Notes from the Field: Security snafus linger, Gates gives cheaper PCs the finger

Notes from the Field: Security snafus linger, Gates gives cheaper PCs the finger

Dell will no longer be forced to change its name to Dull now that its hotly rumoured acquisition of gamer PC maker, Alienware, has come to pass. I understand Alienware OK'd the deal, but only on the condition that Michael Dell agrees to undergo a rectal probe or spend an hour on the phone with his own firm's tech support. I'm not sure which would be more painful.

Security Firms Gone Wild: It was bad enough that an errant McAfee VirusScan update mistook software like Microsoft Excel and Google Toolbar for viruses and terminated them with extreme prejudice. But while McAfee offered to help enterprise customers recover their lost software, unlucky consumers who deleted the bogus "viruses" were left to fend for themselves. (McAfee said the bad update was only online for a few hours and was fixed shortly thereafter.) I can think of one more piece of software worth deleting.

Meanwhile, Cringester Don M reported that Symantec's Live Update service has killed users' AOL dial-up connections (which could be considered a mercy killing). The culprit: yet another bad signature update, this one for Norton's Intrusion detection app. Both snafus are now fixed, but ... do you get the feeling these guys drank a bit too much wormy mescal on spring break?

No Agency Left Behind: The House Government Reform Committee has given the US Department of Homeland Security its third consecutive failing grade for cyber security. The DHS earned its F by failing to fulfil any of the 13 "primary responsibilities" assigned it by the Government Accountability Office last year. As punishment, the department will be forced to spend a month in detention and is forbidden to attend cheerleader tryouts.

Speaking of Cranky: It seems Microsoft philanthropist-in-chief, Bill Gates, is not impressed with the idea of outfitting the world's children with $US100 hand-crank laptops that, incidentally, run Linux and not Windows. And why should he be? After all, you'd have to crank the thing a dozen times before you could coax it to display a Blue Screen of Death.

Got hot tips or probing questions? Send them to and you could receive a Cringely bag for your pains.

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