Something’s up, y’all, and I’m not sure what to do. A couple of days ago, I saw weird stuff on my computer screen out of the corner of my eye. It happened when my computer thought I’d left the room. Whatever had popped up on the screen was fleeting, though, so I wasn’t too concerned. When I sat back down at my desk, the weird stuff was gone. I chalked it up to some fluke − like when you’re talking on the phone and the lines accidentally get crossed? I figured it was something like that.
Well it’s happened again today, and I don’t think it’s a fluke.
Now before you think that I’ve finally gone off the deep end because I think my computer has crossed that boundary between human and machine and become sentient − know that the second time this weird stuff came up on my screen was also when I got up from my desk. I’d been busy working on blog posts and was thirsty, so I went to refill my glass with iced tea. After I left the room, it’s as though the computer somehow knew this and decided to come out and play. When I came back, I found this:
among other strange pages of writing rotating over my screen. I touched my mouse. All of it disappeared again. Uh oh. Clearly, whatever this is has made itself at home on my PC.
I’ve been sitting here trying to figure out why this is occurring. I’ve discovered that every time I get still around my computer, this crazy writing pops back up. I can’t read it because it’s in some foreign language − like Arabic, maybe, or North Korean maybe (I know I also saw Asian characters of some sort, but I didn’t get a picture of whatever that was), or maybe it’s both Arabic and North Korean. So, what does this mean and where exactly is this coming from? I know, probably the Middle East and North Korea, right?
The most important question, of course, is: how do I get rid of it, destroy it, not let it back into my life or anywhere near my computer ever again? This whole thing reminds me of what happened last year when I suddenly gained over 100 potentially jihadist Twitter followers within about an hour’s time. If I thought I was freaked out then, that’s nothing compared to how I feel right now!
(By the way, since the topic of Twitter came up, I thought I’d just mention that I got my 10,000th Twitter follower this past week! 10K, Baby! Yea! − but I’m off on a tangent. Enough celebrating. Back to the problem at hand.)
Anyway, soooo…. it used to be that when I left my computer alone, my screen saver would turn on and show a rotating group of photos − innocent photos that do nothing more than float across my screen to prevent screen burn. I have no idea where these pics have gone, but they seem to be MIA now that the weird stuff has taken over.
That’s when I decided to get my daughter involved. When Lauren came home from work, I told her not to say a word but to come into my office with me for a few minutes. At first she thought something awful had happened. Then when I explained in whispers what the situation was, she just thought I was being paranoid and − stupid. (She didn’t say “stupid,” but you can tell when your kid is thinking this. Also, I did hear her use the word “paranoid.”) Trust me, she doesn’t think either of these things anymore.
Lauren humored me and obliged (only because she loves me), when I told her we had to remain stock-still so the computer would think we’d left the room. I wanted the computer to think it was safe to continue doing whatever it’s been doing behind my back. So we waited quietly and patiently − no movement or conversation whatsoever. Sure enough, the moment my computer thought the coast was clear, it started with the weird nonsense again. I motioned for Lauren to sneak closer and take a good look at what came up on my screen. I had my phone camera ready too, and I snapped the pictures I’ve posted above as evidence, so y’all can see for yourselves that I’m not imagining things or being paranoid.
Anyway, I was hoping that Lauren would know what to do or at least what I was dealing with.
“What is that?” she asked me.
“I don’t know. That’s why I called you over. I was hoping you could tell me.”
“Well, where did it come from? Did you download something?”
“Uhm, maybe. I don’t know. I don’t think so. I don’t think it has anything to do with me but, honestly, I have no idea. The only thing I can think of is that I’ve been hacked. I’ve heard that hackers are out there kidnapping peoples’ computers using ransomware. The computers lock up and then you can’t use them until you pay outrageous sums to the kidnappers via bitcoins. I thought they were only targeting medical facilities and big businesses, though, so it doesn’t make any sense for them to come after me. Huh. Maybe they’re going after smaller fish now, but on a larger scale. I sure as hell hope that’s not what’s happening. Because if that’s what’s going on, I’m screwed! First of all, David’s not going to think I have anything on my computer worth paying any kind of ransom. Also, I don’t know anything about bitcoins, so I wouldn’t be able to pay even if we could afford to. Of course, I’m broke, so, yep, no matter which way you look at it, I’m screwed! Lauren, I’ll end up losing everything if some asshole hacker kidnaps my computer! Why would they want to do that? Why pick on me? I have nothing! But, even so, I still don’t want to lose what little nothing I have! Lauren, please, please, please, MAKE THIS SCARY SHIT THAT’S ON MY COMPUTER GO AWAY!”
“Mom, calm down, it’s going to be okay. No one’s after you or your computer. At least I don’t think anyone is. Also…”
“Also, what?” I asked.
“Also, nothing. Who am I kidding − I have no idea what’s going on. I wouldn’t even know what a hacked computer looks like if I saw one. At least it’s still working, right?”
