important new virus fear
colist-admin at comm-org.utoledo.edu
colist-admin at comm-org.utoledo.edu
Wed Nov 10 12:26:40 CST 1999
Hi COMM-ORG. While not directly related to community organizing and
development, it seems an important community service to send out computer
e-mail virus alerts.
There is a new computer virus going by the name of "Bubbleboy." This virus
is significant in that it can infect your computer if you simply open an
e-mail message. It used to be that you could only get infected by e-mail
viruses if you opened files "attached" to e-mail messages.
Now, it is also the case that the virus only infects your computer if you
get your e-mail through Microsoft Outlook or Outlook Express.
If you get a message with the subject "Bubbleboy is back!" do not open it.
Do not even open it in the "preview pane." If you do by mistake open it,
you can delete the virus by hand before it does anything. Information is at:
This is pretty much a nuisance virus--it doesn't really mess up your
computer very bad but it propagates by secretly sending itself to everyone
in your Outlook address book. It also does not seem to be spreading very
That was the important part. Now some more information and analysis if you
There is actually a connection to political action. There is a reason that
Microsoft products are targetted with these viruses. Many, though not all,
viruses have an important political component. It fascinates me that the
Linux operating system, with its leftist anarchist overtones, is still for
all practical purposes virus free. You can't even get anti-virus software
for Linux. Also, even in the Windows operating system, most other
non-Microsoft word processing and e-mail software are not as targeted by
viruses (they like to say they are not as "vulnerable" but that may not be
My recommendation, if you are someone who goes for politically correct
consumerism (pardon the oxymoron), is that you find ways to move away from
software that is not "open source" and free. And there are a lot of good
alternatives out there. If you don't want to make the big leap to Linux,
you can still get good free and/or open source software. My favorite site
for downloading free software is:
Another site I use for Windows freeware and shareware is:
Among the software you can get there are two e-mail programs I use--Eudora
Lite and Pegasus. Neither are free in the sense that their computer code
is "open source" but both are free in terms of cost. And both are quite
reliable. There are some others such as Phoenix Mail which are open source.
Generally, viruses that will infect your computer through e-mail will not
work through these programs. In addition, these other programs are *much*
better at sending "plain text" e-mail messages. Many of you using
Microsoft Outlook send messages using "rich text" or "html text" that look
like pure gobbledygook in the list server until I clean them up. It is a
terrible e-mail program unless the only thing you want to do is send
messages to other Outlook users.
Now, if you've never "downloaded" and installed software from the Internet,
it's actually pretty easy. Find someone who has (there are lots of people
out there) and ask them for help. You should have an anti-virus scanner
installed just in case a download has a virus in it (but in the thousands
of software files I have downloaded I have never encountered a virus). You
may need an "unzipper" for software that comes in a "zip" format (your
friend who has done it before will know what that is and if they don't then
they don't know enough). Otherwise, you just download the main software
file to your own computer (look to see where the computer is putting it on
your hard drive). Then you have to open and install the software, just
like if it came on a CD.
Now, of course, in terms of e-mail, you can also use one of the free
web-based e-mail services and let them deal with all of the virus problems.
These aren't quite as versatile and not always perfectly reliable, but
great if you don't want the hassle of managing your e-mail yourself. If
you want to see some evaluation of some of these services, go to the "free
services" section of the Nonags web site.
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