Sunday, August 19, 2012

Good bye, Symantec

Symantec anti-virus has just told me that the tool I have downloaded is suspect, and has deleted the file for me, so that I am a safe and happy drone on the Internet. The message was: "WS.Reputation.1 is a detection for files that have a low reputation score based on analyzing data from Symantec’s community of users and therefore are likely to be security risks. Detections of this type are based on Symantec’s reputation-based security technology. Because this detection is based on a reputation score, it does not represent a specific class of threat like adware or spyware, but instead applies to all threat categories." So, if not enough people use a special purpose tool for a small industry, that file downloaded from the company must be bad and is automatically deleted to protect me. Good-bye Symantec anti-virus. And your solution, Symantec, of: "WHITE-LISTING Software developers who want to accelerate the reputation building process for their new software applications should submit new applications to the Symantec white-listing program. Details of that program can be found here." So, Mr. Developer, please pay us money so that folks will believe your software to be "Safe" is extortion in a base form. And all those users of special tools, that might have a following of 100-1000, you don’t need this version; it might not be safe enough for you to use. Call the developers and get them to call Symantec. Or fill out our form and do our job for us, and tell us what this software is so we can raise its score. I knew that Symantec had jumped the shark in terms of system tools along about the release of their protection suite for internet, and their annual renewal license for software I had already purchased, but this is the last straw. Their attempt to sound all cutting edge with: "The reputation-based system uses "the wisdom of crowds" (Symantec’s tens of millions of end users) connected to cloud-based intelligence to compute a reputation score for an application, and in the process identify malicious software in an entirely new way beyond traditional signatures and behavior-based detection techniques.” Is really just their way of saying that they are not going to research these millions of files anymore, and are going to let their user base do the work for them. In the case of the file I was downloading from its creator, I would have to guess that most (99%) of their customers would have no idea what to do with this tool, and so would never download it. That being said, of course their crowd can't tell them anything, and rather than say "hey, we can't guarantee that this file is safe." deleting it is so obviously the right choice, because everyone knows that all unknown files are bad. Morons. Lazy, incompetent, idiotic, morons. This ends a relationship with a company that I started buying their tools from in 1988. I am sad to say that the vision of Peter Norton is long gone from this company and that they really should consider their market, and their place in it. I do understand that the constant escalation of virus writers and anti-virus software has to change, but this is an unacceptable answer. At least products like Zone Alarm ask me my level of experience with computers and set some of their defaults accordingly, so that they prompt me to make sure of safe or unsafe actions. And certainly Symantec is trapped in the middle of an arms race with more users on the Internet downloading more different files every day, and more unique viruses and more ways for those viruses to hide, but to simply assume that a reputation score warrants file removal for a file downloaded from the source of the program is just too much for me. So I must bid Symantec good bye, and go find alternate anti-virus software for the Windows box.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Net Neutrality

Discussing “Net Neutrality” is like discussing “Gasoline Neutrality for your car. Ford motor company does not have an exclusive deal with British Petroleum so that you have to buy BP gasoline to get optimum fuel efficiency. In much the same way, net neutrality is a given when what you are purchasing is bandwidth, not connection to specific services. The neutrality of the Internet needs to be maintained in the same way that long distance providers are not allowed to be partial to any specific local carrier.

If Comcast or AT&T is allowed to select who you are going to get access to at full speed, what is to stop them from extorting money from Google or any large content provider to allow unfettered access? The Internet is a utility in this modern day and age, and must be treated as such and legislated in the same vein.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

what is Net Neutrality anyway?

Net Neutrality is really a misnomer; it’s not just about neutrality. Calling Common Carrier requirements for Internet providers “Net Neutrality” is like calling your car gasoline neutral. If Ford or General Motors made an exclusive deal with Exxon-Mobile so that their vehicles only got the rated gas mileage using that brand of gasoline, and all others would produce sub-par results, there would be no question about legislating against that.

So why then are the carriers allowed to try to hold content providers hostage over bandwidth and performance?

When I purchase Internet access through my ISP, I am buying bandwidth to the net at large, not to the companies that have cooperative agreements with my provider. I expect that the content provider may throttle requests and responses to mitigate issues such as being slashdoted and having unusually large amounts of traffic at an unpredictable moment, but that is in their business model not in the business of the Internet Provider who has sold me bandwidth.

The Internet has become a utility just like electricity, telephone, cellular phone, cable, water, gas, etc. and must be regulated with the same methods. Common Carrier law for phone companies must extend to the Internet providers both local and backbone. These rules are needed so that companies cannot be forced to pay what amounts to protection money to keep their bandwidth and their customers happy.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Thankful for the Internet

This time Google found the hint I was looking for.
I use SciTe to edit when I am working on Python projects. But on the brand new machine running Vista it was coughing up the "No module named ..." error.
A couple of Google searches later, I actually found this blog that had the answer to editing the Windows path and XPATH variables to find Python.

One would think that the Windows installer for Python would have done that already, but apparently not.


And now back to my regularly scheduled programming projects.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Strings - a movie review

Well, first let me say that I just watched a movie whose characters are all marionettes. That should put the rest into a little more perspective.

The theme of Strings is that we are all bound to one another. The metaphor of strings is obvious in the strings that control the actors, but is also carried throughout the story in other more subtle ways. When our hero is exposed to the world outside the city, he sees some of these connections, and has some shown to him.

The story itself is a hero saga, with our hero the young price setting forth to avenge his father that he wrongly believes to have been slain by their historical enemies. Of course there is an evil uncle who is furthering this for his own ends, being control of the kingdom, but that is about as trite as the story gets. Our young prince disguises himself and leaves the city with his general alone to seek the rebels who he believes murdered his father, leaving behind his sister in the clutches of the evil uncle and his henchman.

From here, however, we begin to learn that father was not always a great man, and that these rebels are really the victims of war crimes. Our hero saves the young brother of a member of the tribe of rebels, and ends up meeting them shortly after learning a horrible family secret. His father in his youth had murdered women and children of this tribe at one time.

After much travel and travails, our hero ends up back in the city without the evil uncle knowing. He learns see from his heart (or use his ki, if you think that way) and escapes from the prison just in time to hold his sister while she dies. Deposing the evil uncle our hero rides forth to save the love of his life who happens to also be the leader of the rebels, and brings her home to live in the city his ancestors kicked them out of generations ago.

The story is well told, and well worth the watching if you don't mind the marionettes.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

teaching an old dog a new trick

learning a new trick is always a difficult proposition. The new trick I am attempting to master this time is the use of dictation with Dragon NaturallySpeaking.
It actually feels somewhat silly to sit and talk to your computer.
Which is doubly so for me given that I was raised reading science fiction.

Teaching this old dog new trick of using dictation software instead of typing is going to take a bit more practice than I had expected. I hope that at the end of this process dictation will prove faster than typing and I may yet get a few short stories into electronic ink.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Useful thought for getting going

Web Worker Daily was a lovely article on rescuing an unproductive day.
I really have to thank them for reminding me to turn the music on.

Drowning out the conversations from the cubes around the floor, and the noises of the toys the folks around here use to help adjust attitude when taking support calls is a godsend.

Pandora really helps in providing the soundtrack I actually want to listen to. Setting up a channel for 80s bubble-gum pop music, or loud, stompy industrial, is great for fixing a broken day.