The End is Nigh
I’m in the garden, pottering. Liz appears at the door, holding thephone out to me. ‘For you,’ she says. This is obviously urgent. Idon’t take unsolicited calls and she knows it. ‘It’s a Windowstechnician,’ she tells me. ‘Double glazing?’ I growl. ‘Computers,’ she mouths.I take the phone gingerly. Anything to do with computers givesme the squits. ‘What?’ I wonder. ‘Mr Gregory?’ a female asks. ‘I’m from the Windows TechnicalDepartment.’ She’s obviously in India. She works for Windows, USof A. And she knows my name; the computer age at its very best. ‘You’ve got it in one,’ I tell her. ‘I am calling to warn you that your system has been hacked.How many computers do you have in the house?’ ‘Three.’ I’m walking into the house now. ‘I am afraid your system has been taken over by criminals;hackers, using it for criminal activity.’ ‘Eh?!’ The squits are accelerating. ‘Go to any computer and boot up,’ she tells me.I do as she orders. ‘Have you noticed that it has been runningslower recently?’ she asks. ‘Yeah. It drives me up the wall,’ I tell her. ‘Oh my God. That’s because more and more hackers are gettingin and taking over; all their activity will be traced back to you.’ ‘How did that happen?’ I’m way out of my depth here. ‘They have disabled your Windows Security. I will hand you overto a technician. He will come to your rescue.’ ‘Hmm?’ Scratches head. ‘Mr Gregory?’ It’s a man this time. ‘Bombay Duck,’ says thevoice in my head. ‘That’s where all the best helplines are,’ I tell thevoice. ‘We’re in good hands here.’ ‘What’s going on?’ I want to know. ‘I’ll show you the problem,’ says my new friend. ‘Click the “start” button … now click “run” … now type “Prefetch Unwanted” inthe window that appears.’ I obey blindly. This is new ground to me. I’m a country walkman. I listen to birds and look at cows and things.A page appears on the screen; an endless list of files withmeaningless names. ‘Don’t touch any of the files,’ he warns. ‘Theyhave been put there by hackers. They will use your machine toorganise bank robberies and other criminal activities. Are there areany warning signs on the page?’ he wants to know.