McAvoy Layne
Special to the Bonanza

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October 10, 2012
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Pine Nuts: Instructions on how to save the world nearly lost to a virus

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. - Given a choice, I believe I would rather have the Hantavirus than the virus that recently infected my computer. With the Hantavirus at least I might have had time to compose my last will and testament, get my worldly affairs in order and kiss my loved ones goodbye.

But the scare-ware virus that vaporized my hard-drive did give me time even to bend over and kiss my one thousand Mark Twain files goodbye, files I had taken great care to cobble together over a 30-year span to adequately prepare for various Twain programs.

As a specific example, next month I have a trial in Phoenix whereby I'm being tried as the Ghost of Mark Twain for publishing racist materials, and the students in Mrs. Allen's AP English class are getting their evidence out of Huckleberry Finn -real courtroom, real judge. My case is lost. (In full disclosure, Mrs. Allen's kids have taken me to grass once before when I had access to all my files.)

Well, as it happened, good news arrived in a flashing alert on my computer screen that told me "On Pay, Inc." could restore my files for $85, and they could do it with a couple of clicks and my credit card ... they conveniently left one browser open to allow a credit card transaction.

I figured if these people could suck the life out of my computer, what could they do with my credit card account? So I called my good friend and computer wiz Sebastian McAlister, who was able to kill the dragon and recommend a virus protector, though, alas, I thought the lifeline to my profession was forever lost, not to mention my instructions on how to save the world.

But wait. My old Diamond Peak skiing buddy, Mark Pilarski used to inveigh with great passion, "Back-up, Back-up, Back-up!" So over the course of several years I developed a habit of backing up my computer on the first of every month, which I did with diligence on the first of October. On the 2nd of October I did not hear that great sucking sound as my life's work was being sluiced out of my computer, apparently by somebody in India who has no real need for a thousand Twain files, but could use the $85. Albeit, thanks to Mark P. and Seb, I lost not 30 years of work, not one year of work, not one month of work, but one day of work. Grateful? There are no words.

I guess my question now is, how can anyone smart enough to conceive of such a devious scam and configure the technological roadmap to perpetrate it, choose a life of crime when they obviously have brains enough to make a perfectly good living within the law. My next question might be, who let this person down? His parents? His school? His religion? Perhaps not one of these guiding lights was on long enough to make a difference. Who knows.

I only wish I could invite my "On Pay, Inc." perpetrator to Nevada, take him by the hand, and introduce him to the Sebastians and Mark P's of the world so he could decide to make a decent living without taking advantage of some poor unsuspecting schnook 12,000 miles away, who might never recover from such a digital mugging.

The moral to this bitter-sweet story is simple: Compose your instructions on how to save the world. Keep these precious instructions in your computer, get the best virus protection money can buy, install, and Baby, Baby, Baby, Back-up, Back-up, Back-up.

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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Oct 10, 2012 10:56AM Published Oct 10, 2012 10:55AM Copyright 2012 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.