Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
Biosphere II
dead malls
Irving housing

got that wrong

appropriate tech
Arduino μcontrollers
Backwoods Home
Fractal antenna

fun social media stuff

(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
   pain and adware
Wednesday, March 24 2004

Gretchen had some dental work yesterday and something about holding her mouth open wide for the time necessary to install two fillings in her rear molars left her with a sore neck. This morning she was in such pain that she could could barely get out of bed. She called her dentist and tried to get him to prescribe her some muscle relaxants, but he refused, saying that her problem was unrelated to the dental work and that she should see her physician. Well, Gretchen doesn't have a physician, so she called one of the several doctors in her family instead and got him to telephone in a prescription for her. She specifically asked for an older muscle relaxant, since she had no desire to pay extra for a patented medication whose main selling point is that it doesn't cause an overwhelming sense of well being.
All of this telephone activity had to be done with cell phones, since our phone line (and internet) had been dead since yesterday afternoon (when an idiotic lineman left us disconnected). It was during the course of intense use that we decided my cell phone, despite its full color screen and Get It Now capabilities, sucks. Its reception is weak and it's not especially responsive. You dial a number and it sits there for awhile before the ringing begins. If someone calls you, it sits there silently for several rings before its ringer begins to sound.
At some point I took the dogs for a walk in the woods. Sally treed some beast and started barking, so I went to look and saw that it was one of neighborhood cats, a striped tabby. As I went to get a better look, I lowered myself off a ledge, holding onto a tree for support. Somehow my feet slipped out from under me and my grip was broken and I bounced down the steep slope, banging my right mid-thigh on a rock. The resulting pain was so intense that I broke out in a sweat and nearly threw up. Interestingly, though, there was virtually no sign of injury on my leg. The damage had occurred deep in the muscle near the femur. I hobbled home and kept hobbling throughout the rest of the day.

Late this morning, after picking up Gretchen's prescription, I drove out to Sharon, Connecticut to once more deal with the computers at WKZE. Today's most critical patient was a 166 MHz computer in the broadcast studio, the computer that DJs use to do quick research about the music they play. I'd cleaned out an adware infection on it once before, but it was all messed up again, this time with the now-familiar Golden Palace Casino infection. One of the additional infections claimed to be a virus blocker and proclaimed that it had found an unspecified but extremely serious infection. Meanwhile, of course, Norton Antivirus was asleep at the wheel.
Speaking of wheel, this computer was almost impossible to drive. The keyboard seemed incapable of executing a control-alt-delete, essential for killing processes so that the .DLLs and .EXEs of infectious programs could be erased. At first I thought the keyboard interface had been hacked by adware itself, but after I removed the keyboard a brown fluid issued from between the keys. Some idiot had spilled coffee on it!
This particular machine serves as a communal computer for a wide range of DJs, some of whom are much less computer savvy than others. Its problems provide a classic demonstration of the tragedy of the commons. I decided that the solution to its ills was radical de-Microsoftification. I would have installed QNX on it had it been able to boot a CD, but since it couldn't, I deleted all the icons capable of launching Internet Explorer and Outlook Express and installed Mozilla Firefox and Thunderbird in their places. To trick people into using them, I pasted Microsoft icons over the less-familiar Mozilla icons, and then I relabeled them as "internet explorer" and "outlook express" respectively. Anyone looking at the desktop would think it was a typical Windows 98 installation, but behind the familiar façade it was all adware-resistant open source software. Interestingly, though, both Mozilla applications are enough like their Microsoft analogues that most users will probably know how to operate them, even if there is a little grumbling at first. Such grumbling is a small price to pay for a computing experience devoid of Golden Casino popups.
Later I was installing a special radio-station-specific music application on a computer, but kept experiencing difficulties because the computer was running an older operating system. I needed to install a recent version of the MDAC drivers, but in order to do that, for some reason I had to first install a more recent version of Internet Explorer. The problem with that was that this computer isn't supposed to be attached to the Internet - doing so constitutes an unacceptable security hole for a mission-critical machine. But Microsoft doesn't allow you to download Internet Explorer on one computer and then install it on another. It forces you to download and install IE on every computer individually. This is a ridiculous restriction, made all the more so by the puzzling need an MDAC driver would have for a specific version of Internet Explorer. (MDAC drivers are used in the low-level accessing of databases, a rather different task from web surfing.) So I was forced to temporarily attached a wireless device to a USB port, do the installation, then uninstall all the wireless software and remove the device.

For linking purposes this article's URL is:

previous | next