Malware from Hell

Posted on June 11, 2004 by Steve

You've been there before -- called to rescue a friend's computer from the brink of death. Here's a case that made me wish I had latex gloves. Over 400 pieces of adware, rogue processes popping ads in front of ads, and a Startup folder crammed with crapware.

It looked bad from the start. The computer was barely usable, and it had just booted up.

blue screen of near-death

The good souls at Lavasoft could massacre a few villages and still have karma to spare. The free version of AdAware cleaned 435 objects before I even updated the malware database.

at least 435 people got paid to inflict this upon us

But the mutant marketing wares weren't going down without a fight. Here a hidden process pops up an ad for a firewall, even as I am trying to download a firewall to cut off its nutrition source. (Thanks, Zone Labs!)

wouldn't you rather have a word from our sponsor?

If testing your patience were not enough, you have to clear a few more hurdles to uninstall the rest of the crapware.

you must be this literate to uninstall this crap click here if you do not want to discontinue the uninstall leverage this!

Even after knocking down all but a handful of Windows processes and scrubbing the Program Files folder (and a few reboots), there was still an occasional popup, but at least the computer was usable. There are a few more shots in the gallery.

This Is Broken is Broken

Posted on June 09, 2004 by Steve

Submitted to This Is Broken:
To: broken?
Subject: Broken: paper towel dispenser
Date: Mon, 26 Apr 2004 23:11:08 +0000

This paper towel dispenser is extremely unbroken. The only thing that can really go wrong is that it will run out of towels. But a clever spring-loaded lever detects the thickness of the roll and exposes a tiny red stripe as the level gets low. A moment's scrutiny of the amount of red visible is enough to determine if the roll needs to be replaced. The designer must have been proud of this foolproof device, and left it visible behind the clear plastic case of the dispenser.

unbroken towel dispenser eye-popping closeup

I got a polite response but my entry was not published. Apparently the Broken people aren't big on irony.