Welcome to The Funny/Alerts Newsletter. Recently I discovered, in a rather abrupt manner, that my computer's battery backup had failed. There was no forewarning of this save the slight flicker of the power On indicator light. While I was putting the finishing touches on the newsletter the power suddenly went out. Since there is a large development going in behind us, I figured that they were most likely the cause. What I didn't know was why my system went down when this happened. I make sure that all of our computers have UPSs (uninterruptible power supply) and that the entertainment systems are protected by power filters. None the less, when the lights went out so did my computer! See the MEATSPACE ALERT for more info.



Sniffer Dog


A man is sitting in a plane which is about to takeoff when another man with a dog occupies the empty seats alongside him. The dog is seated in the middle and the first man is looking quizzically at the dog when the second man explains that they work for the airline.


The airline rep said "Don't mind Rover. He's a sniffer dog... the best there is! I'll show you once we get airborne and I set him to work."


The plane takes off and levels out when the handler says to the first man, "Watch this." He tells the dog "Rover, search."


The dog jumps down, walks along the aisle and sits next to a woman for a few seconds.  It then returns to its seat and puts one paw on the handler's arm. He says "Good boy."


He turns to the first man and says, "That woman is in possession of marijuana. So I'm making a note of this and the seat number for the police who will apprehend her on arrival."


"Fantastic!" replies the first man.


Once again he sends the dog to search the aisles. The dog sniffs about, sits down beside a man for a few seconds, returns to its seat and places both paws on the handler's arm.


The airline rep says, "That man is carrying cocaine. So, again, I'm making a note of this and the seat number."


"Wow! What a great dog!" says the first man.


Once again he sends the dog to search the aisles. Rover goes up and down the plane aisle and after a while sits down next to someone and then comes racing back and jumps up onto the seat and dumps all over the place.


The first man is surprised and disgusted by this, and asks "What the heck is going on?"


The handler nervously replies "He just found a bomb!


[thanks to Bob Behling for this one]




Did AnnaK Kill J.Lo Virus?

By Michelle Delio


 A virus writer who hoped to trick the easily amused into clicking a worm-ridden e-mail attachment by promising a glimpse of pop star Jennifer Lopez's much-heralded hindquarters has failed to raise any interest among most computer users, said many security experts.


The worm, officially called "VBS/LoveLetter.CN@MM" but more popularly known as " The Lopez worm" arrives as an e-mail attachment entitled "JENNIFERLOPEZ_NAKED.JPG.vbs."


The few people who clicked on that attachment were not rewarded with a salacious view of the Latina superstar.  Instead their hard drives got a virtual cold shower when the virus began to delete files on the infected computer.


Earlier this year, thousands of quick-to-click computer users were hit by a virus that arrived in an attachment that pretended to contain a spicy picture of teenage tennis star Anna Kournikova. But the similar-in-concept Lopez worm has not spread as quickly as some security experts expected.


"The lure of Miss Lopez's bottom may be too hard for some hot blooded males to resist," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos Anti-Virus when the worm was discovered on Thursday.


"Users need to take a cold shower and be cautious of opening any unsolicited e-mail attachments," Cluley warned.  Panda Software reported eight incidents of Lopez infection on Thursday and classified the virus as a high-risk threat, according to News.com.  But virtually all other antiviral companies, including Sophos, have dubbed the Lopez worm a dud.


So why were people willing to rip files out of their operating system folders when instructed to do so by a widely believed e-mail-spread hoax that was circulating this week, but weren't as quick to fall for the lure of a naked Lopez?


"Maybe it's because people already saw a lot of Jennifer Lopez at the Academy Awards," said Ric Steinberger, director of technology at security firm Atomic Tangerine.


"Actually, I think it's because after the AnnaK worm, people have started to realize that clicking on an attachment that allegedly contains a possibly naked image of a celebrity is simply not smart," Steinberger added.


"A lot of people got burned by the AnnaK incident, and some valuable lessons were learned.  More people now know that attachments to e-mail should always be evaluated carefully before opening, even if the sender is known to the recipient."


