And another thing...

RUFF JOB. Chief information security officers can rest easier: McGruff the Crime Dog, at last, is on the case of cybercrime. The National Crime Prevention Council announced last week that the crusading cartoon canine has taken up the cause of battling malicious code and malevolent cybershenanigans. With a twist of the familiar slogan, 'Take a Bite Out of Cyber Crime,' the campaign was launched on television, radio, print and the Web site, www.bytecrime.org. And while McGruff isn't going to protect or clean up anyone's network for them, the campaign is likely to do some good. Like other McGruff campaigns, this one is aimed at raising public awareness and, to judge from a few facts the council released, public awareness has plenty of headroom. According to the National Cyber Security Alliance, 81 percent of home computers lack core protection against malware. More than a third of the U.S. population has been affected by data compromises in the last 18 months. And identity theft and fraud have surpassed personal safety and terrorist attacks among people's worries, according to the Chief Marketing Officer Council, one of the campaign's prime sponsors, along with NCPC. In addition to enlisting famous faces for public service announcements, the campaign will go into schools and distribute educational booklets, and the Web site will offer instruction and software for securing home networks.

CHRONICLES OF GLOBALIZATION. Microsoft Corp.'s catchy name for its latest OS, Vista, has run into a minor problem in Eastern Europe. It turns out that in Latvia the word 'vista' means 'fowl,' as in 'turkey.' It's also slang for 'frumpy woman.' Presumably, these aren't the kind of high-concept images the company wants in people's heads when shopping for their next OS. But according to Agence France-Presse, Latvians just think the whole thing's funny. And Microsoft, never one to miss a marketing opportunity, is crowing about all the free publicity and name recognition Vista has drawn. Wonder what 'Longhorn' means in Estonian.

Send your linguistic stylings to [email protected].

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