too long.” I contacted a good friend- the guy who had actually introduced me to the wonders of Yahoo! Mail Plus- and asked if he had seen similar behavior with his account. Imagine my lack of surprise when he replied that he had in fact been getting reports that people’s emails to his disposable addresses had been bouncing back to them (although he didn’t say whether it was taking 24 hours to do so). Now, you might be able to argue that AddressGuard was serving as the ultimate anti-spam tool- after all, if you can’t receive email you can’t be spammed. But just as I believe that it’s better to let some guilty men go free than to jail a single innocent one, I feel that it’s better to receive some spam than it is to lose a single legitimate email. The current situation was unacceptable. Time to reach out and touch Yahoo! Mail “Customer Care.” Well good news, everyone! You can’t. Well, they say you can, but you apparently can’t. Of course there’s no published phone number. Of course. (If you’ve read my earlier entries, you know I actually did once track down a working Yahoo! support number, but I have since heard that it no longer works.) What they tell you to do is go to the Yahoo! Mail Help page, look up an irrelevant topic (none of the topics address technical issues… it’s more FAQ type stuff), and then click No at the bottom of the page, where it says “Is this enough information?” At that time, you’re presented with a form where you specify your name and email address, select a topic from a list of topics that probably has nothing to do with your question, and then type your real question. The awesome thing about this is, what if your problem is that Yahoo’s not delivering your fricking email? How in the heck are you going to receive a reply? I submitted two questions about this issue two weeks ago, and still haven’t heard a peep from Customer Care. Maybe it’s AddressGuard doing its thing. Or maybe Yahoo! Just doesn’t care. (Well, duh!)
-------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:Anonymous COMMENT-DATE:4:15 AM COMMENT-BODY:2005.1.1: Today I signed up for Yahoo Mail Plus. I now see a "Mail Plus" tab on the Yahoo Mail web pages. However, on the "Mail Options" page, I see no link for setting up and configuring AddressGuard. It looks as if I have been enabled for Mail Plus but not AddressGuard. I even did a text search for "AddressGuard" on the Mail Options web page, and also on the HTML source of the Mail Options web page. Believe me, there is nothing there for AddressGuard, just nothing. Any idea how I can start using AddressGuard? -------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:Josh COMMENT-DATE:9:05 PM COMMENT-BODY:Here's how I get to AddressGuard in my mail plus settings:

1. Click "Mail Plus" tab.
2. Click "Mail Options" link.
3. On the left side of the Options screen, below "Options" click "Mail".
4. Under "Spam" click "AddressGuard".

