August 16 , 2009
A Not-So-Funny Thing Happened to Me
A not-so-funny thing happened to me on my way to creating this journal. About one week ago, my anti-adware software (Spybot) reported that a trojan virus had infected my PC.
The first curious piece to this puzzle was why Spybot reported this virus and my AVG software (which was up to date) did not. I have been using AVG's virus protection software for well over a year now and never had an infection. Why did AVG fail to find the bug???
The second piece to the puzzle was to find that Microsoft's firewall had been turned off and Microsoft did not warn me of this security risk. You would think that when my PC would first boot that there would be some kind of a warning about this, but evidently that wasn't the case.
Once I realized that it was off, I immediately turned it on, but by now I was in deep doo-doo. I ran various scans using AVG, Spybot's Search and Destroy and Malwarebyte's Anti-Malware. It seemed every time I inoculated my PC, some new adware/virus would rear its ugly head.
Things got worse. I found that when I would do a Google search, Google would list results as normal, but when I clicked on the links, I was being redirected to unrelated random web sites.
After reading about various steps to try to clean one's system of a virus, an article mentioned that I should boot the computer in Windows Safe Mode. I have used Safe Mode in the past to help diagnose computer problems, so it seemed the right thing to do.
Things went from bad to ugly. Upon booting in Window's Safe Mode, I got the Windows blue screen of death:
STOP: 0x0000007B (0xF78A6524, 0xC0000034, 0x00000000, 0x00000000)
Looking up this error on Microsoft's web site, this was not good. It meant that I either had a bad hard drive and/or corrupt boot sector and/or a virus. Duh.
I was able to run Dell's diagnostics (BIOS) and everything seemed to check out okay hardware-wise. I then attempted to reboot in Windows Normal Mode and got the same blue screen of death.
My heart sank. Now I couldn't even boot the PC to try to rescue my email files or anything else important. (Luckily most of my important stuff such as my photography is backed up in duplicate or triplicate.)
The next step after receiving the blue screen of death is usually to reinstall Windows to the hard drive without erasing programs and data. It simply overlays the operating system and leaves everything else in tact.
Unfortunately, my disks that contain Microsoft's setup software were in Minnesota while I was in Illinois. Desperate to try something, I looked on the Internet (on a different working computer) for other options. Someone on a forum suggested booting a bad PC with a version of Linux that can be made to boot from a CD ROM drive. The operating system is called Knoppix.
So...I burned a boot CD with Knoppix and low and behold I was able to boot up in Knoppix and view my hard drive. After taking a crash course in the Linux DOS command set, I was able to copy my pertinent files to another hard drive and at least now I had recovered the important stuff off of my hard drive.
The following day I returned to Minnesota and Dell was nice enough to ship me an extra copy of my driver and Windows CDs. Just as I pulled up to the gate, FedEx was there to greet me—Thank you Dell!
I then reinstalled Windows XP leaving my data and programs intact. I then ran more scans while not attached to the Internet. Although the scans were coming back mostly clean, every once and a while a particular package would find traces of adware.
I was getting to the point in which I wondered if I could ever trust the system again. I then tried to bring up Photoshop to do some work and Photoshop suddenly disappeared off my screen. That is when I said enough is enough!
I reformatted the hard drive and spent the next two days reinstalling Windows and all of my software. I really hated to do it, but it was the only answer.
Losing faith in AVG, I swallowed my pride and went back to Norton's utilities. I had used Norton year's ago, but I did not like how Norton slowed down the performance of my PC, plus I felt their software was overpriced.
Considering the hell I went through over the course of four days, the cost of Norton's 360 (2009 version) is a small price to pay.
One week after the debacle, my PC is running like it was brand new but I continue to scan my hard drive for adware and viruses...so far, so good. I am using Norton's 360, Spybot's Search and Destroy and Malwarebyte's Anti-Malware. Norton's 360 (2009 version) is excellent. It runs much faster without taxing the hardware.
I do not ever want to go through this again and if I do, this PC bigot may switch to Apple. Of course, if everyone else does the same, more viruses will be written for Apple's operating system and I'll be back in the same boat.
Maybe the solution is to just go Amish.
Now that I'm functional again, here is a video showing the completed sink countertop and the form for making concrete countertop back-splashes:
Depending upon line speed, it may take a few moments for the video to load. Pressing the pause button (after pressing play) will give the video a chance to load before being played in its entirety.