THE ULTIMATE VIRUS KILLER BOOK APPENDICES
K - COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS
The "Ultimate Virus Killer" program and its predecessors have
been supported for almost eight years. During that time many
questions have been asked by interested/ignorant/concerned users.
Some of the most popular ones will be summed up here.
"CAN MS-DOS DISKS BE IMMUNIZED?"
No, unless you're prepared to lose MS-DOS compatibility. If you
immunize an MS-DOS compatible disk it will no longer be readable
in an MS-DOS compatible computer. Even though the disk formats
are readily interchangable, for some reason or other a PC wants
specific values on a disk's bootsector. Please refer to "The
Book", chapter 6.6, for more details.
It is advisable to keep one disk MS-DOS compatible for file
exchange between your Atari and a PC (if you have one).
"WHY IS IT IMPOSSIBLE TO CHECK HARD DISKS FOR BOOTSECTOR
Hard disks can contain enormous amounts of data; up to a few
gigabytes of them, in fact, are possible. The structure of a hard
disk bootsector depends on a great many factors, the most major
of which is the set of specifications of partition data used by
one of the respective hard disk driver programs on the market
(Atari, Supra, Protar, Huschi, ICD, etc., etc.).
As there are many different hard disk drivers that cannot
possibly all be examined and supported it would be extremely
difficult to guarantee that nothing bad happens to all the stuff
on your hard disk if I should decide to allow the "Ultimate Virus
Killer" to repair it. As my funds do not suffice to pay for the
lawsuits I could get involved in when wrecking someone's hard
disk bootsector (especially if the hard disk were to contain
vital data of ultimate importance), the program principally does
not allow any repairs on hard disk to be performed, no matter
"WHY ARE 99% SAFE BOOTSECTORS INCLUDED? ARE THEY SAFE?"
Basically, whenever a disk's bootsector outside the BIOS
Parameter Block is not entirely filled with the same value I
cannot guarantee that it's 100% safe. Hence I have included the
'99% safe' thing, which in more than 99% of all cases is
synonymous with '100% safe' and should therefore perhaps be
called '99.99% safe'. The best thing to do is write a boot file,
then erase (i.e. repair) the bootsector. If the software still
works properly, you need not send the boot file. If the software
fails to work from then on, please send us the bootfile and the
disk containing the software. The program will be functioning
again and it will from then on be recognised by the later
versions of the "Ultimate Virus Killer", too.
"WHAT DO THE ADDRESSES ON THE SYSTEM STATUS SCREEN TELL ME?"
They don't tell you much. All they do is display the hexadecimal
address to which the respective Operating System vectors point,
which is in itself unimportant but, frankly, it looks nice.
The things that do supply you with information are the figures
in brackets behind them. These identify the application (or
virus) that is found at that hexadecimal address by the "Ultimate
Virus Killer" analysis routines.
Please refer to "The Manual", chapter 9, for more information.
"WHAT IS THE ANSWER TO LIFE, THE UNIVERSE AND EVERYTHING?"
You needn't ask me that. A super computer by the name of Deep
Thought (the best computer ever but one) calculated for two
million years to come up with the answer. The answer, of course,
The question, of course, is a different kettle of fish
"ARE ST VIRUSES DANGEROUS FOR THE TT OR FALCON?"
Roughly speaking, ST bootsector viruses are harmless whereas
link viruses can be as dangerous as on any regular ST. Bootsector
viruses will probably cause crashes during booting when an
infected disk is in the drive, or during later drive I/O
operations. They usually cannot copy themselves any more, as the
TT/Falcon trap handler is different from that of the ST (the trap
handler is something most viruses manipulate heavily and from
which they can determine when they have to act and when they
shouldn't). Some viruses are specifically TT-and/or Falcon-
compatible, so you should get rid of all bootsector viruses
"WHAT TO DO WHEN A COMMERCIAL BOOTSECTOR CANNOT YET BE REPAIRED
BY THE CURRENT VERSION OF THE ULTIMATE VIRUS KILLER?"
You can do two things here. First, you can order the next update
of the "Ultimate Virus Killer". Chances are substantial that your
particular title will be supported there. If not, however, you
should resort to the second possibility: Most companies are
prepared to replace your original with a new one if you pay them
a nominal fee (usually details with regard to this may be found
in the software's manual).
In the latter case, we would surely appreciate you sending those
boot files to us once you receive the proper disks, so that other
people like you will be more lucky if they run into the same
"WHY DOES IT SOMETIMES TAKE A RATHER LONG TIME BEFORE I GET MY
STUFF SENT BACK (ALSO ENTAILS THE ANSWER TO THE QUESTION "WHY
SHOULD I NEVER ENCLOSE ENGLISH STAMPS FOR RETURN POSTAGE?")"
When you send your correspondence (letters, print-outs and disks
alike) to Douglas Communications in Stockport to be treated, they
arrive in the hands of Niall McKiernon. He's a nice man but like
most of us he's not raking in dosh and therefore saves some
consumer packages before he sends them off in a small package to
me - and I live in the Netherlands. So on average your package
spends quite a bit of time before it ends up on my desk, where it
can spend anything from two days to a few more weeks (the latter
in the case of University exams which happen to me five times a
year) before it gets sent back to Niall in Stockport.
So, even if it takes longer than you might consider ideal, your
packages will be treated and will be sent back unless you
specifically state that we needn't bother replying (as is also
the case with most bootsector print-outs).
