This post is for anyone who finds themselves fighting off a computer virus on Windows 8.1 or Windows 10. The one I just encountered was called “Win32 Apanas Trojan” by Avast Free Antivirus. I’m not an expert in the sketchy world of antivirus software, but Avast seemed to help me out a lot.
All three of my computers run Windows 8.1. Call me crazy. I don’t like Windows 10. (I miss Windows 7, but Windows 8.1 is my middle ground). Maybe 10 is better against viruses? Maybe that’s a pipe dream.
I was caught with my guard down the other day, when a virus suddenly stopped me from using my main computer. Many of my programs stopped working, and my computer began behaving quite badly — not doing what I asked and running mysterious console applications on its own. I immediately went down the list of recovery options:
Windows System Restore. It has saved me before, it could save me again! Nope, not in this case. For whatever reason, there was no way I could restore my system like in the good old days.I later found out that I could have restored it, but Windows 8.1’s “Metro” Recovery interface had me convinced I could not. Come on, Microsoft! Lesson learned. Use Control Panel -> All Control Panel Items -> Recovery to find the real System Restore.
Start Over. Yes, I try to stay prepared for this kind of apocalypse. I was ready to format my hard drive and start over… But why not try a few things first?
Manual Recovery Through Research. This seems to have worked, in my case. No issues for a full day, and all is back to normal. More details below.
How I Recovered My Computer: Manually
Four simple steps got my computer running again. I was lucky that the virus didn’t stop my computer in its tracks by the time I ran System File Checker:
Go to Search or Start > Command Prompt and right-click. In the popup menu, click “Run As Administrator”
Step 1: System File Checker
In the command prompt window, type this command: sfc /scannow
The “sfc” stands for System File Checker, and it’s a lifesaver. It runs through a thorough list of Windows system files, checking for missing and changed files, then restoring their originals. Mine completed with some warnings about certain files being skipped, or something along those lines. It still helped. Some viruses may block or replace this executable, but I was spared.
Step 2: Install Avast and/or ClamWin
Avast Antivirus is free for 30 days. ClamWin is open source and free to use. Use one, use both, just use something!
Step 3: Reinstall Infected Programs
This is why we keep backups of everything, right? If an executable (program) gets infected by a virus, you need to reinstall that program.
Some people never a trust a computer that’s been infected, and insist on formatting their hard drives. I’m more optimistic. If you can survive through a virus with the steps above, then congratulations! I hope this helps someone!
I spend a lot of time focusing on what I love to do… To a fault, if you ask certain friends or family members. (They don’t complain when I send them new pictures and music, though!)
I focus on things like playing the guitar into a looper pedal with absolutely no idea what to play; letting it happen on its own and recording everything for the next potential In The Branches album, for example. Driving my car through Montana in the summer time, stopping every few miles to take another epic photograph of momma nature. Reviewing and re-editing photos from my years of adventures. That’s what I’m all about, in case you haven’t noticed.
I’m fighting tooth and nail to continue recording sound and light, in a free and nomadic way, and making sure to be able to continue to do so. Against all odds. This lifestyle exists outside the boundaries, expectations, and schedules of the 9-to-5 “Western Civilization McMatrix” that still haunts my dreams. It’s been a wild struggle that keeps reaching new milestones in all the right ways… Though each new test of my integrity seems tougher than the last. Two years into my extreme independence, I’m still here. Alive and well, all things considered. Knock on wood.
All of the success I’m putting together into this “Life 2.0″is the result of removing my old options and leaving my comfort zone… Time and time again. I’ve reset my habits and retrained my mind to stay focused amidst the chaos and doubt of the world around me. As much as possible, at least.
Surviving on Creative Inspiration
Your community may be your success
Travel. A lot. Your network of friends and your view of the world may stagnate if you don’t break the patterns that got you where you are right now. The point is to grow, right? Personal evolution doesn’t stop, and traveling seems to force us to grow.
Rally your friends and family to collaborate in intelligent, randomized, and exciting creative experiments with potential income, using the ingredients and resources you have at hand and absolutely nothing more. If you don’t have it, work without it until you’ve earned your way to that next step. Build your business or project in realistic steps. Dreaming “too big” often results in pipe dreams if Step 1 is too far out of reach.
Keep an analysis of your progress through the experiments (for example, building a website that does exactly what you’d want it to). From there, you’re making adjustments and repeating the process.
Recruiting help can exponentially speeds things up, with a trade-off of multiplying the cost or overhead of the project. If the project has any running start, such as a small amount of revenue streaming in from many sources at rates proportional to the work being put into it, then it has a great shot at going somewhere. If it’s not there yet, get as far as you can on your own before getting others involved. My version of this is selling stock photos and digital music.
Your Identity is Your “Brand”
Modern society is Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat with real life sprinkled on top. You can hide from this reality, or you can embrace it. I try to embrace it, especially with Instagram. It’s fun when you spend some time to make it work for you.
If you’re hoping to become an independent filmmaker, but your online profiles say “Shift Manager at Starbucks”, you’re off to a shit start. Any job you’re doing to fill the gaps and pay the bills is NOT your identity, much to the dismay of many bosses out there. Keep that clear to yourself and others by ruthlessly identifying yourself as who and what you want to be. If it feels weird or fake, then you have work to do. Immediately.
Cut out every possible middle-man (and middle-woman, to be fair) who stands between you and your customers’ money — unless you can work out a symbiotic relationship. Bypassing these financial in-betweeners requires creative research and a genuine quest for knowledge, feeding into your specialties and technical skills. I think the new game of success for myself is one of creative and somewhat extreme “minimalism” which allows me maximum mobility and minimal overhead, while I create valuable content like photographs, videos, and niche music.
Analyze Your Work and Progress
If you can see that X amount of hours (even a rough estimate) has created X amount of dollars, then keep track of these numbers over time — even loosely — then you know what to spend much of your time on. The tricky part is that most pursuits must consume you, completely, to go anywhere fast. If you’re half-assing it, you’re joking. Everyone will know it. Don’t do that. We already have that guy.
Learn What Sells — and Interests You
Create content with heart and soul, but also understand the industry standards that surround your passion. Music, videos, photos, art. Make it look and/or sound really f***ing good by understanding technical specifications and norms. I work on digital things because I’m a bit of a tech nerd and am familiar with the rules of the game.
Quick Points to Sum it Up
Create things that are impressive by taking your time and following the excitement through to the end.
Work on multiple projects if you find yourself getting stuck on one. I enjoy working on at least three projects at a time.
Set limits on your own perfectionism. Many agree that 98% completion is about as good as it gets from the artist’s own perspective. To reach 99 or 100% means things have either gotten downright robotic, or the thing will take absolutely forever to finish.
Describe it, spell it out, talk it up without lying.
Create priced and free content. Use one to promote the other and maximize your number of connections with both paying customers, potentially-paying customers, and people who share your work (that’s as good as money, because it’s real-world marketing when someone genuinely wants to share and/or compliment something you made).
Create limited-time promotions that encourage people to “act fast” to get something that seems (or actually is) suddenly limited or scarce.
Cross every social media platform possible. Abuse the simplicity of the “Share” buttons that are everywhere. This is why you’d sure as hell better be proud of what you’re peddling. Don’t annoy anyone with half-baked work.
Look closely at how you spend your time, at every possible minute of the day. Use it wisely.
There you have it. I hope this rambling helps somebody out there.