FSLABS Adds Malware to Their DLC, Asserting That It’s “DRM”

Flight Sim Labs is a company that makes very nice looking aircraft and sells them as Downloadable Content (DLC) for Microsoft Flight Simulator X. Selling DLC for flight simulators is big business, and in the case of Flight Sim Labs, having a reputation means being able to charge a premium. Some of their DLC is over $100 dollars which for regular gamers sounds a lot just for a plane, but to Flight Sim enthusiasts is around the price they would expect.

Piracy is of course a big problem for game developers and game publishers, with a large number of people out there showing little interest in ever purchasing games, or their DLC. The Flight Simulator market is no different, but a compounding factor is that often the developers making DLC for flight simulators are smaller studios who feel the hurt of piracy even more. So it is understandable that companies would wish to take steps in order to make piracy harder.

There have been numerous studies done into piracy in the music industry showing that as far as piracy is concerned those who pirated the most content also purchased the most content as well, suggesting that pirates may actually be using music sharing as a discovery device to help them discover bands they wish to support. While there are fewer studies into video game related piracy, Valve’s success with their online digital game delivery platform (known as Steam), has suggested both industries are similar. Steam executives have often stated that they built their business by turning people who formerly pirated games into paying customers by offering a better service than the pirates.

Of course there are a lot of companies that never figured out the secret sauce like Valve did. Such companies try to solve the problem of piracy in ways that aren’t so pro-consumer. One tool that companies love to turn to is Digital Rights Management (DRM), which is software and/or encodings that are supposed to prevent copying. How well DRM actually works is debatable, with it usually only acting as a minor inconvenience. Games such as The Witcher 3 have been wildly successful bestsellers despite not having DRM at all, while games like Sim City built from the ground up to be as tough to pirate as possible by no means guarantee the publisher commercial success. Indeed in the case of Sim City, it was such a commercial failure that when their next game also underperformed the developers were shut down.

So it seems a little strange that developers would go out of their way to hurt paying customers in order to go after customers who pirate, but they do. And in the case of Flight Sim Labs, they really took that sentiment to the extreme by bundling Malware into their DLC and then when caught used the very flimsy defence that their Malware was actually DRM. In the words of Fidus Information Security.

What on earth were they thinking?!

When Fidus analysed the Malware they found that it was indeed only going to activate in the case of a pirated Serial number, but also found that the data wasn’t very secure while it was being sent, nor very secure at its destination. Fidus also questioned why the developer would need people’s chrome usernames and passwords and raised the legal and ethical considerations.

There were a lot of people on Reddit’s Flight Sims Subreddit who made their distaste for the developer’s actions clear, but also a lot of people on Flight Sim Labs’ forum who also maintained that they would continue to support the developer despite the breach of trust.

Clearly it’s a delicate issue, but ultimately the impact of the decision to put malware in DLC is one that will play itself out in the coming months. The only people who have the power to change things might very well be the consumers, and if consumers don’t then is this a dangerous precedent to set?

The Roller Coaster of Emotional Abuse

August 2014, probably one of the longest months of my life. The days felt like decades and almost seems like another lifetime ago, it was definitely another life ago. It was a month of enduring a nonstop decrepit emotional roller coaster ride. Like an old wooden coaster, it was a jerky ride that without warning slammed to a halt in the middle of a decent or loop. It was one that jarred your neck and body leaving you with residual aches, headaches, and pain. The intensity left you feeling petrified as you waited upside down in suspense, praying you didn’t fall out of the cart. As the cart slammed on the brakes, your body plunges forward, only to be slammed back into the hard, plastic seat, a myriad of thoughts and emotions flash through your mind. Every emotion, nuance, image, memory, thought lingered an eternity, yet, in reality, the journey through the mind is only a split millisecond. This is how I describe the unconscious awareness that divorce was inevitable, and this was a ride that I would continue to pass by the exit over and over again until I consciously found the strength and clarity and take hold of the brake next to me. How did I not realize I was in control all along?

Yet, the roller coaster accelerated for me, I pushed the gas and lamented that I was an unwitting and unwilling passenger. After all, I boarded this now failing amusement ride 25 years ago. At that time it was bright and shiny and I was in love with the ride. It was filled with thrills and appeared to constantly be headed in a new direction, however like a roller coaster it just goes in a big circle. My life with my ex-husband was that way, it was intoxicating, reaching the highest highs and then the lowest of the lows(the lows were subterranean).

