View Full Version : Up Your System. Adult, Computer Help, Fantasy 4,700

November 13th, 2014, 08:24 PM
I'm met at the door by a new client, a Mr. Adam Thompson. He's nervous, lips quivering and almost shaking in his boots. They usually are, by the time they call me. Sure, you can do it yourself. I hear that every frickin' day. “It seemed so simple, then, Oh my God.” Then comes the time, the time when you need an expert. That’s when you call me, Jerry Smith, the "Computer Expert."

“I can’t tell you how happy I am that you could make it here, Mr. Smith,” he almost whispers, looking around nervously. “On such short notice, yet.”

Yeah, they all hate to admit they need me. A macho sort of thing.

“Is that the subject?” I nod toward a Walmart computer, innocently perching on an ornate work desk, surrounded by piles of printouts. Obviously a work machine.

“Yes, sir. You see it....”

“I know. It’s my job. They fight back, but I always win.” Ignoring the pained owner, I sit down and study my subject. Its impertinent attitude stirs my emotions but I look back at it, seemingly uninterested. “Please leave us, sir. I work best alone and it might get ugly in here.”

Slowly, with an opening grin at the blank screen, I reach down and hit the power switch.

It must recognize me, or what I am, as it seems to reach toward me in hope. Stupid machine, I think as I press the power switch on the monitor. I can see sadness inherent in the screen as it attempts to boot. Definitely a sick subject. I feel sorry for the machine, but realize an infected computer is not under its own, or owner's, control. It will fight to stay infected.

When a memory check finishes, the operating system comes up, Windows 8. It's one of the newer Microsoft systems, complex and easy to compromise. The patient, or victim, sits silently, icons waiting for my first command. I, in turn, sit and stare back. I have to let it know that I’m the one in control, not the system.

After a few long minutes, the computer is becoming nervous. Most users would be punching keys by then. You see, computers are really stupid. It doesn't take much effort to fake them out.

Basically they can only add OR subtract, as well as compare and store the results. They use tricks to make you think they’re smart. If an adding type machine, it adds negative numbers together to fake subtracting, adding the same numbers many times to fake multiplying, and fakes dividing by simply adding negative numbers to a positive one, counting the times until it gets to or past zero.

In any case, once I’ve gotten it booted, I try the Internet Explorer. Almost immediately, pornography ads begin popping up. So many that they fill memory and threaten to freeze the CPU.

After installing a series of anti-adware and spyware programs through an older obscure browser, I find 178 such vermin, all shoving each other for space in memory and CPU time. No wonder the machine looks sad and runs slow.

(The best two for Windoze are both free and can be downloaded from the Internet. They are
Ad-Aware at: http://www.lavasoftusa.com/ and
Spy-Bot at : http://www.safer-networking.org/nl/home/index.html )

I make certain the owner is out of the room, then lock the door to the office. Time to really go to work. I square my shoulders and give a slight shudder, knowing I'll have to go in. In to that damned machine.


I enter through one of the USB ports in the back. I could have used the serial port, or any other entrance, but the USB is both larger and lets me right into the system without squeezing around through obscure, sometimes filthy, wires and printed circuits. As the USB ads state, Instant Connection.

It's slow going as I make my way through and around circuits in search of the CPU. I have to walk slowly. The owner must not have cleaned the interior since he bought the computer. Every time I try to hurry, I kick up dust and can't see my way. I have to be careful with all that current flowing around my feet, often ducking my head to keep from banging into components.

I know the computer doesn’t want me there, and will gladly fry me if I make a misstep. Carefully making my way around the power supply, I take stock, examining power ribbons and wires. I know the CPU can be found by following one of the data ribbons leading from the hard drive to the mother board, then following the data stream. I can also see, down at my feet, a multitude of human footprints in the dust.

Finding the CPU, I enter through a back door. Operating systems have back doors, especially those from Microfool. They let programmers get in to work on certain routines without signing in at the front desk with passwords, then walking through a maze of corridors. All to make a minor change in their program. Many programmers are lazy. Hell, I can't bitch. I make my profit from their laziness. If it weren't for their carelessness, back doors, and ports carelessly left open, I wouldn't be needed.

Once inside the CPU, or Central Processing Unit, I check my weapons. I have an anti-popup pistol, a small but powerful virus blaster, and an ad-paring knife. Keeping a low profile, I creep through empty corridors until I find a metal door labeled "Memory." I shake my head in wonder. Why does Microfool always leave its doors and ports unlocked? Their security is worthless.

