"Christians and the Internet" newsletter CATI, Vol. 2, No. 4: February 22, 2001. _______________________________________________________________ TABLE OF CONTENTS 1. YES, VIRGINIA, THERE ARE GENUINE EMAIL COMPUTER VIRUSES! 2. THE MADALYN MURRAY O'HAIR EMAIL HOAX: THE LATEST NEWS 3. PC MAGAZINE'S TOP 100 (GENERAL) WEB SITES FOR FEB. 2001 4. SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION FOR THIS NEWSLETTER _______________________________________________________________ Unless otherwise indicated, all material in this newsletter is Copyright (C) 2001 by Barry Traver, All Rights Reserved. For permission to reproduce material from this newsletter, contact Barry Traver at email@example.com. Permission is hereby granted, however, to pass along this issue to others, provided that (1) no changes are made and (2) it is passed along in its entirety. To subscribe, write to firstname.lastname@example.org, including "Subscribe to CATI" in the Subject line and including in the body your real name and the email address to which you wish CATI sent. _______________________________________________________________ 1. YES, VIRGINIA, THERE ARE GENUINE EMAIL COMPUTER VIRUSES! CATI readers know that there are a lot of email hoax letters around that warn about non-existent computer viruses. See, for example, this previous CATI article on such hoaxes: "It Takes Guts to Say 'Jesus'" and Other Email Hoaxes http://traver.org/cati/archives/cati02.htm#3 But it's important to remember that not all virus warnings are hoaxes. Some warnings are genuine, and some viruses may even arrive as an email attachment from a trusted friend. (Yes, Virginia, there are genuine email computer viruses!) For some reason, many computer viruses are named after women. Earlier there was a deadly computer virus known as Melissa, and now there is one called Anna, named after Russian tennis superstar Anna Kournikova. (No, Virginia, I do not know of any named after you ... yet!) If you're interested in tennis, there are a number of sites where you can learn more about the very popular, real-life Anna Kournikova. Our interest here, however, is not in Anna K. but in the AnnaK computer virus which has recently caused much trouble. Here is how one of Anna Kournikova's fan sites describes the AnnaK virus, in an article by Graham Barnard entitled "AnnaK Virus Strikes" and dated 2/13/2001: "A dangerous computer virus disguised as a photo of tennis superstar Anna Kournikova is wreaking havoc across the Internet security experts revealed on Monday. The virus slowed down e-mail systems and even forced some companies to shut down the e-mail completely while they cleaned their systems of the program.... 'Everybody and their brother and sister in law (are) infected with this thing,' said David Perry, director of public education at Trend Micro Inc. 'Last year, everybody wanted to be loved. Apparently many people want to see a JPEG (picture) of Anna Kournikova.'" http://annak.rivals.com/default.asp?sid=671&p=2&stid=8110749 For more on the "love virus," see this previous CATI article: Crispen's Six Antivirus Rules: "I Love You" Update http://traver.org/cati/archives/cati16.htm#4 But right now let's continue to concentrate our attention on the AnnaK computer virus: "The virus is known as a worm because it can automatically send copies of itself to everyone on a recipient's address book.... The virus is sent as an attachment named 'AnnaKournikova.jpg.vbs' and carries the message 'Hi: Check This!'... So if you receive an Email with a so-called photo of Anna attached, think very carefully before deciding to open it. You have been warned." http://annak.rivals.com/default.asp?sid=671&p=2&stid=8110749 For more on the AnnaK virus, check any of the following Web pages: F-Secure on the AnnaK virus http://www.datafellows.com/v-descs/onthefly.shtml McAfee on the AnnaK virus http://dispatch.mcafee.com/dispatches/vbs_sst/ Stiller Research on the AnnaK virus http://www.stiller.com/kourn.htm Symantec on the AnnaK virus http://service1.symantec.com/sarc/sarc.nsf/html/VBS.SST@mm.html Here's the important lesson to be learned, as expressed in a recent email letter to me from a CATI subscriber (who prefers to remain anonymous): ________________________________ "Viruses can be spread among friends, yea, verily, even among ... friends [in a particular denomination]. I caught one from [C.D.] who got it from [A.B.] and I [E.F.] gave it to [G.H.]! Never having received a real virus message or seen one on another computer, I believed it wouldn't happen to me. This particular one ... had an attachment with an odd name (big red light!). But it came from a friend along with some business we were discussing and even though [C.D.] didn't say [he/she] was sending [an] attachment, I ASSUMED it was from [him/her] and important to me. So I tried ... to open it - like Pandora's box!... Moral of the story: 1. Always put something fairly specific in the Subject line of your outgoing messages. It's your recipient's first clue to the legitimacy of your message. 2. When you send an attachment, mention its name in the body of your email message. Always attach them to a 'cover message' -- don't send an attachment by itself. 