Donating my free time

I’ve been helping simpsone and his parents get stuff moved up to Petaluma the last couple of days while frostedlexicharm has been down in LA deailing with nurses, surgeons, hospitals, and thier sick son. (For more info on that, check lexi’s blog – linked above.)

I tend to dislike dealing with simpsone’s father, but I’ve found that I can at least be civil towards him. (Even if he tends to be an ass towards me – well, towards just about everyone, really.) I’m actually taking a bit of a break from moving stuff right now, (and helping out my mom’s school to boot.) Anyway, we got (most of) the heavy stuff out of the way last night and this morning, but there’s still about 1/2 a garage and 3/4 of a storage area woth of stuff to get moved. (If I understood simpsone correctly.)

I’ve also spent the last couple of days working in the computer lab at my mother’s school, trying to undo some of the damage that’s been done to it throughout the year. I’ve been cleaning off the spyware, uninstalling apps that don’t need to be on the machine, “unifying” the desktop, and installing critical updates.

There’s more that I want to do to these machines, (like getting current virus definitions, tweaking thier network topology, and possibly even wiping all the machines and doing a fresh install of the OS and the basic software the lab needs,) but I don’t have the permission/funds to do that yet. (The scool needs to renew it’s site license to get current virus updates.) Getting the virus protection updated is the main thing I want to do but can’t yet – everything else would just be gravy.

I’ve actually enjoyed doing this stuff. It’s giving me a chance to get off my but and out of the house, and I actually feel useful. My job hunt is not going too well so far, but the last couple of days have kept me occupied – so I’m not spending all my time stressing about that.

I guess it’s about time for me to get back to working on the computers. Looks like I need to kill the spyware on the teacher machine as well. There’s been 5 different pop-up ads in the time it’s taken me to write this. (DEATH TO GATOR!)

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Robert Belknap has been writing online sporadically since 2001. See the colophon for more details.

8 thoughts on “Donating my free time”

  1. was simpsone helpful? he said he enjoyed spending time w/ you so i’m hoping he didn’t get underfoot….

    honey, if you’re reading this, i know you’re much better now, but i still clearly recall you doing something quite evil to the yearbook computer strictly by accident…i’m sure hooloovoo remembers too…

  2. [Quote] (The scool needs to renew it’s site license to get current virus updates.) [Quote]

    It never ceases to amaze me how uninformed and/or how apathetic businesses/institutions are when it comes to this kind of thing. They seem to think that they should be able to stick a computer in and leave it. They want the technology but not the responsibility that comes with it. It doesn’t make sense to me!

    Forgive the short off-topic rant. πŸ™‚

  3. @2: If the computers in question had a well-implemented, well-used security model, they could be installed and left alone. Windows suffers from a lack of compartmentalization, so pretty much any hole anywhere can lead to a full system compromise. There are systems out there that just run, with no administration needed, for months at a time as web kiosks or public computers.

  4. It was mainly the virus definition update scenario to which I was responding. Perhaps what you’re talking about includes that, I don’t know. I’m certainly no tech geek. πŸ™‚

    All I know is that I’ve seen the following happen way too often. A small business purchases a small network of computers from their local “Yee Haw Computers!” business. A technician comes and installs the machines, sometimes he/she checks to make sure they’re functioning properly. Then that’s it until something goes wrong. No one tells their customer/client anything about keeping software licenses, virus definitions, or anything else updated. It’s a combination of a lack of concern and customer service on the provider end and a lack of understanding and/or a desire to learn on the user end.

    Spam – your post sounded like a “there’s an operating system out there so much better than Windows!” post to me. Would that fix the problems I mentioned here? (That’s a legit question – not a smart-ass retort.)

  5. @2: It would help somewhat. Most non-Windows operating systems do not have nearly the virus problems that Windows does.

    I think that the main problem inherent in Windows is that Microsoft has decided that the kernel, the GUI, the shell, the web browser, and the kitchen sink are all “integral to the OS,” so any problems in one affect all of them. Therefore, each machine needs virtually every security update since it is near-impossible to install only the parts one needs.

    Some updating is necessary with every piece of software out there (well, except TeX). Windows just requires more because everything is integrated.

    As for viruses, those are only a problem because of inadequate or nonexistent sandboxing in Windows. In Microsoft’s defense (gah), they actually tried to tighten that up, but had to back down because it broke badly-written third-party software.

  6. Ok, I understood everything you said except for “nonexistent sandboxing” and “TeX.” Care to elaborate on those?

    (Have we officially hi-jacked this entry?)

  7. A sandbox is a limited environment in which a program runs. For example, my browser plugins should run in sandboxes where they have access only to the screen region in which they display, access only to the downloaded copy of the embedded object, and maybe network access only to the server from which the object comes.

    In Windows, a browser plugin can access the browser. Then, since IE is integrated into the OS, the plugin can use the browser to do just about anything.

    TeX is a sophisticated typesetting system, written by Donald Knuth, that is virtually bug-free. That’s “bug-free” as in “only a half-dozen bugs have ever been found in it, and none in recent years.” Compare that to any other piece of software. Amazing, eh?

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