Viruses can be terribly destructive, but occasionally the medicine can be more dangerous than the infection. At the TSB, where the business of running the network has very sensibly been left to the professionals (in the winsome shape of Computacenter), virus scanning software is periodically downloaded from a central location to servers up and down the country.
This very prudent approach to security has only one drawback, as the company discovered last week when the entire network crashed for more than three quarters of an hour. "This was due to a remote upgrade of a virus pattern file," explained the man from Computacenter apologetically. And just in case you're wondering, the offending software was identified as Intel's Landesk Virus, which is installed on all TSB's servers. Mole only mentions it so you can take care not to catch it.
A couple of weeks ago, Mole wrote about the #245,000 salary advertised for a support manager's job as evidence of an economic upturn. Sadly, not all the news from the world of recruitment is as good. A job ad in The Guardian suggests that the skills crisis has deepened, resulting in a severe downgrading in employers' expectations of prospective staff.
The ad, placed by a desperate-sounding firm named Scavenger Ltd, asked for "coders fluent in C- and assembler programming".
C- appears to be the preferred language for programmers at Microsoft, to judge by the shoddiness of some of the company's products. At a large international concern, a meeting was arranged recently to discuss the roll-out of Exchange and Schedule+. Needless to say, Schedule+ was used to make the arrangements. And of course the room was double-booked.
According to the Radio 4 programme You and Yours, the bureaucrats of Brussels have come up with yet another scheme to make morons of us all.
Their latest wheeze is to pass a law obliging PC users to take the equivalent of a driving test. The idea, if you can call it that, is to issue users with a certificate which they would have to produce when buying a PC or applying for a job involving the use of such a machine. Anyone hoping to get their mitts on anything more powerful - a mainframe, for instance - would presumably need to take a more stringent test akin to obtaining an HGV licence. Mole can think of a few IT obergruppenfuhrers who would welcome such developments, but for most people the idea of taking a test to use a computer is an insult to the intelligence. Besides, there is the difficult question of how the law would deal with PC "driving" offences. Two penalty points for a system crash, perhaps; a progressive scale of endorsements for anyone caught doing more than 100MHz on a built-up network; and a statutory ban for anyone found at the keyboard with more than 50mg/100ml of alcohol in their blood. Faced with such restrictions, the country's businesses and great institutions would grind to a halt and, more seriously, this column could never get written.
As long ago as July, Gateway 2000 was bundling NT 3.51 with its PCs and promising an upgrade to NT 4.0 as soon as it became available. Well, NT 4.0 has been available for months, but not to anyone who took up the Gateway offer. Callers to the company are met with the usual stalling tactics, but now that the company has run out of excuses it has taken the only honourable course open to it - and blamed "negotiations with Microsoft".
Gateway must take its customers for idiots if it expects them to believe it only negotiates offers six months after it advertises them. More likely is that Microsoft won't let Gateway have the upgrade cheaply enough.
"I'm afraid I don't feel terribly sympathetic," said one, whose company is registering its displeasure by placing all new orders with Gateway's arch-rival Dell.
As well as being one of the most aesthetically pleasing sites on the Web, Bras Direct is also one of the most commercially successful. But if security on the site were a brassiere it would be a skimpy little see-through number, because until a couple of weeks ago it was possible for anyone employing a little ingenuity to view the directory containing customers' credit card details and other vital statistics. No doubt the site is now wearing the equivalent of a thick woolly jumper.
Don't forget to share any juicy morsels with Mole by Email to the address above or by phone on 0171 316 9068.
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