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Friday, 30 September
Platform Diving

A while ago, we got this decent-seeming PC pawned off on us by the wife's little brother. We enthusiastically accepted; the decrepit iMac had served us well, but it was time to retire the little bastard. It was, to our PCs-at-work brains, always kind of a pain in the ass to rebrain over whenever we wanted to use it at home. And, of course, there was always the fact that people laughed at it. It was like having a particularly ugly dog. "Get in the closet, Rex! We have company!"

I had a geek friend come over and help me set up the whole thing . . . he set me up with Office XP and a bunch of other shit, including, I think, McAfee Virus Shield or some such. I, naturally, being a dumbfuck, watched and thought, "Hey, a virus shield! This means I will never get a virus."

People sometimes shake their heads and wonder aloud, "Why do these fucking people write these viruses and spyware and crap?" I have concluded that they have all been written for me.

About a week ago, I noticed that the computer was being very sluggish and grumpy. Upon closer examination . . . hey! There are listings in my "Favorites" that I am pretty sure are not our favorites at all. The wife and I are not, despite reports in the media, fans of spycams. And though at least one of us is fond of blow jobs, I am not so crass as to bookmark sites dedicated to them. And . . . hey again! This is not my home page! What is this shady site? I'd better change it back!

But the next time we fired it up . . . it was back to the shady page again.

After mere . . . days, I realized: Holy shit! I have a virus! Or spyware! Or . . . Homepage Alteration Somnambulism! I complained to my geek friends (note always that when I say "geek," it is merely me feeling better about myself by not more accurately referring to them as "people who are smarter than me in pretty much every way") about my woes, and they concluded that yes, shithead, your system is all fucked up. They pointed me to things like AdAware and Spybot, which I dutifully downloaded, glaring all the while at the shitty little McAfee icon, thinking, Boy, you really let me down. My geek friends also exhorted me to FOR GOD'S SAKE, stop using IE! Evidently, though I always somehow dimly knew the truth, I had gone for years being somehow unconvinced that the most dominant browser out there was incredibly vulnerable to malicious teenagers all over the world. Which honestly? Is really unreal. It's as if one were to buy the world's most popular car because it would be weird not to buy that car, and then discover that it doesn't have door locks, and nor does it require a key of any sort, and you are contracutally required to park it in public in the worst neighborhood in the world.

Anyway, I ran AdAware and Spybot dutifully, and they got out their trusty electro-speculums or whatever, and took a good look around the PC's plumbing. "Oh my God!" they screamed in polite little dialog boxes. "You are really fucked. Should we quarantine this . . . sewage?" The programs seemed a little bummed at me. "Uh, sure . . . quarantine it." Whatever that meant. "Great! What do you want to call the quarantine file? We recommend You Are Stupid." I didn't really get this. You're putting this crap in a file? Why? Get it the fuck off my system! "Are you sure you want to purge this horrible garbage? This may lead to partition rot, dll pickles, file dropsy and the Billy Beer Blues."

I wasn't sure about anything, leading to a familiar kind of technical paralysis, where you just start clicking things until they "feel right," ignoring the fact that that's part of what got you into this mess in the first place. The programs became utterly gloomy at my idiocy. "Failed process," I was tersely told at one point, reminding me of my first marriage. "You must restart," I was told a bit later, totally not reminding me of my first marriage.

In the meantime, something else really exciting started up. My Windows security update had completed! And it had some exciting news for me! "YOUR SYSTEM IS INFECTED!" No shit. And then, right before my eyes . . . wow. My desktop changed. It turned an alarming scarlet, and flashed "SPYWARE!" at me. It also helpfully directed me to a site that would ostensibly get rid of this bad juju. I then watched as no less than a dozen new shortcut links popped up onto the desktop, things like ONLINE GAMBLING and, har har, SPYWARE PROTECTION. Oh, and yes, of course, one called BLOW JOB. I immediately--and I knew even when I was doing it that it was just futile--deleted all the shortcuts. And feeling even stupider. The machine was experiencing metastates and hemmohagging from practically every hole. But I was furious. Fuck this! I won't be treated this way! I will fight!

Right about then, IE launched about ten brand new windows all on its own, to skeezy sites like YambaSearch and . . . oh, I don't know. It was like Level 11 of Galaga trying to click those fuckers down. But I did. Then, ten minutes (me still desparately trying to launch system scan after scan) it did it again. I noticed also that my bookmarks had reset to include the same old tired horseshit as before.

