I got to thinking this weekend. Since I was babysitting for my grandkids and bored stiff, my mind wandered in some weird directions.
I wondered about those sticks that appear stuck in the ground along our streets around this time of year. My guess is that they are feeding the termites, of which we seem to have abundance. My friend Stan the Flan thinks that they are not termite food, per se, but are instead tests for termites. The idea is that whoever it is that puts the sticks in the ground never seems to bother to retrieve them. Those that fall over (and most do) were obviously chewed by termites. Simple. But I do wonder about the fancy colored pieces of signage on top of the sticks. Surely the termites don't read them, and from what I can see apparently nobody else does either. Do termites vote? I guess I just don't understand…
I also got to thinking about what a hostile place the Internet has become. It seems that everybody and their brother, from the Russian Mafia to legitimate businesses, are putting junk into your PC and causing severe software problems. It has gotten to the point where the less tech-inclined just don't have the skills to keep it out. I really dislike taking someone's money to disinfect his or her PC, only to have it reinfected within days.
The analogy that came to mind was the CB boom of the 70's. For those of us who were around then, the CB craze seemed to blossom out of nowhere. CB (or Citizen's Band radio) was a public radio service that made it very easy to have local radio contact on the road or with friends and relatives. The radios were relatively inexpensive and fairly easy to install and use. In theory, you had to send a form to the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) to get a license and callsign, but after a while nobody bothered. You just thought up a "handle" and clicked the microphone (mic) on.
The CB craze was fueled in part by a number of CB oriented movies. Surely you remember "Convoy" with Kris Kristofferson as the "Rubber Duck" and Ali McGraw as the assorted love interest. How could you forget the famous line: "Hey you got the Duck here. 10-4 your 10-28, but you got a Smokey in the bandit" or something like that.
But CB went very wrong very quickly. In the beginning, it was used by people (mostly truckers) who validly needed the communication capability. But once the public piled on, every weirdo and freak came out of the woodwork. Guys started using thousand-watt amplifiers (the legal limit was 5 watts) and the swearing, cursing, and sexually explicit talk that went on was just beyond rationality. People with valid uses were drowned in the wave of grunge.
Well, folks, the Internet is getting like that. What could have been the most powerful tool for social interaction and change worldwide has turned into an anything-for-profit or anything-for-spite quagmire. Spam is still rampant, and will be for a long time. Everybody and his brother are now attempting to find new ways to target advertisements and come-ons (legal and illegal) direct to your PC. Don't expect legislation to stem the tide - the process is not quick enough to respond. And don't expect legitimate companies to come to the rescue - recent setbacks in attempting to set a new, secure email standard fell apart due to rampant and blatant commercial greed.
So, just as people soured and stopped using CB radio, I seriously expect a similar effect on the Internet. People are going to jump off, because the frying pan is just becoming too hot.
My $.02, of course!
(Bob Seidel is a local computer consultant in the Southport / Oak Island area. You can visit his website at www.bobseidel.com or e-mail him at email@example.com).