Friday, August 25, 2006


I was off line most of last week because of a @#$%^%&* computer virus.

Nothing scarier than being two weeks from your debut novel launch (and simultaneous second book deadline) and being on line and suddenly seeing your “URGENT” e mail automatically delete itself at a rate of two dozen e mails per second.

Not to worry, I have remote backup. And my friends who have Macs read me the riot act about PCs in general and now I have a beautiful brand new MacBook. I have to relearn the whole Mac system and find out where the hell on this lovely new computer all my transferred data is – but whatever. There are certainly worse things. (And may I just say as a public service announcement that MacAfee is useless when it comes to tech support? NEVER AGAIN.)

But of course the whole incident got me thinking about the psychology of virus writers. What in God’s name causes that kind of will to rampant destruction? Don’t get me wrong – no matter how destructive, it’s not on a par with rape or child molestation. But the narcissistic power trip – the love of control – has got to have some crossover pathology with the more sadistic versions. I did some Googling and came up with various, ultimately unsatisfying articles on the syndrome.

- This one not so good – I’m just throwing it in there because it’s odd to see Frontline put its name on something so unsatisfying.

- Here’s a better summation of the points the same expert makes.

- This next one more useful in detail. Teen to 20-something boys are responsible, of course, no surprise there. (This is another post entirely, but you know, if GIRLS suddenly started wreaking this kind of havoc it would be declared a national emergency and no end of money would be put into a solution. I'm just saying.)

I could post more, but I know you all know how to Google.

It’s all been very annoying and stressful and expensive, but the fact is, my third book is going to brush up against this world, so in this case it’s been a useful emotional jump-start on research. The best revenge is to write a bestseller, right?

So take that, virus-writer. Begone, you have no power here.


Anonymous said...

Really sorry about the virus problem. Not certain if they're entirely done by some kid in a remote location or a very organized group. Way back when hackers first appeared, IIRC, some were characterized in press as being 'brilliant', etc. I think they're just techno-thugs. And I'll admit I was initially somewhat fascinated by them, but David, who designs software systems for a living and every other software professional, has very little respect for their skills.

Congrats on the new MacBook. I've had one now for about 3-4 months. At first I kind of walked around it bec I was so devoted to my old Compaq with Microsoft software -- i'ts hard for me to let go of anything. But then David was having entirely too much fun 'testing' the laptop, I snatched it back. Now I don't know how I did without a Mac. I'm not really crazy about Pages. What do you use? I could get the Microsoft compatible word processing, but $400 is a bit steep right now.

When I was in high school, there was a secret computer club -- secret or known only to a few boys -- I always felt to keep the girls out. My girlfriend found out about it and got her way in. I, unfortunately, didn't even try bec I felt it was useless to even try. IIRC, no one from that group -- except for one, I think -- went on to math/computer field.


Mystery Dawg said...

Good to have you back. Those viruses are always a problem, that is why I constantly update and scan.

Looking forward to your book and hope to run into you during your tour.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Well, thanks, Mystery Dawg - I didn't know you cared!

The thing is, I WAS very diligent about updating and scanning. This $%^&# virus TURNED OFF my virus scan. So what are you supposed to do?

It's fine, fine. I have my Mac, now.

Jeanne, I don't even know what Pages is. I use whatever is on here. I have Word - is that what you mean? I am COMPLETELY in the dark - it's a bloody miracle I can function at all - but somehow I manage.

Anonymous said...

Pages is Apple version of word processor. I prefer Word but dealing with Pages until I can fork over for a compatible version or something. I'm a little lost on this compatability issue and will let David or someone else tell me (other Mac users out there?) what to install when I'm ready to throw Pages out the window. And I've just probably further confused you and myself further.

I will admit I just press 'on' button, point, click, write and save or surf internet. All basic stuff. David does all the firewall, saves, this, that and everything else. And installs software as I feel more comfortable to do/learn more. Unfortunately, it can be too convenient when you live with someone who breathes, eats and sleeps computers.


Jeanne Ketterer

Anonymous said...

