WHACKADOODLE VIRUS

I have some solid armor on this computer. Not only the version of anti-virus that comes with Windows 10 (which I had been using for years before it became part of the system), but also Malwarebytes to pick up any slackers. Between the two, I haven’t gotten a virus in a long time.

Today, I popped over to YouTube and  voilà! One virus ahoy. “IF YOU TRY TO REMOVE THIS, YOUR HARD DRIVE WILL FA … ” except it never got through “fail” because it got whacked by both virus blockers in one heavy hit and down it went. Sadly, it left Chrome messy. Time to delete it. Chrome doesn’t deal well with being “a little bit broken,” so unless you are planning to deal with its “little bit of brokenness,” you have to take it down and then, put it back.

This isn’t a big deal — usually — because while it takes a few minutes, Google gets itself back in business fast. But, I had to dump not only Google, but all its “pieces.” I would have to depend on Google to restore itself. Once I was sure I’d gotten rid of the viral page, I deleted it the rest of Chrome. And all the little pieces of it, what they call “the backup” stuff. I took it all the way down and suddenly, there was a screen.


Why did you delete Chrome? — Me: Virus 

Do you want it back again? — Me: Yes, please.

Click here. — Me: I clicked there.


Thinking about two. Don't ask why. Just ... two.

Thinking about two. Don’t ask why. Just … two.

No problem if I had the slightest memory of the password I used. I wrote it down because who doesn’t write down their passwords? But I wrote it in my gmail account. Which was the thing I couldn’t get to because …

This is the moment when you usually threw your hands in the air and scream “I GIVE UP!”

No more. Now, before I had time to find a paper and pencil, the phone was ringing. And there I am, trying to wrench the top off my pen so I can write down the number. Phew. Got it!

I put in the numbers and in went Gmail and Google. After a while, as I passed some time checking the new settings (Google is always new), everything came back.  The whole kit and caboodle. Though I’m pretty sure I’ll have to replace every single password for all the sites I use, but it was time to dump them anyway. Remind me I said that.

There was a thing on TV. I think it was on the Sunday NBC shows about passwords and how no matter what the people in the biz say, passwords are personal and often, there’s a whole story in each password.

Is that true? Are all of our passwords in some way part of our personal story? I think my early versions of passwords were likely stories. But now? Time has required I include capitals and numbers and at least one expletive, so my passwords are memories of times from a long time ago — with expletives and numbers jammed impossibly between.

Sort of almost memories.

ALIENWARE 15 R3 — THE GOOD AND THE HUH?

I always have very mixed feelings when I realize I’m going to have to buy a new primary computer. I love technology and I love computers. I love gadgets and widgets and cameras and lenses and software. From the first day I put my fingers on a computer keyboard, I knew I’d found my place in the new order. Computers felt like “home” from the first day.

New computer

However, getting a new primary computer that will be your everything computer is a big deal.

I’m not talking about a tablet. Or a Kindle. Or an old computer you want to keep because it contains software you can’t buy anymore and which you like better than “new improved” versions.

No, in this case, I’m talking about the one item of equipment that you use all the time for years on end. It’s the constant use computer. The machine on which you blog. Take care of your daily business. Banking, shopping, email, photography. It’s where you process pictures. Where you have software and filters. It’s where you write. Design books. It is important.

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Getting a new computer up to speed, configured the way you want it has always been a process that takes anywhere from a few hours to several months of tweaking. In this case, it also involved getting used to a new operating system — Windows 10 Pro up from Windows 7 Pro.

PERFECTLY FROM THE DAY I TOOK IT OUT OF THE BOX

This computer worked absolutely perfectly from the day I got it. There was no start-up time, except the time it took me to figure out where the new stuff was on this computer that was somewhere else on my earlier computers. If I didn’t feel I need to know what’s going on inside, I need not have bothered to find out anything. I’m still finding out things, though more now than before since that BIOS download the other day, but that’s a different issue.

THINGS THEY COULD DO BETTER — AND PROBABLY WILL

The C-port “Thunderbolt” replacements for the USB drives are not very sturdy. They work, but they are fragile. I’m sure they will be improved with time, but as of today’s writing, they should have included more USB ports. I have added hubs, but the lack of a CD drive for a camera card is a real pain in my butt. They should put it back.

