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Mail 136 January 15 - 21, 2001

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IF YOU SEND MAIL it may be published; if you want it private SAY SO AT THE TOP of the mail. I try to respect confidences, but there is only me, and this is Chaos Manor. If you want a mail address other than the one from which you sent the mail to appear, PUT THAT AT THE END OF THE LETTER as a signature.

I try to answer mail, but mostly I can't get to all of it. I read it all, although not always the instant it comes in. I do have books to write too...  I am reminded of H. P. Lovecraft who slowly starved to death while answering fan mail. 

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Monday  January 15, 2001

 I have a long and not well written letter from a psychology student (level not specified) saying that Dr. Breggin is an idiot and his pop article a work of folly. That's a free translation: the letter is more polite. Here is some of it:

I was very disappointed to see the space that you recently gave to a letter which made many powerful statements about ADHD. I know you personally don't believe in the disease. However, as you are a respected scientist, I'm finding it hard to see how you could believe the letter in question.

A critical review of the letter shows it to be emotionally charged, short on facts, disingenious, and sometimes utterly impossible to believe.

As a psychology major, and a person with Adult ADHD, this letter incensed me, because people might believe you were endorsing this viewpoint. I hope that's not the case -- and if it is, I hope you'll take the time to read my comments, and reconsider.

I tried to read his comments, but frankly the length made that difficult, and it has been a very difficult week anyway. It is full of things like (a long quote from Dr. Breggin's article)

Notice that the author does not provide specific cases. The mythical "they" is used, suggesting a conspiracy.

Do things like what is described occur? Probably.

Is it a rampant problem? It's hard to tell without hard numbers, which aren't provided.

Since Breggin was writing an article for popular consumption, not a peer-reviewed journal article, and used anecdotes from his own practice, I am not sure that the same standards need to be applied. Awhat appeared to me to be an anecdotal letter, I never thought it claimed to be "science". As to numbers, when a significant percentage of the boys in schools are given drugs, and we got along all right without doing that until recently, I would think it a matter of concern.

Here is another example:

> Stimulant drugs, including methylphenidate and amphetamine, were first > approved for the control of behavior in children during the mid-1950s.

Notice the loaded wording: "control of behavior in children."

One could also say "approved for treatment of hyperactive disorders in children," which has a much different emotional connotation. It's also more accurate from a scientific point of view.

There is considerable more, and much on a par with this. If there is a significant point other than "I disagree" I didn't have the patience to find it.

I invited this correspondent to send me something shorter and to the point, but what I got in reply was 

> This isn't lengthy it is unreadably long. What is your point?

My point, sir, is that you posted this letter to your site without comment, apparently in agreement. Further, that the letter was written by someone who was at best a misinformed paranoid, and at worst a rabble-rousing agent provocateur.

I have had great respect for you. I cannot say that your apparent support of pseudo-scientific tripe such as Dr. Breggin's message continues that respect.

The letter simply does not stand up to reasonable inspection.

And on that score I will simply have to leave matters as an exercise for the reader. I am prepared to believe Dr. Breggin is wrong. I am not prepared to believe that something about 15% (my wife says it's much higher than that) of the boys in schools suffer from some disorder that wasn't even dreamed of when I took my graduate work in psychology in the 50's. Now admittedly my field was more engineering psychology than clinical, but I had a heck of a lot of study in personality theory, and like everyone else I had to have a year of abnormal psychology and clinical studies. My textbook was the standard medical school psychiatric text "A TEXTBOOK OF PSYCHIATRY" and I still have it, and I can't find ADD listed either as a diagnosis OR AS A SET OF SYMPTOMS needing treatment. 

This is significant: either some really severe problem has developed since the 1950's, or  -- well or what? That prior to 1950 we managed to educate boys sufficiently that conscripts were nearly all able to read, which was not true by the time conscription was ended; but we did that without realizing that a very large percentage of those boys should be drugged to get them properly through school? This could be true but it seems unreasonable.

