WINTER, the computer I'm using at my Parkview office on the Engineering campus, just got a copy of Symantec Norton Anti-Virus 2006 -- a new version for me. Naturally, after installing it wants to talk to the mothership and go through a LiveUpdate, which actually turned out to be not so onerous. After all, NAV 2006 is bloody brand new -- how out of date can it be? (grin)
There's a new bright yellow NORTON tab which comes popping out of the System Tray into the Start Toolbar. When I touched it, it told me that there were three grave problems. One was that I hadn't done a full system scan. Alright already, dammit, I'm not doing a full system scan until after I get LiveUpdate done -- it's coming. The second was that I had turned off Automatic LiveUpdate. Damn right I did. If you've ever tried to boot a machine without a network connection, NAV's Automatic LiveUpdate feature manages to bring your system to a grinding halt while it endlessly polls a nonexistent network connection. Idiots. I can live with
The third alert was a new one for Symantec. It informed me that I had Automatic Windows Update turned off. Now I have to hand it to Symantec, that this one is pretty clever for the average user. As long as the millions of lines of code in Windows XP Professional SP2 is still chock full of mistakes, errors and backdoors big enough for half the world's hackers to come crashing through and tromp around my computer, keeping Windows up to date is a good thing.
But for the same reason that I have NAV Automatic LiveUpdate turned off, there's no way I'm going to run with Automatic Windows Update loaded at my computer's forehead. Too many horror stories of patches rushed in which bring machines crashing down to a crawl or a halt. And if the network isn't connected, I don't have any info that Windows Update plays any nicer than any of the other assumption making update software out there. It's best that I control when updates get done.
You'd think there'd be an option for "I know what I'm doing, I have a good reason for doing it this way and I take full responsibility for my own actions, thank you very much." I guess it didn't fit on an icon button. (Symbol would be cranky mule giving a one-finger salute?)
What? Me Infected? Moi?
After searching through 200,000+ files -- Windows XP Professional I guess has a lot of things to talk about -- I glanced at the summary report to find that for once in a lifetime of installing NAV on machines, it had found something. Two instances of MyDoom32 -- slightly different versions. But it didn't bother why to say where the hell it had been found, before being removed. 200,000+ files and two of them infected? I'd really like to know where...
Eventually I found a logfile which located the virii as infecting the files vaxmail1004d.mail and vaxmail1004b.mail -- two ASCII text files inside a .ZIP file which contained e-mails downloaded from the campus VAX mainframe.
It was quite late that day, so I haven't gone to check to see what NAV 2006 meant when it said "the file was deleted." Did it mean the ASCII data within the two text files within the .ZIP file? Or the two text files within the .ZIP file? Or the whole .ZIP file?
It Only Highlights What I've Been Saying For Months
First of all, I really miss the VAX VMS-Mail. No attempts to hijack my browser. No malicious HTML. No oh so easy to click on weblinks which say they go to PayPal or eBay or seventeen banks which I don't an account with, only to have the actual link go to some all numeric IP address or long complicated addresses to questionable websites or some 2-letter foreign country domain which I can't even guess where it goes. Idiots.
Second, that a copy of a MyDoom can reside in a binary segment inside a text file, where it cannot be executed in amongst all the other old e-mail data, shows the power of plain text over fancy pants HTML crap e-mail.
The current and personally much hated campus webmail system doesn't have a plain text preview system. And since the system itself requires Java to be loaded, I'm not optimistic that a creatively written piece of infectious spammail can't make it through it's so-called protection when I read some piece of mail which doesn't really have a subject and doesn't display sender's e-mail addresses if there's a name associated with it, so sometimes student e-mails look like spam...
The whole system is nuts and is just a huge campuswide invitation with a giant Kick Me sign posted on the Internet. They Didn't Ask Me.
First Do No Harm
Computer software people keep misunderstanding the relationship between themselves, me and my computer/files. The files are mine, not yours. They have value because I've assigned a value to them. If the operating systems and the programs and the programs I install which are there just to keep the damn thing running go around and don't keep my data safe -- then "they" don't know what the hell they're doing!
Eventually this is going to be a problem. The threat to the integrity of governments and corporations from the Y2K bug was mainly answered by IT professionals -- you just didn't hear of insurance companies going under because their computers couldn't tell time correctly. Frankly I think we're facing a similar threat from all the crap out there and even the good guys not following my number one computer rule -- First Do No Harm.
Someday someone is going to lose something critical. Automatically and without a single thought by the unfeeling codes -- and no permission, or rather no valid permission, by the data owners to delete the critical information.
Of course, it helps that I keep my data safe in a number of different ways.
The first game of the 2005 World Serious is on FOX-TV right now as I type this, and they are pissing me off with their "enhanced" bottom feeding advertising mini-drama crawls. Specifically one for their show Prison Break. I heard this siren sound and turned my attention back to the game. Come on, they're in a major league baseball park -- they are always noises, sound effects and little recorded bits playing in the background. But no... this was for a damned commercial.
I am getting more and more annoyed, as I've already said on these screens, at the insidious depth and breadth of these bottom feeder ads in the middle of TV shows. FOX-TV is doing nothing to encourage me in that direction, or watch their crummy show. Pffft!
NOTE: By the time I got around to posting this, the Chicago White Sox are up 2-0 in the 2005 World Serious. Sounds like many/most of Chicago's own Cubs fans are giving their Chicago support to the South Siders -- this time anyway. Tickets to Bill Veeck Field, er New Comiskey Stadium, or some noname telecom field, have been scalped at dear prices. Those who won't shell out $3000 for an upper deck seat or $8000 for a box seat, and apparently shelling multi-thousands for giant plasma TVs -- this way they'll see the game and have a giant screen TV for the money. Interesting...