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Victimized by a Delta Search Hijack


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#1 Deep Thought8

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 05:08 PM

I am here at Bleeping Computer because my Firefox has been infected with DELTA SEARCH HIJACK. I believe it came in when I was trying to download a font, and I was having trouble with it when the ‘delta search browser first appeared.  I’ve kind of over-explained it, especially if someone is familiar with this particular issue, but I’ve been fighting it for four days, and the solutions I’ve received (predominantly through yahoo answers) have been incomplete and unhelpful, so I tried to write up as complete of an explanation as I could. 

 

I can open Mozilla Firefox fine, but any additional tabs opened redirect to Delta Search (looks similar to google). Returns ads, tainted results, many say "we'd like to show you a description, but your computer won't let us"...not trusted.

Located several methods for removal, but they were located on Firefox after ‘delta search’ was loose,  Some contain obvious spelling and/or grammar errors...I do not know if any of them can be trusted.

The removal instructions say go to add/remove programs list and uninstall any/all of the following: Delta Chrome Toolbar, Delta Toolbar, Yontoo, BrowserProtect, and Mixi.DJ. None of these are listed in my Add/Remove programs list.  I cannot find these five items anywhere on my computer.  As this is one of the first steps in the removal methods, and not one of them gives any alternative or suggestions on how to proceed from this point if these five items are not located, I’ve not taken a single step towards correcting this issue (hence my signing up here, which I have done through IE, btw).

My understanding (and I could be completely wrong, please correct me if I am) is that ‘delta search’ can record and alter accounts, passwords, login id’s, so I would not be able to access them anymore.  I’m not as sure about this, but I believe even password protected documents on my computer may be at risk, if they are accessed through Firefox while the ‘delta search’ is still in place.

 

In some of the removal instructions (including some of those I’ve found on bleeping computer) they stress a couple of things to be wary of. 

 

                First, they say that this is not going to be a quick or easy fix, strongly suggest backing everything up just in case.  I have no external backup capacity or ability at this time, and I’m very concerned that I may lose something of value.

 

                Second, some of the instructions (which I cannot get to yet because of the earlier step to uninstall the five item names that I cannot find on my system) specifically instruct performing actions that may cause an error or alarm, and the instructions say to go ahead and perform that step anyway.

For someone that does not know what they are doing (me), and seeing some of the possible recovery methods that are already suspect due to their poorly written nature (misspellings, grammatical errors), or have suspicious looking descriptions (we'd like to show you a description, but your computer won't let us), and then to come across very specific instructions that are advocating performing some action that the computer itself advises against, the paranoid hyper-vigilant and knowledge challenged user (again, me) may see what are really valid instructions as a request to ‘lower the drawbridge’, or to ‘drop the shields’, basically handing over my system to those responsible for the hijack in the first place.  

 

                Third, and this is more of a generalization than anything, but when I see lots of little tools or apps that are recommended for download in order to properly deal with issues like this, I get a bit suspicious that the initial issue (in my case the delta search hijack) is really nothing more than bait for a trap.  And that is spawned completely out of my lack of knowledge...but I’d have to think that such things do exist.

 

As far as I can tell only Firefox is infested by the ‘delta search’.  Internet Explorer does not APPEAR to be, but I have no idea.  So this is what I’m hoping to find here in bleeping computer...

               

                1) If no second tab is opened when using Firefox, is ‘delta search’ still a threat?  Or does it need that additional tab opened in order to do what ever trouble it is designed to do?

                2) If Firefox is not open, and I’m doing whatever (like writing this) with no open portals to the internets, am I still at risk of being hacked, or can I safely work offline and password protect all work before going online?  Or does it require having a ‘delta search’ browser open on the screen?  I had a bad thought that maybe it’s collecting data the entire time, but I won’t know that until I open a portal and it sends whatever it’s collected to whomever is at the other end of this thing...because if that’s the case my everythings are already compromised, I fear.

                3) What is the actual scope of the danger with ‘delta search’?  I’ve seen everything from a ‘minor inconvenience, nothing to worry over’, to ‘you are in imminent danger of having your entire system hijacked, including all accounts, passwords, and anything else that is resident’, and China will begin using my computer to hack into the Pentagon.  What is the truth?