I make no doubt that something like ADD exists, just as true dyslexia exists. But true dyslexia is very rare, down under 1%, yet 10% and more of children are diagnosed as "having" dyslexia. Most cases of "dyslexia" are maestragenic: they kid didn't learn to read because the kid wasn't taught to read. I do not know what the corresponding numbers for ADD are, but I would be astonished if "true ADD" amounted to more than 10% of the boys in schools. I truly would.

I give one more example of the complaints raised against Dr. Breggin:

> Stimulant medications are far more dangerous than most practitioners and > published experts seem to realize. Animals and humans cross-addict to > methylphenidate, amphetamine and cocaine.

Dr. Breggin appears to be saying that almost everyone other than him is an idiot and hasn't seen some danger in Ritalin. I find that hard to believe.

I am willing, indeed eager, to see some proper debate on the use of Ritalin in the US; but I do not think the above contributes much to understanding. And I continue to wonder why, if 10% and more of the boys in US schools need drugs today, we managed when I went to school in the 30's and 40's to drug none of my classmates; and to wonder if, given my restlessness and boredom -- when you are in 8th grade having been in the 7th grade in two grades/classroom school so you have heard every word that is going to be taught in 8th grade, and you could pass the 8th grade tests the day you came to the 8th grade, you are going to be bored and restless -- I wonder if I would not have been drugged if drugs were available. 

Instead I was disciplined but also allowed to read books, books that were not assigned to others, and I could even get away with reading them during lessons so long as it wasn't a lesson requiring recitation. Incidentally, being required to recite on a regular basis was one of the best things that could have happened to me. I gather they don't do that much in schools now. Pity.

I have run on enough on this. I am not endorsing Dr. Breggin, but I can't denounce him either. I think we drug far too many of our children. I am glad I and mine escaped this trend. It may be appropriate for some but I cannot believe it is the proper treatment of 10% and more of American boys. More below.

I have much mail about DSL and my plan to get a T1 line. Typical:


"Chaos Manor is 18,000 feet from the nearest telephone-switching station, and thus too far for DSL".

I believe that I've read that you have an ISDN line at Chaos Manor. In all of your searching for DSL, have you, at all, discussed (or been offered) IDSL ?

IDSL is DSL over ISDN. It uses both 64K channels AND the 16K control channel to provide a 144K DSL connection to the subscriber and, technically, will work anywhere ISDN works. It was iniitially developed to be able to provide DSL in locations that were fed by digital concentrators, that had ISDN capability.

I have an associate who, currently, is receiving IDSL from Earthlink, who I believe is one of your ISPs.

While I understand that IDSL is not available everywhere, If you haven't explored this option, I might suggest it. It won't be as fast as a T1 but it will be alot less expensive.

One of the down sides - if you are able to get it from Earthlink... They don't currently provide Static IP, on IDSL. This shouldn't be a problem if you don't want to run any of your own servers.

Just a thought.

John Webmaster, Network Admin, Janitor

I believe IDSL charges by the packet and that would be terribly expensive. Also a fixed Static IP is important to me.  

As to satellites we are looking into it but I am on the south slopes of the Hollywood Hills and we may not be able to see the proper satellite.


I, too, love this program, and their "Info Select", which resides on my old Win3x box, is the most used program on that box besides lotus and quicken. I would love to upgrade to the latest version for my Win98SE box except for one, for me extremely distasteful, thing. Tech support is done by e-mail only.

Have you ever tried to talk to a live human at Micro Logic? I've tried, off &; on, since 1995, and the phone number which used to (occasionally) get a live human now gets you a recorded voice saying "I'm busy reading my e-mail." THERE IS NO TELEPHONE SUPPORT unless you want to pay seventy dollars per hour. It's a goddam conspiracy.

I've been boycotting them for that reason alone. If you have some way of getting the message through to these peckerheads, please inform me.

-- C.A. Kerschner Los Angeles

Footnotes: (1) My mail is sent formatted as Plain Text, to avoid passing on viruses and worms which spread through e-mail by html. (2) When pricing software, consider the cost of tech support too, and do you get to talk with a live human or will you be required to read "FAQ"s for hours? (3) "I'm a uniter, not a divider!" Notice how well THAT's working? (4) 60% of Americans believe they are in the top 1% in Income. (Fuzzy Math) More realistic (approximate) annual income levels: Top 1% - $200,000 &; over Top 5% - $125,000 &; over Median Income Level - $40,000 

Well, I do believe I have spoken with humans there, but a couple of years ago at least a female voice answered, and I presumed she was a receptionist. Now I suppose they have a robot. I hate phone trees. I hate phone trees. I detest not getting a human when I call anywhere. And a lot of good that does me...




