It Loves You Not (5/4/00)

Reason number 5469 why it's better to use a Mac: you can generally open attachments in messages titled "ILOVEYOU" with impunity. Yes, once again the entire computer-using world is in a tizzy, as the ILOVEYOU virus spreads cyber-disease that's making last year's Melissa look like a mild head cold. According to MacWEEK, ILOVEYOU nuked untold numbers of Windows machines by sending itself to every address in the infected system's Outlook address book-- and then sticking around to trash MP3 music collections, photo archives stored in JPEG format, and generally turning your life into computer hell. (Assuming, of course, you're using Windows, in which case there's a decent chance your life was computing hell already.)

Macs, on the other hand, are wholly unaffected by ILOVEYOU-- or at least mostly wholly unaffected. You can be sent the virus, sure, and you can even open the attachment; but since it's written in VBScript, it won't do a thing to your Mac. Apparently even if you're using Outlook for the Mac, ILOVEYOU won't spread automatically. You could email the infected file to a PC user on your own, but doing that inadvertently would be kind of tough, and doing it on purpose would be irresponsible and mean, not to mention criminal. On a completely unrelated note, does anyone happen to know Michael Dell's email address? No, wait, forget it... Bad dog.

If you're using VirtualPC or some other form of Windows emulation on your Mac, well, then you are vulnerable to ILOVEYOU-- or, at least, your Windows partition is. But the worst-case scenario would appear to be that your whole VirtualPC environment gets trashed, while everything else on your Mac keeps humming along nicely. And since backing up a virtual Windows system is a simple matter of a Finder copy, you shouldn't have any trouble recovering if you're backup-savvy and accidentally contract the virus.

The other way that ILOVEYOU might affect Mac users is by denial of service. Several companies reportedly shut down their entire mail systems in an effort to stem the plague; if your mail server is down, if doesn't matter whether you're using a Mac, a PC, or a Garden Weasel-- you're not getting any email. Some other servers are filtering out all messages with "ILOVEYOU" in the subject line (including, ironically enough, warnings about the ILOVEYOU virus), but that may not be enough; the Associated Press reports that variants of ILOVEYOU are already spreading. (One is particularly clever: it looks like an online order confirmation that the recipient was charged "$326.92 for a Mother's Day 'diamond special,' urging the reader to click on the attachment to print the invoice.") But the bottom line is, Mac users are pretty much spared the pain once again. But we're not looking forward to the day that the Mac OS gains system-level VBScript support-- or malevolent script kiddies start writing Mac-specific ILOVEYOUesque viruses in Applescript.

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The above scene was taken from the 5/4/00 episode:

May 4, 2000: CompUSA's inventory system never lies-- multiprocessor G4s are just around the corner. Meanwhile, the ILOVEYOU virus makes Windows users' lives even more unpleasant than normal, and Microsoft hopes that Steve Ballmer will do better than Bill Gates in the latest "please don't break us up" television commercial...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 2272: The Case Grows Stronger (5/4/00)   It's official! Well, no, okay, it's not official; in fact, it's not even "official," since we have neither a public statement from Apple nor a leak from an Apple employee in the know. But multiprocessor G4 Power Macs are coming soon, and we can say that with "a high degree of confidence."...

  • 2274: What Were They Thinking? (5/4/00)   Lastly, a quickie rant. You've all seen the Gates-in-a-sweater commercial, in which a kinder, gentler Bill croaks on about "innovation" and how Microsoft has made the world a better place by making PCs easy to use, providing people with the tools they need to prosper in the digital age, and eradicating world hunger and all forms of disease...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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