VSX, A shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a man who does not exist: Starbuck Powersurge - a young loner on a crusade to champion the cause of Viper Squad Ten, a long-disbanded group of stranded timetravelling troubadours, formed to help finance repairs to their time-machine. Now very much stuck in C21...
All text is copyright the Viper Squad Ten blog team 2003-2006 unless otherwise quoted or credited. If we've not credited you properly, please let me know. Throw us a link if you're desperate enough to use this guff...
Download older Zonealarm versions compatible with unsupported operating systems here!
Yes, it's one of those articles.
ANTIQUATED. OBSOLETE. That's what my Windows operating system apparently is.
My ZoneAlarm firewall (version 6.1.744.001, aka 61_744_001_en.exe) prompted that I update to the new version (6.5.722.000). As it often does.
However when I tried running the executable I was told:
This version of ZoneAlarm is not compatible with the Windows 98/Windows ME Operating System. The installation will now stop. To download a compatible version, or learn more, please visit: http://www.zonelabs.com/OSsupport
Fair enough, I thought. My OS is fairly creaky, perhaps they're branching into Pre-XP and post-XP versions. I followed the link.
Windows 98/98SE/Me Support Discontinued
Dear Windows 98/98SE/Me Customer,
Zone Labs, L.L.C. supports a balanced, multi-layered approach to security. An important part of this approach includes keeping software updated with the latest security patches.
Support Discontinued On July 11, 2006, Microsoft will end support for Windows 98, 98SE and Me, which will have the resulting effect of making these operating systems less secure (http://www.microsoft.com/windows/support/endofsupport.mspx). Windows 98/Me are older operating systems, and are therefore inherently more vulnerable to attacks than newer operating systems. Now that Microsoft will no longer provide security updates to these operating systems any PC running them will become increasingly prone to security vulnerabilities.
Accordingly, Zone Labs will cease to support Windows 98/98SE/Me with the introduction of our version 6.5 ZoneAlarm family of products including ZoneAlarm® Internet Security Suite, ZoneAlarm® Pro, ZoneAlarm® Antivirus, ZoneAlarm® Anti-Spyware, and ZoneAlarm®.
Note about pre-6.5 products:
Pre-6.5 products will continue to run on the Windows 98/98SE/Me operating system. However, there are a few new and advanced protection features in ZoneAlarm products that will not run due to technical limitations of this operating system. Zone Labs strongly recommends upgrading to a supported and current version of the Windows operating system.
Zone Labs may end services to pre-6.5 products at any time.
There are no plans to discontinue support for any other Microsoft operating systems. This announcement applies to consumer products only and does not affect enterprise products.
Nothing at all about downloading a compatible version; the only option offered being to buy a compatible operating system. Bad Check Point; naughty Zone Labs.
OK, so I use the free version of ZA (I'd be mightily narked if I'd just forked out for Pro), and the important part - the inbound firewall - works just as well without whatever bells and whistles they're offering, remaining fundamentally the same, and AYCE!
It's the excuse that narks me. It is just an excuse not to spend money on continuing support for the older systems.
But the inexcusable thing is that they don't make pre 6.5 versions clearly available to download from their website for those Windows users who don't want to throw their money at Microsoft.
Personally I can't afford an OS upgrade and am putting off getting a new computer as long as is humanly possible.
Put Me Together Again (and the alternative programming opportunities offered by Big Brother)
I've got a theory that Channel 4 are using the nightly screening of Big Brother as tool for the public good, as opposed to it being a cynical cash cow.
They've been sneaking some good documentaries into the schedule after BB, no doubt hoping that they will adopt a fresh audience who might not otherwise switch on.
Last night's turn was "Put Me Together Again", an affecting documentary filmed over a year at the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Trust, a specialist unit in Liverpool. It followed the efforts of doctors, psychologists and carers as they sought to retrieve the lost personalities of brain injury victims.
The film focussed on two stories. One patient, Robert, was something of a character, blighted by obsessive hoarding and collecting following a stroke.
However the main story belonged to Kay, a 37-year old mother who suffered brain damage in a mugging 5 years earlier, and who could only recall memories formed within the last 5 minutes, aside from snapshots of her life from before the attack. With the help and patience of the staff at the unit, as well as the invaluable support from her daughter and mother, Kay's situation was slowly but gradually improving. Watching the family coping as best they could made me feel very humbled; it was especially hard watching the poor daughter Jess, trying to coming to terms with the grief of her mother's transformation, whilst needing immense strength to help her mother climb back. And every time her mother will then forget who she is, remembering her not as this young adult but as an 11-year-old child.
And then I gave my sleeping wife such a hug, as I realised just how blessed my life is right now.
My co-editor Stu has told me that he enjoyed my recent review of Green Day's American Idiot, mainly because for once I wrote that something wasn't "brilliant".
