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Like Tears in Rain April 22, 2018

Posted by bobv451 in computers, science fiction, sense of wonder, steampunk, weird westerns, writing, zeppelin.
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I keep thinking of a favorite scene from my favorite SF movie, Bladerunner. Rutger Hauer is a replicant, dying and bemoaning the resulting loss of all his knowledge and experience. That has always struck me as poignant. Thinking on it and the recent death of longtime friend and collaborator Martin Cameron intensifies the sense of loss.

Martin (Bucky for the 40 years or so I knew him) was a wonderful artist, but he had also edited a racing magazine and was providing incredible technical support in just about any modern artistic tool for our MAJOR ARCANIUM GAZETTE project. He did layout as well as the artwork because he had the experience. For years he worked on video games at Lucas, designing the Star Wars fighters in a couple games. He gave me a tour of Skywalker Ranch. But he was also an anime fanatic, knew Japanese pop culture and windsurfing. And the gig as editor of Wheels magazine came because of his time on the racing circuit, both as a mechanic and driver. I was always fascinated by his casual tales of how, as a kid, he didn’t think there was anything odd about finding Dan Gurney asleep on the front room sofa. Gurney and Bucky’s dad were great friends.

He was such a ball of energy, and now that energy is gone. Along with it, his artistic skill, insight and experiences unique to him. We’re all filled with our own unique skills and events that have shaped us, but death eradicates them forever. It seems such a waste, losing the knowledge–and friendship.

I am missing him a lot, as a friend and unique human being with sharp, clever ideas and a skewed outlook on the world.

(c) 2018 Martin G. Cameron

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If You Ever Want to See Your Cute Little Data Again… July 2, 2017

Posted by bobv451 in business, computers, Free.
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Ransomware. Kinda. I got pulled into a scam cum ransomware nightmare the other day because I wanted to clean up the links on my computer. Some were 404s, some worked but I no longer cared about–those got deleted. I hit one that might have been lurking for more than 5 years and…

Sirens! Dire warning that if I turned off the computer it would turn into a brick when I rebooted. Zeus Virus! I would be responsible for bringing down Microsoft! (Really–it said that) Call the Microsoft number at the bottom. Just to get rid of the strident noise by means other than turning down the speakers looked beneficial. I called. Not exactly a “hello, we’re Microsoft” but intimated as much. I spoke with my new best friend Stephanie in Mumbai (neither the name given nor where I was calling, I suspect–this is a generic name I use for tech support) who assured me if I did not take care of the virus by letting her assume control of my computer it would bring down the entire Microsoft network. It snuck in under my anti-virus programs, under the firewall, over my head like the Sword of Damocles.

While bringing down the mighty Microsoft might not be a bad idea, it struck me I wasn’t talking to anyone at Microsoft and pointed questions to this effect always sidled away–”we work as subcontractors to Microsoft.” To save my precious computer, whose operating system would be toast (and, guilt-inducingly, the entire MS network) if I didn’t comply, all I had to do was fork over $350.

I only paid $350 for the computer a few years ago. Getting up a new browser tab, I moved what data I could to a flashdrive. All the while my new best friend Stephanie in Mumbai was shouting for me not to do it, I was going to crash Microsoft. And if I had any other computers attached to the wifi network, they were infected, too. I doubted iOS on my iPad was in danger, but…

Against mnbfSiM’s exhortations, I turned off the computer, rebooted and got rid of the siren and strident warning. Ran Avast and found 2 deeply hidden viruses and expunged them. Then discovered every penny I pay for Avast is worth it. There is a subroutine that automatically protects data from ransomware (and can be configured for any folder). I hadn’t known that before. Avast is awesome. It’s worth paying for. Anti-virus. Firewall. Go for it. I am doubly glad I did, even if the ransomware demand was somewhat oblique and depended on me being doubly dumb, not only handing over remote control of my computer but also giving my credit card number.

Avast. It’s free. But the for-pay upgrade is necessary in this day and age. (And, as far as I know, kept the entire Microsoft network from crashing).

Avast