Broadband?

Thomas R. Temin

I'm about to break one of my own rules: Never write an editorial when you're mad.

Recently, I was glad to hear President Bush call for more widespread deployment of high-speed Internet access. The percentage of homes acquiring broadband is growing, but it is still a relatively small number.

Politicians have their reasons for promoting broadband, but its wide deployment can only enhance e-government. In theory, broadband should improve a user's experience by speeding transactions and letting agencies deliver richer services.

That's not merely a nicety. With Adobe Portable Document Format forms, digital map data and imagery bouncing between citizen and government, broadband will become a necessity. The growing number of employees working at home also is creating pipeline demands.

But the state of broadband is far from nirvana. Basically, it is like having running water that you never shut off. People and companies, unfortunately, can tap into your pipes sending God-knows-what into your house.

I didn't want broadband. Dial-up served my wife and me quite well. But unless you have a music-crazed teenage son, you don't know what pressure is. Ergo, we have digital subscriber line service from DirecTV'owned by Hughes Electronics. In other words, I get my broadband from General Motors. It works.

My troubles began after DSL got going. More and more pop-up ads appeared. The computer started slowing down, producing error messages and crashing.

One culprit was the file msbb.exe that I found in a folder labeled n-Case. I received this nasty, wormlike program without any action on my part that I'm aware of. It's the creation of an outfit called 180Solutions Inc. of Redmond, Wash. Dubbed an interstitial advertising tool,
n-Case is essentially spyware that gathers data about your Web-hopping patterns and then provides it to paying companies.

The dang thing resists uninstalling and neutered my Norton Utilities from Symantec Inc. of Cupertino, Calif. I finally uprooted it with Ad-aware, a free spyware-scouring tool from German developer Lavasoft.

If this is the broadband world, give me a modem.

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