This week:



Tuesday,  January 16, 2001

Continuing a theme:

Dear Dr. Pournelle:

For what it's worth, I forwarded the article by Dr. Breggin on ADD/ADHD and meds to a friend of mine who has three kids. The eldest was nearly wrecked by overmedication, before my friend and her husband caught on (the story if you are interested: the public school told her and her husband that her son had ADD and needed Ritalin. They acquiesced. Later they recommended he be switched to Thorazine, at which point they balked. It transpired that *one-quarter* of the parents in this particular class had been given the same story. Note that this is in an Arlington County, Virginia public school with a reasonably middle-class profile. It took their son quite a long time to recover from all that, and in some ways he has never recovered--the only good news is that now he is extremely averse to *all* drugs, so hopefully he won't get caught in that game when he goes away to college...)

I do not know what this other fellow has to say about Dr. Breggin that could alter the underlying realities, which you have ably presented in your own comments. I give you this as both an additional piece of (admittedly anecdotal) data and as a further testimonial.

Please feel free to include my name and email, but not that of my friend.

Very respectfully,

David G.D. Hecht

Which is not inconsistent with many other such stories reported here. Once again: I make no doubt there is such a thing as "ADD", and I am willing to be persuaded that it is more prevalent now than when I was younger. I am willing to be persuaded that in some cases drugs in general and Ritalin in particular will be the proper treatment, particularly when alternatives are severely limited by circumstances. I am not willing to believe absent a great deal more evidence than I have seen that more than 10% of the boys in America have this problem and must be drugged before they can be taught. I am very much of the opinion that I would have been drugged had the authorities the power to do it prior to my falling into the hands of the Christian Brothers, who basically offered me the alternative of working to my capacity or having my life made unpleasant, and of behaving myself or having physical blows applied to my posterior (and I got to thank them for each whack; it did not take more than two such sessions to persuade me that there were better alternatives than smarting off, after which my punishments consisted of things like being required to go find the poem Ivan Skavinsky Skivar and write it out and recite it to the class; an assignment I could have refused but the alternative was again the pounding on the posterior and that I wanted to avoid...)  And for the record, if Broter Robert, or Brother Fidelis, or Brother I. Vincent, or Brother Henry, or Brother Daniels are listening this side of the grave or beyond, "Thank you, Brother."

But I ramble. As I said, I can believe in ADD, but I can't believe the drugs are needed in the quantities they are used. And I wonder: we needed Freon until just before the patent expired after which we not only didn't need it but it was evil and we needed something else which had just been patented; is this to be the fate of Ritalin? But that is a mere conjecture put forth in ignorance of any facts.

> So do you think, you could make money taking 100 students and $800,000 for a > year? I could get rich on it.

Hmmm, I tried putting together a budget:

Item # $/per $ --------------------------------------- teachers 4 50,000 200,000

administrator, janitor/cleaning service, facility (5 rooms), instructional materials, special ed., insurance. To replicate what most schools provide you would have to also provide sports, art, music, etc.

...and found too much I didn't know. I did notice that I figure 4 teachers at $200,000. Schools typically spend %60 ($480,000) on teachers. So why am I way off? With 100 kids do I have expect one class (10 kids) of special ed.? Even so, add in a $60,000 special ed. teacher and I have $260,000 spent on teachers, still way lower than typical.

So, I would like to see a real school budget.

It can't be as easy as it looks. Baltimore experimented with privatizing schools in the 90's while I was in living there. They gave 9 schools to Education Alternatives and gave them a lot of independence. The company promised better education and was given the same money other schools in Balt. received. After 4 years, students didn't seem to be learning more, and company was fired. The company made some money, but not a huge amount.

