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Sabbatical, Day 34: Computer Troubles, The CT Scan, Christian Music And Animation

Recurring computer frustrations this morning. McAfee Security Center is trying my patience. Twice this week it has thrown up warnings, saying the PC isn’t protected. It invites you to click a button to fix the problems, and it doesn’t. Earlier in the week, it demanded uninstallation and an upgrade. That seemed a bit rich, given I was subscribed over a year in advance. That time and today, forcing a search for updates seemed to solve the problem. If it keeps misbehaving, I may write off what I’ve paid ahead of time and replace it with a  high quality free anti-virus offering such as Avast and the excellent if rather talkative firewall from Comodo.

The other sinner this week has been our Canon Pixma iP5200 printer. We keep getting documents printed without that rather crucial colour, black. And that’s a disadvantage with text! Each time, it’s the same fault. One of the two black cartridge nozzles needs cleaning. It has been an excellent workhorse, but I’m beginning to suspect built-in obsolescence. It’s three years old, and everyone knows manufacturers make little money from the printers themselves, cashing in on the inkjet cartridges. And in an economic model like that, the manufacturers are being pushed hard by the widespread availability of compatibles. What a ghastly parable of our whole creaking economic system.

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This afternoon began with the CT scan on my sinuses. Thanks to Olive for her lovely comment on yesterday’s post. It was a strange experience, different from what I was expecting. For a start, I was seen on time, so congratulations to the Radiology Department at Broomfield Hospital! I was taken from the main radiology waiting room to a separate CT scan waiting room.

Asked if I had any jewellery, I mentioned my watch and wedding ring, neither of which I had to remove anyway. And although they are both strictly jewellery, I never think of them that way. ‘Bling’ is not a word anyone who knows me would associate with me. The watch is a tool for a job, and the wedding ring is my visual aid to remind me wherever I am that I have the privilege of being married. 

The nurse also asked me if I had any questions, and I explained my main concern was with lying still on my back, given that’s the position in which I find it hardest to breathe – and ironically the reason why I was having the test. The appointment letter had said the procedure would last between ten and thirty minutes. However, if I was under the scanner for five minutes, that’s all it was. Sinuses are among their simpler cases, apparently – and thankfully!

Lying under the scanner, I had certain expectations of what would happen. I thought it would be one long, steady, slow pass through what the staff referred to as the ‘doughnut’. Actually, I went forward and backward two or three times in semi-jerky movements. The whirring, flashing ring reminded me of something from Star Trek, perhaps a glorified version of the sight gadget Geordi La Forge wore. (No, I’m not a Trekkie: I had to research the character’s name.) When it slowed down, it sounded like a tube train coming into a station. From Geordi La Forge to Underground Ernie, I guess. 

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I’m tired tonight, so nothing intellectually demanding. I’m reviewing some CDs for Cross Rhythms. Every couple of months, they send me four releases to write up, and the musical styles can vary greatly.

First off tonight, a compilation from the now defunct American girl-pop trio Zoegirl. It’s highly professional yet very derivative of other teen pop. Like Andy Crouch, I believe Christians should be Culture Making rather than culture copying. However, it does have the merit of lyrics that attempt to boost the self-esteem of teenage girls. I suspect the members of Zoegirl are utterly sincere Christians, working within a less than entirely honourable industry. Hits: Greatest Zoegirl is their third compilation since 2005. It came out last year, and there’s another comp of them being released next month! It’s hard to have kind words for an industry that behaves like that.

Currently playing while I’m typing is Hold On For Life by the Arkansas Gospel Mass Choir. Right now, I’m only seven tracks out of ten through a first listen, so any opinions now are highly provisional. It doesn’t break any new ground in the black gospel genre, either musically or lyrically, and some annoying pseudo-live sounds are overdubbed, but you can’t get over the extraordinary power and quality of those voices, and a great brass section. 

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I’m signing off tonight with an amazing piece of animation. A friend just sent me the link to Animator Vs Animation by Alan Becker. It’s an amazing treat.

Goodnight!

Why I’ve Been Offline For Two Days

Never, never buy Norton Internet Security. The firewall had given me problems a few months ago, resulting in a switch to ZoneAlarm and subsequently Sygate, but on Thursday I made a grave error: I paid twenty-six of our finest British pounds to upgrade to the latest version of Norton, which includes anti-spyware and anti-adware. To cut a very long story short, I was still able to email but any program that wanted to access the web was prohibited, even if the software said it was allowed. For techies, it appears that port 80 was being blocked, but there was nowhere to change it.

So I’ve uninstalled it today. For anti-virus I’ve replaced it with a package that is free for home and non-commercial use called Avast, for anti-spam I’m trying Qurb (I didn’t like Mailwasher since you have to disable your email client from regularly performing an automatic send/receive), and I’m sticking with Sygate for the firewall.

Norton, you are never coming near my PC again. And I mean that in Christian love.

Why I’ve Been Offline For Two Days

Never, never buy Norton Internet Security. The firewall had given me problems a few months ago, resulting in a switch to ZoneAlarm and subsequently Sygate, but on Thursday I made a grave error: I paid twenty-six of our finest British pounds to upgrade to the latest version of Norton, which includes anti-spyware and anti-adware. To cut a very long story short, I was still able to email but any program that wanted to access the web was prohibited, even if the software said it was allowed. For techies, it appears that port 80 was being blocked, but there was nowhere to change it.

So I’ve uninstalled it today. For anti-virus I’ve replaced it with a package that is free for home and non-commercial use called Avast, for anti-spam I’m trying Qurb (I didn’t like Mailwasher since you have to disable your email client from regularly performing an automatic send/receive), and I’m sticking with Sygate for the firewall.

Norton, you are never coming near my PC again. And I mean that in Christian love.