Rumor: Zynga To Charge Monthly Fee For FarmVille
Another rumor is making its’ way around player statuses this past weekend – this one directed at Zynga’s FarmVille. Here is a sample of a typical status we have seen:
ATTENTION: Zynga has announced that as of March 31, 2010 FarmVille will no longer be available in it’s Beta version. The game will be available for a subscription fee of $5.99 per month and will include additional levels above 70.
The rumor is simply untrue. There has been no announcement of this kind from Zynga, nor has there been any indication that the Beta version will no longer be made available.
However, that is not to say that a paid version of the game won’t become a reality. A large number of multi player games use a dual membership business model. This allows for a free membership plan, offering all the basics we have accessible to us know when playing FarmVille, and an upgraded monthly membership; giving us additional perks not granted to free members.
This would be a sound move on Zynga’s part, but it still doesn’t change the fact that the rumor of Beta being over and the game changing to paid membership only, is completely untrue.
Security: How To Create A Strong Facebook Password
It’s almost funny if it weren’t so sad that many people still use their birthdays and sometimes names of favorite family members as their Facebook password. A good password is one that is impossible to guess. Many people know this already, but only a few truly understand the importance of creating a strong, impossible-to-guess password.
So why do you need a strong password?
Your password is what you need in order to prove to the computer that you are who you say you are. It functions like a normal house key, except that instead of carrying it around in your pocket or your wallet, you carry it around in your head.
Like a regular house key, passwords can be stolen. Someone using your password will pretend to be you in order to gain access to your account, files, or any other important information you store in your computer or database.
The computer has no way of knowing if it is really you or someone pretending to be you, the same way that your door has no way of knowing if it is you holding that key inserted into the keyhole.
For these reasons, it is important to safeguard a password, and one of the most reliable ways of safeguarding your password is to create one that is difficult to crack. So you will create highly complicated passwords – unfathomable letter combinations and numbers and symbols and upper case letters and lower case letters and whatever else you can add into the whole mix.
However, the main trouble about password security is that people will have to remember them in order to gain access to the network, whether it is a home computer network or an office network.
Now, if you were using a literal cocktail of letters, symbols, and numbers as a password, you would have to have exceptionally high capacity for remembering codes. The problem is not all people have brains that function like that.
In fact, most people are better at remembering words that actually make sense than a splatter of alphanumerics with who-knows-what meaning. As such, people naturally prefer the former when choosing or creating passwords.
Unfortunately, hackers are very, very smart. If, given enough computing power, time, and encrypted data, these hackers can compromise even the most complex cryptographic system, how much more a password that is easy to crack? It is like stealing candy from a baby, to borrow a line.
The purpose therefore of creating strong passwords is to make it as difficult as possible for the hacker to figure out, even if he had all the time in the world to crack it.
However, taking into account our admittedly human tendency to remember things in context, your password should also be one that you can relatively recall fairly easily – that is, they should not be completely alien to the brain, like all numeric codes, to make them easier to remember and store in our memory banks.
In fact, experts in network security highly encourage that you use a combination of numeric codes and letters of the alphabet as this will increase the number of odds and make it more difficult for the hacker to figure out the right combination.
Passwords to Avoid
Okay, you have to admit that there are only so many words that people use and so many numbers that it is difficult to come up with something totally original to make use of as a password.
More often than not, people will use the same password for all their accounts without even knowing that some other person in some other state or country is also using the same password because they thought it was unique.
Moreover, hackers use cracking devices specifically for the purpose of figuring out people’s passwords. These devices will run a list of all possible letter and number combinations and then all the hacker has to do is to try out each one until he gets the right one.
It seems like a tedious job, but cracking devices are actually very sophisticated software that can eliminate all the other odds in order to get the hacker closer to figuring out the right password. They have resources and a deep understanding of how people think (at least, when it comes to what passwords the average Joe would likely pick up) to make the whole task simple.