If you signed up for Mail Plus and you can't find AddressGuard after following those steps, there's definitely a problem. You should report it to Yahoo using their silly online help system. -------- AUTHOR: The Grimace DATE: 8:05:00 PM ----- BODY:
The setup: My wife and I live in Portland Oregon, but all of our friends and family live in or near Cincinnati Ohio. The only airline that flies direct between Portland and Cincinnati is Delta. Airline tickets are expensive (especially now that we have a young son, and have to buy three tickets when we travel). In order to afford more than one trip to Cincinnati a year, we needed a way to accumulate Delta SkyMiles. The only credit card in the United States that gives you Delta SkyMiles is the special American Express Delta SkyMiles card. It's not a "real" American Express card in that it actually has a credit limit and you can't use all of their online banking features, but you get the same privileges of paying an annual 'membership' fee and having your card turned down at stores that don't take it (and you usually get a recited dissertation from store clerks about how AmEx charges more money to retailers than other cards, which is always a blast). Anyway, we have the card, and for the first three years, things were good: We bought everything we could with the card (even put some monthly bills on it), paid it off each month, and accumulated the SkyMiles. But beginning last year, things started to break down. The problem: Strong proponents of the Internet that we are, we buy almost all of our Christmas gifts online. For a few nights, my wife and I sit down and compile a list of people for whom we will be purchasing gifts, and decide which gifts we're going to get, and from where. Once that's all done, we go online and make a number of large orders from all selected retailers (all Amazon gifts in one order, all L.L. Bean in another order, and so on)... generally the bigger the order the more you save on shipping. Anyway, we've been doing this for a few years, but for reasons unknown to us, something quite annoying happened last year. A number of gifts we ordered then did not arrive by Christmas Day, even though we'd ordered them well in advance. Too many things were missing from too many places for it to be a shipping problem, so we started emailing retailers (and calling the ones who had phone numbers). In each case, American Express had denied the charges when they were presented for payment. Well, why didn't they tell us when we made our order, we asked? And why was American Express turning us down, when we knew we were within our credit limit? The explanation: When you buy something online, many web commerce sites (who often outsource the handling of credit card transactions) don't actually present your charge for payment when you purchase something with your credit card. While you're making the purchase, they generally just check that your card information is valid, and that the account is still active. Once they DO finally get around to presenting charges, which may be a day or two after you made your purchase, it's up to them how to handle situations when your card gets turned down. Guess how most retailers handle this situation? They cancel your order and never tell you what happened. Now what about American Express? What was their deal? Well, we called them and beginning last year they began arbitrarily turning down what they considered to be "unusual" purchases on your account. They did this to "protect" you in case someone steals your card without you knowing it. No one from American Express ever asked us if our card had been stolen, or whether we were the ones who'd made the purchases. So what's the deal there? Here's the answer: They say that when a cashier tells you that your card's denied, to call American Express on the spot (hope you have a cell phone and a patient queue behind you) so you can clear things up with them and let the transaction go through. Okay... but what if you're shopping online and the web site doesn't present your charge for payment until tomorrow? Your presents don't arrive and no one tells you until it's far too late, that's what happens. Besides, it's fricking Christmas! Of COURSE you buy all sorts of crazy crap then that you normally wouldn't otherwise- and more of it! I keep having to tell Amazon to stop recommending me pregnancy guides and erotic massage videos specifically because of the Christmas buy-a-thon. The kicker: So here's where it gets fun. Once you've navigated American Express's labyrinthine customer service phone menu and get connected with a support representative whose native language is not English, the representative, trying to be helpful, offers to make a note in your account to indicate when you plan to buy a bunch of stuff. Just let them know before you go on your spending spree, and they’ll approve everything within your spending limit. That's what they say, but don't believe it. No one reads those comments (if they ever even get stored- my wife discovered recently that a notification she had dutifully given American Express a few weeks ago never made it into their system)- a computer program that analyzes your buying habits turns your card down when it sees you spending more than usual, and just like AmEx's customer support reps, it doesn't celebrate Christmas or speak English. The irony: American Express makes money by allowing charges, because as mentioned before, they do charge retailers a little more for handling their transactions than other cards. By wrongly turning down our transactions, they weren't just hassling us, their customers, but they were depriving themselves of income! Sweet business model you guys have there, AmEx! The result: We signed up for another card. It won't give us those precious Delta SkyMiles, but it gives us cash back on most purchases, and it's a MasterCard so EVERYONE takes it. Oh yeah, no monthly fee.
