How do you spell 'recovery'?

AT&T slashes, Symantec crashes

See correction below

It was a shock to look through the peephole and find Amber on my doorstep, back from England on an impromptu visit. But when Pammy came padding out of the kitchen, wearing only a T-shirt and a pair of DreamFree brain-refresh specs I'd picked up at Comdex last week, Amber got a shock of her own.

Break Out the Bubbly: According to the American Electronics Association, the United States is on track to lose only 234,000 high-tech jobs this year -- a lot better than the 540,000 shed in 2002. Adding to the fun, AT&T is dumping most of its IT staff and outsourcing the work to Hewlett-Packard, say my spies. Ousted geeks can try to hook up with HP, but they’d better keep their passports current: Rumor has those jobs going to HP’s operations in Bangalore. More proof that the phrase "jobless recovery" has joined "business ethics" and "Microsoft Trustworthy Computing" as modern oxymorons.

Plug and Pray: Maybe it’s just a clever way to disguise the company’s offshore support ops, but some Dell techs are embedding religious references in their e-mail sigs. Such as this one: "If Christ was to come right now: Where would you pass eternity?" Answer: on hold with Dell support. Hey, it feels like an eternity.

Pirate Program: Symantec’s Norton AntiVirus 2004 is so pirate-proof that some paying customers had to re-activate the software license each day -- until the program quit working altogether. Now a Cringester says the firm’s anti-buccaneer technology won’t let him back up his PC with Norton Internet Security 2004 installed. Tech support’s solution? Uninstall NIS 2004, do the back up, then reinstall it. First spokesmate Phil Weiler says the problems affect less than 1 percent of users, the support tech was dead wrong, and Symantec will post a patch to solve the activation snafu -- though it wasn’t available at press time. In a word: arrrrgghhh. 

And the Mice Aren't Too Happy About It, Either: Christmas came early for one Cringe reader when Computer Discount Warehouse sent him a 52-pound box of mouse balls (mechanical, not anatomical). The gift was CDW’s way of thanking him for his business. An old flame sent me a dead rat once, but I don’t think she was saying thanks.

Got hot tips or brilliant gift ideas? Send 'em to cringe@infoworld.com and collect 50 ducats, if you’re lucky.

Correction
In this column, we originally misreported the kind of statements that some Dell techs are embedding into their e-mail sigs.

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