I was reading a column in our local newspaper by David Cooper that reminded me of a story that happened to me.
I was called out to work on a computer in our neighborhood. The owner was very concerned that someone had gained access to their computer and had somehow taken over the controls. I was very skeptical that someone could actually take over a computer from the internet without their consent, so I was willing to go out and investigate.
When I arrived, they showed me to the computer in question. I went over all of the normal operations of the computer and found that they were all in working order. I checked their Anti Virus and Anti Spyware and they also seemed to be functioning correctly. As the people emptied the room, I decided to take a couple of spins around the internet to see if there was something weird going on. After a few minutes, the mouse began to move. Not just a regular malfunctioning mouse movement but intentional, directional movement. The mouse moved over to the side of the screen and actually clicked on an icon on the desktop. I quickly looked around the room to see if someone was behind me, messing with my mind. I checked the mouse, checked the keyboard and was baffled. How in the world could someone gain access to this computer? My brain started to think up possiblilities. Could someone really have taken control of the computer? Maybe they can also see the screen? Maybe I was on Candid Camera! I actually looked around the room for some sort of camera in the corners.
After the mouse made a few more specific movements, I decided to confront this phantom computer user. I opened up a blank word document and started to type, "Who is this?", and I waited, no response. The mouse bounced around again. I typed, "Hello, is someone on this computer?". No answer. I decided at this moment to figure out how they were gaining access to this computer. If it was by use of the internet, I could disconnect the computer from the web and the connection would be severed. I reached back and grabbed the network cable. I removed it from the computer in hopes that I would catch this intruder red handed. No way! I said under my breath. The mouse continued to move and click. At this point, I am totally shocked. I was sure someone would come in at any moment pointing and laughing that they had caught me in a good practical joke.
My last thought was to unplug the mouse and keyboard to see what would happen. I discovered that the mouse and keyboard were both wireless. So, by unplugging the receiver, I would disconnect the mouse and keyboard from the PC. Once I did this, I was presented with the answer to this supernatural conundrum. The mouse and keyboard both stopped moving. It was then that I decided to ask the question, "Is there another computer in this house?". The answer, with a surprised expression, was "Yes". I asked if it had a wireless keyboard and mouse. Again, with a hint of excitement the answer was "Yes, and it has the exact same keyboard and mouse as this one". With a huge grin on my face I asked the owner to direct me to the other computer. I walked down the hall and was guided to a room where there was a young men mousing and clicking on his computer screen. I looked at the owner and said, "Here is your poltergeist! The wireless signal from this mouse and keyboard is being picked up by the receiver down the hall on the computer I'm working on." Some smiled, some giggled and some laughed out loud at the solution to the "ghost on the computer". I recommended they buy a different brand of keyboard and mouse for the second computer so that this issue would not happen again and headed back to the office.