3. When you receive an attachment, assume guilt until proved innocent. Don't open the attachment. Delete the message and then empty your Trash. If it was legitimate, you can always ask the sender to resend. 4. If you receive something suspicious, contact the sender immediately who may be unaware of the problem. 5. Update your anti-virus program and update it online weekly or more often. 6. As soon as you realize you're sending a virus, stop sending. Phone those you may have infected. Get help to get cured!" ________________________________ By the way, don't try to puzzle out the identity of "A.B.," "C.D.," "E.F.," and "G.H." here: those initials are assigned arbitrarily and have no relation to the real identities of the people involved. The point is that a computer viruses can happen to anyone, and it can happen to you if you are not careful to follow some simple rules to protect yourself (and to protect your friends!). The six rules from "G.H." are good advice. You can find some similar advice in the CATI article I mentioned earlier: Crispen's Six Antivirus Rules: "I Love You" Update http://traver.org/cati/archives/cati16.htm#4 What is important is not just to know that such rules exist, but to put them into practice (and then relax, knowing that you run little or no risk of running into problems caused by a computer virus). By the way, the creator of the AnnaK virus has been found. You can read the story here: "'Big Fan' Arrested by Neil Askew (2/14/2001) http://annak.rivals.com/default.asp?sid=671&p=2&stid=8111006 _______________________________________________________________ 2. THE MADALYN MURRAY O'HAIR EMAIL HOAX: THE LATEST NEWS For decades a letter (with slightly different variations) has been circulated claiming that atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair is trying to get the FCC to remove religious programs from the air. I wouldn't be surprised if you told me that someone in your church asked you to sign and send a petition to the FCC in protest (I know it happened to me in mine). Well, that letter was/is a hoax, but with the advent of the Internet, that letter has now been circulating through email on the Internet up to the present, even though Madalyn Murray O'Hair (generally misspelled Madaline Murray O'Hare in the hoax letter) disappeared in 1995, with foul play suspected. For more background on this story, check out this previous article in CATI: Email Hoax: The "Madeline" Murray "O'Hare" Petition http://traver.org/cati/archives/cati11.htm#2 For additional fascinating but controversial reading material about the disappearance, check out the following: Preying on Atheists: How the APD Ignored Prime Suspect in O'Hair Investigation by Robert Bryce http://www.auschron.com/issues/vol18/issue40/pols.athiests.html Untangling The O'Hair Vanishing: An Investigative Reporter's Inside Story by John McCormack http://www.ffrf.org/fttoday/december99/maccormack.html The Austin Chronicle apparently doesn't know how to spell the word "atheist" correctly and John McCormack confesses that he went to a "fundamentalist Wesleyan Methodist" (i.e., Houghton College" but has "overcome that" [!], but the articles do make for some very interesting reading. My purpose here is not to discuss the merits of how the legal authorities handled the disappearance of Ms. O'Hair, her son, and her granddaughter, but to bring the story up to date with developments within the past few weeks, especially since they have not been widely reported in the general news media. Here's the latest news, as reported by Maranatha Christian News Service in a story dated January 30, 2001 and entitled "Discovery May Close O'Hair Disappearance Case": "For several years, federal investigators have believed that atheist leader Madalyn Murray O'Hair, her son Jon Garth Murray and her adopted granddaughter, Robin Murray O'Hair, were killed after vanishing from their Austin, Texas, home six years ago.... O'Hair and her two relatives [had been] last seen in August 1995. They [had] dropped from sight along with about $500,000 in gold coins from one of O'Hair's atheist organizations...." http://www.mcjonline.com/news/01a/20010130a.shtml That much you may have known (especially if you happened to read the earlier article in CATI), but here's some "new news": "...authorities now believe the dismembered remains and metal from an artificial hip joint (O'Hair had a hip replacement operation several years before her disappearance) found this weekend in a shallow grave on a Texas ranch may soon bring the case to a close.... A break in the case came on the eve of the trial of David Roland Waters, O'Hair's former office manager, who was facing kidnapping and extortion charges in the case. Waters struck a deal with investigators Wednesday that was ordered sealed by U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks. Waters, 53, is serving a lengthy prison term for stealing $54,000 from O'Hair. Prior to the new deal, he had pleaded innocent to kidnapping and extortion charges in a trial that was scheduled to begin in February...." http://www.mcjonline.com/news/01a/20010130a.shtml O'Hair because famous (or infamous, depending on your point of view) because of her largely successful attempt to oust prayer and Bible reading from the public school, but the particular son involved in the court case later turned from atheism to the Christian faith: "O'Hair, who once called herself 'the most hated woman in America,' was involved in successful court battles in the 1960s to ban prayer and Bible-reading in the nation's public schools. Bill Murray, the ... son of atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair,....was a public school student in Baltimore, Md., in 1960, when his mother filed a suit on his behalf seeking to end prayer and Bible-reading in his school classes. She won a landmark 1963 ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court, which declared unconstitutional the school's religious activities. Murray later became a Christian evangelist...." http://www.mcjonline.com/news/01a/20010130a.shtml William J. Murray, in fact, became an evangelical Christian in 1980. You'll find his Christian testimony here: http://www.wjmurray.com/default.htm According to his Web site, "He and his wife are members of a Baptist Church in Virginia," and he "is the author of five books." In addition, "William J. Murray speaks at churches, baccalaureates and prayer breakfasts up to 200 times a year. He has also assisted Christian schools with fund raising dinners and events. Gospel Films has released a movie based on his book, Let Us Pray. A second major video entitled Atheists: What They Really Believe was released in 1998." http://www.wjmurray.com/invite.htm [earlier version] To read the full story of the latest news about Madalyn Murray O'Hair from Maranatha Christian News Service -- or to read some other interesting stories -- you can check out the Web site for the Maranatha Christian Journal (whose goal is to present "News and Views for Today's Online Christian"): Maranatha Christian Journal http://www.mcjonline.com/ MCNS also publishes a number of free email newsletters, some of which (e.g., DayWatch and NewsWatch) seem to appear on a more regular basis than others (e.g., BookWatch and WebWatch). The occasional irregularity in publication is partly due to the fact that MCNS is -- like CATI -- essentially a one-man operation. I asked the Webmaster, George Lawson, if MCNS had a statement of faith and he responded that it is "[n]ot published on the site yet, but we are in agreement with the one posted at the National Association of Evangelicals website." This summary of Christian belief is a widely accepted creed setting forth major doctrines of evangelical Christianity: ________________________________ "NAE STATEMENT OF FAITH 1. We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God. 2. We believe that there is one God, eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 3. We believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and in His personal return in power and glory. 4. We believe that for the salvation of lost and sinful people, regeneration by the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential. 5. We believe in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit by whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a godly life. 6. We believe in the resurrection of both the saved and the lost; they that are saved unto the resurrection of life and they that are lost unto the resurrection of damnation. 7. We believe in the spiritual unity of believers in our Lord Jesus Christ." http://www.nae.net/about-mission.html ________________________________ This statement of faith is somewhat broadly defined, so its subscribers include Reformed and non-Reformed, charismatic and non-charismatic, and so on, but the statement can still be helpful as an indication of commitment to basic Christian doctrines. Anyway, Maranatha Christian News Journal/Maranatha Christian News Service declares itself as committed to evangelical Christianity, and you'll find MCNJ/MCNS to be a source for news stories that you will find with difficulty (or perhaps not at all) in the general news media. Check it out! _______________________________________________________________ 3. PC MAGAZINE'S TOP 100 (GENERAL) WEB SITES FOR FEB. 2001 What are the "top 100 Web sites"? Ask that question and you will find a number of lists claiming to provide the answer! Some of the lists, of course, are better and more useful than others. For some background, check out these past articles in CATI: Top 100 (General) Web Sites: What's the Best List? http://www.traver.org/cati/archives/cati26.htm#1 Top 100 (General) Web Sites: Some of the Lists http://www.traver.org/cati/archives/cati27.htm#1 Of the various "top 100 Web sites" lists, I've found the list from PC Magazine usually to be very helpful, and their current list is no exception. (By the way, we are talking here about general sites, and not sites that are specifically Christian.) Here's where you'll find PC Magazine's latest list of "the top 100 Web sites": PC Magazine: Top 100 Web Sites (Feb. 14, 2001) http://www.zdnet.com/pcmag/stories/reviews/0,6755,2682122,00.html Here's how they made their selection; "Our top 100 sites in ten categories were chosen