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Aphelion Editorial 072

July 2003

by Dan L. Hollifield


And to what do I owe my untimely lapse from sight during last month? A short circuit and an e-mail virus. A transformer can go wonky on you at any time. Sort of like vacuum tubes used to do back in the stone age of my youth. Transformer winding is as much an art as a manufacturing process, so any trainee can easily produce flawed work at first. I can accept that and praise how easy it is to replace one yourself, once you've got the replacement part in your hands. It took me fifteen minutes to take the old power supply box out of the computer and then put the new one in. Up and running and online in half an hour.

I installed the new anti-virus software, firewall, spam blocker and such in the revived new computer, and scanned it for viruses. When I was sure it was clean, I had the program make me a clean-boot disc with the anti-virus search and destroy .exe installed. I needed that for the old computer. I'd been using it as a back-up since the new one died. And somehow, I'd been e-mailed a virus.

I hate viruses... A lot... A whole lot.

What makes someone do that? What drives an obviously intelligent person to write up something that causes so much grief and trouble? This one was aimed at IRC networks, I determined as it was killed out of the old computer. I hereby apologise to anyone who had trouble with their chat networks in late April and June. My computer might have been part of a bot attack on some chat network in those few times I tried to go online during that time. I tried to keep my online time to a minimum. But back to the virus- What I could see of it's actions as I tried to figure out what was happening told me that it wasn't erasing files yet, just transmitting IRC messages, and maybe a few copies of itself using e-mail programs I don't use, like Outlook Express. Its on my computer, but I use something else. Its Address Book is empty, so the virus has to use addresses that it has in memory. In any case, I've got most of the virus killed out of the old computer. All that is left is to hunt down about eight files from the back-up Windows 98 CD and copy them into the old computer. I keep putting that off because its going to take hours to search the files out of the CD. They'll be archived and compressed somewhere in a .cab file, no doubt. I had some experience with that problem when I set up the LAN between the two computers. (Oh, I had disconnected the LAN from the new computer as soon as I figured out that the old one had a virus. The new one had been down for two weeks before the virus struck the old one.) I had to find several files off of the back-up CD to get rid of several error flags that popped up about the old computer not being able to find specific files for the LAN on boot up. It took hours to find them all. So I'm not looking forward to doing it again. But I'll have to. The old computer has the scanner that I need for cover illo pics for the Reviews section. So there aren't any pics in the reviews yet this month. I'll put them in later.

The anti-spam program is wonderful. My e-mails had gone from thirty or forty messages a day, to over a hundred. And the good messages were still only a dozen or so a day. Now, it isn't unusual to see my inbox crammed with two hundred to four hundred messages a day. And the good messages are still a dozen or less every day. The Mcafee Spam Killer program is catching 99% of that spam and letting me get to my good messages more easily. It isn't perfect, but it is awfully good. I recommend it.

So the up-shot of all the above is that once my work schedule permitted, I was finally able to get started working on this issue. But I'm left with a five week long loathing for those people who write viruses and unleash them on the public. Going on six weeks now. There are e-mail messages on the old computer that it will be hard to access with the new computer. With our deadline looming, I don't have time to deal with that right now. But my anger did provide material for this editorial.

All of life is grist for the writer's mill. Any random event one experiences can turn up in a story, somewhere. I've been told that that is a mark of good writing, for the author to throw little snippets of reality into the fiction-mix. I suppose that everyone will be looking for computer virus stories from me for a while. LOL!

Thanks for your time,

Dan

I now return you to your regularly scheduled reading...

THE END


2003 Dan L. Hollifield

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