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Have a break, have a DNS malware blackout

I’m really looking forward to the internet blackout forecast for this week. It’s not that I hate the internet – I quite like it as a matter of fact – it’s just that I think we can all do with a little time offline sleeping or sitting in the sun or whatever it is we did before this all-consuming medium came along. And this week’s our chance.

As of Monday July 9, authorities in the US promised to shut down a bunch of servers set up to protect about 500 000 computers from a virus hell-bent on cutting off their internet. The Alureon DNS super trojan malware something or other. Like anything IT it’s pretty complicated. Regrettably, if you’re reading this it means your machine is not one of the infected ones. Hardly surprising since you’re in the SA where our internet is tip-top and our hackers rock bottom. But don’t let that stop you from getting your hands dirty and effecting a little DNS malware blackout of your own — only for an hour or so and just because you’re worth it. It’s really easy also.

Just click on the little thingamajig with the bars in the bottom-right corner, click on “disconnect” and voilà. If you’re plugged in via dial-up, reach around the back and pull out the first cord you touch. Keep going until you’re offline. Just don’t do it now otherwise you won’t get to read the end of this (hang in there it gets better) and don’t confuse your hour offline with the 67 minutes for Madiba. 67 minutes for Madiba is only happening next week during which everyone is encouraged to do something for someone else. Treating yourself to an internet blackout is just about the most self-indulgent thing one can do these days.

It affords you the luxury to turn to your boss and say, “Hey man, no email, no Google, no lunchtime Facebook – I can’t work like this” and go home. Maintain your blackout a little while longer and you can tell the wife or husband depending on your situation, “Honey, I’m not going to the shops all the banks are probably offline also so let’s just see what’s in the house” gooi off the lights and have a candle-lit dinner. Stay offline longer and you might just get to make sweet love to your spouse that very evening. Do your best not to go online in the morning and the rest of the day is yours to do “whatever”.

But how will I know what the weather is doing, what’s in that Zapiro cartoon, how to make bobotie you ask? ETV news, Mail & Guardian print edition, Kook & Geniet. The offline world is full of surprises like these. I hear they have places called music stores where you can buy music in plastic format on devices called compact discs. You have to pay, but at least the songs are in the correct order and you get a little book with all the lyrics in. Fancy, nè?

PS If you are one of three people reading this on your phone (independent audit) kindly refrain from doing so while you’re driving. According to the City of Cape Town and various others it is actually very dangerous. Rather pull off and continue reading next to the road. When you’re done, switch off the phone and join us offline for a while. It’s a riot.


  • Hansie Smit is a self-employed writer. He spends a lot of time in coffee shops tapping into free wi-fi making sure he buys a bran muffin every time to ease the inevitable guilt he feels getting something for free. Hansie received a Diploma in Copywriting from the prestigious AAA School of Advertising in Cape Town. He often picks up spelling mistakes in brand communication taking time out of his day to write to said brand to point it out. He does this free of charge. He's won a Silver Pendoring and almost won a Loerie. For more of his stunning insight and weighted opinion, visit his website at or follow him on Twitter @freehance


  1. Lennon Lennon 9 July 2012

    For many, not having a connection to the ‘Net can be really traumatic.

    Some need to be connected for work be it at the office or at home. In may case both scenarios apply, although I really don’t get the point of having so many bloody devices – desktop, laptop, tablet and cell phone all wired into the same mailbox. Yes, it’s useful. But does one need to be constantly connected? FFS! We might as well start reciting “We are the Borg” at the rate things are going.

    This is especially applicable to people how just HAVE to be on Facebook at all times of the day or checking their phones for latest BS to come through over BBM while in the middle of something important like work.

    I’ll admit that I have a tab open during office hours for GMail and another to spar with Tofolux ;), but when there is work to be done then all of this is relegated to the taskbar until boredom sets in.

    And yes, I use my connection at home. Gettings news online is soooo much better than waiting for the 7 o’ clock news. That and Starcraft II requires that you log in the so that you can play (GRRRR!)

    But again, some people take this too far. If they aren’t on Facebook at home, then it’s happening while out with friends over a beer at the pub or sitting in a darkened corner in a club while everyone is dancing the night away. The same at family get-togethers and during meals. Some even go so far as to sit through a message while conversing with someone.

    Put it away!…

  2. Lennon Lennon 9 July 2012

    …. and, as you’ve pointed out, while driving. The worst being those who just have to send a message, whether driving a car or a motorbike. What’s that all about? When did the online world supercede one’s safety and the safety of those around you?

    Perhaps we need more DNS black-outs. More DDoS attacks or even a few more SAIX cable breaks. The (1st) world’s social dynamic has been altered and drastically so. Whether we will benefit from this only time will tell, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to withhold bitch-slapping someone who climbs into his or her phone while I’m right there attempting to have an “old-skool” chat.

  3. The Critical Cynic The Critical Cynic 10 July 2012

    @Lennon – now that’s taking it just a little too far don’t you think? I’ve been riding motorbikes for over 30 years and still haven’t succumbed to, or even felt a twinge of, temptation to text while out riding – too damned difficult to get the gloves off and juggle the phone when both hands are needed on the handlebars for the most part. Nope, please don’t hand texting and holding phones while riding onto the motorcyclists – the vast majority of motorcycle riders have discovered, on numerous occasions, just how dangerous using phones while driving cars can be, especially to motorcyclists in close proximity.We are still baffled how people who can afford these ridiculously expensive cars are unable to raise that last little bit of cash for a hands-free kit. Make the fines appropriate to the offender’s level of wealth and we may start to see an improvement….

  4. MLH MLH 10 July 2012

    We’re still managing fairly regular cutt-offs with Eskom’s help in this home. Because we live in a dip between two hills, mobile and wireless reception are abysmal and I seldom even take a mobile with me when I go out; I’m either driving, swimming, in a meeting or shopping for groceries and don’t really want to talk to anyone under those conditions. The rest, I do at home, although my son does it all thru’ his BBM.

  5. Lennon Lennon 11 July 2012

    @The Critical Cynic: There was a picture (I think it was on of some douche chatting on his cell while riding his motorbike (no helmet). Another picture in the Tygerburger some months back showed a scooter passenger busy pfaffing with her phone.

    My old man has seen plenty of cyclists chatting on their phones as well. What’s the point of cycling if you’re slowly peddling along while playing with a farking cell phone?

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