Word Notes 12.22.20
Ep 29 | 12.22.20

greyware (noun)


Rick Howard: The word is: greyware.

Rick Howard: Spelled: G as in GANU, R as in Recursion, E is an Encapsulation, Y as in Y2K, and WARE to mean some sort of software program.

Rick Howard: Definition: Also known as spyware and adware, it is a software category where developers design the application neither to cause explicit harm nor to accomplish some conventional legitimate purpose, but when run, usually annoys the user and often performs actions that the developer did not disclose, and that the user regards as undesirable.

Rick Howard: Example Sentence: From Jeremy Reimer in 2008: "Living in a fuzzy zone between pure maliciousness and genuine utility, greyware continues to thrive, and like the fuzzy mold from a science fiction novel, it is growing at an alarming rate.

Rick Howard: Origin and Context: According to Reimer, an ARS Technica correspondent writing in 2008, and the staff at Referenced Star, a ninth grader by the name of Richard Skrenta, wrote the very first personal computer virus, called "Elk Cloner," in 1982 for the Apple II. Fast forward 2004, security professionals use the term "malware" to classify any software that did things on the target machine that the owner did not know about and that could cause some kind of harm. But it became apparent that the word malware wasn't granular enough to distinguish between software built to conduct crime, espionage and warfare compared to other software that was merely tracking user behavior for marketing purposes or delivering unasked-for-ads. It is unclear who first coined the term greyware, but pundits and researchers started using the term in early 2004 to describe this lower class of potentially unwanted programs, or PUPs.

Rick Howard: Nerd Reference: In 1972, David Gerrold published "When HARLIE Was One," a science fiction novel nominated the following year as best novel for both the coveted Nebula Award and the Hugo Award. The book is historical since it was one of the early works that dealt with artificial intelligence, and what makes a machine a living organism. It is also the first fictional book to use the word "virus" to describe a program infecting another machine. About a year after, Bob Thomas created the first working virus, called Creeper, for the DEC PDP-10 computers running the TENEX operating system.

Rick Howard: For the Star Trek fans out there, Gerrold helped write the famous "The Trouble with Tribbles" episode for the original Star Trek series that aired in 1967, as well as contributing to other science fiction TV series like "Land of the Lost," "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" and "Babylon 5."