Do you find the absolute cost high, or do you find the education provided for the cost high? Or both? Bad schools can cost as much as good schools, a bridge most of the way across a river costs nearly as much as a complete bridge but transports no people.

Jim Lund 

I don't have to do a budget. I merely know that Pinecrest and other private schools do get rich on a lot less than $8,000 per student, and Catholic schools operate at about half that.  What man has done, man may aspire to.


In last week's view, you used that old line about how insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and hoping for a different outcome. Although this has the sound of common sense to it, I believe it overlooks the profoundly probalistic nature of reality: For instance, if I play the same Pick 3 numbers for a week, well, the first seven draws may be no matches at all. Then on Thursday morning the same three numbers that generated losers seven draws in a row suddenly come up winners.

Obviously all of life isn't gambling, but after giving this a lot of thought I think there's something to this line of thought.

(And, for what it's worth, there's a very, very ancient Chinese martial arts saying that goes something like, "Doing something for the 10,000th time is totally different than doing something the 9,999th time. I'd always assumed that was just prattle to get people to practice a lot, but upon thinking about this probability stuff, it occurs to me there might be a deeper meaning.)

Mark W.

"Nothing is ever always or never." Clearly sometimes probabilities need to be invoked, although I point out that playing the number 13 repeatedly at roulette with the intent to continue playing it until you have enough money to retire for life may not be the sanest way to set up a retirement fund. It sort of depends on what you are doing over and over, no? I buy lottery tickets when the expected value is larger than the cost. I've never won but I will continue to do that.

I read your Byte column, where you described the torture you endured trying to register Visio.

It made me wonder if you would like Dia.

Dia is a free, Visio-like drawing program for Linux. It is released under a free software license, so you never have to register anything, and you can install it on an arbitrary number of computers.

I'm certain there are dozens to hundreds of features in Visio that Dia does not have. I've never used either Visio or Dia so I would not presume to try to sell you on Dia, but perhaps if you get a spare moment you could install Dia and fire it up.

It comes from Sweden, by the way. 

If you install the full Ximian Gnome desktop, you get Dia as one of the packages, so that is another way to get it. 

I just figured out that there is a version for Windows. Perhaps you would rather try that one. 

It could very well be that Dia is missing too many features and/or is unstable; if so a person who can afford Visio would do better to just buy Visio. However, even if that is true today, it is unlikely to be true a year or two from now; I suspect that it will not be too difficult to get the most useful and important features added, nor will many really important new features be invented before then. Further, I think this is generally true of open-source software: a year or two from now, there will be solidly useful open-source alternatives to most of the most commonly-used applications. -- Steve R. Hastings "Vita est" 

I will thank you for the pointer.


I received an unsolicited cold call from a "sales engineer" at Ameritech. The following bit was appended to the body of the email: -----------------------------------------

This e-mail and any files transmitted with it are confidential and are for the use of the individual or entity to whom they are addressed. This communication may contain material protected by the attorney-client privilege or by state or federal laws protecting trade secrets and/or Company Confidential Proprietary information. If you are not the intended recipient or the person responsible for delivering the e-mail to the intended recipient, be advised that you have received this e-mailing error and that any use, dissemination, forwarding, printing, or copying this e-mail is strictly prohibited. If you have received this e-mail in error, please immediately notify <> ------------------------------------------------------- For some years I have collected fax header sheets with such disclaimers, just for the entertainmnet value. I am sorry to see the legal types invading cyperspace, and this latest example shows an incredible lack of knowledge of the Internet and email routing.

Jim Dodd San Diego











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This week:


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Thursday, January 18, 2001


At beach house.







This week:



Friday, January 19, 2001

Your article on Microsoft Passports triggered a memory of a related unhappy experience I had with ebooks.

You can download the Microsoft Reader for free. But if you want to buy an ebook, it can only be installed into your Reader if your copy of the Reader is registered-- to your Microsoft Passport identity which you wrote about in this week's column. In your entire life you are only allowed to register your Reader twice under your identity. So if you want to buy a new computer, or just re-format your hard drive and re-install your OS, you've just used your second registration. You're done for life! Now you can establish a second passport identity if you ever need to install a Reader again, say on a new computer, or a second computer you might have. But NONE of your ebooks are transportable to your second identity!!!

