I am no expert on the Irish Potato Famine. I couldn't tell
you when it happened. I did minor in history, but not Irish
history. I am sure that somewhere, given the current
literary hipster trend toward hyper-specific histories of
things usually taken for granted like salt, tobacco and
swords; and the fact that the Irish Potato Famine was
calamitous, not trivial, there is a degree program in Irish
Potato Famine Studies I could enroll in. But I'm just not
that interested, usually.
Today I'm interested because of your friend and mine,
SOBIG_F. This worm and its predecessors were able to spread
so quickly largely because everyone uses the same operating
system. I mean everyone in the sense you meant it in high
school when describing who was going to be at some party.
A worm just doesn't have to be that smart to exploit the
same security problem over and over. When the response of
its prey is entirely predictable, its job is quite easy.
Most of what I don't know about the Irish Potato Famine came
from the reading I have done about the importance of
biodiversity. All the potatoes got wiped out because they
were all the same kind of potato vulnerable to the same kind
of disease. Even the Family Potatohead can understand the
Fortunately, a solution is readily available: Use a
different operating system. I use GNU/Linux and am entirely
happy with it, for what that's worth. I will explain its
many advantages and admit some disadvantages some other time
— the point here is that we appear to have yet another case
in our society when diversity is a good, even necessary
SOBIG_F only directly affected MS Windows machines. Because
there are so many MS Windows machines on the Internet, it
was able to do serious economic damage and cause massive
Carrot-Top-like annoyance to even those of us who do not use
MS Windows. If we had had greater operating system
diversity, we could have avoided the e-mail "famine."
I still haven't seen this "wicked screensaver" either.