So yeah, my Xbox account was hacked


It’s a problem that has been doing the rounds for a few years now and today it was my turn to have my Xbox account hacked. As in many cases the giveaway was the appearance of Fifa 2012 on my account. Me? Play Fifa? Are you mental? (I’m not a very footbally person)

Fifa eh? Sooooo not me.

A quick look at my account balance showed that my Microsoft points had been cleared out (save for 20 measly points) so off I trudged to Xbox support to sort the mess out.
Microsoft have received all kinds of bad press for the less-than-stellar handling of hacked accounts in the past but in my experience it was a pretty painless affair. They confirmed that Download Content for Fifa 2012 was purchased via my account on a day when I never even used my console. They also confirmed my most recent download before that date which unfortunately meant that I had to confess that yes, I downloaded Party Rock Anthem for Dance Central 2. (Yeah I know. Judge all you like. It was for shits and giggles ok?).
As a result my experience taught me a few security lessons about Xbox live that I thought were worth sharing given how easily it can happen to anyone.

I am not ashamed to show teh internets that I have recently played Lips

1. Remove your credit cards.
If you have an active credit card on your account then you might want to remove it. When an account is hacked the hacker can buy all kinds of content and Microsoft Points. If there’s a credit card attached to your account it will get hammered with charges. Where possible, stick with the pre-paid scratch cards for your Xbox live subscriptions and points which leads us onto the next point.
2. Only add what you need
My points balance was cleared out as a result of my account being hacked, luckily there was just under 2000 points available at the time. There have been times where there has been plenty more just sitting there waiting to be taken. Hopefully I’ll get the points back but that may take a little while. Just to be safe I would say that when it comes to adding points to your account only do it as and when you need it.
3. Build a better password (and change it regularly)
My password was fairly secure, it was an unconventional word and a combination of numbers but it still wasn’t up to the task. Ideally your password should contain letters, numbers and symbols. There’s also an option on the Xbox website to have your password automatically reset every 72 days.
4. Should you get hacked
If it comes to light that your account has been hacked the first thing to do is log onto the website. With any luck, your password will not have been altered. Once logged in, change your password. The website also has a security feature that can log out all consoles accessing your account, forcing them to log in again. If you’ve changed your password the hacker’s console should now be prevented from logging back in to your account.
Once this is done, call Xbox support (or arrange for a callback via the website). They will start an investigation into your account, it can take a few days to sort out and unfortunately you won’t be able to play online during this time.

If anything, I was pretty surprised when it happened to myself. Whenever I’ve heard of it happening to other people I’ve assumed they had done something stupid or foolish to help make it happen. Obviously I would never do anything like that (Party Rock Anthem purchase notwithstanding, ahem!). This is something that truly came from out of the blue but luckily for me the damage was limited. Hopefully some of these tips will get you out of a jam should it (hopefully never) happen to you.


Things that look like other things


Whilst on a jaunt to Toys R Us (it’s a magical place, we’re on our way there etc.) I had a couple of doppleganger moments.

First up, Toys R Us are now selling giraffes that look like David Tenant.


No? Just me then I guess.

There was also this, some science-y toy thing featuring a young Michael McIntyre.


And that’s yer lot. Things that look like other things, it’s what the internet was made for. That, and porn.

The Art Of Distraction


It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post and I was going to break that streak with a nice ranty review on why I thought Pirates of the Caribbean 4 was a load of old bobbins. Instead I found myself trying out a free download of Monopoly for the iPad before becoming completely embroiled in the task of showing said iPad that it was my little Monopoly bitch.
It was worth it, I totally owned that game. It almost made up for years and years of never ever winning games of monopoly. Still, at the end of it I had wasted a chunk of time I could’ve spent being far more productive.
I guess the iPad had won after all. Curse you iPad!

The bit where I write a blog post about Thundercats.


The other day, whilst in a converation with another grown up person I inadvertly blurted out the phrase “Oh man! I forgot to record Thundercats” without a hint of irony. I am 33 years old.

Of course, this was all my daughters fault.

A couple weeks ago a new trailer started appearing on the Cartoon Network in heavy rotation. It was for a new Thundercats cartoon, a reboot of the original 80’s/90’s toy pimping phenomenon. I was partial to a bit of Thundercats tom-foolery when I was (much) younger and the interest my daughter showed in this new series was all the excuse I needed to tag along and check it out.

