On Tuesday despite being able to connect, we discovered we could not download or send email and we could not access the web at all. After doing battle with the automated ISP Help Desk computer that claims to understand english and in fact frequently does not, we heard a recorded message that they were experiencing a high volume of calls and the expected wait time was 60 minutes – argh!
I attempted to get to the bottom of the problem myself wondering if one of the more technologically challenged members of the household had messed with the settings but got nowhere so I braved out the 60 minute wait to the helpdesk.
I barely managed to get out “since Tuesday night I can connect but I can’t…” and the technician impatiently cut me off with “do you use ZoneAlarm?”
The technician explained that on Tuesday an auto update was issued that meant ZoneAlarm’s firewall was so extremely effective one was not able to send or receive email or access the net at all. The solution was to simply disable ZoneAlarm and keep an eye on their website for a patch or a remedy. He concluded by telling me that their helpdesk had gone nuts as heaps of people use ZoneAlarm and were all hit by the same problem (one wondered why, given the pervasiveness of the problem and the simplicity of the solution, I and everyone else affected, had had to endure the 60+ minute wait of hold music and looped recorded messages about the wait time, surely a “try disabling ZoneAlarm” or similar, put alongside the wait time message would have eased their stress and mine – but what would I know, I am not a technichian).
Anyway, problem solved. We have been happily emailing and surfing again but I write this post because of the email I just received a few minutes ago from ZoneAlarm:
ALERT: IMPORTANT NOTICE TO ZONEALARM CUSTOMERS
Installation of Microsoft Update KB951748 may result in loss of Internet connectivity. Click here for more information on how to resolve this issue. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.
Hang on a minute, anyone in need of information on how to resolve this issue would need to:
1. Be able to receive the email containing the above message; and,
2. Be able to actually access the web in order for the “click here” instruction to be of any use (the page will not display error message is hardly helpful).
Those of us with the fortitude to withstand 60+ minutes of hold music and recorded messages and who subsequently managed to actually receive the above email discover that when you click on the link provided in the email you get a page with the following information, note the bolded bits, (my emphasis):
Workaround to Sudden Loss of Internet Access Problem
Date Published : 8 July 2008
Date Last Revised : 9 July 2008
Overview : Microsoft Update KB951748 is known to cause loss of internet access for ZoneAlarm users on Windows XP/2000. Windows Vista users are not affected.
Impact : Sudden loss of internet access
Platforms Affected : ZoneAlarm Free, ZoneAlarm Pro, ZoneAlarm AntiVirus, ZoneAlarm Anti-Spyware, and ZoneAlarm Security Suite
– Download and install the latest versions which solve the loss of internet access problem here (English only): [Series of download URLs]
– or follow the directions below.
Option 1: [Series of directions to alter internet settings]
Option 2: [Series of directions to uninstall the update]
So, the email and webpage were aimed at customers who faced the problem that they could not receive email and could not access the internet. They were to receive an email, navigate to a webpage and then either download and install something or follow or a set of instructions…
In other words, if you receive the email and can access the help page there is a good chance you don’t need either.
Note to ZoneAlarm: read Immanual Kant or Richard Hare.
Prescriptive language such as instructions, commands, imperitives, etc. to be rationally followed need to be able to be willed universally i.e. a person must be able to will the thing without contradicting themselves. Sending somebody an instruction to fix the problem of not being able to have access to instructions to fix the problem is not rational, is arguably self-referentially incoherent and worse of all, is just not very helpful.