Protecting Your Computer From Conflicker Computer Virus

Over and over we have heard the drill, and if you have listened to Mike DiMichele on WGN Website Wednesdays with Steve and Johnnie, or have visited his site SaveMyButt, you are aware that the computer virus that everyone is talking about is not so dire if you follow good computer housecleaning skills.

First make sure all your Window updates have been installed, and that your anti-virus program has the latest updates.

Here is the key.  You should already be protected.  Yep!  If you listen to the show and actually do the things we suggest, you really will have prevented most of the problems your computer will experience.  There are two problems that can cause your computer to get infected.  The common cold, and YOU!

Well, maybe not the common cold.

But, if you enjoy listening to the show every week and don’t DO what we recommend almost every week, then your computer is partially or fully vulnerable to a lot of malicious infections.

Here are 3 tips that will help you prevent almost all threats from infecting your computer.  This includes Conficker.

1.  Make sure that you have your Windows Operating System up to date.  There are a lot of people who disable automatic updates because it bugs them or because someone told them it’s better to turn it off.

Microsoft issues updates regularly to patch new security issues.  You MUST turn automatic updates on.

Also, Microsoft patched the issue that allows the Conficker worm to infect your computer way back in October.  Yet, at least 12 million computers have been infected.  Go figure.

You can ensure that you have this particular patch by going to http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/Bulletin/MS08-067.mspx.  Scroll down and click on the version of Windows you have installed on your computer to download the patch.  Make sure it is installed.

2.  Next, you need to make sure that you have good active protection.  Active means that it is always running, keeping an eye on activity on your computer.

This active protection I am talking about is your anti-virus program.  You NEED to have a modern version of a good anti-virus and make sure automatic updates for it are turned on and it is updated.

By modern I mean that your version of Norton, McAfee, AVG, Avast, NOD32, Trend, Bit Defender, and all of the rest of the big named products should be the most current version. No more than a year old.

How much money do you spend changing the oil in your car every year?  The purchase of a new copy of a good anti-virus is far cheaper.  Or, you can can install one of the good free products like Avast, which I recommend and is available for download by clicking the Downloads link in the menu at the top of the blog, or AVG 8 for new machines.

At least download and install the trial version of a good anti-virus.  This will give you at least 30 days of free protection.

3.  Finally, avoid the Conficker.C virus.  Don’t do searches with the word Conficker or Downadup.  The bad guys know you will be looking for information and many sites could be infected.

Stay away from websites that you are not familiar with.  Don’t fall for the removal tool tricks.  Many of them are fake and will infect you computer. 

Don’t use Torrent sites to download music, movies, or files.

Don’t click on attachments in email if you were not expecting them.  Especially this week, verify that your sister sent you those pictures.

This worm can be spread using a USB thumb drive or external drive as well as over your
home or business network. If your protection is correct, it should catch it.

Practice safe surf.

If you follow these three methods to protect your computer, the chances are you will not become infected by Conficker or any other virus.  Unless you click on something you should not.

How to remove Conficker/Downadup if you are infected.

You know if you are infected if you open any browser and try to go to one of the security companies like Symantec (Norton), McAfee, F-Secure, or any of them and you get an error something like “Page Can Not Load”.

If you need to remove Conficker, download one of the several programs in the links I have listed below and follow the instructions after  you install it.

You should do a complete clean up and tune up of your computer after you remove Conficker.  There will be other malware on it if Conficker was on it.

Removal Tools (Use any one of them)

I have not used all of these products.  They were obtained from their
respective manufacturer sites.

If you are on a network, home or business, unplug your computer from the Internet after you download the tool and before you run it.

Bit Defender Removal Tool
Bit Defender For Computers On A Network Removal Tool
F-Secure Removal Tool
McAfee Removal Tool
Microsoft Removal Tool
Norton Removal Tool

If You Like The New York Times…..

…you will appreciate a good read about the paper from Vanity Fair.  It is not a love piece, but rather a well-written article by Mark Bowden that is a fair, and at times blunt assessment of the business side to what is the  most important newspaper in the nation.   I took the liberty of using one of the pictures in the article here as it is really wonderful, and I want to show it off, and promote this read.

