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Verity Stob's Big Fat Geek Yuletide Quiz of the Year Part 2

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Top three mobile application threats

Note: Ms Stob claims to have sent in her only copy of Part 1 of her Quiz of the Year (The Questions) many weeks ago. However, nothing ever arrived here. But we do at least have the answers, so we thought we might as well make the best of a bad situation.

1. InstallShield Update Manager, which was yet again the winner of this column's 'Scrapeware of the Year' award. 'Scrapeware' is a generic term for the 'demo' software that comes pre-installed on laptops and other machines these days. It can be a fantastic new utility to cram all your password eggs into one supposedly secure basket, or just an app for uploading dull photographs to a slow website. The first four hours of ownership of a new PC must be spent scraping this guff off the hard disk.

Strictly speaking, a piece of scrapeware should by definition install a Yahoo! Search toolbar into Internet Explorer. However, the judge (me) felt able to overlook this requirement in view of the insidious nature of IUM, and the difficulty in getting rid of it.

2. Malcolm Gladwell's special pet Twitter nickname for Chris Anderson.

3. The Innocent have Nothing [Left] To Lose was of course the winning tagline in the government's competition to relaunch the ID card.

4. The five 'odd ones out' from the full list of Bloody Annoying Windows Vista features were:

  • The near indestructible nature of the print job at the front of the printer queue, and the cost of attempting to delete same. Specifically, three minutes of sullen disk-thrashing on the PC, while the printer soils the top left hand corner of eight sheets of expensive, photograph-grade paper.
  • The Windows indexing service. The one that is supposed to make finding text in files quicker, that is controlled by interaction with a cartoon dog that you thought you had turned off.
  • That glitch with network drives after you first log on, and it says 'Cannot reconnect network drives' - thus halting any automatic backups to network you may have set up. But it connects just fine when you click on the drives in Explorer. It just wants attention, poor thing.
  • When you plug a memory stick into the a USB port, and your computer only has USB V1 ports on it, Windows nonetheless flashes up the message 'this device can work faster when plugged in to a USB V2 port'. Every time.
  • “Done the updates. Shall I reboot now? Shall I? Shall I reboot now? I could reboot now, if you liked? Shall I reboot then? I can reboot now, would you like that? Rebooty-tooty? Reboot? Since you're not busy, shall we go read the BIOS copyright message together? How does this screen look in white-out-of-black text? If you had done it when I first asked, we could be finished by now. Fancy a visit to the Ctrl Alt Deli? Ready for a fresh start? Reboot?”

The thing that these five Bloody Annoying Windows Vista features have in common is (of course) they are not Bloody Annoying Windows Vista features at all. They are all Bloody Annoying Windows XP features, and in some cases Bloody Annoying Windows Features Since Nearly The Beginning Of Time.

For full marks, you must have cited, in each case, the url of one or more Raymond Chen articles that explain why the feature is actually a design triumph ridiculously misunderstood by an ungrateful world.

5. The Java Virtual Machine. This little elf of a piece of software usually hides in a tiny house in a tiny icon in the system tray. It emerges occasionally to put forth an impassioned plea - Upgrade me! Upgrade me! - that reminds me of something.

Those who give way to this demand will end up with not only with their fifth copy of the JVM (for it never deigns to uninstall a previous version) but will also, if they don't pay attention end up with a copy of Open Office and - you guessed it! - a Yahoo! Search toolbar installed into Firefox.

6. Sixteen hours 13 minutes 21 seconds is, of course, the average time between occurrences of a public servant dropping a memory stick containing an unencrypted government database in a pub car park.

This statistic is said to have depressed the eBay value of memory sticks, because we all know how slow they can be at deleting large files, especially if plugged in to a USB V1 port.

7. Graham Linehan's Channel 4 sitcom The IT Crowd, which has hit top form in its third series and is now a well-oiled comedy machine, regularly achieving Father Ted-level heights of clever gaggery. I urge any of my readers who aren't PVRing it urgently to reconsider their policy.

8. The curious case of the Anti-Virus packages that exchanged personalities. Norton Internet Security has been for many years the bane of helpful techies with clue-free relatives everywhere: an ineptly-programmed hunk of rubbish that took half a minute to display a dialog, never mind do anything useful. But now it has been rewritten. By all accounts it has become light and responsive and quick. Meanwhile AVG, until now known for resisting the AV urge to crush the PC beneath a burden of disk-rumbling pointless processing, has mutated into... well, suffice to say that it installs a Yahoo! Search bar into the web browsers. So how did that happen then?

9. Yahoo! again! This is Jerry Yang's private Facebook handle for Steve Ballmer.

10. Everybody got this one right. The full quotation, from the Gospel according to Job, is

And He spake unto the multitude of disciples, saying: Behold the Phone.

Then He did hold aloft a widget, that measured 0.25 cubits by 0.133 cubits by just 0.026 cubits thin.

And He did tip the Phone upon its side. Then the display did respond automatically to this reorientation, and went 'plink'. And lo, a ninety degree rotation occurred, yet the aspect ratio was maintained and sensible use was made of all available space, with only tasteful and coordinated colours.

Thereupon the multitude were sore impressed, and cried out unto Him saying: Do another one.

And He did place his two fingers upon the Phone, and He did move them apart, one from the other, as though He was going to make the sign of two fingers that is very rude yet not understood by Americans.

Thus it was that He performed the miracle of the scrolling without scrollbar.

Then the multitude gloried in the technology. For they had seen nothing like it.

And they cried out unto Him, saying: Teach us! Teach us! Teach us!

And they cried: Open to us the ways of the Phone, its APIs and its multiple threading and it resource management features, that we may go forth and do likewise. Teach us so that we may go out into the world, and share the glory with the hosts of the peoples of the earth, that they may all worship the one true Phone.

And He did reply unto them, saying: No. ®

Top three mobile application threats

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