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It won’t help me much. However, for future computers … put the CD drive back. Add at least two or three more USB ports. There are a lot of items that only work properly in a USB port. Eventually, maybe everything will love these new ports, but they don’t love them today. My external hard drives and my DVD/CD drive won’t work in the C port … and of course, I also need something for the CD flash card too. In theory, you can use a hub, then put stuff them through the C port, but that’s really stupid. Too many hubs, too much stuff. I’m sure I am not the only one complaining about this.

A FEW QUESTIONS ANSWERED BEFORE YOU ASK THEM

Why did I stay with Windows rather than getting a Mac? Because I actually prefer Windows. It’s a structured, work-oriented system. Its design and the way I think work well together. I have owned Macs and used them, but in the end, I’m much more comfortable on Windows. I’m task oriented. The Mac with its “do your own thing” unstructured style doesn’t mesh well with my style. Of course, there’s also the software I own that runs on Windows, but won’t run on a Mac.

I am not a hardware kind of gal. You won’t find me rewiring anything or prying open the case to get at the innards. Software? No problem.

Hardware? Call the guy with the toolkit. The second-hand market it good for people who aren’t afraid of getting down and dirty with the guts of the hardware, but I’m not one of them … so new was the way to go for me. Windows PC. High end. New.

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My previous Alienware laptop was very satisfactory, but technology has been whipping along at light speed for the past few years. The computer was more than two operating systems behind. I was not interested in overlaying a new operating system on the old one. I tried that and failed. Badly. It was also getting difficult to run new software on the older system. It ran, but not run well. Frustrating and annoying, but the development world is not interested in my opinion.

OTHER QUESTIONS ANSWERED

Why Windows 10 Pro you ask? Over the decades, I’ve found the “professional” versions of Microsoft operating systems are more stable and much less buggy than the “home” version of the same OS.

Every version of Windows has essentially the same stuff in it, but the menus change. The most alarming difference for more was the complete removal of the “Restore” and “system configuration” menus which has been part of Windows since the beginning. The pieces are now parceled out to other menus (Systems and Task Manager).

HOW DOES IT DO?

It boots up in fewer than 10 seconds. I don’t know how many different windows I could open, but whatever it is, I haven’t found it yet.

THE GOOD AND THE WHAT-THE-HELL?

I would have gone all the way and said this is the best computer I’ve ever had. Basically, it still is, but that download the other day from Microsoft was evil. I’m still recovering from it. To be fair, things seem to be working more or less normally — again.

It’s a great computer.

The problem is, you never know what kind of rat poison you’re going to get in downloads from home base. Apple has done it, Windows has done it more. They really need to step back and ponder users and what we need.


THE PARTS AND PIECES:

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  • 16GB DDR4 at 2133MHz (2x8GB)
  • English Backlit Keyboard, powered by AlienFX
  • NVIDIA(R) GeForce(R) GTX 1060 with 6GB GDDR5
  • N1435 & N1535 Wireless Driver
  • 256GB PCIe SSD (Boot) + 1TB 7200RPM SATA 6Gb/s (Storage)
  • Windows 10 Pro (64bit) English
  • Killer 1435 802.11ac 2×2 WiFi and Bluetooth 4.1
  • Intel(R)Core(TM) i5-6300HQ (Quad-Core, 6MB Cache, up to 3.2GHz w/Turbo Boost, Base frequency 2.3GHz)
  • 15.6 inch FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS Anti-Glare 300-nits Display
  • Lithium Ion (68 Wh) Battery

IF YOU DO A LOT OF STUFF ON THE COMPUTER, A GOOD ONE IS WORTH THE MONEY

The computer I had before this one is now Garry’s computer. Aside from not handling newer applications well, it’s a fine computer and will last a very long time, especially with Garry using it. Even if it needs a hard drive or something else, it’s more than worth repairing. You can’t say that about a lot of the cheap, cheesy computers.

They are cheap, but they aren’t good. And they won’t stand up to repair.

RICH AND JUICY, YUM

Yesterday night,  I had no photographic software. But as I lay abed pondering the irrationality of life, technology, and all that … I realized I own Photoshop CS5. Not only do I own it, but without getting complicated, I really own it. Hugely. Maybe even bigly.

Bonnie, always number one

Bonnie, always number one

There wasn’t a whole lot of difference between PS5 and PS6. Nothing so big you’d simply need to own it. These days, I use more filters than the stuff in Photoshop. I use its straightener and change the size of things. I use the rotator and the basic size. I also use the text and sometimes, the various layers when I want to do something — different.

For most pictures, I use Photoshop so I can work with filters.

