Wednesday, January 13, 2010

MUNDANE COMPUTER MYSTERIES: SAVED BY A SCREEN SAVER?


This morning I was sent an e-mail from my uncle that sent shivers down my spine:
Read immediately and pass on urgent !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Someone is sending a very cute screensaver of the Budweiser frogs. If you download it, you will lose everything! The hard drive crash and someone from the Internet will receive your username and password! Do not download, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES! Just went into circulation yesterday. Please distribute this new message.This is a very malicious virus and not many people know about it. This information was announced yesterday morning from Microsoft. Please share with everyone that might access the Internet. Again, this step in favor, so be careful

OH SHIT! CONSIDER THE MESSAGE PASSED ON URGENT.

Okay, in all seriousness, this e-mail put me into a spin. Although it should be mentioned that my uncle is a sucker for chain mail, and I almost always never give his amusing junk the benefit of the doubt, I find it amazing to realise that I got an e-mail warning me of the potential dangers of product placement ten years after such a thing would even be considered desireable by the general public. This e-mail is a time capsule of all kinds of behavior from the internet's past. Let's look into this.

MYSTERY #1 - Is e-mail even used for this type of thing anymore?

First of all, when was the last time any of us recieved warnings from friends over e-mail? Usually, if something significant were messing with folks over the web, now there's a better chance you'd hear it on social networking sites, instant messaging services, or even the news. Having it by e-mail is just downright suspicious.

...and suspicious it is. Here's a Snopes.com entry, with a sample collection of the e-mail's many variations. It's all there, down to the vague warnings and bad grammar.

MYSTERY #2 - Just what the hell is a screen saver for?


Or better yet, does anyone out there still use a screen saver? Talk about a product with dubious necessity. Whenever I think of screen savers, I'm reminded of the passive-aggressive cubicle world of Microserfs. Somehow someone convinced the world that their monitors were going to be treated like ATM's and were in need of saving. You'd think that the OFF button would suffice, but guess wrong. There's money to be made and 3.5" Diskettes to manufacture. Heck, even Wikipedia acknowledges the thing as a misnomer. Now, I too once had my own copy of After-Dark, with the Flying Toasters and all, but I just ripped it off my dad's boss, who was dumb enough to buy it. Honestly, I want to believe that the primary motivation for purchasing a screensaver is either just to show off, or to produce scrolling passive-agressive messages to onlooking co-workers.

Exhibit I: Screen Savers are used for showing off.

For your education, I aquired my own copy of what I feel is the gold standard in desktop bullshit. Star Wars Screen Entertainment.

The year was 1994, and I was with my parents on a trip to IKEA. Somewhere in between all the BILLY's and JERKER's was this tiny little office with two computers in it. A man using Windows 3.1 gets out of his chair, clicks a few buttons, and steps out. Suddenly his large 320x240 monitor displays schematics of TIE-Bombers, and a terribly wonderful MIDI rendition of the Star Wars Theme starts playing.


X-Wing was my favorite video game of all time then, and he clearly got my attention. Fucking show off.

Here's the menu. Look at all the myriad ways you can waste energy and someone's time.

HOLY SHIT IS THAT JAWA TAKING MY START BUTTON AWAY? THIS IS AWESOME I CAN'T WAIT TO SHOW THIS TO THE GUYS TOMORROW HOLD ON

Ahem.

Exhibit II: Screen Savers is just another medium for expressing passive agressive notes.

Let Bob have it where it hurts: in a screen saver.

WARNING: Screensavers are, however, not protected by the first amendment. Don't believe me? Read it here. That being said, can someone hook me up with a Bill n' Opus screensaver? I want to hang it on a frame or something.

MYSTERY #3 - Err.


You know, the really sad thing about this is that I couldn't even find the goddamn Budweiser screensaver on the internet. I found more references to the supposed virus than the actual screensaver. I searched for hours, digging through Geocities sites (which is like the graveyard of the internet if there ever was one) and old italian FTP servers, but I finally found the screensaver's permanent home. Froggyville.

Word.

By Slippy Toad, I found it. I now have the file in my hands. Will my uncle's advice be put to use, or am I just wasting your time?


Here's the package file. Scanning with Avira comes out as nil. But who knows, maybe it's too old to be detected or something!

Haha, look at this. This thing was last modified in early 1995. If there does turn out to be something potent in this thing, I fucking deserve it.

OK


So, here we are, at ground zero. This is all what I have to show for. My computer SEEMS to work, but who knows, maybe in just a moment the hard drive crash, and someone from the internet will recieve your username and password! Hmm. Strange enough, they don't specify which username and password. I hope they steal my Hotmail account. It's so old and spammy.

Well. It's sorta cute, in a marketing sort of way. It doesn't beat the Jawa's though. Oh well. Gonna have to call this one a dud, then.

Aw shit, hold on. The screensaver just turned on by itself.

4 comments:

  1. Well I have A LOT to say about this post... but I'm way too tired and have work in the morning so I'll just say a few words.
    1. Ivan my friend you have a lot of balls installing that screen saver and you know there very well could have been a virus on it.
    2. ... well no that's pretty much all I have to say. Although the star wars screen saver does catch my attention, but I'll stick to my home made porn screen saver for LAN parties and such.
    Yeah that's right I still use screen savers busta!

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  2. been done.
    and alex, you are a mexican, not jewish, not arabic, a mexican! you don't have to be proud of it. just live with it.

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  3. :\ are you mad Mare?
    Anyway back on subject, I want link to both of these screen savers I actually want to use them on the computers at work.
    Back on the subject of the virus I sorta doubt that even if there was a virus it would do much as most viruses of the mid 90's seem to attack specific files and with windows xp vista or 7 they just wouldn't be able to move much less find the file they were designed to attack.
    Good read though very thorough

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  4. Hasn't saying 'it's been done' been done? Maybe I should take the memo. Put it on flying 3D Text screensaver when I decide to let my computer idle.

    Hmm. Well, Alex, I'll try to hook you up with my dusty copy of Screen Entertainment and the frogs. Just don't copy that floppy. Har Har. Internet.

    Holy shit though. I'm going to try out your idea of putting merging two screensavers togther. I'll post the results if I can pull it off.

    ReplyDelete