Monthly Archives: August 2015

Ransom ware and me.

Well I supposed that it was bound to happen. It is similar to having unprotected
sex with a prostitute; sooner or later you will get an std. In my case, I admit to being addicted to ebooks, of the ahem, pirate variety. By that I mean that I would visit twice a day that particular site just in the hope of collecting an eBook that I may like. And I often did. Of course the ebooks were hosted by the sites. The site only had links that led to the ebook that was posted.

I felt like a junkie at times; I had the rush of going to an illegal site, of breaking the law and getting a good free of charge. Of course I would say to myself that I would not have bought the book anyways, and that the author did not lose anything by me taking that book. It is hard to assuage a guilty conscience at times such as these. I must say that I had been warned several times by my browser that the site I was visiting was a malicious one. Evil lurked there. I ignored these warnings of course, after all, nothing had happened before so why worry. The few times I had gotten a virus my anti-virus had promptly destroyed it without a hitch. And then it happened.

I was on that site when all of a sudden I saw an FBI logo on the left saying I had done something or other that was illegal. On the main page was a warning to me that my browser had been hijacked and that my files and folders on my computer were now encrypted. I was supposed to wait for more information if I wanted to pay for the key. Somehow I knew that the FBI was not involved in all of this.

I admit that I was astonished. It took me a few seconds before I tried to close my browser but to no effect. I then did the most intelligent thing one can do in such a situation, I got off the internet. I was now in full panic mode. I even closed down my computer.

After five minutes of waiting I opened the computer and sure enough, the administrator page came up and it said the computer was locked. Back into panic mode again. And then I thought, let’s try it and see if I can access the control panel. I could. So my next step was to use system restore and try to restore the computer to how it was a month ago. I was lucky, it worked. My computer seemed back to normal except that when I scanned the computer in safe mode it told me that my files and folders were locked. But in my new time horizon which was for the computer a month before it was fine.

What probably saved me was that this ransom ware virus was of the weak variety, and the fact that within 10 seconds of being infected I had disconnected my computer from the internet. That alone saved me as they did not have enough time to encrypt everything.

The consequence of all this is that I must now use a second computer to do my banking online, and that I am now more paranoid than ever about the internet and viruses. I am better protected now but I am still cautious, surfing only legitimate sites.

It was a good lesson to me, and it cured me of visiting illegal sites for good. I could have paid a hefty price. Luckily, I always do a backup so if system restore had not worked I would have reset the computer to factory settings. But still, it would have been a pain.

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Infernal machines.

I might have told you dear reader that I am an amateur photographer. There is nothing more than I like than taking pictures in a natural surrounding. There is something serene and peaceful that fills my heart with pure joy. Usually. But when you enter a place that is supposed to be peaceful and it is not then I get frustrated. More than that, I get angry.

I entered my park one morning very early, around 07:00. For the next three hours all I did was trying to escape from the incessant and infernal noise of the leaf-blower. Have you ever heard that noise dear reader? It is similar to a chainsaw except it is slightly less hard on the ears. But only slightly. Now imagine three of these infernal machines well spaced out thus giving the illusion that I was being pursued by them.

I did try to walk away from it, walking great distances but each time, I was soon engulfed in the noise of those machines. Now, if I thought that using these machines made city workers more productive I would not be unhappy of that. Sadly, I do not believe that such is the case. What is more bizarre is that not all workers were using them. I passed by one such worker who instead of a machine was using that old technological tool called a rake and was thus busy using this low-tech implement to collect dead leaves that littered the area. However, as my gaze was on him, he stopped and took an unscheduled break. He then began doing calisthenics, as if he needed to limber up for the job! Raking leaves!

I thought about taking a picture to shame him but then demurred. He was young and I knew that raking leaves was never an activity that encouraged enthusiasm. I could remember that back when I was young there were many activities that literally bore me to death and I often did them in a lackadaisical manner. I was thus happy to return the favour of not taking a picture and embarrassing him.

In the end I decided to accept that today was not a perfect day and that perhaps tomorrow would be better. It was pointless for me to be angry with the gods for permitting this sacrilege of my morning. There would be other mornings and I knew that once Spring cleaning was over the park would return to a more serene nature.

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All that glitters…

Could be gold, but will you get your price? Probably not. Let me explain to you dear reader what happened to me. I was lucky enough to have in my possession a jewel that was made of gold with a long gold chain attached to a lucky charm. As I was not one to wear such jewels, not being the type that likes to display wealth, I thought it best to sell this jewel to a jeweler. At least I would have cold hard cash in my hands and that I know what to do with.

