The short version: Setting my clock to the current date fixes invalid security certificate errors in IE7 and log-in problems with MSN Messenger. The rest of this post is embellishment so that it can be picked up by a movie producer and turned into a film starring Neil Patrick Harris as the Coding Hillbilly and Scarlett Johansson as Mrs. Coding Hillbilly.

A frantic call from Mrs. Hillbilly led to my edification of yourselves today: "Coding Hillbilly! He'p me, he'p me! I'sa gotta chekin' this har e-mail for'un my boss and I kint git into the Hotmail! Ya gotsta he'p me, Coding Hillbilly!"

"Be right thar, Cabbage!" and I moseyed on over to her place as quick as the T-bird could fly.

The error message: There is a problem with this website's security certificate.

Now I've seen this often enough with the dawn of IE7 but this happened when she navigated to Hotmail of all places. Of course, she could continue on to the website with the nice calming red address bar at the top but it didn't inspire a lot of confidence that her computer was running at peak performance.

At this point, the missus also pointed out that MSN Messenger was also puking all over her machine when she tried to log-in. Error 80048820 which is, as you could probably guess, security-related. The surprisingly effective help system in Messenger led me to a much prettier version of this page.

Being a technically-minded hillbilly, I skimmed through the page looking for the most obtuse solution on the page and I went on my merry way re-registering DLLs and adjusting SSL options, none of which worked. Then option 3 stuck out at me: Verify the date and time settings on your computer.

Huh? says I. Mrs. Hillbilly, who is hovering in a non-intrusive manner, notices my confusion: "Oh yeah, I had to change the clock for something else."

A quick update to bring the date back a few months to February 19, 2007 and all is well again with our corner of the world.

I wish no explanation as to why changing the clock affects MSN Messenger or security certificates. (I can make a partially-educated guess as to the latter.) Security is not my strong suit as anyone who has come to my house and found the doors wide open can attest to. I don't particularly care why they're related. All that matters is that someone else in the world does and he or she finds it fit to document his or her knowledge on the Internets.

And on a concluding note, I hate security and all software and hardware related to it, including but not limited to: anti-virus, spam, phishing, SSL, permissions, LDAP, NTLM, forms authentication, SecurID tokens, VPNs, swipe cards, PIN numbers, security deposits, car alarms, bike locks, and cell phones for seven-year-olds.I don't like that the major upgrade to Windows XP was a firewall that broke a bunch of apps. And that among IE7's features is not to let me into websites because I'm not smart enough to figure out if they're dangerous. And that Vista's main differentiation from XP is that it's harder to play my music. I will concede, however, that retinal scanners are pretty cool.

Not that I don't understand the need for it, which I very much do. I just hate the fact that we have to deal with it. But then, I'm far too much of an optimist to really understand the Prisoner's Dilemma that has led to everything from DRM to the "guilty until proven innocent" mentality that permeates our airport authority system.