Monday, August 10, 2009

Word of Warning RE: the Microsoft Network


Something is fishy in Denmark my friends.

I can but can not access the internet. My machine has been experiencing some very odd behavior that I feel anyone using a PC should be made aware of. Obviously right now I am online, as I have posted this, but to do so I am forced to reset my security settings so low that any of those invasive malware programs that do not exist in MSN's browser software et al have free access to whatever servers they do not connect to from my system. This is unacceptable. And I'm more than a bit miffed at the situation, which I shall outline in more detail below.

Long story short Microsoft (as I previously mentioned they are my Internet provider) somehow got through my firewall and installed something on my system that I never gave permission for them to do. Considering I do not use their MSN Browser, instead preferring the simplicity of logging in via IE or Firefox, my initial discovery of an inability to log in had me calling tech support. Despite assurances that all I needed was the newest version of the MSN Browser and everything would be fine once I downloaded it- which is a load of BS but then that's the problem with outsourcing to foreign countries, these people don't speak English as a first language and thus are incapable of comprehending simple facts spoken to them in simple terms like: I'VE TRIED TO UPDATE AND AM UNABLE BECAUSE I GET MESSAGES SAYING MY OS IS NO LONGER SUPPORTED. They keep insisting. So all you can do is let them feed you their line of BS and hope.

But that's not what really annoyed me. What annoyed me is discovering, after a bit of kludging around, that Microsoft managed to hack past my firewall and install something on my computer. Let me repeat that. . . My service provider, the people who take my money every month, appear to have hacked into my system to force an "update" on my machine that effectively CRIPPLES my ability to access the service they are taking my money for.

I could be paranoid but the facts seem to support the theory that a forced "update" was executed on my machine to disable it. My first clue, as I may have mentioned in my earlier post, was noticing something trying to load on my system. It was attempting to force, I thought, a shockwave update. Now I've never figured out how to block these. These updates circumvent my firewall, actually they don't even register they just seem to start and my only clue is everything suddenly slowing down to a crawl. I've observed this many times, usually only during those few times I am forced to lower my security settings. Thus my only, and best, defense against them has been to surf the net with my security settings set to high. Alas when you log in to check e-mail and such you have NO CHOICE but to compromise your system and lower your security settings. My best guess is Microsoft used one of these times to hack into my system.

Now "hack" may seem like a harsh word to use. But read on.

Long story short a program downloaded onto my system in the Shockwave directory a few weeks ago. I discovered it was there because it was loading during boot-up and instantly attempting to access the internet. The only reason I was aware of this is because I have dial-up and have my system is set up to manually dial in, thus the dialogue box for dialing out popped up. Took me a while to figure out what the problem was. What I had to do was manually find and delete this file, including it's registry key. I forget exactly what it was called but I think it was something like POSTUPDATE.EXE. Shortly thereafter my problems began. Obviously I did not find and remove this invasive program in time.

Currently there is a way for me to access the Internet, but it's round about. Considering this is a paid for service which is suddenly being denied with absolutely NO forewarning AND my IP installed something on my system without my consent I find this disturbing. I am NOT a happy customer.

For those thinking this is a overreaction consider this: There is a program that now wants to run on my system: LOADQM.EXE. This is an important fact because I stopped using MSN Browser because it had too many programs wanting open ports through my software firewall. (And I don't use IM.) Now the most invasive of these programs, one which I PHYSICALLY REMOVED FROM IT'S DIRECTORY AND PLACED IN A ZIP ARCHIVE was, you guessed it, LOADQM.EXE.

So since I removed this program it shouldn't be running on my system. So how did it get back ON my system? Remember my OS is no longer supported. That means no updates. If I can't update then how did this program get back on my system? I do not know.

Nor do I know what the purpose of this program is. I do know it kept crashing my system and giving me blue screens as it was constantly trying to worm it's way through my firewall, despite me denying it access, which was why I removed it. Yet now it's back on my system. It is, I think disabled again. And, surprise surprise, that seems to be what was slowing everything down. Was it because it was forcing ports open through my firewall and doing. . . Something?

Again I do not know. According to Google this is a program associated with IM. But that' a load of BS. IM is non-functional on my machine. I do not use IM. But even if I did IM appears to currently be disabled. Besides the information I can find claims it's some sort of auto-updater, again BS as my OS is no longer supported. A fact Microsoft seemed intent on driving home to me by crippling my system. Which makes me wonder what other invasive programs they might have placed on my machine, all while CONTINUING TO TAKE MY MONEY for a service they seem to not want to provide to those of us using older OS platforms.

What's up with that? I paid good money for this computer and the software that came with it, brand new I might add. The OS has never really worked. Has Microsoft ever apologized for releasing barely functional OSes that crash over 50% of the time? Issued a single rebate? Used any of the information that we are forced to provide them to contact us, the people they ghettoize as "end users" to help us in any way? No.

They take our money then, when you try to set up YOUR OWN PROPERTY to be as secure as possible they hack into it to install a backdoor to CRIPPLE it because they decided that it's time for you to upgrade to the newest flavor of barely functional OS? Am I the only one that has a problem with these heavy handed tactics?

Honestly if not for the fact I kind of sort of need my e-mail addy I'd have canceled this service in a heartbeat. Probably will. In the meantime look to your own systems. Be sure that your service providers haven't installed something nefarious on your machine.

