Thursday, June 02, 2005


I'd rather be in Philadelphia....

Much project nonsense has consumed my last two days, plus my right ear is numbed and cauliflowered from having a headset semi-permanently attached to it (my ear rings more after the end of a round of conference calls than after a loud band practice). I suppose I shouldn't say nonsense, as the project is relatively interesting, the people are friendly and understanding, and other than bureaucratic nonsense that impacts my project's critical path, I'm in a pretty good situation.

As much as I've wanted to finish reviewing "House Of Lies" I haven't had the bandwidth to sit and write the review it simply demands. While I have finished reading it, I do want to circle back and mark off some of the salient points for inclusion in the review (his glossary of consulting terms was dead on). Although some people might feel that there are exaggerated points in this book, in my experience, this book is totally accurate. The confrontational clients who feel threatened, the turning around of a hostile meeting with a simple "it's your business, you're the experts, what do you think?", the team dinner, and my personal favorite, eating from vending machines for a whole week during the implementation.

The annoyance this week is a scumware outfit called eXact Advertising. A friend of mine from the commuter train, one of the nicest individuals you'd ever want to meet, found her computer totally unusable due to a malware infestation. My friend is unfortunately totally clueless when it comes to computers, and she casually mentioned to me that her new computer had become totally unusable due to spyware. Once we sync'd up our calendars (there goes that consultant-speak again) I went over to her home and took a look.

The computer was a disaster.

I could see that there were many, many infestations of competing scumware, and IE had become totally unusable. No address bar was visible in IE, and the popups were completely out of control. I started out with SpySubtract in both real and safe modes, and got a bit of control over the box, then I went to Microsoft AntiSpyware. It took three hours, and at that point the box looked clean, but something didn't seem quite right. Another quick MS AntiSpyware scan confirmed my suspicions - eXact had a couple of entries in the registry. Back to Safe Mode, and HijackThis came out. A couple of suspicious entries stood right out, and I zapped them. Reboot, there they were again. At that point, I had to get back home, and left the machine with eXact running. In the grand scheme of things, eXact was less obnoxious than other things out there, popping up an ad when it recognized a keyword in the URL or page content (I wonder if they've gone after Firefox), and the pops did indeed close when the 'X' was clicked, but I loathe leaving a machine in that state.

A bit of Googling and asking around has gotten the cure for eXact, and I would like to get my friend's machine fixed, but a couple of observations are in order:


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