Now, couple that with all the wonderful technology at their disposal, and you are practically at their mercy, unless you take steps in avoiding the following weak passwords:
* Words in the dictionary, including any dictionary in any language or technical application (e.g. engineering dictionary)
* Your username or your real name
* Your spouse’s name or the name of any person you know, including family members
(This is because password crackers can easily get a list of 10,000 names or more and then run them through your system to see if one works)
* Words found in the “cracking dictionary”
(Yes, password crackers do keep a list of words that a lot of people use. This includes abbreviations; cartoons; character patterns; asteroids; famous names; Bible; movies; god, myths and legends; Password (the word itself); female names; male names; machine names; science fiction; songs; sports; number patterns; surnames; places; short phrases; Shakespeare; etc.
* Any common words with a single character before or after it (e.g. 1happy, Paris8)
* Any common words, capitalized (e.g., Soccer)
* Any common words, reversed (e.g., soccer à reccos), doubled (e.g., soccer à soccersoccer), or mirrored (e.g., soccer à soccerreccos)
* There was a time when it was a good idea to take a word and substitute some of the characters.
For instance, instead of using the word “password,” you can make it into this alphanumeric combination: P@$$w0rd. This is actually a good password, as far as the rules of creating good passwords are concerned. However, there are actually some cracking devices today that are designed to crack even those kinds of passwords, so you probably should not take this route anymore.
Now that you know what passwords to avoid, time for you to learn what makes a good password.
Creating a Strong Password
One of the first things to remember when creating strong passwords is the balance between coming up with a password that is complex enough to give crackers a hard time, yet easy enough for the user to recall. This shouldn’t be too difficult if you take note of the following tips:
The Six-Character Rule
A strong password should be one that is composed of six characters or more. This will make it difficult for a hacker to crack with a brute-force attack.
You can use as many characters as you like so long as you meet the minimum of six characters. However, note that there are some systems that establish a maximum number of characters.
Upper and Lower Case Combination
This was mentioned earlier. Passwords are made case-sensitive for a reason, and that is reason is to increase the security level of gaining access to your account. But in addition to upper and lower case combinations, strong passwords should also incorporate punctuation marks and numbers.
Now, one common mistake people make when it comes to passwords like this is they write it down to help them remember.
While these passwords are admittedly hard to recall, DO NOT make the mistake of writing them down anywhere or keeping a record of them anywhere in your system.
The License Plate Rule
This rule is simple. Just take a word or a phrase and then squeeze it into six or eight characters the way you would with a vanity license plate.
Small Words and Punctuation Marks
The good thing about passwords like these is that they are easy to come up with and easy to remember. Let’s take the word “coffee” for instance. Take that word and insert punctuation marks in there somewhere to mess up the crackers – i.e. “co%ff*ee”
Use Control Characters
This can be a good choice. However, note that there are some that bear special meanings. For instance, characters like ^U, ^H, or ^D might prevent you from logging in again.
Use Uncommon Phrase
Remember this rule: short phrases are a no-no. But uncommon phrases tweaked just so are okay. More than okay, in fact.
For example, let’s take a Latin legal phrase: “Dura lex sed lex”, which means “the law may be hard but it is the law.”
Now, take the last letters of each word to get this combination: “axdx.”
Finally, throw in a capital letter, punctuation marks, and numbers and you can come up with a hard-to-crack password like this: “Ax%d3x*”
Deliberately misspelling words is highly encouraged. This will make your password harder to crack.
And last but not least, try to come up with a password that is totally random to anyone else but not to you.
We can’t tell you how to come up with these because then if we ourselves can figure it out, then it’s probably not that random. So only you can really come up with random passwords that are difficult to crack. Just think hard and…USE YOUR IMAGINATION.
And once you have come up with a good, strong password using the above-given tips, the next important step is to continuously update your password. Six months is the maximum length of time you should keep using a password. Experts agree that this is the optimum period with which a password will remain secure and uncompromised. It will also take this long for a typical cracking device to crack your strong password.
If you have difficulties remembering the passwords you have created, consider using the free or upgraded version of RoboForm – the most respected and encrypted password saver available on the market.
HOAX: Free Facebook Gold Accounts
The latest hoaxing craze circulating Facebook is groups and fan pages claiming to Facebook offering free or limited time upgrades to a supposed Gold account.
