Update Now!

Have you noticed how some devices continually ask you to update, whilst others seem perfectly happy to stick with the firmware they were delivered with.

Windows can drive you crazy, especially if you use it less often than twice a day it would seem. Turn on the PC and rather than let you get on with stuff, it decides no you can’t get on with the stuff you actually need to do, no it’s much more important to use up the CPU and the RAM (and your Internet connection) to download and install updates. Once it has done that, and you think you can get on with stuff, no it needs to restart. On a bad day it will after restarting decide that you need even more updates… Once that’s done, you start your browser and then Flash, Java and Shockwave all need to be updated. By the time that’s done you’ve probably forgotten why you turned the PC on in the first place.

At work where I have no control over my locked down work PC, it is little better, first thing it does when turned on in the morning is, yes you’ve guessed it, update everything… Generally I turn on the PC and then go and make some coffee.

OS X is a little better, but not by much. The default for OS X is to download updates in he background before telling you what needs to be installed. If you have a small pipe and a bandwidth limit this can cause problems. Before I was lucky enough to get my upgrade to fibre one of the annoying things about OS X updates was the sheer size of them, often in excess of 1GB. On my ADSL connection this could take hours and soak up the entire connection.

iOS updates are just as bad, huge updates for both the iPad and the iPhone. Updating can take a while as files are backed up and apps reinstalled. I have over the last few years downloaded lots of apps, and as a result there are updates for them on a regular basis, at least I have a choice on downloading them. Same with Android, though at least you are given the choice on when you can update.

Of course you an change the defaults and download updates as and when you want to, which I do. I also recognize the importance of updating and especially security updates. It’s just that the default assumption is that the tool and the updating of the tool is considered more important by the tool than the actual reason you have the tool, which is to do stuff.

Back to my first point, I am “forced” to update my computers, iPad and iPhone on a regular basis. Why though does my Canon DSLR not need updating? Can I even update it? Why? Yes it is less complicated than my PC, is that the only reason?

Having said that, my old TV I have had for seven years and never updated it once. My new TV is less than a year old and it has needed updating about three or four times… One of the downsides of have an internet connected TV I guess. Likewise my Blu-Ray player often needs to be updated before I can play a Blu-Ray disc, well it has happened to me twice!

Then there are those updates that actually kill functionality, Sony have been good at this with their firmware updates for the PSP and the PS3. Updating can actually stop you from doing stuff. I remember an upgrade to Microsoft Office that I installed once that killed one of my favourite applications, the original PhotoDraw, that was very annoying.

I guess we are now in an era of updating, a continual process of improvement… But is it always improvement to make things better?

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