Ballmer Out of Touch on Vista Logos

Steve Ballmer defended himself, it seems, even more than his own company in a class-action lawsuit over "Vista Capable" logos. Many consumers are angry after buying a Vista Capable Computer (I call them VCCs) only to find out it only ran lower-end versions of the OS. And sometimes, even that was a stretch.

Ballmer claims he was out of the loop and not part of the logo decision. I believe him. Heck, this guy is busier than Paris Hilton at an all-male revue! But Ballmer's reasonable excuse doesn't excuse the misleading logo program itself. Consumers and the fee-hungry lawyers (who'll get most of the award, anyway) are right on this one.

I have a feeling Microsoft has learned a lesson on Vista and that, in fact, Windows 7 will be far better. And if it is, the glorious economics that are the PC market will continue to shine. Here's an example of those economics: I'm willing to help buy Mac laptops for my kids Lauren, David and Nick, but can't bring myself to shell out $1,100 for a low-end Mac lapper of my own. That's Apple's problem, and the PC's Main Street, blue-collar, Joe Six-Pack advantage.

Are you impressed or blasé about the price to power ratio of today's PCs. Vote yea or nay at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Gates Not Freaking
If you're one of the richest -- if not the richest -- men in the universe, then a little thing like a near-stock market collapse isn't such a big deal. Bill could lose $50 billion and still have enough to control Third World economies, give Paris Hilton a clothing allowance and buy everyone in America a six-pack of Pabst.

Even though Gates lives in a very different world, I trust his economic judgment. (I try not to be political here, but does either major presidential candidate understand anything about the economy or how to reduce our federal deficit? You tell me at dbarney@redmondmag.com.) Gates, despite losing billions this week, believes in the fundamental strength of our capitalist system and doesn't even think a recession is coming. Say it's so, Bill!

Obama Taking Names in Spam Poll
Public relations folks come in all shapes, sizes and levels of professionalism. Sometimes, I get calls from a newbie clearly reading tech-speak from a script. Other times, a trusted longtime pro calls me with information that's of 100 percent interest to my readers. Often, the level of creativity is less than that of a Backstreet Boys song.

Then there are the moments of true cleverness. I would've never written about the company Secure Computing this week were it not for PR spin-meister Richard Mulligan, who told me that when it comes to spam, "Obama" beats "McCain" by a factor of 6-to-1 (there's six times as much Obama-related spam as there is about McCain), and that "Sarah Palin" slightly edged out "Joe Biden" in the same category -- don't ya know!

I have no idea what this all really means or how it helps Secure Computing sell security products, but it was kind of fun.

What should each candidate do to help our tech and IT sector? Well-thought-out thoughts welcome at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Scareware Scams and Pop-Up Perils
Last week, I wrote about scareware, those pesky pop-ups that claim your PC is infected. Click the pop-up and you're either buying security or performance software you don't need and doesn't even work, or your machine is now infected and ready to cash it in.

I've been getting plenty of horror stories -- in fact, there are a few more in today's Mailbag section -- but the topic also prompted me to write a feature story...and that's where you can help. Drop me a note at dbarney@redmondmag.com and tell me how you or one of your company's machines was compromised by scareware. I'm also very interested in how to prevent the pop-ups and repair the damage they do. You could well be quoted in a future issue of Redmond magazine.

Mailbag: When Scareware Attacks, Are Your Gadgets Trying To Kill You?, More
Scareware victims have been venting to us all week. Here are some more of your thoughts, including some praise for Vista's scareware-fighting tactics:

My own laptop became infected and I could not even turn my Office on! I turned the machine off and prayed I would not have to format it. A colleague sent me this link and it worked well. I have not had a problem since running the malware removal software.
-Susan

Regarding your scareware item, I am a system admin responsible for over 40 Vista machines. I've had Vista deployed since March 2007 with User Access Control enabled. The users don't have administrator rights to their box. I haven't had a single virus or malware incident reported by my users or by Symantec AntiVirus.

You tend to bad-mouth Vista in many of your articles, but you can put me down as one admin that loves it because the users can't mess it up.
-Ken

Oddly enough, I can give some support to Vista on this one. After having set up a computer that I was not concerned about, I decided to put Vista to the test. I went to any number of search engines and started searching for any site that I thought might give me a nasty bug. I finally found one. I allowed the system to accept whatever was being offered despite Windows Defender screaming at me not to do it. Yup, I was then infected. Symantec AV was helpless against this new computer corrupter that I picked up and Vista sure hated it, as well. Ended up just rebuilding the system.

This along with another experience I had taught me one lesson: My system is more secure with Windows Defender on and without Symantec AV than the other way around (as you're not supposed to run AV with Defender on). To date, I haven't seen anything to prove me wrong. Now, I'm sure there are others who have had the opposite experience, and I'd like to hear from them. That way, I'll know where not to go as well. The additional experience was that I ran a test computer for around three months with Defender and no AV. I then installed AV and ran a scan. No virus. Two weeks later I had a virus; my Defender was turned off. But hey, maybe that's because I'm not using Forefront/Antigen, right?
-Jacob

I wrote an article re-infecting a VM with a sample malware I obtained from a client's machine, and documented all the corners of the VM that were infected. See it here.
-David

A recent story about Mac Pros emitting a bad smell that may or may not be benzene prompted Doug to ask readers whether they fear their gadgets. One reader is keeping a wary eye on his phone:

My phone might not be popping popcorn but it sure is sending strong signals into my head. I am sure the Bluetooth isn't much better. Sometimes I feel like one of the fish in the water by the nuclear tower in the "Simpsons" after the nuclear waste has oozed in.
-Anonymous

And while hotel Internet connections are getting a bad rap for being unsecure, John thinks they're not that dangerous. In fact, they could be worse:

Want to talk about really unsafe connections? Some workers hit the strip clubs. Maybe these clubs should offer hot spots...umm, never mind. Seriously, though -- as long as you have proper security on your laptop and only enter information on secure Web sites with certificates, it is no more vulnerable than your home network.
-John

Tell us what you think! Leave a comment below or send an e-mail to dbarney@redmondmag.com.

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