Monday, 4 July 2011

Wasting My Time

I'm not normally a violent man; that is to say, one who reacts to setbacks and frustrations by lashing out physically. But if I could find a way to get next to one (or preferably a whole roomful) of those utter shits who distribute viruses and malware over the Web I would cheerfully beat them to a pulp with an iron bar. Care to join me? No jury in the land would convict us. We'd be public heroes.

At around 5:00 this afternoon, it became apparent that my daughter had acquired a particularly evil piece of malware, merely by visiting an innocuous-looking website. She hadn't downloaded anything, she had merely looked at some maps of Seattle. Masquerading as anti-virus software, the malware then blocked every attempt to run any legitimate program, including the installed anti-malware and anti-virus programs. It was like having your path blocked repeatedly by some grinning bully.

The only remedy I could think of was to restart the laptop in "safe mode", use System Restore to roll back to a "restore point" dated before today, and then update and run a full scan with anti-malware software (I use Malwarebytes). After an eternity of multiple attempts (ever tried getting a Windows Vista laptop into safe mode?) and protracted waits, it seemed to have worked by 9:30 pm.

Of course, the frustration was compounded by having to roll back to a restore point. Every piece of software on the computer is now jostling to be first in the queue to be updated. Windows alone wanted to download and install 43 updates. It's not as if I'd back-dated the computer to 1995. If there's one thing that annoys me almost as much as evil, bullying, pointless malware it's the high-handedly casual attitude of software companies -- from Microsoft down -- to rolling out software updates, now that we're all connected to the internet.*

Barely a day goes by without some "important" updates to something downloading themselves, at length, which then require the computer to be restarted, and then install themselves, at length. It took Windows 7 forty minutes to download a Service Pack onto my laptop last week, which then took another forty minutes to install. I'd only turned the thing on to check my email! I have learned not to anger Windows by pulling the power plug on its interminable updates, though: the last time I did this a computer was rendered completely unusable.

I think it was Heidegger who said that "the modern world is revealed at the horizon of machines that are out-of-order". What did he know? The modern world is revealed at the horizon of machines that promise to be useful but just waste our bloody time.

Can anyone out there understand or explain the mentality of the writers and distributors of computer viruses? How anyone can devote so much intelligence and ingenuity to causing so much random, purposeless harm to ordinary people is beyond me.

* Run a close third by smug Apple Mac users who never get viruses. Don't go there, just don't...


Martin H. said...

Okay then, as a Mac convert, I won't go there.

By the way, I ditched all Windoze, ages ago, and even rebuilt my Acer laptop with the absolutely free and totally excellent Ubuntu. I've now enjoyed several new releases, 11.04 being the latest and the best, so far.

Mike C. said...

Hmm, nothing like going there, but via the back route...

I spend my working day using Unix, and always meant to get one of those Linux netbooks with a solid state drive, but my investment in Windows software, etc., is too great now. It's like committing to a lens system -- you can't be changing from Canon to Nikon to Pentax every other year.


EuroPhoto said...

I will gladly join your clobber-team, if you promise to give me a hand with the eMail-marketers later.

Mike C. said...

As soon as I get an address, EuroPhoto, I'll be raising a posse. Bring your own balaclava.

Talking of which, here's a classic "Did You Know?": the word "posse", so deeply associated with the Wild West, actually comes from the ancient English common law "posse comitatus" (i.e. "the right to raise armed assistance from the local populace to pursue a felon") as does the word "sheriff".

Well I never!


Tony_C said...

Hooray! Just as the News if the Screws prepares to knock out its final spurt of journalistic jism and go down the pub for good*, another crusading publication dons the mantle of (self-)righteousness, with a clarion call to direct action to protect the children from the Evil Ones!

Do you have a special costume you envisage donning as you jet around the wide world, meting out your special brand of "justice" on behalf of the innocents? I'm sure I'm not the only one who'd like to see a photo of you wearing it. If you haven't got one yet, I expect one of the old dears at your library can run one up for you.

I hope the DPP isn't a follower, or you may find the Law as jealous as any trade or profession of those who would usurp its function, and zealous as any fanatic in its suppression of vigilantism and incitements thereto ("Vengeance is Mine", saith the Lord); but I won't bubble you up.

P.S. Are you following Bigipedia on R4? It's almost TOO close to the truth:
(Have a copy of the 118-alikes at hand if you ever want to have a bath again).

*The story That Story is burying:

[Check word: peelect - what you do at a peelection]

Mike C. said...

"Old dears"? You're v. out of touch with modern higher ed., I can tell. Of the 200+ staff we employ in the library, I am the oldest (bar about three others) by quite some margin.

Successive rounds of redundancy and forced early retirement have made "old dears" and grey-beards a bit of a rarity on any campus.


Tony_C said...

Yeah, woteva.