Wednesday, January 28, 2009

VIRUS ALERT

There's a very serious computer virus going around. My friend Josh sent me an email about it, and I thought I'd pass it on to all 3 people that read this blog.
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First, here are articles detailing this new virus:

http://www.krdo.com/Global/story.asp?S=9722921
http://computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&articleId=9126349
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28779569/

The virus goes by many names, such as Conficker or Downadup. Unfortunately, this is the HIV equivalent of a computer virus.

Here's a summary of what I found:

* If your computers are networked (not in a "workgroup" or simply sharing files, but all running from a single server), then having this virus on the network is the worst case scenario. You'll have to call an IT expert who's worked with this virus to clean up the network. [The rest of the bullet points deal with individual PC's.]
* I'll repeat the advice I gave earlier: This virus can literally be spread by any means. For example: It can lie dormant on one computer that is already MS-updated, you share a file with another computer that is not MS-updated, and now they have the virus. It will also spread via USB devices, emails, malicious websites, etc. If you have administrative access on your PC, run not just a Windows Update, but also a Microsoft Update. They've bundled them together anymore, but make sure you're doing both.
* The operating systems most at risk are unpatched Windows 2000, Windows XP SP2 and XP SP3, and Windows Server 2003.
* I stand by my advice I give all Windows users, which is to create a "limited user account" that you work with on a day-to-day basis. Windows defaults everyone to the Administrator account, which you need to install/uninstall software, configure files and apps, etc. But, by using a limited account as your default, even if you download malware, your computer doesn't have permission to automatically install it. Granted, setting up your limited account may take a few hours to customize things the way you like it, and what-not. But it's worth it in the long run.
* Call me paranoid, but I always have at least two firewalls up and running. One is in my router -- you'll have to check the specs of the particular router you use (I use D-Link). But for your PC, ZoneAlarm is highly regarded and I've used the free version for some time: http://www.zonealarm.com/security/en-us/free-upgrade-security-suite-zonealarm-firewall.htm Avira's free antivirus has done some of the best virus detection I've seen yet: http://www.download.com/Avira-AntiVir-Personal-Free-Antivirus/3000-2239_4-10322935.html?part=dl-10322935&subj=dl&tag=button&cdlPid=10986298 And SpyBot - Search and Destroy does a very thorough scan for all types of spyware: http://www.safer-networking.org/en/ownmirrors1/index.html

The best medicine for this virus is prevention. Microsoft and other antivirus companies are working on patches to detect and remove the virus, but they are way behind the curve. I feel that if you follow the advice regarding Microsoft updates, limited user accounts, firewall, antivirus, and antispyware, you're PC should not get infected. Unfortunately, as I stated previously, you could be carrying a dormant virus, which makes file sharing a risk to others who do not practice PC prevention.

There are in fact two simpler options: switch to GNU/Linux, or switch to Mac. But, if you're stuck with Micro$oft in the meantime, you don't want to be one of the millions who have already been hit by this "super" virus.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Come On Feel The Japanoise

I think it would be neat to visit Japan. Their culture fascinates me, from the samurai period to the present day. Some of my favorite people and things have come from there, as well as some of the weirdest things I've ever seen. It's no surprise that their music scene is as varied as the rest of their culture. I'm gonna focus on three of my favorite Japanese bands: Merzbow, Boredoms, and Boris.



Merzbow (Masami Akita) is one of the most respected noise artists today. The biggest reason I like him and other noise artists like him is because I know how conventional music is played and recorded (what kind of guitar was played on a certain track, what effects were added later, etc.). When I listen to Merzbow, I have no fuckin' idea how he does what he does. It's just pure raw emotion and noise, and I love it.

Good Places To Start: 1930, Door Open at 8 AM



Boredoms were started by Yamantaka Eye, who sang for the noise band Hanatarash. Their earlier stuff was totally crazy, while keeping the typical rock band lineup. (You know: guitars, bass, drums, singer.) They became popular in the early 90s, touring with such bands as Nirvana and Sonic Youth. Their newer music isn't as wild as the older stuff, but it's still really good. I dig any band that tours with three drummers (especially if this is one of them. Gotta love Yoshimi!).

Good Places To Start: Chocolate Synthesizer, Vision Creation Newsun



Boris is a drone/stoner metal band that was named after a song by the Melvins. Their early albums usually had really long, droning songs on them. For example, their first album was just one song that lasted over an hour. They started making albums with shorter songs around 2000, which is good for me and my short attention span. If you don't think Japanese girls are some of the most beautiful in the world and Yoshimi wasn't enough proof to open your eyes, maybe Wata (their guitar player) might.

Good Places To Start: Heavy Rocks, Pink

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

44



As you all know, Barack Obama is now the President of the United States. As far as I can remember, this is the first time where I actually voted for the guy who ended up becoming President. While I think he's a good choice, there's something I want you all to remember.

A lot of people have hyped him up so much. They've called him a "savior" and "The One". He's not. He's just a man, just flesh and blood like you, me, and that guy over there. He's gonna make mistakes. He's gonna do things that make you scratch your head. Give him a chance. See what he does before you start heaping accolades on him.

Don't be disappointed if he fails. Very, VERY few people or things live up to the hype that surround them. Also, don't get too excited if he succeeds. Even a broken clock is right twice a day. Just let him do his job to the best of his ability.

Men in Dresses or: How I Learned How To Stop Worrying and Love Frank Zappa

Out of all the different musicians and groups I listen to, I'd say that Frank Zappa has done the most to shape my definition of "good music". His albums covered many different genres, and probably invented a few that people had never thought of. I'll never forget the circumstances that led me to get hooked on his music.

I had heard his name floating around for a few years before I ever bought one of his CDs. The first song I remember hearing was "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow" on the radio, and I saw the video for "You Are What You Is" on an episode of Beavis and Butthead. Since I was on a really heavy Beatles and Jimi Hendrix kick at the time, though, I forgot about him.

I think it was around late 1997 when I stopped heavily buying baseball cards and started buying CDs. There was a local music store that had a used CD rack, and I looked through that every time I went there, hoping to find a good deal. One day, I looked through the rack and found this:



This CD is by the Mothers on Invention, and it's called "We're Only In It For the Money". I vaguely knew that the MOI were connected with Frank Zappa, but I had never heard any of the songs before. I ended up buying it just because of the cover. I mean, how can you pass up a picture of a guy that looks like a Cocker Spaniel in a dress?

I listened to it when I got home, and I liked it. The only way I can describe it is if you took "Revolution 9" by the Beatles, made it 10 times weirder, and made it long enough to fill a whole album. A lot of it took a while to sink in, but I knew there was enough good stuff to make me want to buy more of his music, and so I did. I have around 40 of his CDs now, which is about half of what's been released so far.

Holy crap! Another blog!

Yep. Another blog. This is the third one I've started (not counting the ones on Myspace). Each of them are in different states of non-updatedness.

I last posted on the first one in December of 2005. It will never be posted on again, because of the nature of the last post. It just seems... I dunno, disrespectful to post anything after that. My second blog is more of a niche thing. It just talks about baseball cards. I haven't posted anything on it in about a month, but it's still open for business, and I'll post on it whenever I can think of something to write about.

As you can tell by the title, this blog will focus on random stuff I feel like writing about. (Is it possible to focus on randomness? Only Heisenberg knows for sure.) The updates will come as randomly as the subjects I write about.