                4) Is IE safe?  With Firefox infected, is IE infected as well?  If not, is IE in danger of being infected due to the immediacy of the ‘delta search’ malware inside Firefox?  Or would ‘delta search’ have to piggy back it’s way into IE just as it did through Firefox?

                5) I need very clear procedures to effectively and completely remove this from my system (keeping in mind one of the earliest steps in the solutions I’ve found to date is to uninstall item names that are not on my system, or are, just not under the item names I’ve been told to look for).

                6) Finally, I’d like to increase my knowledge base regarding such things, in hopes of preventing future attacks, or at least recognize them earlier, and also have knowledgeable resources that I can trust and tap into when needed, and this is what I’m hoping the bleeping computer community can assist me with.

 

Sorry about the length of this, but I’ve been run around for four days now, and a bit frayed at the edges.   I just wanted to be as specific as I could...trust me...my first draft of this request was over five pages long...

 

p.s. my system particulars, if needed...

 

MS Windows XP Home SP3

Intel Pentium 4 CPU 2.60GHz, 1.0GB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce 6200

Dell Dimension 8300

Other resources:  Rkill, Ccleaner, Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, MS Security Essentials

 

If any additional info is needed, please do not hesitate to ask...

 

T.I.A., and peas on Earth...

 

Deep Thought8

 

 



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#2 quietman7

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 07:28 PM

Delta Search is a web search engine and toolbar which comes bundled with other software. Once installed it changes the browser homepage, replaces the default search engine and displays ads with sponsored links in the search results.

Many such programs come bundled with other software (often without the knowledge of the user) and can be the source of various issues and problems to include Adware/browser hijacking. Even if advised of a toolbar or Add-on, many folks do not know that it is optional and NOT necessary to install in order to operate the program. Toolbars and Add-ons can usually be removed via Add/Remove Programs or the Programs and Features in Vista/Windows 7/8, so that's why you were told to check there first.

If the program is not listed in Add/Remove or Programs and Features, the next place to check is your browser Add-ons.

How to Disable Add-ons/Extensions in Internet Explorer, Firefox and Google Chrome
How to Disable Addons, Extensions or Plugins in Google Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer
How to Remove a toolbar that has taken over your Firefox search or home page

-- Repeat the above steps for any other toolbars/add-ons/extensions you do not want or don't recognize.


1. Open Firefox, go to the Address Bar and type: about:config
2. Press Enter...There will be a warning about changing advanced settings.
3. Click the box that says "I'll be careful, I promise!"
4. In the Search (filter) box, type: Delta
5. Right-click on the entry to remove and choose 'Reset'.
6. Close Firefox and restart it. The entry should be gone.

To restore the default settings in FireFox and reset preferences, please refer to:
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#3 quietman7

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 07:30 PM

When done with the above continue as follows:


Please perform a scan with AdwCleaner by Xplode and remove any unknown Toolbars, adware and potential unwanted programs (PUP).
You can refer to these instructions: How To Use AdwCleaner


Please download Junkware Removal Tool thisisujrt.gif and save it to your Desktop.
  • Close all open programs and shut down any protection/security software now to avoid potential conflicts.
  • Double-click on JRT.exe to run the tool.
    Vista/Windows 7/8 users right-click and select Run As Administrator.
  • The tool will open and start scanning your system.
  • Please be patient as this can take a while to complete depending on your system's specifications.
  • On completion, a log file named JRT.txt will automatically open and be saved to your Desktop.
  • Copy and paste the contents of JRT.txt in your next reply.

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#4 Deep Thought8

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 03:07 PM

So, this is how far I’ve gotten through the instructions provided to me yesterday. The first link results are listed below. The second link was unable to open. The third link opened to directions on how to remove toolbar that has overtaken my Firefox.