-------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:Anonymous COMMENT-DATE:4:41 AM COMMENT-BODY:I just wanted to say that American Express did the same thing to me. And I hate American Express too, but thank God I don't need them. peqular1 -------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:Anonymous COMMENT-DATE:8:05 PM COMMENT-BODY:Sounds like you should have more of a gripe with the online merchants who didnt bother to process your charge right away and never told you that it wasnt approved. American Express is picky with their cardmembers and charges to prevent getting ripped off for both themselves and their cardholders. If you are out of pattern then the system can start to refer your charges in. What this means is that the merchant is given the signal to call for verification, but so many cashiers out there are too ignorant or lazy to do this and simply tell you that the charge was declined when in fact it wasnt. All they needed to do was to call the merchant number and verify that you are the rightfull cardholder. *shrug* Its easy to complain about things that you dont know much about I guess. -------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:Josh COMMENT-DATE:10:37 PM COMMENT-BODY:Not that I expect you or anyone else to ever see this, Any, but what I DO understand is that we gave American Express a heads-up TWICE and they STILL blocked our transactions. If they weren't going to honor our request they should have told us so, so we could use our other cards. -------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:Anonymous COMMENT-DATE:3:45 AM COMMENT-BODY:This post has been removed by a blog administrator. -------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:Anonymous COMMENT-DATE:2:13 PM COMMENT-BODY:Josh their is more to the story that you are leaving out...or you might want to check your credit...Because a Delta card, as you stated, is a credit card and American Express does not stop charges for out of pattern on a credit card... -------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:Josh COMMENT-DATE:5:29 PM COMMENT-BODY:Right, I totally made this all up. *shrugs* It's so bizarre that this one little post has drawn so much animosity. You don't even wanna see the comment I had to delete.
Look folks, this happened to us 2 years in a row, and it's true. No reason to lie about it, I was just venting here. -------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:Anonymous COMMENT-DATE:3:37 AM COMMENT-BODY:I had an amex charge card for 11 years. For no reason they decided to(and my credit standing is good)cancel it without letting me know. They are the most impersonal and unprofessional bunch of losers on the face of the earth. They don't deserve the business. -------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:Anonymous COMMENT-DATE:4:24 PM COMMENT-BODY:if you are a hvcm then amex would have treated you better. amex has a separate center in fortlauderdale fl, we speak english, we celebrate christmas and we work 24 hours a day for hvcm, open rcp and centurion card member. hvcm means high value cardmember. -------- COMMENT-AUTHOR:Kevin COMMENT-DATE:2:06 PM COMMENT-BODY:I've been trying to get money back that AMEX owes me for weeks. The first time I called, they said OK, your check will be out in 3 days. Two weeks later, I call again. No record of my first call, and it'll take 40 days for them to investigate and send me my money. I will never use any AMEX product again. The customer service people just blow the whole thing off. I'm so angry. If I owed them money they'd be all over me, calling me, writing letters, ruining my credit rating. -------- AUTHOR: The Grimace DATE: 3:05:00 PM ----- BODY:
Network Printing with the HP PSC 1350 I spent four days trying to get Windows 98 computers on my home network to print to the new HP PSC 1350 All-In-One printer connected to my Windows XP system. HP technical support said that network printing was not supported on this model and suggested that I buy a “higher end” printer if I wanted to be able to do it. Well I now have not one but two solutions for making this work. This specific problem only occurs if you’re sharing a printer between different Windows platforms (for example Windows XP and Windows 98). If all the computers on your network are running the same version of Windows, you’ll probably never see this issue. Also, I know for a fact that the same problem occurs on the HP PSC 1210, but I wouldn’t at all be surprised if it happened with other models like the HP PSC 2175 or HP PSC 2410 because HP seems to use the same install CD for most of its home printers these days. I’d like to thank a USENET poster who goes by the name of “Madonna” for discovering solution #1 with her PSC 1210. I have confirmed that it works with the 1350, and I also discovered another solution for users who are unable to perform the steps necessary for solution #1. SYMPTOM On home networks where the HP PSC 1350 is physically connected (via USB cable) to a PC running one Windows platform (Windows 2000/XP) and the printer is shared on the network, only client computers running the same Windows platform are able to add connections to that printer. Client systems running another Windows platform (Windows 98/Me) will not be able to add connections to the printer because the Add Printer Wizard cannot locate appropriate drivers. Even if you click Have Disk in the printer wizard and browse to the HP install CD, you will not be able to install the drivers. CAUSE The drivers on the HP install CD are not laid out in a format that Windows can recognize without the aid of special HP software that configures your computer to use new printers when they are connected to it. Unfortunately, this special software is only triggered when you make a physical (USB) connection to your PC. Browsing to shared printers on your home network does not trigger the software, so your computer does not recognize the drivers on your CD. Client computers running the same Windows platform as the PC connected to the printer do not have this issue, because the Add Printer Wizard will automatically download the drivers from the computer hosting the printer. Windows XP provides the capability to install drivers for other operating systems for exactly this purpose- to allow automatic download of the appropriate drivers to client systems- but again, because of HP’s unusual driver layout, this is not an option with the PSC 1350. SOLUTION #1 This solution requires that you either have 1) another Windows partition on your host computer [the one connected to the printer] with the same Windows platform installed as the client computers or 2) another computer running the same Windows platform as the client systems that you can temporarily use to locally install the printer. If you do not have either of these, you must follow Solution #2. Note: By “Windows platform” I mean a compatible group of Windows operating systems. One platform comprises WinXP and Win2000. The other platform includes Win98 and WinMe. 