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demagnetize

Goodtimes virus

The Goodtimes Virus was a computer virus hoax that spread during the early years of the Internet's popularity. Warnings about a computer virus named "Good Times" began being passed around among Internet users in 1994. The Goodtimes virus was supposedly transmitted via an email bearing the subject header "Good Times" or "Goodtimes," hence the virus's name, and the warning recommended deleting any such email unread. The virus described in the warnings did not exist, but the warnings themselves, were, in effect, virus-like.

History

The first recorded email warnings about the Good Times virus showed up on November 15, 1994. The first message was brief, a simple five sentence email with a holiday greeting, advising recipients not to open email messages with subject "GOOD TIMES!!", as doing so would ruin their files. Later messages became more intricate. The most common versions -- the "Infinite loop" and "ASCII buffer" editions -- were much longer, containing descriptions of what exactly Good Times would do to the computer of someone who opened it, as well as comparisons to other viruses of the time, and references to an FCC warning.

One of the demo videos included with the Windows 95 CDs was a music video entitled "Good Times". Discussions of this video and the artist were often criticised for "spreading the virus".

Purported effects

The longer version of the Good Times warning contained descriptions of what Good Times was capable of doing to computers. In addition to sending itself to every email address in a recipient's received or sent mail, the Good Times virus caused a number of other nasty things to happen. If an infected computer contained a hard drive, it would most likely be destroyed. If Goodtimes was not stopped in time, an infected computer would enter an "nth-complexity infinite binary loop," (a meaningless term) damaging the processor. The "ASCII" buffer email described the mechanism of Good Times as a buffer overflow.

Hoaxes similar to Good Times

A number of computer virus hoaxes appeared in the wake of Good Times. These messages were similar in form to Good Times, warning users not to open messages bearing particular subject lines. Subject lines mentioned in these emails include: "Penpal greetings, "Free Money, "Deeyenda and "Invitation" , and "Win a Holiday"

Viruses that function like Good Times

Developments in mail systems, such as Microsoft Outlook, without sufficient thought as to the security implications, made viruses that indeed propagate themselves via email possible. Notable examples include the Melissa worm and the Anna Kournikova virus. In some cases, a user must open a document or program contained in an email message in order to spread the virus, but in others, merely opening or previewing an email message itself will trigger the virus.

Good Times parody: Bad Times

The Good Times virus even spawned a humorous parody, the Bad Times virus. Originally created by Patrick J. Rothfuss, this spoof also made ridiculous claims to the threats of this virus. The original message is as follows:

Goodtimes will re-write your hard drive. Not only that, but it will scramble any disks that are even close to your computer. It will recalibrate your refrigerator's coolness setting so all your ice cream goes melty. It will demagnetize the strips on all your credit cards, screw up the tracking on your television and use subspace field harmonics to scratch any CDs you try to play.

It will give your ex-girlfriend your new phone number. It will mix Kool-aid into your fishtank. It will drink all your beer and leave its socks out on the coffee table when there's company coming over. It will put a dead kitten in the back pocket of your good suit pants and hide your car keys when you are late for work.

Goodtimes will make you fall in love with a penguin. It will give you nightmares about circus midgets. It will pour sugar in your gas tank and shave off both your eyebrows while dating your girlfriend behind your back and billing the dinner and hotel room to your Discover card.

It will seduce your grandmother. It does not matter if she is dead, such is the power of Goodtimes, it reaches out beyond the grave to sully those things we hold most dear.

It moves your car randomly around parking lots so you can't find it. It will kick your dog. It will leave libidinous messages on your boss's voice mail in your voice! It is insidious and subtle. It is dangerous and terrifying to behold. It is also a rather interesting shade of mauve.

Goodtimes will give you Dutch Elm disease. It will leave the toilet seat up. It will make a batch of methamphetamine in your bathtub and then leave bacon cooking on the stove while it goes out to chase grade schoolers with your new snowblower.

References

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