Sunday, August 31, 2003

Hot corner: Nipping at the heels of the newsmakers


Billy gates why do you make this possible? Stop making money and fix your software!

Inelegant, but it made the point. This hacker's taunt of Microsoft founder Bill Gates was hidden in the code for the Blaster "worm." Many experts agree Microsoft's Windows, on 95 percent of all personal computers, is full of flaws, making it easy for any pimply-faced kid with too many gigabytes on his hands to crash networks. Techies have complained about Windows' security flaws for years, but now the general public is on to the problem.

Which is: The software-writing culture has put a premium on coding it fast instead of designing it well. Make it, sell it, let users find the flaws, then issue patches, bulletins and "Service Packs" to fix it.

Also, the Internet itself has grown so fast, unregulated and with few safeguards, that security's a joke. But Gates is off the hook on the 'Net. For that, blame Al Gore. He invented it.

Double, double toil and vaettir

OK, you did all the patches and antiviral injections, but it's still crashed. The fault, dear Brutus, is not on the Net, but in your hard drive. That technical note was brewed up by an unexpected source: newWitch magazine (www.newwitch.com) . "Because the physical hard drive is a conduit for a unique type of energy, it is possible for nature spirits (called vaettir) to take up residence within it," it says. Oh. That explains it. Pentium. Pentagram. They're heeeeee-re.

The hag mag also says there are Republican witches, but we'll let that pass. And it spells out some advice. Don't yell or hit the computer, warns newWitch, because the vaettir is "extremely sensitive to emotions." So talk to your computer. Name it. Encourage it. And decorate its habitat. "Pretty stones, crystals, feathers, intriguing pictures help create a positive environment."

Playing Yanni CDs is still a no-no, however.

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