A computer security company should be above suspicion. Many of their
visitors will be naïve beginners, who have not yet learned
to ignore this kind of deceptive advertising. For McAfee to prostitute
its previously decent reputation and dupe them into wasting money on
this kind of nonsense is a huge betrayal of trust.
There has always been an element of hucksterism in the anti-virus
industry, hyping up random viruses with scary doom-prophecy to sell
more software, and pretending to have a magic bullet solution to the
problem of malware. But McAfee’s current marketing efforts, for
its own software and others’, are a new industry low. And I for
one will no longer be recommending McAfee VirusScan or any of NAI’s
other products to anyone.
Today’s updates: there’s a new version of the form.py
module. The Unicode stuff is now in [final], file-upload handling is more
efficient (especially on Win32 servers), and there are some changes to
prepare for Python 2.3. New stuff detected by parasite.js:
and SearchAndBrowse. Also
a new variant of CommonName has
been released (addressing some of the problems with previous versions).
1st October 2002
In a world gone mad, it was a time... of sequels.
I’m sure it used to be that only exceptionally successful films were
given a sequel; this year, that rule seems to have been suspended.
Why on earth did anyone think a Tomb Raider 2 would be a good
idea, after the original was roundly hated by everyone not specifically
paid by Paramount to suspend their critical judgement and produce piss-poor
trailers-’n’-sycophancy movie shows on ITV?
And whose idea was Charlie’s Angels 2? Given that the first
film was so offensively, intelligence-insultingly dire, failing
even at the simple task it had set itself of being simple mindless
fun, why bother make another? Are there really many more minutes of
movie magic to be wrung out of —
- senseless unconvincing fighting;
weak “being distracted by Cameron Diaz’s skinny bum”
gags at the expense of male cardboard cut-out ‘characters’;
mercilessly prolonged close-up shots of Cameron Diaz’s skinny bum?
The original failed despite having Bill Murray in it and Pizzicato
Five on the soundtrack, and the new one hasn’t even got that much.
It’s not looking good.
Whilst Charlie’s Angels is far and away the worst film I’ve
ever been subjected to on a ’plane journey, the best was probably
Spy Kids, which despite being a kids’ film (reminding me
heavily of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but maybe I’m just weird) is quite
enjoyable all-round. I didn’t think it had been that successful, but
no, there’s a sequel out to that too. (Which I haven’t seen but
which does at least still have Alan Cumming in. You’ve got to like Alan
Cumming. It’s the law. Bring back The High Life, that’s what I say!*)
And the less said about Scooby Doo 2 the better, really.
Most strange, though, is that apparently a Final Destination 2
is in the works. Final Destination [or should that be
‘Penultimate Destination’? — Smart-alec Ed.] was reasonable
entertainment but hardly a monster hit, and the story didn’t
really leave any scope for a sequel, did it?
(If, like most people, you didn’t see the original, why not catch
up with this abridged script
in the style of Rod Hilton’s The
New things today: more Pokeys and a new (although
technically quite old) parasite, DownloadReceiver.
The detection page has also been fixed — there
was a really strange bug in the InternetExplorer ActiveX control in IE5 which
was causing the page to generate false positives and sometimes crashes on
this page (though not others that use the parasite script). Argh!
26th September 2002
Off to Britain again soon, but being there is always a bit uncomfortable
as I feel I have to apologise for the German music that seems somehow to
have made it into the charts. Pop music must be getting pretty bad if
you’re resorting to buying this stuff.
That’s not to say German pop is bad — on the contrary, there are
enough decent bands (from Ingolstadt alone, where I live, there are
Slut and the
Remington Portable, whose
gig earlier this week was top). But apparently everyone
prefers to buy DJ Ötzi and Scooter singles instead. Bah.
DJ Ötzi is Austrian, of course, but is always associated with
Germany because of his popularity there, a bit like Hitler. (But with
less artistic integrity.)
(See, I reckon if Herta Däubler-Gmelin can get away with comparing
George Bush to Hitler, I can get away with doing it to DJ Ötzi.
Although to be fair her description ‘[using war] to distract attention
from his domestic problems’ could apply not only to Bush but also her boss
Gerhard Schröder, whose close re-election the other day probably
has at least a little to with his popular stance against war with Iraq.)
The great thing about the UK, that you never appreciate when you’re there,
is crisps. Foreign crisps are just invariably crap. Especially German ones,
which are all Nothing Flavour (or ‘paprika’, as they call it).
Whilst I can’t remember very much at all of being a
I do have fond memories of one thing at least: Football Crazies,
spheres of crunchy bacon-flavoured Monster Munch-style crispgunge,
which I would eat until my mouth started to bleed. They were
So far, so typically tedious nostalgia, you say. But! (But!)
They’re back! Sort of. Some manager at Walkers has decided to revive
the recipe under the exciting*
new* name “Footballs”!
They’re slightly smaller than before but they’re still
fab! Go buy some now! And if you are that manager, e-mail me now —
and I’ll send you a pound!!!
