bobquasit: (Default)
My Twitter account was apparently hacked by a Russian - at least, they posted a bunch of things in Russian to my Twitter account. Those tweets were mirrored to LiveJournal (but not Dreamwidth) automatically. I've deleted the original tweets and the LJ mirror-post. I've also taken a number of enhanced security steps to resecure my Twitter account.

It's almost not worth it. I don't really USE Twitter. It just grabs some of the stuff I post elsewhere. If something like this happens again, I'll just delete my Twitter account.

As far as I can tell, nothing else has been compromised. What I don't understand is how my Twitter account got compromised in the first place!
bobquasit: (Default)
I don't know if anyone else is likely to end up fighting the SweetIM malware infection, but if you do, it's a real bitch. I had to clean it out of my mother-in-law's desktop recently, and it was NOT fun. On the off chance that you have to deal with it some day, here's how I killed it.

First, I installed Malwarebytes and ran scans. I had to run separate scans for every account on the system.

This was a Windows XP system, by the way, and it had some decent antivirus stuff installed. My best guess is that the infection was picked up from a free game site, by the way. Remember, always browse wisely!

Anyway, after I used Malwarebytes to get rid of the infection in all of the accounts, I still had to go into each browser (Firefox and Internet Explorer) and fix them; SweetIM had changed the home page and default search engine in each one. I changed the homepages from the SweetIM homepage, (a sure source of infection), and changed the search engine from the SweetIM search tool, which also comes with free infections.

Even so, I ended up having to completely reset Firefox on her primary account. SweetIM is a hellishly stubborn infection.

And after all that, I happened to notice that there was still a link on the desktop of one of the accounts to something called "search the web". Which, when I checked the properties, turned out to be - you guessed it - another SweetIM infection point.

These people are evil, evil, evil. I'm tempted to call for the death penalty for malware writers.

After that I did some housekeeping, including updating Firefox and installing Chrome, and now the system looks fine. But man, what a nasty piece of malware! Killing it took about two to two-and-a-half hours of my time. If there was justice in this world, I would be able to collect payment for that time out of the hide of the SweetIM people.

Plus damages. Lots of damages.
bobquasit: (Default)
Skype is in a war of sorts with Google Voice. And today, I discovered that Skype had taken my system hostage as a prisoner in that war.

I used to be able to use my Google Voice account to call any phone in America for free from my Gmail home page; just type in a phone number or the name of a contact and I'd be connected, with a clarity that actually stunned some of the people I spoke to. Apparently Google Voice uses some sort of astonishing new sound-processing algorithm.

And then recently I installed Skype, since several friends had urged me to try it. Today I tried to use Google Voice to call my parents in Massachusetts. I typed "Dad" in the Google Voice box...and instead of his home and mobile numbers appearing, they appeared with Skype icons surrounding them along with a dollar sign. When I hovered over the numbers, I was told I would be making a "low cost call with Skype".

Now, just to be clear: the call should have been free, via Google. Instead Skype blocked my ability to make that free call, and tried to force me to pay them for it. As far as I'm concerned, that's stealing.

I tried to find a way to make the call WITHOUT using Skype. No matter what I did, Skype wouldn't allow me to do that. I shut down Skype; when I went back and tried to call with Google Voice, Skype immediately restarted itself and invited me to pay them if I wanted to make the call.

I began to seriously consider uninstalling Skype. I have a temper, but I don't think anybody would take it well when some company takes over something on your own system and basically holds it hostage. Boiling with rage, I began to research a solution.

It wasn't easy to find, but I found it. The problem was an add-on that had apparently come bundled with Skype. So I had to go to the Windows Control Panel, choose Add/Remove Programs, and then removed the program called "Skype Click to Call". Mind you, I wasn't told that the goddamned thing would be installed when I installed Skype, and I damned well wouldn't have installed it if I'd known that it was replacing my option to make free phone calls with the requirement to pay Skype for those same calls.

But Skype, here's a message for you: I will never spend a penny on any of your services, EVER. I'll use the free stuff because my friends are on it. But otherwise, you can go screw yourselves.
bobquasit: (Bad Sam!)
After unending hours in live chat, and on the phone, and with technicians remoting in to my system, my ESP All-In-One Printer/Scanner/Copier still crashes every time I try to scan. The latest joke is that they are going to send me a CD of their software. Given that their level-2 technician remoted into my system and personally uninstalled the software and then downloaded it herself and reinstalled it, I am trying to understand why this would help. How could a CD version be MORE up-to-date than an online version which is available to their own technicians?

I used to love Kodak, no lie. They made rock-solid high-speed duplicators, back when I was running the copy center of a large law firm. And I appreciated their recent honesty policy about toner, which is why I recommended them to so many people. But now? I'm getting really, really pissed off at them.
bobquasit: (Default)
On Saturday we had to make an emergency trip over to Teri's mother's place so I could look at her computer. She thought she had a bad virus. Since I'd installed all of her security software, I was concerned.

