Copyright 2003 Linda Marcas - All Rights Reserved


Crank's Corner


                                             Stop Bugging Me!


    The mouse on my computer started acting up last week; despite
cleanings and a few beatings, it wouldn't roll smoothly while I was playing
Spider Solitaire and then all sorts of menus and programs started popping up
unbidden, as though the computer had gone psycho.  So I changed the
mouse, but the mouse I borrowed wasn't much better, still sticky, so I
borrowed another one, a weird trackball that looks like a spaceship, has a
glowing red ring around the ball, and is really taking some getting used to.  I
have a feeling, now, that the mouse really wasn't the problem in the first
place.
    Sometime during all the mouse-switching, while I was online, I
started getting a message in a window that "Windows will shut down in X
seconds."  I didn't find out until the next day, when word of it hit the
television news, that my computer had been infected with the Blaster Worm
virus.
    I hate it when this happens; I paid good money for Norton
Systemworks, my automatic updates for virus protection are always on, so
why did this bug creep in under the radar?  Well, it exploits yet another
Microsoft flaw, of which there seem to be an endless number.  The last time
I installed a bunch of updates that Microsoft recommended, my computer
had a nervous breakdown and refused to recognize me or my settings every
time I turned it on, treated me like a stranger, and erased whatever settings I
created if I had to turn it off.  By going through the "search" for all pictures
and text files, I managed to get most of my files out and copied onto CDs,
but the computer had to be taken out and shot to put it out of its misery.  As
a result of that experience, I never downloaded any Microsoft updates onto
my new machine, and that's why the bug got in, despite my anti-virus
program; it snuck in between one session of automatic virus update and
another.  Just bad timing, just my luck.
     By now, I know the drill: copy all my personal stuff onto CDs, then
try to fix the problem without gutting the computer.  The Norton wasn't
much help; it could detect the virus, but it couldn't delete or quarrantine it.
The Blaster Worm would let me go online, but it wouldn't let me stay there
more than a minute or three, so there was no way for me to download any
virus removal tools or other patches, and the instructions for those are
usually too technical for me to understand, anyway.  I resigned myself to
waiting until our computer guru had time to help me, but he was swamped
with work from the many, many other folks who either had the virus or
whose computers had been fried by lightning.
    Eventually, guru-guy came over with a virus-removal disk, and it
seems that the virus has been succesfully removed.  Its name isn't in the
directory, the Norton says I don't have any viruses, and all the other utilities
say that my computer checks out okay.  Why, then, am I still getting that
"Windows is shutting down" message whenever I've been online for a few
minutes?  My anti-virus is working, effectively preventing a re-infection of
the Blaster Worm, as it should.  I know, because sometimes the "virus
detected and deleted" window comes up.  But I'm still getting shut down
when I go online.
    As I understand the explanations I've been given, the virus "did
something" to my computer, either writing or damaging a program, which
will have to be deleted or repaired before the problem goes away.  However,
when I look for information about this, the problem the removed virus leaves
behind, I can find no mention of it at the virus-busting websites.  Maybe I
am finding the information, but it's written in such technical language that I
can't tell that's what it is.  Why can't they just say, "after you remove the
virus, you'll have to do thus and so to fix the damage so that your computer
will stay online"?
    Instead, they have pages of instructions involving ports and firewalls,
long techie bunches of numbers and letters saying to do this and that with
things I never heard of and don't know how to find.  In theory, I think that
trying to restore my system to a point it was at before it ever got the virus
should fix everything, or else what is that process intended for?  Also, there's
a GoBack option with Norton Systemworks, which should do the same
thing, promising to "quickly restore your system to a healthy state after a
system crash or other PC crisis."  But no one seems to be able to tell me,
definitively, that that will work
    Eventually, I'll e-mail my ISP and ask for advice; on the heels of the
blackout (which you'll have to work hard to convince me was not virus-
related!) my concerns are not important.  Mostly, I just waste time on the
computer, anyway, and it will do no harm for me to stay away from it for a
few days.  I never wanted a computer in the first place, because I knew I'd
fall down the Internet rabbit hole if I had one, which turned out to be the
case, at least when I'm not playing solitaire on it.   Meanwhile, to all those
evil, virus-writing hackers out there, I've had enough!  Stop bugging me!

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