Issue 13 - Hoax-Slayer Newsletter
Issue 13: March 2nd, 2004
This week in Hoax-Slayer:
Disabling the "Send Error" messages in Windows XP
I'm quite new to XP but I really like it so far. One thing that I
found a tad annoying is that when an application crashes, you get
this request to send an error report to Microsoft. I think there
is a potential security risk in sending these reports because the
information sent can include part of the document you were working
on when the program crashed. Besides, Windows XP tries to
"phone home" enough as it is without sending extra information
every time some app goes belly up. (MS must get a lot of error
Granted, this security risk is probably quite small. Also,
sending an error report may actually help Microsoft to produce
more stable software in the future. That said, I value my privacy
so I turned off error reporting via the following:
1. Open the Control Panel.
2. Click on "Performance and Maintenance".
3. Click on "System".
4. Click on the tab labelled "Advanced".
5. Click on the button labelled "Error Reporting" which is located
at the bottom right of the System Properties dialog.
6. Select the item labelled "Disable error reporting". It would be
best to leave a tick in the check box that says "But notify me
when critical errors occur".
7. Click "OK" twice to exit out of the dialogs.
Another way to access the System Properties dialog, is to
right-click "My Computer" and select "Properties".
You should not be asked to send error reports to Microsoft
anymore, but you will still receive an error message that might
help with troubleshooting.
Oil Company Boycott Email
The rather tired piece of email activism included below seems to enjoy a
resurgence and go the rounds of the world's inboxes at least once
a year. There are several versions of the email, that all contain
essentially the same message. At face value, the idea might sound
plausible. However, there are some fatal flaws in the message.
The price of gas at the pump is *not* exclusively controlled by oil
companies, not even EXXON and MOBIL. Certainly, oil companies do
have some control over the price of fuel but oil prices are subject
to powerful economic factors and the intricate complexities of
supply and demand. In any case, the big oil companies do not only
supply gas to their own stations. They are likely to have a variety
of markets for their products, including independent service
stations. A more likely outcome of a large-scale consumer boycott
of certain oil companies in favour of others is that gas prices
will actually increase. That is, the oil companies that benefit
from the boycott are likely to raise prices to reflect increased
Furthermore, the author of the email seriously overestimates the
potential "reach" of the message. Not everybody who receives it
is going to pass it on to ten people. Many will forward it to a
lot less than ten people. Many will forward it directly to the
trash bin (good move!). Many emails that are sent will bounce or
simply go unread. Reaching 300 million people in 8 days is simply
unrealistic. Then again, so is the entire idea.
Probably the most compelling piece of evidence pointing to the
failure of this "campaign" is the fact that it keeps resurfacing
for another futile run. It obviously has not worked in the past,
nor would I expect it to in the future.
Subject: Join the resistance!
I hear we are going to hit close to $3.00 a gallon by the summer.
Want gasoline prices to come down? We need to take some
intelligent, united action. Phillip Hollsworth, offered this
good idea: This makes MUCH MORE SENSE than the "don't buy gas
on a certain day" campaign that was going around last April or
May! The oil companies just laughed at that because they knew we
wouldn't continue to "hurt" ourselves by refusing to buy gas.
It was more of an inconvenience to us than it was a problem for
them. BUT, whoever thought of this idea, has come up with a plan
that can really work.
Please read it and join with us!
By now you're probably thinking gasoline priced at about $1.50 is
super cheap. Me too! It is currently $1.97 for regular unleaded in
my town. Now that the oil companies and the OPEC nations have
conditioned us to think that the cost! of a gallon of gas is
CHEAP at $1.50- $1.75, we need to take aggressive action to teach
them that BUYERS control the marketplace....not sellers. With
the price of gasoline going up more each day, we consumers need
to take action. The only way we are going to see the price of
gas come down is if we hit someone in the pocketbook by not
purchasing their gas!
And we can do that WITHOUT hurting ourselves. How? Since we all
relyon our cars, we can't just stop buying gas. But we CAN have
an impact on gas prices if we all act together to force a price
Here's the idea: For the rest of this year, DON'T purchase ANY
gasoline from the two biggest companies (which now are one),
EXXON and MOBIL.
If they are not selling any gas, they will be inclined to reduce
their prices. If they reduce their prices, the other companies
will have to follow suit. But to have an impact, we need to reach
literally millions of Exxon and Mobil gas buyers. It's really
simple to do!! Now, don't wimp out on me at this point...keep
reading and I'll explain how simple it is to reach millions of
I am sending this note to about thirty people. If each of you send
it to at least ten more (30 x 10 = 300) ... and those 300 send it
to atleast ten more (300 x 10 = 3,000)...and so on, by the time
the messagereaches the sixth generation of people, we will have
reached over THREE MILLION consumers! If those three million get
excited and ! pass this on to ten friends each, then 30 million
people will have been contacted! If it goes one level further,
you guessed it..... THREE HUNDRED MILLION PEOPLE!!!
Again, all You have to do is send this to 10 people. That's all.