1. Before you start, take note of your host PC’s computer name. This is the name that the PC broadcasts on your home network. Also, take note of your printer’s share name. For example, my host PC’s computer name is “Micron” and the printer’s share name is “hppsc1350”. 2. If your host PC has another partition with the same Windows platform as the client systems, unplug the printer’s USB cable and then boot into that other partition and perform a local install of the printer drivers and software (you will be prompted to reconnect the USB cable during the software install process). If you are temporarily using another computer with the same platform as the clients, shut down your host computer now, then boot up the temporary computer and perform a full local install of the printer drivers and hardware. You must connect the printer to this computer during this step. 3. Once you have completed and tested printer installation on the new partition/computer, verify that your PC is using the same computer name that you took note of in step 1. If the name is different, change it. (Do this in the Network control panel on Win9x, and in the System control panel on Win2000/XP.) Changing your computer name requires a restart. 4. Share the printer on the network using the same printer share name you noted in step 1. If you do not see a sharing option on Win9x, you need to install the Microsoft File and Printer Sharing Service via the Network control panel. 5. Go to your client computers now (the ones that weren’t working before) and use the Add Printer Wizard to attach to the newly-installed printer. The drivers will automatically be downloaded onto your client system. When this is done, attempt to print something over the network. If it works, you’re almost finished! Do not continue to step 6 until you’ve successfully printed something. 6. Back at your printer, either reconnect the host computer you’re planning to use (make sure you change the temporary system’s computer name to something different before doing this) or boot into your desired operating system partition on the host PC. Make sure you’re still sharing your printer and that the share name/computer name are the same as what your client systems are currently configured to use (they should be by now). 7. Return to your client systems and print away! SOLUTION #2 This solution doesn’t require any extra partitions or computers, but it’s not ideal because it requires you to use older drivers than those that came with your printer. 1. On the client systems, use the Add Printer Wizard to browse to your new printer on the host PC. 2. When the wizard asks you which driver to install, select the HP DeskJet 550C. These drivers ship with all versions of Windows and are compatible with many current HP printers, although they may not support all the features the newer printers support. 3. Attempt to print something. If the drivers installed successfully and your host PC is properly sharing the printer, this should work now. Happy printing, folks!
-------- AUTHOR: The Grimace DATE: 9:16:00 AM ----- BODY:
New Shades of Lameness So, last night Charl got an email from someone at asking to confirm our mailing address so they can send the check. Funny thing is, her reply bounced back with a message that said the email address she had written to was no longer used for support! They wrote to Charl from an address she couldn't reply to! And there was no other email adddress mentioned in the message. Un fricking believable.
-------- AUTHOR: The Grimace DATE: 5:21:00 PM ----- BODY: Enters The Paper Age After waiting an entire week for a response from for some answers regarding the fact that they haven't paid us for any of our sales since October, Charlotte finally broke down and called them. After being put on hold numerous times, Charlotte was finally informed that would be paying for all our unpaid sales by CHECK and that she should wait up to another week for an email to alert her when the check is about to be mailed! This afternoon, she got an email from them saying that an "error in the system" prevented them from depositing the money into our bank account. But it didn't explain whether this was a permanent problem or (would we NEVER get direct deposits again?) or just for the previous sales. There are two reasons that it sucks to get a check from them: 1. It costs YOU $1.50 per check they print, versus direct deposit, which is free. 2. You have to wait for the check to arrive, deposit it. The only reason I EVER go to the bank is to deposit checks, and another check is a real inconvenience. Heck, even the IRS can deposit stuff in your bank account. Surely could figure out a way? The worst thing about this is there never seems to be closure. We're STILL feeling the effects of Charlotte's accounts being compromised and we feel totally helpless to do anything about it.
-------- AUTHOR: The Grimace DATE: 3:09:00 PM ----- BODY:
It Never Ends Even though it's been since October that my wife's had her account back after it was hacked, we're STILL having lingering problems. First, a few weeks after she got the account back, we realized we hadn't made any sales in a while. I tried searching for some of the items we had listed and nothing came up. had forgotten to make her inventory visible to the public when they restored her privileges. A call to fixed that; sales resumed. But guess what? Last week Charlotte was looking at her sales history on the web site and realized that even though we've sold a lot of stuff over the past few months, hasn't paid us a single penny for it! Every one of the deposits they were supposed to make are tagged "Pending" instead of "Paid." We're STILL selling things there, and's just blindly hoarding our money. Charlotte reported the issue Sunday evening using their online reporting system. It is now Friday afternoon and STILL no word from them. So lame. So, if YOUR account ever gets stolen and you manage to get it back, make sure remembers to make your inventory visible and continue making payments for your sales. Sheesh!
-------- AUTHOR: The Grimace DATE: 11:31:00 AM ----- BODY:
Adventure Game Rankings Moved I've moved my Adventure Game Rankings list to its own page, because the list keeps growing: Here it is.
-------- AUTHOR: The Grimace DATE: 3:36:00 PM ----- BODY:
Hijacking & Fraud Plague eBay Users I just found a great article that explains that what recently happened to my wife's eBay account is becoming more common. You can read it here.
-------- AUTHOR: The Grimace DATE: 2:02:00 PM ----- BODY:

