BBS Games, Tournaments and RetroNet

via on 4/18/11

The House of Lunduke BBS launched October 19th, 2010 (just a few short months ago)… and we have just passed the 4 thousand call mark.  Which rules.

(You can connect to the house of Lunduke via telnet at or via the Flash terminal.)

To celebrate, I’m doing a few new things on the little BBS that could:

1) We’re going to have our first TradeWars 2002 tournament.  The start date is set for April 25th.  If you want to influence the tournament settings at all, head on in to the BBS and make your requests in the “TW” message base.

2) I’ve reset the current TradeWars game to be a 5,000 sector game with no turn limits.  None at all.  This instance of the game is run completely independently of the upcoming tournament and is designed to run very long term.

3) I will begin hosting files in the file area of the BBS.  These will be files specific to running and connecting to BBS’s.

4) RetroNet.  I’m looking at starting a BBS message network.  Want to join your current BBS?  Want to start a new BBS and join up?  Jump on in to the House of Lunduke and head in to the “RetroNet Discussion” message base.

Why am I doing all this you ask?  Because it’s a blast.  See more of my thoughts on the matter here.

Expensive wine and cheap plonk taste the same to most people

In a blind taste test, volunteers were unable to distinguish between expensive and cheap wine

An expensive wine may well have a full body, a delicate nose and good legs, but the odds are your brain will never know.

A survey of hundreds of drinkers found that on average people could tell good wine from plonk no more often than if they had simply guessed.

In the blind taste test, 578 people commented on a variety of red and white wines ranging from a £3.49 bottle of Claret to a £29.99 bottle of champagne. The researchers categorised inexpensive wines as costing £5 and less, while expensive bottles were £10 and more.

The study found that people correctly distinguished between cheap and expensive white wines only 53% of the time, and only 47% of the time for red wines. The overall result suggests a 50:50 chance of identifying a wine as expensive or cheap based on taste alone – the same odds as flipping a coin.

Richard Wiseman, a psychologist at Hertfordshire University, conducted the survey at the Edinburgh International Science Festival.

“People just could not tell the difference between cheap and expensive wine,” he said. “When you know the answer, you fool yourself into thinking you would be able to tell the difference, but most people simply can’t.”

All of the drinkers who took part in the survey were attending the science festival, but Wiseman claims the group was unlikely to be any worse at wine tasting than a cross-section of the general public.

“The real surprise is that the more expensive wines were double or three times the price of the cheaper ones. Normally when a product is that much more expensive, you would expect to be able to tell the difference,” Wiseman said.

People scored best when deciding between two bottles of Pinot Grigio, with 59% correctly deciding which was which. The Claret, which cost either £3.49 or £15.99, fooled most people with only 39% correctly identifying which they had tasted.

In 2008, a study led by Adrian North, a psychologist at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, claimed that music helped boost the flavour of certain wines. North, who was commissioned by a Chilean winemaker, reported that Cabernet Sauvignon was most affected by “powerful and heavy” music, while Chardonnay benefited from “zingy and refreshing” sounds.

“Windows Activation” Ransom Trojan

We recently came across a ransom trojan that prompts the following:

Windows license locked!


The trojan claims that “you should complete activation” and provides several phones numbers.


The numbers:

  •  002392216368
  •  002392216469
  •  004525970180
  •  00261221000181
  •  00261221000183
  •  00881935211841

While these numbers may look like generic service numbers, they aren’t. They go to various countries (“00” is the prefix for international dialing). The countries are: São Tomé and Principe (239), Denmark (45), Madagascar (261) and Globalstar Mobile Satellite Service (8819).

The trojan claims that the call is “free of charge” but it isn’t, and the trojan author will earn money from the call via a technique known as short stopping. This method involves rogue phone operators who route the expensive calls to cheaper countries.

After three minutes or so, the caller is given this unlock code: 1351236.

The unlock code appears to be the same every time the number is called.

It’s a pretty clever bit of social engineering and some victims may never even realize that they’ve been scammed.

Here’s a video demonstration on the Labs YouTube channel, which also includes some discussion of other ransom trojans.

The GPcode screenshots referenced in the video can be seen here and here.

We detect this trojan (md5: 9a6f87b4be79d0090944c198a68012b6) as Trojan.Generic.KDV.153863.

A full audio recording of our call to the ransom number is here (MP3, 4 minutes).

On 11/04/11 At 02:57 PM

Husband plays funny fake news prank on his wife

via Boing Boing on 4/2/11

Pete says:

roswell.jpgI know my wife has this “AP Mobile” news app on her phone and receives text message alerts whenever something big is happening around the world, I decided to play a little prank on her.

This morning I changed my name in her contact list to “AP Mobile” and sent her a short and sweet message and waited for her to turn her phone on. Her mouth almost came down to the floor.

18,000 Feet Down and No Parachute

via RedState on 3/25/11

This is one of those days where it is worth remembering a truly amazing feat/miracle in human history.

On this day in 1944, Nickolas Alkemade, an RAF Sergeant, was serving as a tail gunner on an RAF Lancaster bomber. The plane was at 18,000 feet when the Nazis hit it, setting it on fire.

Alkemade decided he’d rather die instantly by impact rather than burn up as the plane rapidly descended. The rest of the crew stayed on board and died in the fiery wreckage.

Nickolas Alkemade jumped out at 18,000 feet. He had no parachute. All the parachutes had burned up in the plane already.

For 18,000 feet Nickolas Alkemade plummeted over Hanover. His body fell into a stand of pines with snow piled extraordinarily high. But the snow had not gotten compacted.

He lived, suffering only a sprained leg. The Nazis captured him and, once they investigated and realized he was telling the truth, gave him a certificate authenticating the miraculous fall.

Nickolas Stephen Alkemade served out the rest of World War II in a German POW camp. He then went to work in the chemical industry and died on June 2, 1987.

Consider this an open thread.

By the way, a year earlier, American Alan Magee fell 22,000 feet, or roughly four miles, from a B-17 and survived after falling through a church ceiling that mitigated the blow to his body.

This Guy Scuba Dived Into the Tsunami to Rescue His Wife…

via GOOD on 3/24/11

No doubt many stories of heroism in the face of Japan’s recent tsunami will emerge in the upcoming weeks—one is happening in the Fukushima Daiichi plant as I write this, in fact—but the latest is so beautiful and fantastical that it seems primed for a Hollywood movie.

Meet Hideaki Akaiwa, 43. Startled at work by the now infamous earthquake and tsunami that shook and overtook Japan on March 11, Akaiwa rushed to high ground and immediately called his wife of two decades. When she didn’t answer, Akaiwa ignored friends’ pleas to wait for a military rescue, instead rummaging up some scuba gear and diving into the dark, cold, debris-filled tsunami. Hundreds of yards of swimming later, Akaiwa found his wife struggling against the 10-foot current that had overtaken the couple’s Ishinomaki home.

Once he’d gotten his wife to safety, Akaiwa suffered for four days with worry for his elderly mother. When she didn’t turn up at any of the official evacuation centers, Akaiwa dove once again into the filthy, neck-high waters and swam to her neighborhood, determined to track her down. After some searching, Akaiwa found her, scared and alone, on the second floor of neighbor’s house. “She was very much panicked because she was trapped with all this water around,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “I didn’t know where she was. It was such a relief to find her.”

With his family accounted for, Akaiwa hasn’t rested on his laurels. Rather, he’s spent the past two weeks heading into Ishinomaki in search of other trapped survivors. Armed with a backpack, a flashlight, a Swiss Army knife, and some water, he rides his bike around the wreckage and makes his own destiny.