I can hear an argument of some sort in one of the many memory locations. Hurrying over, I stand to the side, taking out my Acme Virus Blaster. Peeking around the corner, I see a hulking gangster-like figure. He's arguing with a blonde woman dressed in a dark business suit. She looks angry.

“You have no permission to be in here. Please leave immediately.”

“Screw you, lady. I go where I want. You mess with me and I’ll slap you silly.”

“You touch me, you big lug, and Microsoft will sue you silly.”

While I watch, the guy raises his hand and stiffens his fingers, ready to slap the lady down. I get there before he can strike. Grabbing him by the wrist, I flip the thug head-first into a wall. Before he can get up, I slam an open palm into his throat, using an old but still deadly 286 stroke. There were some good points about those old processors.

He remains on the floor, choking and holding his throat. Pulling the thug to his feet I grab him by the collar.

“The lady doesn’t want you here, Jack....”

“His name’s Sammy, Sammy the Louse. He works for the mob as a Browser Hijacker,” the lady interjects.

“And who, may I ask, are you, honey?" I know most of characters I'd expect to see in a computer, and I have never seen her before. It's a sorta closed society.

"I am the Official Microsoft Representative for this site. That’s who I am,” she tells me stiffly, iron in her eyes. “Which brings up another point. Who are you, and what are you doing here, at MY official site?”

“First things first, baby. What do you want to do with this lowlife?” I'm still holding Sammy by the throat.

She uses a cellphone to call Microsoft Security. Two aging guards, "MS Security" written on their caps, come in to escort Sammy out of the computer.

“Let’s go to the cafeteria and talk,” she suggests, more an order than a request.

Her job as an Official Representative is new to me; the previous systems didn't have one, assuming it would be a breach of privacy for the owner. Apparently privacy is no longer an important issue. Microfool did spy on their proprietary programs occasionally, on a random basis, by visiting the computers. This is the first time I've worked on one of the Eights.

On the way to the cafeteria, several strangers walk past us, the most knowledgeable giving me evil-glances as we pass. Yeah. They know their days are numbered. The older systems only contained a tiny lunchroom with microwave and a small fridge. Windoze 8, I see, has a small fast-food restaurant, complete with staff.

Normally a PC only needs a few maintenance workers to monitor and repair the timing chain and power distribution. It seems that Eight expects many visitors. Why is that? I wonder.

“I’m here to keep order and report if the owners try to put the system on more than one computer at the same time. That and make certain the Federal Spy System is operative. Also to shut the system off if they don’t register,” she tells me after I identify myself, finding out her name is Patricia. Only a clone, she has no last name.

“And what are all these people doing here?” I motion at a half-dozen others sitting around the room with us, most eating lunch. “Do they work for Microfo ... I mean Microsoft too?”

“I don’t really know. I sent word to the front office, but they never return my messages.”

“Don’t you have any idea?”

“Oh, don’t get me wrong. I know what they do, most of them that is. I just can’t do anything about it. They work for commercial interests, putting up ads and that sort of thing. When I tell them to leave, they say they have permission from the owner. Some of them even show me contracts clicked in the right places.” She sips her coffee, obviously bothered that she can’t do anything about the freeloaders.

You all know those officious types, they crave total control and get antsy if they don’t have it. As the official representative, she wants to be in charge.

“Is it all right with you if I chase them out?” I ask, obviously pleasing her by actually requesting permission.

“I certainly have no objection ... if you can do it.” She sounds relieved.

We make small talk until we finish our coffee and sandwiches and smoke our cigarettes. So far, the Government and Special Interest Groups haven’t gotten around to banning smoking inside CPUs.

“Thank you, Mr. Smith. I appreciate your help in this matter, and feel free to call on me for any help I can give you.” Walking stiffly out of the room, she's back to being a stuck up official. I make a pit stop at the restroom, coffee you know, and then go to work.

The first place I hit is the "Cookie Room." It is, of course, next to the cafeteria. Opening the door, I find shelves stacked with cookies, some dusty and static and others vibrating as they send personal information back over the Internet.

“And people wonder why their computers are running slower these days,” I mutter, eying the cluttered space, “All these things do is take up bandwidth, slowing everything down. They also gather private information about the owner and send it all over the world.”

Certainly, some cookies are useful. that was the idea behind them, initially. You can make settings at a specific website once, store it on a cookie, and then not have to sign into the site ever again. The cookie does it for you. But they can also be used for other, more nefarious, things.

Unencrypted cookies can be read by other sites, despite what you hear officially. Your passwords, preferences, type of browser you're using, dates the sites are accessed, and other data you enter are eagerly lapped up and sent to various advertising or, shudder, virus sites.