I’m also very fond of Bridge. It doesn’t get crazy dumping all 59,749 photographs into it. It just does it. I have them backed up. There are another 40,000 (give or take) that aren’t even on the drive because I thought probably, I could live without them.

Gibbs, my go-to subject

Gibbs, my go-to subject

The final issue, since yesterday’s blow out left me with nothing that will work in either of the C (Thunderbolt) ports, is whether the pictures would show up. They showed up. Ready to go, boss.

Considering the horror of yesterday, this was a simple, elegant sit down. Me, with my software gathered about me on the sofa. I made it happen. I did it.

DAILY PROMPT | JUICY AND RICH

ONE THING, ANOTHER THING, AND THEN … ONE MORE THING

Garry’s computer went down, but that was okay because he could use my other computer. The Kindle went down, but that turned out okay because Audible fixed it and then Amazon fixed it more. But when my computer went down this afternoon, that was NOT okay. Not even a little bit okay.

First, there was a download. Turned out to be a BIOS download, but they didn’t mention this little detail to me and in any case, it didn’t matter because it blew out all my recovery backups. I have my photographs on hard drives, but the rest of my world is online.

It blew out Photoshop — the one from 2008 which had been running fine, thank you.

computer gargoyle

It also blew out my sound, but after a bit of jiggling, I got that back. It blew out both of my C-port adaptors. They were cheap and I can cope with stuff that cost me ten bucks. Brand new. But when she told me the jpgs weren’t working and I had to call the company that owns my cameras, I got a little crazy. I was trying really, really hard to be normal, you know? I was trying to not breathe hard, not scream in panic or anything. I was doing okay, but that was it for me.

I said “It’s a FREAKING JPEG. It’s not a fancy schmantzy super special thing that comes with my fancy camera. It’s a JPEG. A lousy little JPEG.”

We eventually worked our way around to the point where she admitted there had been a lot of calls today, all pretty much like mine with people screaming “WHAT DID YOU DO TO MY COMPUTER?”

So — everything is working. Except I don’t have software. For pictures. I do, however, have Photoshop on Garry’s computer and the guy from the computer shop is fixing HIS computer. To be fair, Alien is pretty sure they can get me a version of Photoshop, too. It’ll just take a couple of days.

I’m just saying … it was one thing. Then, there was another thing. THEN, there was THIS thing. I’m totally freaking nuts. Except the computer is working … minus the lack of software. Maybe we’ll get that fixed too. Oy.

THE AGENTS IN THE DELL – A THURSDAY RANT

I wasn’t going to bother to write this because you’ve heard it before. And you’ll hear it again. The same old sad story. Dell makes some amazing computers — yet they have what must be the worst customer service on the planet. I do not see how it could be worse. It is so bad on so many different levels, it’s hard to know where to start. But then, I realized I might as well write it. Writing it could make me feel better. Eventually, I will also find it funny. I’m nearly ready to begin laughing. One more cuppa coffee and I’m there. Laughing.

This problem — not a huge problem, mind you — was whoever put my machine together forgot to install the Adobe software I bought with the computer. Or leave a link — or give me an unlock key to download it myself. Knowing Dell as I do, I considered just forgetting it. Let them keep the money and move on. But it’s $80. A bit too much to let slide.

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The thing about Dell Customer Disservice, other than its general suckiness, is that they never connect you to the right department. They repeatedly ask for the same information, but whoever you talk to next won’t have the information and you’ll have to provide it again. If you ask for the number to which they are supposedly transferring you because you fear they will disconnect you, you can be sure the phone number is either no longer in service, or is completely wrong. The ones they gave me were either: (1) disconnected, (2) A cruise scam organization (you know, free cruise if you give us all your personal information?), and (3) Direct-TV. What I wanted? Sales Support for Alienware.

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Any agent to whom you talk will never read what (if anything) a previous agent wrote — so you are always back on square one. No one ever calls you back or can provide you with a number to get you to the same person again.

They put you on hold and forget about you. Or disconnect you. They transform minor problems that could be dealt with by any normal company in a couple of minutes, into a week-long crises.

The first two agents I spoke to insisted I really had the software and was too inexperienced with computers to find it. Both agents went poking around INSIDE my computer (remotely). Each independently ascertained that the software isn’t there, nor is there any download link for me to acquire it. So, finally, after I got a bit strident about it, they connected me with a supervisor (this identical scenario played out twice). Both of whom informed me that they would not be able to deliver it. The first said it would be another five days. What? A download?

