Saturday, April 28, 2007

I am a reasonable man – oh yes I am

Arrrgh – a technology meltdown on my home computer is why I haven’t posted in yonks. Although “meltdown” is more accurate as a descriptor of me than the said computer. The latter appears to be fixed; OTOH I am still feeling shell-shocked and fragile.

“Automatic Updates is set to notify”. It may not immediately spring out at you, but this six word sentence is the most fiendish, malevolent concept ever expressed in the English language. If it popped up on your computer, as it did on mine, as an “Attention Required” alert message from the anti-virus software (Norton) installed on your computer, you might think that it is a benign thing, but to be on the safe side – not to mention getting rid up the pop-up in future – you might well click on “Fix Now”. After all, being notified is a good thing, is it not?

Not in Microsoft/Norton land, it turns out. By clicking on “Fix Now”, you turn your computer into a zombie with expensive tastes, downloading hundreds of MB (for which I pay 30 cents each, above a modest cap) of Who the F* Knows What Bloatware. You can’t turn it off – if you’re on the Internet, it will run, no matter what. You don’t get told anything, including what it is or how many MB it is. It could be 300MB of “essential” new background wallpaper for PowerPoint, for all I know. The only clue is a tiny “%-downloaded” icon. Oh, and the highly visible fact that one’s Internet connection meter is madly clocking-up the MBs. It’s like being on Internet banking, watching one’s stolen credit card go on a spending spree in real time, but being utterly powerless to stop it. Because by clicking “Fix Now”, you had thought that you would be agreeing to be notified, you see? How stupid of you – doesn’t everyone not want to be bothered by annoying small details, like knowing who is spending your credit-card/bandwidth, and on what exactly?


I admit that I’m highly strung when it comes to technology turning zombie on me. Predictive text on mobile phones – why the f* does my mobile phone randomly switch it on, when I have never used it (self-amputation would be less painful) and never will?

I don’t expect much from my technology – or from life in general, for that matter. Honestly. All I want is a plain, plain vanilla version – so plain that it can’t possibly turn zombie, no matter what. Not even, and most especially, if it asks me, via a criminally-misleadingly worded pop-up, whether I Want It to Go All Zombie on Me.

Norton and Microsoft, go and “Fix” yourselves.

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