You, Robot

Asking for me by name, the caller identified herself as “Barney.” And who are you with, Barney? No one, just Barney, she replied, going silent. My assistant and right hand, a young woman who goes by the name of Seed, repeated the question just to be sure she had heard correctly and got the same response. Standoff. Faced with this […]

Continue reading

An Open Letter to Lisa G.

Dear Lisa: I just became aware of your negative review of Computer Medic on Yelp. Thank you, I think, for your feedback. It is neither necessary nor appropriate to respond to every critique, but you have made some pretty damaging claims that more or less demand a rebuttal. This will follow shortly. In my original version of this post I […]

Continue reading

City of Austin Sticks it to Small Business Again

I was sitting at my desk not too long ago, front door open to catch the breeze, when I noticed a car pull up outside, bearing the label “Corix Utility Services.” A mousy little man emerged from the car holding a leaflet. He wore a strange expression, seemed to have trouble expressing himself, and had nervous, darting eyes. I was […]

Continue reading

Bad Business

Because almost everyone has a computer these days, and because almost every computer breaks sooner or later, my customers tend to be a microcosm of Austin society. I see people of every age, every race, every profession, and every income level. I also see people of every ethical disposition, including, just often enough to be considered anomalous, people who clearly […]

Continue reading

New Internet Scam Goes Retro

For several years now we have witnessed a parade of increasingly sophisticated scams involving various types of malicious software. In prior cases the software was typically spread anonymously, rapidly, through thousands of automated servers or through the use of suberfuge. But as the skill  and the reach of the attacks has increased, so has the sophistication of the countermeasures deployed […]

Continue reading

FBI Virus Wreaking Havoc across US

The warning, delivered under an official-looking Federal Bureau of Investigation logo, goes something like this: Warning: Your PC is blocked for one of the reasons specified below. You have been violating Copyright and Related Rights law (Video, Music, Software) and illegally using or distributing copyright content, thus infringing Article I, Section B, Clause 8, also known as the Copyright of […]

Continue reading

The Good and the Bad of Customer Service

In this business you often have to deal with the customer service departments of hardware and software manufacturers. The experience can be easy and pleasant, frustrating and difficult to the point of enraging, or anything in between. After a while you get a pretty good idea of what kind of company you are dealing with based on their customer service. […]

Continue reading

On the Care and Feeding of Digital Devices

A woman came into the shop the other day, obviously frustrated, even upset. She had two laptop computers that weren’t working. Both were older machines. One simply would not start, and the other had, apparently, a broken DC connector (the device that carries power into the laptop from an AC adapter.) One computer appeared to have a failed mainboard, making […]

Continue reading

Security 2010 Continues to Wreak Havoc

Since January, the Internet has been bombarded with the latest iteration of the Security 2010 scareware, with fresh outbreaks coming every few days. This blog has written previously about  it. This malware is the latest generation of a family of rogue software known by many names going back to at least 2006. The basic MO remains the same: On startup […]

Continue reading

Missed Callings

The phone message, left by by an obviously irritated male caller, was brief and to the point: “The only way to get through to you is to send a (bleeping) message because you’re never around to answer the (bleeping) phone. Well forget it–I’m going to take my business somewhere else.” The tone of voice was borderline hostile with hints of […]

Continue reading

New Twist in Security 2010 Outbreak

Lately, we’ve been seeing a great deal of the Security 2010 malware, the subject of an earlier post. It comes in a number of different flavors but is, so far, removable without major disruption in most cases. It continues to surprise, though, with its clever little wrinkles. We recently encountered two separate cases of Security 2010 that were, apparently, successfully […]

Continue reading

A Matter of Personal Responsibility

A few days ago I received a phone call from a young man who said that his Mac laptop was damaged and could I possibly fix it. I said, yes, probably, but needed to know a bit more about the problem before committing. It turns out that he had carelessly dropped the laptop from a height, severely damaging the case. […]

Continue reading

Major Malware Outbreak

Over the last few weeks, we have seen a major outbreak of a type of malware known commonly as Security 2010. In our experience, the speed of this outbreak’s spread and it’s tremendous reach are unprecedented. For maximum impact, the authors of this pestware have been releasing updated versions every few days to stay ahead of the common database-driven anti-malware […]

Continue reading