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What is with these ancient machines?

A Spam Story

by Ray V. Hays

Truthfully, I don't mind computer problems that much. For me, it's truly not a huge issue. They just don't happen that often. I consider myself blessed that I have a computer that behaves so well. I know of many others who would swear that they owned the computer formerly known as Prince, err, Satan...

However, when a problem does arise on my computer, I'm often hard-pressed to track it down. If there's one thing I've learned over the years of computer usage, though, it's that Murphy has a sick sense of humor.

I'm sure you've all had something like this happen to you at one point or another. You'll have some random problem pop up on your computer, you'll find it and squash it like the little "bug" it is. You'll sit back and relax, believing the problem solved, all that's left is cleanup, right? Hope ya remembered to clean out all the little bug's "guts" from all the hard to reach places. No? If not, you just learned how much life bytes.

Me? My problem started when I was cleaning out my email, and I got an (*shocked gasp*) unsolicitied email advertisement. Otherwise known as the dreaded SPAM. So what did I do? I trashed the sucker. And the next, and the next and the next. For three months, I kept getting the same damned SPAM. So I finally broke and opened the stupid thing and looked for the unsubscribe link.

When I finally got to the page with the unsubscribe button, I'd already had to "X" out of close to a dozen different porn site pop-ups. "Boy howdy," I thought to myself, "Did she have a beard in that one?" So, after I managed to chase the unwanted pornography off of my desktop, I input my email, hit submit, and nothing happened. I did it again. Nothing happened, again. So I right-clicked on the little "submit" button. Turns out, there _was_ no link to that button. Frustrated, I closed Internet Explorer, got offline, and hit the sack (I do most of my emailing and such later at night, before I go to sleep). The next night, I access the internet, as usual, and I start hitting my email accounts, and I open up one of my favorite web comic sites, and... I get disconnected five minutes into my nightly routine. I'm not terribly concerned, I mean, this happens, right? So I get back online. Two minutes, fifty seconds, disconnected. Seven times I'm disconnected that night, and in between those seven times, I managed to get my email checked.

I go through the most plausible reasons for my internet deciding to go all wonky on me. My thoughts lead me to the most hopeful answer, which I cling to since I'm being optimistic. I figure, "Maybe the server is just being incredibly stupid. Yeah, yeah, that's it." So, I let it go for that night. And the next night. And the next. And that week.

By the start of the new week, I was more than convinced that it _wasn't_ the servers being stupid. So, I start looking for the problem on my end. I check all the physical connections, and they all seem to check out just fine. Then I check out my computer and the files it has. I start with my Start-Up programs, and loe and behold, I find a program I'm unfamiliar with, by the name of "Rapid Blaster". I locate where it is on my hard-drive, and I eradicate the little puss bucket. In the process, I find out that it's linked to that self-same dead-end unsubscribe link. How? Because I locate the exact Cookie File that the thing piggy-backed in on.

Believe you me, I was none too happy. Fuming, I managed to eradicate what I thought was the last traces of the thing from my hard-drive. I start my computer up, and I access the internet, and I start surfing and....? I actually stayed on for a total of twenty minutes. I got my email stuff done, and I was feeling pretty good about myself, since with Rapid Blaster on my computer, my online stints were never longer than ten minutes. And that was if you held your breath, sat on one buttock, and twisted your left nipple. No, I don't suggest you try, it starts doing things to your head.

The next night, when I got back online, I wasn't even thinking about Rapid Blaster, since I'd already defeated it, right? Wrong. Five minutes twenty seconds. Disconnected. Eight more times that night, at intervals of between two and seven minutes.

I honestly didn't think I knew such colorful language. Really.

After I got done, err, spewing, I gave up, and I looked for any and every remnant of Rapid Blaster I could find. I didn't. So, tired, I went to sleep, and I figured I'd try for it in the morning when I was a little more clear-headed. I did, and I ended up finding what I'd been looking for. Though, it wasn't in the place, or name, I'd have thought of the prior night. It was under a clever alias, disquised, though thinly, as "rb32". It was still Rapid Blaster, but it was masquerading in my system as a different program. I'd missed it earlier because I had a few other legitimate programs (at least, programs that I knew of) with the suffix "32".

I killed this one, and I restarted the computer. Before I could test out my theory, though, I had to shut down, and pack up my PC. At this time, I was moving to my current "Palacial Digs" (read: hoopty), and it was time to move my one most prized possession... Okay, maybe not that prized, but still well loved. So, we moved it, and it got reassembled, and I accessed the internet when we got phone access, and........ One hour, thirty five minutes, two seconds. Self-disconnect. I've been disconnect free for nearly three weeks (as of typing this up), and I couldn't be more relieved.

Remember what I said about Murphy having a sick sense of humor? Yeah. Well, you know that one about how just when you thought you fixed something it gets worse? Remember that one the next time you fix your computer. 8^J