UPDATED….with a another view of the Vanity article.

new-york-times-0905-01

The publishers of The New York Times, from left to right: Adolph S. Ochs (who ran the newspaper from 1896 to 1935); Arthur Hays Sulzberger (1935–61); Orvil E. Dryfoos (1961–63); Arthur Ochs Sulzberger (1963–92); and Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr. (1992–present).

With a doomsday clock ticking for newspapers as we know them, no one has more at stake than fourth-generation New York Timespublisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr., who is scrambling to keep his family’s prized asset alive. Some see him as a lightweight cheerleader, others as the last, best defender of quality journalism. Talking to company insiders, the author examines the nexus of dynasty and character that has brought the 57-year-old Sulzberger to the precipice.

A short section of a rather long and insightful read follows.

The Sword and the Stone

America is not kind to the heir. He is a stereotypical figure in our literature, and not an appealing one at that. He tends to be depicted as weak, pampered, flawed, a diluted strain of the hardy founding stock. America celebrates the self-made. Unless an heir veers sharply from his father’s path, he is not taken seriously. Even in middle age he seems costumed, a pretender draped in oversize clothes, a boy who has raided his father’s closet. The depiction may be unfair, but it is what it is.

Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr. is fair-skinned with small, deep-set light-brown eyes. He has a high forehead with a steepening widow’s peak, his crown topped with a buoyant crop of wavy hair, now turning to gray. He is a slight man who keeps himself fit, working out early in the morning most days of the week. He has a wide mouth that curls up at the edges, and when he grins he is slightly buck-toothed, which adds to an impression, unfortunate for a man in his position, of puerility. He is a lifelong New Yorker, but there is no trace whatsoever of region or ethnicity in his speech. When he chooses to be, Arthur is a fluent, eager, even urgent talker, someone who listens impatiently and who impulsively interrupts, often with a stab at humor. He has delicate hands with long fingers, which he uses freely and expressively in conversation. He is long-winded and, in keeping with a tendency toward affectation, is fussily articulate, like a bright freshman eager to impress, speaking in complex, carefully enunciated sentences sprinkled with expressions ordinarily found only on the page, such as “that is” and “i.e.” and “in large measure,” or archaisms like “to a fare-thee-well.” He exaggerates. He works hard, endearingly, to put others at ease, even with those who in his presence are not even slightly intimidated or uncomfortable.

His witticisms are hit-and-miss, and can be awkward and inadvertently revealing. “Some character traits are too deep in the mold to alter,” says one longtime associate. Arthur has the clever adolescent’s habit of hiding behind a barb, a stinging comment hastily disavowed as a joke. Some find him genuinely funny. Others, particularly those outside his immediate circle, read arrogance—the witty king, after all, knows that his audience feels compelled to laugh. His humor can also be clubby. He will adopt, for instance, a pet expression that becomes an in-joke, which he will then deploy repeatedly. One of these is “W.S.L.,” which stands for “We Suck Less,” a self-deprecatory boast, which Arthur will use in discussions of the industry’s woes as a reminder to those in the know that, for all its travails and failings, his newspaper remains, after all, The New York Times.

While clearly smart, Arthur is not especially intellectual. For what it’s worth, he is a Star Trek fan. His mind wanders, particularly when pressed to concentrate on complicated business matters. Diane Baker, a blunt former investment banker who served for a time as the chief financial officer of the New York Times Company, has described him as having the personality of “a twenty-four-year-old geek.” She did not long survive Arthur’s ascension to the chairman’s office. His 30-year marriage has reportedly foundered over a relationship Arthur had with a woman named Helen Ward, from Aspen, Colorado, whom he met on a group excursion to Peru. Since separating from Gail, he has been living alone and has not been involved with Ward or anyone else. Perturbations on the home front are also a family tradition. (Arthur’s grandfather Arthur Hays Sulzberger was always, as the saying goes, a tough hound to keep on the porch. His father, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, paid child support for 16 years to a newspaper-staff member who bore a child she claimed was his—this according to Susan E. Tifft and Alex S. Jones in The Trust, a history of the Times.) Arthur is provincial. Asked once if he had seen a story on the front page of that day’s Post, he looked confused until it was explained that the item had appeared in The Washington Post. He said, “I only read the Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the New York Post.” He sometimes takes the bus or subway to work, and for many years jogged in Central Park. Recently his knees have started to bother him, so he now prefers exercising on an elliptical trainer. He also takes Pilates classes and can be evangelical about them, telling friends the practice wards off arthritis, which has begun to worry him. But he is not a complete health nut. He still enjoys unwinding with a cigar and a martini. He still goes on motorcycle treks with his cousin Dan Cohen and other friends. He is drawn to feats of personal daring, and is an avid rock climber, a vestige of his enthusiasm for Outward Bound. He has little interest in sports, particularly team sports, and dismissed as silly the effort to lure the Olympic Games to New York City, which included plans for a sports stadium in Manhattan. In a presentation at the Times building, Arthur greeted the scheme’s promoters with cutting sarcasm, even though the paper’s editorial board supported it.

