Monthly Archives: June 2011
The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the video game industry today against California which had previous imposed a ban on the sale or rental of violent video games to anyone under 18. Previously if a retailer was caught violating the rule they could be fined $1000 for each offense. The vote went 7-2 and the court issued a statement saying that governments do not have the power to restrict the ideas of which children are exposed. I find that statement a little odd since the courts would rule differently if this was regarding exposing minors to pornography yet the courts say that state should protect children from harm but apparently they do not consider violent videos games to cause any harm.
Justice Scalia commented that children are raised reading books such as Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella or Snow White which actually has violence in them and implies that if we accept those stories then we should accept the violence in video games. I disagree though as much of the violence in the children stories are good overcoming the evil while in the video games there is promotion of violence against innocent women such as rape or killing police officers.
Justice Clarence Thomas who was one of the dissenters said “The practices and beliefs of the founding generation establish that “the freedom of speech,” as originally understood, does not include a right to speak to minors (or a right of minors to access speech) without going through the minors’ parents or guardians,”. I have to agree with Justice Thomas in that while the constitution should protect freedoms the laws probably were not intended directly for minors but for their guardians.
So now it appears that a 12-year-old with $50 that grandma gave him for his birthday can walk into any store and buy a video game that promotes the rape of innocent women and killing of police officers because the Supreme Court wants to protect his right to do so.
It’s always been up to parents to regulate what our kids do but it helps when the retailers are helping out as well. After all my son does not have the right to purchase cigarettes yet some could argue that is a way of expressing yourself. Yes there is a physical harm associated with it but isn’t there harm from extremely violent video games? Why put a rating on movies anymore according to the Supreme Court all 12 year olds should be able to watch any slash and hack movie. Why don’t we run a Saw marathon this weekend and line up the kids?
What are your thoughts?
I had written earlier about how to remove the Windows 7 Restore virus after I had a chance to do battle with it. This week however a co-worker had her machine infected with the Windows XP Recovery virus which is similar in how it affects the machine.
First off I already knew that I would be running Malware Bytes to remove most of the infection so I went ahead and installed it and then started the system in Safe Mode. After I was in safe mode I ran Malware bytes and had it do a quick scan to remove the virus. I rebooted the system to start undoing some of the dirty deeds the virus did.
The next thing I decided to tackle was the missing files and folders. You can run a quick command to undo this by going to Start/run then typing in cmd.exe. This should bring up a DOS screen and you should get to the root folder by typing CD hitting space then \ then hitting return. Once there you want to type attrib -h /s /d and hit return. You should see it running through tons of files and un-hiding them and you’ll see quite a few errors regarding system files it was unable to modify which is fine.
Now for the hard part I had already learned from the Windows 7 variant of this virus that it also removes all your program shortcuts. In Windows 7 there was a way to restore the deleted shortcuts but that same option was not available in Windows XP. I decided to surf the web to see if another tech geek out there knew how to do this. Fortunately a blog article on InterWorks written by Brian Richards explained exactly how to do this. I’m going to quote his blog directly for this part:
To fix the last piece of this puzzle, we need to get the start menu shortcuts back. Open windows explorer and look for the following folder: %userprofile%\local settings\temp\SMTMP You will notice there are a couple folders in here. The folder named “1” corresponds to the start menu. “2” is the quick launch, and “4” appears to be the desktop. Quick launch and desktop shortcuts dont get affected though so all we need is the “1” folder. For XP, copy the contents of “1” into C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Start menu For Windows 7 machines copy the contents of “1” into C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu
Finally, check the desktop for a “XP Restore” shortcut and delete it. Also remove the “Windows xp restore” folder and 2 shortcuts from the start menu.
Now I decided to do a bit of cleanup of the registry and tried to download CC Cleaner. I went ahead and googled it and found the link I wanted but when I clicked it I was sent off to some website selling shoes or some other random spam. It appeared that now the google links were being hijacked. This is actually another virus known as the google redirect virus. I searched in settings for Internet Explorer to make sure nothing there was suspicious and I didn’t see anything so I went back to web surfing. I found many articles including this blog that suggested that I go download the TDSS Trojan-rootkit program. I would download however the virus would not allow the program to run. I read that you should just rename the program and I did and still to no avail. I finally found some other suggestions to try running another program called combofix. It turns out combofix had to do quite a few things such as set up a Windows Recovery Console. It did find a virus attached to a system driver and was able to remove it. After rebooting I found that the google links were no longer hijacked.
I’ll admit that I did spend a few hours trying to overcome the google redirect virus as many of the original suggestions just were not working. If you aren’t comfortable doing some of the things discussed in this article then you may want to get some help from an IT professional. Don’t be surprised if they have trouble killing that google redirect virus as it is a rootkit virus and without the proper tools they may end up telling you that they need to reformat your computer and start all over.
Hopefully you can use the tools I described here to easily defeat the virus.
*edit Changed the link from Brian Richards to InterWorks at the request of the author
It looks like Verizon is planning to stop offering unlimited data plans at the end of July. According to Droid Life data plans may look like the following:
- 2GB – $30/month
- 5GB – $50/month
- 10GB – $80/month
If you would like to add tethering on to any of those packages, you can purchase 2GB of data at an additional cost of $20 per month.
Data plans w/ tethering:
- 4GB – $50/month
- 7GB – $70/month
- 12GB – $100/month
If you go over your purchased amount of data, it will cost you $10 per 1GB.
Tablet data plans will now go to $30 for 2GB of data as well instead of $20 for 1GB of data that is currently available.