To assure promptest treatment, you should take care of the
following: Send as little as possible. Supply us with a label
clearly stating your address, and include sufficient
International Reply Coupons so the stuff can be sent back to you
(Remember: I don't live in the UK so I can't do anything with
little pieces of sticky paper featuring small or large
resemblances of Queen Elizabeth II on them!). Also, please write
your name and address on the disk label as well as any further
pieces of paper you might want to add.
You can send stuff to me directly, of course. Always include
"THE VIRUS KILLER DOES NOT RECOGNISE A GAME AND INSTEAD SAYS
'100% SAFE'. WHAT'S WRONG?"
Nothing's wrong. Not all games have special bootsectors
containing a little program to make them load and run. As a
matter of fact, most games only have an ordinary bootsector
pretty similar to, say, any disk you've just formatted. Many even
have MS-DOS compatible bootsectors (because that's the way modern
TOS versions happen to format them).
You may wonder how games succeed in booting automatically
without making use of the bootsector. Well, they just make use of
the ancient AUTO folder method (please see the glossary
"WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I (HEAVEN FORBID!) FIND A BUG IN THE
"ULTIMATE VIRUS KILLER" PROGRAM?"
Heaven forbid indeed!
Basically what we need is a description of your system setup and
the precise position in the program at which the crash occurred.
Also try running the program with no accessories and AUTO folder
programs installed and see if it still crashes.
It is important that you try and recreate the crash, and then
supply us with a detailed description of how we can recreate it
ourselves and where the bug appeared as precisely as possible.
In any case, the bug will then cease to exist as of the next
available version (hopefully)!
"WHY DO LINK VIRUSES SEEM TO GET SO LITTLE ATTENTION IN THE
OVERALL APPROACH OF THE "ULTIMATE VIRUS KILLER" PROGRAM?"
On the surface this seems to be true, but in the core of the
program it is hardly so. Inside its code, there are many routines
to quickly scan partitions, check for all known link viruses and,
indeed, check whether or not there's a possibility of a new kind
of link virus having infected your files. Although only five
basic link virus structures are known at the moment, you may rest
assure that the "Ultimate Virus Killer" caters for all your link
virus protection needs as well, including the recognition of
potentially new ones!
"WHY IS IT THAT SOMETIMES REGULAR PROGRAMS ARE THOUGHT TO BE
A 'cracked' version is an illegal copy of a game that has been
altered by someone so that it can be illegally copied - the so-
called copy protection has been removed so that it is no longer
impossible to spread it to others. Although piracy is in no way
condoned by this, the "Ultimate Virus Killer" does cater for a
recognition of cracked games, although these cannot actually be
restored in the way you may restore a commercial game or demo
using the "Ultimate Virus Killer". These 'cracked' games are
identified by "(Cr)" in the recognition alert box. Often, people
send in copies of bootsectors of cracked versions of games before
we have a chance to get our hands on the original bootsector. The
'cracked' (Cr) version is then implemented and the original
isn't. As these bootsectors are often relatively identical a
mistake can happen here - an original game might be recognised as
a cracked version of it!
Please drop us a line if something like this happens, as it is
Believe me, I would have left out these 'cracked' disk
recognitions if it wouldn't make things more difficult for me.
"ARE THOSE VIRUSES THAT DISGUISE THEMSELVES AS 'MS-DOS'
BOOTSECTORS ACTUALLY DANGEROUS FOR AN MS-DOS COMPUTER?"
No. The thing that makes certain disks MS-DOS compatible (i.e.
that they can be read from and written to by an MS-DOS computer)
is the presence of a few bytes right at the beginning of the
bootsector. The rest of the bootsector - in the case of viruses
such as Wolf, Zorro and Beilstein - is filled with Atari-specific
code and is therefore totally harmless on an MS-DOS PC.
"IF I LOOK INTO THE BOOTSECTOR OF AN IMMUNIZED DISK, I SEE THE
WORD 'PUKE'. IS THAT SOME SORT OF VIRUS?"
First of all, if you look at the rest of the bootsector you will
see it has harmless contents - apart from a text it's primarily
filled with zeroes. There is no space for a virus. It is 100%
Now what does that "puke" word mean? Actually, the word "puke"
at that precise location forms the immunization against the Puke
Virus. If you think the presence of the p-word is in any way
offensive, please direct your anger to the virus programming
"I CANNOT READ THE .IMG FILES WRITTEN BY THE PROGRAM WHEN USING
THEM WITH A PROGRAM SUCH AS 'IMAGECOPY' OR ANOTHER DRAWING
PROGRAM. HOW COME?"
I don't know why I decided to use the ".IMG" extension for the
bootsector files written by the "Ultimate Virus Killer". It
sounded nice, and it seemed logical to use because it's sortof a
bootsector image file. However, it's not an .IMG in the sense of
"a graphic file standard you can read into many DTP programs,
word processors and drawing programs". Sorry for this confusion.
I should maybe have used ".BIN", ".B_S", ".BOT" or even ".B_B"
But I haven't, so it's too late now.
"WHY ARE ALL THE ULTIMATE VIRUS KILLER WINDOWS SO BIG AND
All window layouts in the "Ultimate Virus Killers" are located
in a so-called Resource file (RSC file). Some programs have them
separately on disk, but the "Ultimate Virus Killer" has it
included within its program code.
Each window/dialog layout requires space within that RSC file.
In order to preserve as much memory space as possible, I only
make use of a few basic window/dialog layout structures in which
all the different dialog messages are written whenever needed.
Because the bigger messages also needed to fit in them, the
smaller messages might look a bit pompous. I agree with some
reviewers that it doesn't look too aesthetically pleasing, but it
does preserve memory space. It's a matter of priorities, really.