That month my ex slept away from our home many nights, after provoking a fight. He would show in the morning, claiming exhaustion from sleeping in his car or at one of his guy friends. Even I didn’t believe that. He would blame me for not listening, not understanding, not being in tune with his feelings. I wish I would have looked more closely at the passenger next to me – not being in tune with his feelings(!?) – and see the passenger next to me was another woman. However, I refused to acknowledge my peripheral vision, this was the only ride I had ever set foot on in the park. Instead, I steadily focused my attention forward, certain I was making progress, refusing to see all the passengers, especially, the one next to me, boarding and de-boarding.

Whether you realize it or not, you get to know the passengers, their habits, their smells and their intentions. They all play their part. What’s the expression, people come into your life for a reason? Well, it’s true, even the ones who turn your stomach are there to teach us. Everyone who boards your cart leaves trash or baggage and valuable life lessons. There was one nauseating fellow who navigated in and out of my cart. Everyone loved this seemingly harmless guy… a big teddy bear with the dutiful understanding wife who busily swept the steps of the cart. To continue with the metaphor, he sat next to me and my partner offered to protect me from the perils of the ride. I didn’t know whether to be more terrified by the slow turn of decent or the passenger creeping closer, and his hand on my knee. In a blink, at one restaurant dinner, a “friend” made an overt pass. I was paralyzed as his wife conversed inane stories. Suddenly, the ride took a turn and normalized, in an instant, I was transported into my twisted new normal reality. My known passenger of 25 years returned from his urgent 9 pm phone call (no he’s not a doctor) distracted and anxious to pay the bill. Shaken by my experience I sought safety and refuge and shared my stranger danger story on our ride home. Guess what? He didn’t care. He didn’t care that his close friend was really a shadowy fair ground miscreant, didn’t care at all because he was already off the ride and disappearing into the shadows himself. He was riding the brand new model, while I clung to the faded wooden and rickety tracks that provided warped comfort.

There were many other mini stops and starts that left my head and heart hurting, but the jarring fact that my for better or worse partner had parachuted off the ride and left me in the hands, literally, of a sewer rat filled me with an inconsolable ache as the track in front of me disintegrated. The fact that was I shrank and could have cared less who was seated next to me. Finally, as we derailed it propelled me to at least recognize that the controls were literally in my hands. As instantly as I understood the ride was falling apart piece by piece, I also understood that I had the power to get off the ride at any time. It was liberating to see who was boarding. At times, tunnel vision returned, fear consumed me and I prayed for someone to save me or for the ride to repair and for the same sick, but comfortable loop to re-establish. The strange part about my tunnel vision was that not even at the points of loathsome fear was I looking for my ex to sit next to me. I was frantically scanning, searching for the exit. Although, I purchased my ticket years ago, and I still screamed with faux delight, true fear and red-hot anger burned inside me as we looped our way up and down, yet my voice still lacked strength, commitment and an unwillingness to change direction. August continued to plod on. Sometimes, I watched the ride in slow motion. Yet, the experience of the degenerate fair groupies lingered and faintly illuminated my path. Slowly I turned my head and looked around, it was shocking to see this former masterpiece that once represented such promise was rotten and fractured beyond repair. As I looked closer the fair rats scurried in and out of the shadows.

Methodically, I grabbed the brake and began to apply pressure. I knew I couldn’t handle another abrupt, uncontrolled stop, however, I finally realized I could control the speed at which I would make my inevitable departure. I called the one person who refused to ride the rides, the one person who patrolled the park, the person who the rats feared, my father. Patiently and without interference he waited for my ah ha moment. He witnessed, with sadness, but without interference, the decline of the wooden roller coaster. He cringed and watched as it(as I) fell deeper and deeper into despair and when finally at the end of August I said, “I’m scared, but I’m ready, show me the way”, he held my hand as I pulled the brake and stepped off the ride.

What a strange feeling to be on solid ground. Unwaveringly, he continued to hold my hand, saying phrases of empowerment, “you can eat an elephant, but you have to do it one bite at a time,” “know your enemy”, keep a cool head”, and “be strategically and tactically prepared.” He didn’t save me, he empowered me. With shaky legs, I firmly stepped and changed my course, leaving behind the depraved world in which I had become enamored. At the risk of another fair metaphor, it was like the House of Mirrors, the truth was hidden in illusion. My path was lit and with shaky determination the world in which families no longer boarded together, single passenger lines divided couples, the constant of the ever-changing passenger and drifters insidiously building and rebuilding our roller coaster was being left behind. It was being discarded.

As I linger in August of 2017, I realize that August 2014 was a month of not sudden abrasive stops, but a month of spontaneous beginnings. The universe kept sending me stronger and stronger messages until I was no longer able to restart the ride. My journey across the garbage-filled park, navigating the paper stained map, has been arduous. Sometimes I wandered aimlessly or marched confidently in the direction of a new thrill ride, but ultimately a quiet determination took hold and one foot in front of the other, I found the exit. Finally, after three years, August to August, I am exiting the fairgrounds. I empty my pockets of the crumpled tickets, broken promises, and stale popcorn. The worn out and tired fair groupies are not worth a mention. So, without further belaboring the first day of a different life, farewell Tucson, farewell old life, farewell, and good riddance!

