iTunes Money

Somebody gave me an iTunes gift card as a present. I do download some apps from the iTunes app store. However I only get the free ones. I still activated the gift card and posted the credit to my account. Who knows? Maybe there will be some cool app I need to buy in the future.

This is the thing I wondered about. How does the gift card and credit activation work? There is a code on the back of my gift card. It is a 16 character code. The first 15 characters are alphabetic. The last character is a number. You key it into the app store, and it knows the amount of credit to give you.

Surely these numbers by themself do not equate the money. If that were so, I could steal a stack of them from the store and be app store rich. I imagine that when you purchase the card, the cashier scans it in and that activates the value on the card. That would be the smart way to regulate the cards from theft.

But what is that 16 character code? It might be some sort of encrypted value. Or then again it might just be a random set of characters to make my card unique. This will require more thought before I can figure it out. What do you all know about this number? I want to know.

Control of Your PC

You probably have heard of some malware trying to take control of your PC. But get this. Now people are renting out time for jobs to run on your PC. This appeals to the gangsters. The evil deeds they do will come from your PC under their control.

Damn. This is quite a setup. Part of the defense against criminal activity is to check the IP address of the place where connections are coming from. If a botnet has compromised computers all across the world, the traffic might look legitimate to the untrained eye. Furthermore my computer might be aiding the crime.

I used to not care too much about spyware and malware. Who really cares if somebody is stealing cycles from my PC? Now I know the answer. I care.

Software Impersonation

There are some security peeps in my customer's organization that are looking for malware. They identified some of the programs I was running as suspicious. Here is their reasoning. Nobody else is running programs with the same names as the ones I run. What?

They must be auditing the name of all programs runs by everyone. Then they see which ones are unique to certain individuals. They conclude that there must be something fishy with these apps. Duh. I am a developer. I write and name my own tools.

I tried to explain this to my management and to the customer. They said they would look into it. In the mean time, I am supposed to not run these programs. Hello? I need them to do my job. What is a coder supposed to do?

I figured I could name the programs "winword.exe", or something like that. However that would be a subversive act. It might just get me past the keystone cops. Anyone else with any sense would be able to figure out that I am impersonating Microsoft Word. That might be an even more egregious offense. For now I am rewriting my crucial tools in Java. That way when they look at the name of the program I am running, all they see is "java.exe". Noobs.