An indistinct culture

Here in the ITBidness bunker, we’re steeling ourselves against a withering attack.

Actually, not so much “”steeling ourselves”” as “”shrugging it off,”” at least in the editorial department.

About two weeks ago, I received an e-mail regarding “”A new humour game.”” The body was brief

and incoherent. There wasn’t an attachment. I arched my eyebrows. I squinted. I got up, crossed the room and peered at the message from several different angles, hoping to glean some further insight into the intent of said e-mail. No luck. So I deleted it.

It was followed shortly thereafter by an e-mail promising “”A fun new tool.”” More or less the same body. Deleted.

The ante was upped last week, while I was vacationing. About halfway through the 12,000 e-mail messages in my in box was a message with the simple subject line “”Honey.”” It bore the return address of a friend of mine. He is not in the habit of addressing me as “”honey.”” Most often, it’s “”slacker”” or, when he’s in a particularly charitable mood, “”loser.”” I asked – a little uneasily, I might add – what had caused the change of heart. He asked – no doubt as he was filling in one of those DIY restraining orders – what the hell I was talking about.

And now it’s happening to everyone here. It is hard not to feel like we’re being specifically targeted for attack – perhaps by a disgruntled reader (as we’ve been pretty lax about our gruntling lately). “”Don’t flatter yourself,”” sneers our dashing and flashily dressed IT help desk guru.

Folks, put your hands together for the Klez worm – as of last Thursday, the fastest-spreading malware ever, according to Symantec.

On someone’s PC, my friend and I are in the same address book. Klez chose a couple names at random – mine and his – plucked a random file off the computer, sent it along with itself, and Bob was its uncle. (Better make sure those, um, “”art”” jpegs have been deleted …)

Not so fast. We editorial types stand fast in the face such assault. For we are Mac users.

Nobody writes viruses that have any effect on Macs. There is a Wintel/Exchange monoculture out there – Apple machines constitute only four per cent of the desktop market. Ergo, the nefarious target Windows machines. “”This,”” said our nattily attired IT guy, “”is why PCs should be banned”” (under the withering gaze of the PC aficionados in the department).

I beg to differ. If PCs were outlawed, only outlaws would have PCs. Wait, I got that wrong. If PCs were outlawed, the script kiddies would target the Apple OS. So vive la monoculture, at least as long as I’m working on a Mac.

*****

In everyone’s life – mine more often than most – there come times when nothing quite hits the spot like a groveling apology.

I’m, uh, sorry.

Many cherished readers have pointed out the congenital idiocy demonstrated by the mathematics of my last column, in which I asserted that a $30 disposable cell phone with 60 minutes of airtime would cost $2 a minute. I would be insulting you if I told you what the actual cost would be.

*****

In the same column, I asked readers to submit analogies for the Nokia-cell-phone-in-a-Hop-On case. Many of you replied.

Several pointed out that the printer analogy – an HP laser jet with a Canon print engine – struck truth. “”We worked on a Lexmark Optra N shortly after its debut a few years ago and were struck by its uncanny similarity to the competing HP,”” wrote Richard Daniels of Clean Machine. “”While on the phone to Lexington we raised the possibility that this was an HP engine. ‘No,’ we were told. ‘Both the HP and our printer are using the Canon engine.’ The truth is such a strange place.””

From reader Tom Somerville came the profoundly confusing “”Milli Vanilli dubbing a Michael Jackson video.””

But the winner must be Karen Lopez’s submission: “”You open up Larry Ellison and find Bill Gates inside … or is it the other way around?””

We promised free cheesy software, so Karen gets one of those free AOL offer CDs that now outnumber the population of the earth. We’re sure there’ll be one in her mailbox soon.

Comment: dwebb@itbusiness.ca

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