Archive for September 2013

Why You Should Not Install Norton Antivirus on your Computer

Short form: don’t buy Norton Antivirus. They are almost as ruthless about extracting money from people as the Russian scammers they are protecting you against. Instead get Microsoft Security Essentials and don’t click on offers that sound too good to be true.


Long form:
Years ago, having an antivirus program on your computer was an important part of keeping bad people off your computer. Today this generally is not generally the case. Here is why:

– Bad people don’t use “frontal attacks” to get onto your computer any more. Instead, they use social engineering. They won’t try to hack your IP address, instead, they will sneak their way into a product you will download willingly and when the antivirus program asks “Are you sure?” You’ll naively say “Sure!”
Norton and Symantec, the two biggest antivirus companies, make products that do 1 thing well, scare you into thinking you need them. They are almost as bad as the scammers they are protecting you against, really.
– By far the best antivirus program out there is YOU. If an offer seems too good to be true and all you need to do is install a piece of free software, IT IS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE. It is a scam and you will get what you deserve.
– Remember, on the internet, you are literally 1 click away from the world’s best, highly paid, amoral Russian scammer professionals!
– There are FREE antivirus programs out there that work very well. Namely Microsoft Security Essentials or AVG Antivirus. Yes Microsoft Security Essentials is from Microsoft and yes it’s free.


I went to take the GRE today. Long story short, the computer at the testing center broke. I have to reschedule the test. Ugh. Maybe I’ll get to take it next week.

I’m trying to get into a Master’s program for Occupational Therapy. To this end, I’ve been preparing to take the GRE for the last couple months. This is actually my second attempt. I took it in January and did “ok”, and that wasn’t enough to get me accepted into grad school. It was time I did “great”.

I went to bed early, had a normal breakfast (the golden rule I follow is “don’t do anything out of the ordinary”), a good lunch and then was off to the test location. I got there an hour early just in case. 20 minutes before the test was to start, they told me and the others in the waiting room, “there’s a technical problem, there might be a delay.” Ugh, so much for starting my test early.

12:30, my test time, came and went. 12:45… 1pm… 1:10 rolls around and I’m thinking that I will have to reschedule. It’s a long test, last time I was in the test center for 5 hours. After 6+ hours in there, I know I’d be thinking “what’s the square of the hypotenuse of LUNCH?!? What is the definition of LUNCH?!” Just as I was about to bag, they called my name.

I sign in at 1:12pm. I sit down at the computer and begin. Will my energy hold out? Did I take enough caffeine, or maybe too much? All that starts to fade as I sink into the first question. It’s asking me how I feel about politicians with a dark side. I dig in! My mind is in gear, making connections, developing a convincing argument and BAM! “JAVA EXCEPTION” the computer vomits onto the screen. WTF? I turn around in my chair, as if yanked out of The Matrix. A woman sitting opposite me turns away from her desk a moment later looking bewildered. She whispers something that I can’t understand to me and all I can spit out is a grumbling “I don’t know.”

I think back to when I was checking in. The attendant had said something about, “If the screen goes blank, come back here.” Or maybe it had been “When…”. Grrr. I go back to the attendant, I explain how I can’t go on. With a bit of sympathy in her voice she says how the test is run over the internet and there’s no way to fix things at this end. She’s a nice enough lady. She gives me a piece of paper with some numbers scribbled on it and describes how I can reschedule the appointment.

I wandered around downtown San Francisco for an hour, trying to purge my huge buildup of energy.

NoSpamNX blocks WordPress Comment Spam

I just had to gush about NoSpamNX. It’s been my only spamproofing on for 6 months now and it’s worked exceptionally.

  1. I set wordpress to moderate unknown user comments
  2. I installed NoSpamNX
  3. I set the NoSpamNX Local Blacklist to block “http://” and “https://”
  4. I removed the URL field from my comment interface
  5. I put a note in my comment file telling users “Do not write “http://” in your comment, it will be blocked.”

I still have to moderate new user comments but this is easy and I want to watch my blog comments anyway. The amount of spam I have to review from the moderation cue is very low at 1-5 per week. On rare occasions, I enable the blocking of specific strings like “win free sex now” to stop some comment spam bots (I think I’ve done that 3 times in 6 months). NoSpamNX has been blocking 200-1,000 comment spams per day for a long while now.

Hurray and huzzah!

Switching Users Easily in Windows 7

If you have several users on a Windows 7 computer, it is good to have several user accounts. But it is a bother switching between those accounts. You need to click Start | the tiny arrow next to the shutdown button | Switch user.

This program makes switching users a snap.
Fast User Switch

Should You Go To Burning Man?

Whenever I talk to friends about all the terrific reasons they have to not go to Burning Man, I give the same kinds of responses. This article does a great job at capturing some of those responses. So read it and go with me next year! It’ll change your life!

55 Things I Learned At Burning Man

DNA Sign Makers

Funny thing, last month I went out drinking with Sean and Lara. One of their drinking buddies is Carter who built the original DNA Lounge sign! We got to commiserate over drinks about how many gyrations and how much time it actually takes to build a sign. Good times!