Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Anti Anti-virus

There are some things in life that you just have to put up with.

Paying taxes. Catching a cold. Working for idiots (for peanuts). Bruce Forsythe.

These things are just never going to go away. They are always there. The rough with the smooth. If you want the positives (i.e. local amenities, immunity to millions of bacteria, money to enjoy and... er... Tess Daly) then you just have to put up with the negatives.

So I understand why, if I want to enjoy broadband connectivity with the World Wide Web, I need to have an anti-virus program installed. And since first going online in 2000 I have never been without one. Although I initially bumped for McAfee I have, by and large, for the last 9 years stuck with Norton.

And it has increasingly irritated the shit out of me.

It has got more and more invasive. Rather like a virus itself actually.

It hogs resources. It does things behind my back. Things like “idle time scans”. It slows and frequently stalls my machine – particularly when I’m in a rush to do something – to the point where sometimes the whole thing just freezes and I have to initiate a “hard reboot”. Of course the scandisk thing then kicks in. And although you can press a key (any key) to opt out of this, you just know that paranoia will get the better of you in the end. So you let it scan.

And it finds errors. Invalid entries. Truncated files. Misreported file sizes. Files with names that no homo sapiens would ever come up with in a million years. And these files all originate from the Norton program folder.

Because Norton was doing something that I hadn’t asked it to do and the hard reboot messed it all up.

*Sigh*

I’ve started to hate my anti-virus program with a passion.

I know it is only doing its best to protect me. That it’s looking out for my best interests.

But really.

It’s like hiring a security guard to protect your house and then finding yourself barred from the kitchen when you want to make a meal.

“Sorry sir, you can’t come in. I’m scanning the kitchen for malicious equipment.”

“But... I’m hungry. I need to eat. Can’t you do this later?”

“Sorry sir. Got to be done now. The procedure can’t be interrupted once it’s been started.”

“But I only want to make a sandwich. I’ve somewhere I need to be in half an hour. I have to eat now or I won’t eat at all.”

“Sorry sir. Your security comes first. You’ll have to wait.”

“But... but it’s my bloody kitchen!”

And it’s my bloody computer!

I don’t want Norton to initiate idle time scans without my permission. If my computer is being idle leave it damn well alone. Let it be idle and receptive to my commands! I want it to be ready to do what I want it to do!

And I don’t want to have to have a Master’s Degree in computer programming just to be able to make Norton behave. I want Norton to have one button which says “Steve, you are my master” which I can press and then relax in the knowledge that my computer that I bought with my own money and operate daily does so under my command and not at the behest of a group of faceless computer geeks based in America writing program code that takes over every computer it is installed upon under the guise of doing the owner a favour.

Anti-virus?

Yeah. Half right.


38 comments:

missbehaving said...

Oh gosh, thanks for that, I ahd no idea it was my protection software that was causing me all the problems you list, not much I can do about it, but glad to know why.
Love the security guard in the kicthen analogy too.

Steve said...

Missbehaving: apparently the two main causes of computer breakdown and malfunction are the anti-virus software and the operating system itself. We should never have moved away from binary programming.

;-)

The Dotterel said...

Hate to appear smug (and I can hear the fates in conflab) but the Mac OS really doesn't seem to cause the problems Windows does. I use both, and also trust my soul to AVG on the PC. I know I'm not as well protected... they keep telling me (at the same time as inviting me to part with money) but - so far, so good. I've now got everything crossed.

Steve said...

Dotterel: Last I heard the Fates were seen accepting a substantial kickback from both McAfee and Norton... you have been warned! ;-)

Tristan said...

Dotterel's right - Mac is the way to go - security is built into the OS, it automatically updates itself and Macs aren't targeted as often as PCs. End of Mac fanatic rant...

Steve said...

Tris: I'm sure you're right and other people have recommended the Mac highly... but for some reason I am suspicious of making the move. Despite it's many faults I know my way around a PC and third party product support and availability is generally excellent. Unless you're talking anti-virus software of course...

Tenon_Saw said...

The solution is simple. Change to Eset's NOD 32 which has a very small footprint. You can/could consider getting AVG free which seems to be OK if you don't want to pay for NOD

Steve said...

Tenon_Saw: Bugger. I don't have a smart / funny reply to that. Instead I will look into it.

Valerie said...

Steve, you took the words right out of my mouth. If there's an answer to the daily intrusions I wish someone would tell me where to find it.

Steve said...

Valerie: the big message I'm getting is - get a Mac... however my understanding is that Mac's are great for graphics work but if you do lots of "office" based stuff like I do, then you can't beat a PC... I think some online research might be in order!

The Sagittarian said...

You don't mean Graham Norton do you? Sounds a bit similar...
Anyway, we have just ahd our home PC at t'hospickle for sad Pcs...and now it seems that all our music which we carefully ripped from our legitimately bought CDs so we could play them thru the PC and make our own playlists etc has all been bumped up the boo-eye and we have now got to download some other programme to do what we WERE able to do before the thing went tits up. Grr.

Valerie said...

So I must put up with all the inconveniences, that's a great shame! My machines are used for business and personal work, so it seems a Mac won't suit.

Steve said...

Amanda: I can't think of anything worse for the health of my important files than installing Graham Norton on my hard drive. Urgh. *shudders* And the PC doctors are telling you you need a new bit of software to do what you used to do without that bit of software? Hmm. Do these doctors own that bit of software by any chance? Why can't they just restore it to the factory settings?