So bottom line, any ebooks you buy are only good as long as you NEVER buy another computer as long as you live. You are not allowed to ever have an operating system become so unstable you need to reformat your hard drive. You are never allowed to copy your ebook to a laptop or other second machine. You can kiss all your ebooks goodbye if any of these things ever happens to you.

I'm told this is because of the publishing industry who are rightfully concerned about things like copyrights. Understandable. But this current implementation makes ebooks absolutely unusable for me. Having gone through this nightmare once, I have vowed to NEVER buy another ebook until the powers that be fix this.

Kent Duke

Talk about mixed emotions!

Howdy Jerry,

I know how much you hate spam &; junk mail. Check out this URL. This idea could be really fun. Too bad we can't do the same w/ spam.

Greg Lenderink 

 CyberRanger, on 01/19/2001 "Rangers Lead the Way!" - NRA - "The CyberRanger's AO" - "Larimer County 4-Wheel Drive Club, Inc. - The Mountaineers" - #17 -'71 Chevy K20, '71 &; '70 Jeep CJ-5

I thought you might enjoy this: 

Andrew Chaplin

Accenture is the new name for Andersen Consulting as of January 1, 2001. Our web address is This message is intended solely for the designated recipient, may contain privileged or confidential information and may be subject to confidentiality agreement(s). Access to this email by anyone else is unauthorized. If you are not the intended recipient, any disclosure, copying, distribution or any action taken or omitted to be taken in reliance on it, is prohibited and may be unlawful. If you have received this message in error, please notify the sender immediately by reply e-mail and destroy the original communication.

Dear Jerry, Just got this, and as I read it, if I am not the "authorized recipient" I am prohibited from accessing it, and I may take no action nor omit to take any action (both?), but then I should reply to the e-mail (another action based directly on the original e-mail), which has just been prohibited. Does anyone actually read these things in the corporate HQ before tacking them on? And does it actually hold any water? Great way to start a "new" company, eh? 

Have fun, James Siddall jr 

I think that needs no comment...

Dear Jerry:

Took delivery a couple of days ago of the new Olympus P-400 dye-sublimation printer and so far all I can say is "Wow!"

Advertised as the first consumer dye-sub under $4000, this pup set me back an even grand but was worth it: the picture quality is just fabulous. I also have an Epson Photo 870, so I'm used to good digital output, but this is in another class altogether.

Set up was brainless: drivers installed on my WinME machine without flaw using the USB interface (cable not included, but I had a spare), my photo programs recognised the printer immediately and I was done.

Big advantage to many people may be that the printer reads photos directly from both Smartmedia and PC Card storage cards, and gives you the ability to crop, insert backgrounds, and otherwise manipulate the image before printing on the included tiny B&;W LCD. But the real reason to buy this printer is to get the kind of quality that makes it truly indistinguishable from an optical print by Kodak. Plus the docs say it's as archival as anything from Big Yellow: 35 to 70 years without fading, according to Olympus.

If you'd like to hear more let me know. One bad thing: they only include supplies for five prints, and the per print cost after that is not cheap: $2 per page. But I see this item as a second printer for people who already have a "pretty good" inkjet on which they can experiment: once the shot is just the way you want for framing send it over to the P-400, it's really that good.

All the best--

Tim Loeb

Thanks! I've always been fond of Olympus. I'll look into this one.







This week:



Saturday, January 20, 2001

This is a comment directed at the "Webbug" article:

The day before yesterday I got a spam message that horrified me. Not because of the "content", it wasn't a sex site or anyone offering to kill for money. No, I was horrified because, as I highlighted the message, intending to delete it, the damn thing opened Explorer and brought up a website. The form was maximized and set to be unreduceable and as far as I could tell it was the dread (sarcasm) "If you Love Jesus!" virus that "will delete everything from your computer and format the disks across the room from it!" (/sarcasm) Not knowing what it was I just pulled the plug before damage could be done then had to scan and disk before I could analyze it. Then the sucker did it AGAIN!

