Written 13 June, 2007
Back in the day I was something of a software pirate, defeating copy protection on floppy disks and cartridges for my VIC-20 (and then Commodore 64). I had hundreds of programs I and my friends broke and then never even loaded.
It was fun matching wits with the software companies, figuring out how they protected their software and then unprotecting it and giving copies to my friends.
Most recently I’ve been bypassing Symantec. It started when I renewed my anti-virus protection and it didn’t “take.” Symantec was absolutely non-responsive to my pleas via e-mail, telephone, and U.S. mail first to activate my protection and, later, to refund my money, so I decided to hack them. After all, I had already paid!
It took like five minutes. All I had to do was download the latest virus definitions to my desktop; set the clock on my computer back to a time when my protection was current; run the file installing the definitions; and then set the clock back to real time. Makes you wonder how much their virus software is really worth, doesn’t it?
I’ve been doing it to Symanec for years and telling others how to do it, and fuck you, Symantec. I wouldn’t have done it if you hadn’t ripped me off and then ignored me.
I no longer have quite the cavalier attitude toward intellectual property rights I had in my early years, but I have my limits, and when they’re surpassed, my pirating instincts are activated.
Recently I read about something called GL Intercept, which is code that captures textures displayed to the screen in video games and even in Second Life. It consists of a set of files you place in your Second Life folder. When you run SL, GLI begins its work, capturing textures.
Or so they say.
Well, not exactly. I know it works because I tried it.
A couple of weeks ago I went to a new and for the most part empty island owned by my friend Aldo Zond, rezzed a Mystitool platform high in the sky, set out some prims and texturized them, logged off, and logged back on with GL Intercept activated. The frame rate was abysmal (think .5 fps), but I wasn’t there to walk around. I set Busy and walked away from the computer to clean the house for a while.
When I looked at the Images folder later, it was filled with thousands of files.
It would have taken forever to look at all those files, so I sorted them by size and killed those smaller than 64x64. Then I spent fifteen minutes highlighting and deleting blocks of files that were either empty or looked like images from the SL interface. With that done, I made another folder and dragged the interesting-looking files to it.
When I looked at that folder later, I found copies of the files I had pasted onto my prims—and of the grass and rock from the Mystitool platform—but I also found images of the Second Life moon and clouds, the body tattoos and body textures from my avatar, and even files of my eyes and jewelry (clothing textures would have shown up too, I’m sure, but I was doing this experiment sky-clad at 700 meters on an empty sim inside an opaque Mystitool platform.
GL Intercept had certainly been thorough!
The files were saved in .png format, with the images upside down (but not, for some reason, backwards as well). Some were as large as 2048x2048, reflecting the density of the originals. Files tended to be saved at different densities (128x128, 256x256, and 512x512 being the most common). I think this is because textures tend to rez in at progressively higher densities, and because (I seem to remember reading this somewhere) far-off textures are read at a lower density than those that are close by.
I trashed the images. I mean, most of them were my test textures, I already had the Mysti platform textures, and most of the rest were images from Second Life for which I had no particular need. My skin is modifiable and copyable, so there was no need to save the body tattoos, either, although I was tempted because the skin images were complete with nail color, which comes off whenever I wear socks or gloves.
I am, however, tempted to use GL Intercept in earnest.
I don’t plan to go hang out at Textures ‘R’ Us and rip them off, or at Bliss Gardens to grab the neato terrain textures.
Rather, I have a few textures for which I paid good money, and which are No Modify (some are even No Copy, which renders them perfectly useless!).
No Copy textures are a pain because they don’t show in the menu under textures. You apply them by dragging them directly onto one side of a prim. This causes the texture to shout out in surprise and pain. Since the texture must be applied to each and every side of every prim, it makes for a lot of screen spam.
How nice it would be to capture all of my No Modify textures! I could put them into multi-texture organizers (I’ll blog on that soon) and apply them to prims in conventional ways.
So one night soon, sky-clad at 700 meters inside an opaque Mystitool platform, I may be running GL Intercept.
Just to make my second life a little bit easier.