The Home (PC) Invaders

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(Editor’s Note—Ironically Mr. Zuniga’s column on the “bot” attack on the CBA website wasn’t posted on his regularly scheduled Welcome day because of… guessed it…. the “bot” attack on the CBA website. Nonetheless, his missive has resonance for those of us to faught in the trenches during that dark week and a half.)

For the better part of a week, our CBA website was crippled by a sinister intruder. An enemy so insidious and malicious that it took several extremely savvy and highly educated computer brainiacs to bring him down. Even as I write, there are still a few problems to be worked out and it could be a while before is fully operational and user friendly. I hate to admit it but this virus and the hackers that spawned it did a good job of ruining our otherwise smooth operations. More than hating to admit it, I just plain old hate the %*(&(^$&^’s behind this attack. The odd thing is that as few as twenty years ago, I, and I suspect you, had never even heard the word “hackers” or “computer virus.” Even this recent attack has introduced me to another new term, “cyber bots!” Where the heck is RoboCop when you need him?

Today, we are all very aware of the damage and costs associated with these “bugs” that attack out of nowhere and leave destruction in their wake. I guess that these are the kind of things that we have to get used to; things that we have to learn about and even buy “protection” from. We used to use Macafee, then we switched to Norton, and now are using a program by AVG, to stave off the attacks that now seem so commonplace. The sad reality is that no matter what you buy and use as protection, there is no surefire way to be completely safe. It just looks like another insurance racket designed to assure us that we need these inadequate services, even though we know that they are not foolproof.

Like all things in life, and particularly in regards to the things we really like, there seem to be drawbacks and hidden perils that we must adjust to and prepare for. Moreover, these often come at considerable cost and are always accompanied with frustration. I was so flustered by the problems with our website and it seemed an eternity was passing with each minute that the problems remained unresolved. Funny, when I was a kid there was nothing that could drive me to such anger and frustration as a cyber-malfunction. The closest comparable thing I can think of might have been the times that our television went on the fritz or the family car was in the shop. Even so, not much was lost when these things happened. Before the days of cable TV there were only a few local stations, and the family car was not a recreational vehicle to be used for cruising around the town. And even though the car and the TV were two of the most valued things an average family used to own, I never remember getting so upset if they were temporarily inoperable.

The sad truth is that I have become a slave to these new devices. Things that my grandparents could never have imagined are now my everyday necessities. I remember an incident when I wanted to show my late grandfather this new gadget, a hand held calculator. This was about 1970. I was one of the first students in my high school to have one. It was made by Texas Instruments and really couldn’t do much more than simple equations but it was revolutionary for its time and it would eventually lead to the creation of the personal computer. I paid close to $200.00 for it but I was envied by my classmates for having it. My grandfather was a very sharp man. He was a farm labor and building contractor and he did quite well for himself. I showed him the calculator and he listened but didn’t appear to be very impressed by it. After performing a few calculations I asked him what he thought and he answered by pointing to my head and saying, “and now what good is that thing between your shoulders?” He made so much sense and that simple logic still stands the test of time. The ancient Greeks and many other past civilizations used to pass the time by trying to figure out complex equations! These were more than problems to them. They were a way of keeping the mind sharp, and knowing how to decipher these equations was a source of pride.

Have we lost ourselves to technology? My father used to know hundreds of songs. He learned them by listening to the radio, or records, or from friends. I know he never bought any sheet music, and there were no websites offering lyrics, chords, tab, or any of today’s tools. Still, that never stopped him and, like his father, the most important tool he had was his brain!

It’s easy to take our brains for granted. We have the world and all of its accumulated information right at our fingertips but are you prepared for a big crash? Can you survive in a world without computers and the Internet? I don’t know that I can. I just hope that it’s something that I don’t have to deal with any time soon.

The message board is up and running. Log on, share, and be part of the cyber world that is all around us. Or, better yet, pick up an instrument and do it like they did in the “good old days.” Unplug!


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