Skip to main content

Living without antivirus software

[adsense:728x15:5447199818]Ok, I'll admit it. I've been living dangerously for the last several years.

To be blunt: I refused to install any kind of antivirus or personal firewall software on most of my computers (but see Update 1/1/2012, below.) This included a Windows XP Home system that was used by my children as a web surfing / email / game system. I suffered zero infections during this time. (The only time I ever suffered a malware infection was before, when I did rely on Norton Antivirus to protect the kids' computer.)

Why do I refuse to use these massively popular widely-used products? Simple. I am convinced that in my case, they may cause more harm than good, and that they foster a false sense of security - leading some users to engage in riskier behavior.

Further, antivirus software is almost always behind the curve - by definition, the antivirus people are playing catch-up with the malware writers. It's a good living for them, but I choose not to contribute to it.

As a software developer, I cannot afford any downtime due to buggy software, and yes - antivirus software has bugs. Not long ago, one major antivirus package ran amok, causing widespread damage by deleting harmless user data and programs.

Be careful what you wish for

Many years ago, I worked with a firmware engineer. We'll call him 'Bill'. 'Bill' was an interesting character, for he was fond of saying provocative things in order to observe your reaction.

I walked in to Bill's office one day, and he was sitting there with his feet on the desk, leaning back in his chair. Hands clasped behind his head. I'd have thought he was napping except I noticed that he was staring at the ceiling.

"What's up, Bill?", I asked.

Bill replied: "Oh, I'm working on the firmware for the new color printer, and I'm thinking about what to do if someone opens the cover in the middle of a print cycle. It's giving me fits."

He continued: "Sometimes I wish humans were descended from dogs instead of apes." He paused.

"Why's that, Bill?" I asked, taking the bait. By then, I was on full alert.

"Maybe then they wouldn't be messing around, pushing buttons when they shouldn't." Bill said. Clearly, this was the punch line he was waiting to deliver.

"Yeah", came my immediate reply, "but then, you'd be sitting here, pondering what to do when the user urinates on the printer with the power on."

Bill broke out laughing. Clearly, he wasn't expecting that response.

Mission accomplished.

This is too funny! Spam ad for spam ad posting position...

I found this one one of my classified ad sites today:

Join one of the best Advertising Company of India. We pay you for your hard work. 100% Payment urance. Its a Ad Posting job (copy-paste work). Unlimited Monthly income. For Details visit : www. [spammer-site]. com or Email us at [email deleted] or Call us at [phone number deleted]

This is too funny - spammers dropping spam ads for spam ad droppers who will then drop spam ads onto more sites. It's "copy-paste work". Indeed. This is recursion run amok.

Slick JavaScript-based browser-specific CSS helper

Here's a nifty tool for your bag of tricks: JavaScript snippet that tags HTML elements with browser- and OS-specific attributes so you can target browser- and OS-specific 'peculiarities' without resorting to the usual bizarro selector tricks or Internet Explorer-specific conditional comments.

Using this script, you can target browser-specific elements via simple CSS selectors as follows:

.ie6 #targetElement { border: solid 1px #eee; }

OS Codes

win - Microsoft Windows

Is Google Evil?

In a Reuters article, Eric Schmidt talks about their stated philosophy - "Don't be evil" - and how this translates into practice, and what it means to the company.

In an on-stage interview with writer Ken Auletta of the New Yorker magazine, Schmidt said "Don't be evil" is meant to provoke internal debate over what constitutes ethical corporate behavior, rather than representing an absolute moral position.

Metric vs. Imperial system smack-down

Here's a funny (and over-the-top) diatribe on the advantages of the Imperial over the metric measurement system:

The metric system also fails to be sized appropriately for humans. Because of its derivation, units of measure are divisible by ten, but ill-suited for labor that does not involve extensive mathematical computations. Is it any wonder that a man is still six feet tall? Measuring a six-foot, 31-year-old man's height in centimeters (182) makes as much sense as measuring his age in months (372).

DIY - Silver Lightning™ cleans silver via electrochemical reaction

OK, this is off-topic but what the heck - it's interesting (to me, anyway).

I've seen commercial advertisements for the Silver Lightning™ Tarnish Remover Tray
on various television shows, The product demonstration shows a person placing the Silver Lightning plate under water, then placing tarnished silver on the plate -- and like magic, the silver brightens and the tarnish vanishes.

I'm an inquisitive guy, so I assumed this was due to some kind of chemical reaction involving electrolysis, so I searched the web to see what I could find on the subject.

It turns out that silver tarnish is silver sulfide, much of which comes from the trace amounts of sulfur in the air. The Silver Lightning product is apparently nothing more than an aluminum plate, which, when placed in a solution of baking soda and water (about 1 cup per gallon) causes an electrochemical reaction that draws the sulfur away from the silver and to the aluminum.

Mollom.com: another spam prevention mechanism for Drupal admins

When trying to keep web site content clean and on-topic, the site administrators often face monumental challenges from spammers.

Mollom.com is an alternative to using the Spam or Akismet modules. It's in beta at present, and it is free of charge at present. It is expected to remain free for low-volume users (for details, please refer to the mollom.com web site - link below.)

Nero Essentials: DRM gone bad.

I was debugging a Windows application that makes use of DirectShow to render media - and for some strange reason, the application would terminate without warning when run under Visual Studio's debugger.

No error message, no exceptions, nothing. The application ran fine outside the debugger. I was able to debug the same code base several weeks ago without incident.

Syndicate content