Opinions, Etc: 07.08.04


Jesus…I’m going to knock out a One-Hour Special ™, folks. I have the Summer Head Cold From Hell raging inside my skull at the moment, and it’s causing me to do things like have auditory hallucinations. When I laid down a couple hours ago, I started hearing a full orchestral version of “O Canada”. I shit you not. Fucking Gagnon’s finally got to me, I guess. Either that or it’s all the bitching and moaning that I didn’t know the name of La Res’ finisher (for good reason: it was introduced three weeks ago, the week I didn’t watch Raw; it was used last week, but that was the Slaughter match, which was enough of a mindf*ck to have me evade reality for a bit; and as for this Monday, see “head cold” (why do you think I was making some soup?)). So it’ll be some quickies (and I didn’t really want to do a quickie on Edwards, but that’s life), a Pimp Section, and an anti-spyware section, and that’ll be it, especially since as I was writing this, I was called back into work for two hours due to a manpower shortage. Column by numbers, one, two, three…


Gamble speculates about my shrink bills. Not as much as you think, Ron. That’s the wonder of psychopharmacology. Pills take the place of humans.

Slayer does his East Coast Bias sports stuff.

Cooling discusses the ramifications of what happens when the irresistible force of Gay Rights meets the unmovable objects known as the Junta and the Religious Reich. Great read.

Haley is taking a bit of a break. The stress of following me every week is unimaginable.

Chick shows his love for Memphis wrestling. Those are emotions not misplaced.

David continues his analysis of tag team wrestling.

Bishop tries to anticipate what WWE will do next week. After that, he’ll postulate a working unified field theorem.

Csonka has your weekly TNA report, while Conley has your TNA B-show report (or is it C-show with Impact?).

Speaking of B shows, Campbell, David Variant is on the Experience beat, as usual.

Don’t worry, Cocozza. I know who Gary Puckett is.

Rutherford can call anyone a wanker if he wants to. He has my authority backing him up. So screw you, British, you’re wankers.

Misha having actual news to cover violates some sort of universal law. I’ll have to figure this one out.

And, what the hell, the whole Comics Zone. They’re all great guys.


Remember, this all started because the slugs at Enigma Software dared to advertise their piece of shit SpyHunter here at 411. So I’m responding every single column with proper anti-spyware information. And guess what? People are actually taking this to heart. They’re asking me for help if they’re infested, or they’re writing me telling me that their browsing experience is less annoying thanks to the stuff I’ve been putting up here three times a week for a couple months now.

Big, big Kudos to the guys at the Spyware Warrior Forum for pointing out to everyone the extent of criminal activity participated in by Enigma Software, makers of the bane of advertising on this site, SpyHunter. Slimeballs extraordinare, aren’t they? And in case you need more info about what flaming bags of shit they are, try here. Suzi’s Blog has a great list of other flaming bags of shit that promote anti-spyware programs that are spyware themselves. Consult it if you have questions.

One of the leading vectors for spyware is so-called free programs that contain this shit in order to “pay the bills”. No one deserves that kind of treatment. If you’ve got a question about whether or not a certain program contains spyware, head over here. It’s a nice alphabetized list of programs that do contain spyware and should be avoided at all costs.

Here’s a list of the programs you really need to help you get rid of menaces, and, more importantly, prevent them from occurring in the first place:

Spybot and AdAware. The ONLY two spyware removal tools to trust. Do NOT buy any spyware removal tools, because none of them work better than these two, and all of them except these two are suspect.

SpywareBlaster. Will nuke thousands of different potentially malicious ActiveX controls, and now has the ability to prevent a number of non-ActiveX methods of installing spyware for people who use Mozilla/Firefox.

SpywareGuard. From Javacool, like SpywareBlaster. It’s a real-time scanner for spyware. A decent first line of defense.

IE-SpyAd. Throws numerous ad-related URLs into IE’s Restricted Zone, where they won’t display or affect your system. Bookmark this one, since it’s the only one that doesn’t have an in-program update.