There is no Facebook Gold Account. This hoax has been circulating in various forms for over 10 months.
Here are a few samples of ridiculous pages and groups claiming to upgrade you if you invite all your friends:
This one is quite funny actually. It’s a group, managed by 2 kids, and they actually interact with the members. Their claims of working on 6000+ lines of code, alpha and beta testing, server resources etc, had me chuckling. They are however a menace…And are getting kicks out of fooling people…
Here is a sample of their BS, where they claim the image/photo cannot be seen unless you upgrade to gold:
I particularly like how they claim “Chrome Accounts” have stolen their idea…
I am sure mom and dad are real proud of these two yahoos…
They were not however smart enough to start their hoax without revealing their real names… Can you say Bye Bye From Facebook?
This hoax has been set up as a fan page, and therefore the identity of the scammer is not revealed.
Of course, you are required to invite every single friend in order to be upgraded. Oh yes, and then you have to complete a “free” offer/survey before that official upgrade.
By the way, the offer is not free – you will be charged on your cell phone AND this yahoo gets paid for you completing the survey.
Be vigilant of groups such as this. If Facebook decides to offer any enhancements to your account, be rest assured you will NOT be required to join some group or invite all your friends. These type of instructions continue to be a huge red flag that the page or group is a hoax.
Therefore, please do NOT invite all your friends
Facebook eMail On It’s Way – Secure Your Vanity URL Now
Over the past six years, we have watched Facebook evolve from a little Harvard dorm based network, into a massive world-wide 400 million user behemoth. The largest social network online is now gearing up to bring us a new feature to stay connected with friends and family – Project Titan; aka Facebook eMail!
Michael Arrington of TechChrunch says “Facebook is completely rewriting their messaging product and is preparing to launch a fully featured webmail product in its place, according to a source with knowledge of the product.” So far rumors indicate that the new service will include IMAP/POP support, giving you the ability to access your new email outside of the Facebook platform.
Facebook is all about connecting and the easiest way to do that is by people being able to find you. With the introduction of vanity urls back in June 2009, the Facebook developers gave us one more way for people to find us – especially for those who have a more common name. According to the TechChrunch report, your new Facebook email address will be your vanity url.
Currently, many Facebook users still have a randomly assigned numerical profile url. A vanity url allows you to choose an available name, or nickname instead.
You will be given a few options to choose from, or you can select your own. If your custom name is available, once you confirm, it will be immediately set as your new profile url.
I strongly recommend everyone go create their vanity url asap in order to secure how you wish your new Facebook email address to appear.
Facebook Game Dashboard Settings : How To Control Who Can See What You Play
Here is a quick tip for those of you who do not care to have everyone know what games and applications you use on Facebook. There has been a new section added to the Privacy Settings page under your Account tab.
It looks like:
If you choose “Custom” from the drop down menu, you will have the option to them choose “Only Me”. Alternatively, you could also select a small group of friends or family – you choose!
Thanks to our reader Barbi for passing on this tip via a comment she left!
The Toss Between PC and Console Gaming
Console gamers claim consoles are more entertaining for the reason that they just have to plug their machine into a socket and begin to play. Thus, they are easier to use. Computer games tend to take longer to set out due to the fact that the game has to be set up into a hard drive and there could even be issues about compatibility which can turn out to be a thwarting. In this arena, console games are by all odds at an advantage. One more point to study is the caliber of graphics and most gamers claim computer games are certainly superior above console games in this arena. By nature, this is so since PC’s will tend to have greater amount of space and capabilities when it comes to graphic presentation, thus, colors are sharper and shapes are much more defined. Compared to consoles, computers again have this edge. Add to this the continuing developments on computer-intended graphic technologies which practically make computer graphics increasingly superior with each upgrade option made available. In all likelihood one thing that makes console games more preferable is the fact that a player can play with a consistent level of performance from the machine as compared to computers whose performance capabilities are dictated by the PC’s specs, such as RAM, CPU, hard drive , drivers and video cards. While all these can potentially pose problems in one’s PC game experience, consoles do not have these issues and are, therefore, favorable in this respect. In terms of availability of games, it’s inarguable that more games can be played on a PC and consoles are by nature lagging behind in this category. Both PC and console gaming will have its own merits and demerits and it will just depend on the individual gaming play as experienced by the gamer for him to form his own assessment of which is actually better.