The Lopez worm was reportedly released to coincide with Britain's "National Bottom Week." A highlight of the celebratory week is the hotly contested "Rear of the Year" awards.


Celebrity Big Brother star Claire Sweeney and 'Nasty' Nick Cotton actor John Altman were named as the official owners of the most bodacious female and male butts at the 19th annual Rear of the Year awards ceremony on Thursday.





Power Problems


There are two unfortunate realities of the electronics age; the utility simply cannot provide the clean, consistent power demanded by sensitive electronics, and the customer is ultimately responsible for the health and safe operation of his equipment.


A study by IBM has showed that a typical computer is subject to more than 120 power problems per month.  The effects of power problems range from the subtle-keyboard lockups, hardware degradation-to the dramatic-complete data loss or burnt system boards.  According to a survey by the Yankee Group, almost half of the corporations researched put their downtime costs at upwards of US$1,000 per hour, with nine percent estimating costs up to or more than US$50,000 per hour.


Clearly, businesses are becoming more and more reliant on a utility power supply that is pushed beyond its capacity.  Despite advances in the capabilities of modern personal computers, a momentary power outage is still all it takes to lose your data. More dangerous is the loss of previously written files, or even an entire hard disk, which can occur should a power problem strike while your computer is saving a file.  Network file servers constantly writing to disk are particularly susceptible.


Unfortunately the situation won't be getting better anytime soon.  It takes approximately a decade to get a new power plant on-line, and concerns about nuclear power and fossil fuels have stifled the construction of new generating facilities.


In certain areas of Europe, the capacity issue is even more acute, as nuclear power plants which had been supplying power are closed because of safety and modernization concerns. Some Latin American countries have resorted to power rationing as a way to meet increasing demand.  In these cases, the question of whether or not to use a UPS is academic.


It's been said that there are two types of computer users: those who have lost data because of a power problem, and those who are going to.  Over the past few years, we've helped create a new class ... those who have recognized the need for protection and taken proactive steps to ensure that they're prepared for the inevitable.


Surges, spikes, blackouts and brownouts...what really happens to your computer when it experiences an out-of-bounds power anomaly? We'll use a nearby lightning strike as an example, although it is just one of countless problems that can strike your system.


Lightning strikes a nearby transformer.  If the surge is powerful enough, it travels instantaneously through wiring: power, phone, network and more with the equivalent force of a tidal wave. The surge travels into your computer via the outlet or phone lines.  The first casualty is usually a modem or motherboard.


The utility responds to over voltages by disconnecting the grid.  This creates brownouts and blackouts.  If the voltage drops low enough, or blacks out, the hard disk may crash, destroying the data stored on the disk.  In all cases, work-in-progress stored in the drives cache memory is instantly lost.  Oftentimes password protection on the hard drive can be jumbled, or the file allocation table (FAT) may be upset, rendering the operating system or data useless. Worst case scenario is that the disk is physically damaged and inoperable.


Needless to say, I immediately called American Power Conversion and requested a replacement for my Back-UPS 250. Fortunately, they have a program that they call "Trade-UPS" in which your old/damaged/dead backup is taken in for credit towards another unit. This was good for me because it accomplished two things at once: 1) I upgraded from a 250 to a 300 for a nominal fee and 2) they will properly recycle or dispose of the old unit (which contains a battery).


Noteworthy: while talking to the APC tech I found out that the flicker I had noticed meant that the unit was no longer 100% functional. Although it later passed a "pull-the-plug" test that I gave it, the units ability to filter noise, surges or spikes was impaired. This also applies to most filtered power strips, such as the one I'm using on the stereo equipment.






Marshmallows and White Hoods

by Lauri Goff

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA


In 1965, in Jackson, Mississippi, racism was still rampant.  Civil rights workers from the North had descended upon the state, and the Ku Klux Klan was at its most active since the turn of the century.  A lone white woman, Joan, pledged to do her part to make a difference in her world.


