I’ve blogged before about this well known phenomenon: if you’re even a bit computer savvy, your whole environmnent will come to you with any PC problem they have. So when I picked up my son this Friday, and his 20 year old sister opened the door with “Hey, maybe you can have a look at this!”, I feared the worse.
First, she opened her sister’s laptop, which showed nothing but a window called “Control Center” claiming the laptop was riddled with various, inviting to click the “Fix the problems” button, and then asking for money. I have to admit that I sighed at this moment.
“Do you know this application?” I asked, wanting her to think for herself, “and do you really think that your sister, a surfer of the click-yes-whenever-something-pops-up variety, installed a virus scanner? One you have to pay for?”
She didn’t understand. “What? Look, it says she has a virus!”
“I bet it does. You’re looking at it.”
She was completely baffled by this, and even refused to believe me. I tried to close the window, but a message popped up “This operation is not permitted. Please check your settings.” Clever. Ctrl+Alt+Delete still worked though, so I opened the Task Manager and killed it. I was left with a blank screen, because the bloody thing had stopped explorer.exe from running. No harm done, I started it manually, and things looked familiar again.
“Look!” she exclaimed triumphantly. “There’s an icon on the desktop!”
“My word. It must be legit then…it installed itself in Documents and Settings. That doesn’t look legit to me.”
I received another blank look. In the end, I googled the thing which proved that yes indeed, this was a virus/trojan/nasty beastie, and no, I wasn’t going to do anything about it. I couldn’t delete the dir it was running from and I stopped bothering after that. I know someone else provides her with laptops and tech support, and he had already been complaining about all the work he had because this laptop kept getting infected. My last (helpful) advice was to make her use linux.
“Okay!” she said cheerfully (wasn’t her laptop anyway), “but while you’re here…”
She opened her own laptop, and I think I groaned audibly at this moment. Moments later, she showed me a Microsoft Genuine Advantage warning pop-up.
“Ah. Is this version of XP legitimate?” I asked.
She looked non-plussed again. “I don’t think so…”
“In that case, that’s going to keep popping up, you poor victim of Software Counterfeiting,” I grinned.
“But it isn’t harmful?”
“It’s just annoying.”
“I can live with that.”
Problem solved! I made a move to grab my son and run out of there, but I was too late. My ex had a question about her PC too. Fortunately, this one was running Ubuntu.
“I don’t want my daughters using my PC anymore! How do I change the password?”
Well, that was quickly explained, and I just loved the fact that her Jaunty installation has been running like clockwork ever since I installed it ten months ago. She doesn’t need Windows, and so she’s safe from typical Windows trouble. And she doesn’t ask me anymore to fix her PC every two months.
Which I wouldn’t do anyway, but, you know. It’s the principle of the thing