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Monday,  March 17 12:01 AM EDT

Virus Alert: Spinning_Shammy

By Brian Briggs

Ann Arbor, MI - Computer anti-virus experts issued warnings for the Internet community to be braced for a massive cleanup when a recently discovered virus, Spinning_Shammy, releases its payload at 12:01 am on March 18.

For the past several weeks Internet users have received e-mail messages promising them a coupon for a Shamrock Shake at McDonald's if they click on the link. Unfortunately, the link is a cleverly disguised virus which infects the Shamrock Shake hopeful's computer.

"Social engineering, like the promise of a Shamrock Shake, is very common in viruses and difficult to combat," said Hugh Greene of the Anti-Virus Research Center (AVRC). "Just when you've warned everyone not to click a link for pictures of J-Lo's ass, the clever virus-writers come up with something else. Coupon for Shamrock Shakes? Ingenious!"

Infected users are warned not to use their computers if they are inebriated, hung over or until their computers have been disinfected. Upon activation, the virus paints the screen in a sickly green and yellow striped pattern. A shamrock then appears in the center of the screen. A few moments later the shamrock and background begin rotating in opposite directions at a rate calculated to induce vomiting.

Tee-totalers will feel mildly queasy, but should be able to avoid upchucking.

"The guy who made this was sick, just sick," said Greene. "Destroying files is one thing, but do you know how hard it is to get partially digested pieces of buffalo wings and nachos out from under keys on a keyboard?"

The day after St. Patrick's Day ranks highest for most keyboard vomiting incidents every year, closely followed by National Experience Bulimia Day.

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