The Euro - Time to end this Farrago?

Thursday, Aug 11 2011 by

I found myself dealing with a serious system failure the day before yesterday. Despite my obsessive precautions a trojan horse managed to invade the mainframe which controls the financial empire of Tournesol Inc. No problem of course, the magisterial authority of Norton360 had it all under control. A flashing message on the screen alerted me to the infection and told me exactly how to respond to it. Download the trojan removal tool. Switch off Windows automatic system restore. Run the removal program..................

Why isn't my system responding as expected? How come it has seized up. Why is it frozen? How do I get out of this mess? After a prolonged attempt to recover I had no alternative but to switch it off at the mains and try to reboot. But of course that didn't work because the system restore thingy I'd switched off whilst following instructions means it can no longer be rebooted. If only I'd asked the right question, I might have realised the danger earlier.

Lengthy calls to the international headquarters of the Symantec Corporation determined that
a) its call centre is located in the Asian sub-continent
b) its staff are amazingly charming, polite and helpful
c) English as spoken there is so heavily accented as to be almost impenetrable.

I understand that in the Second World War, US Intelligence used Cherokee Indians as radio operators because there was no way that intercepted messages in spoken Cherokee could be decoded. Symantec seems to be applying the same logic.

After several hours of what would have been communication, if only we had shared a common language, it was finally borne in upon me that my system was beyond recovery by mere mortals. I would have to call in special forces in the shape of my local computer shop. Alas I know them all too well from previous adventures in cyber intervention.

So, yesterday morning, bright and early found me nabbing the last space in the tiny car park behind my bank and struggling in the narrow gap between cars to extricate my computer from behind the driving seat. As I sidestepped the back door into the bank in order to slip down the narrow alley on to the high street where the computer shop is located, I found myself face to face with Nigel Farrage who was just finishing a telephone call and a cigarette at one and the same time. Very bronzed and amazingly well dressed, in classic Engish tailoring.
I remembered he had been injured in a plane crash last year, but he certainly looked in good shape.

There wasn't room for me to pass comfortably and we exchanged pleasantries as we tried to squeeze by each other. There was a real danger that I was going to drop the machine, so I backed out of the alley to let Mr F come though. This naturally led into a friendly conversation. It isn't often I get to talk with people close to the centre of power, so I made the most of it.

I asked Mr Farrage if he expected the Euro to implode because of the difficulties in Greece, Portugal and Italy. Interestingly he said "No". In his opinion there would be a muddle through solution. Certainly the Southern States would prefer to stay closely coupled.

But he thinks that the Northern states will find their populations unwilling to continue bank rolling the south. He expects Northern states to secede from monetary union. It won't be anytime soon, but the direction of travel is clear and the ultimate destination is unmistakeable.

We moved on to solve other intractable world problems, which took little more than a few minutes and then I continued my errand. The technical chaps were sympathetic, as always, but 24 hours later they have still not managed to fix my machine and are still working on it. I hope to get it back before the week-end but no guarantees.

Until then I'm having to manage without the key control systems that I rely on to drive my financial empire.

It's not easy when your controls fail, your systems stop working and the technical guys shrug their shoulders. Perhaps things are simply too complicated? Or perhaps the systems I've been using all these years has finally reached its limits? Should I make a radical switch? Would an alternative  technical platform be better? Or would that just bring a different set of problems?

And tell me again what are the odds of surviving a plane crash?

Filed Under: Market Outlook,


The author may hold shares in this company. All opinions are his own. You should check any statements that appear factual and seek independent professional advice before making any investment decision.

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4 Posts on this Thread show/hide all

freddythefish 11th Aug '11 1 of 4

You might have a look at the ubuntu operating system - a quite refined version of linux which is available free from the canonical organisation (just google it)

Fundamentally different from windows, much more secure, with an enormous range of well written (and free) applications to support it. Firefox works and there are good mail clients too.

I dipped my toe in this pool a few years back and whilst I keep up to date versions of XP and Windows 7 available, I find I never use them.

You couldn't pay me to be a regular windows user now.


PS - very interesting perspective from Mr Farage. I'm beginning to wonder if UKIP doesn't offer some interesting alternatives to the wet conservatives now in power.

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SW10Chap 11th Aug '11 2 of 4

Hi RG,

In the current UK environment, I should imagine it takes some courage to be seen lugging a PC around - particularly in full view of a politician!

I looks as though Angela Merkel is facing more resistance: an opinion poll of members of the CDU-CSU bloc showed fewer than half of those surveyed supported the bailouts of Greece, Ireland and Portugal. Without steady injections of cash from Germany, France and the Netherlands the bailouts won't continue.

For the first time this morning, the Frenchman in the street has sought to reassure himself by just taking a quick glance up from his morning espresso to see that the SocGen across the road is going to open. Until now a majority (albeit slim) of French people believe there is no need to save the euro - the crisis has been happening everywhere else, much of it driven by evil Anglo-Saxon practices, natch. (Even the 20% slide in SocGen's shareprice is being blamed on the Daily Mail.)

I think that defaults are coming, it's simply a question of how much money can and will be thrown at denial in the meantime.


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snickers 11th Aug '11 3 of 4

i wonder how much weight you should give to the opinions of a bronzed man in classic english tailoring having a fag down a narrow alley...

& some computer advice: turn off javascript when looking at unfamiliar sites [firefox -> options -> content].

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ohisay 11th Aug '11 4 of 4

I acquired several "oh bugger" T shirts over the years characterised by similar experiences.

Sanity was restored on an ongoing basis with the purchase of an external hard drive so a complete system copy can be taken every few months.
Ext.hard drives are really cheap these days - 40 quid should do it.
Paragon Hard Disk Manager is I've found the best software for transfer (with a USB cable).Takes about 30mins to "cook" mine.

Oh and if I'm really geeky Zonealarm Extreme Security is completely bombproof.- better even than Norton.

Trips to the computer shop now a thing of the past - though its clearly a good way of meeting interesting people.!

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