It’s 53 degrees as I sit and write this outside a Starbucks on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. My hands are a little cold and there are a couple of pigeons eyeing my fruit plate from a couple of tables away. Why am I here instead of inside my living room? Because of a couple of dickbags in Estonia, obviously.
Let’s rewind a bit. In late July, I woke up one Sunday morning and had no internet service in my apartment. I called Time Warner to find out what happened. After spending 10 minutes navigating through the automated menu and another 20 waiting on hold for the next available operator, I was told that my account had been quarantined because of the DNS Changer bug. And the only people who could help me were the people at the Time Warner Cable internet security desk. And that was closed on Sundays. So, I had a day to stew.
If you don’t know what the DNS changer bug is, it’s a fucking pain in the ass. Some hackers in a former Soviet republic used it as a way to hack into computers across the globe. Essentially, it redirects your computer from your ISP’s servers to ones set up by the criminals. The FBI arrested these guys and shut down the illegal servers, then set up temporary ones so the victims wouldn’t lose internet service. But, those temporary servers got shut off late in the summer and, from then forward, it was up to individual service providers to deal with it as they wished.
I had been aware of this bug. The FBI warned the whole world to check your computers for it. I had done that. I followed all the steps. I scanned my computer multiple times. Nothing came up. So, I figured I was safe. After all, only 60 thousand people in the entire US were hit and I have a Mac, which is supposed to be safe from viruses and the like. And yet, when I called the Time Warner security people the next day, they said my account was directing its signal to those faulty servers. And so they “quarantined” my service. It was like I won the reverse lottery!
So, I once again ran all the scans they suggested. And, once again, my computer came up clean. “Ok,” said the security guy, “then it’s probably ok. If you want to be safe, change the password on your router.” And I did. And they resumed my service. And I felt good.
One month later, I got home from work on a Friday night, and once again had no service. I called Time Warner. 10 minutes in the automated server, 20 waiting for an operator, and then another 20 having the customer service rep walk me through all the things that might be wrong while I said, repeatedly, “hey, have I been quarantined? This happened once before. I think I know what the problem is.” The customer service rep did not listen. But finally said, “Oh wait. It says here you have been quarantined. You will have to go through the security desk. They are closed for the night.”
The next day, I called the security desk, explained what was wrong then told the guy that I had gone through the scan process and had changed my router password. “Maybe I should change my modem? Would that help?” I asked. “Sure,” he said, “It couldn’t hurt. But I really don’t see how it could be your computer. It makes no sense.”
So, I got a new modem. The quarantine was lifted. And I felt good.
Last Wednesday, I woke up and had no service. I called Time Warner. I spent 10 minutes in the automated menu and 20 waiting for an operator. I explained what was wrong. The person spent 20 minutes running tests, ignoring my mention of the word “quarantine.” Finally, he listened and advised me to call the security desk. At this point, I have that number memorized. I called again. I explained what was happening. “Maybe I should get a new router. This one is 10 years old and probably has shitty security when compared with newer ones,” I said, “Unless, of course, my computer is infected.”
“No, I really don’t think your computer is infected. A new router couldn’t hurt.”
So, I went to the Apple store to buy a new router. But first, I went to the genius bar and asked them what they thought. “I really don’t see how your computer could be infected. You should be fine.”
I went home with my new purchase and a sneaking suspicion that no one has a fucking clue what they’re talking about. I spent an hour on the phone with Apple setting the router up (because, obviously, the “seemless installation” ran into numerous problems that took three levels of technicians to figure out.) Then, I called Time Warner and asked them to check and make sure there was nothing indicating a further problem. “We can’t do that. The company runs scans every few weeks. There’s no way for me to tell if your account has a problem until that scan comes back. But, I’m sure the computer isn’t a problem. And you have a new modem and a new router. I would be shocked if you ran into any other issues.”
Just to be safe, I turned my computer off. And kept it off for the next week. It turns out, when you own an Iphone and an Ipad, an actual computer is pretty much superflous.
But, when the Presidential debate came on, a friend texted me and told me to go on GChat so we could talk about Romney-Obama while it was happening. That doesn’t work well on Ipads or Iphones. I pulled out the computer. And within 5 minutes, something weird happened. I got knocked off line for a second and the google warning mentioned the term DNS. I didn’t read the message completely, because I wanted to turn the computer off as fast as possible. Then I reset my modem and my router.
A week later, everything seems to be fine. But I haven’t turned the computer back on since. Until today. And I’m doing it at Starbucks, so, if there’s a problem, it will affect their service, not mine.
Oh, I also bought an external hard drive to back up my stuff in case it eventually turns out that my computer is, in fact, infected by something. I brought it home from Best Buy, plugged it in and waited for something to happen. Nothing did. So, I called the customer service line. After spending 20 minutes with the technician, he told me to just return the thing and get a replacement.
“It sounds like the cord is bad. I’ve got to tell you, though. It’s the first time I’ve ever heard of something like that happening.”
And I had won the reverse lottery again.
Our longtime reader, Beltway Buddy, loves uniforms. He loves to see the new designs that teams come up with and read about what uniform trends are coming. Tim Newcomb writes a very brief sidebar in this week’s Scorecard section about a number of college teams which have introduced extra shiny helmets this year. Beltway Buddy should read this. Hey, speaking of new fashions, (and this is really the only reason I chose to highlight this relatively minor section of this week’s magazine) Saturday marked the dawning of a new age in Justin related dressing:
THE ERA OF SUSPENDERS IS UPON US!!!
And the transition into looking exactly like my father continues.
What It Takes by Tom Verducci
Tom Verducci previews the playoffs. And he does so by only mentioning the Yankees and Nationals in passing. The teams with the two best records in baseball are an afterthought, when compared with the mighty San Francisco Giants, who immediately went out and dropped their first two games at home.
American Zebra by Steve Rushin
God, this terrified me. Steve Rushin doing an off beat profile on a guy with Ed Hochuli’s unique public persona was almost destined to devolve into a miasma of shitty puns, stupid jokes and shallow character traits. But, somehow, it didn’t. This was a pretty good profile, actually. I learned a bit more about Hochuli without getting bogged down in forced humor. The piece did raise one interesting question though. What happened between Hochuli and his first wife? If it was something bad enough for his 12 year old son to stop speaking to him, it’s probably something that should have been dug into a little bit.
Love’s Story by Davis Love III
Davis Love III writes about his experience as captain of a the choke job Ryder Cup team. I didn’t watch the Ryder Cup and don’t really care that the US blew it. And according to Davis Love III, everyone was great and no one played badly and then everyone went out for ice cream and pizza after the match ended. I guess you can’t really expect more than that from someone who was so closely involved.
The Fight in The Dog by Andy Staple
Staples writes about Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones, who blames himself because when he was in 8th grade, his brother went out at midnight and got murdered. Jones had been sitting outside with the brother right before he left and even told the brother to go have fun when he asked young Jarvis if he minded leaving him to go hang out with friends.
What was an 8th grader doing sitting outside at midnight?
The World’s Team by Grant Wahl
I went to get a haircut this morning. There was a long wait. I remembered that I had SI in my bag, so I pulled it out to read while I waited. This article, on FC Barcelona, was the only one left that I hadn’t read. I made it about two paragraphs before losing interest. That is scientific proof. I would rather sit in a chair and watch a stranger’s head get shaved than read an article about soccer.
Point After by Phil Taylor
Taylor makes a good point about the NFL thinking it can do no wrong. And he does it in a creative way. Good job.