I first learned that Ted Rall supports Howard Dean at xrlq’s blog, here. Eugene Volokh has a good explanation why Dean should be embarrassed. And I have posted about Rall a couple of times myself, here and here.
COMPUTER PROTECTION RACKET: Some company has started an internet protection racket. They somehow commandeered our browser and changed our home page. Now, when we open Internet Explorer, we are taken to a page that tries to sell us a program called “Spy Wiper.” This page does tricks like popping our CD-ROM open, or launching Notepad. Then we get a warning that says (I am paraphrasing): “If your CD-ROM popped open, or your Notepad launched, you need to download our program.”
I’d give you the link, but I’m afraid that if you went there, the same thing might happen to your computer.
If I had the people responsible for this here, it would be simple; I could just strangle them. As it is, I must settle for some other solution. If you have suggestions, please leave them in the comments.
UPDATE: I have received requests from computer-savvy people for me to publish the URLs of the site that hijacked my browser. Here they are — but beware: if you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t click on them:
The first one is the one that pops open your CD-ROM and launches a menacing message on Notepad.
Through a comment at xrlq’s site, I saw a link to something called “Hijack This.” But how do I know this isn’t another scam program? (By the way, it’s probably just coincidence, but this all started about 24 hours after I installed and ran Ad Aware 6.0 — a program I downloaded after reading about similar problems others had been having.) I don’t know what programs to trust anymore.
UPDATE x2: It happened to BoiFromTroy too.
UPDATE x3: Well, I fixed the problem in a strange way. I first followed BoiFromTroy’s advice, and installed all Windows updates and got rid of all cookies. This didn’t fix the problem. Then I remembered that the liberal blog Talking Points Memo has a feature whereby you can make that site your home page by clicking on the appropriate link. So I did that, and Spy Wiper’s page was gone.
I had previously set the Drudge Report as my home page, and frankly, I’d rather have that (or Patterico, for that matter) as my home page, rather than Talking Points Memo. But Josh Marshall is preferable to Spy Wiper, so until someone explains how I can take back control of my computer, this will have to do.
UPDATE x4: Problem fixed, thanks to reader Steve G. No more having to look at Josh Marshall’s self-satisfied mug every time I open a new browser. Thanks, Steve!
I still want to make this company pay. I am soliciting suggestions as to how to accomplish that, at this post.