It turned out, though, that she wasn't infected. She was getting an attempt to infect her system, one of those browser-exploit bogus antivirus attacks. Fortunately she didn't click on anything, and her security software was up-to-date enough that her system wasn't infected.

But I made an interesting discovery. I'd installed Firefox on her system, and told her to use that instead of Internet Explorer. Nonetheless she was using IE when she nearly got infected. She was looking for directions to an event in Rhode Island; IE was defaulting to searching with Bing, and Bing was bringing up a malware/exploit site within the top three results. That's what my mother-in-law clicked on.

But when I used the exact same search terms in Google, that exploit site DIDN'T appear; the correct site did, instead. So Bing seems to be more hacker-friendly than Google. And she certainly didn't select Bing; Microsoft must have done it for her. So just to be safe, I replaced the guts of her IE program with Google's Chrome Frame. That's a neat feature that speeds up IE and makes it more secure and modern. It's also a brilliant way for Google to undermine IE and replace it.
bobquasit: (Default)
On Sunday afternoon I finally gave in and installed the World of Warcraft trial edition.

If I'd known how long it was going to take, I would have timed it. It was at least three hours, perhaps as many as six - I wasn't really paying attention. Considering that I had the installation DVD, this was an astonishingly slow process. Of course my computer far exceeds their recommended specifications.

I created an account; "Omac" was already taken, so I became "OMAClives". The system recommended a normal server, but when I went there it turned out to be locked. So I picked another normal server (not being interested in PVP or RP yet). I don't recall which server I was on; I'll look it up later, if it matters.

My first (and so far only) character was a human mage, a bald redhead with a beard and mustache. Movement and such weren't too complicated; I've played enough CRPGs to be able to figure that sort of thing out well enough. My first mission was to kill ten vermin, so I did. Can't say it was particularly exciting.

The graphics were nice enough, but all in all I just wasn't that impressed. There were lots of people and creatures running all over the place, with their names floating over their heads; it just seemed kind of silly and a bit pointless. Maybe I'd have more fun if I was playing in a group. In any case, I didn't stay up late playing, for once. WoW just didn't wow me. :D

But I'll try again tonight.

WoW?

Jul. 28th, 2009 01:11 pm
bobquasit: (Default)
Should I get World of Warcraft? Is it fun?

I picked up a DVI-D cable for my monitor yesterday, and was pleased to see that it made a visible improvement in the look of Diablo II: LOD.
bobquasit: (Default)
My mother-in-law is going to buy a computer, and she asked for my help. She mentioned Wal-Mart; Best Buy and BJs also came up. She wants to spend $600-800 and for the system to include a decent-sized monitor and a DVD burner. Other than that she's not going to be a power user at all. Desktop, Windows (I recommended XP, but she may not have the option), and definite not Dell - we know too many people who've gone through Dell hell.

I did some research and printed out systems from the three stores I mentioned, plus a system from PCs for Everyone. Two of the systems are HPs, as I recall. The superstore prices range from $540 - %590, and PCs for Everyone is $691 (I customized it online). My gut feeling is that the PCs for Everyone system is worth the extra money because A) they use good component, B) they don't sell anything else BUT computers, C) they've been around for a long time now - around 25 years, and D) their service center is in Norwood (MA). From what I've heard, with computers from the three big stores you're more likely to have a problem, and when you do it's more likely that they'll have to ship the system to the manufacturer across the country somewhere.

Thoughts, anyone?

Silly mood

Jul. 8th, 2009 09:54 am
bobquasit: (Default)
A question was asked on Askville today:

"why does my dell laptop not recognize my 4gb integral flash drive"

My answer:
Because they haven't been properly introduced.

You need to set up a formal dinner or cocktail party - RSVP, of course - and invite both of them to come. During the evening, escort the flash drive over to the laptop and say "Mr. Laptop, may I introduce Miss Flash Drive? Miss Flash Drive, may I introduce Mr. Laptop? I think you two have a lot in common."

Then discretely slip away to give them a chance to get better acquainted.


Come to think of it, I may have confused the genders. Yes, my mistake; considering who plugs in to whom, it would be Mr. Flash Drive and Miss Laptop. Sorry for the error!

(Yes, I'm very bored this morning. :D )
bobquasit: (Default)
Over on Askville (where else?) I gave someone advice about Linux. But I typoed. And the typo was such that I couldn't resist following up:


"It depends on the specific hardware and on what version of Linus you want to install."

As everyone knows, the Great Pumpkin version of Linus uses far more system resources than the security-blanket and armchair-theologian versions. :D
bobquasit: (Default)
My computer has been getting slower and slower and s l o w e r over the past three or four months. Boot-up took forever, and response time for anything kept increasing.