from those that we think break new ground in their categories, serve their audiences' needs, offer a service no one else does or better than all their competitors do, and those that we return to often and find ourselves unable to leave." http://www.zdnet.com/pcmag/stories/reviews/0,6755,2682122,00.html Here are the ten categories, in alphabetical order: Business http://www.zdnet.com/pcmag/stories/reviews/0,6755,2684478,00.html Careers http://www.zdnet.com/pcmag/stories/reviews/0,6755,2685374,00.html Computing http://www.zdnet.com/pcmag/stories/reviews/0,6755,2685371,00.html Finance http://www.zdnet.com/pcmag/stories/reviews/0,6755,2685150,00.html Lifestyle and Fun http://www.zdnet.com/pcmag/stories/reviews/0,6755,2685391,00.html News and Entertainment http://www.zdnet.com/pcmag/stories/reviews/0,6755,2685390,00.html Portals and Start Pages http://www.zdnet.com/pcmag/stories/reviews/0,6755,2685385,00.html Search and Reference http://www.zdnet.com/pcmag/stories/reviews/0,6755,2685382,00.html Shopping http://www.zdnet.com/pcmag/stories/reviews/0,6755,2685387,00.html Travel http://www.zdnet.com/pcmag/stories/reviews/0,6755,2685388,00.html If you're reading the email version of this newsletter and your email reader is having trouble with the long URLs (that is, Web addresses -- "URL" stands for "Uniform..." or "Universal Resource Locator," which simply means Web address), you should be able to get to these locations by starting at PC Magazine's home page: PC Magazine http://www.zdnet.com/pcmag/ At least that should work until a new issue of PC Magazine comes out. I won't comment on all of their top 100 Web sites (and not all of their choices would appear on my own list of the "top 100 Web sites"), but I will give you a sampling of some of the sites they mention that I think may be worth checking out further (see PC Magazine's Web site for their complete list). By the way, PC Magazine's comments are in quotation marks (a star or asterisk indicates one of their favorite sites), while my comments are in brackets. BUSINESS *The Digital Daily (Internal Revenue Service) http://www.irs.gov/ "The Web incarnation of the IRS is -- dare we say -- a hip, witty site loaded with tax dos and don'ts. Get the scoop on electronic filing, take an interactive quiz to see if you qualify for certain deductions, and download all the tax forms you wish you didn't need." http://www.zdnet.com/pcmag/stories/reviews/0,6755,2684478,00.html MoneyCentral http://www.moneycentral.com Quicken.com http://www.quicken.com CAREERS *HotJobs.com http://www.hotjobs.com *WetFeet.com http://www.wetfeet.com Monster.com http://www.monster.com COMPUTING *Webmonkey http://www.webmonkey.com "Webmonkey isn't just a site; it's a vocational school for Web designers. Tutorials start with the fundamentals of HTML and help you create your own Web site through forms, style sheets, and programming languages such as Java and Perl. And kudos for the innovative section for kids." http://www.zdnet.com/pcmag/stories/reviews/0,6755,2685371,00.html CNET http://www.cnet.com "This great gateway to technology -- news, reviews, games, MP3s -- also boasts some of the best downloads on the Web." http://www.zdnet.com/pcmag/stories/reviews/0,6755,2685371,00.html Homestead http://www.homestead.com "Build your own site with the superb drag-and-drop interface, and add images, sound, and special effects with ease." [I've mentioned Homestead in several previous issues of CATI. --BAT] http://www.zdnet.com/pcmag/stories/reviews/0,6755,2685371,00.html FINANCE *SmartMoney.com http://www.smartmoney.com "If you are expecting to find nothing more than reprinted magazine articles on SmartMoney's site, you're in for a thoroughly pleasant surprise. Sure, the articles are here, but there are also some of the Web's best financial calculators and first-rate primers for novice investors." http://www.zdnet.com/pcmag/stories/reviews/0,6755,2685150,00.html LIFESTYLE AND FUN *Discovery Kids http://kids.discovery.com "Nothing grabs a child's attention faster than body sounds and smells. Discovery Kids covers topics such as the digestive system and sweat glands in a playful yet highly informative style that lets kids have fun as they learn. After exploring the human body, move on to entertaining zoo cams and dinosaur guides." [Caution: as you might expect, evolution seems to be assumed as fact here, but this site -- if used properly -- can be beneficial. Check out also the regular Discovery.com for adults at http://discovery.com. -BAT] http://www.zdnet.com/pcmag/stories/reviews/0,6755,2685391,00.html IPEDS College Opportunities On-Line http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/cool "Find colleges (and vocational schools) and get enrollment, cost, and aid information." [And, yes, Christian colleges are included in IPEDS COOL! -BAT] http://www.zdnet.com/pcmag/stories/reviews/0,6755,2685391,00.html NEWS AND ENTERTAINMENT *CNN http://www.cnn.com "This superb site gives a wealth of multimedia content without stinting on the written word. Other sites can challenge it in terms of North American news, but for global news it's hard to beat. And CNN's sports offering in conjunction