On the first link, the only things I recognize (as in I am probably the one that put them there) are the Do Not Track Me, and probably the Google Earth, although I don’t remember specifically loading or turning on any plug-in, I know I loaded the Google Earth from the Internets. I know when I was working on reducing number of .exe’s during start-up, I took qttask off the list and had no audio, so that’s the extent of my knowledge with quicktime. I think Silverlight had something to do with being able to stream the Olympics (I’m guessing Beijing, although it could have been Sydney). Real Player I used to listen to old-time radio shows through Real Player, but haven’t done that in years. I know Musicmatch got killed, I honestly don’t know if Real Player had the same fate. And that’s really all I can tell you about these. But I see nothing at all to do with Delta Search. I’m hesitant about disabling things I don’t recognize, or know what they are for, because it usually causes problems that I spend entirely too much time trying to sort out (ie linking the no audio issue to turning off the quicktime during start up).

As far as the toolbar, when I open Firefox, everything looks fine. It isn’t until I open a second tab that the Delta Search pops up. Is that considered taking over my firefox search or home page? That doesn’t seem to be the case if I just have the one firefox screen up, because I see no impact until a second tab is opened.

So other than documenting what I’ve encountered so far, I have taken no steps, hoping for a bit more guidance before treading in unfamiliar territory. This is why I was asking questions regarding IE, and if it was in danger of being infected just because my firefox is. I’ve been using IE on an incredibly limited basis, but not knowing how much of a threat delta search was posing to login id’s, passwords, etc, through firefox (reasons for asking those questions as well). So I’m still uncertain just how much of a threat I am facing, and now going two steps deep into the procedures, still don’t see anything that has anything to do with delta search hijack.

How to Disable Add-ons/Extensions in Internet Explorer, Firefox and Google Chrome
Under Mozilla
Add-ons Manager
Extensions
Enabled
Do Not Track Me 2.2.9.520
Google Analytics Opt-Out Browser Add-on 0.9.6
Disabled
Java Quick Starter 1.0
Microsoft .NET Framework Assistant 0.0.0
Move Media Player 7
Plug-ins
Adobe Acrobat 9.5.2.295
Google Earth Plugin 6.1.0.5001
Google Update 1.3.21.145
Google Updater 2.4.2432.1652
Java Deployment Toolkit 6.0.260.3 6.0.260.3
Microsoft DRM 9.0.0.4503
DRM Netscape Network Object
Microsoft DRM 9.0.0.4503
DRM Store Netscape Plugin
Move Streaming Media Player 715.4.0.1
QuickTime Plug-in 7.0.3 7.0.3.25
RealJukeBox NS Plugin 1.0.3.448
RealPlayer Version Plugin 6.0.12.448
RealPlayer™ G2 LiveConnect-Enabled Plug-in (32-bit) 6.0.12.450
Shockwave Flash 11.7.700.202
Silverlight Plug-in 5.1.20125.0
Windows Media Player Plug-in Dynamic Link Library 3.0.2.629
Windows Presentation Foundation 3.5.30729.1
Java ™ Platform SE 6 U26 6.0.260.3 (disabled)Yellow Alert-known to cause security or stability issues
MetaStream3 Plugin 3.0.14.163 (disabled) Red Alert-Has been disabled due to security or stability issues

How to Disable Addons, Extensions or Plugins in Google Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer

Microsoft Word unable to open link

#5 quietman7

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 05:15 PM

I will have to look for another link to replace the second...it is no longer working for me either. The third link for removing a toolbar in Firefox includes similar instructions with Managing Add-ons as the first but includes more suggestions.

Did you check in about:config for anything related to Delta? If not please do that.

Did you attempt to restore the default settings in FireFox and reset preferences? Doing that should restore Firefox to its original default state when you installed it.

Also you should run the two tools I asked you to run.

BTW, there are many toolbars and search engines similar to Delta Search. Even though they seem to take over various aspects of your browser, I consider most of them more of an annoyance and a pain to remove rather than a threat as in dealing with a virus, Trojan, rootkit, etc.
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#6 Deep Thought8

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Posted 14 June 2013 - 01:00 AM

Continuance-

(fyi, since yesterday, the ‘Automatic Updates-your computer will be restarted in 15 minutes’ countdown warning has been popping up. I know this is somewhat of a normal procedure, but there have been times in the past that it seemed a part of a problem, not a solution. After my last communication yesterday, I let the countdown go to 0:00’s and do it’s thing...for it to comeback today is VERY not normal. Continuing on with the next set of recommended procedures, and will attempt all before my next post...

