Notwithstanding the Dell Hell saga of last year, I love my Dell Dimension XPS Gen 5 which I bought in August. From a hardware point of view, it works perfectly. No issues whatsoever, so I'm a more than satisfied Dell customer.
I wish I could say the same about some of the software running on it, especially Norton Internet Security 2006 (NIS) for Windows.
I've been a user of Symantec's Norton product line for at least six years (and from long before that, when Peter Norton first rolled out Norton Utilities for DOS in the early 80s). So Norton is a brand I like, respect and am willing to lay out hard cash for.
Yet NIS drives me nuts.
As a first line of defence product, NIS ought to be one that you can rely on with absolute confidence to just work. I'm not talking about what it does (ie, provide a protection layer on your PC, which it does very well) - I'm talking about how it works.
After experiencing some weird behaviour which I finally pinpointed NIS as the culprit, I ended up yesterday with a pretty unstable PC. Ok, my subsequent fiddling undoubtedly contributed to that state, especially a little bit of carelessness when editing the Windows registry ;)
So I decided to simply start over. Zap the partition, create it again, reformat the drive, reinstall Windows XP and start afresh.
And guess what? A clean install, fresh as a daisy, nothing on the system except the OS, critically-updated and patched to the hilt. Then, when I installed NIS from scratch, I got the same issues I just had! Every time the PC restarts, it takes forever and I keep getting those system dialogs saying it's waiting for such-and-such a program, click here to end now. In each case, the programs were something to do with NIS. Prime culprit: ccApp.exe, a component of Norton AntiVirus.
But it looks like I've now stopped all that. And I'm not wholly sure how.
I installed Norton Systemworks 2005 (I haven't upgraded to the 2006 version). And I also turned off a switch, so to speak, in NIS itself relating to the Personal Firewall - unchecked the option "Learn unrecognized programs that access the internet."
Did both or either of those actions fix the problem? I have no idea. All I know is the Win XP Event Viewer is no longer peppered with errors relating to NIS components and I haven't encountered more issues when shutting down or restarting. So it looks like my little problem is resolved (fingers crossed).
But what a rigmarole!
The response from two friends today when I mentioned this to them - switch to a different product. Yes, but which? I've tried Zone Alarm Internet Security Suite. It's good, I'm sure, but I just don't like it (the free Zone Alarm firewall is very good, though, which I have running on my IBM laptop). I've considered some free apps such as AVG. Maybe I should try out the beta of Windows One Care Live.
But I'm not really that keen at the moment to keep trying out different things for something as fundamental as network security and anti-virus software. From the protection and peace of mind points of view, NIS works and does its job well. Plus I've already laid out the cash for it.
So I think I'll just stick with my now-functional installation of NIS. For the time being at least. And not fiddle so much.
Now onto fixing Nokia Lifeblog issues with errors like this in the Event Viewer:
The description for Event ID ( 101 ) in Source ( NokiaLifeblog ) cannot be found. The local computer may not have the necessary registry information or message DLL files to display messages from a remote computer. You may be able to use the /AUXSOURCE= flag to retrieve this description; see Help and Support for details. The following information is part of the event: Error in Lifeblog.