IT HAS been a bad week at the Billabong, computerwise. The old and formerly trusty Dell began to do some very peculiar things late last week, but much the same observations have been made of the Professor so the eccentricities were excused and indulged. But then notes began arriving from the ISP asserting that the machine was infected with a several species of devilish malware, which were blitzing innocent third parties with spam and other annoyances. No problem, the resident technical adviser asserted, slipping behind the keyboard with all the expansive confidence to which only the young and unbruised are entitled. The Professor did not pay for an expensive private school education without expectation of dividend, so Young Master Bunyip's assurance that a little tweaking and updating of the security software would soon set things to rights seemed a fair return on investment.
Several hours later, a round of golf with Doctor Yowie having resulted in The Professor being obliged to pick up the tab for lunch, the news at home was even more distressing. The curse, the young fellow explained, was something called a rootkit, formerly assumed to signify nothing more sinister than a nice meal, a bottle of rose and some Perry Como on the gramophone. Apparently there is an electronic variant, and it thoroughly stuffs any dot-squiggly stuff to which it becomes attached. Removal is a tricky business, the youngster explained, but he had given it his best shot.
Indeed, it is and he had. As a consequence of his efforts the wireless link no longer worked, the invader was still making mischief and the computer continued to annoy innocent third parties, a fact a further round of correspondence with the ISP established.
The old Dell has been quarantined, an even older laptop pressed into temporary service and the hunt for a replacement model is on in earnest. As the stand-in unit is buggy, cursed with a battery that cannot be recharged, has no wireless capacity and crashes when attempting to open .pdf files, posting will light until a new model is broken in.
Apologies -- and a question: could this infection have been transmitted by a USB memory stick? Young Master Bunyip admitted to plugging one in when his own laptop was elsewhere, and the problems began not long after.
Also, if readers have any suggestions on which model to buy, they would be much appreciated.