Archive for the ‘Images’ Category

The Internet Feels Better Without Protection

June 9, 2006

I have seen anti-virus programs in action.

I have seen them scrutinize outgoing, plain-text e-mails, locking up PCs as they do so.

I have seen them pop up endless error messages for any program that dares wander outside of port 80.

I have seen my work desktop slow to a crawl, stopping for at least two minutes each day as the anti-virus program self-updates. At random times. At random frequency.

But in my life I have never seen an anti-virus program do one thing: catch a virus.

Certainly there are viruses out there. I’ve personally encountered machines that have been hopelessly overrun with malicious software. But I can’t say how the viruses got there. And I couldn’t say what anti-virus software should have or would have done to stop them.

What I find most offensive is that anti-virus software goes out of its way to make its presence known. McAfee’s shield. Norton’s lemon-yellow background. Of course they’re working; they never stop telling you how hard they work. Maybe they’re right.

Still, anti-virus software has slowed down our computers for decades. This lost time adds up. And the sluggish application start times lead to a very real loss of sensation on the desktop.

Use a contemporary computer without anti-virus for a while and you’ll notice the difference. Less leaden. Less oppressive. The Internet feels better without protection.

I’m sure those hit by viruses would have a different perspective. Attacks on our computers are very real. But should we really have to cripple ourselves so much?

My biggest pet peeve at the moment is the self-promotion of McAfee: Total Protection, recently installed at my office. In this upgrade, the McAfee shield at the splash screen has been changed to a bogus, clip-art office setting, featuring the prominent smile of one of the most frightening women I have ever seen.

The splash screen for McAfee Total Protection, featuring a creepy woman staring at the camera.

I dread turning on my computer each morning. I leave the monitor off during startup, hoping I won’t encounter a woman who looks like Frank from Donnie Darko. From the instant McAfee begins its anti-viral duties, it makes my day wildly unpleasant. Going without anti-virus software is probably bad corporate policy. Scaring the employees? Acceptable loss.

Google Images Is The Worst! True That! Double True!

February 24, 2006

More than two months ago, “Lazy Sunday” (AKA “The Chronic-what-cles of Narnia”), a mildly amusing Saturday Night Live sketch was put onto the Internet and spread rapidly. The sketch praised Alexander Hamilton, cupcakes, and Google Maps.

But for all the love “Lazy Sunday” shows for the search engine, Google Images has no idea the sketch exists.

Two months later! And it’s not because no one is taking pictures of this sketch—they are. Google Images is using an index that is many weeks out of date.

This isn’t even the most notorious occurence. People searching for some of the most newsworthy photographs of recent history—photos from Abu Ghraib—would find nothing on Google Images until well after the November 2004 elections—a lag time of more than half a year.

Google Images is now more responsive when it comes to news photographs. A search for “danish cartoons” turns up photographs from news agencies that were taken as recently as February 15. It’s improvement, but it doesn’t give me my Chris Parnell animated gifs any sooner.

Image Evilness!

January 6, 2006

Sam Angove of rephrase describes a text obfuscation technique so cruel, so hostile to the web, yet so inventive that it’s like the offending web designers learned the technique from some mirror universe version of A List Apart.

POINTILLIST IMAGE TEXT, by Evil Joe Clark.  Tired of people copying, scraping, or right-clicking on your valuable text?  Worried that the blind may somehow conquer your precious Javascript?  Pointillist Image Text can protect you.  Evil Joe Clark tells us how.