The PC was feeling the strain--and remember that I am on dialup at home--and was juddering like an epileptic at Lazer Floyd; the poor fucker would sit for a while mutely, refusing to acknowledge my ever-frantic clicking, me trying to--I don't know--get Task Manager up! Or something! And then after three minutes, Task Manager would come up, finally, and not even notice what processes were going on. "Hey, kill that . . . process!" "What process? Everything looks cool from here, boss! It must be black magic that is causing these incredible usage spikes. Hey, time for my break!"

The final straw came when I heard a nasty rapping on my front door. I opened it, and stared at two toughs in shades wearing cheap suits. "You Skot Kurruk?" one of them rasped. "Who wants to know?" I squeaked. "The internet. You're fucking stupid. You might have gotten the email." I sagged and hung onto the door frame. "What do you want?" I said wearily. "Your dog," the talker replied. "We're here to fuck it to death." The other one chimed in for the first time: "Man, I love fucking dogs. Is it a small dog? Because they are so cute." "The building doesn't allow dogs, you assholes." I tiredly informed them. They seemed crestfallen. The first one finally said, "Well, what a bummer. I guess we'll be on our way then. Hey, thanks for using Internet Explorer! We really appreciate it. Dogs or no dogs. Hey, wait, do you have cats? Because--" I shut the door and went and pulled the plug on the PC.

Enough. My God. I am willing to go ahead and say it: I am clearly too stupid to own a PC. Fine. That's okay. I don't mind. It's a good thing we still had the dreary little iMac sitting here, on which I am composing this. I guess I'm not too stupid for that.

And I guess that means that I can probably manage to get a new machine. Let's say . . . a Mac Mini.


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Comments

A few tips:

Get AVG Free anti-virus software. It'll update itself everyday. It's free. I haven't had a virus since I got it. (grisoft.com)

Get Mozilla Firefox. (getfirefox.com) Stop using IE immediately, lest you face a penalty of death.

Get Microsoft Anti-Spyware. It's the Beta version, but it's good. (www.microsoft.com)

I would plug the PC in, download Microsoft Anti-Spyware first. Then, run it. Remove all spyware, or quarantine it if it won't remove.

Then, download AVG anti-virus. Run it. Remove infected files. If that doesn't work, quarantine the files.

Then, download Firefox. Never run IE again.


If things are running fine, then make sure you have Microsoft XP Service Pack 2 installed. It installs a firewall on your computer. Helps stop the creepy guys in trench coats from showing up.

At this point, if you haven't pulled out all your hair, and you're still having problems, go ahead and dropkick the PC off your roof. Trust me, problem solved.

Comment number: 005608   Posted by: lefty_grrrl on September 30, 2005 10:08 AM from IP: 66.143.138.11

I so feel like being snide and happy that I know better than to ever get a PC. HAHA. I'm sorry. I'm just so amused. Even my sister, who's much smarter than me, got a PC so she could use more programs. She's sorry now though, of course. Everyone is eventually, or they just don't know any better. I'm so hideously smug aren't I?

Comment number: 005609   Posted by: yensen on September 30, 2005 01:30 PM from IP: 172.152.55.64

Hey Skot,

I have to agree with lefty grrrl. She knows what's up. The only program I would add would be ZoneAlarm:

http://www.download.com/ZoneAlarm/3000-10435_4-10434530.html

(I work at CNET, hence the shameless use of our site.)

While Windows XP Service Pack 2 DOES have a built-in firewall, I have a hard time trusting it much in the same way I have a hard time trusting IE.

--Jason

P.S. Yeah that's me in the provided link.

P.P.S. Yensen, I've used Macs all my life. Check this if you dont believe it:

http://blogs.download.com/Mac-Minute/

My job required me to learn how to use a PC and now I like them both. You just gotta know how to protect yourself...

Comment number: 005610   Posted by: Jason on September 30, 2005 03:57 PM from IP: 216.239.124.38

Ok, fair point. But it's like warfare all the time, you always have to have the latest and greatest or they'll get you, and they're always trying. I been told that PCs are useful before...maybe they are. But I'll always think that Macs are better for lazy, unskilled computer people like myself. Well, at least until enough people listen to me that people start making viruses for Macs too.

Comment number: 005611   Posted by: yensen on September 30, 2005 06:30 PM from IP: 172.139.42.214

Let's talk about the Pig 'n' Pancake again. I'm really proud of the socks I got from there.

Comment number: 005612   Posted by: Kate on October 2, 2005 02:33 PM from IP: 63.202.20.186

Electro-speculum, ha!

Comment number: 005613   Posted by: liz on October 3, 2005 07:16 AM from IP: 208.253.159.66

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