Friday, August 15, 2008

The demonic virus that ate my computer: a wake-up call for life

Laptop computers have been my steady companions over the past several years. Some have worn out, and each is a little different. Computers have personalities and quirks just like their human counterparts.

In some ways, computer hard drives can be likened to our minds. A great deal of this is unconscious. Programs run in the background that we never "see" except through their outer functions. Also, there are hidden files galore that can click into action.

Computers can also pick up programs that devastate them completely. Antivirus and antispyware programs try to protect us from these things. Fortunately, I've had only one virus infection in over 10 years -- until this week.

It was in an "update" email from CNN. My guard was down, and I opened it. Within seconds, my antivirus program screamed a warning: too late. I immediately felt sick to my stomach.

An alien force seized control of my hard drive, downloading ill-begotten infestations. Odd messages spewed from my desktop: Antivirus XP 2008 is scanning your computer!! I'd never seen this "program" before, yet its icons and styling were identical to Windows. It flashed red colors like an enraged animal: 3000+ viruses need cleaning immediately!

Then it recommended its $50 "upgrade" in order to accomplish this. Not buying that, I tried to clean It, instead.

Of course, It wouldn't uninstall. The process kept aborting only part-way through. My computer and I were hostage in my own office! Words like "rogue" and "trojan" spilled from my spyware scans, and I deleted these files as fast as I could. But with each deletion, more rogue files appeared.

How could this be? Was It alive, having intelligence? It was tenacious, refusing to die.

Antivirus XP 2008 next commandeered my desktop so that only It showed on a Blue Screen of Death. No other program or button peeked through. This alien being even deleted my computer's "Restore" points, making it impossible to go back to a time before It erupted into my life.

Is this like our human lives sometimes, or what? I'm thinking Post-traumatic Stress Disorder here. Something happens, and we're never the same since.

I labored through the night, trying to undo The Thing. I grew angry, exasperated, and yet ashamed of having fallen prey to its cannibalistic Presence. Every time I deleted too many of its files its messages grew flashier, more insistent -- with a buzzer announcing more and more infections.

We wrestled, this Beast and I. I would scan with my own (normal) software, delete rambunctious viral files, and feel temporarily victorious when my computer said it was "clean". In the next moment, Antivirus XP flashed its continued presence on top of the "clean" report! Linda Blair in "The Exorcist" came to mind, her demonic voice defying the priests.

It was a complete nightmare, decimating the book chapter I'd been writing on a deadline.

By morning, I was frazzled. My computer and I needed serious help, which I in my turmoil forgot was available. But it turns out there's a Data Doctors shop nearby. Exhausted, I schlepped in both my machine and my personal issues. The Data Doctors shook their heads sadly. They knew this Beast: it had shattered many other computers and their people the previous week.

Cleaning would be tedious, they gently explained. But there was a workable process to it, and this could be followed step by step.

They needed to take out my hard drive, and scan it through an uninfected machine. Then they would scout out every hidden virus particle in every hidden file, and repair every registry change Antivirus XP had made in my system. Then they would recheck, and probably have to scan it several more times. This exorcism would require many hours of their labor -- a complete overhaul of my hard drive.

The analogy with ho'oponopono cleaning of my own inner "hard drive" FINALLY made it through my nearly impermeable intellect. A step-by-step, moment-to-moment process for cleaning errors, restoring things to "zero" or peace. Duh! I am a silly, too-proud human, who sometimes doesn't turn to the Help that's available. I can get so immersed in the "problem" that it doesn't cross my mind to ask. And when this happens, some rogue thing that is not really me is in charge -- just like Antivirus XP made itself Administrator of my computer.

Thanks to the Data Doctors, my computer is now free of demonic possession. They also installed a new antivirus program on it, different from the one I had. It's like having something that remembers to clean when we humans, in our brilliance, don't.

Some of us need all the reminders we can get. Call them wake-up calls. So thank you, whoever created Antivirus XP 2008. You reminded me that I've got plenty more hidden files inside me, awaiting opportunities to clean and erase.

Fortunately, there's a ho'oponopono conference call with Mabel Katz and Kamailelauli'i, 8/19/08. This I know for sure: it'll be much more helpful than any updates from CNN. It, too, will be a wake-up call.

You're welcome to join us on the phone that evening. You can listen as Kamaile and Mabel, both very experienced with ho'oponopono, share their insights. Also, you can ask your questions! For your convenience, you can sign up directly here: Register for 8/19/08 call.

Peace Begins with Me,
Pam

1 comment:

martina nicholson said...

marvelous, how art imitates life, and life imitates art!
A great reminder and warning not to open any CNN news!