“Well, that’s a start. Maybe it’s just your screen saver. Have you tried to change it?”
“No. Is that what I need to do? Do you know how to do that?”
“Move and let me take a look.”
Lauren deftly pulled up my screen saver settings. You could see the pictures that usually rotate across my screen during times I’m not using it − but there was something else there, too − something that kept showing up for just a nano second before disappearing again − not long enough for me to take a picture of it or figure out what it was. So what the hell was this and how the hell did it get into my screen saver?!!! Lauren pulled it up several times trying to get a better look but it kept disappearing.
“I think that’s probably part of whatever’s going on with your computer. Unfortunately, whatever this is, I don’t know what you’re dealing with or how to get rid of it. I think it’s time you called your computer guy,” she concluded.
“Way ahead of you,” I said. “I called Joe earlier today, but he was swamped. Start of the week, you know? He’s supposed to call me in the morning and, hopefully, he can figure out what’s going on. I was really hoping that you could fix this tonight, though, because you’re really good at this sort of thing. Plus, I hate thinking that some asshole out there is remotely using my computer somehow for whatever crazy shit they’re using it for! Talk about rude! Who does stuff like this?!!!!”
“So is the computer guy coming out tomorrow?” Lauren asked.
“Well, he’s going to try and look at my screen via Team Viewer and then we’ll go from there. Hopefully, he can see this shit on his end and tell me what’s happening. Mostly, though, I just want him to fix it. I hope it isn’t anything too bad. Do you think it’s a virus or do you think some freaking terrorist has hacked into my computer space and is using my computer for nefarious purposes? Are the feds going to come smashing through our front door at any moment? Am I going to be embarrassed because I don’t have the house clean when they come barging in? Lauren, do you think I need to clean the house for unexpected company?!!!! God! Mom’s always warned me that I should keep it clean because you never know. She’s gotta be turning over in her grave right now thinking that I might have strangers, people of authority, no less, traipsing through my house in the condition it’s in! I can hear her now: ‘Well, if you spent more time cleaning instead of sitting in front of your computer, you wouldn’t be in the fix you’re in right now, now would you? I believe I taught you better than that. You better get busy while you still have the time!’ You can hear your grandma saying that to me, right?”
Lauren said, “Uhm. I don’t know − maybe – probably. Yeah, that sounds like Grandma. Hey, Mom, I wish I could stay and figure this out with you, but this is way beyond me, and I gotta run. I’m meeting Kelly for dinner and I’m already late. Listen, good luck with your computer – and the feds if they come. Better the feds, though, than terrorist assassins who’ve figured out that you’re on to them and have no other choice but to kill you now, right? And Grandma –she’ll just have to turn over in her grave if unexpected company shows up. I mean what’s she gonna do? Come down from Heaven and yell at you for not dusting? Uhm, also, just one more thing – until your computer guy gives you the all clear, you might want to hold off on sending any emails right now – just in case it’s a virus. And try not to worry, okay? I’m sure whatever’s going on is something simple and not sinister at all. By the way, you do know that I was just joking about would-be assassins, don’t you?”
“Actually, I hadn’t thought about that until you mentioned it. But now I am. Seriously, do you think our lives could be in danger?”
“No, of course not. You just heard me say I was just kidding with you. Honestly, Mom, you’re overreacting. Look, just don’t worry. I’m sure the feds have better things to do than to beat down our door. The same goes for would-be assassins. Really. It’ll be fine. You’ll see.”
“Do you really think that or are you just trying to make me feel better?” I asked looking at my daughter for reassurance.
“Uhhh – yea, sure,” she said with all the sincerity of an oily, used car salesman, slamming the front door as she hurried away.
Super. Hackers. Feds. Potential jihadist assassins. Dust. Now Mom’s voice is in my head encouraging me to clean. It’s going to be a long night, y’all.
Provided I have access to my computer in the upcoming days, I’ll keep y’all updated when I find out what’s going on. If, however, you don’t hear from me for awhile or ever again – مرة أخرى–حسنا، على الأقل كنت قد حصلت رؤساء عن السبب. تمنى لي حظاً سعيداً، y’all! وأعتقد أنا ذاهب إلى الحاجة إليها!
Also, as I’ve been writing this post, I’ve been listening to the TV. You’re probably already aware of this, but there’s been another terrorist bombing; presumably, courtesy of another asshole suicide bomber. This time it happened at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England. At last count, over 20 dead, including children, and around 70 more hurt. Numerous parents are worried out of their minds and fear the worst because they haven’t been able to reach their kids. My heart and prayers go out to all of them. I can’t even imagine. Give your loved ones a little longer hug the next time you see them!
Please hear our prayers and hold all of us in your hands. We need you more than ever! It’s through your Son, Jesus Christ, my personal Lord and Saviour that I pray, Amen.
Just got word that Roger Moore passed away, one of my favorite all-time Bonds! He was 89. Peace be with you, Sir, and thank you for your wonderful performances!