Close Up on Mafia Wars Level Up Strategy
Leveling up is the major aim for many Mafia Wars gamers. Who doesn’t want to see the Master Boss title in front of their name? Not to mention the rewards built into Mafia Wars for reaching those levels; we all are eager to commit crime in Cuba and Moscow.
How does it really work to level on Mafia Wars? In order to complete a level, you need to earn experience points. As the levels go up, you need more experience to finish the level; you invest your personal energy and stamina stats in fights and on jobs to collect experience points. Until recently, you could also earn experience via heists. (Does anyone else regret this absence?)
Leveling fast can be accomplished through a focus on jobs or on fighting. If a Fearless character structures their own top mafia right and gets into the wheelman slot in another player’s crew, job centered leveling is laughably fast. And a Maniac has some advantages for both methods of leveling, since that character’s energy always refills faster. If you’re a Mogul, you may want to focus on fight centered leveling strategy, since you don’t have any particular energy perk.
If you want to dodge the occasional vengeance freak in Mafia Wars, job leveling is the safest way to go. Grow a massive energy reserve by putting every skill point you earn into energy at first. You need to master every job and each tier all three times. You’ll see that jobs require a varying amount of energy and consumables to work and deliver different volume of experience points, cash, and equipment loot as the tiers get higher. You can work a given job tier depending on what level you have, and the higher tiers will open before you’ve completed mastery of the lower; stay focused and complete mastery if you want to maximize leveling. Keep track of the experience:energy ratio of Mafia Wars jobs and do the jobs that give you the most experience out for your energy investment in. If this seems excruciating at first, you’ll be happy later when you’ve got energy to burn and you cruise past your friends who got impatient with mastery and ratios. Mastering tiers will give you more skill points to allot, solid money, equipment for your crew, and the sweet mastery bonuses. (And Moscow is so much easier when you’ve got massive energy reservoir.)
Leveling up fast with fighting is a bit different. Allocating your skill points in both stamina and energy is unavoidable if you plan to attack in Mafia Wars. You’ll also want to build a fairly large crew and equip yourself with specials or limited edition loot to have a successful start in the fighting method. It’s child’s play to score big money and pick up some cherry equipment when you stumble across a weak but deep pocket opponent. Since fights earn you 1-6 points experience, it’s wise to throw in a job just prior to level up to get the experience point boost into the next level. Sure you’ll sprain your finger attacking constantly, but on the bright side you won’t have to hassle with consumables.
The best technique for leveling may be a compromise between the two – leveling quick with a melding of job and fight leveling strategies. Start your level by fighting until your stamina is gone, because fights yield more experience:energy which gives you a big push ahead in experience. And then start working jobs. This leveling combination will keep you from boredom, well-armed, and feeling like a real gangster while still getting you the perks of job and tier mastery. The best of both Mafia Wars level up worlds.
Guide To Facebook’s New Home Page
Facebook celebrated its 6th birthday yesterday, and the 400 million user milestone, by launching its newly designed homepage. Approximately 80 million users logged on to the new page late yesterday, while tens of millions more are seeing it throughout today. If you have not yet had a glimpse, it’s coming to a desktop near you soon!
Here is a screenshot of the new homepage:
Sleeker Message/Inbox Activity
The biggest advantage to the new style is that you do not need to leave your homepage to do a few different activities. For example, your old Inbox is now called Messages, and opens in its own expansion window for you to quickly browse, reply or create a new message, as shown below. However, if you still would like to use a full screen to use your Messages features, simply click the Messages link located under your profile picture.
New Notifications Location
Notifications also have a new home, located at the top left of your navigation bar as shown below. This new window seems to be much more stable than the older version we are used it (usually it locking up!)
New Accounts Tab
Your old Settings tab has now been replaced with an Account tab. As you can see from the image to the right, it lists all the usual settings we are used to seeing, in addition to a new one – Credit Balance.
