And last Saturday achieved the breakthrough she sought.
"It came to me a few minutes before I planned to join the rest of the world's observation of Earth Hour," she recalled over latte and tapas at Tontos de abril, a small place near the apartment she lived and worked in until her eviction yesterday.
"But I couldn't join the observation," she says with surprisingly little bitterness, "because my power was turned off a hour before Earth Hour began."
Sitting involuntarily in the dark she began to think of all the others who deliberately chose the darkness as a way to show their love of the planet.
"And that's when the light bulb went off over my head," she recalls, either without irony or without the ability to recognize it.
"I grabbed a pencil and a piece of paper and even though I had to squint, it didn't take me ten minutes to figure out what I'd been chasing for decades. A foolproof, permanent defense against malware, spam, scams and everything else bad about connected computers."
There was more than paperwork at work in Sciocco's darkened apartment. As soon as she'd captured her thoughts, she gathered the minimal tools necessary to apply her insight to the real world. And it worked.
Her breakthrough passed conceptual muster the next morning when, after sunrise, she was able to examine what she'd scribbled the night before.
She did some cleanup of her notes, and gave the project a name -- Safe Eternal Virtual Effective Relief (SEVER) -- and began putting together the materials needed to seek a patent on what she believes will change the way the world computes.
This morning she was unwilling to linger long with me, but as she rose she grew a bit wistful --
"It's hard to believe that my life's work is done," she said to me. "But even harder to believe that after all the years and all the setbacks and all the scraping for pennies it was an unpaid power bill that gave me what I'd never been able to see in the light." She chuckled. "Of course, if the power had been on I never would have been able to take those scissors and that computer's power cord and..."
She smiled at me. "But I did -- and that computer will never have a problem with viruses, worms, trojans, spam or anything else again. Now I've just got to tell the world!"
She turned and walked off, fiercely proud, a weary warrior armed with her insight and her foolproof protective strategy, into the beauty of the morning of this, the first day of April, 2008.