[extropy-chat] Plz help!

Robert Bradbury robert.bradbury at gmail.com
Fri Aug 25 19:15:55 UTC 2006

On 8/24/06, Gina Miller <nanogirl at halcyon.com> wrote:
> Scratch that, I called Norton, they referred me here:
> http://service1.symantec.com/support/goback.nsf/docid/2005111514174058?Open&src=w
> apparently Go Back is not compatible with raidcore.........all good now!
> Gina

Gina, I hate to say it and I hope you will not mind me using you as an
example, but "All is *not* good".

I presume you are talking about "Norton Systemworks Premier" [1].  As the
Norton page says "GoBack" is included with the package.  Packages typically
install everything unless you select the "expert" option in which case they
"may" allow you not to install the parts you don't want.  Now Norton is
probably reliabile enough to allow you paths to get out of the swamp when
you fall into it (as you seem to have).

The details of your message seem to suggest that you are on the cutting edge
enough to get into real trouble.  You are installing closed source system
backup and scanning software from a 3rd party onto a system which already
has closed source software from multiple vendors (Microsoft & whomever is
supplying the "raid" system  it sounds like you are using) [2].

Now, lets start with the first problem -- Why do you need Norton Systemworks
in the first place?  Are you running around the Internet in such a "naked"
condition that viruses are infecting you left and right (I would hope that
ExI list subscribers know better than that).

The second problem is -- Why are you still using Windows?  Are you
absolutely *sure* that the software you require or its equivalent is not
available under Linux?  Even if its not there are several virtual/emulator
approaches (Wine, Parallels, Xen, VMware, etc.) which would allow you to run
Windows in a sandbox where it or the nasties it tends to promote in the
world should be unable to do undo harm to your basic system. [3]

Linux is *free* (and will remain that way forever and ever).  It is also
open source and so you can receive critical patches as soon as anyone in the
world makes them available -- not when some committee in Redmond (in
conjuction with its marketing people and lawyers) decide it is "safe" to
release them.  The people promoting Linux aren't running around trying to
get legislatures to pass laws, or distributing software without telling
people about its capabilities, that allows them to scan all of the
information on you hard drive.  Linux comes with virus scanning software
(free!) if you really need it (in 32 years of using Unix/Linux I've never
needed virus "disinfection" for those systems -- in the decade or so that I
used Windows I was careless and may have been infected a couple of times --
but I still cleaned up the problems myself without the need for a "helping"
hand.)  While Linux used to be somewhat difficult to install that is no
longer the case [4]

So, I'll stand on the crate in front of the audience and point out very
loudly -- if you aren't part of the solution -- you are part of the problem!

Now, why is this important?  Because the infection of machines that easily
enable more infections (i.e. all of those old unupgraded, unprotected,
closed source machines) are what allows SPAM to consume an increasing
fraction of Internet bandwidth and enables malicious attacks (possibly
supported by governments(!)) to take place [5].  Now some of you may be
saying, "Oh, I've got this great firewall software installed (e.g. from
Microsoft, Norton, McaAfee, etc.) that protects me from all that badness out
there on the evil Internet."  Sorry [6]!

I will note that whether you are running Windows *or* Linux, that because
the current Web interface that most people use involves a browser (IE,
Firefox, etc.) if you don't have Javascript disabled you are creating the
*wide open door* that those Internet nasties can sneak through.  Javascript
potentially enables a foreign program from any web site you visit  to run on
your computer!  Not a program you explicitly wanted to run (as was the case
with those "free" software utilities that people naively downloaded and ran
when the WWW was still a relatively safe place to play) but programs that
you don't even see.  If said programs are clever enough they may sit,
quietly... waiting... until your birthday next year when they will spring to
life and demand at least 3, maybe 4 figures from you being sent by Western
Union to a pickup point in Nigeria before they will turn over the password
required to decrypt your hard drive. (You don't really expect the password
to work do you?).   As is pointed out in [7] by Stefan Wolf,

"The primary gateway into the browser is JavaScript," Wolf explains. Users
should deactivate the program language in their browser, or use browser
extensions to define which web sites are to be trusted to execute

Of course it would be nice if you could be sure that certain sites can be
"trusted" and could not be compromised, for example government or military
sites, but as [8,9,10,11,12,...] point out -- that is probably an example of
playing Russian Roulette.

Your choice, use whatever software you want.  But as the Folding at Home team
is pointing out [13] their recent efforts are devoted to pushing the
computing capacity at their disposal to 1-10 petaflops.  That *is* human
brain equivalent capacity.

Some of you should be having nightmares where you wake up in a cold sweat
wondering if that money that you just wired to Nigeria is going to allow the
RogueAI to buy even more computing capacity that will subsequently be used
to enslave you even further.


2. Though I'm unfamiliar with these packages ("raid core" and GoBack),
"Raid" is a *completely* different concept with completely different
implementation details from what I suspect "Go Back" would be (a low level
file version control system).   The two concepts do not perform the same
function at all.
3. I personally have used Windows 2000 under Parallels under Linux.  It
works quite well and seems to provide a very good protection for my normal
system.  You need enough disk space and system memory to use this approach
(as is the case with Xen or VMware) but most "modern" systems should allow
one to operate this way.
4. The Ubuntu version of Linux (http://www.ubuntu.com/) is very user
5. "Tibetan Wi-Fi Website Attacked", Wired (17 Aug 2006).
 6. "Personal Firewalls Mostly Useless, Says Mail & Guardian"
7. "Why home firewall software is a leaky dike"
8. Google: "site hacked" gives over 3 million results.
9. Rhode Island:
10. Virgina:
11. Malaysia:
12.  U.S. Army:
13. "PS3 Client for Folding at Home Debuts, ATI GPU Version Soon"
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