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And Always They March On

Week of August 23, 2000

Let's all drive down to Red's Nightcrawlers & Computers and pick up that brand new Pentium XIX with the 400TB disk and just enough room to install Windows 2001. Let's boot up and crash all over again. Let's have lots of Internet disasters and play Kops and robbers. It's kewl.

PCs come and PCs go, we come and go, and always they march on. Pentiums go from I to II to III to IV, and always they march on. Disks get bigger, programs get bigger, and always they march on.

Five years ago Bill Gates decided he wanted to dominate online services. He wanted to buy Intuit too, and he wanted to create the biggest stir in the industry since IBM brought Charlie Chaplin dancing around the rose vase. He created MSN and figured he could drown out CompuServe and AOL and only as a hedge watched the Internet.

Bill was wrong and as always was able to jump from one horse to another without losing a millisecond. The Intuit deal was put on indefinite hold, Windows 95 hit the shelves, the MSN went dormant. ActiveX was introduced. And Microsoft continued its struggle to eliminate middleware on the PC.

Five years ago the web was new and few realized the implications which today are self-evident truths.

'Do you think Microsoft truly failed to realize that countless users weren't educated enough to understand the ramifications of these software features? I doubt it; 5 years ago most Windows users were just beginning to learn about the Internet, and Microsoft certainly knew that. I won't speculate about the company's motives for overpowering the software, but I think it's a ridiculous practice that costs global businesses millions, if not billions of dollars in excessive administrative and educational efforts.'
  -- Mark Joseph Edwards, July 26, 2000

Oh they knew all right. And five years passed, and in this time they did nothing. And in this time more and more unsuspecting home PC users took their mysterious boxes out of wraps and connected and didn't have a clue. They looked upon the Explorer shell as their first contact with computing science ever. They never, for example, questioned the fact that files seemed to have an extension (or whatever you call those funny letters after the dot in the name) in some circumstances yet in others did not. Life went on. People learned to reboot every second hour, they heard phrases like 'system resources', they bought more and more add-on utilities meant only to compensate for weaknesses and shortcomings in their operating system Windows (what is an operating system anyway? Oh heck, who cares).

A few 'remarkable' companies actually opted out of Windows NT or anything more robust and forced the network workstations to run 95. In a move that stunned local sysadmins, the newly appointed head of the Swedish national telephone company, a woman in her mid-fifties with no prior experience in the field whatsoever issued a decree that all alien (i.e. non-95) operating systems attempting to connect to the company's network should through the wonders of automation have their disks wiped clean and have glorious 95 written over them.

And always they march on.

We're up to May 4, 2000 now, and it's a day before graduation at Amaconda in the Phils. Somehow a worm never intended to do what it was about to do gets into the wild. Users of Microsoft products world-wide are suddenly hit by the worst break-down in Internet communications ever. Unsuspecting users, their brains numbed by years of abuse by Microsoft technology, open alluring email letters with attachments saying they are loved. The temptation is too great, and a world-wide epidemic is the result. The list of companies and organisations hit reads like a who's who from Forbes or the Internet itself. The FBI gets hit. The Pentagon gets hit. Everybody is down for the count.

It takes hours, in some case days, before the reporters dare own up to what has happened. But finally the word is out: it's yet another frailty in the technology designed to let us go anywhere we want. It's another byproduct of Bill Gates' and Steve Ballmer's altruist goal to bring us all more and more Quarter Pounder innovation. We are doomed.

Sysadmins everywhere panic. For years they let all this rubbish go by; now they want blood, they install firewalls on their firewalls, disallow all attachments, disallow ZIP files, executables, everything but get to the core of the problem and address the real issue. Microsoft issues a security bulletin with the classic remedy of all times: 'do not open any attachments whatsoever' - and that took several days for them to formulate.

And always they march on.

In the Phils the hunt begins. The de Guzmans and friends are targeted right from the start. In a series of moves that made the Keystone Kops look like Moshad, the combined and ever so clumsy forces of the NBI and the FBI totally bungle their operations, and the news reports are creative and fanciful. At one time the American ambassador was on the scene with four mean barking dogs threatening to bite everyone to pieces when the Kops made their bust. There was no one at home when they broke in (not even the dogs); there was everyone at home. It was a nightmare and it was a comedie humaine.

In Redmond, Bill Gates prepared new public service announcements. If Microsoft were decimated, they would not be able to prevent such worm attacks in the future. Bill's stock plummeted. He lost his ranking as the world's richest man to dubitable and FAA antagonistic Larry Ellison. Three of the top ten in the world lost billions overnight and Nasdaq was in a death struggle.

And always they march on.

Now Michael Buen is the guilty party, for he has written a thesis which has absolute diddley to do with either the trojan or the worm. Now Onel is really under suspicion again, and the NBI goes public with their intentions to nail him by any means possible. In Manila Alan Robles laughs at this, for he knows the political duplicity of ERAP and knows that it can never happen. And the Phils don't have any legislation to prosecute with anyway, and too many of ERAP's friends would have to board the same plane to the US if they ever gave in to Washington DC.

And for what purpose? Did Onel or whoever it was really do something so reprehensible, something so terrible and devastating? No. Look to Redmond for that. The author of ILOVEYOU wanted Internet online time. Bill Gates wanted more billions and Netscape and Java out of there. Put things in perspective.

And now, as of August 21 of this year, the saga ends and no one is chasing anyone anymore. Except the headhunters clamoring to sign Onel to a seven figure contract. And in even this, the morons show that the march will never end.

Whoever the author of Barok is, he or she is a good programmer. That much is certain. The author graduated quickly from a beginner at using Microsoft's horrendous development tools to real lean and mean beastie, something radsoft.net would even be proud of. And the program is inventive and seems to be rather well written. But Barok's author is just one of many. There were countless good programmers graduating this year from Amaconda, as there were from other institutions world wide. The rush to sign Onel is just another example of how suits can work. CEOs and boards of directors and the indescribably lame departmental heads and human resource recruiters. All the while not one iota has been undertaken anywhere to tighten up security and stop things like this from ever happening again.

It's a world war on the PC with Windows 2000; it's a hopeless case with Windows 9x; Linux is here to stay in network servers; all the morons who used Microsoft Internet tools on May 3 are still using them today. And it's only a question of time until the next disaster hits, until Bill comes back on TV and makes his next Checkers speech, until the Keystone Kops chase scene is re-enacted for no one's good whatsoever, while risking the destruction of the lives of innocent people.

It will never stop. Not this way. It just won't.

Let's all drive down to Red's Nightcrawlers & Computers and pick up that brand new Pentium XIX with the 400TB disk and just enough room to install Windows 2001. Let's boot up and crash all over again. Let's have lots of Internet disasters and play Kops and robbers. It's kewl.

And always they march on.

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