On Saturday the boys’ PC got a bad virus, specifically a type of malware called Trojan.Ransomware. ‘Ransomware’ refers to the technique of holding a PC hostage until a ransom is paid. In practice it is more subtle than it sounds. In our case the PC boots to the normal Windows 7 login screen. When a user enters their credentials they get a full screen error message:
System process at address OxE4783995 have just crashed,
please follow these steps to deactivate it from your system.
1. Call one of the following numbers:
2. Wait for the answer and write down your deactivation key
3. Enter the deactivation keyreceived by phone, click “Next” to continue
Of course this is a bogus error message, but what is the point of making you call these numbers? Well apparently they are international premium service numbers which attract very high charges. You get a recorded message saying hold the line, during which time you get charged for the wait. Somehow the scammer benefits financially.
During my googling I discovered many variations but this guy seemed the closest. I also found a solution but it didn’t work for me. I got into windows recovery mode and tried making the suggested registry edits but the changes made by our trojan were quite different. Also it had not created a new user with a numerical username (eg C:\users\Michael\22997148\22997148.EXE). I found some information about related trojans that make multiple registry changes similar to what I was finding but after a while I decided it was easier to reinstall Windows 7 – I’d only rebuilt this PC a few weeks ago so there was not much software on it yet. Luckily I’d used a system partition and a data partition so I could leave the docs, music etc untouched.
A few days ago I bought one of these for $46 from MSY. It is cheap and versatile and works very well. One reason I bought the U3100 is that it was designed with the ASUS eee PC in mind which runs on Ubuntu Linux. On my project to-do list is to build a MythTV box using Ubuntu so this USB TV tuner should work fine. In the meantime I plugged it in to my main home PC which runs WinXP.
An issue I had was the choice of TV software. I’d read that the supplied EZVCR software was no good so I was glad to see that it also came with TotalMedia 3.5. This installed, detected the TV tuner and found all the expected TV stations without a problem. The only hitch I discovered later relates to playing recorded programmes. It produces unusual mpg files which play fine in TotalMedia but when I play them with VLC or WMP there is no sound. In fact VLC says the file contains no audio stream at all, so the lack of sound is not surprising. The TotalMedia version supplied is free and probably nobbled. The TotalMedia website encourages users to upgrade to the full version for US$30. I don’t think so.
So, what free software to use instead? Mr Google recommended GB-PVR so I gave it a try. It is very good but a bit tricky to set up. A hurdle is that during configuration the ASUS U3000 is listed as supported but not the U3100. Selecting U3000 didn’t work. The GB-PVR wiki has a procedure for adding an unsupported tuner or ‘capture card’ which involves using graphedit to examine the tuner characteristics and adding these details to bda.ini, the config file for digital tuners which use BDA drivers. Before going to the trouble of downloading and installing graphedit I thought I’d try a simpler method first.
I opened bda.ini, found the section for U3000 and copied it, creating a duplicate entry. Then I changed the occurrences in the new entry of U3000 to U3100. I figured that the parameters for U3000 and U3100 would be very similar if not identical and GB-PVR might be happy if it could just find a usable entry for the U3100. Bingo, it worked.
[Asus u3100 mini USB]
FILTER_TUNER=ASUS U3100 Mini BDA Digital Tuner (Dev1 Path0)
FILTER_CAPTURE=ASUS U3100 Mini BDA Digital Capture (Dev1 Path0)