Month: July 2013

Backyard Critters

There is a blue jay who frequents my yard. I watch him whenever I hit a pause in my day that allows me to spend a few minutes outdoors. He hops about, tapping his beak against things and peeking into all the holes he can find. I don’t feel bad about watching him, because he watches me too. He flaps from perch to perch, cocking his head to get a better look at the strange human who swings in a hammock from the trees. If our cat, Kikaa, makes an appearance, then the jay will talk to her. Sometimes Kikaa talks back and they have a strange half cry, half meowl conversation. After awhile the jay will fly away to take care of things elsewhere. I sway gently and close my eyes.

Our yard is also home to a garter snake. This is a new and exciting development of which I was informed this afternoon when I got home from grocery shopping. All the kids held the snake before letting it go. I never got to see it, but it is out there somewhere, catching small critters and generally living a snakey life. I told the kids that we’re glad to have a little snake in our yard, as they eat pests. So next time we see him, we can say hello and give him a name, but we probably shouldn’t pick him up. If he’s picked up too often he’ll likely decide to go live elsewhere. Also, I don’t really want my children in the habit of picking up snakes, but I didn’t say that part out loud.

There are nests in our spruce tree. I’ve no idea how many because the tree is too dense for me to see. I hear them though, little twittering sounds that change in volume depending upon if an adult bird has just showed up with dinner. I think they are mostly starling nests. The robins seem to prefer more open trees like the honey locusts. One year we had a little hummingbird nest in our apricot tree, but I’ve not seen any hummingbirds this year.

The apricots are ready to pick, I need to get out with a ladder and a bucket. If I don’t hurry the birds will taste all the fruit first. The grape vines are busy making a September harvest. Then I’ll have to maneuver around the bees and wasps who’ve discovered the split grapes. The walnut tree is heavy with forming nuts. At some point in the future a very happy squirrel is going to discover that tree and we’ll get far fewer of the nuts. Right now we only have to share with the occasional northern flicker. And the blue jay. He likes the nuts and often pokes around on the ground hoping to find one that was missed last fall.

I love the variety of creatures who have decided that sharing space with humans is just fine.

Goodbye Kaspersky, I’m Going Back to Norton

The tech folks at Best Buy told my that Kaspersky was the preferred anti virus protection for computers. It was rated much better than Norton they said. So when I bought my new desktop machine two years ago, I put Kaspersky on it. When I bought a laptop a year later, I put Kaspersky on that as well. Today I removed Kaspersky from both machines and paid to put Norton on them instead. I did this even though I only renewed Kaspersky a few months ago. In the past eight or more years of running Norton on various machines, the number of times I’ve had to troubleshoot is zero. The list of troubles with Kaspersky is below.

It installed easily and registered without trouble. Life was fine for 335 days. Then Kaspersky started popping open windows reminding me to renew. I followed the instructions to renew. Kaspersky continued to remind me over and over again that I should renew, not recognizing I’d already done it. Once the deadline passed, I had to call customer support and they walked me through a click-chain to get the program to recognize the renewal.

I bought the laptop and put Kaspersky on it, figuring the renewal problem was just a glitch.

Then my desktop machine started losing hard drive space. A hidden file was eating up all the space. WinDirStat showed me that Kaspersky was saving giant log files of doom. Some of them were over 50GB. I deleted the files and meant to call customer support about it, but got too busy. The problem was solved a year later when my hard drive died and I had to re-install from scratch. It is possible that the Kaspersky log files contributed to that crash.

Yet at this point I was still ready to defend Kaspersky as a good program. I don’t know why.

Some update taught Kaspersky to send me continual pop-ups telling me that a newer version was available. I didn’t want to upgrade at that time. No toggle would tell the program to stop doing it. So I lived with near constant pop-up notifications for over a year on two different machines.

The renewals for both Kaspersky installations came up again. They both reminded me endlessly to renew, even though I’d already done it. After the deadline, I went through the click chain to make the program recognize that it had been renewed. It did…for about three days. Then it claimed that my account was expired again. Repeat for several weeks. I tried upgrading in the hope that it would fix the renewal recognition and make the pop ups go away. Two birds, one stone. Then it complained of database mis-matching. I deleted and re-installed the old version. Then Kaspersky took to sending me a warning that I was unprotected every time the machine started up, only to realize that maybe I was protected after all.

I suppose I could have placed customer support calls on these issues, but I don’t think that I should have to place regular customer support calls to figure out how to make a program behave like it should.

Kaspersky on the laptop was broken in some way that seriously slowed down the machine’s restart process. Sometimes it took ten minutes for the computer to be ready to work. I timed it. With Norton installed and Kaspersky removed, the restart time is under a minute.

Last week my desktop machine crashed multiple times. Diagnostics show there is nothing wrong with the hardware. I suspect that the broken Kaspersky installation was conflicting with some other piece of software.

I don’t imagine that everyone has this much trouble with Kaspersky. It wouldn’t be so highly recommended if they did, but I’m done. Norton sends me a polite email telling me when to renew. Then it emails me a receipt. The program itself just runs and updates. I know it won’t be smooth sailing from here out, because for some reason my postage program won’t connect, and I’m going to have to solve that. (But that is a different customer support failure entirely. One that involves a tech on the phone continually asking me if my IT department has done something to my machine and telling me to give a list to my IT department, when I’ve repeatedly made clear, I AM the IT department.) Yet I’m hopeful that I won’t have to think about virus software for at least a year.

Now I just need to re-group and figure out how to re-work my schedule around the fact that I spent four hours of today dealing with computer issues instead of working on the Jay Wake book.