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Computer Hell

It was a typical day -- chop wood, carry water -- when I got a pop-up from Symantec: "Your Norton virus definitions are about to expire. Renew now?"

I thought virus definitions went on forever like the giant tortoise or Dick Clark. Evidently, they have to be renewed any time Norton demands "payment."

The Internet was such a good idea on paper. Now we tiptoe through the day afraid of spyware and macros and worms -- oh, my. It's enough to make you become a plumber.

What do hackers get out of the virus anyway? They're not even around to enjoy their evil. It's like ordering a pizza to someone else's house:

"I'll bet they're opening the door right now ... I'll just bet ..."

Norton promotes itself the same way our government does: "malicious threat" ... "security risk" ... "buy this or die!" Norton is even now spreading new viruses should we fail to pony up. So it goes.

But we have to guard our computer, because that is where we store our brains. I myself wouldn't know to use the bathroom if it weren't for Office Calendar.

Have you ever walked in to find your computer thinking? What is it whirring about? Norton?

The whole thing was prophesied by the 1986 thriller "Maximum Overdrive," in which machines reign terror on B-rate actors. You don't believe that appliances have a life of their own? Then how do you explain the cords being tangled up when you get home?

You can't walk into a public bathroom without lights turning on and toilets flushing. One day we'll go to leave the restroom and hear a voice boom out behind us: "Don't you give your back to me!"

I clicked the Norton update button because it was either that or click the Norton update button. A moment later: "Norton has detected a newer version of your software. Upgrade now?"

I shut down other programs while Norton burrowed into my registry. Same thing happened when I installed Microsoft Word. Call me old-fashioned, but I believe that Word processors should process words. They don't have to import spread sheets, open pdfs, create HTML, order stamps, do my taxes, or lodge a tracking chip in my epidermis.

When you arrive in heaven, the Pearly Gates will be just as they described, only the word "Pearly" will be replaced by "Bill," whom you will find there wearing a monocle and stroking his Persian cat.

Norton asked me to reboot and suggested that I perform a full-system scan OR ELSE!

My computer had ten intermediate security threats, the equivalent of orange-red in the Fox News Terrorism Chart (somewhere in the distance George Orwell is kicking himself for not thinking of that).

Once I quarantined these dangers, I was free to start Photoshop and find that Norton had vaporized my fonts!

Reinstalling Photoshop, I got this: "File K724P4.dll is a shared file. Continue with delete?"

It's the kind of message that precedes The Big Blue Screen of Death. What we need is a program to catch you when you do something stupid...

"You've just performed a bonehead move. Recover using Bonehead Deluxe?"

Without such a program, I relied on the same system that I use to make all my life decisions: eeeny meeny miny moe.

Photoshop rebooted the computer, and upon reentry, Norton gave me error LU1845, which means, I'm sure you know, that one of the suites had a processing error and would I like to REINSTALL NORTON!

At that moment I faced the very real threat of a computer crash -- my throwing the damn thing out the window. It took three rounds of eenie meenie miney moe, including a tie-breaker, for me reinstall and re-re-reboot.

Right now everything is chop-wood-carry-water, but you know Computer Rule #1: Just because it works today doesn't mean that it will work tomorrow. I'm starting to think that Norton is the virus, and next time it asks me to download anything -- including the cure to my own cancer -- I will immediately become a plumber.


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