Valerie: I refuse to believe that there isn't a piece of antivirus software out there that not only behaves but also treats it's PC home with respect. See Tenon_Saw's comment above... might be worth a looksee...

KAZ said...

Me too
It removes nice icons that I like and takes over as you described.
I'm going to give him the sack.
Unless Graham can make me change my mind.

Steve said...

Kaz: I think Graham will have to work harder on improving his interviewing technique before that will happen...

Selina Kingston said...

Uhmm... this has all been a bit technical for me. BUT... I would like to take exeption to the Bruce Forsyth coment. I love him. I love Graham Norton too, actually!!

Steve said...

Ah Selina, but wouldn't the world be a horrible grey place if we all liked the same things? I'm more than happy to let you have my worldly share of Brucie and Graham if it will make you happy! And as for exceptions... don't start me on exceptions! That's another error message that my PC frequently throws up!

-eve- said...

norton is good, i've heard. but AVG is good and free ;-) i use that, lol

Steve said...

Eve: I guess that's another vote for AVG! And I hadn't even heard of it until yesterday - so much for me being a tech-head!

Gypsy said...

Being the ignoramus that I am when it comes to all things technical, I didn't understand a single word you said. I did however get the impression you weren't best pleased with something computer related so I will say sorry and move right along :)

Gypsy said...

PS I'm sure shit like that goes on behind my scenes too but this is where ignorance is bliss.

Steve said...

Gypsy: in my experience anyone who can spell ignoramus isn't one...! ;-)

French Fancy said...

When I used to run Windoze I had all the same problems as you are experiencing, but now I'm using Linux I don't have any of them any more. Mind you without Mr FF I would no doubt still be using a 386 and on dial-up.

Steve said...

FF: I've heard good thing about Linus - especially it's reliability - the only thing that holds me back is the lack of support from third party software compared to the monster that is Windows.

Gina said...

Get yourself a Mac. On the odd occasion I am forced to use the PC I always clout the thing for being so slow and counter-intuitive to use. Useless lump of whatever it is made of. But I know it's not its fault - just the useless operating system that means you have to install anti-virus software.

My daughter, who doesn't have a Mac uses LINUX and that seems good. Well, it's quick anyway.

Steve said...

Gina: I've been picking up a real anit-Microsoft / Anti Bill Gates feel to this comments page! A Mac and / or Linux seems to be the solution of choice for most people... but... I quite like PC's. Or rather they're all I have known. Hmm. Maybe it's time to be brave and think outside the "window"...?!

Löst Jimmy said...

Having had both Norton and nowadays McAfee neither are completely effective against virus or particularly trojans and the like. To take your Security Guard analogy one step further, like having a badly trained guard watching the house...everything secure at the front of the house but the guard never checks the back garden access...

Steve said...

Löst Jimmy: thus confirming my worse fears that I have pikeys lurking in my herbaceous borders...!

Owen said...

Hi Steve, I'm late getting here because I couldn't get on my computer which was doing a complete disk scan which I didn't want, compressing (read : deleting) my e-mail archives.

Well, remember, "There are updates ready for your computer", and "There are unused icons on your desktop"... just like there are unused freckles on my red head's nose, the programmers that write these horribly repetetive and stultifying code sequences should be sent to Somalia, and irritated pirates who have the same problems you have can have at them ! A pox on anti-viral idiocy, on spam e-mail senders, and on updates and unused icons... a juicy viral pox on all those things ! Good luck Steve !

Steve said...

Owen: I sense that you are with me and when I start a war of Lord Of The Rings type proportions I know I can count on you to be in the front line along side me. I shall email you the dates and locations. Provided me anti virus software will let me have access to Outlook...

justme said...

I spent about eight years with no virus protection at all, on the basis that the people who had it seemed to have as many problems as those who don't! It wasn't till I DID have a problem ( which I eventually managed to sort out myself, after a computer 'expert' had spent ove five hours filing to do, and then declaring the computer dead...) that I finally signed up to McAfee for my new laptop. It hasn't caused any problems so far, but on the other hand, I am still running my desktop and my Netbook, with no anti virus protection at all!
As to the Mac/Pc debate......I like my PC and thats what I use for work and I always think using a different system at work and home would be a pain. I don't understant the so called 'intuitive' argument either! PC's are pretty intuitive too in my experience! Especially if that is what you are used to. But who knows. Maybe I will convert one day! Never say never

Steve said...

Justme: some good points there. I think my conclusion is that I'm going to stick with my PC 'cos that's what I like. It's what I'm used to and I have shedloads of software for it. But I might shop around and see what other anti virus software is available rather than being tied down to the leading two. People have already been kind enough to give me a few pointers...!

Tenon_Saw said...

You can also clean your temporary files with http://download.cnet.com/Temp-File-Cleaner/3000-2094_4-10628816.html which is excellent. Such files hide all over the place on your HDD so that the Windoze utilities do not get them all.

Steve said...

Tenon_Saw: thank you for the tip!

A Write Blog said...

I use MacAffee and, yes, it does come across as a kind of big brother limiting my freedom without my consent.

A symptom of the modern world?

Steve said...

AWB: ...or the disease?

Mark said...

Hello there - came over here as I keep seeing your name pop up on French fancy. Great blog you have.

I moaned for years - then I bought a pic, proper, beautiful, bloody great MAC. I moaned even more for about a week, after which all has been bliss.

Mark

Steve said...

Mark: be most welcome - do hope you'll come again! So it's another vote for the Mac. Hmm. Money is too tight to do anything but muse at the mo' but when the time comes I shall give it some serious thought!