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Malik (7/6/10)

Three day weekends are meant to be good things. They lose their appeal when you spend one day at work in the middle. The become pure hell when you deal with the biggest jackasses of the geek world.

I got hit, once again, with computer crap. I wish it was something fun and simple, but it ended up being a root-kit attack. In the end, I removed the damned thing. My PC had an epic fight, and with each battle, the war continued. The enemy was entrenched deeply in the core of my PC's land. As soon as the enemy was kicked back, another round of infiltrators emerged. It all started with a simple looking attack on the search engine front (basically a variant of the Google Redirect Virus). However, it was soon learned that this was just one of the battlefronts of a root-kit attack from hell.

After a war that was waged for three days (my entire three day weekend...), the PC emerged victorious. However, like with all great war epics, the hero was mortally wounded. He did live, but he'd never be the same again. Instead of trying to let him survive, I performed the mercy kill option. In other words, I bought a new HDD (I love how cheap 1+ TB HDDs are running), Windows 7 (I had XP, but it was running on the old side and Vista is too much of a joke to use any of my three copies), a new network card (another possible casualty in the war), and started the agonizing process of starting a new PC build.

After spending most of yesterday re-installing every damned thing I could, I think I'm now safe and secure. I have Windows 7, Office, FrontPage (a necessity for my web site duties), Cute FTP (another necessity), and some fun bonus stuff like Guitar Pro 6, Dragon Age Origins, and the Humble Indy Bundle.

One moral of this story is that Windows 7 is not that bad. So far, I can even say I like it. Well, I like it more than Vista. It doesn't have some of the logical menus and such from XP, but it is a pretty secure and unobtrusive OS for Microsoft standards.

The other moral is that hacker types are bitches. Sadly, most of the people who make these damned viruses, malware, and root-kits think they are being "teh 1337-zor" with their "mad skilz". The truth is, this type of programming is just sad. It's not good programming, and it doesn't accomplish much. Quite frankly, the majority of prime targets are corporations...the same type who has an IT department that will just nuke a PC and build it again before paying for a fake virus protection service or whatever else. As for the ideal idiot targets (the average PC user)'s a freaking recession and these people just cannot, on average, afford to do anything more than just nuke everything. There is no winner, and just a variety of losers (those who lose their data, and those who are just losing any sense of self respect by continuing this type of crap).

I'm mentally exhausted from this all, but I'm hoping to find the will to do some Rock Band today. It's been several months since I last played, but with 12 Credence Clearwater Revival songs coming, it's hard to stay away any longer.


Malik (7/7/10)

Let's continue my computer trouble rant, shall we? I don't want to have anything to get upset about with my PC. I thought I was done with the troubles. I killed my TDL3 root-kit issue with a new HDD, a fresh install of Windows 7, and a lot of downloading of software and updates with a dose of installation from CDs and DVDs. It was done, or at least as close to done as I needed to feel that things were right with the world again.

I did have one small issue, but I pretty much pushed it out of mind for now. If you don't enter an activation key on a piece of Microsoft software, then you get 30 days to put it in before the all mighty masters at Microsoft exact retribution. Well, during my Windows 7 install, I had an error with my activation key. Since I wasn't online yet, I ignored it and figured it would be solved when I got online in the future.

I had an error again when I was online. By this time, I had installed Windows 7, all the updated drivers I needed, Avast antivirus, uTorrent, Guitar Pro 6 (that's a slow and agonizing download), EA Downloader to get Dragon Age Origins, FrontPage, Office 2003, a ton of Windows and Office updates, and...well, the list can continue for a long time, since it took a long time to do. I even had my software all configured to make me feel comfortable. I was set. So, I put in my activation key and was told my key was for an upgrade and not a full install.