No wonder. It turns out I had only 1.6 GB free on the hard drive! So yesterday I went to Best Buy and grabbed a 1.5 TB external USB drive. I've already freed up over 60 GB on the system by moving over music and videos that aren't critical to me, and the system is doing much better.

I've backed up all of the family photos and videos that I've actually taken, but I'm not going to take those off the C drive; it would be a disaster if we lost those. But there's a fair amount of other video and music - probably another 60 GB at least, maybe more - that I can move onto the external drive instead. I should have done this a while ago. While I'm at it, I'm going to rip more of my CDs, too.

I used $10 worth of Best Buy coupons that I'd received to buy the drive (which was on sale), and was amused that I got a $10 from Best Buy instantly for buying the drive. It was still more than I should have spent, but it was necessary.
bobquasit: (Default)
I don't know if LJ is dying or if it's just the holiday, but it's awfully quiet around here! I don't feel like writing much myself. I'm feeling lousy in all sorts of ways.

But I guess I'd better do some updates.

- Sebastian got the Nutshell Kids book collection in his stocking. They're four tiny little books by Maurice Sendak, and were all turned into songs by Carole King for the Really Rosie TV special. Sebastian has been reading the books every night...it has been a really special time for us.

- I've managed to make flossing a regular part of Sebastian's evening routine. It should be a big help to him for the rest of his life.

- I picked up a card reader for $14 at BJs yesterday. You see, when I bought my computer I saved a few bucks by eliminating the card reader; I didn't really know what it was, and it sounded useless. But my camera needs to be powered on in order to transfer pictures from the SD card to the computer, and the process is very clunky; Windows doesn't interact well with my camera.

The connection often fails - not the actual wire, it's more like the camera goes into sleep mode and the computer forgets it existed - and even when it works, the transfer speed is really slow. It took nearly an hour to empty the 2GB chip!

What really pushed me over the brink was my attempt to show photos and video from our Disney trip to our families. Both of our families came over (on different days), and I tried various ways to get the pictures to display on our TV. A DVD simply failed. A data CD gave the message that the photos were an incompatible size. It was really frustrating!

Since we'd recently gotten a new router and hooked it up to the Wii, I downloaded their new Photo Channel 1.1 - it was free. It was also rather promising, and I was excited to see that you could use it to show photos and videos from an SD card. Once again there were problems, though. I discovered to my horror that Windows wouldn't allow me to copy pictures TO the camera. It was a one-way connection!

Our families aren't likely to visit again for a long time, but nonetheless I went and picked up a card reader. It let me throw about 30 photos and 30 videos on the SD card quickly and easily - it's SO good when technology works well. I put the card in the Wii, and was amazed at the results.

You can view individual photos and videos, edit them, turn them into puzzles, zoom in, etc. etc. You can also play videos backwards - and we all just about died of laughter watching Sebastian shoot up a water slide.

It was the slide show feature that was most impressive, though. It has a lot of options for control, but the default settings produced a simply lovely show. Photos and videos were shown in the order they were taken; the photos were displayed in various ways, zooming slowly in or out or across, with some really lovely and effective music playing as a soundtrack. Videos were intercut with the photos beautifully. Nintendo did a really great job, I must say!
bobquasit: (Default)
I've been using the same graphic program for at least twelve years now. I've become pretty comfortable with it over time. One nice thing about it is that it doesn't require an elaborate installation procedure. I just copy the files over to the hard drive, click on the executable, and it's ready to go.

Except. Although it worked on my old computer running Windows XP, it won't run on my new computer running XP. The old one was the "Home" edition, and the new one is the "Professional" edition (both of them 32-bit), but I don't see how that could be the problem; I've run the program successfully on other computers with the Professional edition.

The problem was a dll file. I tried copying it and installing it to my new system, but nothing worked. Given that the software was from 1996, it really seemed that I should look for a modern freeware replacement.

The problem was that so many modern graphics programs are so complicated! I don't want to have to spend a lot of time learning a new program, and about all sorts of advanced techniques that I don't need right now. I want a program that will do pretty much what the old program did, without a steep learning curve. I mean, I'm very good at learning new software, but my free time is limited!

So first I tried GIMP. It's open-source, freeware, and came highly recommended. But it turned out to be way more program than I needed. It's more like PhotoShop than my old painting program, and was so complicated that I found myself pretty much stymied when I tried to use it.

Later, I lucked upon Paint.net. It's just what I was looking for! A free, modern, and relatively easy-to-use graphics program that I could work with straight out of the box. It has advanced features, but they're not in my face - I can learn about them later, and in the meantime I can edit my images. And Sebastian can draw pictures. In fact, he drew his first picture with it a few days ago; a picture of Godzilla and Hedorah. I'll see if I can get his permission to post it here tonight.

