Archive for February, 2010

23
Feb

Virus Removal: Security Tool

   Posted by: John    in Computer and Network

Virus removals are always interesting in that you are never quite sure what is on the computer when you first get it. 

I picked up a laptop to do a virus removal.  It turned out to be another one of the rogue programs that try to trick the user into purchasing something that doesn’t really do anything.  This one, however, did some things that I had not come across before.

The name of this particular one is Security Tool.  Not a very convincing name for an anti-virus program to be sure.  It did the same kind of things that most of the rogues do, “scan” for things on the computer, display a list of the viruses it “finds” and then try to get you to purchase it. 

 For the most part, the so-called scans are programmed.  This one was a little different in that each time it ran it’s scan it displayed different results, not unsimilar to this.

Additionally, once this bug started on running on the system, it blanked out the desktop icons and prevented programs from being run even though the program menu could be displayed.  For example, I could not run MSConfig, Task Manager, WordPad or any other program.  A message like this appears every time you try to run something.

The interesting thing with this bug is there was about a 30 second delay between the time the desktop was up to the time it started running.  In that period of time I was able to start WordPad (where I placed screen captures of the bug as it was running), MSConfig and the Task Manager.  In Task Manager (I did not get a screen shot of this) I was able to see a program called 18323320.exe.   I was able to terminate the program and then the computer worked properly.  MSConfig contained this program in the startup.  I turned it off (along with other assorted items), rebooted, and it started up with no problem.

I loaded Malwarebytes, updated and scanned.  It found the rogue items and removed them.

Overall, not too bad.  I finished up with a full Malwarebytes scan, removed the expired Norton and installed AVG anti-virus.  A full AVG scan did not bring up any other viruses either.  So, not too bad.  The reason for documenting this one was the interesting circumstances in regards to blocking running any programs at all (instead of the usual blocking of virus removal software).

19
Feb

“DoubleMySpeed.com”…really?

   Posted by: John    in Computer and Network

One of the things that I have heard advertised lately is a web site called “DoubleMySpeed.com“.  I decided to look at it and see what the story is with it.  Not being willing to actually install it on one of my “real” computers, I fired up a Win XP VM that I use for testing things out.  (I have a backup copy, so if I actually manage to kill the VM PC all I have to do is delete the virtual disk and copy the backup file to the original folder.) 

The web site offers a free scan to check for problems on the computer.  The program that gets downloaded is “Cyber Defender Registry Cleaner”, a trial version.  So, what the hey, I download it and let it run it’s scan.  Here’s a screen shot of the program in progress.

 

And, when it is done, here is what I got.

 

Well, look at all the so-called “errors” that my PC has on it.  I’m sorry, but I am calling BS on that.  This is a pretty fresh XP install with minimal software on it.  There is really no way that there can be that many errors in the registry (unless some software that was installed just totally blew it out, in which case the software would not likely run properly).  Additionally, every registry cleaning/repairing program that I have ever seen or run ALWAYS reports a plethora of errors, even after running the fixes. 

At least you can look at the “errors” and it will give you every item it finds.  Some of them may be legitimate.  However, I have yet to actually see where these items are causing a PC to be slow.

Clicking the big green “Fix All Errors and Speed up Your PC! button brings up the web page where you can place your order.

 

Well, the Registry Cleaner is $39.98.  That doesn’t sound too bad except for it won’t do a thing to speed up the PC.  Move down the page a little and you can also get CyberDefender Early Detection Center (notice the PRECHECKED box for $29.95).  This will do more to help the PC than Registry Cleaner, even if it is a piece of junk software.  Moving a little farther down there is a PRECHECKED box where you can get a backup CD for only $14.97.  The grand total of this excursion (for 1 year) is $84.90, before sales tax (if you have to pay it). 

 

If you decide to get a 2-year license the price goes up to $133.86.  3 years will result in $182.80. 

 

OK, so you decide to do it.  Chances are you already have an anti-virus program installed.  If you have an older PC (which is likely part of the reason you went here to begin with) you might have a copy of Norton or McAfee on it.  It may even be up to date and active.  Any PC that is past its 3rd birthday and has a current copy of Norton or McAfee (or Panda…gag!) on it will run slower.  I don’t know if the new Cyber Defender will tell you there is already an antivirus program on the PC, but if it doesn’t, the PC will NOT run faster with it.  The existing antivirus program and the new one will fight each other and slow the PC down even more.  If you uninstall the old antivirus software and install this one, chances are the PC will run faster (because the massive old software will be gone), but you are not going to have any better protection.

Instead of wasting your money with this, I would make two recommendations.

