Day Job Peeve

Imagine a commercial product that:

  1. scans for viruses and other malware in files and incoming e-mail;

  2. requires periodic updates of its "definition" data files;

  3. provides a script that can be used to download said updates;

  4. but said script is provided only in the body of their PDF manual;

  5. even though their software package distribution contains 15 other files, you're gonna have to cut-n-paste that (relatively important) script out of their PDF file, a tedious and error-prone process;

  6. and, yes, the script does run over multiple pages so you have to cut-n-paste a pagefull at a time to avoid the PDF header/footer formatting, making things slightly more tedious;

  7. and (by the way), the documentation recommends that you "decompress" the newly downloaded definition files to (I quote) "accelerate the time for subsequent initializations";

  8. but their documentation shows only the Windows command to accomplish that feat, even though it's the documentation for the Unix version of their product;

  9. and (why, no) the aforementioned script doesn't perform that (relatively important) function.

Yes, McAfee, I'm talking about you and your "VirusScan for Unix" product. Sheesh.

Paranormal Activity

stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

Whoo, scary movie. The gimmick is similar to that of The Blair Witch Project: it's not a movie at all, but "recovered" video. An opening credit "thanks" the San Diego Police Department for the footage. Oh oh.

The video is of Micah, his live-in girlfriend Katie, and their comfortable house. Katie has long been haunted by a demon—the sort of thing that could happen to anyone, really—and she feels that it's becoming more frisky than normal. When she confides this to Micah, he hopes to "document" demonic doings by obsessively recording everything that goes on, including all-night taping of their bedroom. (Well, not everything. Katie insists that the camera be turned off during some non-paranormal activities.)

Bad things happen, of course. Micah's determined to Figure Things Out, Katie would (apparently) prefer to Just Muddle Through, and this causes increasing friction. Even a little bit of malevolent supernatural threat can strain a relationship.

Even worse, Micah apparently pronounces his name "mee-cah" instead of "my-cah". It's like having a big old "Kick me, Demon" sign taped on your back.

The movie was awesomely cheap to make (IMDB says $15,000). But (at least for me) it was pretty effective. While relatively few people tromp off to make a documentary about witches in the remote forests of Maryland, unexplained noises in a dark house at 3AM is something every homeowner can imagine happening to them.

Last Modified 2012-10-04 8:05 AM EDT