Personal Antivirus and msxmlm.dll

Personal Antivirus (PAV) is a piece of spyware that's been going around for a while now in various forms. It's one of the many pieces of malware that tries to look like an anti-malware tool. It scams you by telling you that you've been infected (true enough) and that to get rid of the infection you should click here... buy this... enter your credit card numbers now... that kind of thing.

It's standard stuff; not too creative in it's implementation... Hell, you can kill the bulk of it just by deleting/renaming its folder under the Program Files directory. But two or three times now it has caught me looking. And that's maddening!

Even after I've checked every possible load point, cleaned and confirmed them all, I'll still end up with an 'about:blank' hijack in internet explorer that displays PAV's "you could be infected" malarky. And it drives me up the wall, thinking there's something about this uninspired little piece of junkware that is able to hide itself from my methods.

Well, I finally enumerated the culprit today. Mind you, I've always gotten rid of the infection in the past, but I never took note of how. I would simply get to that point of frustration where you throw everything you've got against the wall until one thing or the other snaps.

Now I know, and it's the simplest thing! A BHO (browser helper object) calling itself &Helper, I think, filename "msxmlm.dll". It was always there in my hijackthis reports, staring up at me innocently enough, hiding a dirty little secret.

I've looked at so many hijackthis reports in the last four years that I've grown to leave the work to my eyes. Anything they don't recognize is almost certainly evil. But c:\windows\system32\msxmlm.dll is such a reasonable file path; it's blends so well with the million other ms*.dll files in XP's library; and &Helper is such a familiar word-shape to see in a report, that my eyes skip it every time.

It's funny, because for years now I've been saying that these malware developers are fools to use randomly generated filenames, executables, and the like - all which stick out like a sore thumb in a start-up list - and that it would make it that much more difficult for the human eye to lay hold of them if they made a concerted effort to blend in with the regular expressions and operations of the OS.

Somebody heard me, I guess. And to my credit I was right. Give me a rootkit any day of the week. They're as easy to detect as flamingos on the moon. One little dll with an unambiguous filename tucked into the BHO list will foil me all the quicker.

Cedar Point 2009

A few weeks ago the youngest generations of my paternal family and I went a'Cedar Pointing. Then we got a motel room, woke up the next day, and went a'Soak Citying. 'Twas a full and enjoyable weekend to say the least.

Today, I find myself amidships a four-day weekend of a vessel, iced in again by cold, gray glaciers drifting through the clouds, drizzling their slick melt down onto my decks, as the crew and I conspire to pass the waning time mixing metaphors like strawberry daiquiris on Spring Break in Rosarito...

So I thought I might turn my attentions away from all the still, gray nothing out the window and post some of the pictures I took in Sandusky. Now then, the Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players proudly presents: Cedar Point, 2009.

A gang war in the making.

As we entered the park my father (to left, in white) and Charlie Brown (to right, in yellow - large head) lectured some young black children on the importance of doing well in sports, "For only then will the white man accept you into his society," said Charlie Brown. Most of Chuck's comments were saliently racist.


From this perspective we are able to witness hundreds of people renting lockers for $13, paying $3.85 for 24oz sodas, and tossing back $8 beers. By the by, is the gondola not the scariest attraction in the whole damned park, or what?


I took this shot just after my dad got one of the tracks from the Mantis caught in his right nostril. They had to shut down both rides to pry us loose. On the upshot, my dad says his nasal passages haven't been as clear in twenty years.

I am available for childrens' parties.

No joke, this is just a beautiful picture I took here, don't you think. Look at the framing, look at the joy in the subjects; the action and movement, the brilliant color! I am just so awesome at things!

"Dude, I'm gonna hurl!"

I caught this one a frame too early. A moment later Emily violently upchucked over the side, covering nearly everyone in the oily garlic-cheese fries we had for lunch. The Japanese exchange student running the ride laughed hysterically and walked away, letting the ride spin them all silly for another full two minutes while he went to find a mop.

No Limit Texas Hold'em

At the end of the day we ordered a 52" pizza (that's radius), and taught the girls to play gin rummy. If I can dodge Cady's muscle a few more weeks I might be able to pay her back her winnings.

Wave pool or crash area?

I'd never been to Soak City before. It's largest attraction is it's collection of monstrous water slides. We got there before the crowd and managed to go down just about every slide once before the mongrel hordes came in and backed up all the lines. The first thing I noticed was how incredibly close Soak City was to the Millennium Force. At more than one point in the park you find yourself standing no more than twelve feet from its passing cars. Even so I don't recall ever noting that proximity while riding the coaster. I guess it just doesn't register at sixty miles an hour on a seventy degree slope.

Nirvana's 'In Watero?' (Oh... Awful pun.)

Emily sure looks like her mom here. Another great picture, huh? Just like an album cover. I rock. This is at the wave pool during its non-waving state, while they let the reactor cool down and inspect for neutron leaks.

