The Daily Pulse, 10.27.04

In Memoriam: John Peel, without whom musicians and music on the “margins” would have stayed there.

Well, it’s now less than a week away from the most pivotal event of the year. Of course, I’m talking about an election. However, I’m talking about the one in Ukraine this weekend. If you’re a Ukranian, get out and vote for the candidate of your choice. Just remember that one’s supported by Putin (even though he didn’t say so on Ukrainian TV last weekend) and the other wants to pull the country closer to the West. Yes, it might be a little scary to have a poor country with nukes going through chaos on your doorstep, and it might be a nice idea to cozy up to them a bit, but, honestly, throw your lot in with us. We, at least, don’t require massive quantities of vodka to have fun.

Now, on to the shit…

THE PIMP SECTION

Widro makes excuses for us being late or blowing stuff off. No excuses necessary, really. The Wednesday column is always a bitch because I need news that interests me, and when none is forthcoming, I blow off the column. But, still, they do eventually get done and eventually go up. So just be patient. Real life, as Widro said, takes priority.

Liquidcross dissects the history of a pink Tribble with horrible eating habits.

Memo to Goforth: I believe it was Keller who came up with the term “tweener” to describe Kevin Nash circa 1995. “Anti-hero” was too intellectual for the Torch audience, I guess.

Toner dismantles the myth of the Patriots being great.

Gloomchen remembers New Kids On The Block. Hell, Gloomie, I can remember the Bay City Fucking Rollers. So it’s nothing new to me.

Maillaro has your Marvel news, and Stevens, as usual, has the DC lineup.

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 that 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. Since all it does is add Registry entries, it doesn’t eat up anything. Run the Blocklist Manager every couple of days to make sure that you keep up on the latest banned URLs.

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.

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.

…AND OTHER ZEP TRACKS (MISTY MOUNTAIN HOP, PERHAPS?)

From the AP Wire:

Pakistan’s opposition rejected a formula proposed by the country’s president for solving the lingering issue of Kashmir, saying on Tuesday they will never allow him to change the status of Kashmir against the wishes of its people.

However, a prominent separatist leader in India’s portion of the Himalayan region said he welcomed the development.

The Pakistani opposition’s reaction came a day after President Gen. Pervez Musharraf told journalists in Islamabad that Pakistan and India must consider changing their positions on Kashmir to settle a decades-old dispute over the Himalayan region. Both nations claim the Himalayan region in its entirety.

“We have arrived at a stage where … we have to consider options in a purposeful manner going toward a solution” over Kashmir, Musharraf said Monday.

He said New Delhi and Islamabad should consider making some areas of Kashmir independent, placing them under joint Indian-Pakistani control, or putting them under the administration of the United Nations.

Musharraf conditioned his comments on a demilitarization of the region, where both countries have hundreds of thousands of troops. Such a standdown before a final solution is considered unlikely.

Musharraf’s remarks drew criticism in Pakistan from opposition groups, who accused him of offering too much.

Now this demonstrates the advantage of having a hard-ass yet pragmatic dictator in power in a country, especially one that has nukes. He says we want to cut a deal, the deal gets cut, no ifs, ands, or buts. The opposition can go pound salt if they want.

I’m not just saying this because Musharraf is our hard-ass dictator. Well, usually he is, but that still doesn’t change the fact. The truth is that what Fleabag said in his column over the weekend viz. our conversation last week is true: I’ve become so burnt out on politics that the election can’t come fast enough for me (and it’s only six days away). I’m sick of the process. I think we’d be better off under someone like Musharraf or a Lee Kwan Yew type than go through this nightmare every four years. It works for Egypt pretty well. In the meantime, Israel is about to see another government go by the wayside because Sharon actually got a bit of sanity and wants to pull the settlements out of Gaza in order to remove a flashpoint for the perpetual troubles there. What’s a better beacon for the stability the world needs right now?

THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE TRULY UGLY

It was bad enough that Arsenal’s unbeaten streak came to an end on the road on Sunday. It was worse that it came at the scumpit of the football universe, Old Trafford. But it was doubly worse for us Gunner supporters that some imbecile decided to take it out on Sir Alex Ferguson, ManU’s estimable skipper, showing his dissatisfaction with the 2-0 final by throwing pizza and soup on Fergie. Until that happened, Arsenal were the good guys, thanks to the unsportsmanlike play of Ruud van Nistelrooy of ManU (he’s serving a three-game suspension right now for what he did to poor Ashley Cole). But after that? Shit, it’s hard enough trying to support a team in the PL to begin with here in the States thanks to English hooliganism still possessing a dominant hold on the American imagination. But incidents like these make it difficult to contrast the reasonably good behavior of fans there as opposed to, oh, Philadelphia. Thanks to the moron who did that. You really made us look great, asshole.

But there’s really more to it than that. Let me quote Oliver Kay of the Times, shall I?

Rather than condemn the post-match rumpus in which Sir Alex Ferguson was pelted with soup and pizza, Wenger blamed Van Nistelrooy and his Manchester United team-mates for the way that they approached the game.

