Sunday, November 25, 2007

Food for the Soul, Nov. 25, 2007

The computers here at the Sullicom World Headquarters have been under siege the past 24 hours. Whether malicious, mischievous or merely coincidental, the result has put me in a very foul mood.

I don't know if this was a hacker attack of some sort, a virus or simply one of those perfect storms that can happen when little fingers frequently share the keyboards. Regardless, both computers went down yesterday, albeit with different maladies.

The basement PC, the older of the two, seems to have picked up some downloaded programs that while pledging to zap spyware, do more to invite it. It became near impossible to do anything on that unit because of the frequency of pop-ups. Even the desktop background has been overtaken by some demonic graphic that I can't get rid of. I've been running an anti-virus scan on that unit for 17 hours now.

That PC is usually the one reserved for the kids. But since it wasn't working, they moved to the one in the office. Last night, after a couple of hours of cursing at the situation in the basement, I went into the office to check e-mail, only to find that a system file in that PC had been corrupted or deleted and the thing wouldn't even boot. I tried running the system repair program off the boot disc, but that wasn't working either. Another hour of expletives followed before I finally gave up and went to bed.

This morning, as the scan was still running downstairs, I managed to install an old version of Windows on the office PC, which has at least allowed me to regain access to the Web.

In the meantime, somewhere in a currently unaccessible region on this computer are important documents, precious family photos and hundreds - if not thousands - of dollars worth of music downloads.

Of course, I'm trying to fix the situation myself, rather than spend good money to call in someone who actually knows what they're doing. It's kind of the same feeling I imagine I'd have if I were dropped in the middle of a bad part of town. At night. Naked. I'm not sure if the things I'm doing are making the situation better or worse. However, I have managed to reconnect to the Internet, so I guess that's a small victory.

This isn't the first time we've had predicaments like this. Just the first time they've happened simultaneously.

During the summer of 2006, one of the kids left a laptop sitting on the floor in the family room, where it was stepped on by our son, Courtland, with one of his size 13 feet. The foot won.

Three years before that, in what I consider Courtland's "coming of age" summer, he and his buddies used to retire into the office behind closed doors and "play" on the computer. That was when we had our first infestation of porn pop-ups. It set the stage for one of the inevitable father-son talks, as well as a long-term ban from his use of that computer.

And that's pretty much where we are today. I've banned the kids from using the computers until I say they can use them again. Not that it much matters because the dang machines still aren't working the way they should.

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