Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Missing my Laptop

My laptop is gone. Again.

This is the third time it's been sent to the Geek Squad for the same problem. Third, not counting the time I took it there and they ordered me a new power cord, to see if that would fix it. This is the third at-least-two-week-long-period that it will be away.

It's been annoying since before Christmas, and getting worse each day. That's why I haven't been blogging as much.

The problem is the connection between the computer and the power cord, I guess. The power jack, I think the Geek Squad guy called it yesterday. So, sometimes when it's plugged in, it's charging normally. Other times, it's not. When you've got the power cord plugged in and it doesn't work right, it keeps thinking it's connected, then it thinks it's not connected, then it thinks it is, back and forth and back and forth. When it thinks it's connected, the screen is brighter. Then it thinks it's not connected and the screen gets a big dimmer. This connecting/not connecting process must take up a good bit of memory because the computer won't do much else while it's "blinking" as I've come to call it.

So you must unplug it and work frantically till the battery dies. Then you plug it in and prop it in some position that causes it to charge (if you're lucky enough to find such a position). Lately the only such position is the spot between my son's bed and the wall. So we put it there to charge, then use it till the battery dies. Or we use another computer. Trouble is, the laptop is everyone's first choice of computers.

I have to confess something. If they all were in working order, we'd have more computers than people in this house. Four people, six computers. Two of them currently don't work at all. One of those is out being fixed by the high school tech class of a friend of ours. No telling when it will be back -- when you get your computer fixed by someone for free, you can't nag them about when it will be back. Or they may not be able to fix it at all. Another is an old IBM ThinkPad that I need to tinker with. I tried to install Linux on it and got it all messed up.

Then there are the two old Dells, one of which I'm typing on now. They used to belong to the company my husband's brother works for, and we got them when they were throwing them out. They are old and don't have much memory to run most of the current stuff, but I can get Opera to work and older versions of the Microsoft Office suite of products, as long as I don't keep too many apps open at once.

Then there's my husband's computer (see the previous post about the Malware). He got it for his business and no one's allowed to use it, though I do occasionally. I hate it, though, it has Vista on it. I hate Vista.

So the laptop is the best and it will be missed. Though I was almost hoping they'd say they couldn't fix it and give us a new one. That's what happened to our last one. Service contracts at Best Buy for computers are a good deal, I definitely recommend getting one.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Beware Malware!

I was up till 2 a.m. last night fixing a major malware problem on my husband's computer.

It started while I was out last night. I got home and he wanted help fixing this error message that kept coming up telling him he had a virus or something. Clicking on the message made Internet Explorer go to a couple of different websites, one for something called Antivirus Golden and the other for something called Malware Burn. By the time I'd gotten home, he'd installed at least one of these pernicious beasts, had a toolbar in Internet Explorer he couldn't get rid of, and couldn't do much before another warning message would come up telling him he still had a problem.

I had not heard of any of these miasmatic monsters, but after a few minutes of research, I could tell we didn't want them. It took me three tries running Spybot Search and Destroy (plus 2 reboots) to scan and get rid of all instances of this virulent varmint. It had altered the registry and also, apparently, opened the door to all it foul friends, including something called Zlob. I was afraid, after reading some of the web pages I'd found, that I'd have to actually edit the registry to get rid of it, but Spybot did it. What a great piece of Software!

So what's the lesson here? Don't always believe your computer when it tells you it has a problem and then give you the website of a product you've never heard of as a solution. My husband actually got mad at me when he saw I was uninstalling the new "spyware remover" he'd downloaded. But it was definitely part of the problem, if not the cause of it all.

How come I wasn't fooled, when my husband fell for the trap? Well, first of all, I've always just naturally had good instincts when it comes to computer matters. Second, I googled the name of each of the products. When most of the results came back as websites telling you how to remove these adverse applications from your computer, you'll know you don't want to install it.

My final piece of advice to my husband was to start using Firefox.

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything

We went to see the Veggie Tales movie on Sunday. If you aren't familiar with them, Veggie Tales started out as a series of video tapes (remember those? VHS format) with a Christian theme. Computer animated, funny, off-beat, even musical. Half-hour episodes re-telling Bible stories in a humorous way using animated vegetables as characters.

So, here comes a full-length Veggie Tales movie (there are also Saturday morning cartoons now). Featuring characters from one of the Silly Songs with Larry ("the part of the show when Larry comes out and sings a Silly Song") about the Pirates who don't do anything (they just stay at home and lay around, and if you ask them to do anything, they'll just tell you, "We don't do anything.") I told you if was off-beat.

So this was their story. They are characters at a dinner theater, and they get fired. Still dressed in their pirate costumes, they get sucked back in time to save a princess and her brother who've been kidnapped by real pirates. There was music and humor and vegetables doing amazing things, all without arms.

Only one thing was missing: the Bible story. Too bad they had to sell out to the big money film company to be able to get their film published.