Thursday, February 10, 2005

Oh, My Poor Baby!

Pardon my inability to blog this week, but my computer at work is sick... not that I only blog at work, in fact I do most of my blog-writing at home; but I do a lot of my browsing while I'm at work, in between and during work-tasks, so I don't have to do the browsing when I get home, thereby leaving me more time to blog-instead-of-browse here at home.

What I find funny (not funny-ha-ha but funny-huh) is that not much of my work really requires me to use email and internet (which are where the symptoms lie). In fact, most of the work I need to be doing right now uses Access and Word or is off the computer entirely... I need to work on my membership database, which is horribly out of date, and write minutes, for which I am two meetings behind, or file the tottering piles of paper all over my desk (the tallest of which a visiting fat man knocked over the other day, so now I don't know where anything is) and make various phone-calls to our cellphone and worker's comp providers (which I'd really rather not do... I hate talking to those people). But with Outlook and IE hacking and coughing and being miserable and useless, I just can't concentrate on my other work. It's like having a sick baby on your hands, and though the baby isn't crying and puking right there in your lap, you still worry about it so much that you can't focus on anything else.


You'll remember that a month and a half ago, right before we left for Winter Break, I got hit by this sort of Trojan Horse of adware, which I spent days and days on end trying to get rid of. I uninstalled all the bundled programs as best I could, and probably unistalled a couple of other things that I needed but which looked unfamiliar, but I was still getting these adware popups that went around my adware cleaner and my popup blocker, somehow. I finally, after buying a new program (SpyBouncer) and then upgrading to the next version (which came out two weeks later, but they didn't charge me for the upgrade) and carrying on lengthy correspondence with its technicians who gave me a couple of other fixes, I finally got rid of all the components.

But for the last week or two, I have been unable to send email from Outlook, so I put in a service call to my domain email provider, who told me that the problem is with my antivirus program not scanning outgoing emails and not allowing outgoing emails to go out unscanned. So I tried to fix my Norton AntiVirus settings, but Norton wouldn't work without being uninstalled and reinstalled, as apparently one of those adwares disabled something in Norton's innards. So I spent a simply amazing amount of time uninstalling all the components of Norton Antivirus; but then when I went to reinstall it from the setup program (which came bundled with the Windows XP), there was a fatal disk error or somesuch and it wouldn't load.

Then, since Norton was uninstalled, SpyBouncer (which used some of Norton's components somehow) wouldn't work, so I had to uninstall that, too. And finally, on Tuesday, the Java scripts stopped operating on Internet Explorer. And if you think you can do much of anything in IE without Java, you are sadly mistaken (as I was sadly mistaken). So there I sat, email-impotent, I couldn't send emails from Outlook because even though I'd uninstalled the AntiVirus it wouldn't send the emails unscanned, and I couldn't send emails from my domain provider's online email interface because it used Java buttons, and I couldn't send email from my Yahoo or AOL accounts either because every web application I use has Java buttons and scripts in it (I couldn't even use the comments on my own damned blog!)

So I finally put out a distress call to my Last Resort Computer Go-To Guy. He was my first computer science teacher, way back when I first got out of high-school (when the industry standard was an IBM clone using 33 MhZ processors with 250MG hard-drives and 2MG RAM, running DOS 3, WordStar, and SuperCalc, saving on 100K 5.25" floppies and printing on dot-matrix printers... it was 1987, the paleolithic era of computers); he was also my first boss at my current job, the one who in fact hired me; and he acquired and installed all of the union's computers when we all upgraded to the same systems last year (in the past, none of us had a computer that was the same age or quality as anybody else's, but now we're all on the exact same system with an ethernet, and it's heaven). And though he is always helpful, and I consider him a friend, I don't like to call him too often... I'm not really big on asking for help in the first place, and I am especially cautious of asking for a lot of extra help from someone who is doing the work out of the goodness of his heart instead of for pay.

But he called back late Wednesday and gave me the sad diagnosis: one or all of those adware packages, paired with my slash-and-burn attempts to fix the infection, had started a chain reaction of fatal errors in my basic programs that would only get worse... and with no AntiVirus and no SpyBouncer, I was a sitting duck for all kinds of evil curses. The only cure is to back up all of my documents and the trusted programs I've downloaded, reformat my hard-drive, and load the whole thing in fresh from the box.

Easier said than done, of course. If I only used my work computer for work, it would have gone like a dream, as all of my work-related documents and programs fit on one CD. But all of my personal-use programs like iTunes and Webshots, my thousands upon thousands of electronic images, and a strange miscellany of media files like beefcake clips and funny sounds added up to four more CDs. And then, of course, in the three days I spent on burning all those files onto CDs, I had to use some of the files, like Access and Money, and therefore had to back them up again. And there are a lot of files that didn't want to be backed up, like all of my email archives and calendar pages from Outlook, which I eventually discovered had to be exported or copied separately and then burned onto a great big Miscellany CD.

Well, I finally finsished it today, I got the six backup CDs burned and the hard-drive reformatted and reloaded with Windows XP; tomorrow I am going to have to reload Office and my ethernet and printer drivers, but tomorrow's main event will be the writing of minutes and the creation of an organized archiving system for my paper files; the latter event is in concert with my latest new coworker, AW, who is a librarian and an absolute whiz at organizing things into systems that even the most scattershot right-brainer (like me) can understand and maintain. She has rendered the main room of our office into an almost neoclassical neatness, and my boss has high hopes of her instituting a similar regimen on my rather more baroque workspace... and I'm looking forward to being able to find relevant documents with ease, so a good time will be had by all.


In the meantime, I have a show on Sunday (Cookie After Dark at Martuni's, please come) for which to prepare... I know what I'm going to perform, though, and what I am going to wear, so there's not a lot of preparation involved; on the other hand, I have an absolute mountain of laundry to deal with, so I'm going to get started on that tomorrow evening and try to make a good dent on Saturday; and I am going to focus on getting a little more of Worst Luck finished, see if I can get the next part up less than two weeks after posting the last part.

But if I can't focus, I'll watch some new videos instead; I wandered into Gus's Blockbuster on Monday in hopes of running into Gus (but I didn't), and purchased three recent additions to my collection of RapidHeart productions (which feature thin plots, iffy acting, dreadful writing, sorry special effects, and hot Hot HOTTTT guys running around in boxer-briefs), Leeches!, The Frightening, and Speed Demons; lest I be accused of lowbrow licentiousness (of which I am joyfully guilty, but not an exclusive devotee), I also purchased three rather more cerebral offerings, Napoleon Dynamite, Women on the Edge of a Nervous Breakdown, and the Sundance Channel's The Heart of Me.

So that's all about me. How about you? Hope everything's going well!

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