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Red Octane Comes to Washington

Mike Musgrove

If you're going to get beat by anybody at Guitar Hero, it might as well be by one of the guys who invented the game.

Red Octane founders Charles and Kai Huang were in Washington on Friday. If you've ever picked up a habit for one of the Guitar Hero games, you've seen their company logo about a million times or so. This is the company that partnered up with also now-famous software developer Harmonix a few years ago to create the air guitar game that has become a bit of a phenomenon. (Red Octane, now owned by Activision, did the guitar controller; Harmonix did the game software.)

Red Octane's next title is based entirely on the band Aerosmith, and will feature 30 or so songs spanning the band's career. Kai Huang said there are plenty of bands who could carry a game, though he wouldn't say if anything is in the works.

The brothers Huang weren't making much in the way of new announcements, though they did tell some interesting tales. Once upon a time, for example, the two guys had to take second mortgages on their homes to fund the game because they couldn't get anybody to invest.

According to research firm NPD, the franchise has $1 billion in sales.

The brothers also wouldn't comment on a lawsuit filed last week against parent company Activision. Guitar maker Gibson says that the GH games violate a patent it filed in 1999.

Turns out Charles Huang is at about the same level I am in the game - a little over halfway through the game's "expert" level. Also turns out he's way better than me at the game, besting me in two out of
three rounds. Fortunately (for me) Post.com's video folk only incorporated some video from the first round, "Mississippi Queen", where I won pretty soundly...

Personally, I've been spending more time on Rock Band than Guitar Hero. Anybody got any take on the Rock Band versus Guitar Hero thing?

By Mike Musgrove  |  March 19, 2008; 11:45 AM ET  | Category:  Mike Musgrove
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I think it depends on invovled you want to get. Guitar Hero is great for parties and situations where you may not want to keep going for a long time. Rockband strikes as something more for long term play since the idea is to make a real band out of your game characters rather than just make noise come out.

Posted by: EricS | March 19, 2008 2:03 PM

Where are gates and ebay and AMAZON all the bucks they could stuff into legislators pockets to shut these people down before they shut them down by making a purchase on ebay as risky as buying "magic beans" in trade for your cow!!!! Scamsters are the #1 threat to ebay and craigslist and on hot consumer items, an aggregator search on any given day shows that they may be 20% of the "sellers"!!!!! wonder if ther new prew of ebay will keep the "Meg" philosophy of "Don't ask, don't tell????

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Ukrainian CyberCrime Boss Leads Political Party
A Ukrainian man once known as one of the top ringleaders in Eastern Europe-based organized cyber crime is now heading up a new political party there.

Dmitry Ivanovich Golubov, a 24-year-old from Odessa, is leading the upstart "Internet Party of Ukraine," a party he helped create shortly after parliamentary elections in the country last fall. In 2005, Golubov -- a.k.a. "script" -- was arrested and jailed on charges of trading in credit and debit card credentials stolen via computer viruses and password-snatching Trojan horse programs, thefts that caused millions of dollars in losses to banks over several years.

U.S. Postal Investigative Service PhotoU.S. investigators said Golubov was among the top henchmen at Carderplanet.com, an online fraud forum that once facilitated credit and debit card fraud for about 7,000 scammers around the globe. So open and brazen were the curators of this fraudster bazaar that Carderplanet.com actually ran Internet ads for its service, including this Macromedia Flash-based segment that bills Carderplanet as the source of "everything you need for business" and "individual customer support." Update: Anti-virus maker F-Secure has published a blog post that links to two other Carderplanet ads.

Told through the eyes of Greg Crabb, a U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigator who tracked Golubov's activities for several years in tandem with other U.S. law enforcement agencies, this wired.com story from Jan. 2007 details how Golubov was set free following six months in prison, after a pair of influential Ukrainian politicians convinced a judge to release him on bond.

For his part, Golubov says he's segueing into politics -- not for the money or power, but to serve others.

Golubov today, campaigning as a member of the Internet Party of Ukraine"I belong to a rare category of people who go into politics is not for the profit, but for the sake of ideas," Golubov wrote in a (rough Google-translated) biographical statement accompanying a picture of himself on the party's Web site. "I am not interested in money, as the purpose of life. I get pleasure when helping other people, and I am willing to devote their lives to this."

Ironically, Golubov and the Internet Party are running on a platform of rooting out public corruption and reducing bureaucracy. Other parts of its platform include the "computerization of the entire country," "free computer courses and foreign languages at the expense of the budget," "the creation of offshore zones in certain regions of Ukraine," and the organization of Ukraine as a "tax free paradise with the aim to attract money from all over the world."

Golubov's case highlights the serious challenges facing U.S. law enforcement agencies as they continue efforts to gain the cooperation of foreign governments in bringing cyber criminals to justice. While USPIS Inspector Crabb and others have expressed frustration that this guy escaped justice, holding him accountable for any future crimes if he indeed hasn't turned over a new leaf may well be impossible: Gaining a seat in the Ukrainian government would grant Golubov automatic immunity from prosecution for criminal activities under Ukrainian law.

Neither Golubov nor his political party returned messages seeking comment for this piece.

Update,

Posted by: hank allison hralaw@aol.com | March 19, 2008 11:09 PM

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