Why it behooves you to have some computer literacy or at least some skepticism.

Pic of Charlie Brown.

I'm right there with you on that one, Chuck.

It seems you can’t even trust your friendly neighborhood PC repair technician anymore (unless it’s me):

Trevor Harwell, 20, a technician for Rezitech Inc., provided home computer services to users with Macintosh computers, said Fullerton Police Sgt. Andrew Goodrich.

Harwell went to elaborate lengths to ensure that he got lurid images, even convincing users through system messages that they needed to take their computers into steamy environments, such as near their showers, Goodrich said.

“While he had physical access to the computers, he would install a spyware-type application that allowed him remote access to the user’s computer and webcam,” Goodrich said.

“Once he had access, he would take photographs of the users, usually women,” Goodrich said. “Often, the female victims were undressed or changing clothes.”

[…] One message mimicked the appearance of a system message and read: “You should fix your internal sensor soon. If unsure what to do, try putting your laptop near hot steam for several minutes to clean the sensor.”

The message led many victims to take their laptops into the bathroom while taking a shower, Goodrich said.

via Computer repairman accused of taking nude pictures of women remotely – latimes.com.

It doesn’t take a genius to know that water, even in the form of steam, and computers don’t really mix well so if your computer is suddenly telling you it needs a steam bath you should probably be at least a little bit skeptical. I could make a snarky comment about the fact that these were Mac users so it’s probably no surprise that they were easily duped — after all, look at how much they’re being duped out of to buy a Mac in the first place — but I’m sure there are plenty of Windows users out there who wouldn’t stop to question their computer’s sudden desire for tropical atmospheres either.

It’s probably a sign of my tendency to over-estimate the intelligence of the average American that I was surprised such a ploy worked at all, let alone for as long as this news items suggests it did. The police are saying that they’ve recovered “hundreds of thousands” of images. Perhaps these folks should consider taking an introduction to computers class at the local college.

9 thoughts on “Why it behooves you to have some computer literacy or at least some skepticism.

  1. Yes, its really easy to be “duped” into buying a Mac since they’re so much better than garbage sold with Winblows.

  2. @ Les:
    Sure did. You preach intelligence and making smart decisions, yet you use garbage computers that have been (failing) to emulate Apple since the 80’s.

  3. Apple products are worthless. They are (intentionally) obsolete before they hit the shelves and do delicate they break down in less than a year unless you keep them in a clean room and never use them.

    They are prohibitively expensive considering all of the above. They’re also counter intuitive and decidedly NOT user friendly in any way, shape or form. I was issued a MAC notebook through my work and I kept it for less than a week because it was so damn hard to use. If you do lots of stuff with images/videos they may be good for that, but since I work mostly with print I’ll stick with my trusty PC that’s never let me down and has always done what I want when I want without having to navigate through endless menus and hunting for the program/function I am looking for.

    I won’t even go into the MP3 players which have been the majority of my experiences with Apple products. Three iPods in as many years (each costing way more then they’re worth) is enough to make steam come out of my ears. The only reason I keep going with them is because I can’t use my iTunes purchased music in any other player because Apple sucks so bad.

  4. The only reason Windoze users seem to have better savvy about the guts of their computers is because they either have to become amateur repair men or spend a fortune getting a professional to fix their P.O.S.

    I’ll be sitting with the guys, shooting the breeze, sipping some beverages and the topic of chat will turn to computers. Without any special emotion, they’ll go around the table with remarks like “Yeah, I had to go to reboot my father’s entire operating system.” “My motherboard up and fried, so I’ve been shopping around for better replacement.” “Everything totally locked up after three of the automatic upgrades turned out to be bogus.”

    To them, it’s the price of doing business. They are frankly skeptical, and digress into a lame anti-Mac tirade (like this current blog entry), when I tell them I’ve NEVER had to do anything like that. I compare it my car. It requires a weekly fill-up, check the oil and wipe the windows. To them, life requires they engage in weekly rebuilds of the transmissions, totally flush the carburetor and repaint the body. And they’re really proud of their “mad skillz”.

    When all the machines are operating properly, the difference is miniscule. I work in print shops where I wheel my chair back and forth between two stations, depending on what the client has given us for files. Once upon a time, the difference between Windoze and a Mac was like between traveling by skateboard or by bicycle. Each can take you to your destination, but it’s a different experience. In the here and now, the two have moved so close together that it’s like a choice between a car or a minivan.

    So, to WarLioness (and a friend of my wife’s, just last night), if you’re proficient with Windoze and yet stridently claim a Mac is “not user friendly” and “counter intuitive”…you really shouldn’t be allowed to operate motor vehicles or manage your own finances.

    And that’s my cup of napalm on the New Religious War.

  5. A separate post to more address the actual topic of Les’ blog entry.

    More and more I do believe people should be required to get some sort of “Computer Operating License”, in the same spirit as a motor vehicle license. The smooth functioning of the world economy is far too dependent on computers to keep on in this manner. In my life, WAY too many clients and their secretaries and others in major offices are clueless children wandering into traffic on the information superhighway and causing accidents. It’s no wonder Facebook is popular. It’s a cute little tricycle track that lets these people pretend they’re driving…until someone asks them a “hard” question, or tells them to take their computer into the shower.

    Not a license that gives legal permission to operate a computer. More an impartial, objective ranking system where an individual must get tested. Then, like a karate belt or a driver’s license rank. An employer could ask flat out “What’s your computer rank?” “Orange.” “Sorry, this job requires a Red or higher.” Like a driver’s license, a person could learn anywhere, from anyone. But they’d then have to go the Department of Computer Standards for their actual test. Wipe the sweaty palms and have at it.

    Random thoughts before lunch!

  6. Blaze/etc,
    Was that one throw-away line in the post really sufficient to invoke an OS flame-war? Are you all that thin skinned? To quote something I read recently, what the fuck is wrong with you people?

    Just Blaze,
    ” “Computer Operating License”, in the same spirit as a motor vehicle license “

    The difference is that when you wander in front of real traffic, you die. When you wander into virtual danger, you get a virus, or lose your money, or have someone take nude photos of you.

    A “computer drivers licence” really means a “life” licence. After all, 419s existed before email-419s. I remember my parent’s business getting 419s in the post. Pyramid schemes and chain letters existed before email was a gleam in ARPA’s eye. These people don’t lack computer skills, they lack “common” sense. The same problem had by anyone who’s ever jumped into flame-mode over a slight against their fucking operating system. [sigh]

  7. Paul gets it. It’s not that I think these folks need to be licensed or become as knowledgeable as I am to use computers, just a little more literate than they are. Or, barring that, a little more skeptical.

    I’m certainly no expect in the fields of biology, physics, cosmology, etc., but I know just enough to spot potential bullshit when I see/hear it. Just enough that a little red flag goes up and I’m motivated to check the claims with knowledgeable sources.

  8. With all of the stories flying around recently about the mis-use and remote hacking of web cams, I’m amazed people don’t cover them when they’re not in use.

    Of course, we can’t expect most people to do the smart thing, can we?

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