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Serviceman's Log

Items Covered This Month

  • Serviceman's computer
  • Panasonic TX-68PS12A (MX-10A chassis)
  • Sony KV-HX32M31/Wega AX-1
  • Sony KV-KF34M31 (BG-3 chassis)
  • I have been messing about with computers for more years than I care to admit. It has been a love-hate relationship and I am here to tell you experience has not improved my Knowledge Base. It has taken away a large chunk of my life and I have now reached the stage of GIGR and EMGO – ie, Garbage In, Garbage Retained and Even More Garbage Out!

    Click for larger image

    One thing I have learned is that if your computer works well, don’t mess with it. I need something that works reliably even if it is getting on a bit and until recently, my little hp Pavilion zt3010ap notebook has just chugged along, doing good things at work. It has XP Pro SP2 and the usual anti-virus and anti-spyware programs but because it had been running so well for so long, I got complacent and didn’t keep these up-to-date.

    I must also confess that I hadn’t been keeping the operating system up to date by installing the latest security fixes. And that’s not a good idea, as the following story illustrates.

    Basically, everything was OK until recently when I decided to update some applications and download a few other small programs I needed. It was during these downloads that I first noticed things going wrong. Strange messages were popping up and at least half the icons on the desktop disappeared.

    And then the gremlins really did surface. Suddenly, up popped a message from "System Defender" (a trojan look-alike of Microsoft’s Window Defender) to the effect that my computer was in danger from a malicious software attack and that I should immediately download another program to fix this.

    While I was contemplating what I should do about this, another web page automatically opened and the machine started downloading the program. I tried to stop it by closing the web page but as fast as I did this, it would open others. In fact, it was somewhat like watching the skeleton soldiers out of the old film "Hercules".

    Eventually, I managed to switch everything off but I felt as though I had just hit an iceberg and my ship was capsizing. Frankly, I didn’t quite know what to do. Several technical friends told me that the best course of action would be to fdisk and reformat the hard drive, then reinstall the operating system but that was advice I found easy to ignore. They really don’t appreciate how much stuff I have on this computer.

    I mean, I really do have some serious stuff on it, all vitally important, and I wasn’t about to throw the baby out with the bathwater. After all, it took me years to get into this mess and I was going to fight this menace come what may.

    When I had a quiet moment, I switched it on again and began to notice a number of things I had overlooked before. First, the firewall wasn’t on (or had been turned off), my antivirus definitions were out of date and I was being shut out of the update site, Automatic Updates was switched off and the Taskmanager was not working. Worse still, I could not switch them back on manually.

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