Also, don’t know if relevant, but to get into Bleeping Computer, which I did through IE, I had to enable cookies for the site...as soon as I did that, I was getting strongly worded suggestions that I should upgrade to Chrome, and that my version of IE is no longer supported, and may cause me difficulties. I rejected the opportunity to do so, normally I am a Bing user, and it kind of sounded almost like what you were referring to in the last paragraph of your last communiqué, ie stuff they say I need but really don’t. An opinion one way or the other?

...alright, back to the latest efforts...)

How to Disable Add-ons/Extensions in Internet Explorer, Firefox and Google Chrome
Firefox Tools
Extensions
Same as yesterday-Do not track me & Google Analytics Opt-out only enabled add-ons, no action taken
Sidebar-during this process I took a peek at more info for Do Not Track Me, and found more info on first page of reviews than I’ve received in asking about it (again, predominately through yahoo answers) for probably over a year now, including information that Abine does not necessarily withhold, but certainly does not volunteer, either. I was wondering what your opinion is of Abine’s free of charge Do Not Track Me, the patch which kills some of DNTM’s not volunteered data collection, it’s upgradable version MaskMe ($), or it’s competitor(s) such as Sandbox (all found within first page of 260 reviews, which I will not list here).

Plug-ins
List same as yesterday-recorded last update dates, if relevant to anything that can or should be disabled, but no action taken
Adobe Acrobat 9.5.2.295-last update 7.30.2012
Google Earth Plugin 6.1.0.5001-last update 10.17.2011 Google Update 1.3.21.145-last update 5.12.2013
Google Updater 2.4.2432.1652-last update 9.9.2011
Java Deployment Toolkit 6.0.260.3 6.0.260.3-last update 6.13.2011
Microsoft DRM 9.0.0.4503
DRM Netscape Network Object-last update 4.13.2008
Microsoft DRM 9.0.0.4503
DRM Store Netscape Plugin-last update 4.13.2008
Move Streaming Media Player 715.4.0.1-last update 8.30.2009
QuickTime Plug-in 7.0.3 7.0.3.25-last update 5.18.2006
RealJukeBox NS Plugin 1.0.3.448-last update 2.14.2010
RealPlayer Version Plugin 6.0.12.448-last update 2.14.2010
RealPlayer™ G2 LiveConnect-Enabled Plug-in (32-bit) 6.0.12.450-last update 2.14.2010
Shockwave Flash 11.7.700.202-last update 5.14.2013
Silverlight Plug-in 5.1.20125.0-last update 1.24.2013
Windows Media Player Plug-in Dynamic Link Library 3.0.2.629-last update 4.13.2008
Windows Presentation Foundation 3.5.30729.1-last update 7.29.2008

Java ™ Platform SE 6 U26 6.0.260.3 (disabled)Yellow Alert-known to cause security or stability issues-last update 6.13.2011
Java Plugin has been blocked for your protection.
Why was it blocked?
Outdated versions of the Java plugin are vulnerable to an actively exploited security issue. All users are strongly encouraged to update their Java plugin. For more information, please read our blog post or Oracle's Advisory.
Who is affected?
All Firefox users who have installed the Java plugin, JRE versions below 1.6.0_31 or between 1.7.0 and 1.7.0_2.
What does this mean?
Users are strongly encouraged to disable the problematic add-on or plugin, but may choose to continue using it if they accept the risks described.
When Mozilla becomes aware of add-ons, plugins, or other third-party software that seriously compromises Firefox security, stability, or performance and meets certain criteria, the software may be blocked from general use. For more information, please read this support article.
Blocked on April 2, 2012. View block request.

