Saturday, March 07, 2009

Western Digital hard drives are great, but don't install Memeo!

I recently had an adventure with a computer virus (Virtumonde/Vundo!). If I find the time, I'll blog about that separately (the bottom line is that Malwarebytes, run in safe mode, is what finally worked). This post is about the backup that I attempted once everything was working well again. I will discuss Lenovo's "Rescue and Recovery" which I used and Memeo Backup and AutoSync.

Lenovo's Rescue and Recovery program, which comes with the Thinkpad, has some useful features but can also be aggravating. This goes with the territory. Automating backups is appealing, but it ties up the CPU, RAM and hard disc space. There are some serious issues here about giving the user control and knowledge of the process. I ultimately decided that while Rescue and Recovery could be much more transparent, it is worthwhile, provided that it is never ever set for scheduled backups (at least not in the case of a laptop which is not likely to be on at times when it is not in use). It needs an external hard drive to backup onto, and it will want to make that drive bootable.

So, I bought a Western Digital hard drive. It was a 1 Tb. drive, from Amazon, and cost $118. This is mind-boggling to me because I remember when 20 Mb. was the standard size for an external drive; that is 1/50,000 the size! The hard drive came with Memeo software (Autobackup and Autosync). I was prompted to install it, and I did, since it appeared to be free with the drive. Only after installation did I realize that it was a 30 day free trial. I used the Lenovo softare to back up my hard drive overnight. The next morning (today), after I removed the external drive and restarted my laptop, Memeo started up and prompted me to create a backup plan. I didn't. I closed Memeo and saw a message that it would be running in the background. There is no reason for it to be running at all when the backup drive is not connected! I selected quit, but it started again. Why? If users cannot turn software off, then that software is malware. This behavior certainly fits the definition (from wikipedia) in that it is "software designed to infiltrate a computer system without the owner's informed consent. The expression is a general term used by computer professionals to mean a variety of forms of hostile, intrusive, or annoying software or program code."

There was no uninstall option in the start menu, so I went online and found that uninstalling Memeo is a big concern of many people. I used the Windows "Add and Remove" (under Start/Settings) and it seems to be gone. Compared to others, I feel lucky (Yahoo Answers ultimately suggests reinstalling Windows). It strikes me that Memeo may be useful, and the free trial may be a good way to market it, but putting aggressive features into a backup program was really dumb. The name Memeo will forever be associated with malware.

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Barack Obama in March of 2008

I found this blog entry in my drafts folder, last edited on March 22, 2008, soon after Obama's signficant speech on race (March 18). I'm not sure what kept me from posting it then, so I'm posting it now.
It was a great speech, but it contains two things with which I disagree. The first is in the sentence "But [the story of Barack Obama's ancestors] is a story that has seared into my genetic makeup the idea that this nation is more than the sum of its parts - that out of many, we are truly one." Genetic makeup does not contain ideas and it cannot contain ideas. Ideas come from people, through words and upbringing. This is nitpicking, I admit, since he was using a common metaphor, but I think it matters. The idea that one's biological ancestry determines one's ideas is wrong, and it is dangerous. It's not clear that he was actually guilty of that mistake here, but it does sound like it. I think that moving beyond race requires being clear about the fact that while ideas can be passed on they cannot be inherited.

The other nit I want to pick concerns the word "every," in the statement "I have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins, of every race and every hue." Again, I think that this was a rhetorical device, but the notion that there are so few races (two, three, four, five?) that anyone could have relatives of every race is also wrong, and it it also dangerous.

On the whole, though, I feel that this was a great speech, and it shows that Barack Obama is an orator of a caliber that we have not seen in decades. I agree with Richardson that it is time for Hilary to leave the race. This is not about her. This is about Barack Obama. When greatness comes to the door, one should step aside to let him in.

Hilary did not step aside, but it came out alright in the end.