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False Positives

Week of June 14, 2004

People aren't as dumb as you think - they're dumber.
  - Stig Andersson

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The Internet Drivers Licence Exam programme has largely been a disaster. Several subscribers to the XPT and/or X-news have taken the exam, and most have passed with flying colours. These individuals generally have an impressive IT career pedigree in common.

Of late other websites have noticed the programme and recommended their visitors wander over and take a look. This has meant a lot of extra work, as the programme is entirely free and yet requires substantial bookkeeping, e-mailing, and artwork (for the diplomas, each of which is custom-made).

It's not too thrilling under the circumstances to see a number of phenomena, and one again ponders the aphorism of Stig Andersson, legendary manager of ABBA, who once quipped:

'People aren't as dumb as you think - they're dumber.'

It's also pertinent to remember that some lowlifes will not stop at any opportunity to flame out and wreak their horribly unsatisfying lives on others. We're all aware of these people, walking miseries; they never go away, but remain poised to spread their poison through any half-open window of opportunity.

The Internet Drivers Licence Exam programme was a lark, and a good idea, but a small handful of morons can spoil it for everyone - that's the one thing they're good at. It's no fun once the lobotomised get into the picture.

A few points:

  1. From: 'Jaye Morris' <banzero@hotmail.com>
    Subject: Internet Drivers License
    Date: Wed, 09 Jun 2004 14:53:04 -0400

    To Who It May Concern:

    Someone pointed me to your website, saying hey this is neat. i took a gander. Do you think I am stupid? Obviously my friend is. I would never never ever ever give you any information. Adios ghost. I was born at night, just not last night.


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    Subject: Application
    Date: Wed, 9 Jun 2004 12:54:04 -0400
    From: 'Chris Wilson' <CWilson@thk.com>

    I was going to fill in this questionnaire and send it to you - but frankly their is no privacy policy on your website. It strikes me that these questions would make pretty useful marketing information and pretty depth profile of myself..

    I find myself now questioning the reason why you need this specific information.

    Perhaps you need to tinker a bit with your program - I really like the idea - but in good conscience - I would not actually recommend that anyone actually do this because of the nature of the questions you are asking and the lack of a published privacy policy.

    Reacting to the preliminary questionnaire and suspecting there is an ulterior reason for asking about firewalls and e-mail client software is just plain dumb. It's a 'false positive' and shows that the individual in question is anything but capable of surfing the Internet safely. Even if such an e-mail message is not nasty in tone (a theoretical possibility only) it's enough indication that a 'failing grade' is the only correct one. Such a person could only pass the exam by cheating, and even then would be lucky to get by. The exam, as Internet surfing, is based on intelligence and skills, and such people ostensibly lack both to an embarrassing degree. When coupled with their complete incapability to properly format a single paragraph and/or punctuate satisfactorily and/or spell even the simplest four and five letter words correctly, one conjures up a nightmarish image of a rusty caravan in a American trailer park.

  2. Provoking with moronic statements such as 'Radsoft have no privacy policy' when said policy is from any page on the over 1,500 paged website never more than two clicks away is if possible even dumber than the above mentioned behaviour. Clearly such a person is dangerous to others online, lacking even the most basic of skills and security resources. It is substantial proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the individual responsible for such a statement is not even capable of basic 'click and drool' HTTP navigation.

  3. Radsoft (and Bloatbusters and Hackbusters) went out on a limb to realise a dream often quoted: to heighten security consciousness and to pave the way for ISPs to exact the same kind of credentials as for people wishing to traffic the physical highways. Elementary schools are today instructing children in good common sense and good security online and they and others are awarding 'PC drivers licences' valid throughout the European Union for adequate effort. It is certainly not beyond reason then that the stateside surfers responsible for most of the mishaps on the information highways be subjected to the same scrutiny. And when US ISPs such as Comcast and Earthlink are actively monitoring the abilities of their users, it should be obvious to anyone that the day when such exams become mandatory might not be far away.

  4. It is therefore depressing to see Windows users, especially US Windows users, who should be full of clues by now that their platform is hopelessly insecure, not entertain a migration, but lash out not at the real threats online but at one of many groups who wish to increase security online, and lash out in a for them typically rude and nasty manner and with zero skills and intelligence behind their remarks. Radsoft are hardly unknown on the net and any quick search at Google should turn up ample documentation of what both the software and the website stand for and have stood for the past eight years. Writing cheap nastygrams that don't ask polite questions but push unsubstantiated claims points only to certain people feeling threatened by their dangerous lack of knowledge and skills and needing a way out - an excuse - for not participating as their friends have eagerly done.

  5. Almost no serious Internet driver will send or accept e-mail messages in other than plain text, yet the demographic for people applying for the Internet Drivers Licence Exam is over '90% clueless': despite all the calamities and catastrophes over the years directly traceable to non-text e-mail, these specimens of the future continue to send out egregiously and grossly formatted e-mail messages ripe with vCards, blundering HTML, zip files, and what-not. Again Stig Andersson's words come to mind, and again it is noted that these same nimrods are most often the ones that complain Radsoft have no security in their questionnaire. The prevailing question is of course what possible security compromise or data mining resource is connected with knowing that Mr or Mrs Suburban Surfing Idiot uses Outlook Express and Kazaa when all the world already knows there are way too many idiots of this caliber out there.

All the above considered, Radsoft have therefore decided to wrap the Internet Drivers Licence Exam programme for the time being.

The future is bright: the European Union have had their European Computer Drivers Licence already for eight years, with their exams translated into 32 languages and with 3.5 million participants in 135 countries.

And even if the US gods of commerce will not permit such blasphemy, new generations there are coming to their parents' information highways far better equipped to guard the safety of both themselves and others.

All that remains at this point is to wait for Harry and Harriet Homeowner USA to die off.

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