Originally created 02/04/03

Annoy your cubical mates



Never mind the number of days on the calendar, February is the longest month. After the year-end holidays and before the first crocus, February is to be endured, and some software that will drive your cubicle-mates nuts will help.

It's called ClockDummy Version 1.4 by k.soft of Philadelphia and a demo version is available on the Web at dummysoftware.com.

ClockDummy is a utility that checks the official atomic clock at the National Institute of Science and Technology and sets your computer to the same time. On Windows machines, that time is displayed in the taskbar, in a variety of formats you can specify.

So what's to drive your neighbors nuts about that? Ahh - the software also will announce the time every 15 minutes, in a female voice preceded by a chime.

The voice sounds like a woman coming out of anesthesia and the whole shtick is cute the first time.

And less cute the second time. And an incitement to murder after a couple of hours. If you wish to pass the time by annoying your neighbors for longer than the 10-day trial period, there's a $19.95 registration fee. And, if you just want to keep your system time accurate, you can turn off the voice - but what's the satisfaction in that in a gloomy month?

Readers who saw the annual column on tax software sent a flurry of e-mails calling attention to the teapot tempest swirling about this year's version of TurboTax.

In a nutshell, the product requires activation, which is Intuit's effort to prevent piracy. Various forms of customer outrage at the new difficulty of installing the software on more than one PC are available in the customer review section on Amazon.com and elsewhere on the Net. Be warned that many are more amusing than informed.

The bottom line is the issue of intellectual property. Whether in software, music or the written word, those who hold the copyright want to sell single-use rights to their work. Those who buy want to be able to "share" it. The result has been an ongoing battle between protection and unlocking techniques that will probably go on forever. Microsoft sailed through a similar flap when it required single-machine activation of its XP system.

If you doubt that what goes around comes around, contemplate the following. As most know, the Internet was seriously decayed and other systems were affected when a worm exploited a flaw in some Microsoft server software on Sat., Jan. 25. The flaw was known, and Microsoft had had a fix available for months, but those who had failed to stay current, suffered - among them, servers at Microsoft.

In the meantime, it's still not clear where the responsibility for the crippling attack lies. Both the beauty and the vulnerability of the Internet lie in the fact that the tremendous damage could equally have been the work of a foreign government or a bored kid in Oklahoma.

Questions and comments are welcome. Send them to Larry Blasko, The Associated Press, 50 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10020-1666. Or e-mail lblaskoap.org.