Category Archives: William Brown

Accidental Movie Watching

MoviesWell, I guess the title doesn’t say it all. It could mean when you are flipping channels and are about to hit the hay, when you stumble on something that looks vaguely interesting… And you wind up watching an entire movie. Has it happened to you? I’ve done it a lot. In this case, I mean confusing one movie with another, usually because of a key word or similar words in film titles. This too, I have done a lot.

One time, my friend Frank Moraes and my brother, Marlo, were going to a movie and asked if I’d like to go. They were headed to see something at the discount theater, which showed 2nd (3rd?) run movies and classics, for cheap. In this instance, they were going to see something called Blue Velvet. I wasn’t that interested in seeing a horse movie. No, you are correct: Blue Velvet is not a horse movie. I was mistaking it for being something along the lines of National Velvet or Black Beauty. Well, I went. I was entranced. I was shocked. And, to an extent, disappointed. Did I mention I have done that a lot?

Such was the case last night—late at night. At first things went the other way… I began to watch The Yellow Wallpaper, and the first three minutes confirmed it indeed was a story, of the same title, I was forced to read in college. (“Hey, layoff… I went for a few years.”) I stopped that one and fumbled through the selection for something that sounded familiar but which I had not seen, or fully seen.

I found it. The Woman in Black. That’s it. I always wanted to know more, some of the hypothetical aspect would be nice too, of that woman, the wannabe actress, who was murdered and mutilated in the outskirts of Hollywood. Um, no. Wrong again. That most recent theatrical retelling of that story is titled, The Black Dalia, and I wound up watching a much different story.

It’s the Transitional part of my story…

When I was ten (10! Ten!), my much older, adult sister, Kathleen Maxwell Abeta-Brown (now known merely as Kathy Winters) decided the next mistaken, parent-unapproved gift for her youngest brother was to be a drastically abused console television. It was within a month or two of my birthday, one way or the other (I don’t really recall).

That was it… I was off to the races with my addiction to Abbott and Costello, Lucile Ball, and the Bowery Boys. I was the most severe television fanatic of any person I’ve known or heard of, prior to the era of 200 channels we don’t watch. I watched everything. It almost never turned off. In the mornings before school; late at night, with little or no volume. The weekends were a blur of old movies, classics or not, anything that aired within reach of our antenna.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

So, that The Woman in Black was not a dramatized murder mystery and instead was a ’40s style ghost story, was familiar, almost welcomed, territory. The review of said film is mixed. All of us go into things with preconceived notions, it’s our nature… They can work for or against you. In this case, I was pleasantly surprised, but I could understand being in the minority as this is pretty classic in its pace and level of special effects. In our gilded cages, we are accustomed to bright lights, shiny objects and over-blown special effects, especially in languishing tales of woe of the likes of Harry Potter and his friends. It seems the main character of The Woman in Black is also the lead from that movie series. It also seems that people are expecting too much of an actor struggling to free himself from type-casting.

I’m not really saying you should run out for the nearest Redbox or embark on some other pilgrimage to acquire your own copy of this movie, but given the approaching holiday, if you’d like to disturb your mate’s slumber by jumping suddenly a few times here and there, it’s not a bad way to justify it.

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Filed under Film, TV & Theater, William Brown

Crypto Locker and Other Ransomeware

CryptoLockerLet’s start this by stating the obvious: Back up all your important files, NOW! Being more specific… Just backing up your files sounds simple enough but some aspects of correctly doing so are not so obvious… and if you are competent in doing so, it’s not likely to be the case for your neighbor, family member or co-worker. Please warn them and help them with the process.

Your files that really matter to you: Taxes, spreadsheets, the photos of dead Aunt Edna (referencing N.L.’s Family Vacation), the best resume you ever wrote… All should be manually copied over to an EXTERNAL hard drive AND that drive needs to be kept a safe distance from your PC. OK, viruses of the computer varieties cannot be transmitted by mere close proximity, but they are easily spread and conveyed and can be activated/launched/etc at any inopportune moment. In other words, DO NOT keep your backup drive, or your main backup drive, connected to any of your PC’s. This is for many reasons, but above all, is the fact that any connected drive, when infections launch, will likely suffer the same damage as your primary system drive.

The worst of these malwares, right now, seems to be the famed Crypto Locker, which does actually ‘lock’ your files away with monstrously effective encryption. This means you will NOT be able to open, access, edit, print your files. Even if you are fortunate enough to eradicate the actual infection and prevent its resurfacing, any damage previously done is essentially PERMANENT! Yikes and yikes again.

As of yet, there is no fix for this infestation. No antivirus application has been shown to be effective in prevention or removal. Articles about Crypto Locker really started to crop up in September of this year, 2013. Now, in late October, the stuff has really hit the fan.

The term Ransomeware refers to any malwayre which demands funds to correct, remove or unlock your system or files. In this case, Crypto Locked files will supposedly be unlocked for you, once the proof of payment is confirmed…..but don’t count on it. Check out this safe link from BleepingComputer:

Where do we pick up computer viruses? Well, the point of infection is almost an endless list. The old way, convincing the user to download, unzip and execute files, has been replaced by drive-by infestation… visiting a polluted website or following a seemingly innocent link to say a UPS tracking number.

Other common transports of malware are media files, such as music or video downloads. It is assumed that clicking boarder adds on popular sites, such as Facebook, can lead to infestation.

I cannot promise this posting will be followed with a later one, offering a comprehensive solution. Furthermore, I don’t know if the false comfort offered by that type of information would truly be helpful. Consider this a wake-up call for your own diligence in being prepared for a worst-case scenario.

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Filed under Computer/Meta, William Brown