Maxed Out 

Business as usual – nothing works

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Okay, I've waited as long as I can. Being a stellar practitioner of the fine art of procrastination, I recognize my old friend The Last Minute when I bump up against it. Ouch, that hurt.

All night long, as March bled into April and all of us fools slept, I was both haunted and intrigued by Borglike dreams of the brave new world I'd awaken to. "Eight million, three hundred sixty-five thousand, one hundred eighty-seven of twelve million reporting, Sir." Or would it be "Madam?" What would my niche in the botworld of Conficker be? Would I be just another drone workerbot in an anonymous army of conscripted cyber-enablers, doing my infinitesimal part to bring down the Pentagon's global defense systems? Another bit of undigested spam clogging the in-boxes of millions waking to discover they can't find the one worthwhile e-mail among the millions of come-ons for larger penises, no-default credit cards and personal credit scores?

I'm both happy and disappointed to report... business as usual. My computer fired up, said, "Good morning, Dave," a holdout from the old days, delivered the mandatory offers to enlarge my... you know, and opened my window to the wider world I used to rely on the morning newspaper to lay before me.

Sitting here in predawn, watching snow fall down, up, and all around in the swirling winds, I can allow myself the salving fantasy that Pique's computers might be banded together in a botarmy about to smite the Philistines or, more likely, commit mass suicide and make these efforts even more futile than they usually are. But I'm guessing life will be business as usual, at least for now.

The "experts" - not necessarily the same experts that warned us about the certain Armageddon we'd wake up to on January 1, 2000, but certainly their cousins - are still stoking the fires of hope. While my lifeboat may be temporarily watertight, that's no reason to get all smug and assume I'll manage to float to safeharbour. It could take a couple of days to ferret out the havoc Conficker intends to wreck. Assuming, of course, it wasn't an elaborate practical joke to begin with.

"Consensus among security specialists on Tuesday was that it was likely to take several days before the program's intent could be determined," reported a story in today's New York Times . How very War of the Worlds. For now, we just cower in the corner of the basement waiting to see whether cyberspace's atmosphere is manna or poison for this latest Borg while the G-Men try to sweat out a confession from the infected computers they've already arrested.

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