What a strange little world
This was a record week for computer help. Like most resident geeks, I give a lot of computer help, which I like because it makes me feel useful. But this week was a record. In a single week, I:
- Recovered data from a “mostly dead” hard drive
- Rescued an iMac hard drive from a greedy log file
- Removed piles of spyware from a laptop
- Restored a Windows box to a pristine bloat free state
I want to talk about the two weirdest cases: the iMac and the spyware infested laptop.
First the iMac: I got a call from a long time friend whose fancy iMac with the ginormous hard drive was running out of disk space. She had tried deleting some files, but every time she freed up some space, the drive would fill up again within days. We’re not talking about a little drive here either. It was 450 gigabytes! My first thought turned out to be the right one: An over-eager program was logging like crazy. Sure enough, some lame-o Dashboard widget had been filling the /Library folder with log entries. One of the log files was over 300Gb in size. Amazing! As a programmer, I know exactly how it happened too. Some developer was creating a whiz-bang Dashboard widget, and added some logging code to debug his widget. He never in a million years imagined that the logging code would get executed like once a second for 2 straight weeks. But it did. This happens a lot. On one of my work systems, we found a multi-gigabyte log file from VNC that filled our entire disk. VNC! If you know what that is, you’re saying, “What?! I didn’t even know VNC had log files.” Yeah, me neither. Anyway, isn’t it funny how, in this day of modern technology, a simple mistake by a well meaning programmer can just ruin your day? It’s a strange little world we live in.
The other story involves a spyware infested laptop. An innocent lady in my neighborhood was “informed” by her laptop that her computer was not protected. She needed to update it right away or risk being “infected”. So she did, to the tune of a $200 subscription. The so-called anti-virus software she installed turned out to be a fraudulent company that, to repay her patronage, also drained her bank account using the debit card number she had supplied. So this is really a rant against you fraudsters out there who seem to think it’s okay to suck money out of unsuspecting victims by scaring them into “securing” their computers. I also blame computer manufacturers who can’t just sell computers any more. They have to sell a whole pile of crappy software that you don’t want or need on your new computer, like free trials of anti-virus software and AOL subscriptions.
Yes, it’s a strange little world we live in.