Antivirus Gamer Edition: Why only for gamers?

Jimmy, Grandad and Grandma go to CornwallThe latest version of Symantec Norton Anti-Virus comes in a Gamer Edition.

Yes that’s right an edition designed specifically for gamers?!?!

Is this just clever marketing or are there some technology differences here?

Norton AntiVirus Gamer Edition

So what makes it a Gamer Edition:

Gamer Mode

  • No alerts + no notifications = no interruptions
  • Optional settings to temporarily suspend updates, behavioural scanning and intrusion prevention
  • Enabled automatically when your PC is in full screen mode
  • Activate manually with a quick click on the Norton system tray icon

Lightning Fast*

  • Rapid Pulse Updates every 5 to 15 minutes
  • Installs in less than a minute
  • Adds less than 1 second to boot time

Light as a Feather*

  • Uses less than 6MB memory even without the Gamer Mode performance boost
  • Needs less than 50MB hard disk space on installation
  • Runs only 2 processes at a time
  • Performance graphs display CPU and memory usage and how little Norton is using

Respects your needs

  • Smart Scheduler holds resource intensive actions for when you are not using your PC
  • Resource usage table shows you the what, when and how long for background actions taken by Norton AntiVirus
  • Delivers consistently strong protection – that’s why Norton AntiVirus has won more consecutive Virus Bulletin 100 awards than any other AV software

So what is it that makes Gamers special why wouldn’t everyone want these capabilities? I’ve been of the opinion for some time that, in many ways, antivirus software is a medicine that is worse than the illness it’s trying to cure. And I’m not the only one to think so:

“It can be awful to have your Windows computer infected with malicious software, but it is almost as bad suffering the daily burdens imposed by the security software designed to protect you.

Too often, security programs significantly slow down the computer, causing lags in booting up the machine, launching programs and receiving email. Not only that, they can be incredibly annoying, popping up frequent messages or asking questions in techie lingo.”

Walt Mossberg – Wall Street Journal

The problems that are being resolved here are exactly the complaints that I hear from my corporate customers. People only have antivirus software because they have to, it’s not something they really want so every time they see it it’s a problem. If it gives them a pop-up it’s a problem. If it slows their machine down it’s a problem. If it takes longer for their machine to start it’s a problem.

But again, it’s another human psychology problem. I don’t what interruptions, but the interruptions do actually tell me something.

The video is fun though.

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English Language Innovation

Grandma in GrizedaleThere are times when the English language is one of the most frustrating things in my life – they tend to be the times when I am thinking about spellings with a dyslexic son. At other times I love the ever changes nature of the lexicon that we use.

The Post Office (of all people) has just released a report titled: Are you 404 when it comes to tech chat?

I’m not normally a huge fan of these things because they age so quickly, once its been published it’s already out of date. This one seems to be reasonable though, it’s interesting because it picks up on localised abbreviations too, the ones in the report relate to the London Oyster Card.

I’ve spent all of my working life in the IT language sub-culture, it’s interesting to see how this language is leaking into day-to-day common language.

This came to my attention recently as an example of what I mean, it uses a whole set of words and phrases that 10 years ago none of us had heard of, or if we had they probably had a different meaning. Today we understand all of the meanings:

George Carlin – Modern Man

For me it’s a great example of user innovation – people who use the language innovate it all of the time. The need for people to innovate is very strong, something those of us in IT do well to remember.

Over and out to all of you Code 18’s

Why do you care that I've just updated that application?

Jimmy, Grandad and Grandma go to CornwallOne of my tasks at the moment is to plan a significant change to a customer “desktop” infrastructure. A significant portion of this change will be looking at application management and delivery.

The technology is now available for us to make all sorts of changes without the end-user even knowing – we can be seamless. Technically, that’s what we can achieve now.

We have a worry though, what will the human impact of this be?

People are used to being disrupted by an application change, they complain about it all of the time, and rightly so. What we are discovering, though, is that the disruption actually gives them some value, and we are not sure how much of it to reproduce.

People feel attached to their personal device, even though it’s clearly a corporate asset they still feel that it’s theirs. The primary value in the interruption is communication – they know that the application has been updated. They don’t have a say in whether updates occur, but at least they know that something has happened to their device. Seamless changes mean that they don’t know and arguably that there is, therefore, nothing to worry about, but my concern is that seamless upgrades without communication start to breed a sense of mistrust – “something has changed and I don’t know what”, or “they keep changing things and I haven’t a clue what they’ve done this time”.

