Quick guide

In the 1960s and the 1970s, IBM was so powerful that it held a larger market than all of its competitors put together (at least 70%). There were seven main rivals; thus the term Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The Dwarfs were General Electric, RCA, Burroughs, UNIVAC, NCR, Control Data and Honeywell. In the face of the IBM System/370, RCA left the computer market, UNIVAC became a division of Sperry, GE sold its computer business to Honeywell, and AT&T was bought over by NCR (which changed the meaning of its name from National Cash Register to National Computing Resources). In 1986, Burroughs bought UNIVAC from Sperry and, at the time, became the second largest computer company, and, in the same year, AT&T spun off NCR into an independent company. Control Data was eventually taken over by a finance company called Commercial Credit, who never really exploited the dynamic nature of Control Data.
      It is to IBM’s credit that they are still one of the largest computing companies, while the other dwarfs have mainly left the mainstream computer business. In the era of the PC, the RCA’s, UNIVAC’s, and Burrough’s, were replaced by the Commodore’s, the Radio Shack’s, the Osborne’s, who have since been replaced by the Dell’s, the Compaq’s and the Packard Bell’s.

Do witches run spell checkers? 
A computer’s attention span is as long as its power cord.

All viruses have a signature, or   create a footprint when they are executed. Virus decoders must determine the operation of the virus in order for an anti-virus program not to make a mistake in thinking that a valid piece of program is virus code. Thus there is very little guesswork with a virus-seeking program, and most viruses must be carefully analyzed before an anti-virus program can be updated to eradicate it.

Before the advent of networks and the Internet , the most common mechanism for spreading a virus was through floppy disks and CD-ROM  disks. As the spread of the viruses was by manual insertion from one machine to another, the anti-virus programs could easily keep up-to-date with the latest viruses, and modify their databases. Viruses would spread around the world over a period of months, if not years. Networks and the Internet  have changed all this, where a virus can now be transmitted over a LAN  in a fraction of a second, and around the world in less than a second. Thus a virus can be created and transmitted around the world before an anti-virus programmer can even identify its make-up.

The Love Bug worm poked its head above the surface on the fourth day of May 2000, a day that will go down in history as the day that the world said ‘I Love You’. Unfortunately it was not a message which would bring world peace, nor was it a sign of affection. Never before had such a global threat grown so quickly and attack so many systems. The first sign of the message appeared in Europe and then spread as the sun rose around the world. Soon, the National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC) issued a warning that the LoveLetter or LoveBug virus had now spread around the global e-mail system. On hearing of warning, IT managers around the world started shutting down their IT systems, while virus decoders were already working hard on methods that could be used to defeat the new menace.
Isn't that interesting?


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Electronic Mail

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Electronic mail  is my favorite application of the Internet. My favorite question to a new set of students used to be: “What’s the difference between the World Wide Web  and the Internet?” It shows the ignorance of the media that very few students could even differentiate the two. By now you should realize that the World Wide Web  (the Web, Cyber Space, and so on) and the Internet are two different things. The World Wide Web is really just one of the applications of the Internet. Others include remote access, remote diagnostics, and, of course, electronic mail . For most the best application of the Internet is electronic mail. It has really enhanced business communications, and, like the telephone , has changed the way people operate. 

      One of the most amazing things about electronic mail  is how quickly it was adopted as a world standard, and how well it has changed from being the domain of computer specialists to become usable by virtually every person who owns, or uses a computer. The keys to this success have been the adoption of TCP /IP  as a standard transport mechanism, and, of course, the adoption of the RFC821 and RFC822 standards. These two simple protocols have allowed for electronic e-mail to be transferred between different systems, and different e-mail client s. Without them we may have been forced to adopt industry-driven standards. But, as we know, the Internet  is the greatest open system, ever. It thrives on its openness, and worldwide standards. No one owns the Internet, and no one ever will. If anyone tries to dominate, they will be immediately shouted down, either by governments or by the users of the Internet.

      Given that RFC821 and RFC822 were based on text-type messages, no one would have really expected that they would eventually support file attachments, and, even graphics  and binary  programs. MIME  has done this successfully, but it has done it in the way that still makes the e-mail compatible with all previous standards. For a while, electronic mail s became a bit messy, as not all e-mail systems were quite compatible with the new MIME standards, but with new versions the integration is almost seamless. Now, e-mail messages can be sent as HTML  documents, with hypertext links, colored backgrounds, and colored text. To be totally compatible it is often best to send text messages in text format, as you can never guarantee that the recipient is fully compatible with the message format that you are sending. POP-3 has since enhanced the reception of e-mail, as it supports a simple message transfer system which allows many different types of programs to access POP-3 initialized servers . Typically WWW  browsers are now used to download e-mail messages.

      Electronic mail  requires a different culture than traditional methods of communications. The key difference is that there is no immediate feedback  (as there would be with a telephone  call), and that messages can be sent within a relatively short time. These two things cause considerable problems, and most people have sent e-mails which have either been construed the wrong way or have sent messages which they quickly regret (‘acting-on-the-spot’).  So, as words  of advice, try not to send e-mails without first thinking about their consequences (typically, allow yourself a cooling-off period before you blast users with an e-mail that you may later regret), and carefully read what you have written, so that it cannot be construed in the wrong way.

      One way to lighten-up an e-mail, and to show that you are not being too serious is to use smilies, some of which are given next. For example, someone sending a lighthearted e-mail about not getting a job might say:

Well, thanks for your advice, but it didn’t help because I didn’t get the job. So I don’t think I’ll be asking you again.