Sharing a pad.

Soak City isn't all about slowly ascending creaky, shifting, wooden stairways to the tops of precariously staged plastic tubes and hurling yourself down them with only an inch of running water between your soft, supple flesh and third degree friction burns... It's also about lily pads.

Getting into character.

I went across the pads myself once and this was actually pretty fun. The two skills most needed to successfully overcome the lily pad challenge are balance and a deep seeded mistrust of other people. I, of course, came through with flying colors.

I am not amused!

It's an interesting experience, being in an amusement park in an amusement park. It is not unamusing.

Who's the pigeon-toed freak in the do-rag?

One obligatory shot of the author. Jeez I look stupid in that hat and those feet. And what's with the arms? A new face wouldn't hurt. Ugh, and where'd he get that shirt...

Industry at work.

No trip across the Ohio/Michigan border is complete without craning your neck to make sure the rods at the cooling plant haven't melted into a radioactive slag. Looks like we live another day, boys. Though I wouldn't bother taking a sperm count for a couple decades.

Teh End!

(Could you tell I just finished reading 'The Hunt for Red October?'

'Tomorrow' by Silverchair

But where are the clowns? Send in the clowns. Don't bother, they're here.

MySpace - The Last Nail

The following is a message I just submitted to MySpace. Don't worry, I backed up my profile first. [Evil Cackle]

Dear MySpace, you suck.

As I try to fill out this "Contact MySpace" form the drop down keeps rolling up whenever I press the right or left directional keys, effectively preventing me from contacting you to tell you about it. My profile defaults to your ugly 2.0 junk if the viewer isn't logged in - and despite my settings - but shows as 1.0 if he is. And you have blocked all links to my blogger site, as well as to a previous google-groups site of mine, saying to my would-be visitors that my sites are either spam, viruses, or incarnations of the devil incarnate. I should sue you for slander you Rupert Murdoch, consolidated media, corporate whore fucks.

I nolonger update my profile or use myspace to blog because you suck at everything you do. Everything you touch turns to shit and collectively speaking, you people couldn't program your way out of a paper bag.

In case you missed it: you suck. Get a job.

Eat my ass,
Blow me.


Why does it bother me when I see them not living up to their potential? Otherwise I treat them hostilely, coldly; as strangers. So why should it burn me to see them settle? Who are they to me, after all. A nuisance, mostly. At least that's how I tend to cast them in my head. But why, then? I'm somehow expecting better of them at the same time as I expect the worst. How is this true? Why does it work inside me this way?

Do I care for them? The soft ones would like that. They'd like to reinforce their fluffy, pink, cotton candy ideals by pushing it all back to empathy and love. I'm not saying different but I'm not bringing it to bed just because it's pretty either. It has to justify. It has to prove.

It's a world that could, but doesn't full of people who would like to, but won't. How is that? How can fear be so much. How can cowardice rule entire nations like this? How can men - red-blooded, living, breathing, thick with sinew and muscle, men - men with minds and hearts and souls be so dominated by dead things; by objects, and institutions, pavement and glass. How can it be, and better why should it bother me?

If it dominates them and not me, and I hate them, what is it to me? Am I dominated by those things? Yes. But I'm not. But you are. Every other day is a private hell inside - a war, hating and fighting what the rest seem to lay upon you. Sometimes you win and do what you think is right. Sometimes you lose and fold to the perceived external imperative. It doesn't seem that way always, but it is. It doesn't look that way from the outside, but it is.

Then it isn't love and empathy. It's self loathing. I see in them what I harbor in myself and hate them for the mirror's image. I hurt for their compromises as I hurt for my own. To see them lessened is to witness the lessening of myself. Yes. Maybe. Probably. But then it sort of is empathy. I am a part of mankinde; a peece of the Continent; any mans death diminishes me. If you say so.

Anyway, if that's right what can you do? All your life's been spent fighting it. Your head's bled with the fighting of it since the 8th grade, at least. It's a twenty-years war and a stalemate at that. Where is there any winning it? How, if not before now, after now? I don't know. You could go again. You could go again and this time, say "I'm not coming back," and then don't. That would be something. That would really be something! But is that what you want? There's very little holding me. Most of what is stopping me is among them who've hurt me most. But is that what you want? Do you want to live like that? On the road? Maybe. For a little while, I should think. And maybe it's not about the wanderlust. Maybe I just have to go build something of my own, without a net; without a bunch of friends and family looking on in judgment, telling me how they'd do it better, when the record shows just how much they got it wrong themselves.

Sounds arrogant. I know. It probably is. That doesn't make it wrong. Maybe not but I'm not letting it in bed just 'cause it's pretty. It'll have to prove.

Obama's a Bitch: Live on Stage

This space used to host the YouTube video-recital of my article "Obama's a Bitch." I've chosen to delete the video from YouTube and direct all inquirers to the original written form; at last concluding the video fails, where the written form exceeds, the test of time.