I love reading comments on technology oriented blogs especially when they start espousing how it should be, how it is in their homes or how Microsoft is screwing up everything they touch. Yup techies, especially those with years of experience under their belt are a fountain of knowledge and are more than willing to share it whether it is through exhaustive blog posts, or in the comments to those blog posts.
Today I was reading a post by engtech when my eye caught a couple of links to older posts by Jeff Atwood at Coding Horror where he talks at length about the self-interest of anti virus companies and how with proper care and attention; along with some funky software options like virtualization, antivirus programs were unnecessary. As interesting as the post was in itself the comments that followed it proved to be just as interesting; if not more so.
Now I’ve posted before on my feelings about how I think AV companies are no better than snake oil salesmen but I am also realistic enough to know that for the real world computer user and their families not having an AV installed turns their computer into a ticking time bomb.
It is things like this that perfectly illustrate; to me at least, how tech knowledgeable people have gotten to the point where they have lost sight of the reality of the larger world of real computer users. To assume that everyone will know; or even give a shit, what virtualization is in the first place let alone go to all the trouble of installing it and using things like VMware is a fool’s assumption. It’s hard enough to get them not to click on stupid ass email attachments from people that may or may not know.
I can’t even remember the number of machines that I have seen that have had AV software turned off, AV subscriptions so out of date as to be totally useless or even firewalls disabled because they didn’t like all those popup dialogs showing up all the time. These are the people you want to learn to make image backups or not click on that attachment from Aunt Mable or to fire up a virtual version of their OS so they can play WoW – give your head a shake.
Why do you think botnets are ravaging our systems. Why do you think that Sony wasn’t concerned about their rootkit DRM scheme. The reason things like this proliferate is because the real world user doesn’t give a shit past being able to download music where ever they can, surf for porn and clicking on any button just to get rid of those popups. Things like that succeed because normal everyday folks are using tools they don’t have the faintest clue about; and probably for the most part don’t care to learn anything about.
The crackers, phishers and other assorted script kiddies are playing a game of averages and as with Las Vegas casinos the law of averages is always in their favor. It’s in their favor because there are more real world computer users out there than there are geeks; and that isn’t like to ever change.
So for as much as those of us that work with computers in one fashion or another day in and day out like to think we have all the answers the fact is it doesn’t matter if we do or not. The fact is that as much as we would like to think we know how the computer world works the truth of the matter is that as long as we refuse to think like those real world computer users – especially when developing software – no amount of self-righteous chest beating of how things should be done will make one bit of difference.
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