Julie Barrett is a freelance writer and photographer based in Plano, TX.

Rainy days and Tuesdays

Fresh when it gets here from Julie Barrett
Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Just when we thought this crud was going to clear out, here comes another round of rain. I need to visit the fabric wholesaler today, but I won't if it's raining. Why? Because it's on the other side of Dallas, which means I'll be sitting in stalled traffic because people around here don't know how to drive when there's a little water on the road.

Does that sound paranoid? Nope. Just as I was typing that last sentence in the paragraph above, my phone rang. It was my mom calling from her cell phone to ask me to dig up a phone number. She's sitting in stalled traffic and needs to let someone know that she'll be late for an appointment. So yeah, I'm justified. This afternoon, perhaps, the roads will be in better shape.

So how about last night's House? If you haven't seen last night's episode, then skip on a bit, brother. The road to diagnosis was controversial as usual. The clue for me was when House was describing her early on - the slim hips. But the bits "handcrafted by God" were a bit of a red herring. I always figured that House could spot implants from a fair distance. He's just that kind of guy. But it was the whole secondary plot with the leg pain that intrigued me. Again, House has to at least acknowledge some of the causes of his pain, although he seemed to take the easy way out in the end.

And this is another one of those episodes in which Hugh Laurie shined. Just watching his face is a revelation. I'm just amazed over how he's able to convey House's pain with such subltety. Oh, my. I just had a vision of William Shater in the role. Please! No! Must cleanse brain!

Okay, now I feel better. The bruise on my forehead may not go away for a few weeks, though. Seriously, if Hugh Laurie doesn't get the Emmy this fall, then something is very, very wrong with the world.

As I type, Chris is taking is TAKS exit test for English. I am not a huge fan of these tests. While I have absolutely no problem with diagnostic testing, I absolutely loathe the idea that a child's future can hang on a single exam. The reading comprehension tests are poorly written. Let me put it this way: If a college-educated parent can't figure out the gist of a passage meant for a third-grader, then something is wrong. This is the type of passage I'm talking about:

"See Spot. See Spot run."

What is the subject of the passage?

A. Spot
B. Jack, who watches Spot run
C. Running
D. Jane, watching Jack toss a stick at Spot and poke the dog's eye out

The answer will be D. It's written from Jane's point of view, can't you tell? Jack, Jane and the dog are, of course, of indeterminate multi-ethinic (or breed, in the case of Spot) origin. Jack would really like to wear Jane's dress, but we can't talk about that because this is Texas.

If you're a Mac user, you should read about the new OS X vulnerability. The comments over at ZDNet are interesting to say the least. A mix of "no big deal" to "ha! I told you so," to "as market share increases, this is what will happen." (I'm paraphrasing all of the above.) One of the recurring themes seems to be that since the exploit hasn't appeard in the wild then we're all okay. Talk to a Windows user about that, why don't you? One users went so far as to say it wasn't a big deal because while the exploit could delete your personal files, it wouldn't get to the system files, which was the important thing. Excuse me, but losing your personal files is a big deal - probably even a bigger deal than installing the OS. At least you've got that on a CD. If you don't practice regular backups or if you're between backups, losing your files will hurt. As Mark Twain once quipped, "denial ain't a river in Egypt."

I've said this many times before and it's worth repeating: All operating systems are vulnerable to some extent or another. The thing is, most end users really don't know - and shouldn't be required to know - the ins and outs of every exploit. Still, that's no excuse not to practice safe computing. I'm the first to admit that it's possible to get hit with an exploit before a patch or workaround is released. I've had to help clean up two fully-patched systems this year. The users were practicing safe computing and they still got hit by a drive-by malware installation.

Well, the rain seems to be letting up. I guess I can go run my other errands and by that time the freeways will be clear.

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Filed under: Life   Technology   Security   HouseMD   


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