Monday, August 28, 2006

With bells on

What does anyone have against bells? Why, in every possible application, are real bells being replaced by electronic sounds?

We hang onto an early touch-tone phone because when it rings, it actually rings, with the lovely warm sound of a brass bell. It does not bleat, it does not warble, and I've never had the urge to dash it against the wall.

Our doorbell is schizophrenic. A hideous little buzzer sounds in the basement, but upstairs, in the dining room, is a grand old clock with four tubular bells, which doubles as the doorbell. It's resonant, grand, and makes me eager to see who or what has turned up on the doorstep--even Jehovah's Witnesses.

The kitchen timer is a beeper now, and so are the microwave and the alarm clock. Oddly, the toaster oven is a tinkly old-fashioned "ding". The carillon at the train station is a recording of a carillon. Hmph!

Oddest to me is the warning signal at the train crossing near our station. It's truly important to give people a clear, audible warning not to cross the tracks when a train is approaching. It's not a mechanical bell, though.
It's a recording of a train warning bell. There are two ways you can tell. First, it sometimes cuts off in mid "ding" when the crossing gates go up. And second, on wet, squelchy days like today, it starts out on a low tone and then rises in pitch, like a tape being sped up, or a phonograph record being started from a standstill. It makes a warped, bilious sound. Do honest clanging train bells really fail so much that they needed to be replaced with fake ones?

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Hateful Norton AntiVirus

I am starting to wonder if Norton AntiVirus is some sort of a shakedown scheme.

You're scared to death of what viruses will do to your computer, so when you're reminded that your subscription to virus updates needs renewing, you do it, forking over a few dozen dollars each year. Per computer, if you happen to have multiples in your household.

It whacks up your email, scanning everything that goes out and everything that comes in. You can tell it not to scan them anymore, but it does anyway. It seems quicker to just click away the annoying popup boxes than to do anything more about it.

Then one day, you notice that it hasn't performed a full system scan for half a year or more. This leads you to Symantec's website, where you eventually learn you'll have to uninstall and reinstall AntiVirus (or its younger sibling, Internet Security). Since nothing comes on disks anymore, you make sure you have the installer (thank goodness for the compulsive saving of every installer that came across your computer's threshhold), and with trembling hand, do the uninstall. (Which you have to do from Internet Explorer, because the handy uninstall link on the web page won't work in other browsers.)

That goes grand, and you reboot, peek in the corners to see if it's really gone (it is) and commence the reinstall. After a few moments, here comes a warning:

"Norton Internet Security 2005 installation has failed. Do you want to try to install again?"

Your options are Retry and Cancel. You click Retry. The popup disappears, the install continues, the progress meter shows progress... for a few seconds, and then the same error pops up again. Well, it worked last time, so you click Retry again. You're not too concerned when it happens again, because the progress meter keeps advancing (another little green bar, then another). After a while, you start keeping count of the times you click Retry. When it passes 100, you select Cancel and go looking online for the text of that error message to see if anyone else has had this problem.

They have.

In spades.

You learn about other techniques, some of which involve editing the registry (like brain surgery) or reinstalling Windows (dear God, do I even know where the disks are that came with my laptop? did I make backup disks? why me?)

You take a break and rant about it on your blog, then make a cup of tea and take another stab at it.

I hear there are some other anti virus programs out there...