At Your Service: April 22, 2009

At 8 on Monday evenings my computer’s security system runs a scan to identify and then quarantine viruses, worms, Trojan horses and other nefarious software programs. The entire operation takes about an hour. It is exactly what I programmed it to do when it was new, like the computer before it and the one before that. Nonetheless, I am regularly taken aback at about 8:15 most Mondays when I go to check my e-mail and find it running.
I say that “I programmed” it that way, which is half the truth. What I did was accept the default settings (those set by the program developer) when I installed the software. In the 20-plus years that I have owned computers and needed anti-viral software, I have often experimented with changing the time of the system scan. But, I eventually learned that they (yes, there really are people who spend their time studying such things) got it right. So what I really did was leave things the way they were.
Monday evening is the time that we are least likely to be using our computers. I couldn’t help but wonder why.
Despite the fact that most people have at least one computer in their home (60 percent of Americans have two or more), the majority are either found in the workplace or used for purposes related to work. They are more likely to be found in offices and offices tend to run on 9-5, Monday to Friday schedules. When office workers stay late, they rarely work more than two hours of overtime and therefore leave around 7 p.m.
A healthy percentage of those who work in offices are organized. Monday is the start of the week and things are more likely to still be on schedule by the end of its first day. Additionally, those smart thinking organized types are more likely to schedule big projects to be due on Fridays, giving them time to make changes according to the week’s breaking news and/or have a couple of days to recuperate, having exhausted themselves in the extra hours worked Tuesday through Thursday.
Those who do not work in offices but use computers for work are likely to use a laptop. This means that they can use the computer anytime in anyplace. It also means that they turn their computers off when not in use (not the case in most offices). The default setting takes care of this by having a backup setting that runs the scan immediately upon startup if it wasn’t run at 8 a.m. on Monday.
As it turns out, Monday is also the day that we are most likely to be away from our computers at home, no matter what our purpose for its use. I would have thought it would be Friday, when people are out to dinner, at football games or otherwise engaged socially. But, it is precisely because the rest of the week tends to be filled with other activities that Monday is the one spent away from the computer; Monday is the real family night. This is also true for the younger set because Monday tends to be the night the shortest homework assignments are likely to be assigned.
Even though 8 a.m. would seem like a busy time, it turns out that we are more likely to be eating, watching television, talking on the telephone or doing almost anything else at that time than using our computers. Me, I’m usually watching something on TV. Since I am not crazy about any show that starts at 8 on Mondays, boredom makes me curious about my e-mail; which brings me full circle.
Of course, if it really bothered me, I could reprogram the computer and change the time the scan runs. It hasn’t bothered me enough to move me into the Mac world; Mac users are undoubtedly wearing a smirk by now as they are not plagued by computer viruses. Instead, I find it a good excuse to read a book or do a crossword puzzle.