A few people have recommended also installing the Sun Java Virtual Machine, since it’s Windows’ buggy, half-assed implementation of the JVM that allows a lot of spyware to install (less so within the past month and a half than before). I’ve resisted putting it here because of a couple things: 1) The MS JVM was removed in XP SP1a due to the Sun court case and replaced with a Sun JVM, and I’m not sure how many people have actually patched. 2) The link above is an automatic download, and that does scare some people. Don’t worry, it’s perfectly safe. I wouldn’t have put it here if it wasn’t. But I STRONGLY recommend that you visit here and update your version of Java.

So many people have asked about a free anti-virus program that I’m also going to recommend AVG. Totally free, and works really, really well, as well as commercial anti-virus programs. Frequent database updates, good heuristic detection, everything you want in an anti-virus package.

Another program that I’d like to add here is a little tough to work with for noobs if it goes buggy (you need to know a little something about your Networking settings in order to debug if something should go wrong). Protowall is a supplement to your firewall or NAT system. It hooks directly into XP’s networking system to block any and all traffic that comes from URLs on a list maintained by the program (all protocols, not just TCP/UDP). It’s mainly designed for anti-P2P purposes (which will appeal to a great many of my readers), but it contains lists to block spyware and ads. Its blocklist can easily be updated using its supplementary program, Blocklist Manager. I have Protowall running and a Blocklist Manager icon on my desktop, and I use Blocklist Manager to update the blocklist every couple of days. You will have problems getting to some sites unless you shut down Protowall temporarily, like ESPN or Sports Illustrated, but it does have a tray icon you can right-click and shut down in a few seconds. It’s the third layer of anti-ad material for me, with IE-SpyAd and AdSubtract running alongside it. Warning, though: it only works with XP. I’d recommend its predecessor, Peer Guardian, for other MS OSes, but it isn’t being developed anymore, and there were still bugs in it when development stopped. You can get Protowall and the Blocklist Manager (which will also work with Peer Guardian) at Bluetack’s site.

Of course, only download them from the links provided above.

With AdAware and Spybot, check for updates using their internal update function at least once a week. Run them at least once a week or whenever you think you might have problems. Remember, the new version of Spybot has browser protection capabilities, so have that run at startup and leave it running. Check for updates to SpywareBlaster once a week. It only needs to be run once initially in order to establish protection. Then, after it downloads updates, just click on the line that says “Enable Protection For All Unprotected Items” and kill it. It doesn’t need to be active. For IE-SpyAd, bookmark the site and check for updates twice a week, since it has no kind of internal updater. Run the Blocklist Manager every couple of days to make sure that you keep up on the latest banned URLs. Since all it does is add Registry entries, it doesn’t eat up anything.

If you’re having trouble with spyware or a browser hijacker, or think that you do, head over to the SpywareInfo Forums, where the pros there can help you diagnose and get rid of stuff. I was promoted to Full Helper status there and ended up joining ASAP, the Alliance of Security Analysis Professionals. Look for their symbol, which I’m not going to try to link to anymore because someone at the other end keeps munging it.


So it’s Edwards, and this after saying time and again in this column that it wouldn’t be. What can I say? I’m an old-school politics guy who believes in things like a balanced ticket. Having two Eastern senators with the Veep candidate not even from a swing state that could use an oomph is anathema to me. Grut thinks that he deserves an apology from me, and he sorta does, but he’s not going to get one. It literally was inconceivable to me that they’d go this way, especially in the year of Old-Fashioned Politics that this is.

But it’s an obvious choice, really, after Edwards was the only other candidate to show any strength in the primaries. He’s the guy the Anyone But Kerry crowd rallied around the moment that Howard Dean showed himself to be too much of a flake for the rank and file Demo voter base. This is an attempt to get some party unity going, and they do need some right now.

It’s also very savvy from a political standpoint. Edwards is as clean as a whistle (so there’s nothing to attack him on), relatively well-known, and attractive to a certain demographic (younger swing voters who might not go to the polls without him there). This is a quasi-repeat of the 2000 Veep strategy. If you dared to attack Joe Lieberman on the same basis that the Rove team assaulted both Gore and McCain, the charge of anti-Semitism might have enough basis to stick, which would have caused problems in, oh, Florida (and in retrospect, I wish that Rove would have been Rove and done it considering everything that happened). Same with Edwards. Everyone knows he’s clean, so going after him like a pitbull on crack will be counterproductive, especially since the Demos are avoiding dirty pool this year (yes, Kerry is a poll monster, I have to admit; he didn’t go after Iraq until more than half of Americans disapproved of the war).

