The Daily Pulse, 8/25/2004

In Memoriam: Al Dvorin has left the building.

Dammit, I’m stuck for a lead. I know I’ll keep it short, since I had to cover some more overtime on Tuesday and could do zero prep work. Oh, well…

THE PIMP SECTION

BAXLEY!

Misha discusses the possibility of topless video game damsels. Cool by me.

See, Scotsman didn’t write about wrestling either in his Daily Pulse.

Laflin does sports too. Who knew?

Stevens is, as usual, on the DC beat, while Burnside is on the Mavel side of the aisle.

It’s Grutman versus Gloomchen in a epic battle that’ll destroy your senses. Or just bore you.

BFM has a great interview with Jay Mohr over at Reality News Online. A definite must-read.

THE ANTI-SPYWARE SECTION

Remember, this all started because the slugs at Enigma Software dared to advertise their piece of shit SpyHunter at 411 (one of the reasons why I decided to leave, honestly). 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 few months now.

(And as I understand it, there are some unscrupulous browser toolbar people trying to advertise here at the Pulse. Well, don’t click on that ad, whatever you do. We’ll still get the money from the impressions, and your system will stay safe.)

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.

(On a side note, those SpyHunter ads started over at Reality News Online, and BFM, a contributor there, spotted them. He told the webmaster, gave him those links that I cited above, the webmaster read them, the blood drained out of his face, and he contacted his ad provider. No more ads for Enigma products on RNO, thank you. So guess what? If you provide the info, there are sites who will listen.)

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 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. And only download those programs; don’t fall for the ads that are shown at various websites.

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.

The Ravin’ Cajun asks me to recommend a good client-side spam filter for MS mail programs running under Windows. Now, this is something I don’t have experience with because my ISPs have always had good spam filtering, plus, I use Thunderbird, which handles the remainder quite nicely, thank you. Some readers wrote in and recommended SpamBayes, which is totally free and supposedly works very well, so I’ll add it on to the anti-annoyance list that we’re building up here.

I LOVE MY UNMARRIED GAY DAUGHTER

Well, congrats to Mad Dog. He just put a major torpedo in USS Social Agenda by saying he doesn’t want a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, one of the key non-issues that the Junta is using to distract voters from the dead boys coming back from Iraq every day. He not only said to let the states decide, but he finally acknolwedged in public for the first time that his daughter’s lez.

Unfortunately for the Junta, he went farther than this. What do you say to this quote from Mad Dog, courtesy of the Washington Post:

“With respect to the question of relationships, my general view is that freedom means freedom for everyone. People ought to be able to free — ought to be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to.”

Does this include matrimony, Mad Dog? Oh, please say that it does.

And the fundies are pissed off at this differentiation from their agenda, exemplified by Dubbaya. Here’s another quote from the Post:

The Family Research Council, a conservative group with close White House ties, called Cheney’s remarks disappointing. “Unfortunately, protection of our values is made more difficult when mixed messages emanate from the White House,” said Tony Perkins, the group’s president. “We support President Bush’s commitment to a constitutional amendment on marriage, but we are left to wonder why the vice president is allowed to depart from this position when the top of the ticket is unified on all other issues.”

Who’s this “our”, kemosabe? Your values aren’t mine. In actuality, the safeguarding of the values of a majority of Americans, namely those who are not members of the Religious Reich, is made less difficult when mixed messages emanate from the White House. The fundies haven’t realized after all this time that they don’t represent a majority viewpoint and never will. But never mind that. Mad Dog put them into a tizzy, and that’s a good thing. The more they get pissed, the more likely they are to sit this one out, and the more likely the Good Guys will be of winning.

Of course, something else could piss them off and make them go to the polls…

HOW ABOUT THIS?

From the AP Wire:

A school district may not offer prayers at mandatory staff meetings, regardless of whether the teacher who complained about them is present, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the U.S. District Court in Little Rock was right to issue an injunction against prayers during staff meetings at the DeValls Bluff School District, but did so for the wrong reasons.

The St. Louis-based appeals court said an injunction benefiting Steve Warnock, an art teacher and school bus driver, should have been granted because the DeValls Bluff School District endorsed a religion — not just because Warnock was offended.

“We believe that prayers at mandatory teacher meetings and in-service training conveys … a decisive endorsement,” the appeals court wrote.

“It is the government’s endorsement of a particular religious message that constitutes the constitutional violation here, not the effects of official prayers on Mr. Warnock’s psyche,” the court wrote.

Uh oh, he says knowingly. Whenever a high-profile case comes up about prayers in schools, the Religious Reich gets all up in arms. Now you’ve got a Court Of Appeals saying that a form of teacher-sponsored prayer is verboten. That does tend to piss them off, especially in a state like Arkansas. Well, shit, here’s hoping they don’t pay attention to this. Of course, there are spies for the Religious Reich who read me…uh, religiously and report back to their Secret Masters about what I include in this column, just so that when they take over the country, they’ll have enough on me to put me up against the wall for heresy/disloyalty. Well, f*ck ’em. If I’m dead anyway, that means I’m free to write whatever I want about them. Fascist pigs.

COLLATERAL DAMAGE

From CNN:

A legal adviser to the Bush-Cheney campaign resigned Wednesday after revealing that he had also advised the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, the 527 group that has launched a campaign to discredit Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry’s military record.

A campaign official told CNN that Benjamin Ginsberg advised the group a few months ago at the same time he was working with the Bush-Cheney campaign.

Campaign adviser Terry Holt told CNN that the Bush-Cheney campaign learned Tuesday of Ginsberg’s double duty.

Oh, yeah, there are no dirty tricks going on there. Karl Rove must be smiling right now. This is exactly what his crew did to John McCain in South Carolina in 2000 that destroyed McCain’s momentum and handed the nomination to Dubbaya.

I’m going to repeat what I told people in mail last week: I believe that Swift B
oat believes that what they’re saying is true. I don’t agree with them, but I’ll huckleberry them on a Voltaire basis.

And more on this from CNN:

Vietnam veteran and former Sen. Max Cleland Wednesday plans to deliver a letter to President Bush for the Kerry-Edwards campaign, asking Bush to publicly condemn attack ads that dispute Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry’s combat record in Vietnam, according to a Kerry campaign adviser.

Cleland, who lost both legs and an arm in the war, will be joined at the Bush ranch in Crawford, Texas, by Lt. Jim Rassmann, a former Green Beret who recommended Kerry for the Bronze Star for risking his life to save Rassmann.

Kerry’s campaign adviser said Cleland and Rassmann “will likely get turned away at the ranch.”

President Bush has praised Kerry’s military record, saying he “served admirably,” but has not directly condemned commercials by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth that have attacked Kerry’s war record.

He has called for such tax-exempt organizations, such as Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and the liberal group MoveOn.org and others, to stop airing political ads.

Oh, he’d love for MoveOn to stop broadcasting ads, wouldn’t he? They’ve done some root damage to his campaign. But it’s only fair. If one 527 gets banned…you know, “527” may end up entering the language courtesy of this campaign like “chad” did four years ago…okay, if one of them gets banned from broadcasting ads, all of them should. However, this is protected speech we’re talking about. I don’t approve of banning it at all. Let the candidates handle this on their own. Their records on the issues should be strong enough to provide counterfactual examples. If not, then they suffer, period.

I told you people that this one was going to get nasty before it was through. It’s the Year Of Pure Politics. Live with it.

And live with the fact that this’ll be it until the Smackdown Short Form on Friday or Saturday. Eat it, digest it, live with it, and love me like you do. Until then, ta.