It appears on other posts from Droid Life that Verizon is saying that if you are a current customer that you keep your existing unlimited data plans but new subscribers will have to move to the tiered pricing. Some people are speculating that if you switch out your phone and modify your plan that you would be moved to the tiered pricing. Droid Life reported that their sources inside Verizon say that now you can still upgrade and keep your unlimited data plan. I wouldn’t hold your breath though I had upgraded my sons phone with Tmobile and we got switched to a different plan that doesn’t save us as many minutes as the previous plans to the point that we try to keep a watch on our family plan.
Verizon had started supporting the iphone which probably contributed to their increased data usage along with many of their new droid phones that they are marketing. So what does the tiered pricing mean for the data plans. Well I personally don’t use that much data but I know my son does. My sons actually spends time one Youtube streaming videos on his phone which has high data usage since you have both sound and video playing. We are currently on Tmobile and the rumors are that all cell phone companies will be moving to a tiered pricing plan soon. If your company forces you to tiered pricing what would you do?
It appears that yet another software program is out there pretending to be an anti-virus product when it is in fact a virus. I was working at a client’s office when they handed me one of their personal laptops. They told me that they were pretty sure that the machine was infected since they kept getting pop-ups telling them that the PC was infected. I look at the laptop and noticed there were in fact multiple alerts on the machine stating that the hard drive was crashing, the hard drive was running low on space and that the machine had multiple viruses. The program claims that it can scan and determine how to fix the problems but if you want the program to actually fix the issues you must purchase the “PRO” version and pay money for it. Well don’t do it it’s a scam and who knows what these people will do with your credit card information so don’t pay them to remove their own virus.
Here’s what I did first off I installed Malwarebytes onto the laptop and tried to update but the virus was preventing me from doing updates. I went ahead and scanned and was able to delete the virus off the system plus Malwarebytes also restored the registry entries that the virus had modified. I then rebooted into safe mode and ran another scan just to be safe but it appeared that the virus had in fact been cleaned off. I checked to see if System Restore had been set and if so I was going to delete the previous system restore files since usually a virus will infect those and end up back on your machine. System Restore was disabled on the laptop so it wasn’t an issue. I rebooted the machine and updated Malwarebytes and ran my third scan which again came up clean.
I decided to check a few things on the machine before handing it back to the client and noticed that if I went to the C: Drive the contents appeared empty. I knew the hard drive couldn’t be empty since the laptop actually booted all the way back to the desktop. I had determined that the virus had in fact marked all the files to be hidden. There are a few ways to un-hide them and I started first at the command prompt but ended up finishing the job in the Windows interface. First in Windows you need to set your folder options to allow you to view hidden files. An easy way to get there is open the C drive then underneath Organize select “folder and search options”. From there go to the view tab and find that part and select “Show hidden files, folders and drives” This will now show you all your files. Select them go to properties and deselect “hidden”. This will take a while to un-hide all your files.
The next issue I found was that all of the shortcuts were deleted. Not just from the desktop but if I went into Start, Program Files and check any folder all of the shortcuts were missing. At this point I was starting to think a restore of the system may be necessary since it is difficult to know how each shortcut was setup. After working with it a bit I learned that you could restore shortcuts to previous versions. The fastest way to restore all shortcuts is to go to Start, then right-click on All Programs, then select “open all users”. From there right-click on Programs and on the drop down box you should see “restore previous versions” if you machine is keep track of changes to shortcuts you can restore the previous versions. This machine had multiple different versions and I selected a date before the virus had attacked. Now all the shortcuts were restored and the client could access their programs and files.
I had seen viruses like this before in previous versions of windows and in fact blogged about it here. It seems like the site I suggested for Microsoft’s free online scan is no longer available but Microsoft now has a free anti-virus product known as Security Essentials that was to replace the previous online scan that they offered.
I noticed that Malwarebytes is now offering a free trial of their full version of their product. The free version will still scan and remove viruses but the full version offers real-time protection.
Oh by the way the laptop had registered version of McAfee and for some reason it still let the virus infect the laptop. I don’t know if the way the virus infects the PC’s bypass the anti-virus or what but when I got the Windows Vista version of the virus on one of my machines it was protected by Norton 360 at the time and still got on the machine.
What anti-virus products do you use and how effective are they?
Most Macintosh users feel quite safe using their computers. Over the years there really hasn’t been any virus, trojans or other bad programs out there that really does any harm to their computers. Part of that may have been the operating system but one really nice feature is that since so few people use a macintosh malware and virus developers normally spend their time writing programs that attack the more heavily used Microsoft products.
Recently a program was written to target Macintosh computers and while the program itself does no actual harm to the computer it tricks the user into paying for the product in order to remove it. This program has multiple names such as MacDefender, Mac Protector or Mac Security. This program is actually just a rogue anti-virus program which is a program that acts as an anti-virus program but sometimes actually is a virus. They are generally very hard to remove, at least in the windows world, and sometimes the authors of the program have you pay them to remove the software. I personally wouldn’t give my credit card information to someone who hijacked my computer but some folks don’t realize that they are dealing with such a program.
The good news for Apple folks is that Apple quickly created a security fix to help clean the rogue program off your Macintosh if you accidentally downloaded and installed it. It looks like though after 8 hours of the patch being out the authors of the rogue program came out with a new version that the security patch could not remove. The patch would remove older versions of the malware and it looks like Apple will continue to publish new updates to remove the new variants of the rogue software as it finds them. In other words Apple folks now get to join the Windows users in having to make sure their computers are now up to date in order to keep them secure.