Joan decided to assist in starting the first Head Start program in the state.  This program was to help young black children be prepared to start first grade.  During this time, she became passionately involved in the civil rights movement.  She marched with Dr.  King, demonstrated with protesters against segregation.  Her husband, a Southerner, was also supportive of her efforts.


Joan sparked an interest in her young daughters in the "cause".  They went everywhere with her, including the marches and demonstrations.  She became known in all circles as that "white lady" who helped "the darkies".


One hot summer night, when Joan's husband was out of town on business, Joan and her two girls were relaxing in their family room.  The air was still and sultry, broken only by the constant chirp of cicadas and the occasional far-off barking dog.  Suddenly, the slam of car doors and gruff voices shouting shattered the sleepy stillness.  Horns honking, curses disturbed the suburban neighborhood.  As a brick came flying through the plate glass window, Joan rushed to the front door.  Her front yard was filled with men in white hoods!  They had erected an old wooden cross in the middle of the grass.  She flung open the door, and, in as growly of a voice as she could muster, the petite woman shouted, "leave my home, you bastards!" They hurriedly set fire to the cross on the lawn and fled like faceless cowards into the night.


Joan could see the neighbors peeping out from their Venetian blinds. She grabbed some marshmallows from the kitchen, told her oldest daughter to get some coat hangers they had used for a previous cookout.  With her two blond-haired children in tow, she marched out to the front yard and proceeded to roast marshmallows by the fire which had been fueled by hate.  Slowly, quietly, one neighbor after another joined her small family.  The adults whispered quietly, hugging and murmuring as the children cavorted around the fire.  The blaze that had been started by bigots was being extinguished by support and love.


Joan was my mom and I am the eldest daughter.  Her courage will always live in my mind as an example of true heroism.  Her fight for racial equality continued until the day she died.


Related site:







Are You a Slacker?

Should you be doing something RESPONSIBLE right now?  Don't you have a deadline to meet or a project to complete?


No problem -- now is the perfect time to put your work off for another ten minutes.  Answer the questions below to find out where you stand on Emode's Slacker scale.


Are You a Workaholic?

Workaholism is on the rise!  There's never enough time to get the job done.  And telecommuting means that our work follows us everywhere.  The trick these days is to work hard while still maintaining a healthy balance.  Could you or someone you know be a workaholic?  Take this Emode test to find out.







Best buys on the net


Where do you shop for software? If you named a brick-and-mortar store, you're Geek Index just slipped 3 notches! Software sales are one of the most competitive genres on the web. For every Fry's, Waldensoft or Electronics Boutique on the street there are ten cyber-stores that will meet or beat their prices.


One of my all time favorites is CompuExpert. They keep on top of the pricing they offer and are continually adjusting them to make sure that you're getting a great buy. This has two major effects: 1) it keeps the inventory moving and 2) it creates dedicated customers that keep returning.


The best thing that they've done is something that they call "48 Hour Madness." This is an email newsletter with "insane deals" that are only good for (what else?) 48 hrs. For example, the last one that I received had Oni for just $19.90 while EBworld.com and Gamestop.com both listed it for $39.99 which is an average savings of more than $20!


Are you awaiting the release of the LATEST/GREATEST hot title? Under the "Coming Soon" tab you can pre order many games and have them delivered to your door before any of your friends even get paid.


Have you got a wad burning a hole in your pocket but don't know what to do with it? CompuExpert's "Top 20" is the best place to start. Here you'll find software titles that have garnered Editor's Choice and Game Of The Year awards with their well-deserved reputations.


maybe you're looking to buy a gift for you favorite propellor-head but just don't have the loot? Check out the "Hot Buys" section where they have a plethora of your favorites for $20 or less!



  Don't forget to sign up for the "Madness Mail Out"!







Get a copy of the UPS and FedEx "zone" maps. Then, when buying online, you'll know if you really need to pay extra for that 2-day delivery or not. Why "put the rush on it" when you can tell the vendor to send it Ground and still get it quickly because you live in the same shipping area? For instance, even though CompuExpert is in Lake Forest, CA, (south of L.A.) I get most of my order within 2 days!





  Everything you need to break unhealthy cycles of behavior is within you.