Cynthia Grenier, Commentary Editor:

I wish to submit the following for WND "Commentary", as a piece by an independent author. My bona fides and recommendations may be found in:    www.bobbemer.com/BIO.HTM

or in general at my website:    www.bobbemer.com

You will see there that WorldNetDaily would not exist in present form without my inventions. That should be good enough for you to take the risk of printing this piece.

Not to mention that it gives a mighty fine solution to viruses.
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COMPUTER VIRUSES AND MICROSOFT

In the movie Blazing Saddles the bad guys attempt to destroy a copy of the town of Rock Ridge, not the real Rock Ridge (which is saved). There's a corresponding 95% solution here to the computer virus problem.

Like the people that throw away money on state lotteries because they don't understand mathematics, almost all personal computer users don't understand the wonderful tool they have. They're recognizably lazy, too. Lazy enough to have given over the control of their lives to computers programmed by people they wouldn't let in the front door under other circumstances.

Of three categories a virus transmitted over a connecting device can destroy:

  1. The operating system software is the cheapest to replace. You may even get it again from the saved CD it was purchased as.
  2. Next cheapest is your hardware, like the hard disk and BIOS. $800 will get you all the PC most people really need these days, unless they like to lord it over everyone else in bragging contests.
  3. Your own software and data are where the big replacement costs lie, being your biggest investment in time. They're the hardest to replace. And most people don't even create software; it's the lost data files that hurt most.
Our goal with viruses should be to protect users, who have been supplied this super tool without any real idea of how it works, or how it should be supervised instead of letting it run free like a vicious dog. Users who don't usually have the sense or discipline to make backup copies of files at least every third day. So happy that someone talks to them over the Internet that they'll open anything without checking to see if it perchance ticks like a bomb, doesn't smell right, etc.

I don't really fear viruses. I don't open any attachments without knowing the sender very well, and even then not for big files or picture files. That's a general principle -- there's not the time to wait while they download.

There are certain files that cannot be corrupted or destroyed by a virus. Absolutely cannot! Guess what they are? They're the copies on your diskettes.

So if a virus destroys the files in your PC, just reload them from your diskettes. Very little problem. Unless, of course, they don't exist because you didn't copy them to diskette. Or unless they don't match the ones you lost because you changed those and didn't change the diskette files to match.

I back up all my files conscientiously, every few days. That's why I don't worry about viruses. Files on diskettes can be inaccessible to anyone but me. You can't send a virus (so far) by radio, and my diskettes have no receiver or electronic address.

A Pretty Good Virus Solution

But permanent good practice doesn't come from books, teachers, or preachers. It comes from law, licensing, and (best of all) if there is no other way to do it except the right way!

That's where MicroSoft comes in. A government has optional punishments or remediation. It can fine, jail, or execute. Or it can exact community service!

Instead of MicroSoft, let's imagine MSoft-Iron, from whom the government has contracted for prison bars. At first the bars looked pretty good, but then prisoners found they could bend them with their hands. Now what recourse does the government have? Split the company into three parts? That doesn't get better iron, and if the iron had been successful there would have been no complaints about big profits.

Isn't it better to force MSoft-Iron, under penalty of imprisonment and/or fines, to replace all the defective bars in the prisons? We have lemon laws for automobiles, another crucial aspect of our economy.

What MicroSoft has given us is attractive but somewhat shoddy software, and their priority is upon making more of the same, rather than fixing the existing software to industrial strength. Competitors and professionals alike have confirmed this. More vocally since the LOVE BUG epidemic. 99% of users are already up to their ears in functionality they neither need, use, or understand.

Isn't it better to force MicroSoft, under penalty of imprisonment and/or fines, to fix their software to be virus-resistant? Not only by changing and ading software, mind you, but by eliminating many of their options and work-savers if necessary by being vulnerable.

The only way the government should alter MicroSoft's world isn't breaking them up, but rather forcing them into a plan of remediation and actual alteration of functionality. If supervision is thought useful, make a governing board for all software releases. License them. License programmers working for them. Make up the governing board from the professional societies that have all along been harping on the poor and dangerous qualities.

We do it with bridges, don't we? Have you seen a billion-dollar bridge or skyscraper collapse lately? Have you seen one built without a permit?

The Mechanics of This Community Service

We can hardly expect PC users to change their bad habits. But the operating system software can be changed to force the users to do the right and safe thing in backing up their files. How?

Easy. Look at your directories. They already contain a record of the name, the current file size, and the time and day they were last changed. There is already a mechanism for protecting them against wipe-out. Obviously the system knows about time, or it could not automatically change the time-of-day when daylight savings or summer time begins and ends.

Can anyone argue that the suppliers could not modify the operating system so that a certain file cannot be changed unless saved to disk within the last, say 72 hours? I can't. Suppose I access a file that hasn't been archived less than 3 days ago. Wham! The message says "put the diskette for directory 'so-and-so' into Drive 'X', and we'll update it for you -- If you refuse, guess what? You're out of commission until you do!" Good habits get learned quickly that way.

Is This Solution Perfect?

Absolutely not. The method itself will be vulnerable to virus attack. The experts will come up with problems as soon as they read this. A virus could get at the forced-archiving component, so the the users won't be aware that the check is turned off. Agreed -- the current manual and voluntary method is safer. But it won't work.

One could try a deadman's throttle as on a locomotive. A piece of the archiving code could be made to serve a purpose in many other components, all of which would then fail noticeably if the archiving is corrupted. But the mandatory software reload would destroy the virus.

This scheme will test the ingenuity of people who might otherwise be hackers. And it is something useful that software manufacturers could do without government interference, other than a Justice Department requirement to do this community service.

Else it can be done by force of law. There are innumerable computer applications where law requires retention and protection of records.

Let's get going on Project Rock Ridge before things get worse!!

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