Panel Rundown: Computer Viruses Then and Now

Place: Orycon 2006
Saturday, 5 PM
Panelists: Ben Yalow, Frank Hayes, Michael Ehart, Me
Moderator: Michael Pearce

So I’ll be honest about this panel. There was nothing wrong with it, it was a fine panel but it was a subject that I just ain’t that worked up about. I ended up hanging out with Michael the moderator at other points in the con, and I really like him. He’s a crazy cat, but that’s a selling point. We exchanged lists of our favorite webcomics over a table in the hospitality suite later in the con.

There was a guy in the audience who worked for Microsoft that was de facto sixth panelist. I’m pretty sure he talked a lot more than I did, but then he had more to say than I did. My contributions boiled down to a couple of overall points. Don’t plug your computer straight into a broadband device, pay the $20 for a SoHo router and then disable Universal Plug and Play. I don’t think that the proliferation of viruses on Windows vs other platforms is solely the result of installed base percentages but mainly to do with the separation of privilege. Any OS that you must run as Administrator to make it work is guaranteed to have more problems.

We discussed some problems of all major desktop OS types, and as I was the youngest participant you can imagine we went back into the history of some older viruses and worms. It was touched upon that there is no OS without problems, so the thing to do is mitigate damage and reduce risk. Backup, backup, backup! Organize your disk partitions so that all the data that matters to you (photos, documents, quicken files, etc) are in a common root folder and can be easily scooped up. Ben rightly pointed out that some app vendors (Quicken in particular) defy this by putting their data files all the hell over the place. Override defaults and put them to your own data directory if possible.

In retrospect, the thing that happened about 40 minutes in where we discussed practical advice, that should have happened much earlier. Even though I have worked quite hard to de-Microsoft my life, there was a little much anti-Microsoft stuff in here for my taste. It seemed like the needs of the audience were getting met, and there was much room for their input so in the end everyone got what they needed. I was sitting next to Ben Yalow and his fabulous sweater. I don’t know if he remembers me from time to time, but Ben is one of those guys I meet somewhere about every five years. I remember him, but then he’s more memorable than I.

Bottom Line: I think the panel was OK and did what it was supposed to, I tried to participate and help but I didn’t have that much input to put in. Would love to hear from people in the seats what they got out of it.

Published by


Dave Slusher is a blogger, podcaster, computer programmer, author, science fiction fan and father.

One thought on “Panel Rundown: Computer Viruses Then and Now”

  1. Next time I’m going to run through the Microsoft shill. Gawd was he on his coffee break from work??? What a jerk!
    Michael Pearce is awesome…. BTW: It was the Audience that wrestled this topic back to some practical usedulness with Michael’s help.

Comments are closed.