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RIVERSIDE: Techs battle modern plague of bugs, viruses

10:00 PM PDT on Thursday, June 9, 2011
Special to The Press-Enterprise

They eradicate bugs that seemingly have invaded everything. They eliminate the pestilence by overlooking nothing, digging into every nook and cranny to remove the often fatal epidemic disease that, at times, brings a halt to daily schedules and lives. They are the staff and technicians at Human Computer in Riverside who have for 16 years provided well-being to thousands of lap tops and tower computers.

"We had a better idea and were desirous of providing one-on-one service," said owner John Lim. "Every store that opened had the name 'tech' in it -- we went a different direction emphasizing the human contact and service."

Often receiving 20-25 virus infected or corrupted computers each day requires full time research and communication to stay current on virus removal procedures, according to technician Stan Kim.

Rich Linton / Special to The Press-Enterprise
Because of the numbers of infected computers, technician Stan Kim works on several at the same time. "If there is a lesson here, it is always back up your hard drive," he said.

"IT techs band together and are eager to share information through several sources, communicating methods to remove malware, Trojans, worms and viruses," said Kim.

Currently there is a particularly insidious virus that is plaguing computers, said Kim.

"We are getting a lot of computers this week with the same bug. When you turn on your machine, the screen is completely blank so you think you've lost everything. It is important for the public to be aware that they shouldn't do anything like formatting the computer. Just get it in to a shop to have the virus removed," said Kim.

The problems are as varied as the customers who seeking computer help, said manager Mike Brewer.

"We assist people and companies from every occupation: police, sheriff, teachers, hospital personnel as well as the general public. We've built this business on word of mouth success," Brewer said.

"We've had court reporters in tears bring in their work laptops needing immediate assistance. Their files frequently involve ongoing cases and they need urgent high priority support," said Brewer.

There have also been several highly emotional episodes that stand out when someone needs to recover files from a corrupted computer.

"Family members have asked us to recover the only existing photos from a computer which were of a son or daughter veteran that had been killed in action," Lim said.

"And we are all in tears when they return to pick up their computers," added Brewer.

With the thousands of new viruses, Trojans and malware originating daily, even the proprietary security centers of major software companies are not immune to infections, according to PcWorld's website.

In recent days, pop-ups that purported to be from the security center of Apple have in fact been malicious Trojans.

And in a separate Microsoft spoof, programs are advising that your computer is infected and that you should update your software immediately -- a scam to obtain credit card numbers of those who proceed, believing it a real threat.

Restoring corrupted machines are only a part of the service provided, Kim said.

"Recently a customer came in with a floppy disk and asked if we could open it. His wife had recently died and while in the hospital she wrote a last letter to him and saved it to the disk," said Kim. "We retrieved the letter for him -- it remains one of my most memorable jobs for a customer."

Additional information may be obtained at humancomputer.com

Rich Linton is a Press-Enterprise correspondent.

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