The thing is, so far… it’s good. Pretty good in fact. Again, I am 33 years old.

Thundercats circa 2011 takes the story back to the beginning, Lion-O is waiting to be king but is stuck in the shadow of his adopted brother Tygra. Their father Claudus (in a nice touch voiced by original ‘Lion-O’ Larry Kenney) also feels that his bloodline son is too distracted by myths of technology to be a suitable ruler. Meanwhile an ongoing war with the Lizards escalates into a full blown invasion of Thundera with repercussions that set events in motion for the rest of the series. (I honestly cannot believe I am writing this with a straight face).

What’s immediately striking about this show is the new approach taken by the production team. Gone are the brightly coloured visuals and the standard ‘Saturday Morning’ goodies vs baddies storylines. Instead we have story arcs, characters with flaws (as much as you can have in a kids cartoon) and some pretty kick arse action sequences. The design is darker, the tone is more cinematic and the animation (with its anime-style flourishes) for the most part is excellent.

Despite these sweeping changes there’s a clear reverence for the source material. The producers have expanded on what originally worked and junked anything that wasn’t necessary. And yes, Snarf is present but here he is thankfully silent immediately making him more likeable in the process.

There’s no more ‘I learned something today’ moments at the end of each episode either. By the end of the two-part season opener we’ve had a couple of plot twists (one I guessed, the other I genuinely didn’t see coming) and the shit has pretty much hit the fan for the good guys. Kids cartoons have certainly come along since I was the target audience.

So, two episodes in and at 33 years old (armed with a healthy dose of nostalgia) I am sold enough to stick with it for a bit. My daughter sadly not so much.

At least one of us can be grown up about these things.

Edit (22/01/12)

I should have updated this post some time ago as I ended up giving up on this after only five more episodes. After a promising opening two-parter the series immediately offered a particularly lousy episode where Lion-O acted like a dick and nearly got everyone killed. In fact, the repeated character inconsistencies from one episode to the next were constantly annoying. From there it just kept getting worse. Another episode actually culminated in a montage sequence entirely made up of moments from that very same episode resulting in an unintentional spoof of montage sequences. It’s my own fault for expecting something along the lines of the excellent Avatar : The Last Airbender (not the shitty film, I mean the far superior animated series), plus the fact that I am 34 and clearly too old to be thinking about stuff like this. Shame on me.

“Stupid Americans”


This popped up on my Facebook feed the other day. I felt compelled to share it in as many places as I could.

Yeah just count the dam bodies!

The original poster? Yeah, he ‘gets’ The Onion. The person replying? Not so much.

As fellow Twitterite @ArmyofDave pointed out it’s the “Stupid Americans” comment that really seals it. I’ve since shared it here on to help further the debate on just who is the most stupider-est. If you haven’t yet seen the excellent original video then point your eyes below so you can see just how non-stupid Americans can be.


X-Men : First Class – Report Card


Mutants are easy to spot. They either have wobbly photoshopped heads or look like Kevin Bacon.

The other week I finally got to see X-Men : First Class having successfully avoided seeing any footage of the movie beforehand. It was a great film, sure there’s the odd clunk of ropey dialogue or slight blemish of unfinished SFX but considering the limited budget and production time it’s a miracle that Matthew Vaughn and his colleagues managed to piece together such a great movie.

However for all its excellent touches something has troubled me about the climactic scenes of the film (major spoilers ahead if you’ve not yet seen the movie).

In the final act our heroes, the prototype X-Men, head out on their first ever mission. On the one hand the mission is a success, world-wide disaster is averted. On the other hand it’s a mission consisting of some major fuck ups. Don’t believe me? Here’s the incident report form following that event.

Super-Secret Super Hero Incident Report Form

Name : Charles Xavier

Occupation : Psychic Leader of the X-Men and that.

Gender : Male

Height : Not as tall as I was last week.

Hair : Yes (lol)

What do you think went well with your most recent mission ?

  • We stopped World War Three. (Yay!)

What do you think went less well ?

