netcurmudgeon (netcurmudgeon) wrote,

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Julie Amero - Very Delayed Justice

Yesterday, justice was belatedly done in the case of Julie Amero, a former substitute teacher who was tried and convicted on charges of exposing a roomful of seventh graders to harmful Internet pornography. Her conviction in January generated a massive hue and cry from geeks and computer security people. The judge in the case postponed Amero's sentencing, and yesterday vacated her conviction and ordered a new trial.[1] If there is even a shred of sanity, and belief in justice, at the State's Attorney's office, they will just drop the charges and this train wreck will end here -- where it should -- with a judge throwing the entire thing out.

One of the things that got Mrs. Amero in such trouble[2] was the shoddy and inadequate training she received from the Norwich Public Schools technology staff. She had been told to never, under any circumstances, turn a computer off. When the spyware (which was already on the PC when she walked into the classroom) unleashed a shitstorm of porno pop-ups which she could not stop, the only tool her hopelessly lacking training left her with was to physically stand in front of the monitor to block the students' view with her body.

In the name of preventing future disasters, I give to you The Julie Amero Memorial List of Times When it is Perfectly OK to Yank the Plug on Your PC
  • If the computer is on fire, pull the plug, and pull the fire alarm!
  • If the computer is emitting horrible grinding noises (like driving a car 10,000 miles past the point when you need a brake-job) shut it down! Your handy IT geek might just be able to salvage something off of your hard drive before it eats itself completely.
  • If your tech geek tells you to. With modern "soft" power switches, you may have to resort to pulling the plug to get a badly hung PC to turn off. Also, you should pull the plug before cracking the case as the modern PC is never really 100% 'off' if it is plugged-in.
  • Flood. If the water is rising, get Mr. Electricity out of Mr. Computer before things get soaked. Even if the computer gets doused, you might be able to salvage the hard drive but only if it's completely off when the water hits.
  • And last but not least: If your machine is spewing a storm of porno pop-ups pull the plug!

I'm sure there are others. If I (or anyone else) think of them, I'll add them. The last one could be resolved simply by turning off the monitor, but apparently the Norwich Schools IT staff didn't bother to teach that either.

[1] Local press coverage:
The Connecticut Day - Substitute Teacher Gets New Trial on Porn Charges
The Norwich Bulletin - Computer experts say Amero ruling corrects injustice

[2] Other items on this list include:
  • No functioning antivirus or Internet filtering software on the PC
  • No functioning filtering software at the network level
  • An unqualified local cop attempting to perform computer forensics on the classroom PC
  • A State Police crime lab which, while it has had the PC for over two years, only examined it after Mrs. Amero was convicted
  • A local prosecutor with more ambition than sense, out to get a splashy conviction on a hot-button issue
Tags: julie amero, justice, pcs, porn

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