Since you raised the issue in another post, I looked back at this one. I thought it was sketchy from the start, but allowed that I might be wrong, so I held my tongue. Today, though, I was curious enough to investigate. I created a Webshots/Smile account (I didn't have a previous one) and installed the Smile Desktop software.
This morning I got an E mail from Webshots that they are going to bail out and give all of our old photos to a new photosharing called "SMILE!"
Being as good a kite flyer as I am a computer nerdolddo'....I thought I would check out this new SMILE and at first it looked like a great idea.
However stupid is....as stupid does....I foolishly uploaded the SMILE downloader...thinking that this would make things easier------------------------------------------------------NOT!
First thing, downloading something from an emailed link is not wise. I suspect that what you received was spam, with a link to a virus-laden executable.
Here's a small bit of knowledge about website URLs that might be useful: they start at the most specific and proceed to the most general. Let me explain.
I'm a Marylander, so I navigate to http://www.msa.md.gov/
(Maryland State Archives). The tail end of that (md.gov) is the domain. msa is the sub-domain, which resides within the md.gov website. So, when you see an email with a link to ebay.<something here>.com, it's not part of ebay's website. Rather, it is someone simply replicating a portion of his site to look like ebay, and either infect you with viruses or steal your identity. (Either ebay account and/or credit card info.)
IT TOOK OVER MY ENTIRE COMPUTER.....INCLUDING MY PASSWORDS TO MY PRIVATE COMCAST ACCOUNTS...
I'm not sure what you mean by this, unless you mean it has opened up your computer to hacker being able to execute whatever he wants on it. But I suspect that's not what you mean. Also, passwords: I suppose a keylogger could pick these up, or a virus could look for passwords you've saved in your web browser. But you'd have to elaborate. This isn't clear.
CHANGED ALL MY SCREENSAVERS....ETC.
Smile Desktop actually does
change the screensaver, and this is annoying as a default behavior. I would not trust a software publisher who thinks this is a good idea, even if the software is for maintaining image albums.
Top things off....I COULD EVEN REMOVE THE PROGRAMS FROM MY "ADD N REMOVE"....
Smile Desktop uninstalled just fine for me, with one exception. It said some files had to be removed manually. Its screensaver was still loaded in memory. I killed it with task manager (I suspect a reboot would have worked fine) and was able to remove the remaining (mostly .dll) files. Not the best removal I've seen, but hardly unusual for something that sets the screensaver.
FINALLY....to get back on track...
"As a last resort...I had to RESTORE MY NEW COMPUTER to a previous date...change all my passwords on my both my AOL and COMCAST!
So far it seems to have solved the problem....OPPPPS! I KEEP GETTING E MAILS FROM "SMILE" TELLING ME TO "CONFIRM MY ACCOUNT...or they will dump all my photos...S A P!
This sounds like more spam/phishing. Unless Webshots/Smile is actually doing a purge of inactive accounts, which could be happening. There are probably a lot of inactive accounts. Regardless, I would not click on any links in that email, even if it looks legit. I would go to the website manually to confirm.
I'm glad you got whatever malicious software off your computer. I feel your pain. I'm a computer professional, and I've had my share of malware installed by my own carelessness. But I don't think there's anything wrong with Smile's app. I think you got a virus solicited via email.