with Sports Illustrated ... is like no other in content, organization, and ease of navigation." http://www.zdnet.com/pcmag/stories/reviews/0,6755,2685390,00.html ESPN (sports) http://www.espn.com PORTALS AND START PAGES *Yahoo! http://www.yahoo.com "Yahoo!'s excellent directory will guide you to other sites -- when you get around to leaving Yahoo!, that is. New and notable services include online photo albums and an Experts channel (for quick answers to questions on a host of topics). And we still love old faves like Full Coverage news." http://www.zdnet.com/pcmag/stories/reviews/0,6755,2685385,00.html About http://www.about.com "When search engines fail, About's human guides steer you in the right direction." [I have found About.com to be a great resource on a great variety of topics. I've made use of this site in doing research for a number of CATI articles. -BAT] http://www.zdnet.com/pcmag/stories/reviews/0,6755,2685385,00.html SEARCH AND REFERENCE Here are two encyclopedias: *Britannica.com http://www.britannica.com "Using your old Encyclopædia Britannica volumes as doorstops may seem disrespectful, but you won't be needing the books anymore. All the content is online [and] nicely organized.... You'll also get links to related articles from more than 70 journals and magazines." http://www.zdnet.com/pcmag/stories/reviews/0,6755,2685382,00.html Encarta http://encarta.msn.com And here are two health/medical information sites: *CBSHealthWatch http://cbs.medscape.com "HealthWatch's 46 channels tell you everything you need to know about asthma, cancer, diabetes, and health care for senior citizens. But there's more than first-rate content on this site (a joint venture between CBS and Medscape). The medical test handbook, drug directory, self-care handbook, and guide to managed care help you understand procedures, treatments, and options." http://www.zdnet.com/pcmag/stories/reviews/0,6755,2685382,00.html WebMD http://www.webmd.com *Google http://www.google.com "The search for a decent search engine is over. Google has an uncanny knack for locating the exact sites that fit your query. Many of the 1 billion-plus URLs in its index are cached, which is handy if a site is temporarily down. You can ... [also] download a toolbar that lets you Google from any Web site." [As most CATI readers know, Google is my personal favorite search engine, the one I ordinarily turn to first. --BAT] http://www.zdnet.com/pcmag/stories/reviews/0,6755,2685382,00.html SHOPPING *Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com "The small, upstart bookseller is now the Web's premier Über-store, selling cameras, wireless phones, and even patio furniture. And there are still terrific extras, such as recommendations, one-click ordering, and first-rate customer service." http://www.zdnet.com/pcmag/stories/reviews/0,6755,2685387,00.html *Lands' End http://www.landsend.com "Long the most innovative apparel site, Lands' End just keeps getting better. Virtual models -- 3-D representations based on your own measurements -- are now available for men as well as for women, handy for 'trying on' outfits. Thumbs-up too for the Shop with a Friend feature, which lets two people chat as they drop items in a shared cart." http://www.zdnet.com/pcmag/stories/reviews/0,6755,2685387,00.html Buy.com http://www.buy.com "Burgeoning selection and improved customer service make this a strong competitor to Amazon." [I've personally bought items from Buy.com, and I've been pleased not only with the price, but also with the service and customer support. -BAT] http://www.zdnet.com/pcmag/stories/reviews/0,6755,2685387,00.html TRAVEL *Fodors http://www.fodors.com Again, consult the full list at the PC Magazine Web site for additional sites as well as their comments on each site. Enjoy! Incidentally, what are your favorite Web sites (general or Christian)? If you're willing to share some thoughts on your "top 10" or "top 5" (and why they're on your list), I'd love to hear from you. Send your comments to email@example.com. Thanks! _______________________________________________________________ 4. SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION FOR THIS NEWSLETTER This is the forty-ninth issue of a free newsletter devoted to "Christians And The Internet" ("CATI," pronounced "Katy," but spelled with a "C" and an "I" for "Christians" and the "Internet"). To subscribe, write to firstname.lastname@example.org, including "Subscribe to CATI" in the Subject line and including in the body your real name and the email address to which you wish CATI sent. Past issues: you'll find archives of past issues of CATI available online at http://traver.org/cati/. ("It's not a pretty site," but hopefully it may be a useful one.) ________________________________________________________________ Unless otherwise indicated, all material in this newsletter is Copyright (C) 2001 by Barry Traver, All Rights Reserved. For permission to reproduce material from this newsletter, contact Barry Traver at email@example.com. Permission is hereby granted, however, to pass along this issue to others, provided that (1) no changes are made and (2) it is passed along in its entirety.