Computer virus illustration

Not so long ago in 2015, Carl C. was asked to give a talk to an amateur radio club. The venue was a local church that rented out their meeting hall to various community groups, businesses, and even the odd academic session. The space boasted a multimedia setup with several video screens, making it a great place at which to present.

Carl prepared his talk, and a PowerPoint slide deck to go with. On the day of the presentation, he arrived at the meeting hall with plenty of time to spare. Alone in silence, he headed toward the front of the room and surveyed the technical setup. Thankfully, it was straightforward: there was a table set up in front of the projector screen, with a VGA connector resting directly on it. Carl unpacked his laptop, retrieved the HDMI-to-VGA adapter he'd brought along, and began plugging everything together.


Carl jumped, then glanced up wide-eyed like a deer in headlights. It wasn't a truck bearing down on him, but rather a flustered gentleman hugging a laptop to his chest.

"I'm the IT guru here," he introduced himself breathlessly, hurrying around the table to all but elbow Carl aside. "We don't allow outside computers to be connected to our system. That's how viruses spread! You'll have to run your presentation from our computer." He connected his own laptop to the AV system in lieu of Carl's.

"Uh ..." Carl blurted.

"Yes?" The guru fixed him with a withering stare.

I'm not joining your network, Carl thought. There's no such thing as VGA viruses! But the stare was so intense that the objections died before they left his throat.

"How, uh ... how do I get my presentation on there?" he asked instead, gesturing to the guru's laptop.

"Can you copy it to a USB stick?" the guru asked. "That's the best way."

Right. No one's ever gotten a virus from a random USB stick. Biting his lip to short-circuit a laugh, Carl dug through the side pockets on his laptop bag. "I think I've got one with me."

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