1)  Go to a web site called MalWareBytes and download the free anti-Malware program.  Install it, update it and run it.  This program will find and root out malware that causes slow PCs.  The free version does not update and run automatically, so need to periodically update and scan.  I recommend every other week or so.

2)  Get rid of Norton, McAfee, Kaspersky or whatever else you are running for antivirus and get a copy of AVG.  Do not get the Internet Security one.  Do not purchase the ID guard.  Just get the Anti-Virus 9.0.  A 2-year subscription will set you back $52 and it is hands down the best out there.

Doing these things and being smart about what you click on, will do more to keep your PC running fast than anything else.

Now for the disclaimer…there are other reasons why a computer will start getting slow.  They include lack of physical memory (RAM), legitimate software that is installed and running when it doesn’t need to be, a hard drive getting full, or a hard drive slowing down due to age.  A full hard drive can be replaced with a new larger one without losing your existing programs and files.  The same applies to a failing hard drive…most times it can be replaced without data loss.  RAM can be added, unused software removed, etc.  .  These are things that can be easily diagnosed by a tech and taken care of without a huge headache.    Oh, and we can remove viruses too!

19
Feb

“Starter Husbands”

   Posted by: John    in Miscellaneous

So Karen is on Facebook last night and sees that her niece Carli was tagged in a photo saying something about her and her husband.  Carli is 19 or 20 years old, and last we saw her (Christmas 2008) she was living with her boyfriend.  Naturally, I asked if this was the guy.  Karen starts texting her sister and finds out it’s a different guy that she has not known that long.  Along with that, I think the comment we got back said “That’s what I hear” in reference to the marriage question.

Wow.

Turns out that Carli and her mom haven’t really talked to each other for a while, something about disagreeing about tattoos and probably some other stuff.

Also, it turns out that Karen’s mom did not know anything about it either.  So, we were and are in the dark.  It’s her life, but I am really surprised.

While discussing and waiting for return texts I made the somewhat flip comment about Carli likely having a “starter husband”.  I meant it as kind of a joke, but got to thinking about it in some detail.  An even more interesting term might be “entry level husband”.  Kind of like a first car, or starter house. 

This morning I did a google search for “Starter Husband.”  I was quite surprised at the results.

 

Apparently this is not so flip a concept after all.  The first article listed, called “The Starter Husband“, describes in quite some detail a woman who apparently married (at age 27, so not so young), decided she had made a mistake, and divorced him less than a year later.  Her biggest problem with him?  He was boring.  So, she left, divorced and moved on.  Some years later she met and finally married another man.  They have kids together.  Sounds like it’s all good for her, right?  The final paragraph:

Andi lifts her 2-month-old daughter up to her breast in the middle of the café. I ask if her second husband is The One, since they have kids and all. “I’m happy, but I try not to think about it,” she says. “It’s like, if I thought I had to have my hair the same way for the rest of my life, I’d freak out.”‘

She doesn’t say it, but the implication I get from her final statement is this: “I would divorce him and move on if I thought I wanted to.”  How pathetic.  This is a perfect example of an egotistical and selfish person.  Does she love her husband?  Probably, and she very likely loves her children as well.  But it doesn’t sound like they are the first and most important things in her life.  If she thought she had a reason she would leave and move on to the next husband.

I went to school with a lady who was from Argentina.  (We had previously worked at the same place, so I knew her before school).  At the time, Karen and I had just had our 13th anniversary.  She was astonished and told me I should write a book about it.  I was amazed, because 13 years does not seem a long time to me.  She started describing her current husband and marriage.  I did not ask her how many times she had been married.  The cavalier way she talked about it let me to think she was on husband 3 or 4.

You have to understand that I was raised with the idea that marriage should be a lifetime commitment.  So far I am almost 18 years into that lifetime commitment and I am not sorry at all about it. 

I have never been one to tell people what they should and should not do (except for my kids of course).  There are times when a divorce is the best thing to do.  What bothers me is the extension of the throw-away society.  It is no longer limited to the 3 year old car that’s “out of style” or the alarm clock that quits working.  It now applies to marriage and family.

5
Feb

What is Celibacy?

   Posted by: John    in Fun Stuff

Celibacy can be a choice in life, or a condition imposed by circumstances.
While attending a Marriage Weekend get away, Bill and his wife, Janice, listened to the instructor declare, ‘It is essential that husbands and wives know the things that are important to each other..”
He then addressed the men, ‘Can you name and describe your wife’s favorite flower?’
Bill leaned over, touched Janice’s arm gently, and whispered,

‘Gold Medal-All-Purpose, isn’t it?’

And thus began Bill’s life of celibacy……….