Last week, my wife was surprised when she attempted to check her Yahoo email and was informed that her password was incorrect. She had never changed it. She called me up to ask for help. I tried logging in to her account and got the same results. At first I thought maybe it was a server problem, so I tried logging on to my own Yahoo account. No problem. It appeared that her account had been hijacked. I advised her to try to contact Yahoo to resolve the problem, and we got off the phone.

A few minutes later she called me back. She wasn't able to log on to eBay either. This was serious. I came home early so we could figure out what was going on. Charlotte's attempts at recovering her account through eBay and Yahoo's password recovery wizards failed; the hacker had changed her personal information, on both accounts. While Charlotte tried to track down customer support phone numbers for both sites, I wondered why anyone would want to steal another person's eBay account- or email for that matter. I discovered my answer when I searched eBay for auctions held under my wife's ID. This person was selling 2 brand new Dell laptops with Charlotte's account, with a starting bid of $1.00- and bidders were already fighting for them.

Interestingly, further down the auction pages, the graphic that contained photos of the laptops said that the seller would only accept payment by Western Union (not a common eBay payment method) and that if people wanted to buy the computers outright for $999 they should contact the seller by email (a big eBay no-no). If potential buyers clicked the "contact seller" link, an email would be sent to Charlotte's Yahoo account, which the hacker also controlled. So it became clear- the hacker had stolen Charlotte's identity to sell laptops that were either stolen or (more likely) completely non-existent. Once the buyers discovered they'd been had, they'd be blaming Charlotte for it.

Funny enough, I wanted to complain about all this the day it happened- but Blogger actually got hacked that day too, so I couldn't even whine! Talk about helpless!

So, we found eBay's phone number pretty easily. Within about 45 minutes, the fraudulent auctions were closed, and Charlotte had her account back. Since eBay had access to our bank account via our check card, we cancelled the card (even though eBay was pretty sure the hacker had no direct access to this information- however we would have been charged listing fees for any items he would have listed).

Yahoo was a different story... their number was much harder to find, so Charlotte actually spent a couple of days dealing with their email-based customer service staff. She couldn't answer half of the verification questions they asked her (duh- because the hacker had changed her info!), so they said they didn't believe her. I eventually figured out what their phone number was, but we had to wait until Monday to call. Once she was actually able to talk to someone, they finally gave her account back to her.

She found a bunch of email from potential buyers in her Inbox, and replies from the hacker in her outbox. Naturally, most of the eBayers who wrote wanted to know why Western Union was the only method of payment. The hacker actually told them- get this- that he was travelling around Europe toting these laptops around with him, and there were Western Union offices all over Europe.

Charlotte emailed every person who had written to her to let them know what had happened. At least two of the people wrote back to thank her, and said that they didn't go through with the deal because it sounded too fishy. Well, good on them- it was!

The hacker is still at it- we found identical items listed under some other person's account yesterday. (I noticed that eBay had shut the auctions down by this morning though.)

How can you keep what happened to Charlotte from happening to you? Use a different password at EVERY web site you use. Also, pick passwords that do not have anything to do with you or the site you're logging onto, and that have combinations of letters and numbers. (Many passwords are case-sensitive. You can mix case for added security.)

How can you tell when a hacker is fraudently listing items for auction? Check the seller's other items for auction- are they very different from the item you're interested in? (Charlotte usually sells used books and CDs- it seemed strange to some people that she would be selling multiple brand new laptops. Also that other hacked user we saw last night usually sold hunting gear.) Also, limited or unorthodox forms of payment (like "Western Union only") are a good tip-off. Finally, anything in the auction that encourages you to do anything that obviously violates eBay policies, like contacting via email for an off-eBay transaction should make you very suspicious.

