I was really pleased with myself. Not only have I been running AdAware and SpyBot - S&D on a regular basis but now I'd added Microsoft's real-time anti-spyware to the mix in addition to running Norton. I'm locked down, right? So I downloaded a home page editor that looked good and didn't pay too much attention to the agreement. Who does?

Then it wanted to update the toolbar it brought along with it. Looked at the agreement. "Oh, dear" as Maxine, my two-year-old would say. Track everything I do in IE and send that off? I don't think so. Even though I almost never use IE any more. So OK, remove that sucker. Hmmm. Things are acting funny. Must be time for a reboot. Hmmm. This is weird. I can't get out to the network. Haven't touched the cable. But XP says we're operating with reduced or no capacity. That's OK, I'll switch cables. After all Max or her younger sister Charlie might have damaged the cable.

Oh, dear. Didn't do any good.

What was another program that I installed recently? The anti-spyware program from Microsoft. Go into that. Hmmm. It's pointing the finger at Google Desktop as the thing that damaged the LSP chain. Oh yeah. I removed that because I didn't think it was very useful.

Credit to the anti-spyware program for identifying the problem. But I can't tell you how frustrating it is to not have a fix either in the anti-spyware program or in XP to fix the problem. "Oh, dear" doesn't cover it. I'm not a power user, I'm somebody who tries to stay a bit ahead of the curve so I can help my mom and sisters and other family.

If Microsoft is going to let programs jump up and down with hobnailed boots on essential parts of the operating system, they also need to have a fix. Removing the device and reinstalling it doesn't work. And in my humble opinion, it should.

Don't have the modem connected. Hey, I'm on broadband. And if the modem's not connected, I don't have to worry about something getting onto my system and dialing Botswana or Kazakhstan. Hmmm. Will the modem work if the winsock is busted? And what's the password I set up for Mom's dialup account? Hmmm.

Brought the laptop home. Turn it on. Go in search of LSP. Ah-ha, got a solution. "Repairs Winsock 2 settings, caused by buggy or improperly-removed Internet software, that result in loss of Internet access" OK, that's what I want. Trudge up to the third floor to get the floppy drive for the laptop, which has the CD-ROM/DVD installed. Copy to floppy. Put in floppy. Run LSP-Fix. Reboot. Sigh of relief. I can see the internet again.

Today's lesson? Download LSP-Fix right now. Click on the link and download it. So if something nasty or just badly written snags your LSP chain (whatever the heck it is), you're back on the net in a few minutes.

Thanks to the folks at CounterExploitation for making it easy to find and download a fix.