The causes of the problem remain cloudy, but the symptoms are quite clear. Starting on Nov. 18, some Server 2003, Windows Home Server 2003, and Windows XP SP3 machines suddenly refused to connect to Microsoft Update. As best I can tell, Microsoft has not responded to the problem, not documented a workaround, and is basically doing nothing visible to fix it.
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This month's Black Tuesday crop of patches held <a href="http://www.infoworld.com/article/2834535/security/four-more-botched-black-tuesday-patches-kb-3000061-kb-2984972-kb-2949927-and-kb-2995388.html">more than a few surprises</a>. True to form, my choice for the "most likely to splat," the <a href="https://support2.microsoft.com/kb/3000061">KB 3000061</a> kernel mode driver patch, repeatedly fails to install on many machines. Although the Knowledge Base article hasn't been updated, Microsoft support engineer joscon confirmed a workaround for the problem on Thursday afternoon.
It's looking more and more likely that Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) is warning about a Trojan:DOS/Alureon.J infection when none exists.
The next generation of USB cables, the Type-C, will offer faster data streams, an increased ability to power devices, and better ease of use.