Drunken Cursor Dancing Bee

Bee DanceToday began like any other… well, any other where I accidentally scare my wife nearly to death. Let’s just say, “like a Wednesday…”

Anyway, I began my usual routine of scouring Tech articles and ignoring email (the useless ones we all ignore, like my Nigerian friends and discount Ciallis).  After a long while of getting lost in code, I received an iMessage from a friend needing help with pop-up windows.

While helping, I performed my own infrequent Virus and Malware scans, since the topic had come up. I seem to be rather poor at remembering to do this since I happen to use a Macbook as my primary computer, and issues of this type are rare.

When I used Windows machines I was drastically more careful, using various continual scans together with the occasional third-party double (triple?) check.

Regardless, per usual, nothing much was found aside from the ever-present insistence that Google Chrome components may in fact be viruses in disguise… more about that in a future post (note to self). 

Satisfied that my files were still safe from any malicious intent other than my own, I closed the software window and went to get myself a drink (soft, not hard). I returned minutes later to my screen full of open windows of various programs. Confused, I began to slowly close them, only to have my cursor fly away from me and begin happily reopening what I had just closed and then some. Then it switched to a different desktop and opened more. Then it began what can only be described as a bee dance, shaking crazily in one spot only to slowly move to another and shake again. Then to select some text on a news article. Then to shake some more. Then to fly across the screen to a corner and shake and switch between desktops and then… This went on for some time as I sat open mouthed, convinced that there was a drunken ghost controlling my laptop.

And then I knew!

Somehow, someway, someone had taken remote control of my computer!

My brain went into overdrive and time slowed to a crawl as my hand flew to the trackpad.

I

     had

          to

               shut

                    down

                         the

                              wireless!

But I couldn’t!

Every move I made was countered by this hacker. I’d gain a few pixels only to have the arrow shoot to the opposite side of the screen. Over and over again this happened…  Finally, I tapped the power button and quickly hit enter to shut down the computer. Window after window after window after window after window after window closed, and more were opening all the time. What to do?! 

I ran into the other room and unplugged the wireless router. Done! They couldn’t do anything more without a connection… or could they?

When I got back to the laptop, windows were still being opened by my drunken bee drone cursor, and Shut Down was losing the battle. It couldn’t close them nearly as fast as they were flying up. Did he/she implant a virus? On a Mac? On MY Mac?! I wasn’t sure whether to be angry or impressed. Finally, OS X realized something was amiss and rebooted on its own. Then… I remembered that I could have simply long pressed the power button to shut it down cold. Oh well…

Screen flash… Apple logo… Tone of awakening… Password screen… cursor arrow still… good… now to figure out how they got in.  Type password. Tap Enter. Cursor still.  Great!

I touch the trackpad to begin looking at the Logs. Then,

BAM!!! Drunken Cursor Bee Dance.

Grab the iPad and look up…what else?… Macbook Pro Drunken Cursor Dancing Bee…  

Hits… Several…  (Only because of the words “cursor” and “dancing,” not because of “drunken bee.” Although I found a lot about “bee dancing.” Anyway…) Lots of suggestions from others that had a remarkably similar phenomenon occur.

So… I cleaned the trackpad, paying particular attention to the crevice (the cutout on the unibody that houses the pad).  Reboot computer. Touch the trackpad. Moves as expected. Type password. Tap Enter. Touch trackpad. Wait. Open Safari. Wait. Surf some news articles. Wait. Switch Desktops. Swipe all the crazy useful swipes. Back to normal. Thank goodness!

It seems the culprit was nothing more than minute particles of dust that had wedged themselves between the case body and trackpad. But, just to be safe, I also Repaired Permissions and did another Virus and Adware Scan.

So, what did we learn today? Macbook Pro trackpads are extremely sensitive precision tools that require occasional cleaning—one part of the Mac I’d never really thought much about until today. However, this really goes for all electronic devices; an occasional proper cleaning hurts nothing, but it WILL improve the appearance of anything, and can easily prevent future issues. 

One bit of caution… Don’t go trying any of your household cleaners to attempt a thorough cleaning yourself unless you are absolutely and completely certain that you know what you are doing; many of those chemicals can cause more damage to the components and body of a device than you can possibly imagine until it is far too late. For such a cleaning, be sure to do lots of research online, or contact a professional to do it for you. The cost is extremely little in comparison to the damage that you could do to yourself or your device trying to clean it uninformed, or by never cleaning it at all…

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