Norm Coleman Dealt Blow By Court, Al Franken Celebrates Decision

When will the circus end so Democratic winner Al Franken can be seated and start to do the work for the people of Minnesota?  Well, tonight we are closer to the end, and even a source close to the Republican former Senator, and now poor-loser, Norm Coleman said “Its not looking good.” Well duh…you lost the election months ago!   Republican Coleman knows he has nothing left of his political career, and so is trying everything in his dirty deck of cards for a trick.  Thankfully the Court dealt Coleman one in the nards today.

After seven weeks of reviewing a hand recount, millions spent on legal fees and a tough legal ruling Tuesday afternoon, Norm Coleman still looks like the loser in the Minnesota Senate race.

But even as Democrat Al Franken’s campaign celebrated a three-judge panel’s decision to put at most 400 ballots back in play, the Coleman camp is still promising to take its case to the Minnesota Supreme Court. And it’s not ruling out an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court or filing a new lawsuit in federal district court.

Ben Ginsberg, a central player for George W. Bush during the 2000 Florida recount and Coleman’s lawyer, said, “If the court does not reverse its decision, it will give us no choice but to appeal that order to the Minnesota Supreme Court.”

And Ginsberg said it was “an open legal question” on whether the candidate leading after the Minnesota Supreme Court rules should be certified the winner and thus be seated in the Senate.

In its ruling Tuesday, the three-judge panel ordered absentee ballots to be turned over to the Minnesota secretary of state’s office by April 6. The ballots would then be counted in open court by April 7.

Once the ballots are counted on April 7, the court will very likely issue a final opinion, which can be appealed to the state Supreme Court within 10 days. That means Minnesota will most likely be without a second senator for at least the rest of April, a boon to the GOP, which is trying to prevent Democrats from getting their 59th seat in a chamber where 60 is king.

All told, the math really doesn’t look good for Coleman after this decision, as he would have to win an overwhelming majority of these 400 ballots in question to overcome Franken’s 225-vote lead, and not every one of these ballots will necessarily be opened and recounted.

“We are obviously pleased,” Marc Elias, chief legal counsel for Franken, said in a conference call with reporters. “Obviously, the math is going to be very difficult for former Sen. Coleman and his legal team. … We feel pretty good about where we stand, but we are going to wait until Tuesday for these ballots to be opened and counted.”

Dane County 911 Works Efficiently, Speedily

We never think we will need 911, but when we do it is comforting to know that it works as it should.  Last night was such a time to know that Dane County has a working 911 system that meets the needs of the public.   After a less then fun-filled night at our home, there is a bit of humor that also can now be added to the story.  In addition I add for my readers  just a note as a friendly reminder to always keep your cars locked, even in your own driveway.  That lesson has now been taught to a certain old women in the neighborhood.

