Date: Sat, 27 Jun 1998 08:31:30 +0100
From: Willard McCarty <Willard.McCarty@kcl.ac.uk>
Subject: that's not paranoia, it's justifiable fear
A member of Humanist, wishing for obvious reasons to remain anonymous, sent
me the following response to my story about unasked for Internet activity.
>Your story about Internet Explorer moving files to your hard drive makes me
>think that the U.S. government might have been misdirected to sue Bill
>Gates for the existence of Internet Explorer (as an intrusive presence) on
>Windows 98: the Feds should have sued Gates for what is inside the
>software, the kind of whirring machine gone crazy like a fox in moving data
>to your hard drive.
>Not long after I began using Windows 95, I noticed that it was doing its
>little things behind my back. I am not talking paranoia here; I am hearing
>real whirring noises when I didn't tell it to do anything. Windows 95,
>with a life of its own, was rearranging or creating files on my hard drive.
> I would clean up the hard drive with Norton Speed Disk, then leave the
>computer on for several hours. During that time, 2-3% of my hard drive
>space would become fragmented, without my doing a damned thing!
>Now when I am in an e-mail note with a URL in it, and push the button built
>into the URL, I get Internet Explorer--not Netscape--activating the URL. I
>have no control over that. It's almost as bad as Bill Gates telling me
>when I can turn my computer off.
>Windows 98 will have what amounts to a live connection to Microsoft,
>supposedly for the purpose of automatically updating to correct bugs.
>Whenever the modem is on or the network is activated, Microsoft will be
>connected to my computer. If I decide to buy a Spice Girls CD for my
>twelve-year-old from some Website, or if I mention the word "orgasm" in my
>e-mail, Microsoft may know about it right away and start sending me
>pictures of Ginger Spice in the buff. I worry about this.
>I am already worried that [name deleted], our local chain of excellent
>supermarkets, knows about my chocolate addiction. If [name] tells Bill
>Gates, Bill will start sending me free samples of chocolates of the world
>through snail mail, in order to capitalize on my habit (the tobacco
>companies already tried and failed, but Coke and Pepsi know that I can't
>live without caffeine). Then, cross-referencing my social security number,
>Bill will find out that I got a speeding ticket in 1982, during a really
>good and productive debate with my wife-to-be, on a lonely stretch of
>highway, and start sending me Web ads for radar detectors. He will also be
>able to find out that I support several universities with small sums that
>he believes would be better spent on his products. Then he would have my
>name deleted from the alumni lists and put instead on lists for updates of
>Word (in the broader sense) gets around quickly in the electronic world.
>In cable television in the U.S., for instance, I noticed that the
>programming of the art movie channel Bravo has had an almost immediate
>effect on other movie channels: noticing that Bravo was attracting market
>share, Turner Classic Movies has started to show On the Waterfront and
>experimental one-reelers, just in the last few weeks, to compete with Les
>Enfants du Paradis or Red Firecracker, Green Firecracker.
>My students in a tech writing class yesterday were saying that they were
>not horribly paranoiac about having their credit cards watched or surveyed.
> Since I haven't much to hide, I am not usually the suspicious type either,
>but I worry a great deal about leaving my hard drive open for Bill Gates to
>put files on--executable files among them--and I worry a great deal about
>what Bill Gates might take off of my hard drive, once he has gotten access
>to it through an open line.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Dr. Willard McCarty, Senior Lecturer, King's College London
voice: +44 (0)171 873 2784 fax: +44 (0)171 873 5801
Humanist Discussion Group
Information at <http://www.kcl.ac.uk/humanities/cch/humanist/>