Date:         Thu, 1 Apr 1999 23:46:20 -0600
Sender:       The Internet TourBus - A virtual tour of cyberspace
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Comments:     Originally-From: Patrick Douglas Crispen 
From:         Patrick Douglas Crispen 
Subject:      TOURBUS - 2 APR 99 - MORE MELISSA / PC ON Y2K
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  More on Melissa / PC on Y2K
Howdy, y'all!
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On with the show ...
Well, it looks like we may actually survive the Melissa virus after
all.  If you missed Monday's TOURBUS Plus post on the virus, you can
find a copy in the Urban Legend Combat Kit at .
It is no shock that the media pounced on the Melissa story with its
usual overanxious vigor.  The media reported the living heck out of
this story, and dozens of Melissa-related Web sites popped up
overnight.  While most of these sites are pretty lame, there are two
Melissa-related Web sites I especially recommend.  The first is Peter
Deegan's Melissa article in the most recent issue of "Woody's Office
Watch" at .
ZDNet's "The Not So Lovely Melissa Virus" article mentioned in Monday's
TOURBUS post was actually an early version of a special issue of
Woody’s Office Watch that went out early Monday morning.  Since then,
the folks at Ziff Davis have been following the Melissa virus with
their usual energy, and they have created the most complete Melissa
virus information site in the world.  You can find that site at .
In fact, my only complaint about Ziff Davis' Melissa coverage is the
same complaint I have about most of the stuff Ziff Davis' puts out:
hurt.  :P
Seriously, though, how damaging WAS the Melissa virus?  To be
completely honest, it wasn't as bad as you heard.  The virus (which,
technically, isn't even a virus) doesn't really do much harm to your
computer.  The worst thing it does is fire up Outlook, spray out 50
email messages to the folks in your Outlook address book, and attach
an infected Word document to each of those emails.  Yawn.
What no one seems to be picking up on is the fact that the Melissa
hysteria is causing more damage than the virus itself.  Case in
point: the General Manager of HiWAAY Information Services, one of the
best Internet Service Providers in the country, recently posted the
following to Usenet:
     Our mail storage shot way up over the weekend ... so I wrote a
     program to search the 25,000 mailboxes on our system .... copies
     of the Melissa virus actually found was two (2). But there were
     thousands of various versions of WARNINGS of the virus (with
     some people having as many at 10 or 15 different messages
     warning them about it).
I have no doubt that the 50 email messages generated by Melissa-
infected machines running Outlook created a huge strain on the world's
mail servers.  However, my bet is that hysteria-generated Melissa
virus warnings exceeded actual Melissa-generated posts by at least a
factor of ten thousand.  When you hear of corporate servers crashing
from the "weight of Melissa," take those reports with a grain of salt.
Chances are, what really crashed those servers were the millions of
"beware of Melissa" emails that were sent out.
How can you protect yourself from Melissa and her ilk?  Simple.  Follow
the same rules we've been talking about for the past couple of years:
     1. Buy a good anti-virus program and update your virus
        definitions frequently [I update my definitions once a week].
        If you don't know how to update your virus definitions, look
        for instructions on your antivirus software manufacturer's
        homepage (or, if you are on AOL, visit keyword: virus).  If,
        after all of that, you still can't figure out how to update
        your virus definitions, drive down to Wal Mart (or your local
        software store) and purchase a copy of Norton AntiVirus.
     2. Never double-click on a file, especially a file attached to an
        email message, without first scanning that file with your
        antivirus software.  I don't care if the file is from the Pope
        himself.  VIRUS CHECK THAT FILE!
     3. Beware of ALL Microsoft Word files that contain macros unless
        you are absolutely certain you know what those macros do.
        When in doubt, turn the macros off.  [If you have macro virus
        protection turned on, Word will give you a warning if you try
        to open a Word file that contains macros and will give you the
        option of opening the Word file with the macros disabled.  Our
        Monday post -- at --
        tells you how to turn on macro virus protection in both
        Microsoft Word 97 and Word 2000.]
