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From The Chief Editor's Desk...

I know most of you have probably all received the "support" calls from someone located in India telling you that your computer is "rejecting" updates, and there is a "security issue" with your computer as a result. In fact, I would be surprised if a majority of readers of this article haven't received these kinds of spam calls. "They" claim to have attempted to send "updates" to your computer three times, and the "updates" have been rejected all three times.

Does this sound familiar? Or at least, something similar? I'm betting it does. I hadn't received this particular type/genre of scam call in a while, but this particular call happened a little more than half way through September.

There is NO QUESTION that these idjits are scammers. I've never met an Indian person by the name of "Eric." You can tell they are from India merely by their accent. Call it whatever you want, but it is what it is.

Of course, they all assume that you are using Windows. My job … no, my mission … is to mess with them and play along. When you're retired, you have plenty of time for such "fun pursuits." I remember enough about Windows (which, aside from when I was working) that I can easily play along. Never mind that I haven't been a true Windows user since Windows XP. I've retained enough information from those days to make my "play" convincing.

So, I consider it my "public service duty" to keep these morons on the phone for as long as I can, preventing them from calling and scamming someone else. On this particular call, I managed to keep them on the phone for about 10 minutes before I "pulled the trigger" that ended the call.

The first scammer lays the groundwork, telling the call recipient about how their computer is rejecting updates, and is now a security risk. I "play along" by answering their questions about which icons I see on the desktop. I usually tell them I see my C:\ drive, Adobe Reader, Microsoft Word, a few games, and a link to Mapquest. She asks me what problems I've noted with my computer. I tell her that my computer has been running slower and slower over the past couple of months.

That scammer then "escalates" my call to a "computer support technician," who proceeds to lay out the whole scenario again, and who again asks what icons I see on my desktop. I tell them my computer is about nine years old, and I'm running Windows 10. I also usually throw in there that I "just ran updates" last week. I also reiterate that my computer has been running slower and slower over the past couple of months.

Undaunted, the "computer support technician" proceeds to have me press the Windows Super key, and the "R" key at the same time, all in the simplest of terms so that a complete computer moron could follow along. Now, on a Windows computer, that key combination brings up the "Run" dialog box. But, since I'm on PCLinuxOS running the Xfce desktop, that particular keystroke combination brings up "Application Finder."

Hehehe … this is where I set the trap. He asks me what I see on my computer screen. I tell him the window says "Application Finder."

Convinced that I hadn't done it correctly, the "computer support technician" had me close that window, and repeat the keystroke combination. Again, he asks me what the window title is after pressing the keystroke combination. And again, I tell him it says "Application Finder." Sounding concerned, I ask him if this means my computer has been hacked or if I have a virus. He quickly sidesteps the question.

Meanwhile, you can hear the frustration mounting in his voice. The volume of his voice goes up a few notches, and his questions are becoming more and more "terse" (for the sake of a better word).

Now he has me do the Win + R keystroke combination, and type "run" in the box. To be perfectly honest, I have no idea what he's trying to achieve with this set of instructions, since even under Windows, this isn't going to produce usable results.

He asks me what I see. I tell him the window says Application Finder, and "run" appears in the text entry box, with a small red "X" icon to the left of it.

His vocal volume increases further as he becomes increasingly frustrated. At this point, I figure I should spring the trap I had previously set before he strokes out.

I asked him, "Does it matter that I'm running that Xfce desktop on PCLinuxOS?" He stumbles and stammers, asking me "What?! You are running Linux?!"

I replied "Well, yes I am, S-C-A-M-M-E-R!"

The. Trap. Has. Been. Sprung.

I repeat "scammer" into the phone a few more times, and he responds with the best American curse words he can conjure up in his Indian mind.

Success! I kept them on the phone for about 10 minutes, satisfied that I had helped prevent someone else (who may be more gullible) from becoming one of their victims.


If you think COVID is done, over with, and is now in our past, you had better think again. In last month's issue, Meemaw wrote the "Welcome" column. That was because my wife got infected with COVID at the hospital where she works, and managed to spread it to the rest of us.

She went to the urgent care center and was prescribed the Paxlovid antiviral regimen. I tested positive the following Monday, and I also went to the urgent care center, where I was also prescribed the Paxlovid antiviral regimen. I started my antivirals on the same day that my wife was taking her last day of antivirals.

Ryan tested positive, and even though Lexi tested negative twice, she had all of the symptoms. Fortunately, the kids have a younger, more robust immune system, so their symptoms weren't nearly as severe. They both had to stay out of school for the rest of the week (it was only the second week of the new school year), though.

The predominant COVID strains right now are BA.5 and Eris, and Omicron is still around as well. We don't know which strain we were "lucky enough" to contract, but I can tell you that we felt AWFUL for several days. Personally, I spent most of my time sleeping in bed … after taking double doses of nighttime cold medicine … in the middle of the day.

The antivirals worked very well, but there are two side-effects. First, the antivirals gave me a metallic taste in my mouth, as if I was sucking on a piece of copper tubing. Second, they warned us that there was a good chance for "rebound" with the antivirals. That means that although the virus has been killed off, the symptoms — head congestion, stuffy nose, cough, general malaise, scratchy throat — all return with a vengeance. We both suffered the "rebound" after finishing the antiviral medications.

Now here's what really made me mad. I worked throughout all of the initial pandemic, caring for patients with COVID, and never contracted it. And I was in close, prolonged contact with these patients. Now, eight months after retiring from bedside care in the hospital setting, I get COVID. We are fully vaccinated (including the kids), but we had chosen to "skip" the later rounds of "booster" shots. We do, however, plan to get the newer round of "booster" shots, probably sometime in October.


This month's cover image is by Anja from Pixabay and celebrates Halloween.


Until next month, I bid you peace, happiness, serenity, prosperity and continued good health.

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