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Personal Interest: Interviewing Lesser Knowns

PostPosted: Sun Nov 03, 2013 8:58 pm
by Personal Interest
Personal Interest
Interviewing those that have flown under the radar.

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Articles
November 3, 2013: An Interview with Afforess
November 5, 2013: Capitalist Paradise's Drasnia
November 7, 2013: Op-Ed: Deletion

PostPosted: Sun Nov 03, 2013 9:10 pm
by Personal Interest
An Interview With Afforess
"Code Never Lies. Comments Sometimes Do."

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For my opening interview, I sat down with Afforess, creator of NS++. I've used the extension for a very long time and can't imagine playing NationStates without it. I contacted Afforess asking for if he'd be happy to answer a few questions, and thankfully he did.

Personal Interest: You're known as the creator of a browser add-on called NationStates++. Firstly, what prompted you to write this add-on? Some users claim that you can or have stolen their passwords. Wouldn't this ruin your reputation and have you banned from the site? Are there other security concerns with using NS++? And why maintain such a large extension when it doesn't make any money for you? (I assume it actually costs you money) Do you have plans to monetize it?

Afforess: Like all great software, NationStates++ was born out of frustration with the website and a desire to be lazier. I want to be able to see all information that I could possibly need to administer effectively and satisfy my curiosity, while making it drop-dead simple to use. Also I made the entire project open source so that other programmers can inspect it, and contribute, if they wish.

Regarding passwords, yes it is technically feasible to steal passwords through the addon. I don't really have any interest in other nations passwords (such a move would make the game rather pointless, and almost certainly result in a lifetime ban, as well as some nasty packages at my doorstep). As you mentioned, I do have a reputation to maintain, as my persona "Afforess" is recognized outside of many NationStates communities, and is associated with my real life project & identity. In fact, such password theft by means of software is likely a felony in the United States according to the 1986 Computer Abuse and Fraud Act, and I'd rather not be a felon. In short, yes I could steal user passwords. In reality, I would be incredibly foolhardy to do so. I'll leave it up to users to decide.

There are other security concerns with NS++ and NationStates in general. NationStates does not use SSL or HTTPS, so when you login to the site, your password and nation name are sent over the internet in clear-text (clear-text meaning that it is not encrypted or ciphered in any way). Anyone running an evil wifi access-point or intercepting your web-traffic could steal your password. I've raised concerns about this to the administrators, but they believed the risk to be acceptably low. Discussion -> viewtopic.php?f=15&t=185805

Why I maintain a large extension for free? I like programming, and I like NationStates. I generally like the people here. Besides free time, it does cost me $15/month to run the servers. I can handle about 5x as many users before I need to upgrade, so I'm not terribly worried about costs. Some people buy a starbucks every day, I spend money on software projects. Altogether, not that different.
I do not have any plans to monetize NationStates++ at this time. Also, I absolutely loathe web-advertisements, so I would never go that route.

Personal Interest: You mention you are known as Afforess on other sites than NS. Do you do coding for these sites too? I understand why it would be stupid to steal passwords, but some people are unnecessarily paranoid. What would you say to these people that would think you'd steal passwords even after what you just told me? What are the odds of a person such as the one described in the thread stealing my password? Should I be concerned?

Afforess: I am relatively well known in the Civilization modding community, my mods were amongst the most popular. I am also relatively known in Minecraft modding as well, for similar reasons. Most of my recognition does come from technical contributions.
As for the paranoid people, I would tell them they are right to be paranoid. I think people should look at the facts and stick with their decision. I don't want to bludgeon people into using the addon, so I'm actively working on expanding NS++ so that users can view it outside of NationStates, and without the extension. I own NationStatesPlusPlus.com/org/net so expect to see content there soon.

Personal Interest: You are a former Delegate of Capitalist Paradise. What has changed between that time and now? How have your successors, such as the newly elected DWAsnia or the resigned Kaputer, been in comparison? Do you think you'd be the best candidate for the Delegacy?

Afforess: I was a rather poor delegate of Capitalist Paradise. I made mistakes, and handled the outcome of those mistakes rather poorly. Ultimately, my mistakes led me to be replaced. I think I've learned a lot about NationStates since then, and from a technical perspective, I'm much more skilled than I was then too. Both DWAsnia and Kaputer were better delegates than I was. I don't really think I should become delegate again, unless there are no other candidates willing. I am quite happy with my current position in the region.