I did not go far for the transaction, favouring a jeweler that was near where I lived. I went in and promptly displayed the chain and the lucky charm on the counter. The man, in his late fifties, told me that someone in the back would weigh the gold and give it a price.

Now, I must say that I had a price in mind. After all, the person that had given me the jewelery had told me that the chain alone was worth 80 dollars. I therefore estimated the whole piece to be worth at least 100 dollars. I was already making plans on how to spend this money, salivating like an old toothless dog after someone had thrown it a bone. A golden bone.

After waiting a few minutes a woman came out from behind and detailed for me how much the piece was really worth, 45 dollars. My jaw must have dropped several feet as I stammered that I had thought it worth more like 80 to 100 dollars. I protested saying that the chain alone was worth 80 dollars.

She smiled and then patiently explained to me that the price was what the amount of gold in the chain and the charm. It was 25 dollars plus 20 dollars and nothing more. She then explained that she was not into reselling jewelery but into melting it and producing something new. Furthermore, she said that when jewelers sell pieces they routinely mark up the prices. That I knew about the mark-up, but I did not know about a mark-down!

I was very disappointed by the price that she had quoted me. According to the weight of the gold that was the price. I thought about declining but as the piece held no sentimental value to me and that 45 dollars in my pocket was better I agreed to the exchange.

This is what happens when one is a novice in such matters. We are cruelly led back to earth by those who know. We routinely appraise things much too highly because they may have some worth to us, but when we offer it on the market invariably we are disappointed by the returns we get. Things are always worth more to us than to other people.

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Feeling like chicken s**t today!

It has happened to most of us at some time or another. You wake up one morning and you have the blues. You do not feel right. The urge to do anything is absent. In other words, the forces of inertia work against you; an object at rest stays at rest unless something pushes it. You are at rest and you stay like that, for most of the day. I prefer to say that when this happens I feel like chicken shit. It summarizes my mental state perfectly as well as adding a touch of humour to the situation.

Such was my state last week I am afraid to report and on a Monday no less. For some reason I hate Monday’s with a vengeance. If I could simply skip Monday’s and go on to Tuesday I would be perfectly happy. Alas, this is impossible.

I awoke that morning in a state of lethargy impossible to describe, but I will try nonetheless for you, dear reader. Just the act of deciding was difficult. What to do, where to go etc. I finally did manage to decide and went for a walk. Once a goal is identified it becomes a lot easier to feel better, especially if one acts.

Unfortunately, once in the park, I simply sat there observing people play tennis or bicycle along the perimeter of the park. I too have a bike but just the thought of bringing it down three flight of stairs discouraged me. One must remember that my energy level was fairly low as well on that day.

I basically spent my morning walking and sitting, not exactly a taxing kind of morning. But then, just getting out of bed was a big effort! And tying those shoe laces…Yes, I am slightly exaggerating how things went. But I also knew that even if I just went through the motions today tomorrow would be a better day.

I have discovered this in the process; a good night’s sleep often solves the problem. Add to the mix a bit of mild exercise such as a walk and the mood definitely improves. If it does not, dear reader, then please consult as you may have more deeper problems to solve. And please don’t wait, don’t leave things to fester. Better attack it when it is a small hill rather than a mountain.

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Do you choose to choose?

I was reading recently a web article in The New York Times edition in the philosophy section where in it the author was discussing the predicament of choosing or not choosing. It seems that now, some states in the United States will assume that if you are 18 and older you will be automatically registered as a voter for example. In Canada, if I check a box on my income tax forms I am automatically registered as such.

The author of the article discusses the pros and cons of such measures, implying that sometimes it is okay to choose not to choose. We all suffer from procrastination and of course force of inertia can be terribly hampering. Sometimes just leaving things as is can be the best solution. In other words, default settings can be just fine, but not all the time. Sometimes we must choose higher standards over the lower ones.

I must say that often I find myself in a default position, more out of laziness than out of a deliberate choice. What does this say about me? You are right, I am a lazy bum and yet, I manage quite well. I simply choose when I have to, when it is very much required of me or when not choosing would land me in hot water or worse. Laziness in our modern societies is very much underrated in my opinion. Sometimes doing less is really doing more, especially when the future is uncertain and time is short.

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