Bus Conversion Features That Make Full-Time RV-Ing Easier

While factory-made motor homes and RVs are popular, you will find plenty of bus conversions for sale in the market. That’s because a section of buyers is partial towards this category, and with good reason. Run-down, old school buses and city buses may not seem like much at first, but you can easily transform them into comfy living spaces. There’s something personal and intimate about owning a bus conversion, customized according to your requirements. Converting these compact rolling homes into a cozy haven is easy, and full-time RV-ers can make their life on the road more comfortable with the following features:

Brighter Interiors

Keep the interiors bright and white. Not only does this lend to a cleaner aesthetics but it also helps to separate your living space from the kitchen easily. Plus, it gives the illusion of more space and uplifts the mood of the passengers.

Useful Changes to the Kitchen Area

Add lots of shelves and cabinets to the kitchen walls for easier storage of food items and goods. You can also install hooks for hanging your towels and cleaning rags. If you’re adding a counter to the kitchen, make sure you fully utilize the available space by installing a dishwasher on the lower half and a gas burner at the top. If there’s more than one counter, you’re free to add other useful appliances like freezers and sinks.

Add More Space for Your Storage Needs

When you plan on living in a converted bus full-time, you can never have enough room for storage. You need to get creative and find new ways to store your stuff. For example, if you have a sofa in the living area, you can convert the armrest into a vertical storage space while the underside offers a horizontal storage space. This is not only an economical solution but also helps to keep your junk out of sight.

The space beneath the sofa seat provides enough room for storing electrical equipment and your batteries.

The more space you save, the more modifications you can make to the interiors of your rig. For example, utilizing the sofa spaces to the max allows you to install a large door in the middle of the bus, which allows fresh air and light into the rig.

Build a Pet-Friendly Workstation

You can set up a workstation at the front of your vehicle. The desk should be decently-sized, enabling you to stand up and work. If you have a pet dog onboard, you can add a kennel below the workstation. This means your pet can keep you company while you do your work.

Focus on the Bathroom

A full-time RV-er will require a spacious bathroom. Add storage to the door for keeping your essentials like toothbrushes, pastes, lotions, and shampoos handy. If you have enough room in the bathroom, install a bathtub and place the shower head right above. Getting ready in the morning will become easier if you place a mirror above the door.

Itching to buy that bus conversion you saw on sale the other day? Go for it! Though not your first choice, but if the life of a full-time RV-er appeals to you, then you’re in for a treat. Bus conversions offer greater flexibility than conventional motor homes, and you can customize the vehicle as per your requirements.

John Bell Carey is an avid traveler and blogger with an extensive real time experience of dealing with Used Class A Motorhomes for Sale.

Car Floor Mats Materials – Which Material Do I Need For My Vehicle?

Automotive Floor Mats are the first line of defense for your car, truck or SUV’s precious factory flooring. That presents floor mats with the tough task of being able to withstand varying levels of abuse on a regular basis whilst providing an additional level of comfort and complimenting the vehicles interior aesthetic.

Vehicle manufacturers have attempted to solve the unique problems floor mats face by creating a multitude of material types, each aimed at providing adequate protection for a vehicle’s intended use.

Aftermarket carpet and floor mat manufacturers offer products using materials and colors designed to match the OEMs whilst offering improvements upon the originals.

What Original Materials Are Available?

Cutpile

– Cut Pile is composed of 100% Nylon yarn.

– Tufted to a 1/8 gauge cut pile, it contains 14 ounces of yarn per square yard.

– Cut Pile has been an original material in most domestic vehicles since around 1974.

– Cut Pile material can have Mass backing. Mass backing is an approximately 45mil thick EVA material. It’s a great sound and heat barrier and increases the overall appearance of the carpet after installation.

– Cut Pile material width is 78 inches.

Loop

– Loop material is composed of 100% 6,6 Nylon yarn called Raylon

– Tufted to a 1/8 gauge, Loop contains 20 ounces of yarn per square yard.

– Loop material was originally used in vehicles that were manufactured before 1974.

– Loop material can have Mass backing. Loop material width is 78 inches.

Nylon

– Nylon is composed of 100% Nylon yarn.

– Tufted to a 1/8 gauge, Nylon contains 12 ounces of yarn per square yard.

– Nylon material was originally used in the late 1960 model Fords.