I still haven't deduced how it works. I had my system set to ignore VB script so I'm afraid they might have used a CALL function, which as far as I know you can't turn off.

It was just spam. Stupid, obnoxious spam, but spam that was damned near impossible to kill. Everytime you highlighted the message, it took over your computer, opened files and it didn't require opening an attachment or running an exe file. It was the nightmare, like a fatal bug that is airborne. It was, potentially, the virus from hell.

Somebody needs to track it down and kill it before it grows.




A Hymn Before Battle: (Number Six on Locus Hardcover for 2000) Gust Front: (April 2001, Baen Books) March Upcountry: (with David Weber, May 2001, Baen Books) March To The Sea: (with David Weber, August 2001, Baen Books)

Ugh. What mail reader are you using?






This week:


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Sunday, January 21, 2001

You got an email from "John" (seemingly John Ringo, author of _A Hymn Before Battle_), who had a problem with a spam email that behaves like a virus.

He is no doubt using Outlook; I don't know of any other mail clients that can be hijacked this way. (I hate and fear Outlook. I refuse to use it.)

I use Netscape Messenger, included as part of Netscape Communicator (4.76 is the current version). Messenger has every feature I need or want, and very robust message storage as well. Because the messages are kept in simple text files, even if Messenger somehow chokes on an email you can always chop out offending emails with a text editor! I've never needed to do this, but it is comforting to know that the capability is there.

Outlook, on the other hand, stores messages in an opaque binary database format. If something bad happens to the indexes in that database, you had better hope that the Outlook recovery tool can fix it, because there isn't *anything* else out there that can do it.

Over on the Linux side of things, keeping messages in text files is the norm, but there is a new email client that keeps the messages in a standard SQL server database. (It uses MySQL, an open-source SQL server; I don't know if anyone has made it work with other SQL servers, but in principle it should be possible.) If you are going to use a binary database, at least you should use a standard, well-understood one rather than one that is unique and not publicly documented.

When Mozilla hits version 1.0, I will be switching to the Mozilla email client. Basically it is the same as Netscape Messenger, but with a few features added. And, since it is open source, no one can ever take it away from me, and any bugs will be found and fixed quickly.

Email clients are an example of something open source does very well. It's not too difficult to get a very basic one up and running, and once something is up and running it's not too difficult to add features. As a result there are a huge variety of open-source email clients. However, relatively few of them are for Windows. That's why Mozilla is a good choice for Windows.

P.S. I hugely enjoyed _A Hymn Before Battle_. I plan to buy and read all books in the series as they come out.

Dr. Pournelle, I think you might enjoy it too; in a nutshell, it is about humans being drafted to fight a war against high-tech aliens. The good news is that the aliens who draft us provide lots of technology -- we're talking battle suits actually better than the ones described in _Starship Troopers_. The bad news is that (a) the aliens who draft us are afraid of us and try to sabotage us in various ways... they don't want us *too* successful; (b) the paper-pushers and empire-builders in our armed forces care more about their papers and empires than about actually fighting and winning; and (c) the enemy outnumbers us by at least three orders of magnitude...

But never mind my summary; the first 18 chapters are available online for reading! 

-- Steve R. Hastings "Vita est"

I had him forward the message to me. In the Outlook 2000 PREVIEW window it showed a bunch of the stuff, but it did NOT open a separate explorer. I wonder if Outlook Express and OUtlook 2000 treat things differently?

Dr. Pournelle,

Here are two changes I make to all my Windows systems to protect myself from e-mail scripts:

1. Change the name of C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM\SHSCRAP.DLL to SHSCRAP_REN.DLL to remove the viral threat of attached and embedded shell scrap files in e-mail. This change should be transparent as there is virtually no legitimate use for scrap files.

2. Change the file extension association for VB script files and VB encoded script files (.vbs) from Microsoft Windows Base to Notepad.exe. This will cause any e-mail attachments with malicious intent to merely display the code in Notepad. There is virtually no legitimate use for this Windows capability so the change should be transparent.