Sometimes it is coded and encrypted, sometimes not. You have to trust the site. Oh! Yeah. Sure you do. Sometimes the codes and encryptions are common knowledge in the trade, or the encryption codes are sold among the miscreants.

You should strictly regulate which cookies you leave on your system and for how long, preferably only for one session.

( There are many free programs to help in that, including CookieWall at : http://www.analogx.com/contents/download/Network/cookie/Freeware.htm . It allows you to see, delete, or make cookies permanent, also to read and have control over them. You can use it to ban certain ones completely.)

I take the time to smash them all, every one of the dirty bastards. The owner can start collecting the good ones from scratch, keeping only the ones he wants. It will mean entering the information once more for each one he really needs. I won't take any bets that the room won't be full again the next time I check. If there is a next time.

A good part of my job's already finished. His computer will be much faster now. Closing the door, I continue down the hallway, looking for more parasites.

I stop at the sound of rapid typing coming from one closed memory door. Checking inside, I find an old friend. It's Jennie the Keylogger. She doesn’t see me right away, being busy typing into her own laptop computer, sending personal information to her boss.

Jennie’s job is to keep track of the owner’s actions on the computer, repeating every key hit to her employer whenever she happens to get free bandwidth. My guess is I've freed a lot of bandwidth by busting those cookies. Whenever you hit a key on your keyboard, Jennie or someone like her records it to send to her boss. They like hiring retirees like her, saving money and giving the unemployable meaningful work. Meaningful at the computer owner's expense.

Her employer can analyze your typing for passwords and other information. It can be used in huge databases, giving your preferences to their customers. Again, it may be for innocuous purposes like counting hits at their site, but sometimes not. It's also usually without your permission -- a clear invasion of your privacy.

Jennie is a nice-looking old lady, and looks so innocent as her little white head bobs to the rhythm of her typing. She has good work habits and waits until finished before looking back at me.

“Darn it. Hi, Jerry. When did you get in?” Jennie seems mildly annoyed. She's non-violent and knows she has to leave. I respect Jennie. She's a nice woman, often giving me a cup of tea when I find her, but I have to do my job and she knows it. I can see how it's hard for a woman her age to get a good-paying position.

“Hello Jennie. How’s little Mary doing? I haven’t had time to come over lately. Girls like you keep me too busy to visit.” I laugh. Mary is her granddaughter, who I sometimes visit.

“Same-o, same-o, Jerry. Can I finish this page before I go?”

"You know me, Jennie. I can’t let you do that. Just tell your boss I caught you and go home.”

She types in a few words and shuts off her portable computer. I'm supposed to confiscate it, but won’t, knowing the cost would come out of her salary.

“Well, hope I don’t see you at work for a while, Jerry. Oh, and watch out, Crystal’s here,” She warns me.

“Goodbye, Jennie. I’ll come by when I get a chance.”

She picks up her stuff, computer and knitting kit, and leaves for an open port. Next I stroll over to the Internet Explorer, room. Like always, it's popular for Hijackers and other miscreants. I don’t know why anyone uses that browser program. It's so full of holes and defects, much like the operating system itself. Others, such as Firefox and Chromium, are much better and safer.

The first thing I see are a pair of legs sticking out of an open inspection hatch. Grabbing them and pulling, I find a small nervous-acting man holding a black box in his hand. It's a Search Page Hijacking Box, I see. He would have installed it so that whenever you want to research something you'd go to his lousy search site by default. Sure, you can search and find things from there, the difference being that sites paying him are at the top of the results. And not the cheapest or best, at that. Sometimes you have to go down ten pages to get a meaningful result. My advice is to stick with the reputable, such as Google or Yahoo.

It's easy to tell when you have one of those black boxes. If you search for "bubble gum" and the first page comes up with nothing but gambling and pornography sites, look for that box. A sneaky act from a sneaky man.

Sometimes these guys make it almost impossible to get your own search or home page back. They even try to sell you one of their own programs to get the first one off, making money from you either way. Porno and scam companies pay his to get good places on the third-rate Search Page. Unlike Google and Yahoo, he doesn't bother checking them out, simply takes their money.

“What you doin’. Dis’ eres’ my place. Go fin’ yer’ own.” He looks like the old actor, Peter Lorie, an angry Peter Lorie.

“Computer Expert.” I show him my credentials. “And you’re gone.” A swift kick in the ass and he disappears through the nearest port.

“Hey! Hey! How’s it going, brother?” a cheery salesman type greets me. “You the owner? Man, have I got the thing for you.” He slaps me on the back and continues, with a huge grin, “Hope you don’t mind, buddy. I have such great deals, I took the liberty of plugging some in here. Know you’re gonna love them, just frickin' know it. Designed just for you, and you alone. And, oh man, wait until you meet that gal, Crystal.”

