James Skinner has a problem
Ive got these icons jumping about and some bastard in the Middle
East is probably buying guns with my credit cards.
I had a choice of various subjects to write about for this months
edition of Hacks ranging from Islamic fundamentalism creeping into the
south of Spain to my old grandfathers clock when I was suddenly
stricken for the first time in my life. This diabolical last-quarter-of-the-XX-century
invention known as the PC that I own in laptop form suddenly caught the
'flu. I was hit by a virus! It took me a while to discover it as I have
as much knowledge about these machines as flying a kite to the moon. Many
of you out there may be super experts but some of us downtrodden oldies
still panic when we receive instructions like System error number
23GTR44 which translates into: Your elbow hit the tab key
and your unfinished message is in the bin, stupid! When I finally
discovered it, the events that took place were right out of a scene from
The Out of Towners.
To start with, I was trying to click on the top icons of a Word
page when they suddenly started jumping about. Sound familiar? Well it
so happened that I had just returned a week ago from a medical check-up,
a real one, and my quack during the goodbye, come back in a years
time chit chat told me that he had been having trouble with his
laptop. You guessed! The icons on his machine had also been doing the
same thing. This was not all. I opened Outlook Express to check my mail.
I had two messages. The first was a Postmail and the second from a friend
in Milton Keynes who simply said: What the hell are you talking
about! I looked at it as well as the undelivered one and promptly
dropped my coffee mug. I had a bug. The creepy crawly had got into my
files and randomly picked out some paragraphs from several folders and
started sending them around the world. I shut the bastard down, let the
coffee spill onto the floor, and after pouring myself a scotch went out
onto the balcony of my flat to sulk. Now what?
Suddenly it hit me. Some of the information I had (yes I know! I shouldnt
keep this on the hardisk) stored were bank and credit card details. Christ!
My Visa and MasterCard numbers are all over the world! I called the emergency
phone number and was given first class customer service. No problem,
sir. Theyll be cancelled right away. Your balance has not been changed.
Have a nice day!
I now have no cards until the postman arrives later on in the week. I
then called a Spanish friend who knows something about computers. Typical
answer from the inhabitants of this part of Europe. No problem,
he tells me. Pop down to your newspaper vendor and look for a computer
magazine that offers virus cleaners as CD freebees. Load it
into your PC and follow the instructions. Thatll do. I did
just that and I guess you know the rest. These offers are for downloading
from the Internet before you have a problem. Or at least thats
Sod it! I trotted off to the nearest computer shop, which by the way,
is not easy to find in my hometown of Vigo and asked the salesman for
something to help me cure my laptop. I got the usual sales
pitch of gobbledegook. Look, Ive got these icons jumping about
and some bastard in the Middle East is probably buying guns with my credit
cards. I havent a clue what the disease is called. Help me!
Without giving away copyright information, I paid 60.04 Euros and trotted
back home, pleased as Punch with my digital antibiotic kit.
After reading all the bits and pieces of literature that came with the
CD I had a go at loading it up. No such look. The bug was too clever.
My laptop kept freezing up. I called my friend again.
This time the answer was quite different. A sombre computer expert for
years he simply advised me to revert back to my backup CD
and reload all the operational software. I know, I know! I lost all my
files and other programs but such is life. I cried again; after another
scotch of course! End of story? No way! Curtain opens on scene II. Where
is the bloody CD?
I looked everywhere. I have had over a dozen PCs (I know, I should
by now know more about them) and umpteen number of brochures, handbooks,
cassettes and all the other paraphernalia that is hidden inside the boxes
when you first purchase one of these beasts. Spread out in several closets,
I started my panic search for the hidden CD that would save my life. I
remembered that my friend had also told me that the virus would probably
be eating its way to the chore of the hard disk and end up by destroying
the whole damn thing. I couldnt find it anywhere. I found everything,
repeat everything else but not the retched backup CD. By now, Johnny Walkers
Red Label was turning pink. Think you jerk, think!
My small suitcase, thats it! Of course. When I had returned to Spain
from Falmouth some six months ago, I had put my laptop in an old small
suitcase to travel back across the Bay of Biscay on the P&O ferry,
Pride of Bilbao. I had placed the CD in a side pocket and
stored the case back in the attic of the building. God, I hope my wife
hasnt cleaned out the place and thrown the damn thing away! I rushed
upstairs, found the case and low and behold there it was. Saved at last,
or at least that is what I thought.
Scene III. I start the PC. Let it warm up. It takes its time. Presto.
Houston, I have contact! I press the open button
on the CD tray, I hear clicking sounds and nothing happens! It wont
open. I promise I am telling the truth, the absolute truth and nothing
but the truth. The tray just wouldnt open! I call my friend again.
By this time Im sure hes about to come over from his office
and beat my brains out but he patiently listens and the gives me the one-two.
Turn the machine off. Then take a small pin and insert it in a tiny
hole next to the button of the CD tray and push. It will click open.
He then hung up.
It worked. I now have a rejuvenated PC, loaded up with my old programs
as well as my Internet access capabilities. Im a born again computer
Christian and ready to go. By the way, Ive enrolled in the town
councils free computer course for Senior citizens.
© James Skinner. April 2002.
at sea - the CD isn't out there pal.
(Now if you'd just come over and fix our printer Jim - Ed)
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