All Good Things...
As you may have noticed, Emulationzone.org has turned 10 years old. That is one heck of an accomplishment for a site that originally started as a bet amongst friends to see who could come-up with the best website. I remember starting the site with nothing more than an idea and a yearning to see this idea reach its potential.
Over the years the site morphed away from being a site about console emulators to instead focus on the “spin-off” subjects from this genre, such as utilities, ROM hacking, fan sites, and the like. While the site had its share of failures, it had it’s successes as well, such as SSRG, ‘ZRN, Emulinks, and a little Sonic site known as “SonicHQ”. The site even survived the great “UltraHLE” debacle, in which a “perfect” N64 emulator was released during a time in which the N64 was Nintendo’s flagship console.
But as times change, so do we. And for myself, I have grown tired of the genre and feel it’s time to leave it all behind for the new generation to pick up and continue. So with that, after 10 years of service to the gaming community, I, NO CARRIER, am announcing my retirement from Emulationzone.org and its affiliates. The site will remain up as long as ZTNET can afford to do so, as so will sites hosted on the ‘Zone. In fact, many of these sites will continue to be updated in my absence, including ‘ZRN.
And yes, I know, “Ha ha, we heard that one before.” I originally tried to retire from the ‘Zone in 2001 so I could focus on my new job and on grad school. However, shortly afterwards I returned and continued to work on the site in a limited capacity. Why?
I guess I came back because the sites I was leaving behind were not left in an acceptable state. Perhaps I came back because I enjoyed the site as an outlet for fun. Perhaps I came back to try and finish my work? To put it in another words, I came back because it was not time for me to leave.
But after working on the site for 10 years, I feel it is time for me to move on. I have grown tired of the genre and whole heartedly want to move on to do other things. And for that reason, my second retirement will stick. And with that, I say farewell and thanks for sticking with us over the years.
Founder of Emulationzone.org
Video Game Art Archive (VGAA) Opens Its Doors
Today, Rlan is proud to annouce the opening of VGAA, the Video Game Art Archive!
He decided to create this website because of the huge difficulty there is trying to find good quality, larged sized artwork from video games without big logos cluttering it all up. Through magazines and official sources, along with his own collection, he intends to catalogue as much artwork as he can, with help from others as well.
You can visit his new site over here:
'ZRN to Support MP3Pro
‘ZRN, our video game themed internet radio network, will soon be streaming in the MP3Pro format! Currently, we stream audio in the MP3 format at a bitrate of 16kbps. After receiving many requests from the public for a “broadband” or “hi def” version of each station, we at ‘ZRN decided to not only bump the bitrate up to 32kbps, but also researched various formats so we couls delever the best possible sound at the bitrate we could afford. The result of our research was the selection of MP3Pro.
MP3Pro is a relatively new audio format that is designed to be backwords compatible the MP3 standard. In fact, it’s backwards compatible. What Mp3Pro does is preserve high frequency sounds that would normally be lost in a normal MP3 at the same bitrate. So what does this mean? It means we can get the quality of an MP3 encoding at half the bitrate! Let’s examine the followign example.
Many regard that an MP3 streamed at 128kbps is “CD-Quality”. With MP3Pro, an MP3 encoded at 128kbps (in stereo) will sound equally as good as an MP3Pro file encoded at 64kbps (in stereo)! Thus, a user can get CD-quality sound at half the bitrate or file size.
Now, if we reduce the audio stream to one channel, the user will get a single channel of CD-quality sound (FM radio quality) at a bitrate of only 32kbps! Not bad! In order to achive that level of quality with OGG, we would have to go to a bitrate of 48kbps. (OGG was not really designed for extremely low bitrate like 32 or 16kbps, MP3s were.)
In the coming week or two, stations that utilize the new standard will go online. We will be retaining the existng 16kbps stations for those that connect via dial-up.
'Zone Turns 8!
Believe it or not, the ‘Zone is now 8 years old! Actually, the site’s birthday was back in August. I wasn’t around at the time to do anythign fancy for the site’s anniversary.
In any event, not too many exciting things happened to the site over the past year. The biggest things that occurred were the addition of Secrets of Sonic Team (SOST.emulationzone.org) and the "Rebelius Fingers" insident.
Rebellious Fingers Visits the ‘Zone
If you tried accessing the main page of the site between the afternoon of Aug. 10 to noon Aug. 13, you were greeted with the following message:
Rebellious Fingers Ownz j00!
So, what happened? Apparently, “Rebellious Fingers” is a Brazilian hacking group that prides itself in “defacing” websites. They do this defacing by replacing the main page with a custom message along the lines of “Rebellious Fingers Ownz something”. From what I gather, they are using old exploits in message boards to achieve their deeds. This includes “Pivot”, a web-blog like system, and “Ikonboard” a popular message board software. It is possible that they may even try to use old exploits in Apache or the Linux OS.
The way they got through on our site was through an abandoned Ikonboard message board. Sk8ter, a former staff member of the ‘Zone, left the ‘Zone several months ago to start his own server. On his old site was an old Ikonboard message board. We both forget that he left a message board kicking around after he left, which apparently R.F. later found out about it.
A flaw was discovered by the Ikonboard authors in April of 2003 and a correction was posted. (http://xforce.iss.net/xforce/xfdb/11702) However, the patch was never applied to the message board that Skter was using.
Rebellious Fingers, after learning of the existing of the board, used an exploit to get into our server. You can read about the exploit they used here: http://seclists.org/lists/vuln-dev/2003/Apr/0010.html
Kudos goes out to Rebellious Fingers for intentionally not causing any real damage to the sites they hit. A real hacker finds security loopholes in people’s software and reports them. Idiots use them to destroy files on innocent people’s computers. (Unless they are out for revenge.)
For a listing of the sites Rebellious Fingers have hit, do a search for “Rebellious Fingers Ownz” in google.
Sonic Fan, Rejoice! SOST is Born!
Today marks the one-year anniversary of the death of SSRG: a tragic fate to a site that was once popular with the Sonic Hacking community. (Some even say it still is, even one year after its death.) At its start, the Sonic Hacking Community was exciting place, full of activity and drenched in positive enthusiasm. Over the years, however, the community sadly mutated into something bad, scaring away contributors and eventually leading to the site’s death.
Luckily for us, Rlan was not discouraged by all the hate and negativity bubbling and effervescing from within the community.
For the past year, Rlan has been secretly hammering away at creating a new website, a website that would raise the bar for the “Sonic Secrets” genre. Unlike other “Secret Secrets” sites, all information is accompanied by background information and analysis to give the reader a more detailed background at what he or she is viewing. The end result is quite possibly the web’s most organized and detailed archive of “Sonic Secrets” on the Internet! And unlike that “other” site, this site is not littered with fowl language, indecent imagery, or negativity. It’s a Sonics Secret site, plain and simple, and its one in which your parent’s would gladly let you visit. (It’s also one in which magazine editors would happily mention in their publications as well.)
Rlan and I agreed to mark the launch of his new website on the one year anniversary of SSRG’s death. This was done to not only promote the site, but to give the community a jolt of new hope on a day marked by a tragic event.
The new SOST site can be found at http://sost.emulationzone.org We hope you enjoy Rlan’s latest creation!