How Do You Get Rid of the Babylon Toolbar?

This post, which explores some false paths taken in a decision making process, started with a previous post discussing how a senior client of mine went from a desktop to a laptop. She gave me her XP desktop, which apparently had not been updated from the factory. It had no service packs installed at all. Not to worry, I set about upgrading the hardware and then settled in to what I expected would be a tedious, but unchallenging series of updates to bring it up to modern standards. I was wrong.

The trouble started, as it often does, when I let my guard down in response to a Microsoft problem. It does not seem to directly support upgrading raw XP systems to the SP3 status, so I searched for a site that would have an SP1 or SP2 package that I could download. One of the top results was a link to Soft32, which was indicated as safe by my trusty WOT add-on in Firefox. It was late, and I was tired, so I probably simply overlooked the alternative. A few clicks and I was in business. Having updated the basic XP, I could now start the arduous process of downloading the accumulated updates. Or course, Microsoft Security Essentials was one of my downloads. Malwarebytes was another.

Things looked real good until I happened to open Firefox again and saw that it had been hi-jacked by something called a Babylon toolbar. I did not want it. So started my headache, but it also presented a good example of following a decision tree to solve a problem. In what follows, you will see how I navigated inefficiently through the maze to eventual success.

I started by looking at Firefox itself. The intruder was not listed in the Firefox tools area, and nothing appeared in the “remove programs” part of the XP control panel. So next I went to Explorer and searched the HD for meaningful names to delete. This was followed by a quick search through the registry using regedit. You might be comfortable registry diving, but it always gives me pause. After deleting everything that looked remotely suspicious, I fired up Firefox again and, right across the blue banner at the top, was something called Babylon Search!

Obviously, at this point, I should have gone online and searched for help, but this is an article about decisions. I made the stubborn decision to persevere by myself. If something was wrong with Firefox, I figured I could simply uninstall it and do a clean re-install. That will usually fix anything. Surprise: The new installation had the same infection. In frustration, I uninstalled it again and ran scans with both Malwarebytes and MSE. The system was clean. Then I reinstalled Firefox for the third time. No change. In frustration, I resorted to an old friend, Spybot S&D. I downloaded it using Firefox and ran a scan. This time it found a lot of entries for Babylon and fixed them. That was good — for a while. When I opened Firefox again, it was still infected. For those of you following my fumbling, note the order in which I did things. A clue to what was wrong is right in front of us where I should have seen it. Alas, my mind must have been in neutral. In frustration again, I decided that maybe Internet Explorer — which I used to download Firefox — was compromised, so I downloaded Opera using another machine, installed it, and used it to install (fourth time) Firefox with no improvement; Babylon was still there offering to do whatever it does for me.

Having gone through a reasonable decision tree and not achieving success, I now did what should have been done sooner, and looked for a solution online. There are many solutions available. A quick reading of some of them showed me that the authors did not know any more about the situation than I did, even though they swore their method would work. But the consensus seemed to be that some of the things I did should have worked. So I must have been doing something stupid (acknowledging that you are doing something stupid is a valuable, but often overlooked tool). That turned out to be the case.

I think that there are enough clues embedded in this account to allow a reasonable guess about what I did wrong in trying to rid myself of Babylon. The answer follows, but before reading it, pretend that you are with me struggling with this problem. I value your input and beg for help. What do you suggest?

How Do You Get Rid of the Babylon Toolbar? I Did It.The answer is implicit in the screenshot showing the next to last step in uninstalling Firefox. Like many folk who are tired of the yada-yada on various screens, when this one popped up, I clicked the uninstall button at the bottom and waited. An observant person (which I was not) would notice the check box in the middle of the screenshot. By clicking uninstall without selecting that box, I was telling Firefox that I might be back and if I did come back, I wanted it to be the same as it was at the time of uninstallation — complete with Babylon.

Duh! When I finally woke up and realized that, I checked the box, uninstalled Firefox, and then reinstalled it with no difficulty — and it worked correctly!