Before anyone worries that this means Facebook is going to start charging for use, this is not true. Facebook has been introducing Facebook Credits to be used as a form of payment for games and apps. For example, instead of purchasing FarmVille Coins from FarmVille, then Godfather Points from Mafia Wars, and then Red Love Chum from Fish Wrangler and Super Brie+ from MouseHunt, you will soon be able to purchase credits via Facebook, and use them to pay each of these games for the virtual products they supply.
The benefit to using Facebook Credits is that you are only giving your credit card details to one source, instead of multiple sources. Not all games are yet accepting the credits as payment, but integration is in the works for many.
Your Old Friends Lists
For those of you who create friends lists, you can now find them under the Friends link, located on the left navigation menu. A number in brackets, as shown to the left, indicates how many friend requests you have outstanding to confirm.
New Photos Page
The new Photos page has a few advantages – and disadvantages (in my personal opinion). Upon clicking the Photos link from your left navigation menu, you will notice a full page of photos – that are not yours. These are all photo’s recently added or updated by your friends.
The size allowance per picture has been increased and makes for a nice clean photographic layout. This layout also gives you the opportunity to catch up on photo uploads you may have missed from family in friends – especially if you have a busy wall and feed. However, I can see this automatic display being a privacy issue for some people, so keep this in mind when you set your photo privacy settings.
To view your own photo albums, you need to click the My Uploads link at the bottom of this list. This will showcase all of your photos and videos.
Missing Bookmarks Icons
One feature almost everyone will surely miss is the bookmark icons we are used to seeing at the bottom of our pages. This feature is now gone It has been replaced by a list of all your bookmarks, located once again in the left navigation menu.
Unfortunately, at this time, we do not see a way to rearrange the listing of the bookmarks. So if any of you have more than 3 games or apps marked, you will need to use the More link in order to see them all.
New Chat Location – Sort of…
As you can see in our first screenshot above, a Chat with Friends section is located on the left navigation menu, as well as the bottom right portion of our screen – where we are used to seeing it. The left menu seems to show a random display of people online, but you still use the bottom right to communicate. I am unsure what they are trying to accomplish with this design, as it seems completely redundant and useless to have it appear on the left – especially if they decide who to display, and not the user.
New Games & Applications Dashboard
This new feature I was initially excited about when I heard back in December that it was coming. Unfortunately, I find it a huge disappointment…
Both dashboards show you a listing of all the games/applications you currently use or play. It also lists exactly what your friends are doing, and what they play. I see this as being a major privacy concern. If I want to sit and play Bejeweled Blitz at 4am, I personally do not care to have everyone know that I am doing so! In my personal opinion, there is no need for Facebook to be displaying exactly what we are doing at any one point in time.
I also feel Facebook should not be auotmatically sharing what applications we use. There are some great apps on Facebook, and a few cater to some specific and personal needs. For example, friends and family need not know if you are tracking diet meal plans, unless you decide to share that yourself.
UPDATE FEB 9: Edit your Privacy settings to control who sees you on these dashboards –> Facebook Game Dashboard Settings : How To Control Who Can See What You Play/
I suspect we will see some fallout from these two additions. I believe many were assuming the dashboards were going to be a way to take gaming messages off regular status feeds, but other than displaying exactly what we are doing at all times, they seem to serve no purpose at all.
More Tips Coming
As we find more detail in the new design and features, we will continue to update everyone here at TheFacebookInsider with new tips and tricks to help you get the most out of this new style. Join the or our to ensure you are kept up to date!
How To Build A FarmVille Horse Stable
Horse stables have finally arrived on FarmVille, and this much anticipated building has been added in a unique fashion!
Everyone automatically receives a stable foundation in their gift box, after clicking on on the Announcement box seen to the left.
Similar to a FarmVille barn raising, you need to have 10 friends click your Horse Stable building link in order to get up the frame.
However, you also need 50 pieces of material in order to fully complete the building process.
- 10 Horseshoes
- 10 Wooden Boards
- 10 Nails
- 10 Bricks
- 10 Harnesses
Here is the full process, described by Lexilicious, the Zynga FarmVille Community Manager:
After clicking the ‘OK’ button, you will be taken to your Gift Box where you will receive the Horse Stable Foundation.
