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: (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: (Ordinary)
Google recently added the option for voice calling to my Gmail and Google Voice. I can call anywhere in the US for free. But what's really exciting is the sound quality of the calls.

It's been frustrating to use cell phones, for me. My hearing isn't great in the human voice range, and cell phone sound quality usually sucks, to put it mildly. When I call my parents, we sometimes have trouble communicating (no jokes, please ). And when I talk to some of my friends on the cell, it's extremely frustrating; I listen as best as I can, but often miss part of what they're saying.

In addition to the sound quality problem, there's the...I forget what it's called, but basically the problem is that when you speak on a cell phone, the incoming voice signal is suppressed - and contrariwise, when someone is talking to you, they can't hear you. The old land-line connections weren't like that. And they're still not, but it sticks in my craw to pay to call my parents or friends for a land-line call when the same call would be free on my cell phone.

Google's new voice option solves both problems, at least for now. Until the end of this year, domestic calls are free and international calls are 2¢ per minute. They aren't saying what the cost will be after the end of the year, but in the meantime I can make free calls with my headset that actually sound clearer even than a land line call!

Some of you are going to be hearing from me before too long.
bobquasit: (Ordinary)
Google recently added the option for voice calling to my Gmail and Google Voice. I can call anywhere in the US for free. But what's really exciting is the sound quality of the calls.

It's been frustrating to use cell phones, for me. My hearing isn't great in the human voice range, and cell phone sound quality usually sucks, to put it mildly. When I call my parents, we sometimes have trouble communicating (no jokes, please ). And when I talk to some of my friends on the cell, it's extremely frustrating; I listen as best as I can, but often miss part of what they're saying.

In addition to the sound quality problem, there's the...I forget what it's called, but basically the problem is that when you speak on a cell phone, the incoming voice signal is suppressed - and contrariwise, when someone is talking to you, they can't hear you. The old land-line connections weren't like that. And they're still not, but it sticks in my craw to pay to call my parents or friends for a land-line call when the same call would be free on my cell phone.

Google's new voice option solves both problems, at least for now. Until the end of this year, domestic calls are free and international calls are 2¢ per minute. They aren't saying what the cost will be after the end of the year, but in the meantime I can make free calls with my headset that actually sound clearer even than a land line call!

Some of you are going to be hearing from me before too long.
bobquasit: (Default)
I wrote recently about a problem I'd had on GoodReads, when I wrote a long review only to lose it all before I could post it. I suggested on the GoodReads feedback group that a save draft feature would be nice to have. Someone recommended the Lazarus add-on for Firefox and Chrome. I installed it, and I just tested it tonight. It's amazing - it saved my work, all of it! I'm delighted.
bobquasit: (Default)
I wrote recently about a problem I'd had on GoodReads, when I wrote a long review only to lose it all before I could post it. I suggested on the GoodReads feedback group that a save draft feature would be nice to have. Someone recommended the Lazarus add-on for Firefox and Chrome. I installed it, and I just tested it tonight. It's amazing - it saved my work, all of it! I'm delighted.
bobquasit: (Sebastian Riding)
I'm the nostalgic type. I remember a lot of my favorite things from when I was a child, and I try to share them with Sebastian.

Books, for example; I have a copy of almost every old book that I loved as a young boy. I've managed to get copies of some of those old TV shows and specials, too (although I still haven't managed to get Hodge Podge Lodge, unfortunately).

Records were a bigger problem. My turntable died not too many years after I bought my first CD player - which was one of the first CD players on the market - and I hadn't picked up a new one. Many of my particular favorites were never reissued on CD, and some couldn't be obtained even in LP form. They seemed to be completely forgotten.

Most of those favorite old records had been lost over the years, but my parents still had a few of them. There were three that I remembered particularly fondly: dramatizations of the lives of Mozart, Beethoven, and Bach. All that was left was the Mozart LP, and that was almost certainly in terrible condition. Sebastian is still young enough to enjoy those records, but time was running out...and I've never seen them on eBay or anywhere else.

Fast-forward to last month. Teri bought me a USB turntable for my birthday. I ordered a record-cleaner, which arrived on Friday; I tried to use it to clean The Story of Mozart. The record had been stored directly in the jacket for thirty years, and was very, very dusty. When I finished, the record looked clean. But as it played, large balls of dust were plowed up out of the grooves. The recording sounded terrible, with lots of loud hissing, strange distortions, and loud clicks from scratches. I worked the results over with the Audacity software that had come with the turntable, and was impressed at how much the results were improved. But they were still pretty poor.

Nonetheless I made a CD for Sebastian. I also decided to make the mp3 available online, because as far as I knew I was the only person who remembered that series and I thought it deserved to reach a new generation. I started to annotate the mp3 before posting it. But neither the jacket nor the label on the LP included the year that it was recorded! So I Googled "Tale-Spinners for Children", and found...a site that has mp3s of all 49 records in the series, plus dozens of recordings from similar series! The site's copy of The Story of Mozart sounds MUCH better than mine.

I suppose if you're old and cynical, you may not be able to enjoy these recordings. I'm sorry, if that's the case. But if you know any young children, you'd be doing them a favor to let them listen to some of these.

Tale-Spinners for Children
bobquasit: (Sebastian Riding)
I'm the nostalgic type. I remember a lot of my favorite things from when I was a child, and I try to share them with Sebastian.