Hi, Jeanne, I have used Macs most of my "computer" life, and Microsoft Office for Macs has MS Word that I've found easy to use as well as very compatible with folks (agents, other writers doing critiques, etc.) who need my mss pages but don't have Macs.

Alexandra, I'm a writer formerly from Raleigh (now living on a small horse farm in Chatham County) who lived in Hollywood for a couple years many moons ago. I enjoy some of the LA talk, as it reminds me of places I loved there and how much I enjoyed the time I spent there.

I found your blog via Robert Gregory Brown's, which I found via Peggy Payne's (another Raleigh writer who lives in Chatham - do you know her?)

Your book sounds intriguing - I look forward to getting it as soon as it hits Quail Ridge Books! This fall is a good one for NC writers - Lee Smith's later in Sept. and Charles Frazier's in October...

Welcome to North Carolina!

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Hey Billie, welcome! Are you one of the Carolina Crime Writers or Heart of Carolina Romance Writers? I'm so thrilled to find that there are such great groups of authors here. I don't know Peggy but I'll check out her blog.

I'm doing a signing at Quail Ridge on Sept. 12 if you can come. I went to Margaret Maron's birthday/launch party there yesterday - wow! Easily a hundred people there and Margaret is just so funny. It made me realize I should read one of my funnier sections (which I actually do have) as well as a scary one.

At any rate, we'll have to get together for coffee!

Anonymous said...

Alex, what a nightmare!!! I'm so glad you got a new computer. I've been using Macs forever--they're great.

Jeanne, any chance you know a student or teacher who could buy Office for you? With the educational discount, it's only $99 after a rebate they're offering right now.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Billie and Tasha. I've passed the info along to David. I've been recovering from MacBook sticker shock, LOL. Just remembered my sil is a teacher ... I'll send David off on a mission for the software. Thanks, again.

I picked up Alex's book this week from Quail Ridge and plan on being at the reading. Billie, if you're going, I'm the one with the Jersey accent.

Alex, I've been to one of the Carolina Crime Writer's meetings and am planning to attend again. But I need the contact information again for it.

Is it David or Dusty's turn to arrange for after-reading food and drink? LOL.


Anonymous said...

I'm going to try and make your signing/reading at Quail Ridge. I have a small psychotherapy practice in Raleigh and am generally there (between Glenwood South and Cameron Village) on Tues/Wed. evenings. Tuesdays are light right now - a brief window before new clients take those empty slots - so it might very well work that I can wing my way over to the bookstore!

I'm not in the crime or romance writer groups - my agent was calling my novels "literary light" for awhile, which is funny to me b/c they seem so *dark.* :)

Brief intro - first novel was agented for two years and shopped to hardcover publishers - got good response but no sale. Second novel got done about the time my agent began leaning heavily toward nonfiction, so it is now out there seeking an agent. It's being read right now, but I'm not really expecting word until after Labor Day. Third novel is in progress. As Peggy Payne says, I'm "waiting for literary lightning to strike!"

NC is a fabulous place for writing - there are so many great writers here, and supportive indie bookstores all over the state. Have you gotten involved with the NC Writers Network yet? The fall conference is in Durham this year and is generally a lot of fun.

Re: LA and books - is Book Soup still on Sunset? Will you read there? I also loved the Bodhi Tree. (I think I'm recalling these names/locations correctly!)


Alexandra Sokoloff said...

That would be great if you come to the reading, Jeanne - we'll finally meet! There's actually a book club party at QR tomorrow nigh (Monday) - wine and cheese, which means I'll be there for sure.

I'll find my CCW newsletter and forward it to you with the info.

Billie, I was just reading about the NC Writers Network. There's so much going on it's being hard to keep it straight, but that looks like a great conference.

Yes, Book Soup is still on Sunset and the Bodhi Tree on Melrose. I worked at the BT for a couple of years when I first moved to LA. - it was hands down the most fun real job I EVER had. I LOVED going to work. All the people were so great and the strangest things would happen... it was like tripping all the time.