Monday, October 22, 2007

Monday Miscellany - Wherein we learn that personal computers are not productivity tools.

I returned from my fishing holiday a week ago, but events have conspired to keep me from returning to a regular blogging schedule. This is not to say that I ever was on a regular blogging schedule. I am just less now than I was before.

There is a lot to catch up on - so we'll use this post to clear the decks of a variety of items - some on-topic - some not.

ITEM - If there is political debate during the seventh game of the ALCS Championship, did it actually happen?
Apparently so. Apparently it was a good one. Apparently some bloggers watched it. Apparently some just read the transcript. Apparently the top tier candidates took the gloves off. Apparently Ron Paul is not considered a top tier candidate by the Fox debate moderators or ABC News. I wouldn't know, as I did not watch it. I can report that the Boston Red Sox won the ALCS.
ITEM - Bad Tech 1 - Hacked blogs
I guest blog and cross-post at Justin Gardner's centrist blog Donklephant. The site was hacked and blown away last week, but Justin is working his way back. The blog is back up now with some missing recent content, and some very hard lessons learned. Joe Gandelman noted the attack as well as a much less serious (ok it was actually funny) non-destructive attack on Ann Coulter's site.
ITEM - Bad Tech 2 - ATT "malware" attack
While I was on my fishing holiday, my wife called to report that her laptop would not boot. None of the usual first level fixes worked (restore last good boot, "safe" boot, etc.) and since I couldn't fix it from afar, she used our desktop computer until I got back. I just spent the better part of last week recovering data, reinstalling Windows, finding and restoring backups, reinstalling programs, and reimplementing security on her laptop. I assumed the problem was caused by a virus or other malware slipping through our security software. Bad assumption.

Since we use ATT ( SBC) DSL, and I implement the full suite of security products provided by the service, I was surprised we had a problem. I am quite paranoid and obsessive about computer security, specifically to avoid this kind of a mess. Everything on her computer was set up for automatic updates and I told her to always accept security updates. Bad advice.

I won't go through the whole sordid tale of woe figuring out what happened, but will try to net this out. The ATT security suite crashed her computer. Let me repeat that. The very software that is intended to prevent computer failure and loss from malware, created a problem that had an identical impact on her computer and my life as if we were the victims of a successful catastrophic malware attack. There was no difference in time and data lost. I was effectively attacked by my internet service and security software provider.

This is what happened. While I was away ATT updated their security suite and replaced CA anti-virus with Norton anti-virus. Norton security software is well known as a resource pig. Mrs. DWSUWF's laptop is a older HP model, with 256K of memory running Windows XP (224K of usable memory). Not really enough memory for XP, but it was adequate for her usage, which is limited to browsing and e-mail. After reinstalling Windows and restoring backup data, I tried to reinstall the ATT Security suite that used to run just fine on her laptop. That is when I learned about the "upgrade." The software would no longer install on her machine as the new version required 256K of usable memory. The older version was no longer available. While I was gone Mrs. DWSUWF accepted the upgrade as instructed by me without noticing the small-print warning that it would not run on a 256k machine. Result - catastrophic failure exactly as if we had been attacked. Thanks ATT. After spending a week of my life and $70 for additional memory, things are now back to normal. Well, except for my blood pressure, these veins throbbing out of side of my head, and the lingering traces of smoke emanating from my ears. I'd like to figure out a way to cost ATT as much productivity as they cost me, but a letter to the CEO will probably have to suffice.
ITEM - Divided government is still delivering as advertised.
President Bush found his veto pen, applied it to the SCHIP bill, and among much partisan wrangling his veto was upheld. As a consequence some semblance of fiscal spending restraint continues to be seen under our divided government. This restraint (and the President's veto pen) could not be found not under the last six years of single party Republican control, and likely will be lost again if we get single party Democratic control in 2009.

Congress also is about to trim some of the more egregious Executive power expansion and civil rights violations in the FISA surveillance bill, with the promise of further refinements in the future. Chris Dodd is once again taking a strong leadership role on issues of constitutional rights, reinforcing the DWSUWF selection of Dodd as the preferred Democratic candidate for president.

Pete Abel
at Central Sanity had some thoughtful comments on our Voting by Objective post, which he also cross posted under the title Situational vs. Ideological Voting at the Moderate Voice. I have been remiss in adding my comments to his post, as well as following some other favorite blogs while I have been "distracted." I'll be getting back into the blogging swing of things over the next couple of days.
ITEM - Carnival of Divided Government - Special Halloween Edition
A reminder, that we are less than a week from the next Carnival of Divided Government. Blog articles may be submitted for the next edition of the carnival of divided government (to be posted on or about Halloween) using the carnival submission form. Submitted posts must use include the words and/or concept of "divided government" to be considered. Past posts can be found on the blog carnival index page.

Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.

Carnival of Divided Government

2 comments:

qofd said...

Perhaps the veto pen needs to be held in place. You know, by one of those chain-things they use in banks? Maybe that will help keep spending under control.

mw said...

An excellent idea. Although I think it needs to be more like one of those uncutable bike chain/locks. Maybe titanium 1/2" links.