I know his type on sight. Ignoring his personal magnetism, I grab his shoulders and turn him around. A push and he follows the ferret out the port. The fat bastard hardly makes it, taking three solid kicks. Maybe, just maybe, he won’t be back ... but his type always are.

It takes me a half-hour to unplug all the fat guy's ad programs, the ones designed "just for me." The trouble with some of these guys is that they honestly think they’re doing you a favor by giving you exactly what you want and need. They study data others collect. “Aha, he visited a porno site. I’ll make some money by putting my own customer’s porno sites on his computer. It'll save the computer owner time and trouble searching and make a few bucks for myself.” Honestly, that’s what they’re thinking.

To make certain you see them, they design the advertising to keep popping up to remind you -- every few minutes and by the dozens. Take your hand off the keyboard and mouse for a few seconds and here they come. Sometimes they're so hard to get rid of you have to reinstall your operating system. Belkin has been doing it lately. They have a new "Parental Control" page. Instead of merely informing you, it pops up twice a day on your browser and won’t go away until you pay. Hey, man. A public service. Save the kids. Right? Bullcrap.

Of course, they are helping you in the long run -- or so they tell you. And, of course, they also annoy you and slow down your system. If your spouse and children find those porno ads, you may get divorced or have a big fight. But the ads keep popping up every few minutes ... to help you shop.

The Instant Messenger room is next. A real nice place, neat and busy. Of course there's a lot of Spyware here. It usually comes bundled in with the free messenger programs, and is a big reason why they are free. While you’re talking to your buddies, these programs are happily sending every word to their own destinations, swiping passwords, names, addresses, phone numbers, and other information out of your conversations. Again, it’s only to help you in your future purchases, targeting ads to your specific preferences. My preference is to make my own choice.

If the Spyware companies are caught, they can point to where they have your permission. And they usually do get your permission. Not many people read the fine print while installing a program. It’s in those scrolling ten-thousand-line screens with the large "Next" buttons on the installation programs. You can usually see that information near the bottom and written in small lettering. “We reserve the right to gather information in order to help you,” or words to that effect.

Of course you have to trust them. What they do is sell the information to the salesman type guy I just kicked out. And don't fall for that other sentence. The one that says something like, "If for some reason you do not want these ads, click here and we'll remove you from our lists." If you click that button, they know your address is valid and can sell it for even more money.

After that workout, I need another cup of coffee. I'm near the cafeteria, so I walk back in. Since I'm paid by the hour, I'm not in a huge hurry.

“Hey, Jerry. Come on in, man.”

It's my old friend Mr. Jones, an FBI operative. He's stationed on PCs to look for child-porn or, more recently, terrorist activity. Jonesy's sitting with Mrs. Mabel Murphy. A member of some mother's group, she also looks for child-pornography or anything that could corrupt children. Since she's sent over by a Parent's Guidance company, I see her fairly often. A nice woman, but not very much fun to be around.

“Hi, Jonesy. I haven’t found anything to interest you yet. You got anything for me? Wait a minute, I’ll be back.” I go over to a counter manned by a pimply-faced kid, getting coffee and a donut.

“Where were we? How are the kids, Mabel? Oh, yeah. I found a lot of assholes, excuse me Mabel, already. Just about done, though.”

“You know, don’t you, that Crystal’s here?” Jonesy rolls his eyes.

“You seen those loud teenage Hackers yet, Mr. Smith?” Mabel asks, venom dripping from her pale slash of a mouth. “They’ve been running around here playing jokes on people, even trashed my office the other day.”

“Why doesn’t Jonesy here take care of them?” I look at Agent Jones who's trying to act nonchalant.

“He says they’re local. That I have to ask Patricia the MicRep. Patricia tells me she has to have her boss at Microsoft ask the local police to go through channels to ask the FBI.” Mabel sneers at the FBI agent. "Meanwhile, the two are tearing things apart to have, hah, fun."

“Aw come on, Jonesy. Let’s go after them and kick the bast... two out. Off the record, I mean,” I urge my friend. I know he can't stand Hackers, and would love to. If ordered, that is.

It takes much persuading and a free donut, but he joins me in looking for the vandals.

We find them back at the lead to the power supply. They're trying to cut out the power switch to get at its wiring, wanting to freeze the computer. I recognize them, even through the marijuana smoke. Their pictures are on a wall in my office. The two are named Jimmy and Tammy Something-or-other, and they're wanted by the Feebies after all.