Books, for example; I have a copy of almost every old book that I loved as a young boy. I've managed to get copies of some of those old TV shows and specials, too (although I still haven't managed to get Hodge Podge Lodge, unfortunately).

Records were a bigger problem. My turntable died not too many years after I bought my first CD player - which was one of the first CD players on the market - and I hadn't picked up a new one. Many of my particular favorites were never reissued on CD, and some couldn't be obtained even in LP form. They seemed to be completely forgotten.

Most of those favorite old records had been lost over the years, but my parents still had a few of them. There were three that I remembered particularly fondly: dramatizations of the lives of Mozart, Beethoven, and Bach. All that was left was the Mozart LP, and that was almost certainly in terrible condition. Sebastian is still young enough to enjoy those records, but time was running out...and I've never seen them on eBay or anywhere else.

Fast-forward to last month. Teri bought me a USB turntable for my birthday. I ordered a record-cleaner, which arrived on Friday; I tried to use it to clean The Story of Mozart. The record had been stored directly in the jacket for thirty years, and was very, very dusty. When I finished, the record looked clean. But as it played, large balls of dust were plowed up out of the grooves. The recording sounded terrible, with lots of loud hissing, strange distortions, and loud clicks from scratches. I worked the results over with the Audacity software that had come with the turntable, and was impressed at how much the results were improved. But they were still pretty poor.

Nonetheless I made a CD for Sebastian. I also decided to make the mp3 available online, because as far as I knew I was the only person who remembered that series and I thought it deserved to reach a new generation. I started to annotate the mp3 before posting it. But neither the jacket nor the label on the LP included the year that it was recorded! So I Googled "Tale-Spinners for Children", and found...a site that has mp3s of all 49 records in the series, plus dozens of recordings from similar series! The site's copy of The Story of Mozart sounds MUCH better than mine.

I suppose if you're old and cynical, you may not be able to enjoy these recordings. I'm sorry, if that's the case. But if you know any young children, you'd be doing them a favor to let them listen to some of these.

Tale-Spinners for Children
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)
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)
I gave in and bought Motorola Phone Tools today. Had to spend an hour or so on the phone with Motorola support, trying to figure out why it didn't work. Finally I got it fixed up, and was able to download a year or two worth of pictures and videos from my phone.

The videos are of surprisingly poor quality, but the photos are decent. And now I can take as many photos as I want with my cell without worrying about filling it up or paying $$$ to send them to myself via the net.

Now I can sleep.
bobquasit: (Default)
I gave in and bought Motorola Phone Tools today. Had to spend an hour or so on the phone with Motorola support, trying to figure out why it didn't work. Finally I got it fixed up, and was able to download a year or two worth of pictures and videos from my phone.

The videos are of surprisingly poor quality, but the photos are decent. And now I can take as many photos as I want with my cell without worrying about filling it up or paying $$$ to send them to myself via the net.

Now I can sleep.
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.
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.

For Real?

Oct. 1st, 2008 02:27 pm
bobquasit: (Default)
I'm thinking Real Hard about buying RealDVD with my next paycheck. Anyone know anything interesting about it? Have you tried it yet? Apparently Hollywood is suing to get it off the market, so I'll probably need to pick it up soon!

For Real?

Oct. 1st, 2008 02:27 pm
bobquasit: (Default)
I'm thinking Real Hard about buying RealDVD with my next paycheck. Anyone know anything interesting about it? Have you tried it yet? Apparently Hollywood is suing to get it off the market, so I'll probably need to pick it up soon!
bobquasit: (Default)
I installed the new Google Chrome browser a couple of days ago (the day it was released). As always, one of the first sites I checked was my own RuneQuest site; I wanted to see how it looked. And what do you think was the result?

Well, I kind of gave it away with the subject. Google blocked my site, and said it was infected with malware! I checked it out, and sure enough my index.html was infected with a script exploit. I cleaned it and replaced it. Then I found that index.php was infected too. I couldn't clean it, so I just deleted it. It doesn't seem to have affected the functioning of the site.

Unfortunately my site seems to have been added to a list of bad sites in the meantime. So not only is it blocked by Google Chrome (you have to check a box affirming that you know the site is infected if you want to see it in Chrome) but it's now blocked by my work, too!

I've requested a review by Google. I'm hoping I got all of the infection. I downloaded a fresh copy of everything on the site tonight (after making the fix and deleting the bad file) and ran a scan with AntiVir; everything came up clean.

And that's it. Good night!
bobquasit: (Default)
I installed the new Google Chrome browser a couple of days ago (the day it was released). As always, one of the first sites I checked was my own RuneQuest site; I wanted to see how it looked. And what do you think was the result?

Well, I kind of gave it away with the subject. Google blocked my site, and said it was infected with malware! I checked it out, and sure enough my index.html was infected with a script exploit. I cleaned it and replaced it. Then I found that index.php was infected too. I couldn't clean it, so I just deleted it. It doesn't seem to have affected the functioning of the site.

Unfortunately my site seems to have been added to a list of bad sites in the meantime. So not only is it blocked by Google Chrome (you have to check a box affirming that you know the site is infected if you want to see it in Chrome) but it's now blocked by my work, too!

I've requested a review by Google. I'm hoping I got all of the infection. I downloaded a fresh copy of everything on the site tonight (after making the fix and deleting the bad file) and ran a scan with AntiVir; everything came up clean.

And that's it. Good night!

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