MetaStream3 Plugin 3.0.14.163 (disabled)Red Alert-Has been disabled due to security or stability issues-last update 8.9.2003
Viewpoint has been blocked for your protection.
Why was it blocked?
This plugin causes a high volume of Firefox crashes.
Who is affected?
All users of the Viewpoint plugin for Firefox 3 and later.
What does this mean?
The problematic add-on or plugin will be automatically disabled and no longer usable.
When Mozilla becomes aware of add-ons, plugins, or other third-party software that seriously compromises Firefox security, stability, or performance and meets certain criteria, the software may be blocked from general use. For more information, please read this support article.
Blocked on February 1, 2010. View block request.

Moving on...
How to Remove a toolbar that has taken over your Firefox search or home page

Removed delta search from Firefox Search Bar-so far so good
At Firefox about:config step-
There are 43 items on the list, the first of which is browser.newtab.url, followed by

23 items that all begin with extensions.delta
(along with browser.newtab.url and browser.search.order.1,
these are all in bold type)

18 items that all begin with ‘mousewheel’, and are all in standard (not bold) type

Making an uneducated guess, I’m assuming the rest of these items need removal also, as they all have ‘delta’ located somewhere within their name. Continuing on with this procedure is changing the status of the bold type items to ‘default’ and converting them to standard (not bold) type.

The items beginning with ‘mousewheel’ (not bold type), right clicking brings up the same menu, but ‘reset’ is greyed out and not selectable.

I captured a screen grab if the specifics are needed.

Closed Firefox, reopened, and they are all still listed EXCEPT for the first item (browser.newtab.url). At this time I am making the uneducated guess that my earlier uneducated guess about removing the rest of these items was not correct...moving on.
Resetting Your Installation of Firefox

There are two ways that you can start Firefox in “Safe Mode” in order to do a reset.
The first way is to access “Safe Mode” through your Start Menu in the Programs area.
(Fyi-this way to access “safe mode” did not work for me)

The second way is to access “Safe Mode” using the “Run” function which can also be found in the Start Menu. Enter “firefox -safe-mode” (without the quote marks) in the blank and click “OK”.
(But this method did)

Once you have started Firefox in “Safe Mode”, you will see the following window. Here you will be able to choose the actions that you would like to perform.
(Window imaged in doc did not show, just a ‘start in safe mode’ and a ‘reset firefox’ option appeared. Trying safe mode first opened firefox, but window with options did not appear. Went with ‘reset firefox’ option next, which then brought up this box:

“Are you sure you want to reset Firefox to its initial state?
Firefox will try to preserve your:
Browsing History and Bookmarks
Saved Passwords
Saved Form History
Cookies
Firefox will restart and everything else will be removed.

Restart firefox or cancel only two options. Went ahead with the reset (thinking swiftly, made copy of 158 pg list of bookmarks prior to reset!).
Resetting preferences using Firefox Safe Mode returned a ‘page not found’ error
SOMEWHERE BETWEEN RIGHT AROUND HERE THROUGH..
How to Use SearchReset Add-on to reset search preferences and home page to their default values
The complete set of action performed by this add-on on installation are:
- reset "browser.startup.homepage" pref to its default value
- reset "keyword.URL" pref to its default value
- reset "browser.search.defaultenginename" pref to its default value
- new in version 0.2: resets browser.newtab.url to its default value
- restores the build's default search engine if it was removed
- moves the build's default search engine into first position and selects it
________________________________________
When done with the above continue as follows:

Please perform a scan with AdwCleaner by Xplode and remove any unknown Toolbars, adware and potential unwanted programs (PUP).
You can refer to these instructions: How To Use AdwCleaner
SOMEWHERE RIGHT AROUND HERE....

I have been at this since 3pm this afternoon. And now I have another browser hijacker on my system, called ‘AVG Secure Search’ (~10:30pm). I had been working on the items suggested, but was not logged on to Bleeping, just copy/pasting out of latest post, wanting to complete what I could before actually signing in. Thanks to the number of download landmines that exist around Bleeping’s download AdwCleaner when not logged into Bleeping, I probably tripped two or three of them.

How can Bleeping possibly defend having such pages on their site, and yet claim to be so anti-this type of thing, just because someone wasn’t logged in TO A SITE THAT IS FREE OF CHARGE TO SIGN UP FOR IN THE FIRST PLACE? WHY ARE THOSE THERE, AND WHY ARE THEY MADE TO BE NEARLY INDISTINGUISHABLE FROM THE DOWNLOAD BUTTON BEING SOUGHT?