Personal Interest: You really think you were a terrible Delegate? What are some of the mistakes you made back then? How would you rate your successors? How would you rate yourself as Minister of Interior?

Afforess: I was rather arrogant as delegate (I still am, but at least I am no longer delegate). I ordered defense missions we had no reason to be involved in, which undermined my endorsement base and allowed another player (Amn Voss, as it so happened) to become delegate. I think most, if not all, the delegates since me have been good, but Kaputer was excellent, and DWAsnia is also shaping up to be an excellent delegate. I think I do a good job as Minister of Interior, but I also am concerned that I may have permanently locked myself into the role by running our website, capitalistparadise.com . Long term, I'm interested in ensuring the Minister of the Interior does not need technical skills to do the job, so anyone can replace me.

Personal Interest: You got a lot of users' blood boiling when you mass TG'ed the largest regions in the game once stamps were released. Capitalist Paradise saw a very large increase in members after the first few days. (Over 100 if my memory servers) What prompted this unprecedented act? What were the final results? Would you ever do this again?

Afforess: I saw stamps had been released (without any notification in the game!) and so I figured that the first person to make use of them would get the best result. To ensure this, I intentionally "poisoned the well" by including instructions for users to disable the recruitment telegrams. This way, all following recruitment telegrams would be less successful than mine. I'm not sure why people were so surprised, I am, after all, a member of the Capitalist Paradise. The final results? We gained about 100 members that did stick around longer than 30 days. I might do it again, if simply to see how much less effective it is the 2nd time. But not for a few more months, at least.

Personal Interest: Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions.

PostPosted: Sun Nov 03, 2013 9:19 pm
by Afforess
Love the choice of quote. :clap:

PostPosted: Sun Nov 03, 2013 9:39 pm
by DWAsnia
Afforess wrote:Love the choice of quote. :clap:

I think it's a great quote too.

As for the interview, and interesting read. Nice to see the security concerns of NS++ addressed. Also, shucks Afforess, I didn't think I was as good as you make me sound :blush:

PostPosted: Sun Nov 03, 2013 11:03 pm
by Feux
What puzzles me is that Afforess is considered someone under the radar.

PostPosted: Sun Nov 03, 2013 11:21 pm
by Hobbesistan
Feux wrote:What puzzles me is that Afforess is considered someone under the radar.


Yeah, great as he is, I'd hardly find Afforess 'under the radar.'

PostPosted: Sun Nov 03, 2013 11:48 pm
by Xorniva
Nice Interview.

PostPosted: Sun Nov 03, 2013 11:58 pm
by Afforess
Feux wrote:What puzzles me is that Afforess is considered someone under the radar.

Not according to His Majesty, Cormac A Stark:

Cormac A Stark wrote:Regarding accusations from the glorified code monkey whose name no one knew before he developed his spyware...

PostPosted: Mon Nov 04, 2013 12:02 am
by Silver Seas
Afforess wrote:
Feux wrote:What puzzles me is that Afforess is considered someone under the radar.

Not according to His Majesty, Cormac A Stark:

Cormac A Stark wrote:Regarding accusations from the glorified code monkey whose name no one knew before he developed his spyware...

Key word being before. Now he's not under the radar.

PostPosted: Mon Nov 04, 2013 12:30 am
by Tippercommon
And the discovery of NationStates++ instantly makes my life 10x easier.

PostPosted: Mon Nov 04, 2013 12:43 am
by Mad Jack
Tippercommon wrote:And the discovery of NationStates++ instantly makes my life 10x easier.

And your password 10x less secure.

PostPosted: Mon Nov 04, 2013 12:48 am
by Tippercommon
Mad Jack wrote:
Tippercommon wrote:And the discovery of NationStates++ instantly makes my life 10x easier.

And your password 10x less secure.

Meh. The worst thing that could happen is someone turns the GE&T Help Desk into a porn catalog, I get banned and have to get a job.

PostPosted: Mon Nov 04, 2013 1:01 am
by Afforess
Mad Jack wrote:
Tippercommon wrote:And the discovery of NationStates++ instantly makes my life 10x easier.

And your password 10x less secure.

Silver Seas wrote:
Afforess wrote:Not according to His Majesty, Cormac A Stark:


Key word being before. Now he's not under the radar.

