Well, this blows…I had to switch back to day shift for this week and next, which really made it fun considering I had to work night shift on Saturday (hence the excuse for no Short Form this weekend). Then I had to come back on Monday to work to put in a couple hours overtime because half the night shift decided to call in sick. I got home on Monday an hour and a half before Raw, so you longtime readers know what this means: One-Hour Special! First the world inflicts you with something called Hilary Swank having as many Academy Awards as Bette Davis, then a One-Hour Special. I feel your pain.
So let’s get rolling…
THE PIMP SECTION
Lucard concentrates on ocean voyages and the Loch Ness Monster, but that remark about HST was really uncalled for.
Price concentrates on left turns.
Porter is still concentrating on cricket.
Gauss concentrates on baseball and pimps.
Stein concentrates on the indy scene.
Paul concentrates on Heat.
Hollyric concentrates on Afterburn and Impact.
Look, it’s a One-Hour Special. You can’t expect large amounts of wit.
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.)
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.
Surprisingly, many people have asked me about the Microsoft Anti-Spyware Beta. I downloaded it and tried it, and it shockingly did a great job. Since it’s free, I’ll recommend it here.
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.
Get Firefox as an alternative to IE. Even if you already have it, get it again, because they just released 1.01 with some big bugfixes.
HOW TO HELP A ONE-HOUR SPECIAL
There ain’t jack shit for news. Well, unless you count My Beautiful and Beloved finessing around the whole Amy Weber situation, saying that she doesn’t watch too much Smackdown (oh, my darling, I wish I could join you in that, but there’s this damn column I do…). I mean it, there’s nothing. Milord has nothing, Meltz has nothing, Keller has nothing (yes, I know what you’re saying: “How is this any different than usual?”). Usually, there’s at least one little juicy tidbit that I can sink my teeth into, but this week, nada. Hell, there’s more about the BTK Killer being caught than about wrestling news (well, in this part of the country there is). Hell, when the only thing that interests me is the fact that the FCC got a dose of reality and said that Saving Private Ryan isn’t indecent, the whole world is boring.
And speaking of boring…I missed Raw and Smackdown last week. Can someone tell me what show Batista is on? Oh, this one. Cool…
THE SHORT FORM
Trip versus Novocaine Helms (ND): Oh, goody, an opening promo interrupted by a squash outside of the ring. Yeah, that’s how I want every episode of Raw to open. Just kill me now.
Chris Benoit over Mohammed Hassan (DQ, Kick To The ‘Nads): Okay, give Hassan a little credit here. He kept up with Benoit. That’s no mean feat. However, this should not be the first match in an extended feud between these two. It’s disrespectful to Benoit in the extreme for him to be involved in something this knee-jerk and asinine. And will the audience cut it out with the “USA” chants? You’ve got a guy from Detroit and a guy from Edmonton in the ring, and the guy from Edmonton gets the “USA” chants? Wrestling fans are retards. I’ve been saying that for five years now. You’d think someone would believe me.
Shelton Benjamin over Gene Snitsky, Intercontinental Title Match (Pinfall, T-bone Suplex): A third straight week of this mis-fit? What did we do to deserve this? And what did Snitsky do to deserve this? If that interpromo match with Heidenreich, UT, and Kane is still in the works for WM, there was root damage done to its image with Snitsky laying down for Benjy. All four men have to remain as monsters in order for that match to work…okay, Heidenreich comes pre-destroyed courtesy of UT, but you understand what I mean. It’s not going to increase or decrease my interest in that particular match (you can’t decrease very much from zero), but it does dent the image a little.
Chris Masters over Some Jobber (Submission, full nelson): Okay, I didn’t see Raw last week, so this is my first look at Masters in the ring. My reaction? Big f*cking deal. Get him in a program with Kane, and I might be interested. It’ll be Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell Time for Masters, and that’ll mean a Mordecai-quick career for the Gym Bunny.
Chris Jericho over Maven (Submission, Walls of Jericho): Jericho having to make Maven look good? The word “futility” seems to come to mind, for some reason. However, the six-man thing with the ladder sounds intriguing; when he mentioned himself and five other upper-carders, I was automatically assuming Elimination Chamber, thinking that it was way too soon for it to be brought back. However, this…six-way ladder match for the IC strap, maybe? Well, it’ll become clearer soon.
Shawn Michaels over Edge, Street Fight (Pinfall, Sweet Chimp Music): Calling it better than their match at Royal Rumble is no compliment in itself, but it was better. As much as I love pure wrestling, a little mayhem now and then helps cleanse the palate. Combine some great mayhem with Michaels blading as only he can (these days), and add Kurt Angle’s appearance on top of that, and you’ve got a pretty damn good main event to close what was a boring show. Also, expect more of these “ECW-style” matches in the near future, especially as June rolls around and they’ve got that PPV to promote. The appearance of the kendo stick was a sign of things that were and are yet to be. Gee, how Zen of me.
Someone Smells Money: Yeah, it’s no big surprise to anyone in the IWC that Hogan’s going to be involved in the HoF ceremony. Meltzer’s been saying it for a while now (but was still equivocal as of early Monday on whether it would happen or not; oh, that Dave and his spine of gelatin). This, of course, means that the Ego Monster will be making his way onto the WM card in some fashion. Let’s hope it’s something as innocuous as Special Guest Ref, preferably with High-Quality Speaker Boy and Cena. That match deserves to have a greater level of awful involved in it.
The Happy Couple: So Piper’s Pit returns at Wrestlemania (gee, like you knew he wouldn’t be a part of WM, right?), and Wife-Beater’s the guest. Good. They deserve each other. Can we hope that they both beat each other to death? If Fleabag arranges for Piper, I’ll do the same for Wife-Beater, just so we see neither of them again as long as we live.
And I’ll close this off. Hopefully, I’ll do better tomorrow, but the odds of me actually getting a column in tomorrow are…oh, never mind, I’ll try anyway. Until then, enjoy.