Don McArthur ********************************************** "Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." H. L. Mencken **********************************************


John said: "Everytime you highlighted the message, it took over your computer, opened files and it didn't require opening an attachment or running an exe file. "

I'd be willing to bet that John is using Outlook Express, and that he has the preview pane enabled. When he highlights the message, it shows in the preview pane. When the preview pane shows an html message, it has to run part of Internet Explorer to render the page. I'd guess that there's an onload() function in the body that opens another instance of the browser. The only way to get rid of this message is to turn preview off, then you can highlight it and delete it.


"Work hard, rock hard, eat hard, sleep hard, grow big, wear glasses if you need 'em." - Webb Wilder, the last of the full grown men

OK, so we know about Outlook Express


Opening is a term of art. The preview pane in Outlook constitutes opening. With the inbox open and the preview pane closed I have been able to for instance right click and move the item out of the .pst file to delete or play with. Though I only developed this technique in response to an experience like Mr. Ringo's. Notice that programs like Outlook and Eudora that store mail in one file make it a real nuisance to delete an infected file and it is important to distinguish message and file.

In this connection of opening a browser I think the cleverest trick is to display the text message "we now control your computer here is a listing of your files as we have them" or even "now deleting the following files" - and then type a directory to the display - the ability to type to the screen can be inside the sandbox but passing the information is outside the sandbox so the message is misleading and the trick is as harmless as the user makes it.


Certainly that is true of the preview in Outlook Express; is it true of Outlook 2000? I have had different results from "opening" mail in 2000 as opposed to seeing it in preview. Does anyone KNOW this stuff? This is painful.

And from Ed Hume:

Dear friends,

For some of you this is an unnecessary missive. Please bear with me.

I have been getting various computer virus warnings. Some of them are real; some are hoaxes. But make no mistake, the Internet can be dangerous to your computer's health. For example, I got sent four jokes by someone named "Montero" over and over again (they were jokes I had sent to you all, but I don't know any Montero). Each of these jokes had an attachment that contained a virus. Judging from the complaints of another person that received the same e-mails, the computer virus apparently took over Montero's machine and began to send to every e-mail address it could find.

Other viruses can come directly to your computer through your BIOS port, which Windows leaves open. The most notable is the QAZ worm, which Jerry Pournelle (  ) has brought to public notice.

For computer owners, an antivirus program and a firewall are crucial. There are a number of choices in the Windows world for antivirus software. I have tried out several.

For most of us, e-mail scanning is probably an antivirus program's most important function. Thus, because I have found that the Windows version of Norton antivirus software is hard to configure for Outlook, and often causes it to fail, I no longer use it. Otherwise it's good software.

A $40 investment (maybe less) in McAfee VirusScan will get you an e-mail virus scanner that is easy to use and configure. You can get updates to virus definitions frequently. I like it a lot. Buy it at your local Wal-Mart, Staples, OfficeMax, etc. Or download it from McAfee's website (  ).

For performance reasons I have my system actively monitored by AVG, a freeware (costs you no money) antivirus program that works very well. It is available from  . It was the AVG program that caught the virus from Montero. The drawback is that the antivirus definitions are only updated monthly. On the other hand, if you check the "use heuristics" box in the configuration panel, it will look for things that are similar to previous viruses.

For you in the Mac world, there is Norton Antivirus. There may be others, but I don't know them.

You can look up antivirus programs on and read reviews of each one.

For Windows firewall software, the best are ZoneAlarm and ZoneAlarm Pro from  . ZoneAlarm is freeware. These seal up your open ports. The combinations of ZoneAlarm + AVG and ZoneAlarm + McAfee work very well together.

One tip: If you download software, put the downloads in their own special download or distribution directories so you can reload them later without having to download them again. McAfee, for example, gives you frequent updates to its detection engine and to its virus definition. I save the most recent few (I keep McAfee for doing periodic scans; what one antivirus program doesn't see, another one might).

Since you use the Internet, you need to protect yourself. Having good antivirus protection sure beats passing on virus warnings, especially since some will launch if you even preview the e-mail they are attached to (so--keep your e-mail preview function turned off).

Protection from viruses is cheap, even free. Invest a little of your time now to save enormous quantities of your time later.









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