TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Back to Being a Luddite (Oh Well)

Re: Back to Being a Luddite (Oh Well)
13 Jul 2006 14:05:37 -0700

Gene S. Berkowitz wrote:

> Because my systems operate the same as when I initially set them up, I
> periodically monitor my ethernet traffic for unusual activity, and I
> don't have crashes, pop-ups, or other trouble.

The problem is lay users like me do not even know what ethernet traffic
is, let alone what (indeed even where) to look for that constitutes
unusual activity.

My modem logo on the screen gives character counts. Way back that
meant something since most of the traffic was characters that went
onto the screen, there were a few bytes for formatting. But as time
went on formatting got fancier and fancier and then of course we went
away from DOS text screens altogether. Now, many thousands of bytes
are sent in both directions before I type a single key, and I have no
idea what any of them are.

> Honestly, when was the last time you ACTUALLY had a virus infect or
> try to infect your system? The virus threat is vastly over-reported,
> with the big numbers coming from single strains infecting large
> corporate networks.

I do not agree the virus/spyware/phising threat is over reported.
There's always been some brilliant but malicious technies. Today's
Internet makes it easier than ever because so much unknown happens
"under the hood".

For me, the virus alarm detected something a few weeks ago which is
why I'm nervous. In the old days of plain text I didn't have to worry
since I never executed anything from the net. Now, stuff "executes"
and I don't even know about it through java applets and the like. By
the way, early on I tried turning java off, but almost every web site
today requires it on. (There are various levels of java, but I don't
know what they are nor which ones are particularly vulnerable and
which are relatively harmless; again, the frustration of being a lay

For my employer, from time to time bad emails slip through and do
really nasty stuff by getting into the address books and propagate
like crazy. Lots of companies get nailed this way.

>> Even only visiting sites you trust isn't good enough -- there have
>> been several reputable sites responsible for spreading infections
>> because the site serving their banner ads got compromised, and they
>> were serving infected content with the ads.

> Which pales in comparison to the amount of damage done by similar
> companies who put their client's or employee's data on unsecured, easily
> stolen laptops.

The two issues are unrelated. Just because there is one bad practice
does not mean another bad practice is acceptable.

As mentioned, reputable sites can host viruses for numerous reasons.
Some sites might seem reputable but actually not at all.

As to the issue of not using common applications, for us lay people
that is difficult. Specialty programs that I've seen often aren't so
easy to use for lay people; it's like replacing your carbureator or
fuel injection with a speciality model after buying your car. You
better know what you're doing.

We lay people basically are stuck with what is delivered on our
machines; especially with today's complex layers of junk. In my old
DOS 3 days I could load something else easily. Today, with
"registries" and all sorts of DLLs floating all over the place it is
very risky for someone to do that. I learned that the hard way with
Windows 95 when my machine was new -- after tinkering several times I
had to restore the hard drive back to ground zero with the initiall
install CDROM (which killed off a lot of my work I wanted to keep).

> Excuse me, but throwing RAM at a problem caused by poorly written crap
> simply leads to more poorly written crap. In 3 years, you'd be writing
> "I wouldn't even try to run Vista 2010 Pro with less than 128GB of RAM,
> and generally prefer 1TB."

Your statement is very true and people will indeed be saying what you
wrote. But what are we consumers supposed to do about it? What can we
do about it? Not a damn thing! Heck, I come from a world where we ran
an entire hospital on a mainframe with all of 128K with a 16K operating
system. It blows my mind that 'core' memory is so cheap today we
measure it in gigabytes, but it annoys me that people bloat up
everything to milk it.

As I said, it's no different than cars of the 1950s. Every year they
added more chrome and bigger tailfins. Didn't do anything for the
car's real quality, but buyers loved it. Admit it, you know damn well
the make/model of your automobile, but do you know the brand of your
refrigerator or air conditioner? Today people want the baddest a---
SVU they can get.

There was an article just today in the New York Times about how
important fancy features are important to kids to look cool with their
cell phones.

The computer industry is milking this all the way to bank. The
manufacturers get to sell premium overloaded profitable machines. The
software developers sell premium features. The trade press writers
have their columns. Everyone has a vested interst to keep the gravy
train rolling. But heck, it's what the people want. Ralph Nader
railed against GM "Unsafe at any speed" but people kept buying and
still buy the heavy chrome. Kids put their life history up on myspace
despite all the warnings of the dangers. Recently one teen secretly
travelled all the way from Michigan to Jordon to hook up with an older
guy she met that way. wrote:

>> DSL, the transmissions contain so much more bytes. Some sites won't
>> even allow old browsers to access them; they tell you to get a new one
>> and even let you download it on the spot.

> Yes, some software/web developers are idiots. I am always amazed
> at how much bad code is written and gets sold.

"Some"? A lot more than some.

But much of the blame goes to their employers or business partners or
marketers who put on the pressure to push something out the door
quickly before it's optimized or cleaned up, or overloaded with
unnecessary bells and whistles.

>> As an example, I tried to get on to the new CW TV network website (the
>> one replacing WB and UPN). My PC didn't have the latest Flash so I
>> couldn't get on. Why was that so important to them to require that?

> This is just bad business sense. Why keep out potential customers
> with artificial barriers such as this? I guarantee the web site geek
> just got carried away with some "cool graphics" and if marketting
> understood what this meant to real people trying to surf the site it
> would not work that way.

In the specific case of CW, their target viewer market is young people
who would be a lot more likely to be up to date than an oldster like
me. Indeed, the young people would be impressed with the whiz bang
graphics. I have to admit I was that way when I was a kid, too--I
wanted to see the latest and greatest on-line real-time stuff in
computers, and could care less about batch processing that was the
true reality of the industry.

However, I don't understand the NYC Metropolitan Transportation
Authority . They require an up to date browser,
but let you download it right on the spot. I don't know why getting a
bus schedule has to be so fancy. Maybe they're youth oriented too,
figuring oldsters like me will ride the subway anyway while they have
to appeal to young yuppies and kids who may think the subway is

> Again, I think it's the technical folks who are behind much of this.
> Sure, they make sure the boss has the latest browser and it works
> great for *him*, but screw any actual customers who might not have the
> latest and greatest. If the real business people understood that I
> think things would change. And, some businesses do seem to get it,
> and their web pages work on almost any browser. Really smart ones
> have pages that work well with lynx. ;-)


> A lot of what ad-aware catches is cookies. While cookies are a
> concern for privacy reasons they are mostly innoucuous and used to
> keep state information from one visit to the next of a particular
> website. Applets are more of a concern, and good web site design will
> not require them.

The key wood is "good web site design". As you pointed out, many
developers can't or won't, and they like making things as fancy as

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