Most of all, they’re going for a Clinton/Gore feel. It worked last time, so why not this time? They’re attempting to cast a contrast between Edwards and Mad Dog, and even using some of the Junta’s implied rhetoric in their favor. “Given the situation these days, the President is constantly at risk. What if something happens? Who do you want in the Oval Office? The young, dynamic go-getting from Carolina or the old, decrepit monster with a heart condition who might croak at any second and who’s so senile he honestly believes there’s a connection between Iraq and al-Qaeda?”

In a sense, it’s a masterstroke. The only way Dubbaya can get the momentum back is to ditch Mad Dog, and he’s not going to do that because of who pulls the strings for the Junta. Mad Dog’s their guy in the White House, and there’s no one to replace him to make sure that the Junta follows the proper line that benefits the corporations that are the real winners in Iraq. In point of fact, the groundwork for Mad Dog’s departure has now been laid courtesy of the grand jury in Houston who’s indicting Ken Lay. We all know Mad Dog’s hip-deep in Enron, and there’s going to be some embarassing stuff that’s going to go on the public record the moment Lay goes to trial. It’s not enough to get Mad Dog Agnewed out, but it will be enough to cause voters to wonder if we want this guy one heartbeat away from being the most powerful man in the world. If the poll numbers stay the way they are after the Conventions, expect Mad Dog to retire for reasons of health.

And let’s look at that MSNBC poll that just came out on this subject. It’s 49-41-4 in a three-way with Nader, 54-43 in a menage-a-deux, Kerry/Edwards in the lead, of course. And it’s the Mad Dog issue that’s paramount. Here’s a telling quote: When asked who would do a better job of running the country, 45 percent said Edwards, while 38 percent said Cheney. That finding runs counter to Bush’s answer Wednesday to a reporter’s request for him to compare Cheney and Edwards. “Dick Cheney can be president. Next,” Bush said curtly. The only thing Mad Dog could be is Commissar for Heavy Industry. He f*cked up Gulf War I and is now known to be a sorry piece of work. Americans don’t want him near the White House, much less in it.

And Gulf War II is now definitely showing. Catch this:

Nevertheless, the poll has other less-than-stellar numbers for the White House, and especially for Cheney, who has recently battled negative press reports over cursing on the Senate floor and maintaining that there was a collaborative link between al-Qaida and Iraq.

According to the survey, 48 percent of the respondents disapprove of Bush’s job as president, compared with 45 percent who approve. And while 44 percent approve of Cheney’s performance versus 43 percent who disapprove, the poll also shows that 44 percent have an unfavorable opinion of him compared with 41 percent who have a favorable opinion.

Moreover, when asked who is more optimistic about the future of the country, 49 percent said Edwards, while just 28 percent chose Cheney.

44 percent unfavorable. That’s about the same as Michael Eisner’s poll numbers, and we can see how well the Mouse is doing.

Yeah, this pick’s a winner, despite this:

Yet the poll also finds that many voters still don’t know who Edwards is. Forty-one percent have a favorable opinion of him, compared with 24 percent who have an unfavorable opinion. Eleven percent say they have never heard of Edwards, and 24 percent say they don’t know what to think about him.

That’s the reason why he got selected. He’s a relatively unknown quantity, and those people who do know him like him. There’s nothing more you can ask in your VP candidate.


Two words from the illegally-obtained software front today…

The BSA has just announced its annual figure of how much pirated software is “costing” the industry. This year’s figure: US$29 billion. This, of course, is complete bullshit. It’s their estimate of the retail value of software that people downloaded or got from “friends” that isn’t paid for through official channels. It isn’t the value of how much the software industry would gain back if people actually decided to buy those products. The vast majority of that figure is money that wouldn’t have been spent in the first place. How much garbage, especially in the games area, have you actually bought after trying it out through the piracy method and finding out how shitty the program is? So what would I put the real loss at? I’d say no more than US$7 billion, and most of that goes over to Microsoft for pirated copies of Windows and Office. Like the ones I have.