I cannot even begin to describe the fresh litany of profanity that is currently streaming through my mind and mouth.

They sure as frack doesn’t sound like bleeps.

#7 quietman7

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Posted 14 June 2013 - 05:59 AM

Advertisements are shown on this site unless you are logged on with your forum account. These are AdSense Google Ads which is allowed in order to defray the cost of maintaining the board. Although the site owner allows these ads, we have no control over them and BC does not recommend or endorse any of advertisements. Again, if you are logged in to the forum, you should not see any advertisements and that's one reason we encourage our members to sign in first.


What is AVG Secure Search

AVG Secure Search alerts you before you visit dangerous webpages...AVG Secure Search provides an additional security layer while searching and surfing to protect you from infected websites. It checks every page before you even click on a link to make sure your identity, your personal information and your PC are protected...


What is AVG Security Toolbar

The AVG Security Toolbar is a tool that works together with the LinkScanner component and checks the search results of supported Internet search engines (Yahoo!, Google, Bing, Baidu, Yandex, Ask.com, AOL, Seznam.cz)...


AVG Security Toolbar and AVG Secure Search are commonly bundled with other software and installation is optional. However, many users overlook that option since it is pre-checked by default and they unknowingly install it. IMO a A checkbox for optional features like this toolbar should start unchecked so the user clearly has a choice.

How to uninstall AVG Secure Search in Firefox, Internet Explorer and Chrome
How to remove AVG Toolbar, Homepage and Secure Search from your browser with AVG Toolbar Remover tool
AVG 2012 FAQs: How To uninstall the AVG Security Toolbar

How To Disable AVG Secure Search in Firefox
How To Disable AVG Secure Search in Internet Explorer 8
How To Disable AVG Secure Search in Internet Explorer 9
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#8 Deep Thought8

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Posted 14 June 2013 - 05:33 PM

My apologies. I know I shouldn’t have responded with such a ‘pissed off’ post, I just couldn’t believe that being so close to completing the steps to get rid of the first hijack, I picked up a new one, and got it from a bleeping recommended download on a bleeping site. I get it that bleeping is not responsible, and I should have logged in first, and that these things are bundled with other things, and most people don’t even know they’ve downloaded it when they don’t have to blah blah blah. I don’t care what it’s called, or in what way they can claim they’re just looking out for us with an additional layer of security, or that it isn’t illegal. It is a deceptive practice. But as everyone’s been learning over the last week or so, that’s what the internets are all about. Even on sites that exist to help people combat such problems and deceptive practices. For no other reason than that BC should consider that while they are not responsible, and do not endorse this practice, it isn’t exactly a shining endorsement of the site that not only can you find procedures and solutions to combat these problems at BC, you can catch some of them there too. Go team Human.

Outstanding. Back to square one. And now my IE is infected too, just like my firefox. I don’t suppose I can get some answers regarding what these ‘hijackers’ do beyond changing browser default settings now, can I? Or how concerned I should be about security issues? Or that this is the third day in a row that I keep getting the ‘automatic updates restart computer in 15 minutes countdown’ (which has NEVER happened), even though I’ve let it run that cycle through the restart/update? OH NO...I just had a terrible thought...

...what if my BC account gets compromised???

Looks like this post caught a bit of a ‘pissed off’ tone, too. Unfortunately, although these are not ‘preferred tones’, the tone owner allows them to help defray the cost of the coronary that would likely result from the lack of any such release valve settings, especially where release valve settings should not be needed. The tone owner does not recommend or endorse such tones, but when the tone owner encounters situations that proudly stand in defiance of common sense and/or general decency and threaten to make one’s head explode in a manner similar to that of a Martian invader exposed to the vocal stylings of Slim Whitman, he allows them temporary passage. During such situations, he has no control over their direction or flavour.

We’re sorry.



#9 quietman7

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Posted 14 June 2013 - 05:57 PM

Whatn exactly is going on with Internet Explorer?
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