Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Computers and Utility Bills

At the beginning of this month, April, I wrote about my Friday; the day my computer fell sick. I have not written anything since then for a number of reasons. Sometimes I don't post to this blog for days because I am busy working on my other writing, sometimes it is because I have nothing to say of interest—though you might think from some of my posts that would not stop me! This time it was computer related, combined with the physical therapy which is ongoing, for my rotator cuff problems.

After spending an entire weekend attempting to cure my computer without success; all diagnostics pointing to dementia—memory issues. As the computer was three years old and apparently these days that is obsolete as it would not support an update to Windows 11, we decided not to mess with replacing the memory and just bite the bullet and buy another computer. 

Amazon may have discarded me but I still enjoy being able to get fast delivery of just about anything. The new computer arrived within a couple of days. Naturally there was some work to be done on it before it was ready to use. Updates applied to the OS and software installations, such as my embroidery design software and of course our virus protection. That was where things got messy. The virus protection, Bit Defender, refused to cooperate. Eventually Larry contacted them for assistance. They said the reason the software would not install was because our network was infected with a virus, or more accurately, a trojan. How could that be? we have used Bit Defender for years, on all our machines. In fact we had successfully installed it on a new laptop only a few weeks previously. "Well," the support tech said, "it is because your network doesn't have the firewall installed and it has been infected within the last few weeks." We were passed along to their security tech.

This resulted in three full days coordinating with that tech, not to mention calling our bank and credit card companies to block access to our accounts and request new cards. The security tech installed Bit Defender firewall on our network, then cleaned all of our devices, two desktop computers, two laptops and a network storage device. Needless to say we were somewhat stressed and definitely annoyed with ourselves for missing such an important protection. Once the network was secured and cleaned, we set about updating all of our passwords and securing our accounts and our new cards.

Of course, the problem with new passwords is that you tend to forget them and just days later Larry locked himself out of our electric supplier account. He asked me to try to access it. In order to do that we needed our account number. At this point I need to go back a bit to give you some background. When I met Larry I was incredibly anal about keep my household accounts, and files. When I first came to the US I knew that I must have seven years income tax records at all times. And I did. But I also kept every scrap of paper associated with every penny owed, paid or spent. Receipts, bills, statements; you name it, I had it all filed away. Larry told me this was not necessary. He was completely the opposite. He believed in keeping nothing, other than the tax records of course. He convinced me to get rid of it and to stop 'hoarding'. I did, up to a point.

Back in 2015 I wrote here about a crazy experience I had attempting to close a bank account, in an Irish bank. The bank manager required identification before he would let me close the account, which had a grand total of EURO 59. I happily produced my Irish passport. Not good enough he told me. Had to be either an Irish driving license or—wait for it—a utility bill. I pulled out my Texas drivers license. No, that wouldn't do. I explained that I had been living in the US for over twenty years and didn't maintain an Irish drivers license and never thought to travel with a utility bill. Read my post if you want the full details of that debacle. However, the result is that I always keep at least one utility bill with my current address on, just in case.

Larry shreds all of the bills once they are paid. He used to not shred anything, so at least I got him to do that—the reason why you should is covered in this post. Luckily, the utility bill that I had saved was an electric bill and we were able to get our account number from it, logged into the account and updated the password again.

The good news is, apart from accessing our electric account online, our network and computers are safe, clean and healthy, my shoulder is improving and I have that precious utility bill in case I ever need it. Also, we got rid of the Trojan before it did any damage.

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