Friday, 23 October 2009

7 Quick Takes (XIV)

1. My computer is infected. This was not equivalent to fun times.

I was researching something--I think it was Aristophanes--and went to a website. Apparently, going to unfamiliar websites can be a bad idea. Suddenly, antivirus software bubbles were popping up telling me that my computer was being attacked by a virus, a worm, by Trojan horses. It seemed as though the digital version of Isengard had opened and was descending upon my computer, which was still about a day's march from the Hornburg. (For those who don't understand Tolkein references, go out and watch the movies. I refuse to translate.) I could click here to try and remove it. I did a fair amount of clicking here. And then it occured to me that I had never installed this particual antivirus software, called SoftCop, onto my computer. Why was it trying to protect me? Well, it wanted me to pay $80 by credit card if I wanted to counteract these viruses, but I wasn't doing that. Why would it suddenly descend upon my computer, at the very moment I was in crisis, and say, "Hey, if you register this product and pay $80, we'll protect you from these nasties."? It was almost as though it was in collusion with the viruses...

So I Googled it. This took some time and navigation, as my Web browser was suspiciously hesitant to go anywhere but the SoftCop registration page. For a little while it tried to tell me that I shouldn't go to sites because I was unprotected. Then it re-directed me to the SoftCop page even when I had typed into the address bar. Meanwhile, new windows kept opening up to explain that some worm-ridden virus riding a Trojan horse was trampling through my hard drive or something like that. Eventually I managed to google the thing, and, lo and behold, it's what they call a "rogue antivirus program." That is to say, it's a package of viruses disguised as an antivirus. None of the viruses it told me about existed. At the very least, they were harmless programs made to look like viruses that SoftCop put there itself. While I was trying to get rid of these pseudo-viruses, SoftCop was installing Trojan horses and backdoors, hidden in all sorts of little corners and never-inspected subroutines in my computer. These were designed to send my private information to its nefarious maker while performing acts of sabotage on my machine. I'm glad I didn't register or pay for the thing, but neither of those were necessary. It did not need my permission to install itself and its party of bugs onto my hard drive.

I spent all of whatever evening that was trying to dig it out of my system. I read on-line tutorials on how to do it, and by the time I was done, there were no more warnings, no more windows, nothing. The tutorials did warn, though, that if I missed just one little piece of programing it had put on, that program could download all of SoftCop again the next time I booted up and connected to the Internet. And sure enough, the next day, SoftCop was back in action. So I did the last thing that binary twit expected. I unplugged the Internet. Just like that. Shut her down. All the backdoors in the world cannot be opened if my computer doesn't have an ethernet cable anymore. Let's see it try to send my information out now!

Of course, my computer doesn't have the Internet now and is still crawling with viruses. I'm afraid to connect my hdd to it, since I don't know if SoftCop is capable of putting viruses on there and spreading it to whatever other computers I use to read it. I read that this thing can destroy your hard drive if you let it run full course, so I don't know what to do. I want to get some files off of it, but in the meantime I'm not turning it on.

I'm writing on my folks' computer now, of course.

Figures. Just when I get a computer of my own...

2. Good news: I figured out how to access my old hard drive. I mentioned I had some trouble with it. Well, after a number of tutorials, a few frustrations, and at least one "duh!" moment, I got on. I can now read four years' worth of my creative and academic writing. Yay!

3. My OGS (Ontario Graduate Scholarship) stuff got to where it was supposed to go on time. It is now out of my hands and my worries.

4. I am applying for a Creative Writing program in BC. It requires that you select three genres, ranked. You will focus in the first with a significant courseload in the second and some courses in the third. I spoke to my Creative Writing prof from uni, and she told me that so many people apply to this program with a straight fiction + poetry preference that it is nigh on impossible to get in with this as your preference. Rather, you ought to have something like Screenplay or Script or Lyric and Libretto or Radio Drama as your first two choices, and then fiction or poetry as your seconds. I think I will go for Children's Literature (which includes Young Adult, which I've read a lot of this summer) and Creative Non-Fiction (in which I might take some of my better blog posts and spruce them up), with Fiction as a third. If you have suggestions on better blog posts, let me know. I think I will include my semi-colon rant, but that won't nearly fulfil my word count specs.
I have some writing to do.

5. At work, I have spent some of my time doing real work: that is, I've been hammering nails in boards. I am not the best at this, and I had to spend some time on scaffolding. This was less than fun for me. I am afraid of heights. There are no two ways about it. My hands shake, my feet crawl, and my sense of balance becomes hyperactive. I can do it. I did do it. But it is rough. Also, I am used to being able to swing my hammer somewhat straight. All my hammering was on an angle, above my head (think inside of a pitched roof).
I also have to be careful about how much time I do work that is not in my job description. I have sense of how long what is left will take so cannot say for certain that I am behind, but I do need to be working more on my actual project. I need to balance being helpful and friendly and pitching in where need truly be with getting my own responsibilities accounted for.
The take-home fact is that I now have a satisfactory number of cuts and scrapes on my hands. I can say that I did some actual work.

6. The dog is hyper and strange. The last one isn't news.

7. Obligatory book take. I have been giving some goes at Heart of Darkness. I have returned to The Cost of Discipleship. That one is a thinker. It's tough. (A non-Christian would not find it tough because they would not take it as something they might have to follow. A Christian must 1) determine whether or not they agree with Bonhoeffer and 2) try to figure out how they'll implement these difficult concepts.) I finished The Faerie Queene's Booke Three. I have scratched the surface of Book Four. I am playing with the idea of reading some Shakespeare. Maybe Timon of Athens or Midsummer's Nights Dream or The Tempest or A Winter's Tale. There are some books in my workplace's library that I wish I could take home. (Our check-out policy is that you can't.) One is a historical one about a little-known early surveyor who mapped out a lot of Canada. Another is a Kangiryuarmiutun-English dictionary. Inuit languages have such a fascinating linguistic structure. I should have taken linguistics courses. Anyway, while I see limitations to this particular language, it is very efficient within its scope. It is also beautiful.
I think that's all the books I'm reading. Tonight I will finish Psalms and so tomorrow night I will begin Proverbs.

Remember to visit the Quick Takes Queen.

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