Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never harm me.
So runs the old adage, although it doesn't explain why libel lawyer Peter Carter-Ruck got stinking rich out of protecting clients and their 'good reputations'.
Sorry, I take back the stinking part. I have no desire to cast aspersions on the personal hygiene of Britain's foremost Writ Meister, who is undoubtedly the most fragrant man in existence and probably washes the parts that even his mother might have once shirked from.
But the sticks and stones bit - it's one of those adages that doesn't bear too much scrutiny. Another chestnut is that software can't damage hardware, a gem I heard years back when I bought my first PC and fretted whether by installing a program incorrectly I might somehow wreck the computer.
True, I managed to erase the operating system and all the data at one point by formatting the hard disk, but the box was still intact. Functionally as useless as a corpse, but intact.
Meanwhile, given the persistent notion that software can't damage hardware, what then is to be made of the CIH virus, which targets any write-enabled Flash BIOS of a PC and renders it incapable of even booting?
If you haven't heard of CIH, it's a little beauty aimed at users of Windows 95 and 98 and it strikes on the 26th day of each month, so you might have to wait until Saturday for further elucidation.
As you might expect, anti-virus experts such as Dr Solomons and Sophos are already cashing in, warning that - along with wrecking the boot-up operation - the virus, thought to have originated in Taiwan, also erases the hard disk. In short, you have a PC that ceases to function and has lost all its data anyway. Bloody clever, these Orientals, aren't they?
But with so many viruses going around, perhaps it's time the PC industry accepted them as a way of life, much in the same way most houses have some woodworm. I've got the Parity B virus on my own computer at the moment and it's starting to take on protected species status.
I did have a go at wiping it, using a program that, when installed, immediately locked the computer and informed me that I would need to reboot from the A drive. Not having a DOS boot-up disk to hand, I hoped to copy the appropriate files from a laptop that I had.
Trouble was, the floppy was also Parity B infected and because the same anti-virus software was on the laptop, that locked up too. Result? Two PCs down and one hack in an atomic tantrum.
Since then, I've got both machines up and running. The first thing I did was to erase the antivirus software and leave my Parity B pal to its own business, like some plumber under the sink - just offering it a friendly cup of tea on occasions.
Let sleeping bugs lie, as they say. Live and let live.
Dave Evans is a freelance IT journalist.
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