And with that, I bring you: The Bad Reviews
Coldplay - A Rush of Blood to the Head (album) - listened to just the once, and that was more than enough. Boring boring BORING! Overwrought, and on the radio, overplayed (you just end up wanting to fast forward through the singles, then of course the few non-single tracks can't really compete).
I saw them play at the latest Brit Awards, and I swear it was Simple Minds up on stage. We don't need another Simple Minds. We never needed a Simple Minds in the first place...
Black Eyed Peas - Elephunk (album) - phunking terrible. Again, following a single play-through I have no intention whatsoever of listening to it again. Bastards.
Razorlight(band) - Razorshite more like.
Richard "Jovi" Ashcroft(singer) - did some good stuff in The Verve. But the humourless god-botherer nowadays just wants to be a cowboy, and we shouldn't stand in his way.
Dizzee Rascal - Boy in Da Corner (album) - not too enjoyable.
He will apparently state today that "Crime, immigration, security, because of the emotions inevitably raised, the headlines that scream, the multiplicity of the problems, we desperately, urgently need a rational debate from first principles".
But let's face it, New Labour is operated by focus group, the chief participants being the tabloid news editors.
Fear of crime is rising, whilst the overall incidence is falling (down 43% since 1995 according to the British Crime Survey). Look at the recent tabloid outrage over knife crime - all this political bluster was generated, but the actual levels remain unchanged.
It's all become so predictable as a long-term watcher of the pronouncements made by Blair and New Labour. The government is so desperate to be "on message" with the opinions of the British electorate at large that they're basically being dictated to by the mass-selling poison-seeding tabloid newspapers. And that makes me angry. Grrr.
Cue government minister Gerry Sutcliffe this week being sent to the States to look at how the implementation of Megan's Law has worked (or not) out there. Utterly unnecessary but utterly predictable, an attempt to assuage the tabloids that they are trying to do something about this state of "the British Paedoph-Isles".
Wednesday 22nd June - its all downhill from here...
Those of us in the Northern Hemisphere had better start lighting our balefires...
Yesterday the Earth was at a point in its orbit where the northern hemisphere is most tilted towards the sun, causing the sun to appear at 23.45 degrees above the celestial equator, and thus making its highest path across the sky.
Its at this time of year that the Sun God Belenus begins to die. Hopefully He will return again at the Winter Solstice, when the Yule logs and lit fir-braches will guide His return. However for now He's going to find it increasingly hard getting up in the morning and staying up. Just like me.
So get ritualising, and get thee to Wicca wicca Wild Wild Weston-Super-Mare for your beach bonfires. Its witchtastic!
Starbuck does not actually endorse Neopaganism or any other form of religious belief. But he does quite like the "physical and emotional sensation" of ancient traditions.
This article does not apply to those living within the Southern Hemisphere - you can please yourselves!
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Timelord
One of the impressive things about the new imcarnation of Doctor Who is how the show manages to stay so fresh, whilst (mostly) dealing with mature themes in an accessible manner. I've written before about how it will be seeding "progressive" thinking into the minds of the young, and that continues to be the case.
This week's episode was "Love and Monsters", and whilst the Doctor and Rose were hardly in it, their reverberations were echoing all throughout.
OK OK, I'm running out of time here (got an episode of Lost to catch), so I'll reveal the rough notes that I drafted in late-night discussion with Mrs Powersurge over this:
"Wonderfully different & fresh. Much like Boom Town (hidden gem upon repeated viewing). Adult consideration of themes such as the repression of bad memories - and only afterwards did I realise that the incidental music being repeated throughout during Mark Warren's "love" excitement scenes was the theme from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Good blow job joke.
 It took over a year, but the photos from our honeymoon are now available in a nice Flickr Set where they can be enjoyed in all their glory - blown up large, spread out across a flashy slideshow, whatever takes your fancy.
Just to whet your whistle, I've reproduced them here in Thumbnailovision. Click on a photo to zoom to it's page on Flickr.
You'll note that some of the thumbnails on VSX are smaller in size - these are the ones that have been locked as "Private" within Flickr. To view these you'll need to be logged in as one of my Flickr Contacts (there's a free and easy sign-up for Flickr; to gain access to the secrets held therein just throw me a request via the site). Sorry about the netparanoia - not only am I trying to shield my network identity from passing Timecops, but I'm also much too much of an ugly bugger for my picture to be broadcast on the raw interweb...
I might treat you to some further textual descriptions of our Holiday Of A Lifetime at a later date. Or a later decade. But in the meantime there's varying levels of description on each individual photo page.
In brief: Our holiday started with a stay in Bangkok, staying at the Landmark - a "luxurious 5 star hotel on fashionable Sukhumvit Road, in the heart of Thailand's exciting capital, and handily positioned for the Skytrain monorail"...
We then flew on to Ko Samui, where we stayed in one of the converted rice barges at the marvellous Imperial Boathouse Hotel...
It's been wonderful reliving our honeymoon via these photos, so thank you for the opportunity (I'm talking to Tim Berners-Lee here...)