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What a week of transitions, waiting…and a dose of New injected into my Prior Familiar.

Just what am I talking about?  Well, I started my new job on Wednesday as best I could – I’ll get to that in a second – and also had a test in patience waiting for a new debit card from my bank.

And reflecting back on these two things, well, they both tie into a simple yet oh-so-critical object – a plastic card!  Hilarious?  Frustrating?  Yes and yes.

At work I need a cardkey to get where my new team is located.  Once inside the building our offices are in another small cluster which is secured off.  Makes total sense but is a little inconvenient.  Especially when you have to step out to use the restroom.   Ah, but this is all temporary stuff and not unusual.  It’s nice to know this so it doesn’t burn a bunch of mental cycles that I need for getting to know everyone on the team and actually learning what my new job is going to be.  Just a few more days now and I’ll be all set. Until I’m able to get my new laptop all set up, it’s old school time with a tablet of paper and a pen.  I’m actually just a 2 minute walk from the building where my last engagement just wrapped up and have already run into a few people from my former team! 

The home laptop here…well, that’s an ugly story with thankfully a happy ending.  Last week I got a virus.  No idea how exactly.  I’ve learned many things about viruses and virus removal since this episode.  One is that viruses can lie dormant in your machine for some time and then suddenly spring to life.  There’s no traceable way to determine just when you got infected.

I also learned that when you’re prompted to run the chkdsk utility (on a PC), DON’T.  Running chkdsk is perfectly fine; prompts to run it are not.  They’re ways to lure you into running the utility which then installs malicious code that you may have been exposed to.  This is me, a non-technical person, trying to explain this as plainly as I can.  I am sure there’s much more behind the scenes so techies out there bear with me.

And when you get pop up error messages that your hard disk is failing, it’s not.  I saw these messages and it’s scary how freakin’ legit they looked.  I admit I panicked a bit.  This laptop is 5 years old, which is ancient relatively speaking.  I figured, oh man, this is it…it’s crapping out!  Am I going to lose any data?  EEEEK!  In reality, when your computer hard disk is failing, you won’t get pop up warnings.  Your computer will freeze up or not boot up at all.

THEN this console dashboard-y thing pops up on my screen and proceeds to scan for errors and fix them.  I’d never seen anything like this before.  What the hell?  It then spit out a report that some errors were fixed but some were not able to be fixed.  For $85, why not upgrade to the premium version of this scanning tool?  It was called something like XP Fix.  Looking back it was eerie how authentic everything appeared.  But of course it wasn’t.  This thing even had the secure icons that you see on shopping websites all the time.

In my heat of panic, I agreed to purchase the upgrade!  How could I be such a dumbass?  You know, the minute I clicked to purchase, my stomach went into a knot.  I knew I’d make a terrible mistake.

What else happened from the virus?  Well, I lost all of my icons, like things you see in your start menu and all.  Turns out they weren’t deleted, just hidden.  Weird.  After the 2nd troubleshooting session my icons were visible again, but I still wasn’t completely free from the virus(es).  My online search results would get hijacked and redirected toward strange spammy looking websites advertising cheap flights to Beijing or whatever.  Ummmm, yeah right.  This thing was so intense it even attacked my anti-virus software, but made it appear to be running normally.  Only after some deep troubleshooting were the techs and I able to see the real story and fix it.  Yikes.

So after 3 very long troubleshooting sessions with Dell over 3 days, I’m all cleaned up.  None of the error fixing stuff from the console pop up was legit.  And believe me, after the 1st session was done (I thought it would be the last but it wasn’t), I called my bank and had them cancel my debit card.  Thankfully there were no unauthorized charges on it; still it was good peace of mind to cancel it.  I had to wait a week for the new one to arrive, so it was a little inconvenient doing errands old school with my checkbook, but it was worth the wait. 

Just yet another tiny rectangle of plastic.  How much we come to depend upon it.