Wednesday, March 23, 2005


Imbecility, n. A kind of divine inspiration, or sacred fire affecting censorious critics of this work

The loopholes of the Do Not Call list annoy me today, as I've received several calls from my bank this week trying to sell me their latest financial product. Although truth be told, I might have a slight interest in said product, I really dislike the sales methodology. The phone rings, and the caller introduces himself or herself as a representative of the bank. Having been the victim of an identity theft once, I carefully (and admittedly aggressively) question the caller and try to ascertain whether there's some sort of problem, but once I've thoroughly flustered the telemarketer, they launch into their script telling me all about Latest Financial Product that will cure halitosis and ensure reaching nirvana, and that it's all ready to go if I just merely confirm my address and some other... At which point we do a Dick Tracy cartoon-style "Hold everything please" and I quickly but firmly say, "Sorry, not interested" and hang up the phone. It's obvious that the script and process have been written to get some form of affirmative consent from people without their realizing they're committing to something, and when they call "Customer Care" (an expression rife with euphemism) they hear "But you said yes to our wonderful product....."

Reminds me of a friend who sent out an e-mail the other day that he was dropping AOL, and not two days later said he was back on the service. I inquired quizzically, and he said "Everything's negotiable". Customer retention at its finest.

For purposes of comparison, as well as a brief sanity check, I decided to try Webroot's online spyware scanner to see if it picked up anything missed by the AdAware/Spybot/MSFT AntiSpyware combination in force at the moment on the High Altar. It picked up about 60 cookies that had been missed by the previous three (nothing horrendous, but I was a bit suprised that the combination in place didn't pick them up). I've got SpySubtract running on two other machines here at Schloss Scheisse, but haven't tried it on the High Altar as I haven't seen a particular need for it - yet. I'll probably try it just to validate the observations from Webroot. I'm getting a bit paranoid about rootkits, and I've just tried RootkitRevealer from Sysinternals. The good thing was that MSFT AntiSpyware immediately picked up on RootkitRevealer's attempt to install a service (actually a good thing, as the spyware types have picked up on the executable name, so RootkitRevealer's service generates a random executable name). RootkitRevealer did a full scan of the running High Altar and came out clean, but the paranoid (read as "careful user") would do well to be vigilant. This lovely article at shows a fairly reasonable methodology for avoiding detection by RootkitRevealer. A Knoppix distro with this functionality would make me a lot more comfortable, but I guess that Strider GhostBuster will provide the equivalent, assuming it ever sees public distribution...


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