KP, however, have meanwhile inexplicably ballsed up the idea of making
new flavours of Skips, by changing the texture (which was Skips’ only
unique selling point, surely?) and forgetting to dose the back of the
crisp with too much flavouring powder. Or indeed any flavouring at all.
They’ve solved the problem where two Skips get stuck together and go
hard (eurgh), but their Skips-related boring Buzz Bolts blunder
cannot go unpunished: no cash money prizes for you this time, KP
(Now, McCowan’s, there’ll be a pound in it for you if you bring back
fantastic green Wham-like chew bar Gorgo. Go on, you know you want to.)
New things today! The parasite script now
detects stuff under IE6/WinXP Service Pack 1. And detects the new things
Cytron and Wazam.
Oh, and I noticed FavoriteMan
has been busy; the list of things it installs has also been updated.
11th September 2002
A year ago, a momentous event took place which will be remembered by
everyone for the rest of their lives. A turning point that would affect
the world forever.
I’m talking, of course, about the launch of and.doxdesk.com, which,
judging by the nice hefty bill I’ve just got from my hosts,
is now one year old. Yay! In that time, there have been:
- 24 updates (see, that doesn’t count as a blog really does it?)
- 37 nasty pieces of software
- 5* swear words (bugger, is that all?)
- 0 redesigns (this is of course unique for a personal site)
Oh, and also a year ago there was some sort of incident involving
some planes, I think, which some Americans seem to be really terribly
upset about. Still, it’s an ill wind that blows no-one any good, as
it means I get a flight to Blighty today for cheap.
(I am not this callous in real life, promise.)
Oh, and MS have released IE6
Service Pack 1, which though still insecure as anything, manages to
fix some of the more egregious bugs. And they’ve finally
the undocumented capability of ‘about:somenonsense’ URLs to
generate a page, something I recommended a
long time ago only to be met with the usual denial that it was a problem.
However, it’s a fabby wind that blows no-one any bad [Eh? —Ed.], and the
upgrade’s restrictions on what can be in an
have stopped parasite.js detecting anything! Bah!!
I’ll have to come up with a workaround when I get back next week. In the worst
case I’ll have to go back to the old way of detecting ActiveX objects for IE6SP1
users, which unfortunately doesn’t detect half the parasites.
Anyway, speaking of parasites, here are two new ones: Xupiter
and SideStep. And there’s a new variant of
CometCursor around too.
5th September 2002
The music industry’s fun adventures on the Internet, vol 274: the late
lamented AudioGalaxy strikes
back, with a new music download service. Except that it’s not from
AudioGalaxy (it’s actually a rebranded version of the
listen.com service), and it’s not
actually a download service.
Instead, you are expected to be on-line permanently. You can’t download
tracks; they are only cached on the hard disc in a single encrypted dump file.
To play a track, or even to skip back and forth in a track, you have to connect
to their authorisation server, which takes several seconds (making seeking
useless). You can choose broadband connection (reasonable quality but takes far too long
to download without broadband) or modem connection (sounds really awful), but
switching between them (eg. to preview tracks before downloading) is a chore.
The listen.com software (“Rhapsody”) takes over all functions. Its unwieldy
single-window interface contains a player, lists of tracks, search and downloading.
Compared to the extremely simple and practical interface AudioGalaxy used to offer
(single upload/download list window, with web site used to search and queue tracks) it’s
rather painful. There’s no small player you can have open: it’s the huge multi-purpose
window or nothing. You cannot use any other application to play the tracks. You cannot use
the Rhapsody player to play any other tracks. The search interface is implemented using
IE, but with a nasty frames interface and none of the useful browser navigation
features you would expect. This is typical ‘acquisitive software’ —
you cannot use it without letting it take over everything you do with music. There
is zero flexibility.
You cannot move the tracks to another box or portable player; you cannot use
another OS on another partition; you cannot listen to anything without an
internet connection, and when their servers go down or they go bust you will
be left with no music at all. Go bust? I hope so, to be honest, because it’s
a really, really shit service.
You’d think the music industry would learn from past failures (Liquid Audio,
MusicNet et al), but instead they keep serving up the same hopeless DRM-crippled
business model again and again.
So why am I even bringing up this sad state of affairs? Well, AudioGalaxy are
offering access to the entire listen.com archive, and there’s quite a lot of
decent stuff in there that you can’t get hold of through
eMusic. Unlike the usual listen.com service,
the AG trial scheme works without a credit card number, so us non-Americans can
use it too. (The normal service is, as usual, closed to anyone outside the US, in just
another example of how little they understand the internet.)
So take advantage of it whilst you can. Which is, up until 15th
September. Install the software*,
enter a fake e-mail address (obviously), set broadband connections on and set a track
to play. Once it’s cached, set it to play again and record your sound
card’s Wave Out channel. Save as .wav and you can copy,
compress, organise and play it in your own
favourite software to your heart’s content.
Would you like to be able to buy music directly without having to go through
all this nonsense? Me too. You might want to let
them know that... but the industry has shown no sign of listening to
its customers so far, so I wouldn’t hold your breath.