I spent election night with a worm called "Removable Disk.exe". It got on my computer via Andrew's memory stick which got it while traveling around Ethiopia. Interestingly enough, when I googled the worm's name, the first Google hit was an African computer forum.
The odd thing about this worm was that it didn't infect Andrew's brand new computer nor Gary's older computer, even though the memory stick was inserted into them; for some reason it just liked my computer best.
The action of this worm was to turn certain files on one's computer in "hidden" and/or "system" files. This has the effect of making them disappear even though they really are still there. I became familiar with that menu item called Folder Options during this ordeal in my attempts to turn hidden files into ones you could see.
It took quite of bit of work, but before Obama had been declared the winner, I purchased a piece of clean-up software called Prevx CSI for $25 and it killed the worm. Well, I tried the free version first which found the problem, but refused to fix it until I paid my money to Pay Pal.
It was only the next morning that I discovered the full damage that worm had done to my computer. The worm was dead, but the damage had already been done. I probably would not have discovered all it had done except that suddenly all my photos in Picasa had disappeared. Yes, the files were still there just fine, but after Picasa scanned them into its index, then all they immediately disappeared from Picasa. Some internet research revelaed that this was due to hidden folders in the paths that Picasa scans--apparently a Picasa bug. Gary worked with me to discover the full path names for the folder in question--none other than "My Documents."
Our attempts to find a way in Windows to change the file attributes to unhidden or non-system proved futile, as I expect the writer of this worm knew would be the case. But not to fear, Gary (aka my hero) was able to reach back to the dark DOS corners of his memory and, with a little assist from Google, fashion a DOS command to unhide My Documents: attrib -h -r -s mydocu~1 in case anyone else ever needs it. Of course, to use it, you need to know how to get to DOS!
Now my Picasa photos are back, and life can go on. In the meantime I upgraded to Picasa3, and I'm still figuring that one out.