From: Bob Rankin
Subject: TOURBUS - 23 MAY 2006 - Secure Your Computer / Travel Info
In today's TOURBUS, find out if your computer is a spam spewing zombie, and how to de-zombify it if necessary. Also in this issue, online help for planning your next vacation, the best Bad Stuff on the Web, and the Case of the Ghostly CDrom Drive. Read on!
Cyberspace malefactors are enslaving millions of unsecured computers into zombie networks that are responsible for spewing out mountains of spam and attacking legitimate websites that oppose the spammers. Every day, ordinary computers, owned by ordinary people like you, are being used to send spam. Because so many people have failed to take just a few easy steps to secure their computers, they have become zombies, caught up in botnets.
Botnets are groups of PCs on the Internet that can have been compromised by spammers and hackers. Adware, spyware, computer viruses and other rogue programs have allowed these computers to be remotely controlled by a single entity. By using these zombie computer networks, they can send spam that's virtually untraceable, and coordinate attacks against other computers or websites. Is your PC part of the problem? Find out now...
Online since 1996, TravelInformation.com was one of the first travel resources on the Internet. It's also refreshingly different from any other travel-related site I've seen. Instead of trying to sell you airline tickets, hotel rooms and rental cars, this site offers free Official Tourism Guides and kits from tourism bureaus & cities.
Browse through descriptions of the most popular vacation destinations in the USA and Canada, select up to 25 vacation guides, maps and travel planning kits, and they'll be mailed to you at no cost. Most of the kits include detailed descriptions of vacation areas, attractions, and lodging, with four color pictures and toll-free phone numbers. Some include state maps, calendars of events, lists of B&Bs, suggested itineraries, beaches, ski areas, trails and other info that will help you plan a great getaway.
You might think it strange that I'm recommending an offline service for travel planning, but in my experience the good old-fashioned color brochures you can feel and touch offer a higher quality of information with less hassle. Once you've decided where to go, some of the sites in the articles linked below may help you find additional info and some good deals on reservations.
The Web is just brimming with "best of" sites. But what about the bad, the ugly and the truly awful? In the spirit of admiring the atrocious, displaying the deplorable, and highlighting the heinous, let me present you with some Really Bad Stuff. Nothing dirty or illegal of course, but stuff so bad it'll make you laugh.
When I was a kid, my orthodontist had a really bad painting in his office, which I had to stare at while he reshaped my mouth. Ever since then, I've been sensitive to bad art. And thanks to the Internet, you can find lots of really bad Art, Literature, Songs, Album Covers, Movies, and of course bad websites. Continue on to the next link for sterling examples of the worst the Web has to offer in each category.
A reader concerned about computing and the paranormal asked me this:
> "My CDROM drive door keeps opening and closing by itself
> without prompting. Do I need to change a setting or is my
> computer possessed?"
We can probably start by ruling out possession, at least the kind that might require an exorcist. I've heard reports of this happening due to a hardware problem, specifically with the drive tray being out of alignment, or due to the lens inside the drive being damaged or dirty. It's also possible to control the drive door with software, so perhaps rogue software is to blame. Read on for tips on how to diagnose and fix this problem.
That's all for now, see you next time! -- Bob Rankin