Posted by: reisendame | October 30, 2008

Mein Computer ist kaputt!

And I’m convinced that my Dell Inspiron’s demise is largely (if not entirely) due to my use of the “free WiFi” network a downtown Minneapolis Holiday Inn Express boasts to provide to it all its guests.

***I have not once downloaded music, pornography, or other potentially harmful files to the laptop I now mourn. It was my intention to keep this computer virus-free, as my previous two had already fallen victim to infection.***

She used to be my blogging vehicle...

My former blogging vehicle :-(

During the ten days I worked at the Republican National Convention as a volunteer for the Press Gallery, I hung my hat in a modest room at the aforementioned hotel. My initial purpose for toting the laptop halfway across the country was so that I could blog about the RNC as I worked it; as it turned out, my days/ nights were busier than expected and I became quite complacent about actually doing my planned project. Instead, I reserved my internet use for emailing and, regrettably, a bit of social networking with friends back home.  

But that’s beside the point. Actually, I take that back. If I actually had the gumption to write about what was going on while I was there, then I’d feel considerably less disgruntled about letting my precious Dell become a convention casualty.

About midway through the trip, she began to behave in an erratic manner. Suddenly, normal operations like playing a CD became impossible to execute. It goes without saying that this malady freaked me out. I shut off the the laptop, crossed my fingers, and waited for the safe return to my own secure network before I gave her another try.

Death screen

Even at home, matters did not improve. In fact, within three attempts at reviving the Dell, I was taunted with a DOS-esque screen that proclaimed: “BEGINNING DUMP OF PHYSICAL MEMORY“.

Nooooo!

I know little of recovering/curing virus-ridden computers, so once I have the capital I’ll take her to a professional who can, God-willing, breathe some life into my now-defunct electronic thinking machine.

This phenomenon is NOT limited to Holiday Inns, however. Just a week ago, after staying at the Casa Marina Resort (a bit higher end than the HI Express) in Key West, my mother returned home only to lose her own Inspiron in a similar fashion. I strongly suspect that the WiFi she utilized was the agent of its destruction.

USERS, BEWARE FREE HOTEL WIFI!

Interestingly, multiple searches through blogs, forums, and websites turned up few results pertaining to this subject. Still, I’ve tried to put together a few useful links for those of you who might be concerned about this crisis affecting you and your laptop.

Directory of Hotels, Inns, Motels with free WiFi

Chatter’s worst hotels for WiFi Service

A WiFi Virus Outbreak? Researchers Say it’s Possible

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Responses

  1. Hi! I work in security and can tell you that anything is _possible_ although the likely cause was someone attempting to hack into your computer (while you where connected) or you may not have had all the required security updates installed on your computer (causing a virus infection to propagate to your laptop).

    The best advice I’d give is to install a firewall (or use the one that comes with Windows) have an up to date antivirus program (McAfee, Symantec, AVG etc.) and always run & install Windows Updates at least once a week :-)

    The easiest way to get your laptop back might be to reinstall all the software from the DVD that came with your laptop.

    I hope you have backups of all your important documents?!

  2. Here is a better idea: dump Microsoft Windows.

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