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Woozles leading a double life, or is it all Pooh?

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aj + column

Microsoft's most sincere evangelists have recently been mouthing off about open source (or free) systems and software such as Linux. Well, I suppose you would expect them to. But there is a nice twist. Like all those sleazy TV moralists who have turned out to be conducting interviews with chorus and exotic dancing persons while urging you and me to lead the straight and narrow, Microsoft has had to admit to its own version of slipping into motels for a bit of alternative therapy.

It turns out it relies rather heavily on open source software, notably FreeBDS, especially in its Hotmail system where, according to the Wall Street Journal, it performs better than anything the software giant can write. For this story I am indebted to the daily Wired newsletter.You subscribe at www. wired.

com/wired/subscribe/ service. html Last week I urged you to ignore e-mail warnings about viruses. I suspect there's a lot else on the Web you might profitably ignore. In May, Computer Shopper ran a story about woozles, suggesting they were probably behind the attacks on Microsoft and the World Economic Forum.

Woozles, indeed.But there is a sort-of confirmatory article, 'How to bamboozle a woozle', by Liesbeth Evers on vunet. com at www. vunet. com/ Features/1119499 published in March.

Evers talks about the cookie's 'evil twin, the woozle, [which] has more sinister purposes. It siphons information held on computers while the victim remains unaware of its activity.'

Spybots do that.But woozles?

According to the report they are named after beasts which inhabit the fur of teddy bears in the Winnie the Pooh books.Er, no. I checked.First, teddy bears in AA Milne? And in the text, Pooh and Piglet walk in big circles following their own footprints thinking they are woozle tracks.So, according to the definitive text, woozles are not fur things inhabiting the Great Cyberwood but creatures of credulous imagination.

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