The good thing about this online virus checker is that it requires a minimum of software on your computer. The bad thing about it -- a fairly seriously bad thing -- is that it requires Internet Explorer and ActiveX, both of which are major conduits for spyware. For this reason you should only use Housecall after you have exhausted all of the other spyware checking routes.

[updated 2005-06-23]

Do not try to run the above from Mozilla Firefox. Although there is a program to develop an ActiveX plugin for Mozilla and Mozilla Firefox, it is experimental as of late 2004 and is not compatible with Housecall.

(More information on the Mozilla ActiveX Control project can be found here:

The main reason for bothering to use an online virus checker is that by late 2004, spyware has been showing a distressing tendency to take over installed virus checkers and using their privileged position within the system to swat at spyware checkers. Think of the HIV virus, which uses the human immune system as its primary host, as an analogy. A friend dof mine, David Jakubek, suggested that an appropriate name for spyware that takes over virus checkers would be something like SHIVA, for Spyware HIV-like Attacker.

(SHIVA seem seems appropriate given its Western connotations of Shiva the Destroyer, even though it propagates the Western misunderstanding of Shiva as purely a agent of destruction. Shiva the Recycler would be a closer to the Hindu perspective. Also, Shiva is male and has only two arms. The female goddess with mutiple pairs of arms is actually Durga, Shiva's wife.)