Doing little to diminish his reputation for selective myopia, Wenger claimed not to have witnessed what happened in the dressing-room area
and said that it was Ferguson’s responsibility to explain what, if anything, had gone on. Predictably, given that the United manager had done Arsenal a considerable favour by attempting to keep the incident under wraps and declining invitations to report the culprit to the Football Association and the police, Wenger ‘s comments were greeted with quiet derision at Old Trafford.

Sir Alex is a dumbass. If some guy in Philly did this, he’d be hauled to the in-game courtroom that was kept when the new stadium opened and be given a night or more in pound-me-in-the-ass detention, and people would be lining up to point the finger. Jesus f*cking Christ, this took place in Manchester, and Fergie’s not willing to grass? Schmuck.

The facts are, though, that United committed fewer fouls than Arsenal (20 to 24) on Sunday and picked up fewer yellow cards (two to three). While Wenger is entitled to question some of the challenges on José Antonio Reyes, who said that “in all my sporting life I have never received so many kicks”, Ferguson takes pride in United’s disciplinary record and, as he stood with his suit splattered with soup, told his team that they have “more class than they (Arsenal) will ever have”.

Wait a second, Sir Alex. ManU has always prided itself on maintaining an ivory tower position in the FA, never, ever deigning itself to have a rival, not even Man City. Now you’re saying that Arsenal is a rival by giving them blackboard material to work with for the rematch? That’s a change. That’s almost like Steinbrenner actually using the word “Boston” in a coherent sentence that doesn’t involve Brad Delp. Yes, between the supporters, there is a rivalry. However, the teams themselves? This could change the dynamic of the PL drastically. Especially since it goes both ways:

Wenger, taking advantage of Ferguson’s policy of omertà, took the opportunity to lay the responsibility at United’s door. “I love football, I respect Manchester United and I respect the referees, but I just feel that, on the day, United did not play with the spirit I like football to be played,” he said. “I cannot agree, despite the result, with the way they approached the game. We therefore lost a good opportunity for a game being watched in 75 countries to promote the English football we love. These people cannot be happy with what they have seen. It certainly did not promote the image of the game.”

Sounds like Arsene is providing some blackboard material for the Old Traffordites in return. The teams hate each other. The fans hate each other. One Arsenal fan apparently hated the pizza and soup served at Old Trafford enough so that he expressed his dislike to Sir Alex personally. Ladies and gentleman, this is how the concept of “worst enemies” is born. And let’s hope it stays that way.

And speaking of rivalries, there are some events that cross the greatest of sports rivalries and obliterate them…

PAYING ATTENTION?

From ESPN:

The wife of Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre was diagnosed with breast cancer, yet more bad news in a year full of heartache for the family.

Deanna Favre was recently released from Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York after undergoing a lumpectomy, Bonita Favre, the quarterback’s mother, told media outlets on Monday. Deanna Farve will undergo chemotherapy treatments that could last up to five months and is expected to make a full recovery, Bonita Favre said.

Yes, guys, breasts are something more than something to grab onto, lick, and suck. You do know that babies feed from them, don’t you? And sometimes things go wrong with them. I have a friend who’s fighting this particular battle right now, and I think of her every day, hoping that the tamoxifen does the trick and the wigs don’t look too outrageous. Our prayers and thoughts go out to the Favre family right now. Even though the FudgePackers still suck.

AND SOME FINAL MEMORANDA

Memo to a certain IP staffer: if you’re experiencing what you’re experiencing, the shit ain’t working. That particular medication has a nasty habit of backfiring and producing those particular symptoms. However, keep taking it until your next doctor’s appointment. If those symptoms don’t subside, tell him or her about it first thing off, and maybe they can get you on something else. Besides, Zoloft blows. There’s better stuff out there.

And in a related memo, Memo to BFM: Yes. Bipolar disorder can trigger that effect. I myself suffer from the same thing. I’d say that your friend should talk to a mental health professional.

Memo to PK and The Joe In Me: I don’t endorse anything in the Anti-Spyware Section that has a price tag. Pest Patrol is a decent program, but it’s not worth it. And I have to wonder exactly what’s going on when the two of you write me within two minutes of each other asking about Pest Patrol.

Memo to Matt Sforcina: Have you tried saving those MP3s from QuickTime? Just click on File -> Save As. That should work.

Memo to Big Daddy: I prefer having a good set of Forschners or Chicago Cutlery, but I can’t swing either of those right now. I’m using some cheap Swedish high-carbon knives that rust if you breathe on them, but they stay sharp. I’m also partial to Dexter-Russels when it comes to stainless steel knives. They’re a bitch to get an edge on, but when you do, it stays there.

Memo to Gamble: Don’t scare the shit out of me like that ever again. I’d prefer to think that the person in question just crawled back under his rock.

You may have noticed that I didn’t talk about the election. I think that I’ve said everything that I possibly can about it. If you haven’t been convinced that Kerry is the only choice, I’m sorry, you’re simply pathetic (Fleabag excepted; he’s provided me with his reasons, and I find them logical). Go ahead and vote for the cocksucker. That way you can bitch and moan about the next four years and how you made a mistake on Tuesday.

And that’ll be it for this column. Stay tuned later this week for the Short Forms, whatever they may be (I still haven’t seen Impact from last week and don’t plan to).