Games

May. 22nd, 2008 11:09 pm
bobquasit: (Default)
I still haven't gotten around to tackling the TV problem on the computer.

But I've tried a bunch of games.

Neverwinter Nights Diamond edition - the one that came on a DVD and couldn't be returned at Best Buy - is a disappointment. I tried playing "Shadows of Undrentide". To my great annoyance, my hireling keeps trapping me! She moves next to me when I'm standing someplace, and I end up completely unable to move. It's just too annoying.

Oblivion is...not what I expected. I've played it a bit, but the beginning takes place in a dark dungeon. It's not boring, but it's not thrilling me to death, either.

So I've been playing Fable: The Lost Chapters. At first it was a bit twee, in an Englishy sort of way, but it has grown on me. I just wish I could figure out why my hero is so damned skinny and pale - and now it looks like his hair is turning gray!
bobquasit: (Default)
It arrived, and it looks really cool. But my monitor apparently won't work with it. The monitor isn't broken, mind you. I plugged it back in to my old machine, and it was fine. In fact, I'm using the old machine to write this right now.

But when I plug the monitor into the new machine and turned it on, nothing happened. Tried turning the monitor off and on, too. Nothing.

I'm not disappointed, because on some level I didn't expect it to work right away anyway. I wonder if the problem is that the monitor is simply too old? That seems very unlikely, but it IS over ten years old, I think. It's a Princeton Graphics 19-incher, an EO90.

I was planning on buying a new flatscreen anyway, so I'll probably get one tomorrow and see if that works instead. Does anyone know anything about LG as a brand? They have a 22-inch monitor that's $30 more than the Hannspree, but it seems to have much higher customer ratings - and the tech specs look considerably better too, to the extent that I understand them.

Funny, I'm just not that excited about the new system. But I'm not even disappointed at the anticlimax. Maybe I'm getting old.
bobquasit: (Default)
It's going to be delivered tomorrow by UPS. I'm kind of numb. How many years have I been waiting for this? Too long.

We're thinking of getting a new monitor, too. I saw some flatscreens at BJ's Wholesale Club; they have a 20.1" HP monitor for $229. Hmm, I see that Wal-Mart has a 21.6 Acer monitor for the same price.

Hmm, Best Buy has a Hannspree 22" monitor that can be rotated to a vertical position ([livejournal.com profile] charibdis has one like that; it's really cool) for $239. I wonder if Hannspree is a Chinese company?

The Weekend

May. 4th, 2008 08:42 pm
bobquasit: (Default)
They both just fell asleep.

I'm finally feeling better; whatever the problem was, my system purged itself over 24 hours (but was was a pretty awful night). I have a splitting sinus headache, but I'll take some Tylenol soon.

The computer is supposed to be delivered tomorrow. But Teri will be working for part of the day, so I don't know if we'll actually be able to receive it. I'm going to have to try to figure out how to best transfer data from the old system to the new one; any suggestions would be very much appreciated!

Computer

Apr. 21st, 2008 10:07 pm
bobquasit: (Default)
Prices are going up on my prospective new computer every few days, so it's time to take action - soon. I've made virtually every decision. The one thing left for me to decide is the video card: either a MSI nVidia GeForce 9600GT OC 512MB GDDR3 PCI Express (2xDVI), or a MSI ATI Radeon RX3870 OC 512MB GDDR4 PCI Express 2.0 (2xDVI). The Radeon costs $30 more, and is supposed to be a little better. But the PCs for Everyone guy tells me that he prefers the GeForce, because it runs really well and is quieter than the Radeon.

I'm willing to spend the $30, but...I'm just not sure which would be the better option. Does anyone have any suggestions?

New Mouse

Apr. 9th, 2008 09:36 pm
bobquasit: (Default)
I picked up a cheap new mouse, and it's working fine.

Since everyone thinks that I should get the better CPU and the better video card...I'm considering blowing a little extra and doing just that. I don't know what the economy is going to look like over the next five years - probably not good - and this new computer may have to last me for quite a while. Certainly my current computer isn't going to last much longer, even with a new mouse!

Edit: I almost forgot: it turns out that since I live in Rhode Island, I won't have to pay sales tax on the system! Despite the fact that I live less than 25 miles away from their repair facility.
bobquasit: (Default)
Which of these would be better, do you think?

Assuming that all else is equal:

A Dual-Core Intel® Core™ 2 Duo E8400 3.00GHz 1333FSB 6MB Cache CPU and an MSI nVidia GeForce 8600GT Twin Turbo 256MB GDDR3 PCI Express

Or a Dual-Core Intel® Core™ 2 Duo E6550 2.33GHz 1333FSB 4MB Cache and an MSI nVidia GeForce 9600GT OC 512MB GDDR3 PCI Express?

Edited because I'm an idiot.

Basically I'm considering trading off CPU for a better video card. Sorry for the mistake!

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