Last night at 3AM, after too many chapters of Brad Meltzer’s “The Book Of Fate” (a fun read!) I went to bed and had my earphones in while listening to WGN radio.  I soon started to slumber but it was not long before we were awakened by the flashing lights of the motion detector by our cars.  This has happened a few times over the past month or two.  This time, I flew to the window quickly enough and discovered a man wearing a ski mask in our neighbor’s car, The old woman had left it unlocked again!  I banged the window with my knuckles loud enough for the man to hear (amazingly I did not break the glass) and the guy climbed out of the car, flipping James, who was now also at the other bedroom window, and myself the bird. He then ran off.  Looking back on it I think I am more angry with a thief having the balls to flip me off in my own driveway after an attemepted robbery, than I am with the idea he was here to steal in the first place.  Cheeky little scum-bag.  

I then grabbed the phone and called 911.  The operator who took my call was thorough and calming, because I admit I was very upset and angry.  Within 90 seconds we had squad cars descend on the area, and I was then needing to find some clothes in the dark so in order to meet the officers.  I was quite amazed at the speed and response from both the 911 operator, and the police officers.  Out into the chilly night I went to greet Madison’s finest public servants as they started to look into whether anything had been damaged, or stolen.  He said that we were lucky to have the motion detector (as opposed to a light that is always on) since otherwise we would not have known there was something going on outside.  He cautioned us to be sure to help remind the old woman that she needed to keep her car locked.  The policeman asked us to wake the woman so that she could verify if anything had been taken and to lock her car.  As he waited for her to amble to the car, he said, “She is going to want to thank you that she still has a car to get into tomorrow morning.”   James and I laughed a bit, as the woman is not known for her demonstrative displays of gratitude. (There is humor in everything….we just need to look for it.)

All Eyes Today On Special Election In New York

The outcome of this congressional election will be an indicator of what the public is thinking about the policies and hopes of America in early spring 2009.  This is what many of us have been watching and waiting for during the past weeks.

Voters in a House district in New York will elect a replacement on Tuesday for Kirsten E. Gillibrand, the Democrat tapped to replace Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Senate after she became Secretary of State.

That said, a few lessons will certainly be drawn from the race.

The decision by the Democratic National Committee to feature Mr. Obama — understandable, given the president’s popularity — could carry some small risk to Mr. Obama. Should Mr. Murphy not pull out a victory, the result will be seized on by Republicans as evidence that Mr. Obama’s power is fading, though how far this line of thought will travel is an open question.

“I think that’s why he only put a toe in,” Mr. Davis said. “The tradition on this is in special elections, the president’s candidate typically loses.”

Potentially more interesting, though, is what the vote says about the political potency of the battle over the stimulus package — whether House Republicans, who voted unanimously against it, made a mistake in putting up a unified front against the legislation.

Mr. Murphy supported the package; Mr. Tedisco equivocated until, after being taunted by Democrats, he finally said he would vote against it. By every account, that awkward handling of the issue by Mr. Tedisco helped to transform the race.

“Here’s what I think you do know here: when the Democrats stood strong — when Murphy said, ‘I support the stimulus plan’ — he closed the gap 30 points,” said Rahm Emanuel, Mr. Obama’s chief of staff. “You know and I know this should not be dead even.”

Mr. Wasserman of the Cook Report, an independent political newsletter, said: “The race is pretty even right now. But it didn’t start out that way. Republicans started with a known figure. Democrats started off with someone who isn’t known.”

But the situation has been complicated in the closing stages by a Republican attempt to focus attention on the deletion by the Democratic Congress from the stimulus bill of a clause that might have prevented the payment of some bonuses to executives of American Insurance Group. Mr. Tedisco has used the action to link Mr. Murphy, a venture capitalist, to the issue of bonuses, a flash point for many voters.

Until 2006, the 20th Congressional District was solidly Republican; it was one of just six New York Congressional districts that voted for George W. Bush in 2000. The incumbent, John E. Sweeney, had won in 2004 with 66 percent of the vote, and lost narrowly to Ms. Gillibrand two years later after his campaign became embroiled in a series of embarrassing episodes. Republicans enjoy a 75,000 edge in voter registration.

“The fact this race is close at all is a big deal,’” said Jen O’Malley Dillon, the executive director of the Democratic National Committee. “It’s a tough, tough district.”

