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Summertime Blues

Week of August 20, 2001

'Well I'm gonna raise a fuss and I'm gonna raise a holler.'
  -- Eddie Cochran

When school lets out, when products are released, when people go on summer holidays a certain lethargy sets in. We're not as easily cajoled back onto the merry-go-round; we want to take it easy. And in this relaxing hammock world news plays a big part.

When media have nothing to write about they find something to write about. It might not be about Dubya getting mooned in Sweden, or some poor soul getting fried in a special bunker, but it will do as news anyway. 'Sissy Loses Her T-Shirt At Public Bath' or 'Missing Kitty Cat Found'. Something will take the headlines.

And we don't want earth-shaking news either, not when we're relaxing at poolside and thinking what a wonderful world we live in.

But in the world of computers things work a bit differently. It's the summer months when we have to have a worm or virus scare, when we can all devote more time to those machines we normally devote very little time to. Normally in use only as we need them, our computers become the instruments of desultory day-trips around in cyberspace, they become something we can fill our days with - as long as the things we come into contact with do not shatter our senses, or disturb our well-deserved R&R.

2001 has given us all we could hope for in the nature of true computer-oriented leisure entertainment. We had Code Red and SirCam, and then we had Son of Code Red, and then we almost had Bride of Code Red, but Son of Code Red was left standing at the altar, his bride last seen somewhere in the Far East, authorities still in disagreement as to whether she ever existed in the first place. It's all lovely stuff for our first morning cuppa.

And we had the media hysteria around it too, in itself an event which can be reported on. We had the myth debunkers providing excellent entertainment for us and reminding us to not take our summer holidays too seriously. We had the scathing summaries of British The Register which more often than not were spot on.

And then we had Steve Gibson. It's hard to remember that the ravings of this lunatic have only reached their current fever pitch in the past few months - over our summer holidays 2001.

It all started back in the beginning of May, right after International Workers Day. Initial suspicions were that GRC.com had been taken down in the supposed strife between the US and China over the US spy plane detained on Chinese soil. A few people wondered how Steve Gibson would ever fit into this grand scheme of things but they didn't have to wait long. Banner after banner appeared on the seldom seen GRC site, proclaiming the State of Emergency, the State of War. Several weeks later, enough time to consult with all the higher-ups about marketing efficacy etc., Gibson released his Tale of Wicked and the Mean Nasty Zombie Masters.

Using 'hand crafted' tools he promised to release to public domain but which probably never existed, Gibson went into the Nether Regions of our otherwise Innocent Internet World and met with the Dark Forces of the Satans Themselves. He showed them Respect. And he still came out the Loser. They continued to Attack.

Gradually this posturing became a broken record, so Gibson moved on to bigger and better Things: Realising (or being told) that the impending release of Windows XP could be exploited to send all the control freaks in his Ridiculous News Groups into a new Tailspin, Gibson began attacking RAW SOCKETS.

No one in the industry took this seriously, just as no one in the industry has ever taken Steve Gibson seriously, but they did take the hysteria he was bound and determined to spread very seriously.

In short order we found rebuttals at Vmyths.com and with ace reporter Thomas C. Greene of The Register, who for some unknown reason accepted an invitation to an online radio show (breaking out of the Internet here, aren't we?) where Steve and his good old 'buddies' could chum it up and Greene could burp to a live microphone now and again. And the Vmyths founder had his life threatened by a Gibson Blackshirt, and still life went on. It was our Summer Holidays 2001: We lay in our hammocks and enjoyed the beautiful weather and our morning cuppa, and this was really great stuff.

Microsoft never did listen to Steve Gibson. They do lick his butt good and proper, they never stamp on him either, because they know what kind of hysteria the jerk can create. Gibson is not Ralph Nader, neither in integrity nor in clout, but he can cut into revenues enough to make a scratch an ouchie.

GRCSucks.com came out, and suddenly we had the aspersion that there was more to the relationship between Steve Gibson and 'luminary' John McAfee than their admitted ten-year history of 'collaboration'. Firewalls were getting blasted left and right on Gibson's site, while McAfee's ZoneAlarm was getting the Plug of the Century. Even as Gibson protested 'I'm Not Selling Anything!' tension began to grow.

And now the summer is over. Students have gone back to uni, and in a few short days, after one last lap of partying drinking carousing and bonking, they will hit the books again. The Summer Holidays 2001 are over. It's back to reality again.

But what does Steve Gibson do? Completely out of context, completely missing the point of it all, even forgetting his own earlier admonition to 'take a walk on the beach and get away from it all', he now predicts the End of the World - AFTER Summer Holidays 2001 are at an end. Not content to let bygones be bygones, to have had fun during the summer break and let it go at that, this madman is using MORE FUNNY FONTS AND COLOURS THAN EVER to convince his suicidal following that The End of The World Is Nigh.

No matter that Gibson has a funny habit of making precisely this prediction and - as we are all ostensibly still here - of getting it wrong each and every time. Not that anyone really thinks Gibson believes his own trollop, but still and all. When all you've got is a dusty old program from 1987 that no one really wanted back then and certainly no one can even use today, you have to do something.

The minions await with bated breath. Their Master Has Spoken. The End of the World Will Come. Protected by THE ONLY FIREWALL EVER MADE ZONEALARM DOWNLOAD IT NOW, they will attempt to not blink as they Stare into the Eyeballs of Windows XP Hell Itself and face Their Final Moment with COURAGE.

Of course it's like Jim Jones. That's obvious. It's like all those idiots out there who collectively gang together and then commit bulk rate suicide to pre-empt the end of their universe as they know it.

But in this case the Gibson Groupies are not about to off themselves. Nor are they likely to simply disconnect from the net. No, they would much rather go on screaming (at NEWS.GRC.COM of course).

For the difference between the Gibson Groupies and the rest of us is that although we like this yellow kind of journalism during the summer when we don't have much to do, the Gibson Groupies like it ALL YEAR ROUND, because they NEVER have anything to do.

And when Christmas comes, with Santa dressed in his BLACK SUIT with his DEMON HORNS clearly visible in his cap and his eyes all red and his mouth SPOUTING FIRE, as Computers R US and Idiots R US all begin shelving Windows XP The New Computing eXPerience and the lemmings of the world all go downtown to BUY IT - when that happens the Gibson Groupies will all huddle together at NEWS.GRC.COM in FEAR.

Imagine, if you will, that Jim Jones and his pals did not all imbibe a lethal drink. Imagine if you will that none of these idiot groups did. Imagine instead that they kept their cocktails at the ready for the FIRST SIGN OF THE END but did not drink of their Jim Jones Potions until the End of the World was demonstrably upon them.

Imagine them now, sitting there and waiting - still waiting. Imagine the years going by. They're still sitting there, still staring into the abysses of their spoiled drinks, now and again casting a furtive glance to their Wise and Immortal Fearful Führer, waiting for a sign - a sign that yes, the End is now Finally Truly upon them, or a sign that the poor sod finally gave it up.

Imagine them doing that for years. Just imagine it.

No, dear friends, it seems we will have much to do this Christmas. More news to read, and the kind we really don't want to read in the silly season. The kind of useless waste-of-time non-news we prefer for our summertime hammocks and morning cuppas.

Thank Steve Gibson for raising such a fuss and holler he gave you the Summertime Blues.

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