(If you don't understand how we can reach 300 million and all
you have to do is send this to 10 people... Well, let's face it,
you just aren't a mathematician. But I am ... so trust me on
How long would all that take? If each of us sends this e-mail
outto ten more people within one day of receipt, all 300
MILLION people could conceivably be contacted within the next
8 days!!! I'll bet you didn't think you and I had that much
potential, did you! Acting together we canmake a difference.
If this makes sense to you, please pass this message on.
PLEASE HOLD OUT UNTIL THEY LOWER THEIR PRICES TO THE $1.30
RANGE AND KEEP THEM DOWN. THIS CAN REALLY WORK.
Elf Bowling Virus Hoax
This aging "virus warning" crossed my inbox this week. Although
the games mentioned in the email are real, they do not contain
viruses. Symantec Security Response has confirmed this.
Symantec has more information
about the hoax on its website.
TO ALL IF YOU HAVE RECEIVED ANY OF THESE GAMES = FROGAPULT.EXE
ELFBOWL.EXE (FROG GAME) & (ELFBOWLING GAME) PLEASE CAN YOU
DELETE THEM COMPLETELY OUT OF YOUR SYSTEM AS THEY BOTH HAVE A
DELAYED VIRUS ATTACHED TO THEM THAT WILL BE ACTIVATED ON
CHRISTMAS DAY AND WILL WIPE OUT YOUR SYSTEM. LET EVERYONE KNOW
This variant of Beagle is a mass mailing worm that uses its own
SMTP engine to spread itself. It can open a back door on TCP
The email carrying the worm has the following characteristics:
The from address is spoofed.
Subject: (one of the following)
Daily activity report
Flayers among us
Freedom for everyone
Greet the day
Hardware devices price-list
Hello my friend
Looking for the report
Monthly incomings summary
Proclivity to servitude
USA government abolishes the capital punishment
Weekly activity report
You are dismissed
You really love me? he he
Random with a .exe extension
Symantec has more information
about the virus on its Security Response page.
Spam Tip: Disguise your email address online
Spammers can harvest email addresses from websites using small,
specialized programs known as "spambots". However, you can fool
these little programs by disguising your email address when you
need to put it online, for example in web-forums, guestbooks
or newsgroup postings.
For example, I could disguise my email address thus:
A human reader will still be able to send me email by removing
the words REMOVE and THIS. However, the spambot isn't that
smart, and will just add the complete (and invalid) address
to the spammers list.
You could also do something like:
(Remove "FIGHT-SPAM" before using)
Budweiser Frogs Virus Hoax
This virus hoax and I go back a ways. I remember receiving this
email back in 2000 when I was still a total computer newbie. I
dutifully emailed it off to all the people in my address book. A
kind email acquaintance gently replied with the news that I'd
fallen for a hoax email. In fact it was this experience that
piqued my interest in email hoaxes to begin with. If you believe
in the "connectedness of all things", then the Budweiser Frogs
hoax is the catalyst that resulted in me typing this newsletter
on a warm March morning 4 years on. Well, that's enough
navel-gazing for one issue (grin).
In any case, this is one of the hoaxes that have withstood the
test of time. Although it began circulation back in 1999, it
still regularly hits inboxes. There is not, nor has there ever
been, a virus like the one described in the email.
Someone is sending out a very cute screensaver of the Budweiser
Frogs. If you download it, you will lose everything! Your hard
drive will crash and someone from the Internet will get your
screen name and password! DO NOT DOWNLOAD IT UNDER ANY
CIRCUMSTANCES! It just went into circulation yesterday. Please
distribute this message.This is a new, very malicious virus and
not many people know about it. This information was announced
yesterday morning from Microsoft. Please share it with everyone
that might access the Internet.
Once again, Pass This Along To EVERYONE in your address book so
that this may be stopped. AOL has said that this is a very
dangerous virus and that there is NO remedy for it at this
Humour: Legal Disclaimers
The following was posted to an online forum I visit:)
Legal disclaimers and warnings are often important, because they
point out things that may not be immediately obvious, limiting
legal liability for mishaps. But, some statements really make
On a blanket from Taiwan - NOT TO BE USED AS PROTECTION FROM A
On a helmet mounted mirror used by US cyclists - REMEMBER, OBJECTS
IN THE MIRROR ARE ACTUALLY BEHIND YOU.
On a Taiwanese shampoo - USE REPEATEDLY FOR SEVERE DAMAGE.
On the bottle-top of a (UK) flavored milk drink AFTER OPENING,
On a New Zealand insect spray - THIS PRODUCT NOT TESTED on
In a US guide to setting up a new computer - TO AVOID CONDENSATION
FORMING, ALLOW THE BOXES TO WARM UP TO ROOM TEMPERATURE BEFORE
OPENING. (Sensible, but the instruction was INSIDE the box.)
In some countries, on the bottom of Coke bottles - OPEN OTHER
On a packet of Sunmaid raisins - WHY NOT TRY TOSSING OVER YOUR
FAVORITE BREAKFAST CEREAL?
On a Sears hairdryer - DO NOT USE WHILE SLEEPING.
On Marks & Spencer Bread Pudding - PRODUCT WILL BE HOT AFTER
On a Japanese food processor - NOT TO BE USED FOR THE OTHER
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