pound of phlesh
Thursday, October 12 2006
Out on a computer repair housecall today I had my first encounter with Windows Genuine Advantage, a bit of spyware Microsoft has developed to thwart the use of known pirated licenses of their popular operating systems solutions. Since the operating systems in question are all the same as valid Windows installations, the only detectable difference is that long string of characters you're forced to type in when setting up a Windows XP installation, such as KC4BB-2JHWW-VKCD6-2MXFV-98VH6 or 27GY6-MPPMH-MJ43B-MPP2T-8WQ6Y. The known pirate licenses (including, probably, the two I just mentioned) are in a database at the Microsoft mothership and once Windows Genuine Advantage is on your computer, it checks to see if your license is one of those. If so, it harasses you with taskbar popups and messages when you start up and shut down. The goal, as always with Microsoft, is to spread fear and uncertainty so that you'll either cough up the money for a "valid" license, report the Canal Street sidewalk dealer from whom you bought your installation CD, or both. Today's client was evidently using a pirated license, which, as I explained to her, was Microsoft's problem and not hers. I then took the steps necessary to disable Windows Genuine Advantage. The method I was using required installing a hacked copy of a file named LegitCheckControl.dll. In the past this would have been a straightforward procedure, but these days it's very difficult to download the good works of hackers and software liberators without giving up a pound of flesh one way or the other. Sometimes they force you to navigate page after page of Russian pornography, hiding the link to the download in a minefield of mislabeled links that spawn daughter windows spewing JPEGS of spread vaginas or shouting YOUR COMPUTER MAY HAVE HAVE A CORRUPT REGISTRY. Other times they want a valid email address to which they will send an access code (and, inevitably, spam). And, worst of all, sometimes they want to install nefarious "downloader" programs, a serious risk factor for Bonzi Buddyhood, catching the Weather Bug, ending up in a 2dollarfix.com, or worse.
I went searching through my old hand-written diaries for a reference to yesterday's formative electrolytic capacitor experience, but without Google or at least text search it was impossible. I did find a couple interesting things in there, in addition to documentation of a trip to Quebec in the summer of 1984 and my 17 day hospitalization for complications from an ulcerated Meckel's Diverticulum in October of 1983. Here are two things I found in my hunt:
September 1, 1984: This is a diagram explaining a frisbee game I used to play with my brother, Don.
November 3, 1984: Here I am describing what happened when ten watts of power accidentally went through a quarter watt resistor.
Am I showing gamma rays coming off that resistor? That would have been awesome!
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