“The Semantic Web works beautifully, by the way. It’s not like your foul litter Internet – so full of spam and crime.”

-Black Swan

Bruce Sterling

Tuesday night I was working on cleaning up Early ReTyrement. My pal Mike Krzos had come up with all sorts of observations everyone had missed and I wanted to get them in. However, in the time travel section where Mason vanishes from Daytona Beach and ends up in Tyre, I stated that he fell thirty feet into the water (the idea being that he’d move to a different location on the globe and a different time, but his distance from the center of the earth remained the same). This section drew me to pause – was Daytona thirty feet above sea level?

Where he left was right across from Daytona’s airport, so I kicked up the browser and googled it – got the wiki page and went there. Hotel deals. What?

Figuring I must have hit the wrong link, I tried to back up but the browser wasn’t going. Shrugging, I closed it all down and searched again. Same deal. With fear prickling my scalp, I tried other destinations and got other search engines, all pointing me to hotels. Then then, with growing dread, I realized I’d been hacked.

Evidently Norton must have been holding the virus’s coats while they chiseled into my system. Ran Malwarebytes (which has saved me in the past). One, two, three, five…. Ten Trojans! Good lord, a full invasion!

(Aside – why do they call them “Trojans”? If it’s because they hide in your system and attack from within, might I remind you that that was the Greeks with their wooden horse?)

Anyway, ordered Malware to kill them, Kill Them, KILL THEM ALL! And it did. Somewhat. It reported that some of them wouldn’t leave. Kicked up my browser, Googled Daytona International, got great hotel deals. Crap! Still there! Using my other computer, I finally located something called GooredFix. Pulled it down and ran it and it cleaned up my search engine issues.

I leaned back in my chair and sighed. Whew!

Okay, spool forward to the next day at work. Someone is showing me a promo video for Microsoft 8, the newer-than-new OS from the BSOD folks. A guy with a shaven head and black clothing (i.e. a software interface designer) was drooling over how you could move photos and content about, looking at this video, grouping these pictures, yak yak yak.

And I watched it, feeling my frown deepen. Microsoft can be excused for Windows 95 when the Internet took off so unexpectedly. Fine, I can grant them all those holes in their system, holes we fill with Norton and firewalls and the like. But since then we’ve had XP, Vista, 7, and now 8. And still we’re getting hacked, daily, hourly. There are entire organizations out there (some of them corporations) who will plant cookies (or worse) on your system, a trespass that is not illegal in any serious way. And Microsoft, the people who organize how your computer operates, still takes internet security as a secondary concern, somewhere after its “look and feel”. No, they seem to be more interested in how you can move your pictures around like some sort of attention-challenged child than giving us solid, absolute, bullet-proof security.

Ten years later, and browsing a site or two will still put fifty cookies in my computer. Every week, something tailored to a Microsoft soft point tries to ram into my system, just barely stopped by Norton.

It’s 2011. When does Microsoft get serious about our digital safety?