The Daily Pulse, 10.08.04

In Memoriam, of course, Rodney Dangerfield: This one’s about a .85 Jones only because he’d been ill for so long and it was expected. But, still, now he gets to move on to a place where you know he’ll get respect. Yes, even from me, and I have no respect for the dead. But I did respect him while he was alive for a wealth of talent and an ability to carry across the shittiest material and make it funny. Lesson here? Never get treated by Doctor Vinny Goombah.

Okay, Rocky, watch me try to pull a column out of my ass, just like I promised. This is going to be especially difficult given Rodney’s passing and me trying to figure out who Number Three is going to be after him and Janet Leigh. Maybe my godlike powers can assist me on this one. However, “godlike” is no match for the real thing. Let’s face it, it’s either knock out this column or sit down and watch Aladdin, now out for the first time on DVD (yes, I actually do purchase DVDs instead of just pirating the shit; I did end up buying the Benoit DVD when our Wal-Mart here finally got it in a couple weeks ago). And I’m in no mood for an overdose of Robin Williams right now, so the column it is…

THE PIMP SECTION

Angeloni fellates Ninty again.

O’Reilly tries to narrow down the list of horrible Star Wars games to ten. Good luck, son.

Fernandez presents the September Rocktable. I was going to contribute but that old bugbear exhaustion just hit me.

Goforth can’t be summed up. He just has to be read.

Stevens, as usual, has the DC news all summed up, while Erhardt answers your questions about said. And this week, Cooling handles the Marvel end of things.

Laflin is absolutely right about Coastal Bias in the Sports Media.

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.

Now that it’s moved to a release candidate status, I feel good in recommending Firefox as an alternative to IE. Go grab a copy and see what you’re missing.

ATTACK OF THE ASSAULT POODLES

I blew off the veep debate yesterday. It was a choice between that and sleep, and you know that sleep always wins. However, I’ve read a good portion of the transcripts. The first thing you have to realize is that they’re acting as proxies for the prexies (present and future). They were allowed to say the stuff and do the poses that the main candidates weren’t allowed to due to the debate format. So, in a sense, the hostility was a work, playing to the press’ need for some kind of titanic confrontation that will conclude next month at the polls. However, it was a shoot in one sense: these two just don’t like each other. Fortunately, as wrestling fans, we know what’s next, and it involves a steel cage.

The second thing you have to remember when reading the transcripts or watching the debate is that both men are liars at heart. Mad Dog is a long-noted bullshit artist, and Edwards is a trial lawyer. So you have to figure out exactly who the bigger liar of the two is and who to believe less. Fortunately, you have me here to guide you. Obviously, Mad Dog is the bigger liar of the two. Why is this the case? Because he actually believes what he says. He believes it when he says that Saddam was connected to al-Qaeda (a statement that he contradicted during the debate, BTW) or that WMDs were present in Iraq. Of course, let’s now go to the AP Wire for the latest…

Contradicting the main argument for a war that has cost more than 1,000 American lives, the top U.S. arms inspector reported Wednesday that he found no evidence that Iraq produced any weapons of mass destruction after 1991. He also concluded that Saddam Hussein’s weapons capability weakened during a dozen years of U.N. sanctions before the U.S. invasion last year.

Contrary to prewar statements by President Bush and top administration officials, Saddam did not have chemical and biological stockpiles when the war began and his nuclear capabilities were deteriorating, not advancing, according to the report by Charles Duelfer, head of the Iraq Survey Group.

And as for Saddam being a threat?

Interviews with Saddam left Duelfer’s team with the impression that Saddam was more concerned about Iran and Israel as enemies than he was about the United States. Saddam appeared to hold out hope that U.S. leaders would ultimately recognize that it was in the country’s interest to deal with Iraq as an important, secular, oil-rich Middle Eastern nation, the report found.

Mad Dog, though, believes otherwise, and will believe it to his deathbed or until a publisher pays him beaucoup to put the truth into print just like MacNamara. He’s a sick piece of shit, and the fact that he’s the proverbial one heartbeat away scares the living f*ck out of me. Remember, I was in the Army when Mad Dog was SecDef, so I’ve been dealing with this particular human nightmare longer than most of you have.

A lot of people picked up on this fact. A CBS poll of undecided voters showed Edwards as the winner by a comfortable margin (other polls have been shown to have a bias toward registered Republicans, Fox’s poll for example; I prefer the CBS poll because they made sure that the voters were undecided coming into the viewing). They know that Mad Dog’s a bullshitter and he’s trying to bullshit the public yet again. Edwards kept plugging on this fact in a rather subtle way without flat out calling him a liar. Good work, John. Now keep doing on the stump.

Polls are now showing that this race is knotted up tight. It’s gonna be one rollicking month, folks, so stay strapped in.

THE END OF RADIO

He was threatening to do it, now he’s done it. Howard Stern will be leaving his wet tit, Infinity Broadcasting, when his contract expires at the end of next year and moving to satellite radio.

To anyone watching this story, it was completely ex
pected. Stern was pissed off that his sugar daddy, Mel Karmazin, lost out on his power play at Viacom. He was pissed off about the FCC cracking down on “obscene” media (and paranoid because until Janet Jackson came along, Stern was Public Enemy #1 over at the FCC). Sirius offered him a way out and a way around standards and practices. Now he can be as raunchy as he wishes.

But this is big for a lot of other reasons. First of all, he gave instant credibility to Sirius, who was losing the satellite radio battle to XM. Sirius’ stock jumped seventeen percent after the announcement was made, and gives them a lifeline to survive until Stern arrives. They’re going to have to add one million new subscribers in order to pay for Stern and his show, but no one’s saying that they won’t be able to do that. In fact, analysts are considering that fact to be a given. Stern will attract new listeners to the format and to Sirius in particular, and he’ll be able to do so in numbers that will ensure that Sirius profits from that. I have my doubts, but every time they crop up, I think about why Fleabag’s wife Desi is out of work right now. She was one of the people who had to bear the brunt of Clear Channel’s decision to cancel Stern’s show on the six stations they own that broadcast it. She had to explain to the advertisers why a generic morning zoo was now being run when they had paid for Howard. She just threw up her hands and walked away. He has that kind of popularity and that kind of power. And he’ll be selling Sirius for the next year by mentioning it on his show. They’ll get that million and more.

He also provided instant legitimacy to satellite radio. Okay, so Opie and Anthony are on satellite now. Big f*cking deal. They’re nonentities compared to Stern. Besides, they’re going to provide something that Stern needs, competition (they’re on XM). Except that this time, they’re not going to be fighting for some numbers in a ratings book. They’re going to be fighting for people’s dollars in subscription fees and equipment. That’s a whole new battleground for Stern, and anyone who’s ever listened to him knows that he gets off on entering new battlegrounds. It’ll reenergize his show. An energized, uncensored Howard Stern is must-listen. Sirius bought themselves the only possible attraction out there in radio. They paid dearly, but the risk is calculated.

I’ve been thinking about getting satellite radio for the Damn Vaninator, mostly because I’m currently caught in a barely-receiving area of oldies stations. I’ve been putting it off because I’m not in the Damn Vaninator long enough to enjoy it most days. However, with Stern making the move, I’m reconsidering. Not for him, but for the fact that with him making the move, satellite radio now seems real enough and secure enough that it wouldn’t be a risk. It’s here to stay, and it’s the future.

I could go on about Rush Limbaugh finally feeling what invasion of privacy is like (see if he supports the Patriot Act now), but I think I’ll end this off here. Until the Short Form this weekend, enjoy yourselves.