Posts Tagged ‘Add new tag’

The botnet bottleneck

2008/12/06

After reading an article recently about the botnet epidemic in cyber space, I had a few thoughts;

On a Windows PC, it is easy to monitor the amount of processor and memory usage.  If you are not doing anything with the computer, this should be in the low single digits for the processor.  The drive light, which flashes when the hard drive is operating, should not be flashing frequently or for long periods.  These are measurements of the machines operation directly, and are indicitive of whether it is writing and sending email, scanning your hard drive, or phoning home.  I believe that the same functions are monitored via a control panel program on Apple machines, and Linux usually includes such properties.

Somewhere up the line from a PC is a network server, which processes all traffic going to and from the PC.  Analyizing that traffic would reveal if any of the machines served by that device are generating large amounts of outgoing traffic.  When downloading a movie, the traffic is large, but in one direction.  When spamming, the traffic is large, but in both directions.  High outbound traffic is unusual, and should be investigated.

Putting your PC to sleep should include the processor and the hard drives.  If it does not, your PC may be infected, a zombie, under the control of a person or persons who are using it to steal from other people, or to flood the Web with garbage.

The World Wide Web, what many people still call ‘the internet’, is a world treasure, a resource of communication unparalleled in human history.  People who use it to exploit others hurt all of us, not just their victims.  Your computer may be operating a lot slower than it should, but how would you be sure?  Unless a machine is locked up, many folks will put up with it, thinking that the reason is innocent.

A final, and definite way to prevent your computer from being used is to turn your Web modem, whether it be cable or phone, off when you are not on-line.  Although inconvenient it assures that no traffic passes from your computer to the Web.

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What is ‘normal’ for markets?

2008/11/11

Over and over again, in reading about the financial/economic crisis, I come across the expression “when markets return to normal,” Do people really believe that we are going to go back to the dividend-driven, supposedly risk-free, immediate return seeking ways of the last few years? Doesn’t anyone realize that the wealth that was supposedly created in those years never really existed, it was just an illusion to allow a few people to benefit hugely at the majority’s expense? We artificially inflated our net worth, by bidding up the prices of everything, and paying ourselves huge bonuses for being alive. The money that was zooming around, being loaned out again and again, was a fantasy, with nothing to back it up. Just because someone claims that something is worth a certain amount does not make it so, no matter how hard we wish.

So we had better start adjusting to a new reality, one where wealth is again hard to come by, and is only created by work, not by manipulating numbers. We must accept that we cannot live off of our investments alone, because they are not going to provide the steady stream of money that so many have become addicted to. Stock dividends are going to become extremely rare, because the companies will be too hard pressed to come up with cash. Credit default swaps are not going to prevent risk, because too much has been invested under the false belief that it cannot be lost. The government cannot hand out trillions of dollars to keep investors from losing when the slowing of the economy stops the payment of debt.

The entire premise that being owed money increases one’s worth will have to be jettisoned, because too many accounts receivable are not going to be collected. A bank holding company may claim that it worth large sums of money because of all the debt that it holds, but how much of that debt will be converted into cash cannot be known in advance. Those companies that do not re-invest their profits into reducing debt and improving efficiency will not see their stock increase in value, unlike in the past. We have gotten used to believing that we were wealthy because we could easily borrow money. We never were wealthy, and we sure aren’t now.

Words for the season

2008/10/22

HARVEST KING

AND

THE FESTIVAL OF AUTUMN

I am the Harvest King.
My colors are brown and yellow, orange and black.
I am the bounty of the land.
The death which brings life.
I am Change, and Sacrifice for the Future.
I am that which makes space for new life.
I will come for you.

In Death, we celebrate new beginnings,
As we cherish that which has passed on.
The Harvest King reminds us of the sacred nature of life,
And drives us together,
So that we may face the coming Winter.
The Life Force withdraws from the land,
And we gather to draw strength from each other,
And the memories of those who have gone before us.

We celebrate the Life Force which has died,
Cherishing the sacrifice made for the living.
We glimpse the full cycle of the wheel,
Life emerging from the residue of Death,
Growing, creating more Life, sharing in the harvests,
And then, joining the slumbering pool of Life,
Waiting to be reborn.

Scott P. Holman