Holding Hands

Though not a believer in soul-mates,
you are closer to one that I’d ever
get without my resorting to blasphemy.

I remember the first time I held your hand.
I was expecting sparks; a skip in the beat
of my heart; a shiver down my spine;

But when I held your hand (and you didn’t
let go like you did the first time) it felt
nothing at all like I had expected it to.

There was no suddenness at all to how it
happened — nothing to puncture a wound
in time that stood so still — with us, hand-in-hand.

But rather, it felt like I had been holding
your hand before that; like there was nothing
between the moment just before and the

Moment after — as if time abandoned its
synchronic ways and decided then and there
that there was to be eternity in that moment.

*****

And as I hold your hand, I wonder why you had
not let go; and I wonder if it’s in a dream that
I hold your hand;

Or if it’s in my hand that I hold my dream.

(Thank you, girl, for five months since.)

Remove Virtumonde.gen from Windows XP

I was infected by the Virtumonde virus/trojan about a week ago. According to the F-Secure website Virtumonde

runs hidden from the user and displays pop-up advertisements. The adware connects to a server and queries for advertisements to display. The adware actively prevents removal by using several different techniques.

In my case, whenever I opened Internet Explorer a pop-up advertisement would appear, whatever my homepage was set to.

I attempted several different methods of removing this virus, with little success. I even went as far as restoring the system to a time close to a fresh installation, but was unable to find a point that didn’t contain the virus. Besides, I did not want to lose any data that I might otherwise save if I managed to remove it without System Restore.

Searching through many websites arrived at via Google, I managed to find many “solutions” that were either out of date, or just didn’t work. I decided to experiment with a hybrid of solutions, and finally managed to remove it.

I outline the steps I used to remove the virus. A little warning though: the steps I took involve deleting System Restore data points, which may prove useful later on. I’ve labelled these two steps “Optional”. If, however, you find that the virus still resides in your computer even after running the other steps, you might then try going through all the steps including that of disabling System Restore.

  1. Disable System Restore (Optional): Right-click the My Computer icon (found on the Desktop or under the Start menu). Under the “System Restore” tab, click on the box labelled “Turn off System Restore”.
  2. Run “cleanmgr” (Optional): Next, go to the Start menu and click “run”. Type “cleanmgr” into the box and press Enter or Return. Wait for a moment while Windows XP scans your system. When it’s done, look under the second tab; there should be an option to delete all the previous System Restore points. Delete them, and click OK.
  3. Download F-Secure’s f-vmonde.zip: Go to F-Secure’s webpage on Virtumonde and download f-vmonde.zip (it’s provided free). This is a Virtumonde remover.
  4. Download Spybot Search & Destroy: Now go download and install Spybot Search & Destroy. In my experience, F-Secure’s f-vmonde.zip solution only removed half the files infected with Virtumonde. Search & Destroy removed the rest, but was in itself unable to remove all the infected files.
  5. Restart computer in Safe Mode: Restart the computer in Safe Mode. You can do this by pressing F8 when your computer is starting up (after hitting the restart button). (Alternatively: Getting into Windows XP in safe mode).
  6. Run f-vmonde.zip and Spybot Search & Destroy: Start with the f-vmonde.zip. Run the program contained within the zip archive. A command prompt should pop-up, asking you if you would like to continue. Enter “Y”, and the program should scan your computer for the virus (this should not take longer than 30 seconds).

    It should then prompt you either that (a) your computer does not have Virtumonde, or (b) that the infected files have been removed and you should restart the system. I’m assuming you received the message contained in (b), so let’s move on to Spybot Search & Destroy.

    Open Spybot Search & Destroy and run the scan. This scan may take a while, so go grab a coffee and a newspaper. After it finishes scanning, you should see that it has cleaned the Virtmonde virus from your system.

  7. Restart and Re-enable System Restore: Restart your system in normal mode (just hit restart) and then re-enable System Restore. Your computer should be Virtumonde-free by now.
  8. I hope this works for you.

The Time Dimension of Love

He looked over at her and sighed.

Must she do that? he thought to himself, shaking his head slightly in disapproval. Maybe, he thought, she isn’t quite the right person for me.

He stood up from his chair and walked over to her, all this time keeping his eyes firmly glued on her. He then reached for her hand and, bringing it up to his mouth, lightly kissed it and smiled.

He knew there wasn’t another girl in the world whom he would rather spend his life with.

Sure, at times some of her behaviours would bug him — sometimes it was the littlest things. And it was during these times he would have second thoughts about her.

But he realised that no matter how imperfect she was, she was the person he wanted to be with. And the reasons why the smallest things bugged him was due to their being magnified by the prospect of eternity — he knew he was going to be with her for the rest of his life.

He could very much better tolerate what he felt were irritating behaviours from people he wasn’t so close to: he knew he wouldn’t have to tolerate them if he didn’t want to; but when it came to her, he felt otherwise — that no matter what happened, no matter what she did, he would stick by her and support her, and love her.

On Goodness

I have been fascinated with “goodness” from a young age.

My younger days: 5 – 13 years

My younger days (pre- to early-teens) were concerned with how goodness was necessary to ensure one didn’t go to hell. I remember taking a boat ride through “hell” at the now defunct Haw Par Villa — a Buddhist/Toaist/Chinese-based themepark — and being horrified by the images I saw.