President Obama Racks Up Frequent Flier Miles

The nation can be proud that we are sending an intelligent and forward thinking President to represent our nation at the meetings to held overseas.  The travel agenda is packed full, and the stamina level will be tested even for an energetic and robust leader such as ours.   Some are likening this first foreign trip by President Obama to the one taken by President Kennedy to Berlin.  The world has high hopes, as we all do.  Safe travels, Mr . President.  You do us proud.

KNOLLER’S NUGGET, from CBS’s Mark Knoller: President Obama will have six legs on Air Force One totaling 10,997 miles: Andrews AFB to London: 3,674 miles … London to Strasbourg, France: 401 miles … Strasbourg to Prague, Czech Republic: 322 miles … Prague to Ankara, Turkey: 1,134 miles … Ankara to Istanbul, Turkey: 217 miles … Istanbul to Andrews AFB: 5,229 miles

Sarah Palin Getting Advice From Church of Scientology’s, And Fox News Reporter, Greta Van Susteren

The wacky world of Sarah Palin is venturing further out into the far reaches of the unknown.  I think at some point Palin’s world will connect with that of  the equally strange Michael Jackson’s Never-Land.  What a union that will be.  Until then we have the latest news made known first by Politico this weekend that the Alaska Governor is taking weekly advice from the ‘fair and balanced’ FAUX News reporter Greta Van Susteren and her husband, both of which are involved in the cult known as the Church of Scientology.

Wow!   How do all the conservatives that lick Palin’s shoes find all this latest news about the Governor that is slated to save the GOP and the nation?  And what does this say about the news network that pretends it does not have its head up the elephant’s butt? 

My question is why would Greta pony up to the most brain dead Republican on the national stage?  Even now Ronald Reagan has more brain stem activity than Sarah Palin!

In her Fox News blog, Van Susteren vehemently deniedoffering Palin any advice, and called the authors to task for not checking on this allegation. Let me give Van Susteren her due. This is a serious charge of direct professional misconduct, and there should have been more than a throwaway line from an unnamed source to back it up. The allegation begs further questioning.

But what Van Susteren does acknowledge in her “brief” on the subject is equally troubling:

1. She acknowledges that her husband, John Coale, has been advising Palin, that they are in weekly contact, and that he played a central role in the formation of her national political action committee, SarahPAC–all while she has been covering Palin for Fox News.2. She acknowledges that her husband met Palin through Van Susteren’s media contacts with the governor. In short, he used his wife’s journalistic access to Palin to gain his own political access.

 There are some serious journalistic conflicts of interest taking place here, and Van Susteren is either being duplicitous or disingenuous to characterize them as “silly.”

And then this about Greta’s husband.

Coale’s extensive training in Scientology is a matter of public record. He has completed the organization’s course OT-VII, Scientology’s second most powerful level.

Moreover, Coale has been a major player in national political circles for nearly a quarter century. The Gawker recently obtained a chilling and revelatory document–“How Scientologists Can Take Responsibility for and BE AT CAUSE OVER the Fourth Dynamic”– signed by Coale, which not only in riddled with Scientology jargon, but also provides troubling insight into his overall political strategy.

And this meshes with the conservative evangelicals that are to be the base of a Sarah Palin for President campaign?

Never-Land can not be far away….

Watch Alaska Volcanic Clouds in Motion

so2_gome2_anim

There is nothing quite like Space Weather for the most awesome news and quite frankly entertainment about space, weather, and science.

Alaska’s Mt. Redoubt volcano has erupted at least 19 times since March 22nd, and several of the larger blasts have hurled plumes of ash and gas into the lower stratosphere. The GOME-2 (Global Ozone Monitoring Experiment) sensor onboard Europe’s MetOp-A satellite is tracking Mt. Redoubt’s sulfur dioxide clouds, colored red in this 5-day animation. (Go to link to see motion of the volcanic clouds…as I somehow botched placing this correctly on this post…but just think this is still most remarkable.)

The sequence begins on March 25th and ends on the 29th. One cloud has just crossed North America en route to Europe; a second cloud is leaving Alaska on the same east-west track. The last time an Alaskan volcano blew its top (Kasatochi in 2008), clouds like these caused fantastic sunsets around the northern hemisphere. More could be in the offing. If you live along the SO2 ground track, keep an eye on the twilight sky for signs of Redoubt.