Monday, May 24, 2010

Job hunting

Wait... Did it just revert back to 2009? Seriously, I feel like I've been in this boat before.

Fact is, though, that I haven't. Never in my life have I ever been anywhere NEAR the place in my life that I'm in now. Let us compare my life now to my life one and two years in the past.

May, 2008 - Starting a job working with my bro, gettin' exercise, good pay. Looking for a car! Thinking about post-graduate life. When will I move to WI? What am I going to do for a career? Many questions, but life is good.

May, 2009 - Moved to WI, living at Leah's parents' house for now, until I find better. Looking for a job! To hell with - "entry level" my ass... Seriously, how do people START careers around here?! Car falling apart... Might be an issue. Still many questions, but finally finished with the long-distance relationship and live in the same state as my girlfriend! Miss my family, but life is good.

May, 2010 - Graduated from Kaplan with a 3.96 GPA in they're fancy computer support tech program. Got certified, too - only one in my class! Was assured that I'd quickly land a great job in the $40-$50k range. Haven't been able to land one in the $12/hour range. Money-wise, I was better off changing lightbulbs. Planning a wedding in October - no idea how I'll pay for it 1) without the job I was so hoping I'd have by now, and B) with the fancy new debts I've acquired. Still living at Leah's parents' house - y'know, until I find better. Finally ditched the old fall-aparty car and bought a new one. I dance on a street corner wearing a wig of dreadlocks for a living, but life is good.

Looking back, I suppose I have much to be thankful for. I've never hated my life, nor do I now. At least I know now what both my personal AND professional lives will be in the future. I've proposed to Leah, and she said yes, and - in a way - I proposed to the computer support field. It said yes when I got certified. Now, I've got both a wedding and HOPEFULLY a career coming up. Will I make a good husband? Will I make a good computer-fixer-guy? Won't know until we get there, but I think they'll both work out well.

I'm getting deep again so, for your amusement, I've decided to post a summary of my first real computer fix. It was a computer that belonged to my friend Alicia's sister. Here it is, as typed in real-time(that is, I started typing it when I started troubleshooting it):

Problem: Blue Screen of Death.

Booted computer successfully into "safe mode", and checked Event Viewer and Device Manager. Hardware all seems to be connected correctly. Event Viewer lists many system errors regarding "wuauserv(Windows Update)" service registry issues. Error states "Access is denied." Google research suggests this is due to an invalid file reference. Ran Registry Cleaner. Cleaner found 674 problems - 404 COM/ActiveX entries, 9 Uninstall Entries, 7 Shared DLLs, 5 Application Paths, 11 Help Files Information, 163 Windows Startup Items, 25 Files extensions, 32 History List, and 18 Software settings.

Main error suspected to be associated with "File Extension" issues and "Windows Startup" issues. Backed up registry and fixed all issues.

Restarted computer into standard mode.

That's when all hell broke loose.

Windows is continuously displaying a Keyboard History Utility error. In addition, several viruses became apparent. Eventually, computer displayed the Blue Screen of Death again. Shut down the computer, and booted into Safe Mode again.
Installed Avast antivirus and Spybot: Search and destroy. Rebooted into "Safe Mode with Networking" in order to update the programs. Discovered problems with NIC - cannot connect to wired or wireless networks.

Attempted to run Avast. Said application configuration was incorrect. Attempted to run Spybot, and nothing happened. When I attempted to use Task Manager to troubleshoot, it said "Task Manager has been disabled by administrator."


Re-logged in as administrator. Ran task manager, and discovered the CPU was at %100 usage, due to struggling to start "services". Ran MSCONFIG and disabled several unnecessary services and startup programs, and rebooted. Services still holding %95-%100 commit CPU charge. Went through the Registry startup keys, one-by-one, and discovered some of them to be pretty nasty malware. Disabled them manually through Registry Cleaner. Came across the "Keyboard History Utility" registry entry, and disabled it(research reveals that Spybot, when run correctly, should eliminate it).

Rebooted into safe mode once again, and logged on as Administrator. CPU usage sitting comfortably at %0. BOO-YAH!!!

Wireless Adapter started working. I think one of the services - DLG.exe - was interfering with the internet connection.

OH MY GOSH, THIS GUY NEXT TO ME WON'T SHUT UP!!! KINDA hard to concentrate when every three seconds, some random guy starts laughing at NOTHING and demanding I look at his computer screen! AHH!!!

At next boot, CPU was back at %100. Can't run spybot for unknown reasons, can't run Avast because the installation is faulty, and can't run installation for MalwareBytes. Now what?

Attempted to uninstall Avast. Couldn't run uninstall utility due to resource issues. MUST get CPU usage down before anything else can happen. Stopped temporarily to take computer home in order to access the internet.

. . .

Wow. What a rollercoaster. Turned on computer at home, and still couldn’t connect to the internet through the wireless. It said it was both connected and NOT connected at the same time. On a whim I checked the wireless adapter driver. “BCMWL5.sys”, is its name. Version 3.1. I thought I’d google that file, just to see if there were any complaints about it. The response was OVERWHELMING! Turns out that file is a big-time security vulnerability, and Dell(the owner of the driver) decided not to tell anyone just how bad it was. This was back in 2005. Further, they never REALLY fixed the problem. Fortunately, the other nerds out there in cyberspace found another driver that was compatible, though it wasn’t made for this particular wireless adapter. So, I download that driver on my computer, put it on a flash drive, and manually install it on Amanda’s computer. I manually delete the old driver.

The immediate change was incredible. Night and day. Instantly, I have internet connectivity and CPU usage is sitting happily around %10. Installed an older version of Avast(4.8), and updated it. As it was running its startup scan of the computer, it deleted about 15 crucial viruses, most of which I recognized from trying to stop them with Registry cleaner. It then told me there were boot-sector viruses present, and it needed to reboot and run a boot-time scan to eliminate them. Rebooted into regular mode, and ran the scan. Within moments, roughly 10 more viruses were deleted.

50… 60… 70… Just lost count of the infected files located in the temp folder. Lots.

Aaaaaand, just when I thought it was over…

Can’t get past the “Welcome” screen. Even in safe mode. Starts to log in, then “logs off”, and reverts to welcome screen. Research reveals the problem to be related to “wauservice” – the Windows Update program. There is a fix, but it involves the use of a Windows XP CD, which I do not currently have. Downloaded a boot disk, and will buy blank CDs tomorrow.

Purchased blank CDs, and realized I really don’t know how to create a boot disk. After some research, discovered a step-by-step process. After 7 useless CDs created, successfully created boot disk. Went into recovery console on boot CD, and manually copied the userinit.inf file from the CD to the Windows folder on the computer. Rebooted, and started Windows successfully. Did a small victory celebration. Upon startup, ran several virus scans and eliminated any failed startup programs(several viruses designed to boot on startup were still in the startup sequence, though they were no longer present).

Background still showed virus warning. Enabled “change background” capability via the Administrator account, and downloaded an Active Desktop fix. Success.

Returned computer to client, and ate victory cake. It tastes sweet.

Well, there ya go. That's what I intend on doing for a living. That is, if someone ever decides to give me a damn chance. I'll let you guys know if that ever happens.



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