I learnt that in hell people were burnt, crushed (or more specifically, ground), whipped and pulled apart at the demons’ pleasure.

People in hell, I surmised, did not enjoy themselves.

This was contrasted with the images (mostly cartoons) I had seen on television about Heaven, which when I was younger mostly held for me the theme of abundance (in the form of food, money, or trading cards –this would later morph into the prospect of unlimited sex).

As much as I feared how “badness” would lead me to hell, and how goodness had the potential to lead me into heaven, goodness and badness was less a thermostat for me than a thermometer. I never bothered changing my behaviours as much as I observed them; which, I think, laid the foundation for my later years.

My older years: 15 – 21 years

When I grew a little older, goodness took on a more practical outlook. I moved away from merely thinking about goodness and toward being a good person. I wanted to be good, and sought guidance from various religions and philosophies in my aim.

It was during this time that I became highly introspective. I took up meditation, and regularly attended church. I also started and kept a regular journal, which ignited a long-latent passion of writing within me.

I knew that my attempt at being good was working when I started hearing people complimenting my niceness, a positive externality to my just trying to be good.

I was known as a “mama’s boy”, “big friendly giant” and just plain “decent”. People started confiding in me, and many felt they could trust me. I knew I must have been doing something right, but still, I knew I was a long way from perfect.

Present: 21 onwards

Much as I know perfection is beyond anyone, I do not give up trying. It’s oft-quoted that in many things if you’re not improving and moving forward, you’re deproving and moving backward. The same goes with goodness.

I’m a strong believer in karma, or at least, that there should be karma. I want good to happen to me when I do good to others. I want to receive help when I need it, if I help others in need. But when this hypothesis fails, I become distressed and unhappy.

I started this post because I suddenly felt a surge of envy well up within me.

He seems to be so self-centred, and I don’t remember ever having seen him take a proactive stance toward helping others. Why, then, does he seem to get the lucky breaks?

I took a breath, looked back on myself as objectively as I could, and realised something: my very questioning of his life led me away from the leading of mine.

And how can I hope to be good, when I can’t even love my enemies?

Money and Happiness

Money brings to me its own intrinsic reward. For as far as I can remember, I’ve always liked accumulating money. I hated spending it, most of the time. I liked money for its own sake, and would often ask myself before major purposes: would I rather have the money, or would I have whatever it was that I was intending to purchase? In most cases, I kept the money.

Now, that brings me to question of how money can’t buy happiness. I was, as usual, counting my chickens before the eggs have hatched: how much money was I going to earn today by going to work?

I thought about it, and wrote down the number which potentially reflected what I was going to earn. It didn’t look like much, but neither was it insignificant (let me quality this by mentioning I’m a student). It donned — sorry, dawned — on me that this amount of money wasn’t its own reward. I didn’t feel excited thinking about it.

So I thought about the stuff that it could buy. After thinking through various alternatives, I figured that I didn’t want to buy anything. I had, essentially, all that I wanted or needed. Then I thought about how not wanting to buy anything actually, in a weirdly philosophical way, meant that I was saving my money, thus, in a more weirdly philosophical way, I was getting twice my salary:

Total earnings
= Salary – Things I want to buy with salary
= Salary – (- Things I don’t want to buy with salary)
= Salary + (Things I don’t want to buy with salary)
= 2 x Salary

Having my potential earnings multiplied by two left a smile on my face. Perhaps money doesn’t buy all kinds of happiness, but it sure does bring some form of happiness to me.

Employment

I’m finally employed! With a little over a year passing since I contemplating (and announcing to the world my contemplating) working while studying, I’m relieved that I have finally made good on my word that I’d find work here.

And, I actually got two job offers within the space of a day!

I know, to many people getting a job while studying’s not a big deal… but hey! it’s me you’re talking about! heh.

The Age of Turbulence

I name this post after the book I’m currently reading, The Age of Turbulence, by Alan Greenspan. I honestly didn’t quite know who Greenspan was before reading this book. I knew he had something to do with the American economy, and was the chairman or head of some government agency or something. But I wasn’t clear on the details, and didn’t know at all what sort of a person he was.

I now know that he was the chairman of the Federal Reserve Board in America, and that he was of a rather reserved character. He wasn’t outspoken like what you’d expect typical “leaders” to be, and he shied away from politics. His real interest was in knowledge, in analysis of numbers.

I found that fascinating. I never really looked at the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake, rather, I always thought one sought knowledge for “greater” ends, like political power or, say, money. It definitely gave me a new perspective on things, and now I find myself asking questions for curiosity’s sake, as opposed to having any real reason to.

It was also through this book that I realised how interconnected everything was. Besides elaborating a little on the more obvious interconnectedness between countries due to globalisation and the like, the book also opened my eyes to the interconnectedness between various disciplines.

The relationship between business and information technology is obvious for me, but between disciplines as diverse as information technology, business, political, and economics, it does tend to make me think a little more at how every discipline just leads to one thing: the study of life.

It also brought up for me the idea of systems thinking, where actions created on a more micro scale can, the power of systems, lead to big, macro results.