Tuesday, September 05, 2006


I've been having problems with my home computer, which contracted a virus a month or so ago. I noticed that the computer was running slow, and grinding to a complete halt when online. It was also throwing up a barrage of suspicious-looking error messages, each displaying the subtle but tell-tale trademarks of phishers.

I renewed my obsolete virus scanner, scanned the drives, and discovered a couple of nasty programs lurking in the electronic undergrowth. I healed what could be healed, deleted what could be deleted, and quarantined everything else. But although the performance improved, the error messages kept popping up.

I ran the virus scanner again, a few days later, and discovered that the virus had spread like a particularly juicy Lindsay Lohan rumour. It was in the operating system, the printer drivers, my digital camera software... even in some programs that I hadn't opened in years. I ran a different virus scanner, which proved to be even more useless than the first, then beat my head against my desk.

Over the following couple of weeks, I kept scanning, deleting and quarantining, while copying my various documents onto CD. The computer kept getting slower and slower, and apparently dispatching a list of my completely uninteresting keystrokes to Russia every time I went online. Then the CD burner seized up just after I started backing up my photo collection, refusing to copy harmless batches of jpegs to disc.

By Sunday night, I realised that my computer was dying. I couldn't even find my ISP software, much less back it up, and the CD burner refused point-blank to receive a copy of my emails. Frustrated and painfully depressed, I went for a walk to get some fresh air and clear my head.

A good walk often helps. I'd been concentrating on the questions "How can I fix my computer?" and "Who do I know who can help me fix my computer?" The answers were "I don't know" and "All the people I know who have the knowledge also have better things to do with their time." But once I got walking, I threw up my metaphorical hands and said, "Here's a lateral thought; how about paying someone to fix it?"

Inconvenient? Yes. Expensive? Hell yes. But so wonderfully, alluringly simple. Take the stupid computer to a professional and let him deal with it. True, I'd feel like less of a man as it was proven that I couldn't defend my machine from a relatively simple problem, but at least it'd be fixed. In addition, the beauty of getting a professional to do it is that he is forced to treat you with at least a veneer of respect, lest you get offended and take your computer, and your money, elsewhere.

So the next day I called our office IT manager to see if he could recommend a good computer repair business. He laughed at me, of course. But then he offered to take a look at it himself, promising that if he couldn't actually heal the virus, he could at least rescue the photos and email and then wipe the hard drive clean.

I wanted to say, "Thanks, but it's not your job to fix my home computer." However I am weak, not to mention cheap. I brought the machine to work this morning and handed it over, along with a chunky and delicious Black Forest muffin. He is not easily turned by bribes, but I figured the sugar rush couldn't hurt.

So, hopefully within a couple of days I will have my computer back, cleaned up and running smoothly. And my first act will be to activate the password protection, so that only I can use it. That way I'll only have myself to blame if this happens again.


Blogger MC Etcher said...

Ugh! I've been there, and it's a horrible state to be in.

I hope he's able to cure it for you.

9:35 PM  

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