Regular Sean Fri wants to get involved on this subject too:

The subject: software companies (through what I suppose is their trade association, Business Software Alliance) claim that 36% of all software installed on computers in 2003 was pirated, which leads them to believe that they lost US$29 billion in software sales.

Then they go on to break it down by regions of the world, noting that piracy rates in developing countries was significantly higher than in Western Europe and North America. i.e., 23% in North America, 36% in Western Europe, mid 50’s in Asia and the Middle East, 63% in Latin America, and a whopping 71% in Eastern Europe. Makes me wonder who, exactly, in Eastern Europe IS buying software. Must be the governments. Hah.

So here’s the issue. Doesn’t the BSA find it in the least bit instructive that people that don’t have money steal their shit? And that if they weren’t stealing it, they wouldn’t buy it, because they DON’T HAVE ANY FUCKING MONEY! Now, I don’t have a a degree in business, but data indicating that people with a lot of disposable income might buy, but people with less disposable income are less likely to, well – you gotta figure either them’s the breaks or maybe you should adjust your price point. They didn’t lose US$29 billion – they lost US$0.

Of course, this is the lesson that’s been staring the music industry in the face for the last however many years. Piracy doesn’t lessen sales, because pirates wouldn’t buy the shit anyway. (By and large, across a large spectrum, in a general way.) But if you break the flawed business model of selling two hits and thirteen crappy songs on a US$17 CD and just sell the hits for a buck online, you get a success story like iTunes Music Store.

Why do these idiot trade associations think that we’d buy their useless junk if we couldn’t get it any other way? Most pirated songs, software and movies wouldn’t be worth the the retail price tag, but for nothing, maybe they’re worth a shot. Data like this shouldn’t make them point fingers at piracy. Data like this should make them consider the value of their product.

Bingo. It’s something that the BSA and the **AAs will never learn: their product isn’t worth their price tag. According to the principles of the free market, if the product isn’t worth the price tag, people will not buy it. And of all companies, Microsoft doesn’t have a right to bitch. If it wasn’t for piracy, Windows wouldn’t dominate the market like it does.

And speaking of the **AAs…

As everyone knows, Jack “Boom Boom” Valenti is retiring from heading up the Motion Picture Association Of America, where he’s been the front man for the movies’ efforts to keep arresting sixteen-year-old kids who dare to bring camcorders into theaters and extending copyright to infinity and beyond. His replacement was named late last week. His name is Dan Glickman, and I loathe his guts.

No, it’s not because of the fact that he’s taking this job. I’m familiar with him from his previous existence: Secretary of Agriculture under Clinton. “What?”, you’re asking yourselves. “Eric admitting to hatred for a Democrat?” Yes, I admit to hatred for Demos if they’re proven to be corporate tools, like Fritz Hollings, Senator From Disney. Glickman is one of the biggest corporate tools of them all, and his bending down and spreading affected me personally.

While in office, he bowed to meat and poultry industry pressure and introduced the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point inspection system, HACCP for short. He sold it to the public as a “scientific” method of meat inspection for the 21st Century. In truth, it was a con job to turn meat inspectors into paperwork checkers, with most of the traditional powers of a meat inspector devolving to industry QA people. In other words, plants were, by and large, inspecting themselves instead of having the pros do it. Old-school inspectors like me still refer to HACCP as “Have A Cup of Coffee and Pray”. And Glickman just gave them that power, no questions asked. He was the one who caused me to leave inspection in the first place (and now I’ve returned, but only after the fallout has subsided and some of those traditional powers have been returned).

In other words, with Glickman in, we’re going to get more of the same from the MPAA. The only difference between him and Valenti is that Valenti was a pretty cool industry toady.

Sorry for cutting this short, but I need to get some sleep and try to get a little bit healthy. I’ll see you with the Smackdown Short Form sometime on Friday and over the weekend with our Vengeance Round Table, as soon as I’m conscious enough to contribute to it. Until then, enjoy.