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I was in “patience is my middle name” mode, so I waited. Five days later with no further contact from Dell, I called again. The first agent told me I would have to wait ten days more and disconnected me. I hit redial. When finally I got an agent, I shouted: “I WANT MY MONEY BACK.” I felt I needed to get his attention before he disconnected me again.

The agent (aka idiot) explained he could escalate “my issue” and maybe (only maybe) I would get my money back. He would “send a request” up to whoever were slightly more in charge than he was, but he could not guarantee they would comply. Because, he said, I probably already have the software and simply can’t find it.

I started to say something, but choked on my own words. Several deep, cleansing breaths later, I pointed out Dell had failed to deliver something for which I had paid. They do not get to NOT give me the product OR return my money. That’s theft. But my idiot said those were the “rules” and I said “we have other rules in this country and I want to talk to a supervisor. NOW.” My idiot assured me a supervisor would say exactly the same idiotic thing. I said that, were this to prove true, then I would keep going up the ladder to the damned president of the company if I had to, so put the supervisor ON the phone NOW.” I think I may have been yelling by then.

Got the supervisor. After he too explained that the software was ON the machine and I explained he should read the notes on this case number (yes, I had a case number) and he would see that no, I don’t have it and no, I’m apparently not going to get it, and frankly, I’m sorry I ever ordered it, and now give me my money back before I call the Attorney General and report the company (I’m sure I wouldn’t be the first) for Felony Stupidity and Customer Malfeasance.

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Eventually he said he couldn’t give me the $82.95 Dell owed me, but would $100 be okay? I said yeah, fine. He was still talking when I hung up. I’d been on the phone for three hours and the dogs needed feeding, Garry wanted help unloading the groceries and my ear was getting sore.

Yesterday, I was issued a refund for $82.95. Can I sue for emotional distress?

I still don’t understand why there is any problem. It’s a download. I could download the software on the spot from Adobe. I’d only bought it from Dell because it was much cheaper.

This is supposed to be (wait for it, wait for it) PREMIUM CUSTOMER SERVICE. I hesitate to imagine the standard shit they are dishing out these days to regular, non-premium customers.

I buy Dell computers in spite of Dell. The computers are great, but oh-lord-give-me-strength to deal with their “customer disservice.” This morning, they sent me a “customer satisfaction” survey. I didn’t bother to fill it out.

HOW DO THEY DO IT SO FAST?

It’s configuration central here and has been for a couple of days, though I hope to actual finish today and be able to move on to those other things awaiting my attention. I can hear the little voices of my undone tasks yapping in my ear. It’s like the whine of mosquitoes. I slap at them, but they keep coming back.

It’s not only the computer that is sucking up my time. It’s this stupid, horrible election. So much of my attention has been taken away from the stuff I really should be doing, I’m not getting stuff done, not like I need to. I can’t WAIT for this election to be done and over. I want my brain back.

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Meanwhile, I got my computer. I actually got it a week ago and it was not supposed to show up until the second week in November. Maybe they ought to have waited and sent everything at the same time, but as it is, it didn’t come with the software I ordered — or the peripherals I need. I ordered the computer and software from Dell. Yes, I know. The worst customer service on the planet … but some of the best computers. It’s like having your sister marry a man you really loathe, but they are a package deal.

One of the big changes in this new generation of computers is they mostly don’t come with DVD reader/writers, so you need an external if you are going to install software from physical media. I ordered the external DVD player/writer from Amazon. It’s the same one Dell sells, but $25 less with free shipping and 2-day turnaround. Also picked up a nice zippy 1 TB external drive and a cool mouse that scrolls side-to-side as well as up-and-down. Amazing how prices have dropped on some of this stuff.

Yesterday, the peripherals arrived, so today, I hunkered down and decided to make this computer function.

I installed Photoshop and Bridge. I finished moving files from backup hard drives to the new computer (which has two hard drives, a 1 TB 7200 rpm mechanical drive, plus a 256 GB solid state drive. Everything defaults to the C: drive — which is the 256 GB SSD — so I had to do some configuring. Not going to let that huge, D: drive sit idly by. I put all the photographs and documents there — and the Adobe stuff. I’ll leave the SSD for booting and other applications. Like OpenOffice and Audible Manager.

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All things considered, this has gone well. Smoothly. Photoshop and Bridge installed without so much as a whimper of protest, as did all the Topaz and NIK filters. The DVD external worked fine. The back up drives passed the data to this computer without a problem as fast as their little virtual brains could do it.