The other thing that the interruption does is warn the end-user to look out for things that might not be correct. This is both a good thing and a bad thing. Sometimes they see problems in a change that weren’t caused by the change, but regularly they notice issues with the change that weren’t revealed in testing.

Interruptions also tell the end-user to look out for the new features that they have been looking for.

This is one of the situations where the technology is easy, but the customer experience is more difficult to judge. Any wisdom for me anyone?

Being Inquisitive

Jimmy, Grandad and Grandma go to CornwallHow inquisitive are you?

Today’s quote to think about: “If you tell the average man there are 278,805,732,168 stars in the universe, he will believe you. But if a sign says Wet Paint he has to make a personnel investigation.”

I used to work in a restaurant and the same thing applied, if you told people the plates were hot, they would always have to touch them just to find out.

But how often are we completely the other way around? How many times do we take something as fact just because the person telling us spoke with authority? I have played a game a few times where I have embellished a truth and told it to a few people as fact. I’ve then sat back and waited to see how long it would take for the embellishment to come back to me. It normally only take a few days.

I’ve been in many problem solving situations where we would have fixed things a lot earlier if we hadn’t taken as fact the things that people told us.

Can a techie have business acumen?

Jimmy and Grandma have a day outI’m a techie I don’t mind admitting it – actually I’m quite proud of it. I can do things with technology that others marvel at.

I was recently in a meeting when someone who didn’t know I was in the room made the statement “well it must be a technical discussion you are wanting to have if you’ve invited Graham along”. There was a little bit of embarrassment when it was pointed out who the person sitting opposite them was. This person doesn’t know me so they were making a judgement on the basis of my role, but the role clearly said to them techie and the inference was not business.

There have been other situations myself and others have been in which highlight the same issue. Someone I speak to quite regularly was saying recently that one of the comments made to them in a recent interview was that they were “too techie”. Again the inference was not business.

The job that I do today requires a good deal of technical ability, but its primary purpose isn’t a technology leadership one, it’s a business understanding one. The premise of my role is that the gulf between business people and techie people is so great that they require an interpreter. In other words techies don’t speak the same language as business people.

Because my background is primarily a techie one I tend to be treated with a warm welcome by the technologists, but treated with a certain amount of suspicion by the business people.

It’s almost like some people think there is a one dimensional sliding scale with highly technical on one side and high business on the other. As a techie am I really incapable of thinking as a business person? Perhaps this goes all the way back to school where people were encouraged into the arts bucket or the sciences bucket.

Are these just age old prejudices with a new dimension? Or, do these definitions reveal some real issues? I’m not sure. What I do know, though, is that the need for edge people, or multi-dimensional people is growing all of the time, the innovators, the people who work beyond the process.

One of the reasons I’ve been thinking about the brain so much was the realisation that it will be the people who have a strong right-side of the brain who will be the most valuable ones in the coming economy.

Right-brained people are strongly creative, something that transcends arts, sciences, technical or even business. I think that is will be this characteristic that will become dominant, not the field in which you choose to exercise your creativity; Einstein was creative, Monet was creative, Tim Berners-Lee is creative, Warren Buffett is creative. Or perhaps you don’t like the word creative because that sounds too arty, then how about word innovative; Malcolm Gladwell is innovative, Ted Hoff is innovative, Stephen Hawkins is innovative, Yann Arthus-Bertrand is innovative.

Anyway enough of my musing it’s time for me to go and be innovative in a cross functional, multi dimensional, business focussed, technically challenging, problem solving, situation.

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PowerPoint: Video White Screen of complete nothingness

A Trip to Hadrian's WallI came across a “feature” of PowerPoint today.

I added a video to a presentation and played it – but all I got was a lovely white screen of nothingness.

So I started Windows Media Player – and it the video was full of lots of lovely sound and motion.

Perhaps it’s a problem with this particular MPEG file, I thought. So converted it the file to WMV. After several minutes of waiting for the transcoding to take place I was amazed to get the same white screen of nothingness.

I tried it one a newer version of PowerPoint (2007), but still the same white screen of nothingness.

After a little searching around the internet using the google I came across the answer. I must admit to being somewhat stunned that I could get caught out by a problem that I thought had been mostly eradicated.

And the answer: the path to the file is too long

Yes, really.

It’s apparently been around forever, perhaps I’m the last to find out?

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