How well will these rules help protect you and your computer?  You
decide.  Not one person who followed rule #3 was infected with the
Melissa virus.  Not one.  EVERY SINGLE PERSON whose computer was
infected with the Melissa virus ignored at least one of these rules,
and people whose computers were infected after Monday ignored ALL
THREE of these rules.
Words cannot describe how much I wish Melissa was the only computer-
related scare story you have to deal with.  Unfortunately, with only
273 days until the year 2000, you can count on the fact that Y2K
stories will keep popping up in the media in the weeks and months
to com.  Before you start stockpiling water and ammo, though, you might
want to read the following excerpt from the 14 March edition of
     A growing number of Y2K experts are beginning to cheer up a bit
     about the prospects for millennium doom, and now predict things
     won't be so bad after all come Jan. 1, 2000.  Edward Yardeni,
     chief economist for Deutsche Bank Securities, has revised his
     estimate for the chance of a long global recession triggered by
     the glitch, from a 70% chance to 45%.  "I've toned down the
     message partly because progress has been made.  I would be happy
     to back off entirely."  And some of the problems previously
     cited as particularly vexing -- for instance, embedded
     microprocessors in power plants and hospitals that would be
     difficult to repair -- seem to have been overstated.  Giga
     Information Group recently released a report titled "It May
     Rain, but the Sky Won't Fall," that said the problems with
     embedded microprocessors "will not have the crippling effect
     originally thought."  "There won't be a systemic shutdown," says
     a senior advisor for Giga who estimates only about 3% of the
     chips have been found to have minor problems.  "You will have
     some localized inconveniences with some localized failures."
     (Los Angeles Times 12 Mar 99)
An excerpt from the 28 March Edupage seems to echo the sentiments of
the folks at Deutsche Bank Securities and Giga Information Group:
     Janet Abrams of the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion
     says people should prepare for possible Y2K problems just as
     they would for a bad winter snowstorm: stock up on groceries,
     fill the gas tank, and take out a little extra cash (but not too
     much!) from the bank.  "And don't wait until the last minute."
     Government and industry representatives seem quite confident
     that there will not be any kind of national crisis over Y2K
     problems, though Federal Emergency Management Agency director
     Rita Calvan admits, "We're used to dealing with one incident at
     a time.  What we could have here is a series of several small
     incidents.  If we're all busy, I'm not sure we'll have the
     resources to respond." (Washington Post 27 Mar 99)
To find out more about Edupage, take a look at our 25 February 1999
TOURBUS post at
And, of course, to find the latest information about Y2K, visit Ziff
Davis' "ow, you are making my head hurt" Y2K resource center at
By the way, my advice for people wanting to prepare for Y2K is two-
     1. Plan for Y2K as you would for a winter storm.  [Translation:
        don't expect to be able to buy bread or milk on New Years
     2. Join a church group or civic organization.
On January 1, 2000, one of two things will happen: either the world
will come to a screeching halt, or everyone will wake up with pounding
champagne hangovers only to discover that the world survived Y2K
relatively intact.  [My bet is on the latter.]
Why should you join a church group or civic organization?  Well, if the
world does end, your community is going to need volunteers to help
distribute food and water to the poor saps like me who underestimated
the impact of the Y2K bug.  Who better to handle the resource
distribution than a church group or civic organization?
However, if Y2K turns out to be a bust, there will be billions of
dollars of stockpiled Y2K food and supplies wasting away in basements
around the world.  That food and those supplies could be used to help
the less fortunate in your community.  Who better to handle the
resource distribution than a church group or civic organization?
That's just my opinion, though.  :)
  More on Melissa / PC on Y2K
TAL (Noun).  Absorbent cloth.
MIRA (Noun).  A reflective surface.
Usage: "No outhouse is complete without a tal and mira."
[Special thanks to Teri Baginski for today's wurd]
You can find all of the old Southern Words of the day at 
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