“These are yours, Jonesy,” I whisper to him. “Your office wants them. I got the posters at home.” Jonesy's face brightens, sensing a notation in his personnel file.

“Hold it. FBI. Hands up,” he commands, making a splendid figure, i.e. Eliot Ness, as he confronts the teenagers with drawn pistol.

Within seconds, he has two frightened teens spread against the wall and searched. We find a bag of pot -- which I hastily pocket for personal use -- some funny-colored pills, small cans of spray paint and other vandalizing equipment. They also have a check from a Dialer company -- so they aren’t here on their own.

A Dialer only works if you have a dial-up connection. It comes awake and signs you on to its own ISP, usually in the middle of the night and far from home -- like in Lower Slobbovia -- to download spy programs and ads. You end up with not only unwanted trash, but also a large phone bill.

“Thanks, Jerry,” Jonesy thanks me as he's leaving with his charges. “Watch out for Crystal,” he warns me.

Trying to put off the inevitable, I take my time finishing the job. Crystal makes me nervous. She's a beautiful redhead, one that knows how to pull my strings. Also an ex-girlfriend who I still care about ... a lot. After we broke up, she took a job distributing porn pop-ups. I think it was just to spite me.

As I thought, I find her in the cafeteria after I've finished with the normal vermin, sitting with Mrs. Murphy. I didn’t even know the two knew each other, and here they are, glaring at me in unison.

“You finished, Mr. Smith? I’ve been talking to Crystal, here,” Mabel greets me. “Come on, you have to face it sometime. Maybe I can help.”

As I sit down with them, I can see Crystal grinning.

“Crystal was telling me about how you abused her. How you beat her and keep trying to get her fired from her job,” Mabel chides me. “Why can’t you leave the poor girl alone? I'm ashamed of you, Mr. Smith.” She looks at me as she would curse words on a Peter Rabbit Site.

“See there? Look at his face, Mrs. Murphy? You can see all those bad thoughts in his eyes?” Crystal sobs.

“Now, girls. Take it easy, Mabel. She’s only conning you. She wants to put porn pop-ups on the computer. That’s the kind of job I’m trying to make her lose.”

“See, didn’t I tell you.? He's always following me around and lying. He likes to pick on me.” Crystal glares as she whines the words out to Mabel. “I only put nice wholesome sites on computers. Ones everybody should go to. Some of them are even teaching sites. People learn all kinds of things they never knew before. And with great scenery yet.”

“For God's sake, they’re all hardco--”

“Now you leave the girl alone, and never, never, take the Lord’s name in vain around me.” Mabel's eyes are like black marbles. Damn, now they're both angry at me. I get to my feet and back out of the room, knowing I can’t win arguing with two angry women. Crystal’s shit-eating grin follows me out.

Let her keep her pop-ups for now. I'll still get the last laugh by removing them from the outside, with special tools and by using the programs I recommended here. I remember the first time I ran Spy-Bot. It found over 70 spy and adware programs on my computer, and sped it up by several magnitudes.

My job is over for the day. I can collect my money and go home. Home to an empty and lonely apartment without Crystal, to dream of other, better, "Sob," times. Times when things were ... different.

The End

November 19th, 2014, 02:57 PM
Well, let me start off by saying I thought the idea was good. What it lacked was a tight and concise storyline. I didn't really feel that it was taking me anywhere, and I didn't feel I got a good enough feel for the characters to understand them, let alone to care. Much of the time I felt like I was being fed irrelevant information, rather than being drawn into the story.

I read until the end, so I could comment, but if I was reading for entertainment I would have probably stopped short.

However, what was most worrying for me, given the section it is posted in, was that it lacked humour. If anything, it felt a bit 'preachy' at times.

Maybe if it was more about the MC and Crystal, and those two characters were developed and given depth, the sorty could revolve around the work/relationship conflict, and some naturally occurring humour could be added.

November 19th, 2014, 09:31 PM
Many thanks, TIG. I'll save your comment and consider it on the next rewrite. The story's kinda dated anyway, not up to modern computer standards. Changing all references to a "386" to "Windows 8" wasn't enough to update it. Kinda hard right now, since I haven't used Windoze for years. The only reason It's still on one of my computers is an occasional use of Word. On the others, I've deleted the system to get more room for storage.

For some obscure reason, it's hard to find a good computer without buying Windows with it. Manufacturers seem to think the only reason buyers want Linux is to save money. I use Linux because I prefer that system. No worry about paying for or needing Virus Checkers. Also less malware and more user control.

The old MSDOS had a lot of control, as well as in the earlier Windows. Now, though, Microfool seems to dictate how to use their system. Such is in not allowing you to use it on more than one computer. Linux means freedom.