Sunday, September 24, 2006


Got my aunt's PC today - on the usual familiy-needs-my-digital-fingers quest. This time, the machine had all but closed down on her. And, when I got it jacked in to check myself, I was pretty taken aback by the magnitude of the problem, considering that she has had 2 adware-stoppers and one extensive virus guard installed all along.

Somehow, she manages to get her PC into trouble all the fucking time. If it's not the printer bugging out, it's her mail account - or the update services on Windows. I myself have only run rare occassional virus checks and adware purges - yet I have only had a problem once in 8 or 9 years.

Anyway, I confidently sat down and began deconstructing the problem. It was much harder than expected. I was up against an intelligent bug this time. Shy and stealthy, yet aggressive when taunted. First of all, the browser spawned ad-related windows constantly and the machine denied access to the anti-virus software already installed. It simply exited the applications. I have yet to understand why the AV program has not updated itself prior to infection and caught the bug, but since Auntie has only just had broadband installed, it may have been manually configured.

It quickly became clear that this was more or less impossible to solve elegantly. IE denied me access to all virus-related (free) websites (Kaspersky, Pandasoftware, AVG, you name them). It even shut down Google queries containing the word "virus" or "malware"..! Luckily, I remembered TrendMicro's Housecall - an online virus scanner that I have used regularly. Through Google the query provided a link that was the direct "start scan" link to the online scanner. Very lucky, since all other TrendMicro links were shut down immediately by the bug(s).

The scan resulted in something like 5 trojans, considered severe (all of the AdLoad type), and something like 20 different adware bugs, more or less icky. I felt lost and cornered by evil, hollow horses of wood. I asked Housecall to remove and/or quarantine the various bugs. Of course, this was not possible with several of them - and when Housecall seemed to stop responding to my panic-striken attempts to "force" the deletion, I was basically back to square one. When I rebooted the computer the bugs were still there and this time Housecall did not register anything wrong. My respect, albeit hostile, for the über-bug in question deepened. Apparently, it had managed to register the online scanning being made and then circumvented that same "engine" or whatever. Can they really do this? I'm getting scared, goddammit - I think I'll be keeping a closer lookout for my own machine from now on, since this is too much Asimov-come-Matrix for my liking...

Outcome: the PC is getting the FDISK axe, after I manage to export all the relevant data. Even if I solve the most annoying issue, I still have 25 other bugs that may still be lurking in the darkness of my Auntie's registry...

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Cleaning out the closet

Been with my Dad these past few days, hauling out an old stash that we have kept for years at a friend's house in Northern Jutland. The stash dates back to when my Danish childhood home was sold about 5 year ago - but a lot of the items date back to the 70s and 80s and early childhood. Our first cleaning only sifted so much away of old rubbish. This time around we were a lot more determined. I only got caught up in old books and memories Dad quickly kicked me out of it again.

Odd feeling, discarding books that you remember being fascinated with when you were 5-6 years old. A few of the most precious I have kept. Also there are several really old children's books and cooking books that were inherited from my grandparents. They are something like 100 years old and I don't know whether they are worth much but you simply cannot just tip them off at a dump site, knowing they will likely be burned.

I also found my old writing books from when I attended English International School in Doha, Qatar. I see now that I kept several journals in class, "My writing book", "Qatar topic book", "My maths book" and one or two others. I wonder if they do this anymore. When I read them today I can feel and almost remember the enthusiasm that these things were made with. I also se the teacher's comments now and again, like "Your writing can be much neater than this". Good discipline there! I'm fairly certain Danish 6-year-olds don't get that kind of direct message nowadays. It's all wrapped up in "Could you be so good as to kindly try to improve your 'A's a little bit, if you have the time and motivation, of course, Sir?"

A nice passage in the back of "My Writing Book" tells a bit about my state of mind at that time. Both my Dad and I laughed out loudly when we read it:
Today is saturday 25th June 1983. I am laeving for the summer but I am not coming back to Qatar. First I am going to Greece and I think I am going to Denmarck after that and after that I don't know Where we are going.

We travelled a lot in those days...

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Hammers swoop

Can't say that I am a West Ham fan per se, but I did gawk a bit when it was clear that they've bought Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano from Brazilian side Corinthians. Tevez is the butt-ugly forward that played some of the matches at the World Cup this past summer. He's brilliant, probably one of the best players in South America, and it's going to be great seeing him play the premiership. Perhaps the least likely club for those two to go to, since Mascherano was also one of Argentinas best players in the tournament. Wonder if the rest of the team will be able to feed them properly. It will either be a disaster or a huge succes, methinks.