Apologies to those of my readers who have missed me. This past month has been… in A word, Awful. In B word, Bad news. In C word, Challenging. And so forth. Computer woes, mostly. I had put the most recent blog up to be posted on the 7th, when my ASUS crashed October 4. It wasn’t until the 18th that I was able to get it to boot again. I didn’t (shame on me, for I know better) have a repair disk, nor had I backed up fully. I didn’t want to take it into a local shop, because I knew it would come back speaking fluent Spanish. Better Spanish than I do. And if anything would be guaranteed to raise the blood pressure, being unable to understand my computer less than I currently do, would do it.
But I managed to make a bootable Norton repair disk on my other, older computer. That (thank you God) booted the ASUS. I was able to pull essential documents off onto a flash drive for safe keeping, and my buddy Dave was able to get in and activate a restore point. Sadly, I hadn’t been keeping up with those either, so the machine reverted to its stone age settings and I had to re-install nearly everything.
There were 163 updates to Windows 8 that had to be loaded before I could put 8.1 back on, including some for a game I had never seen before.
Just when I thought it was safe to go back in the water… I have no idea what triggered it. I went to get a cup of coffee and when I came back my machine was updating itself. When it finished – hours and hours and hours and HOURS later – I was the purportedly proud possessor of 8.1 and the latest blah.
And ads. Windows full of ads. When I opened Firefox, strange things happened and ad after ad was shoved in my face. Full page ads. As well as short ones that hogged the bottom of the screen and relentlessly blinked for attention. I thought I must have picked up a virus somewhere, so I ran a full Norton scan. Nothing. But the ads were still there, still blinking, buy me, buy me. I thought maybe something had attached itself to Firefox, so I uninstalled it and used Opera to download Chrome. But Chrome still loaded the horrible buy-me websites and the blinking demon ads.
I googled for solutions.
It seems that during all that unauthorized updating I had somehow allowed an uninvited guest to load on my machine. Neurowise is a program whose only purpose in life is to pull in ads. So I uninstalled it, ran Norton again, and had no more trouble on that front.
But, wanting to make sure of that, I had copied the addresses of the offending pages (heh-heh) and wanted to blacklist them. Revenge would be (faintly) sweet. So I went looking for a program that would allow me to prevent specific websites from loading. Lo and behold, it looked like Norton Family would do exactly what I wanted done! And I already owned it as part of my Norton 360 package. Yay!
So I downloaded it and shot myself in the other foot.
Now, I have used and taught every word processing program in existence. I’ve taught four kinds of spreadsheet products, seven graphics products, five databases, two project management programs and countless other odds and ends. But I have never been exposed to anything like Norton Family. Also, I have no children in the house any more, so there are no secondary logins on my machine. The plan was to make Zozo (my Chihuahua) the child on the machine. But I didn’t know I needed an existing login for Zozo before I began setup.
And I had no idea what kind of damage that simple lack could cause.
During setup there was a screen blinking at me insisting that user (insert my name here) be assigned privileges. This screen just showed up and demanded action. Not knowing what else to do and assuming (NEVER assume!) that there would be a follow-up screen, like there ALWAYS is except not that time, asking me to confirm whatever, I clicked on that user name. What I did was to effectively make myself my own child. Very godlike, but not very smart.
Time travel does exist, because I became a child again instantly. And Norton kindly provided a set of automatic no-nos for my kid-self. I like to play Mahjong on the machine, but I couldn’t get into any of the games. All my favorite sites that use curse words and show porn were unavailable (JOKING), but best of all, even though I am the administrator, I could no longer administrate. I couldn’t uninstall it. I couldn’t change my level of privileges. I could do nothing.
Nor could I seem to make the Norton Family help desk people understand what I had done. They kept treating me like someone with adult privileges. I had to repeatedly remind them that I was just a kid. Finally a nice lady somewhere in Bangalore played Mommy and helped me uninstall the thing using a remote session.
Well, believe you me, once I got the Norton Family thing off there, I wiped my brow and set a fresh restore point. That was yesterday.
Halloween is over (Happy Halloween), Mercury Retrograde, including it’s shadow, is done for now, October has fled, and all my little computer demons have gone back home – forever, I hope. I’m feeling the mojo again.