I hadn’t fired up my ancient Lenovo s10e netbook in maybe 3 months. It’s old but it’s been lovingly carried for. (Note: Inanimate or not, I’ve discovered that I am very sentimental about things that work.)

And this netbook might be 5 years old but I’ve upgraded the OS to Win7 Pro, put in a 1TB HDD, turned up the speed using ReadyBoost, and also replaced the battery a year ago.

So I was more than a little surprised when it wouldn’t power up this afternoon.

I looked online – using my workstation – and perused a couple of webpages and one posted suggestion said to unplug it, take the battery out, and then plug it back in with the battery out. Hmm.

I followed those instructions and sure enough it fired up. I stuck the battery back in it and everything appeared to be hunky-dory.

The battery had a 95% charge. Hmm.

I decided to look at the power management scheme. Maybe something had changed but everything looked just fine.

Then I decided to look at what programs were installed using Windows Control Panel. That is always good SOP and what I discovered is another case in point of why frequently checking your installed programs is a smart thing to do.

So I see a program installed called EnergyCut. The publisher was Lenovo. Okay, that jibed and I guess I could understand that.

And then I looked at the date of installation – 8/15/2014. And that made me suspicious because in the few times that I’ve had the machine on in the last 6-8 months I certainly couldn’t recall downloading a new power management scheme, especially seeings how come last August it was practically a brand new battery. And I don’t remember ever having downloaded anything from Lenovo; at least in recent memory. Hmm.

I looked online and discovered this: “EnergyCut.exe is not a Windows system file. EnergyCut.exe is able to record keyboard and mouse inputs. Therefore the technical security rating is 50% dangerous.”

And on the same webpage it went on to say, “Important: Some malware camouflages itself as EnergyCut.exe, particularly when located in the C:\Windows or C:\Windows\System32 folder. Therefore, you should check the EnergyCut.exe process on your PC to see if it is a threat.”

Wow. That blew my hair back. So I fired up Task Manager, affirmed that energycut was a running process, then used CP to delete the damn thing. While nothing in Task Manager could affirm to whether energycut was or wasn’t a threat; still from what I read on that page and elsewhere led me to conclude that at the very least I didn’t need it. I am not overly anal about these things until something makes me suspicious.

I once made an observation about cats after watching my mother’s cat prowl around her house. And I came to the conclusion that a cat doesn’t meticulously check out each and every object in a room because it is necessarily interested in its owner’s life or even its own environment.

No. It’s my opinion that cats constantly spend their waking hours wandering around checking stuff out is because they are interested in discovering only what’s changed. Cats, I’ve concluded, are obsessed about order and possibly paranoid about change.

Tangentially, it’s like what Cormac McCarthy said about horses. He said that horses weren’t worried about stuff they could see. They were only worried about the things they couldn’t see.

Add a cat to a horse and that’s kind of like me. For example, even when I lived in the backwoods of North Carolina I made sure that every door to the outside in my newly built house was locked. That was 7 sliding glass doors, 2 regular doors and a garage door. I never (ever) left a door unlocked unless I was in a reasonable proximity. Example, if I was working on the top floor, there wouldn’t be a door below me that was unlocked. That probably sounds paranoid as hell to you doesn’t it?

But not to me. I’m like that horse in that I don’t like surprises either. And I am like that cat too. If I put a screwdriver (or whatever) down someplace, then I expect it to be where I left it. Nothing should move unless I moved it. And if something did move – and it wasn’t me that moved it – then I certainly want to know why.

So computer security is a lot like personal security inasmuch as both require a big commitment to situational awareness.

PS – Thinking just now about Cormac McCarthy’s horse and my mom’s cat got me recollecting an incident that happened a few years back when I was living in Washington, DC. I was working for a big government contractor at the time out in the Virginia suburbs and a buddy of mine and I were rolling back to the office after lunch and we happened to drive by one of the entrances to the CIA headquarters in Langley, VA. There were barred gates at the checkpoint manned by guys carrying all kinds of impressive ordinance and we both sucked in our collective breaths thinking as to the serious consequences one might get into regarding – metaphorically speaking – straying across that particular yellow line.

After we’d driven by my buddy turned to me and said, “That’s some shit ain’t it?” I said, “Yeah. And just imagine all the bad shit we can’t see.”