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Starforce Copy ProtectionWednesday 31st May 2006
I think this is a matter that needs to be advertised, as unlike world poverty, it's something that not many "normal" people know is happening.

Copy-protection software used on games and software (and even audio cd's now), has been around for a while. The idea of these bits of software is to stop people from being able to copy a CD (i.e. piracy). The major downside to the many years of anti-piracy software, none of them have ever succeeded in stopping piracy of the product.

As the publishers are getting more vindicitive the innocent consumers are being to get caught up in the cross-fire. I haven't had much problem with copy-protection, I had a bit of jip with the original GTA as it would only work in my second CD-ROM drive, but once that was figured out no problem.

This is where we need to introduce a new player "StarForce". This is yet another name to add along side of SafeDisk and other copy protection software.

StarForce though, goes to an entirely new level. I have read up on this product after reading up on the game X3: Reunion, which I was intending to buy. It appears that a lot of people are experiencing problems with the game, and it all comes down to the StarForce copy-protection.

When you install a game with StarForce copy-protection, it will siliently install 'drivers' onto your system. A driver is something that dictates how your OS (Windows) interfaces with the hardware (like your CD-ROM drive etc). The StarForce driver is hidden from your view and changes the way that your computer accesses optical media. Side effects of this can cause CD/DVD burning ability reduced or prevented; inability to play audio CD's, and other such joys.

Of course, as with a lot of software developers, they never think of all the possibilities. So if you have a really high-end system that doesn't use a standard CD-ROM drive, the game you just bought simply won't work.

Additionally the driver runs with high access to your system than you do. What does this matter? Well if a rogue application (a Virus, Trojan or Worm) has infected your machine, it may be possible for it to hi-jack the StarForce driver and gain full system wide control of your PC. We are no longer talking a few corrupt files, we are talking complete and utter failure of your system.

It appears that a lot of people have been boycotting games that use this software and companies such as Ubisoft are beginning to take note and are no longer using it. But I can't imagine it will be too long until we see something else as bad. We have recently seen Sony implment a similar copy-protection system and they are still reeling from the concequencies.

For more information on what games are affected (games like Splinter Cell!), then take a look at the Boycott StarForce website. There is a forum too, so if you are having problems removing it then they should be able to help you.

House picturesTuesday 30th May 2006
So I've just bought a house, it's falling apart at the seams. But hopefully I will make some money from it when we have cleaned it up a bit.

For those who are interested, I have created an image gallery showing some of our progress.

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