Highway robbers did holdups – stopped travelers under threat of violence to lighten their possessions. I was heldup for several days and only today was I released and able to continue my blog journey. The ethereal robber slipped through the internet highways and abruptly hijacked my laptop. It was not a baldfaced “stand and deliver” instead a more nuanced demand for protection money – the intruder announced it had identified serious virus threats and upon activation and payment of a ransom it would protect me from them and, by inference, allow me to continue to operate my laptop. To assist me with this decision it paralyzed the laptop.

In my typical and instinctive self-reliance mode I embarked on (in hindsight amateurish) attempts to foil the intruder, like searching and deleting all recently downloaded files or trying to locate its hiding place or trying to remove it from the Windows startup protocol. To no avail.

We are visiting my son who lives in San Francisco and develops software and, when I described my failed strategies, he sighed and said it was unlikely that in a few hours I could circumvent the ingenuity of individuals who were devoting their lives to entrap the likes of me. So I took a second seat and enlisted him to raise the siege. In my layman’s language I will try describe what he did – I have probably omitted some of the steps because he moved at a brisk clip and I didn’t comprehend all that was happening.

He first moved the documents via filezilla ftp to another computer in case we lost complete control of the computer. He was not concerned that he might be moving the virus along with the documents since the second computer runs on linux which he was confident was immune to the virus. He then googled and searched his developers’ links for information on, and counter strategies to, the pernicious (my adjective) invader. Then in “safe mode” he downloaded “rkill” to momentarily break the virus induced paralysis. Then he initiated the computer’s regular anti-virus software to scan and locate the virus, but the virus prevented the scan from running. So he downloaded “malwarebytes anti-malware” software to locate and destroy the virus, which seemed to help. He also identified an antivirus software program on the computer which refused to uninstall. After several attempts and with the help of CCleaner he was able to uninstall this software. But the regular antivirus software still wouldn’t run, so he used “CCleaner” to search and cleanse the registry where fragments of the virus were hiding. With the virus(es) finally removed, he updated and ran the regular antivirus software and for good measure installed “spybot” for extra protection.

So I now have a compliant laptop and, in the next few posts, will describe our visits to the organic growing regions and food related activities in the San Francisco area.

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