Kind Regards,

Kester Pelagius

Friday, August 7, 2009

Forced Hiatus Looming

Greetings Loyal Readers,

Everything seemed to be working, if not perfectly fine, at least passably so earlier today. Then, wham, nothing wanted to work. Long story short after placing a call to tech support it appears that the Microsoft Network (my service provider) in their finite wisdom have decreed that all those whose computers aren't up to their specs and using the most up-to-date version of their malwa- koff- sorry, their web surfing software shall NOT be allowed to connect to the web. At least until they upgrade. Funny. They take my money for the service yet don't bother to give a guy a heads up, send me upgrade discs, or anything. I mean is it too much to ask for a heads up that your service provider is about to cut their entire network off from those using older versions of their software? What's up with that? Is it because I'm using older software and thus I don't matter to them?

Oh, sure, according to the tech support guy I apparently was informed, via e-mail. You know some of us don't check e-mail every day. And when we do it's usually so full of spam that gets past the filter we spend most of our time trying to weed through the chaff. But, hey, according to the tech support person, who sounded like he was from India or Pakistan (or wherever Miscrosoft outs ources to) I WAS informed. So far be it from me to dispute such lofty facts. Not that I tried. Before I could the tech guy informed me I probably deleted the e-mail by accident. Yeah, okay, whatever.

Long story short Internet Explorer (the browser I was using to log in with as I despise the invasiveness of the MSN browser) no longer logs me in. I'd been noticing something trying to eat up my bandwidth for the past couple of days. I thought it was Shockwave trying to force an update but, apparently, it was MSN updating something to force me to go out and buy a new PC. Bass turds!

*waves impotent fist at nobody in particular*

Not really sure what sort of PC to get. Don't really want to buy a new one but it'd probably be cheaper than updating the OS on this machine. I'm not saying that if I saw Bill Gates on fire in the middle of the street that I wouldn't urinate on him, but this entire concept of corporations not just foisting new software onto you whether you like it or not but forcing you to upgrade ad nauseum ad infinitum is exhausting.

But I suppose those poor execs at MSN need more money to feed their pet bald eagles, or whatever. So I guess you can expect to see new reviews when you see them. Sorry about that. Ain't much a guy can do when their service provider cold cocks them. Everything is slow as molasses, but I'm not going to tell you the odd manner in which I managed to connect lest someone at MSN be reading this and close that hole up too. But, suffice it so say, it makes surfing the web even slower than usual.

Sigh. Well it's be grand fun. Hope to have (and be able to post) new reviews for you soon.

Kind Regards,

Kester Pelagius

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Dragonquest a Dragonquash?

Long story short Dragonquest is the movie in this Saturday's SyFy "original" (or whatever) movie slot. I was going to give this movie a chance. Honest I was. But syfylys has just raised my hackles. Now when it comes to syfylys channel movies you know within the first 5 minutes whether it's going to be the usual steaming pile of festering worm riddled cat feces or something far worse. Dragonquest, sadly, could almost fool you into believing this is something better than the usual syfylys fecal matter save for one fact. This is a production from THE ASYLUM. I did not know this before it aired. In fact I was holding out a forlorn hope that this might, somehow, be related to the RPG of the same name, the video game, or maybe one of the numerous fantasy stories that have been penned using similar titles over the years.

Alas no such luck. The second those two words-THE ASYLUM- appeared on screen my soul cringed and my physical body almost changed the channel. But all hopes this would be decent weren't entirely crushed like ripe fruit. Some may view The Asylum as parasites on the anus of the film industry but not all their output has been offal, at least in my opinion. (see my review of BLOODY BILL)

Besides the promo syfylys aired showed Marc Singer as being in this. Any movie with the BEASTMASTER in it can't be all that bad, right? So I decided to try to forget that I ever saw those two unpardonable words. I tried not to get annoyed by the constant barrages of scrolling adverts. (Note to the SyFy Exec who thought using the scrolly thingy for adverts was a neat-o nifty idea: I DON'T GIVE A HOLY WHORE'S DAMN IF YOU'RE ON TWITTER.) Alas while the movie starts off with an amusing little scene of a boyish youth taking a hit off a dream pipe while using a spy glass to get his voyeur jollies by watch a girl doing her wash it's not even a full half hour later that the action suddenly shifts to people running through a forest. Obviously the folks at The Asylum have learned nothing from their abominable skid mark on the underwear of cinema that was DRAGON.

Thus, during a commercial break, I decided to pop online and see what information IMDB had. Seems it's not much. Yet, oddly, there were already comments in the movie's sub forum. Mostly confused questions from people wondering what this was. Then I noticed there was actually a DVD cover image. That surprised me. Then I remembered this was from The Asylum, which means it was really a syfylys pick-up not an actual SyFy Original movie. Say what you will about The Asylum but they do manage to get their movies onto store shelves ina timely fashion. Sciffy/Syfylys, despite being a subsidiary of NBC Universal, can't really say the same.

So off I went. Figuring this would make nice research for a review, assuming I could stick with DRAGONQUEST to the end, which seemed in doubt. According to Amazon this really has a DVD release already available. Not only that but it's on sale, are you sitting down? Good. It's on sale for $22.49 (down from $24.95)!

That stopped me cold. They want how much for this piece of rancid corpse bloated inanity?

As if the fact NBC Universal's brain dead zombies in suits who couldn't find enough brain cells to understand the meaning of SCIENCE FICTION and opted instead to change the channel's name to SyFy wasn't proof positive this network is a tax write off that cinches it. There's no way on this green earth or any level of the purple hells that syfylys movies are worth wasting this kind of money on. Save your money or, better yet, donate it to a worthy charity. Or not. It's your money and your conscience.

And as for that review I mentioned. If I do write it look for it on Cosmic Cinema. In the meantime you can always get the DVD and decide for yourselves. I could be wrong. Could be having a bad day. The movie may really be okay.

Caveat Emptor DRAGONQUEST is available on: DVD

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