02/04/2001 Recovered from the annual April 1st prankfest yet? As the wise heads at Symantec point out, spring is the virus writers' favourite season for their little packets of fun -- perhaps because April 1st lightly turns these young men's fancies to thoughts of chaos. Or perhaps it's the long winter evenings finally triggering some sort of coding psychosis, a theory backed up to some extent by the preponderance of Scandiwegian hacking groups. Whatever, it's a good time to make sure your AV software is up-to-date and you're still getting the automatic downloads of new signature files, check the backups you religiously make, and perhaps go over your firewall settings. I wonder if anyone's done a cross-cultural study of different nations and their technological habits? "Thumb Candy", a Channel 4 programme about the history of videogames transmitted at the weekend, looked at the American, British and Japanese contributions to the field. It wisely steered clear of the socio-anthropological implications in favour of lots of shots of the presenter steaming around America in a convertible -- how did he get that gig? -- and Clive Sinclair wistfully holding up a white Spectrum. In the days of the Spectrum and Amiga, it was always the northern European nations who produced the most intensively silly demo programmes, fitting more colourful nonsense into 16k of hand-blasted machine code than you get in any three Microsoft CDs. But nobody seems to know why... there's a thesis in there for somebody.