You can also purchase the Horse Stable foundation from the decorations section of Market for 5,000 Coins.
Once you’ve placed the Foundation on your farm, you will be prompted with a message letting you know that you can post a feed to ask you friends for help building your stable.
Clicking the “Share” button will give you the option to post a feed to your wall. Up to 10 of your Neighbors can click on this feed to receive 100 Coins.
In order to use your Horse Stable, you’ll need to finish building it. Selecting ‘Look Inside’ from your foundation’s menu will show you what you need to complete your Horse Stable.
When you first place the foundation, you’ll have one Brick already. In order to build a complete stable you’ll need 10 of each item. You can get these items one of two ways:
1. From neighbors via the Free Gifts menu.
Neighbors can send you the components you need to build your Stable. Your Neighbors will be able to send you two of the five types of building components to help you complete your horse stables.
Please note that the two components displayed on the Free Gifts Page are randomized. As such, the components displayed on the Free Gifts Page may be different for each user. These two components are changed weekly.
When neighbors send you a building component, it works exactly like any other free gift. After you accept the gift it will appear in your gift box.
After clicking the “use” button under the gift it will automatically be added to your Horse Stable.
2. Purchasing components from the Market,
You can purchase components required to build your Horse Stable from the Market for 1 Farm Cash per item.
When you reach 25 items, you’ll receive pop-up that will allow you to post a feed to your wall. The first ten neighbors to click this feed will receive a random building component for their own Horse Stable construction.
When you complete your Horse Stable, you will receive a popup asking you if you’d like to share the news with your friends. Clicking the Share button on this popup will give you the option to post a feed to your wall that will give up to five neighbors who click on it a free Grey Horse.
Once the Horse Stable is complete, you’ll receive a Grey Horse of your own.
You’re able to store up to 20 horses in your stable and you may only have one Horse Stable per farm. Right now, you can store the regular brown Horse, the Grey Horse, and a new purchasable Pinto Horse.
Every 24 hours, you’ll be able to collect from the horses stored in your Horse Stable.
Source: Zynga Community Forums
FALSE: Facebook Automation Labs Warning Untrue
We have another ‘pass-it-on’ status message flooding walls over the past 24 hours that needs to be debunked! The “block Automation Labs” rumor is 100% incorrect, despite tens of thousands of people circulating it.
It will read something similar to:
As you can see, users are directed to go to the Block section of their Privacy Settings, and enter either ‘Automation Labs’ or ‘Information Lab’ into the name field and block whatever people pop up on the list. This is completely unnecessary…
The Block feature on Facebook searches for anyone, group or page that contains the name you have entered. For example, enter your own last name in that field and see what pops up. All this means is that these people have something in common with you – your last name. The people appearing on the list when you enter ‘Automation Lab’, simply have some sort of association to the search phrase. This does not mean they are spying on you.
Automation Lab is an IT company. They also have created an automation tool for FarmVillle, which is why many of you are seeing so many people pop up on this Block list. If anyone is advertising the FarmVille Manager, developed by Automation Labs, they will appear on this list. Also, anyone who works for Automation Lab will also automatically appear on the list.
Alternatively, anyone listing an employer with the word ‘automation’ in the name, will appear on this list.
In addition to the ‘Automation Lab’ block, we are seeing people tell others to block people containing ‘Information lab’. The same details apply as above.
I did a test, entering ‘information lab’ in the name field, and out of the first 5 people that appeared on my list, I could view 3 profiles, and this is what I found:
- One worked for Oxford Information Labs
- One worked for the US Department of Defense under the Defense Systems Information Agency
- One worked for the US Air Force Research Lab
As you can see, if you were to blindly follow the instructions detailed above, you could in fact be blocking many of the friends and family you have not yet connected with. These people would never be able to ever contact you via Facebook.
Privacy concerns on high, and this is why rumors and hoaxes such as these spread so quickly. However, a little digging into exactly what it is you are being told to do, should be your primary concern. One day, a change you make, could actually put your account in the hands of someone with ulterior motives…