Computer Knowledge Newsletter – May/June 1997 Issue

In This Issue:

Virus News

The AOL4FREE “virus” has gotten a lot of play in the press. Here is a synopsis of the true story. A Macintosh program called AOL4FREE was actually written some time ago. It did what the name implied, broke through AOL login barriers and gave you the service free. The writer was caught. In March of 1997 an AOL4FREE virus hoax started to circulate. Some poorly-brought-up person noticed this, wrote a simple batch file Trojan, called it AOL4FREE.COM, and placed it on some internet sites. The U.S. Department of Energy’s CIAC noticed this and put up a notice that this file was being widely distributed (which it really was not). People got confused and the media did their usual less than outstanding reporting based on this confusion. There is no AOL4FREE virus and warnings about it are a hoax. But, if you ever come upon a program of that name, delete it.

General Security

The May issue of Infosecurity News reports that Microsoft has set up a special E-mail address specifically for reports of security problems relating to its products. The address is and Microsoft has reportedly assigned a “team of experts” to act on reports mailed to that address. Dare we ask how big this team is?

General Information

There may be some hope on the horizon regarding creation of a master “no-spam” list for the internet. The folks at http://www.aristotle.orgWeb Link promise to be close to agreement with Cyber Promotions, Inc. (and other sites which send spam) regarding a master list of those who do not wish unsolicited spam. It’s a step in the right direction, but there are some conditions. First, at the moment they are only taking names from registered voters in the USA. Second, you have to sign up for their service whereby you set up a free account with them and monitor it for mail on subjects you select (they claim to pay you to do this).

Do you live in an area where there are fire ants? If so you should know that they have an attraction to things electrical. In one recorded incident a University of Texas graduate student watched in horror as one of her final papers disappeared off her PowerBook at 2 a.m. one night during her last semester. After calling for technical support she was asked to pull out the battery and note its serial number. When she did, she found it crawling with ants.

For some reason no one yet understands, electrical equipment suits the ants’ needs. Besides horror stories like the-ants-ate-my-homework disaster, tales of Indonesian ants fouling up the works of modems circulate with yarns about Brazilian ants munching on the gel that coats circuit boards. The ants swarm by the thousands inside circuitry, piling up enough debris to break the electrical connection.

It’s reported a year ago, Lynn Heitman installed a newly patented electrical barrier strip which electrocutes ants as they try to crawl into a Mansfield, Texas, streetlight that has the dubious distinction of being the most infested light in the state. So far it appears to be working.

Bottom line: If you live in an area infested with ants, take care they don’t get into your electronic equipment.

New on the Web Site

Most of the work this month has gone into my long-neglected personal pages. I took out the personal links (they were basically the same as the Computer Knowledge links) and have added a travel page. Have been looking through the photo library of late, trying to figure out what to do with it (photos don’t do much good stuck in an envelope in a drawer). So, I’ve started to put small scanned versions of them plus some notes on the internet. If interested, please stop by and visit (if you like it, check back; I’ll be adding more over time).

[Update: These pages are now on my personal domain at Link]

Also added to the personal section is a rather complete guide to the rosary, why one should pray it, and how to pray it. Even added some papal encyclicals about the rosary. Try…

[Update: These pages are now on my personal domain at Link]

In closing: Trust everyone has a wonderful summer. Our weather here has been about a month ahead of itself all year and so it’s appropriate to wish everyone a good summer even though it’s still supposed to be spring.