Saturday, August 7, 2010

Sometimes...they come back

The word phobic has its place when properly used, but lately it's been declawed by the pompous insistence that most animosity is based on fear rather than loathing. No credit is given for distinguishing between these two very different emotions. I fear snakes. I hate computers.

--David Sedaris, Me Talk Pretty One Day

Uncharacteristically, I was on one of the most wholesome sites ever when my netbook came down with this latest virus. I was just checking out Petfinder to see what the competition was for my latest foster project. I was thinking none of them could compare to her when a menu popped up in my lower right screen saying, "Your computer is under attack, etc etc etc"

For once, I was not on jerk-your-tube or any of its similarly-themed cousins (the plot lines are shockingly similar: Manuel is very sweaty after his morning run; he decides to take a shower; his roommate Roberto thinks Manuel has already left for work, so he walks into the bathroom and... what do you know? Shenanigans ensue). Yes, that is exactly the sort of site I find delightfully entertaining in my spare time, but I hadn't had any spare time in at least a week. Oh no, I was selflessly devoting myself to trying to find good homes for outrageously-sweet-but-homeless dogs -- God's work, really, I think we can all agree -- when bam, I got nailed.

I promptly texted all the geeks I knew, and when they didn't answer, I picked the laptop up and ran it down to the Shop. Sure enough, the report said "infected," so they hooked it up to some life support; removed the virus; and brought the machine back to me. I was so happy. 

Then the Under Attack warning came back. I slept with nothing but the dull blue glow of the blackberry for company, then drove to the office the next morning; opened my email; and damned if the same attack warning didn't pop up there on the desktop. Clearly, it was following me. The usual geeks were busy, so I called up my emergency backup geeks -- both of whom were working in neighboring towns for the day -- one of whom raced right over anyway.

Most of what happened next was just a blur, but in a matter of minutes he had both machines stripped of all disease; restored to health; and new heavy-duty virus protection/spyware was installed (which basically, as I understand it, functions much like an oil light on your car: it just tells you when you're screwed). But before he left, he cautioned..."Sometimes... they come back."

I could hear the horror movie soundtrack in the background when he said that.

Don't worry, he said, "just text me if it happens again and I'll take its hooks out."

Sure enough, this morning: another red screen. This time I wasn't stupid enough to click on Yes, No, or otherwise. I just snapped it shut and backed out of the room, texting him as I went. He called up 30 seconds later. "What'd it say?" I didn't know; I'd shut it down too fast.

With some persuasion on his part, I opened it back up; turned it on; and typed in the web address he told me to. And then he said, "ok, I'm going to take control of your mouse now. I'll call you right back."

And as I watched in stunned amazement, the cursor began to scurry across the screen -- opening and closing programs; scanning; repairing; scrubbing --- all the same things he did yesterday, but...he wasn't here.

I couldn't have been more surprised if the dog had started talking to me.

It reminded me of this scary movie (that wasn't scary at all) -- possibly the Haunting -- where someone (possibly Lili Taylor, or maybe Catherine Zeta Jones) -- is asleep in a white nightgown -- and you see the sheets get peeled back, and the white nightgown being re-arranged... but.... there's no one there. Just handprints on the nightgown.

This was exactly like that -- but in a good way.

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