Saturday, January 3, 2009

Lament of a Systems Administrator

WARNING! - Start Bitch Session - WARNING!


You have been warned. 


Here I sit on a cold and crisp Saturday Afternoon, cleaning virus/spyware issue from my mother's computer.  WHY?  Because even though Microsoft makes a really functional Operating system, they continuously find themselves at the heart of malicious attacks and badly written code.  Coupled with the end users ability to protect themselves, we find that the Anti-Virus and Anti-Spyware industries are staples and highly lucrative, both for the virus writers and the virus defenders. 


I ask myself, how would the Macintosh be faring right now, if it had the market share for years and years instead of Microsoft.  Or, LINUX if it took the place of Microsoft a few years ago as the dominant OS.


But - I also need to mention that I do not need more things to fill up my already valuable time.  People should understand the distinction for their local I.T. dude that what I enjoy doing as a hobby in my free time, doesn't and isn't what I enjoy doing for a living.  Let me give you a for instance;  Cleaning viruses off of a computer from my mom (sorry mom, you are the example today) takes a lot of time and energy on my part.  9/10, the cleaning doesn't take on a PC and the system needs to be rebuilt.  That process will take a good 3-4 hours depending on the system.  That is a lot of time devoted to a cause that:



  1. pays no money

  2. is 100% preventable to begin with

  3. frustrates the hell out of me, because of the cleverness of most virus/spywares


I love computers, but my love of the computer comes with the awesome ability it has to enhance my life and to extend it in new and different ways.  I am sitting here typing this (on a MAC, no less) while I am connected to my mother's home, 100 miles away in Modesto, CA via a VNC session to help cleanse her system of any 'issues'!  That alone is pretty cool, but with that power comes a great responsibility. 


I love creating things on the computer - a web page, a helpdesk portal.  I love installing systems and ensuring they are ready to go - new LINUX system, testing out new technologies.  I don't love cleaning up after other tech people.  I don't love cleaning up preventable issues like viruses and spyware. I don't love dealing with people who believe a computer should be more intelligent than the operator running the device.


A few rules of thumb to live by:



  • Don't open an attachment that ends in .ZIP, .EXE, .CMD, .SCR, .PIF or .LNK - Chances are it is bad!

  • Quit sending crap to your friends - like that funny joke you got at work, or that inspirational story from Jenny in accounting - no one gives a crap and the act of sending something like this helps lessen the defensive mechanism we have when 'receiving' things from people we know.  the problem with this, is that the more stuff I get from my friends, the less likely I am to think that the one particular 'spyware' I get from them next week is real and not something to be trashed.

  • If you don't have a good Spyware/Anti-Virus application - turn off your computer - call HOPE or Goodwill and donate your computer - you don't deserve it.  My wife works for Symantec, so I won't tell you that the 2009 software (NIS and AntiVirus versions) are phenomenal and really lightweight.  Any major manufacturer will work, like NOD, McAfee, Symantec - stay away from the others

  • If you use a MAC - don't think you are immune - get your AV program installed and protect yourself - as the MAC gains more market share, so too will it become prone to some nasty viruses.

  • Be careful of the sites you go to and who is using your system when you are not around - The first one is common sense - don't go to a REDLIGHT district and you won't get any diseases - any site that tells you that you will need 'their' software to run is full of shit.  You need Quicktime, Flash and maybe Java -- those are the big three - and Silverlight for those few Microsoft Flash want-to-be sites.  The second is more difficult to manage, because you might not be around to stop people from doing malicious things with your computer.  But, a lot of the time, a virus on a system comes from a secondary user and not a primary user.

  • When it comes down to it - be safe in what you do.  Your computer is only as safe as you allow it to be.  You do something dumb and your computer will simply take your commands, your input and process it.  When your system becomes unusable or unstable because of your actions and you take it down to the local Geek Squad or  your local Tech and he wants to charge you 4-5 hours worth of work at 75-100/hour, don't bitch.  It is your fault!  And no - it isn't cheaper to buy a new computer and call it a day - we don't throw away our cars when we spend 2,500 on a new motor!


As Forest Gump has said:



Stupid is as Stupid does. 



And... as Sgt. Phil Esterhaus (a.k.a. Michael Conrad) used to say: 



Let's Be Careful Out There



Anyway - my blog, my two cents!


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