LIVING AND DYING IN A HIGH TECH WORLD - Wizardry Gone Awry

(05/04/2002)

By Bob and Dianne Weaver

This has been a week of high-tech wizardry gone awry. Between the computer system at Calhoun Middle/High School and those of many individuals becoming infected by the Klez virus and sending thousands of infected e-mails, and the West Virginia Department of Education blocking The Hur Herald because of pornography - well, it's enough to make you go HUH!

This morning we received what seemed to be wave #2 of infected e-mails, no less than 20 by 9 a.m., this time from recipients who got the first batch, with the virus now using their address books to go at it again.

The virus surfaced while the Calhoun school system was on spring break, and local residents began receiving infected e-mails by late last week. Some of the infected e-mails contained internal memos, reports, files and "secured" documents.

Chad Bartlett, the local school system's technical coordinator, said yesterday morning the viruses could still be winning, but "We are working hard to get things back in shape." Bartlett said the school's e-mail has been shut down since the virus was discovered.

"The Klez is dropping some other viruses, which continue to be a problem," said Bartlett. "We're starting to get it licked."

We regret if The Herald has missed any important information or articles submitted by the school system staff or others because of the nasty virus.

The other event, the Hur Herald being blocked by the State Department of Education's filter program, was fixed, but not by them.

It is a significant point, particularly anyone concerned about constitutional rights, the State Department of Education owned no responsibility for the problem. They did over-explain the complicated technical issues, but even then they missed the target.

At the Hur Herald we had a late-night meeting in our board room (actually Dianne, myself and our dog Sox) and erroneously concluded we had been blocked because we covered two very admirable causes the Minnie Hamilton Relay for Life "Womanless Beauty Pageant." That story had some really "awful" pictures of men trying to look like women, and used such phrases as "queenie weenie." Or we thought it might be the Relay for Life team "Bosom Buddies," activities, but those are just words, nothing even remotely pornographic. You know how your mind goes into flight under such pressure.

One of many people who have written (we certainly appreciate all of you) said our state officials must use some human intelligence to override filtering programs when it makes an erroneous decision.

"After all, a filter is only a tool, not something to follow slavishly," the writer said. The State Department of Education seemed slavish.

Can you imagine using this filter, rationale and policy - how easily it would be to destroy perfectly legitimate endeavors, their businesses, or even scarier, using the "tool" to silence their voices?

We appreciate the efforts of the Calhoun school system going to bat for the Hur Herald, and all the individuals and groups that came to our assistance.


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