In the past, Windows upgrade disks would allow you to install from a fresh HDD and then prove your ownership of a previous version through inserting the install disk of the older Windows. Instead, Windows 7 doesn't allow this. You have to be upgrading from an installed version of Windows. The worst part of this is that there is no mention of this change in any of the Microsoft supplied documentation. Also, pretty bad is the fact that a fresh install of Windows is almost always a more streamlined OS than a version that has been upgraded. It also doesn't help that you can install the "upgrade" version from a clean and fresh HDD. Why is this allowed if it cannot last more than 30 days (the time needed to enter an activation key)?

Ok...I lied. The WORST part is that this meant I had to nuke my install of Windows 7. Then I had to install Vista (I lost my XP activation PC stuff is a mess right now after all of this chaos). Then, after one of the longest damned Microsoft installs I've ever seen (7 is faster than Vista), I had Vista. I then put in my Windows 7 Upgrade disk and was set...or was I? Nope. I needed SP1 for Vista to "upgrade". After a long download, I had SP1 fired up...and then I had an even longer install for SP1 than for Vista.

A good four hours after I started this hell, I had SP1 installed. In the meantime, I did a few installations of other software while waiting for the SP1 package to download. If I had to upgrade, I'd at least get a head start on rebuilding my software. Well, I then started the Windows 7 upgrade, and after about two hours, I noticed it crashed. It seems that when it reach the step to transfer settings over from Vista, it hit a snag. I restarted the PC, only to have Windows 7 uninstall and I was back to Vista. So, I then started again with the upgrade and selected a "Custom Installation", as opposed to the "Upgrade Installation".

What's the difference, you ask? I didn't know, but "Custom" remove Vista from the PC. I was getting a clean fresh Windows 7 installation...the same process I performed the previous day. Only this time I got Windows 7 activated. So, I had to waste at least four hours installing Vista (with SP1) before I could do a fresh install of Windows 7 that removed all traces of Vista? What the f#@$, Microsoft!?

I then wasted another few hours installing all of my software and updates again. Luckily, I was smart enough to use my large new HDD to save the installation files. However, finding license keys for my older digitally obtained software was nothing short of a pain in the ass. I had previously done so the day before for my first Windows 7 install, and then during my "I think Vista settings will be transferred" Vista install. All of this time waste because Microsoft changed how upgrade disks work without any notice. I might have seen this stuff on some rather unhappy message boards online, and they are out there, but I had no reason to look at such boards. I trusted Microsoft to let me know of this type of change. A change from a standard they set back in the Windows 98 days (if not earlier). Microsoft, I want my time back. I also want my time back proactively for when I'll have to make a fresh install of Windows 7 in the future...because no OS installation is ever "one and done".

I mean there are many ways Microsoft could have informed the public. The simple way would to be something on the first damned page of the instruction guide (no longer a manual, since it's about 20 pages long and full of visual crap instead of real information). That would be simple. Even a sticker on the "Upgrade" version boxes. Of course, knowing Microsoft's current PR push, I imagine their ideal solution would be a TV commercial.

<Start scene with "normal" looking guy doing something pointless...maybe waiting in a doctor's office...that seems pointless enough>

"I was sitting on the crapper taking a deuce, when it came to me..."

<Show cut scene of "good looking" actor taking a shit>

"...I wish Windows was harder to install, when it crashes again and I have to make a fresh install..."

<Back to "normal" looking actor>

"...and Microsoft must have listened. They made it where you can do a fresh install of Windows 7 from an upgrade, but only if I waste time installing Vista or XP first! Plus, they even let me install the first Service Pack before the upgrade would work. Before I was like 'click, click'..."

<Actor waves arms like he's a victim of a botched lobotomy>

"...and now I'm like 'wait, wait'! I feel like a mighty god of time waste. It was so cool that I called my proctologist!"

<Bored/annoyed sounding voice off screen: "Yes, he did call me...">

"He was excited too! I'm a PC, and Windows 7 was my mistake!"