  • Just before we set off a member of our team secretly used an untested drug and disfigured himself.
  • We crashed the jet, sorry.
  • Our actions lead the government to declare mutant-kind as a menace.
  • Two members of our team (one of them a life-long friend) defected in order to start a new war against humanity.
  • We made a bit of a mess of the beach. Again, sorry.
  • Oh, and I was shot in the spine and lost the use of my legs.

Any other comments?

Yes, I will send them to you using my mind powers. *rubs temples*

As far as first days at work go I’ve seen better (although I’m not one to talk, my first day working in a supermarket I was horrendously hungover and threw up in the deodorant aisle but I digress). I’m guessing for the sequel the newly crowned X-Men will be kept busy with more menial tasks such as filing papers or cleaning drains. Then again Matthew Vaughn already has better ideas.

Going In Blind


Blinkers-Mode, ACTIVATE!

Have you seen the trailer for the latest X-Men movie? I’ve heard that it’s brilliant, and I mean that literally. I heard it and it sounded brilliant. I couldn’t actually see it though due to my hands covering my eyes at the time.

A bit like this.

It’s easy to forget how the Internet has changed the way we digest new movies. In the days of yore I would feel very lucky to get a glimpse of the latest Hollywood blockbuster. As a child the regular access to anything resembling footage from a new movie would be via some kind of feature on ‘Going Live‘ or ‘Get Fresh’ with Gareth ‘Gaz Top’ Jones. Back then, movie trailers only really existed in cinemas or on VHS tapes rented from the local video shop (Bath Road Videos in my case).
When the trailer for ‘The Phantom Menace’ was released in 1998BB (Before Broadband) I remember Channel 4 devoting a time-slot to it so we could watch it in all it’s pre-dissapointment glory. Just over 10 years ago I clearly remember waiting the best part of an hour to download a teaser trailer over a dial-up connection for Bryan Singer’s first X-Men movie. After all that waiting all I had was a scrawny sized little video to watch. How times have changed.
Movie trailers are no longer the rare artifact they once were, these days you can hop on any number of movie blogs, YouTube or even iTunes and while away a merry hour or two soaking up montages of exploding large letters on dark backgrounds and deep-voiced narrators (I’m generalising here). These days it’s possible to download an entire HD trailer in less time than it takes to watch the damn thing. The temptation to re-watch, freeze frame and over-analyse each shot only serves to foolishly elevate the excitement for the forthcoming motion picture whilst potentially spoiling any surprise in the final result. I’ve started to realise that this has become a problem for me.
With every re-watch of a new trailer my brain starts putting the shots together like a puzzle, building a theory on how the film actually plays out. By the time I reach the cinema I’m not properly watching the film, I’m too busy playing the ‘spot-the-cool-bits-from-the-trailer’ game.
Of course that doesn’t apply to every film, right now JJ Abrams latest movie ‘Super8’ is getting some very positive press regarding it’s spoiler free promotion campaign but sadly in such a highly competitive marketplace not many films can afford the luxury of secrecy.
Well now I have decided to change all that. A while back a new trailer for ‘X-Men : First Class’ splurged it’s way onto the internet and even though it was all over the movie blogs I decided to stay away from it. Normally I’d be all over a new X-Men trailer like butter on toast but since ‘Wolverine’ and ‘The Last Stand’ shat their way through the local multiplex my excitement for a new X-Men movie has dulled somewhat. Armed with this muted excitement I have so far avoided any footage before seeing the final product, hopefully when I do see the movie it will be with a totally clean slate. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very much looking forward to seeing this movie. It has a great director in Matthew Vaughn, a writing team that know how to work a story, a funky period setting and a great cast. I’m just intrigued to see what it would be like to see a big new movie with no preconceptions of any of the content involved.
This plan was recently put through it’s most extreme step when a trailer appeared before a showing of ‘Thor’ (surprisingly very enjoyable, I give it Thor out of five (sorry!)) that I went to. I actually had to sit there, hands over eyes, so I didn’t take in a single blip of retro-fitted X-Men action. I imagine it can only get harder as the tv spots start to roll out when the release date is upon us. If I can go into this film without seeing how a single shot plays out it will be the first time I’ve seen a big Hollywood movie like that since, since.. Christ! I couldn’t actually say. Maybe ‘Blade’?
Yikes, that was a long time ago. Curse you internet and your amazing media delivery capabilities!