Part of the reason for dwelling on this fiasco, which does not do my reputation any good, is to lay out the decision pattern I tried to follow, and if I had done it correctly instead of flailing, it would not have been such a problem.

We can speculate that since this was a new installation, I did not have any bookmarks or other personal data or customization invested in the Firefox installation. Therefore I was not as careful about deciding what to do as I would have been if there had been some personal investment of time involved. Maybe that is true, but it does not really matter. I made a couple of mistakes while upgrading a computer and paid for it with frustration. Let him who has never done the same thing cast the first stone.

Dig Looks At Society Just Before Dawn Of Urban Civilization In The Middle East

There should be an image here!Thirty-one acres in extent, Tell Zeidan is situated where the Balikh River joins the Euphrates River in modern-day Syria. The location was at the crossroads of major trade routes across ancient Mesopotamia that followed the course of the Euphrates River valley.

Stein said Tell Zeidan may have been one of the largest Ubaid temple towns in northern Mesopotamia, and that it was as large or larger than any previously known contemporary Ubaid towns in the southern alluvial lowlands of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in what is today southern Iraq. However, because the site was not occupied after about 4,000 B.C., the prehistoric strata of Tell Zeidan are immediately accessible beneath the modern-day ground surface instead of being buried beneath layers of deposits from later periods.

“This means that, for the first time, archaeologists can excavate broad areas of an Ubaid temple town to understand how a proto-urban community actually functioned in the sixth-fifth millennia B.C.,” Stein said.

The new excavations Tell Zeidan reveal the emergence of an elite that possessed the political power necessary for communities to move from self-sufficient village life to societies dependent on trade and capable of acquiring luxury goods, Stein said.

Stein, a noted archaeologist who is a specialist on the Ubaid culture, began excavating the site in 2008 and returned in 2009. He is the American co-director of the Joint Syrian-American Archaeological Research Project at Tell Zeidan, and Muhammad Sarhan from the Raqqa Museum in the nearby provincial capital of Raqqa is the Syrian co-director.

“The two-millennium-long occupation spans four key periods: two phases of the late Copper Age on top, the Ubaid period in the middle and the Halaf period at the bottom,” Stein said.

The excavations so far show that the transitions between these periods were peaceful, including the period in which the influence of the Ubaid culture spread from its south Mesopotamian homeland up the Euphrates River into north Syria.

“One of our most remarkable finds was a stone stamp seal depicting a deer. The seal was unusually large, about two inches by two-and-a-half inches,” Stein said. The seal was carved from a red stone not native to the area, but was similar in design to a seal found 185 miles to the east near Mosul in northern Iraq.

“The existence of very elaborate seals with near-identical motives at such widely distant sites suggests that in this period, high-ranking elites were assuming leadership positions across a very broad region, and those dispersed elites shared a common set of symbols and perhaps even a common ideology of superior social status,” he said.

The seals were used as stamps to indicate possession of goods in the period before writing.

The team found obsidian blades and chips wasted during the production of the blades. The high-quality volcanic glass had to be brought to the community from sources 250 miles away in what is now Turkey. The greenish-black color and chemical composition show that it came from mines in the eastern part of the country.

The people in Tell Zeidan also had access to copper ore from sources near modern-day Diyarbakir, Turkey, about 185 to 250 miles away. Those materials were smelted at Tell Zeidan to produce metal tools that represent the most advanced technology of the fifth millennium B.C. People must have transported the material on their backs, however, as Tell Zeidan flourished at a time before donkeys were domesticated.

The wealth of the community came from irrigation-based agriculture, trade and manufacturing. “We found flint sickle blades everywhere, easily recognizable from the glossy sheen where they had been polished by the silica in the stems of the wheat that they were used to harvest,” Stein said. The people used bitumen, a tar substance obtained from pits 43 miles away, to secure the blades onto handles.

Along with the advanced technology, a wealthy ruling class and individual identification by stamp seals, the people at Tell Zeidan also built large public structures of mud bricks.

William Harms @ University of Chicago

[Photo above by Steve Hart / CC BY-ND 2.0]

[awsbullet:archaeology biblical]