Nonetheless, it took a long time and I’m not done yet.

It reminded me of watching (I think it was ) NCIS the other night. Some fiend was copying a gazillion terabytes of data to destroy American via the Internet. Not only was this evil genius able to hack the U.S. government’s most secret servers (which I don’t find hard to believe), but they could transfer this massive amount of data in a mere few minutes. Wow. That I can’t believe.

With my brand new 3.0 USB Western Digital external drive hooked up to my not-all-that slow older Alienware computer (it’s got a core Intel i7 board in it), I’ve been backing up the documents library. It contains 177 GB of data and about 55,000 files. The file count includes a lot of hidden, system files, illustrations inside books and so on. Many of them are tiny. Nonetheless, this transfer from a fast computer to the latest greatest external hard drive has already taken more than an hour and looks very likely to take one more.

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How do they do it so FAST on television? They can transfer the contents of an entire super computer to a flash drive in less than a minute. And where did they get that flash drive? None of mine work that well. I’ve never seen one even close to that large or fast … and NEVER an error message. Nary a glitch. Amazing!

I’m SO envious! While I’m envying fictional TV crime series technology, can I (please, pretty please) have that battery that will run my laptop for a week without having to plug it in? Meanwhile, I’m still waiting for the backup on the other computer to finish. Maybe tomorrow?

YOU’RE GONNA NEED A BIGGER BOAT

An argument is a modifier in computer language. Anyone who writes applications knows this, but most “civilians” don’t.

If you are a computer, you are always arguing. Computer language, unlike regular language, is remorseless. Unforgiving. You do it the right way or it won’t work. Or worse, it will work, but not the way you meant it to work. You misplace, or leave out a comma, or put a space between characters that should not have one … or put an underscore where there should be a hyphen — and who knows what calamitous results may follow?


0x00000116-blue-screenA blue screen error message that begins with STOP: 0x000000116 is due to video card or video driver related issues. 


For those of you familiar with Windows, you would in any case recognize this as a video card issue. Hardware or software. Usually, it’s a driver. Sometimes, it’s more than one thing crunching together. The problems began with installation of a new driver. My system said “No way!” and expressed itself by a black screen crash. I backed out of it and restored the system to before I installed the driver. Lo and behold, all was well. Or so I thought.

I waited until a newer driver was issued. NVIDIA issues new drivers so frequently you never have long to wait. All was well until Topaz sent a new version of its Texture filter. This blew up Photoshop. I backed out of the update, but simultaneously, NVIDIA sent a new version of “GEForce Experience.” An entirely new app.

When I tried to install it, it blew itself out of the system. In all my years of computering in the high-tech world, I’ve never seen that happen. It didn’t even leave a shortcut behind. Nothing. A hole in virtual reality. I could not restore it. For some reason, it would not restore from System Restore, or the external hard drive backup .


I do system backups to an external device. I’ve been doing some version of this for years, first on tape, then on CD or DVD, and now on external hard drives. Never, in all these years, have I ever been able to restore the system or an application using a backup. They don’t work. Never. It’s infuriating.

Thing is, I knew that this would likely be the case. Instead of counting on system backups, I back up data. If my system or a part of it blows, I know I’ll have to fix it some other way. Think about that. Just … ponder it. Save documents. Save pictures. Save music, books, and all that “stuff.” But the system? You’re going to need, as Quinn said in “Jaws,” a bigger boat.


Without that application, I couldn’t update the NVIDIA video card at all, so I went hunting and found a downloadable version on their website. I installed it and it also cleaned up the mess the previous download had caused. I then realized there was a new driver waiting, too. Oh joy. Just what I needed.

I created a restore point (just in case everything went south) and installed the new driver. It worked. But I was still getting way too many error messages involving the video card. Topaz wanted me to change my video settings, which I did. Dubiously, but I’m a good sport. It was working okay until this morning, it blue-screened me in the middle of answering a comment. Not exactly a major graphics project.

I rebooted. I set the graphics card back to its original factory default settings. This computer doesn’t want “better settings.”

My computer has too many arguments going on. I’m losing it because all I want to do is get on with stuff.

Herein lies the problem with running an older operating system on a computer with components that need frequent updating. The updates are not (really) designed for this operating system (FYI, Win7 Pro). My computer was a wee bit wonky a couple of weeks ago. It is a lot worse today.

I am losing all the arguments.

ARGUMENT | THE DAILY POST