Tuesday, April 26, 2011

My Computer Goes Kerplooey

     Remember the old Xerox machines? When they worked, they were fantastic. When they didn't, it was maddening. That's the way I feel about my computer today.

     My computer froze up on Sunday evening. I knew it was coming. For three days I kept getting these warnings popping up on my screen -- something like "Trojan horse generic v22.2 OVL" -- and no matter what I did, I couldn't get rid of them. Not for good anyway. I x'ed them out; they'd go away; and then they'd come back like the dandelions in the backyard.

Sucker punched by a Trojan horse
     I have the "avg" antivirus program on my computer, which is supposed to catch the viruses and worms and trojans and somehow destroy them and bury them in a bomb-proof vault, never again to see the light of day.

     But on Friday night I was home sitting in my office, watching an episode of "The Big C," the Showtime dramedy starring Laura Linney, about a woman who has terminal cancer. (Btw, I love this show. Laura Linney is an acting genius; Oliver Platt is perfect as her clueless husband; and Gabriel Basso does a superb job moping and eye-rolling around as her teenage son.) I don't get Showtime, but I found all the episodes on a website called magna-something.

     I'd watched ten episodes of "The Big C" on my computer with no problems. But as I sat there innocently watching episode 11, this trojan horse message popped up on my screen. I x'ed it out and finished watching the program. Then, after I was done, I erased my history and went to my control panel and deleted whatever it is that it deletes.

     On Saturday morning, the message came back. I x'ed it out again and deleted it from my history, and even ran an old antivirus program called Spybots that I have on my desktop. Spybots reassuringly reported: "No problems found."

     But this thing kept coming back, in several different forms. I'd beat them all down like a Whack-a-mole, but they kept popping up again. Until my computer completely froze up on Sunday night.

     So Monday morning I called my computer store. The guy on the phone didn't seem unduly worried, but he said I had to bring in my computer. He'd fix it up in a few hours. Probably cost around $120. He'd call me.

     I brought in the computer, and went about my business, but when I didn't hear anything by 4 p.m., I called him. "Gee,  this thing is a little more complicated than I thought," he said. "I might get it done before the end of the day. We're open until 7 p.m. I'll call you."

     Then this morning I got a call. "This thing is worse than I thought. I'll have to take all your files off, save them, and reinstall everything. I'll call you."

     Finally, around 3 p.m. he called and told me he'd cleared everything out, and the computer was running fine. What's the damage? I wanted to know. It'll be $200.

     If there's any consolation, the guy told me I should bring in my computer once a year anyway to have it serviced and debugged, to keep it running fast and smooth.

     So I'm marking my calendar for next April:  Bring in my computer for a servicing. As B told me (when I was cussing and spitting and stomping around on Saturday morning): "Don't get your knickers in a twist. These things happen. Not a big deal." She says a computer's like a car. You bring it in for a servicing every once in a while. You're without it for a day. It'll cost a little money. But you don't expect your car to keep working forever without new brakes and an oil change. A computer is no different. Get used to it.

     But I know why she's not upset. Two days without my computer. I painted the garage. Built a rock garden in the back yard. Did two loads of laundry. Cleaned out my closet. Called my sister and two friends I've been meaning to call for at least two weeks. And returned three overdue books to the library.

     Maybe it's a good thing my computer went kerplooey, after all. I caught up on my life. The yard looks more respectable. The computer is running faster; and my word program looks better (he must have updated it), and the only downside is that I can't risk watching "The Big C" for free on the computer anymore. Guess I'm going to have to sign up for Showtime.



Robert the Skeptic said...

Former network tech talking here -
AVG is a pretty good program, and I use Spybot regularly.

One tip I advise people is to turn OFF your System Restore; it keeps a "copy" of your computer settings in a special directory. When you turn that off, it clears it out that data history... including any trojans which like to hide in there. Unless you do, AVG will delete the virus, but it will pop out of the System Restore directory and reinfect.

After you have turned off System Restore, run AVG and Spybot again. Reboot and turn System Restore back on.

Also, are you regularly downloading the system patches and updates from Microsoft? (Windows Update) Those patches often make system changes which can prevent virus/trojan infections.

Linda Myers said...

It's nice to have a couple of days to catch up on life.

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

I think one doesn't realize how much of life gets gobbled up by time on the computer! Computer problems can be maddening, but taking a brief hiatus from the computer can be a life enhancer for sure! So happy to hear about your new rock garden.

Jamie Shellman said...

Yeah, a malfunctioning computer can be maddening. It's frustrating when you have to work and you can't make any progress because a software or hardware is out of commission. A quick hiatus is fine. But if you need that computer for work, then it's best to get it fixed in a jiffy.