Hey you don't like NS++? Guess what, raiders are why I originally came back to NS, and raiders are why so many of it's tools exist. You gotta look squarely at yourself for the blame here. I would be happy if NS++ could eradicate the risk of being raided. ;)

PostPosted: Mon Nov 04, 2013 1:15 am
by The Grim Reaper
Tippercommon wrote:
Mad Jack wrote:And your password 10x less secure.

Meh. The worst thing that could happen is someone turns the GE&T Help Desk into a porn catalog, I get banned and have to get a job.


The GE&T Help Desk is pretty bitching, though.

PostPosted: Mon Nov 04, 2013 1:47 am
by Mad Jack
Afforess wrote:I would be happy if NS++ could eradicate the risk of being raided. ;)

Better than you have tired to eliminate raiding. They failed.

Guess what'll happen if you try?

PostPosted: Mon Nov 04, 2013 2:21 am
by Klaus Devestatorie
A very enjoyable little interview. Can't say I had any knowledge of Afforess' Civ or Minecraft mods.

PostPosted: Mon Nov 04, 2013 5:32 am
by Tyzoid
Klaus Devestatorie wrote:A very enjoyable little interview. Can't say I had any knowledge of Afforess' Civ or Minecraft mods.

Afforess is the (afaik main) author of the spoutcraft mod for minecraft.

PostPosted: Mon Nov 04, 2013 9:28 am
by The Black Hat Guy
Not so under the radar anymore with the great work he's done on NS++. He's one of the best known players in the community.

Great interview though.

PostPosted: Mon Nov 04, 2013 9:29 am
by Cerian Quilor
Afforess wrote:
Mad Jack wrote:And your password 10x less secure.

Silver Seas wrote:Key word being before. Now he's not under the radar.

Hey you don't like NS++? Guess what, raiders are why I originally came back to NS, and raiders are why so many of it's tools exist. You gotta look squarely at yourself for the blame here. I would be happy if NS++ could eradicate the risk of being raided. ;)

Afforess, while I'm not all that interested in using NS++, I don't have a particular problem with you or it existing. All I was doing was explaining why Cormac's line about 'before' makes you no longer under the radar.

If you want to snark out at Cromarty, do so, but I wasn't even remotely part of what he said.

PostPosted: Mon Nov 04, 2013 11:22 am
by Personal Interest
Mad Jack wrote:
Tippercommon wrote:And the discovery of NationStates++ instantly makes my life 10x easier.

And your password 10x less secure.

Paranoid, paranoid, paranoid . . . *cough*excuse me.

I think Afforess addressed the security concerns of using NS++ in the article thoroughly. Perhaps you have something personal against the guy?
The Black Hat Guy wrote:Not so under the radar anymore with the great work he's done on NS++. He's one of the best known players in the community.

Great interview though.

I should have worded it better. I should have said something like "Interviewing players that aren't currently in the limelight."

PostPosted: Mon Nov 04, 2013 11:25 am
by Silver Seas
Its not paranoia when they really do have your password :P

PostPosted: Mon Nov 04, 2013 11:51 am
by The North Polish Union
I didn't know you made Civ mods. I've tried to make Civ mods before (and failed miserably :p ), and yet I've never heard your name in connection with Civ.

Maybe that's because I'm an old-timer who still only plays Civ 2 though. :blush:

PostPosted: Mon Nov 04, 2013 1:08 pm
by Afforess
The North Polish Union wrote:I didn't know you made Civ mods. I've tried to make Civ mods before (and failed miserably :p ), and yet I've never heard your name in connection with Civ.

Maybe that's because I'm an old-timer who still only plays Civ 2 though. :blush:

Check the author name in #5 on the list: http://forums.civfanatics.com/downloads ... =downloads

5th most popular Civ4 mod. ;)

Modding Civ was a lot of fun, but those days are behind me. Loved the community though.

PostPosted: Mon Nov 04, 2013 4:26 pm
by Venico
Love the concept of the paper. Wish you the best of luck and good interview :)

PostPosted: Mon Nov 04, 2013 5:18 pm
by Glen-Rhodes
Mad Jack wrote:
Tippercommon wrote:And the discovery of NationStates++ instantly makes my life 10x easier.

And your password 10x less secure.

Yeah, this is thinly veiled. Let's stop with the libel, Madjack. Not only do you know very little about third-party app development, but you apparently know even less about how serious of an accusation you keep lodging at Afforess.