Surf safe and shop smart!

-------- AUTHOR: The Grimace DATE: 7:05:00 PM ----- BODY:
Until early this year, I hadn't played video games seriously since I was in grade school. But in an effort to find something new and entertaining that my wife and I could do at home, we entered into the wonderful world of adventure games. Charl and I play the games together, typically with the help of Universal Hint System, for when we get in a jam. Here are the games we've played this year, and my personal ranking, from best to not-as-great:
  1. Grim Fandango - Wonderful script and story, great characters and performances, very smart and funny.
  2. The Curse of Monkey Island - Excellent cartoon-like graphics, great music, performances, and humor.
  3. Escape From Monkey Island - Longer than Curse, but not quite as fascinating. Still great fun though.
  4. The Longest Journey - Lives up to its name- it's the longest game we've played so far. Very immersive and complex. Great story, memorable characters.
  5. The Secret of Monkey Island - The original game in the excellent Monkey Island series. I was a little concerned that I wasn't going to enjoy this game because it was 10 years older than some of the other games we'd played. The graphics and sound are nowhere close to the later Monkey Island games, but this one was still inventive and laugh-out-loud funny.
  6. Syberia - Absolutely fantastic graphics, good music, and chalenges that are just easy enough to complete, and hard enough that you feel a sense of accomplishment when figuring them out. Some of the voice perforances weren't all that great, and a couple story elements were kinda lame, but the atmosphere and attention to detail of the game overshadow its inadequacies.
  7. Beyond Atlantis - Wow, gorgeous graphics, great sound, really immersive environments. I really liked ALMOST everything about this game. There's one aspect of it though that really bites. You have to "record your journey" into a crystal you carry, and the process is tedious, somewhat difficult, and definitely not fun. This game might have gotten a higher rating if not for that one silly thing.
  8. Day of the Tentacle - A very funny and inventive game where you play 3 characters in 3 different time periods who must work together in order to win. I was continually surprised by the humor and clever design of this game.
  9. Atlantis: The Lost Tales - We experienced some technical quirks with this game, probably because our PC and graphics card are much faster than this 1997 title was designed for (none of them prevented gameplay though). Despite that, I was impressed by the lush 3D environments, and interesting story. There are a number of sequences where you must complete certain tasks very quickly, and without any mistakes or you will die. Charl found it very stressful (she's usually the "driver"), and I found it annoying that you couldn't choose where to save your game- the game automatically saves at certain points, and you sometimes have to repeat lengthy sequences in order to repeat a difficult and deadly challenge.
  10. Monkey Island II: LeChuck's Revenge - The graphics in this second part of the Monkey Island quadrilogy are improved in the sense that there is more color and detail than in Secret of Monkey Island- however, the added detail actually makes it more difficult to notice important objects and hotspots in the game. Still definitely worth playing.
  11. The Cameron Files: Secret At Loch Ness - While I enjoyed the Scottish atmosphere and music in this game, the character animation was not as good as in some of this game's contemporaries. Also, like Atlantis The Lost Tales, there are some timed sequences where you can die- but worse, but here the game actually ends. And this game doesn't save automatically, so make sure you save often. This was also probably the shortest game we've played so far. We finished it in 2 nights.
  12. Beyond Atlantis II - This game is really odd. Despite the name, its story doesn't have anything to do with the first two Atlantis games. Also, the vocal performances are pretty bad, and there's this part of the game called "the membrane" which you must go through numerous times, that is incredibly difficult and frustrating to navigate. There are actually two phases in the game which I thought were pretty cool- one where you're a young thief in and Arabian fantasy, and another where you're a cave woman, but that darned membrane! This game also seemed sort of short. Oh- and the options menu, while looking really cool, is utterly obtuse- none of the controls are labeled, or even look like they do something useful. You basically just click and pray that you didn't accidentally just end the game. Oh well.
-------- AUTHOR: The Grimace DATE: 2:46:00 PM ----- BODY:
Here is a link to Fark. FARK: Drew Curtis'
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-------- AUTHOR: The Grimace DATE: 2:10:00 PM ----- BODY:
okies. moved the archive page...
-------- AUTHOR: The Grimace DATE: 1:52:00 PM ----- BODY:
This is my first blog. Let's just see how it works, eh? Okay... does my archive link work now?