– Nylon material is available with our optional Mass backing.

– Nylon material width is 78 inches.

Truvette

– Truvette is composed of 100% Nylon yarn.

– Tufted to a 5/64 gauge, Truvette contains 14 ounces of yarn per square yard.

– Truvette material was introduced in the early 1990s for Corvettes.

– Truvette material can have Mass backing. Mass backing is an approximately 45mil thick EVA material.

– Truvette material width is 78 inches.

Daytona

– Daytona weave carpet is composed of Cotton, Nylon, and Rayon yarn.

– Daytona contains 27.5 ounces of yarn per square yard and is a loop style carpet.

– Daytona weave carpet was introduced around 1954 for GM vehicles.

– Foam backing only, Daytona cannot be molded or Mass backed. It is hand cut and sewn with the utmost quality control.

– Daytona material width is 54 inches

Tuxedo

– Tuxedo is composed of Nylon and Olefin filament yarns.

– Tufted to a 1/8 gauge, Tuxedo contains 23 ounces of yarn per square yard.

– Tuxedo material can have Mass backing.

– Tuxedo material width is 52 inches.

Gros Point

– Gros Point material is composed of 100% Nylon yarn.

– Gros Point contains 31.5 ounces of yarn per square yard and is a fine loop style carpet.

– Gros Point was developed for the early model classic muscle and full size passenger cars build in the 1950s and 1960s.

– Foam backing only, Gros Point cannot be molded or Mass backed. It is hand cut and sewn with the utmost quality control.

– Gros Point material width is 54 inches

What Are The Aftermarket Options?

Essex

– Available as an optional upgrade for the majority of our ACC Floor Mats

– Essex is composed of 100% Nylon yarn.

– Tufted to a 1/10 gauge cut pile, Essex contains 22.5 ounces of yarn per square yard giving it a luxurious and plush look and feel.

– Essex has been available as an aftermarket material choice since the late 2000’s. It is a premium, modern version of the Cut Pile material. It can be specified for almost any model vehicle.

– Essex material can have Mass Backing. Mass backing is an approximately 45mil thick EVA material. It’s a great sound and heat barrier and increases the overall look of the carpet after installation.

– Essex material width is 78 inches.

Sync 3 Now Supports Apple CarPlay

Ford now supports SYNC 3 with software updates to support Apple CarPlay and Android Auto™ for model-year 2016 and 2017 vehicles.

Customers can now update by downloading the software to a USB drive, visiting a dealership or with an over-the-air Wi-Fi connection. This is Ford’s first software update via Wi-Fi. It offers a convenient and automated alternative to existing upgrade methods

Customers with model-year 2016 Ford vehicles can update to the new SYNC 3 version 2.2 to gain this support for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

“Our SYNC 3 software platform was designed to be easy to update so we can get our customers the latest and greatest features, functionally and security enhancements,” said Don Butler, executive director, Ford Connected Vehicle and Services. “With over-the-air updates, we can deliver new features to customers in the background while they continue using their vehicles.”

Android Auto

Compatible with Android™ devices 5.0 and higher, Android Auto brings the Android experience into the vehicle safely and easily. It offers Google Maps, Google Play Music, phone, messaging and third-party apps projected on the car’s built-in display and available via voice controls. With a simplified interface, large touch targets, Google voice search and easy-to-use voice controls, Android Auto is designed to minimize distraction while on the road.

Android, Android Auto, Google Maps and Google Play are trademarks of Google Inc.

Apple CarPlay

Apple CarPlay is compatible with iPhone 5 and later models running iOS 7.1 or higher. Apple CarPlay gives iPhone users an intuitive way to make phone calls, use voice-guided navigation, listen to music, and send and receive messages. The convenience allows the driver to stay focused on the road. Users can control Apple CarPlay through the in-vehicle display or via Siri voice control. Apple CarPlay support requires a USB hub upgrade available through Ford dealers.

SYNC 3 currently supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay on all model-year 2017 Ford cars including the Fiesta, Focus, Fusion and Mustang, SUVs including the Escape, Explorer and Expedition, F-Series trucks and Ford’s electrified vehicles.

Receiving updates over Wi-Fi

Ford has had SYNC upgrades since 2009, but this is the first time the company is offering an update via Wi-Fi. In Wi-Fi-enabled vehicles with Automatic System Updates turned on within SYNC 3, the system will periodically connect to a customer’s designated Wi-Fi network to check for updates. If an update is available, the system automatically downloads the update in the background over a period of time without any customer interaction. And SYNC 3 is designed to perform the update as long as Wi-Fi is connected prior to the vehicle turning off, therefore there is no need to keep the vehicle running for the update to take place.