Give me strength! As you will recall if you've been following my recent blogs and newsletter, I've been having mega computer woes over the last week or so. In addition to someone sending out junk emails using my email as a return address (resulting in my receiving over 4,000 emails a day for the last few days), I also picked up some sort of virus which left my dual-core processor thrashing 100% all of the time doing I-know-not-what.
Actually, I recently heard about a scam whereby someone (a) selects a common search term, (b) creates a related web page, (c) points other pages at this page to improve its rankings on Google, and (d) uses this page to deploy a virus or worm. As fate would have it, I recall something weird happening about two weeks ago when I clicked on a link in Google following a search for some term I was researching for a paper, so maybe that's when my computer caught its "cold".
I spent several hours yesterday morning rooting around monitoring processes trying to determine what was consuming all of my CPU cycles, but eventually I gave up and decided to rebuild my system from the ground up. So I backed all of my data to an external drive, re-installed the OS, and have just spent the entire morning re-loading applications, restoring my email accounts, and generally having not much fun at all.
As soon as I finish this blog, the guy who handles our IT is going to take an "image" of my machine and place this on my external drive. This image will contain the OS and all of my applications ready to rock-and-roll (of course I'll lose any data files, but I already back these up every few days, so I'll be able to restore those if necessary without too much fuss). The idea is that if anything messes up again in the future, I can quickly restore the image and be up-and-running before you know it.
So, why didn't we do this before? Well, this is a little embarrassing really. When I first got the machine I'm currently using, after I'd loaded all of my applications, I remember asking the IT guy to create an image and I also remember him doing so. Now, I thought that he'd saved this image on his own external drive, so around yesterday lunchtime when all else had failed I asked him to restore it.
You can imagine my shock and horror when he informed me that he didn't have my image – he assured me that he'd left it on my external drive, but when we looked it wasn't there, so we had to do things the hard way. I was pretty miffed, let me tell you (there may even have been some gnashing of teeth and rending of garb). But then, while driving home yesterday evening, a vague memory drifted across my mind ... I sort of remember several months ago noticing a great big hairy file at the top level on my external drive. It was huge and had some weird sort of system-generated name that made no sense to me at the time ... so I deleted it.
Arrrgggh. I feel like an old fool ("But where are we going to find one at this time of the day?" as the old joke goes).
On the bright side, my computer is now racing along. In fact, it's now so fast that it's starting to scare me. But you had better believe that I'm going to be uber-careful in the future. For example, as soon as I finish this blog I'm going to install a bidirectional software firewall that will stop anything on my computer from communication with the outside world without first requesting my permission. And I'm also open to any other suggestions you may have...
Questions? Comments? Feel free to email me – Clive "Max" Maxfield – at firstname.lastname@example.org). And, of course, if you haven't already done so, don't forget to Sign Up for our weekly Programmable Logic DesignLine Newsletter.