-- Fred Smith.

Might get construed as abusive, as the person sounds as if they are really saying that they do not want any more advice from the person. A smilie, or two, can help to lighten the tone of the e-mail, and show that it should not be taken too seriously:

Well, thanks for your advice, but it didn’t help because I didn’t get the job (:-<). So I don’t think I’ll be asking you again ;-).

-- Fred (:->)

The Internet  has also brought Netiquette, which is a whole new language. Users of chat programs often use acronyms for commonly used words . When I first started using the Internet I was lost for a while, as users kept saying things like LOL and ROFL. I didn’t know that they actually thought that I was saying something funny. I thought that they were offering me a lolly (in the UK , a kind of Popsicle), and asking about my roof. Soon I realized that BTW was By The Way, and not some new fast food meal. Well, here goes:

   IMHO, BTW, IRL I LOL when I C  Some1 FTF . GTG. EOD. HAND

   -- WB.

One of the great advantages of e-mail, is that people who contact me get my name right. A good old Scottish name like Buchanan (pro. Bu-cannon), can come out in many different ways over the telephone , my Top 5 are:

1.   Butch-an-an-a (I don’t know where the last –a comes from, but I think it just comes out)

2.   Butch-an-in.

3.   Buk-hana-an.

4.   Butch-anon.

5.   Buchan-on.

I must admit I love e-mail, because it is really the art of the written word. Many people though, abuse the great gift of e-mail, which is a real shame. The four top abusers are:

·         Mr or Mrs Anonymous. These are people who either generate anonymous  e-mail accounts and then use these to send abusive e-mails to someone or are people who send e-mails from their own account but use another person’s e-mail address as the sender. It is relatively simple to set up the sending e-mail address of a user to anything that a user wants (and pretend to be anyone that they want). Government s of the worlds are quickly realizing that this type of activity is a serious crime, and laws will soon be put in place to try and reduce the number of people who do this. I have seen several abuses of the e-mail system with this method. Luckily all of them were traced, as the users could be traced from their IP  address , and the time that they sent the e-mail. So remember, systems keep trace of when users log in, and their IP address. Once an administrator has this information  it is relatively easy to catch an abuser. There are many clues in the header of the e-mail address which can trace the original sender of an e-mail message, as the header contains the original server , as well as times and dates of transfers. Several e-mail systems now detect that a user is using a different e-mail address. A level of security is also provided by some ISPs who will only allow an e-mail message to be sent from a specific telephone  number .

·         Spammers R Us. Spammers are everywhere; they either do it unintentionally or intentionally. The worst type is the one which intentionally sends out e-mails to many users at a time, without first checking to see if they really want the information .

·         Mr and Mrs IdiotUser. These two people tend to be the type that reply back to an e-mail message, and rather than sending to the person who sent the e-mail, they send it to everyone on the circulation list. This can be very embarrassing, and, for the recipients, annoying.

·         Mr LackofManners. This tends to the type of user who writes e-mail as he speaks. I’ve seen lots of examples of this, and a few tips that I have are:  always  refer  to  someone using either their first name, or their official title; always reply with a courteous response (even although you may be fuming and wish to punch them in the face). Words such as: ‘Thank you for your e-mail’, ‘I respect your option’, ‘I agree with you to a certain extent’, are much better than: ‘I’ve just wasted two hours of my precious life reading, and replying to your abusive e-mail’, ‘You’re the next highest life form to a slug’, ‘I wanted to send you a more fulsome response, but your firewall  would probably not allow through some of the words  that I would like to say’.

E-mail is still a relatively new technology, and unlike many technological advances, it is actually changing the way we work. Thus it will take a while to truly evolve, and like TCP /IP  it is one of the true liberators in the world, as it allows the people of the world to intercommunicate, and share ideas. In the past governments have build virtual walls around their county in order to control the information  that flows into and out of a country. TCP and IP  are, of course, open to anyone reading the messages contained in their communications, but with encryption , not even a space alien could read the message (unless, of course, it was destined for them!).












laughing or double chin


laughing tears






wry smile




sad, angry
























has eaten a lemon








sorry, I didn’t want to say that


sorry, I don’t know what went wrong


drunk (red  nose)


stared too long at monitor














stupid question (donkey’s hat)






little girl


big girl




wearing glasses


wearing glasses/wide-eyed grin


horn-rimmed glasses


sunglasses on head


side view














boxer’s nose






gleep, friendly


variations on a theme


(what should we call these?)

















to you, too


as a matter of fact


as far as I know


away from keyboard


as soon as possible


be back later


back on topic


be right back


by the way


bring your own rocket launcher


ciao for now


call for discussion


call for vote


see you


see you later


see ya


do it yourself


end of discussion


end of transmission


face to face


frequently argued issue


frequently asked questions


friend of a friend


for what it's worth


for your information  


get a life


going for coffee




got to go


have a nice day


hope this helps


in any case


I see


I don’t get it


in my humble opinion


in my not so humble opinion


in my opinion


in my previous/personal experience


in my very humble opinion


in other words  


in real life


keep it simple stupid


laughing out loud


no comment


oh no, not again!


obligatory on-topic content  


on the other hand


hello again (re-Hi!)


rolling on the floor laughing


read the documentation


somebody had to say it


significant other




thanks in advance


three letter acronym


terms of service


ta-ta for now


talk to you later


what it is we do


when we do what it is we do


you get what you pay for


IMO YGWYPF and THX 4 buying this book. Well, C4N. GTG to the next chapter ;->.

© W. Buchanan, 2000