<End, we're going to have to hire security for these actors...someone who doesn't have a fun time installing Windows 7 from an Upgrade on a clean HDD is going to get violent towards them>

I was actually feeling pretty happy with Windows 7. It was my first ever easy Microsoft OS installation since the days of DOS. It was like Microsoft was actually doing what their ads claimed; they were listening. Now, all I can say is what I kept yelling at my PC last night; F$#@ you Microsoft! F#@$ you and that shit you love to pull! all seriousness, Microsoft has all rights to do this, since it is another form of stopping piracy.  However, no warning just seems like they really took the lazy wait out.  It also feels like punishment to a large number of semi-advanced users to punish a smaller number of pirates.


Malik (7/9/10)

I think I'll lose it soon if I cannot just have some good old geek fun. Yeah, I did play the CCR pack the other night while waiting for a horrible second install of Windows 7. However, that's the limit of my fun.

I'll leave out the completely geek-free stuff (like the hell one faces when refinancing any debt, and that the Washington State DOT amazes me with how they can procrastinate in simple matters to a level that amazes myself...and I consider myself a master of procrastination), and stick with the geek stuff.

On that note, I now can add Apple to my shit list. I had to reinstall iTunes, since I had to reinstall Windows. In the process, I re-downloaded my few iTune purchases (one Less Than Jake four song mini-album and a Patton Oswalt CD) following the Apple FAQ. I mean I never had a total system failure before, so I never knew how to re-obtain a purchase from iTunes. I followed the instructions. This was a couple days ago.

Fast forward to today, and I get a receipt in my inbox from iTunes for my "recent purchases". Knowing I have not bought anything from iTunes since...I don't even know how many years ago, I was a bit confused to see the receipt. Even more confused to see it was for what I already bought. Most confused to find it was a receipt for today, despite re-downloading the files two or three days ago.

Yes, it's a minor inconvenience, but when you've spent the nicest week of the summer (so far, for Seattle) stuck with tedious bullshit, a small thing can easily be the "straw that broke the camel's back". Even more, when you've wasted $220 on PC stuff to fix a problem due to some wanna-be uber hacker (the damned little bitch who made the TDL3 variant that killed my PC), you can't afford to lose about $15 to Apple...even for the few weeks it will take to get this shit sorted out. So, with Apple doing this, with how Apple has acted lately with iPhone 4 stuff (including the Gizmodo deal), and with Steve Jobs' comments towards Flash, I think I'm done with Apple. I'm not tossing my iPod or iTunes (since it's needed for my iPod), but I can definitely say I will not throw money to iTunes or anything else Apple until they show they are worthy of any damned respect.

So, with Apple trying to double bill me (and no way to stop the charges prior to them hitting my bank account) and Microsoft removing a very solid upgrade ability in Windows without any notice to the consumer, I think I'm ready to just call it quits on anything that's productive or PC related. Of course wanting to call it quits and quitting are two different things, since I sure as hell want my money back.

Also, by complaining about Apple, I am probably now on their shit list...I think this means I'll be hit by the cyber-SWAT team soon to have my PC confiscated.

In summary...this week needs to end and I need to play the awesome CCR pack on Rock Band again to escape.


Malik (7/9/10)

You know what I realized that is frightening about Apple? I just got a new debit card last month (old one expired). This meant I was past due on my T-Mobile bill (since they had the old expiration date on file with old security code). It also meant all other electronic purchases didn't work until I updated the credit card info...

So, Apple charged me and I hadn't bought anything from iTunes or Apple since 2006 (two expiration dates ago) except a free download in 2007. Well, the free one didn't require an update to my account, so their records only had my Bellevue address and my way old card expiration and security code numbers...

I check my Apple iTunes account info, and they had all the current stuff (address, expiration date, etc.). WTF?! That is some scary shit right there.

I really mean it now; I am done with Apple.  Never again will they get a dollar from me, since not even my cell phone (with a recurrent bill) or my mortgage company (who own most of my personal debt) has this type of access.

WHAT THE F#@$, Apple?!


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