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Friday night was the semi-final for Aussie Rules Football. A bunch of guys got together at a local pub to watch it streaming from a laptop -- only the laptop belonging to the guy who had the AFL account needed to install a few service packs before booting up. We missed the first nine minutes of the game while Microsoft hijacked his computer to update some registry keys.
And yesterday I went to use my phone and found a screen saying that my provider was upgrading the operating system on my phone. They basically, without asking me, took my phone away from me for about five minutes and I had to wait until they were done until I could call my friend I was meeting downtown.
Seems like every time I turn around some program or device own is upgrading itself. I'll sit down with a client to review a project, fire up Firefox and have to wait "a few moments while Firefox installs updates."
If the little alert bubbles that keep taking focus away from whatever I'm working on aren't bad enough, it seems like every other time I start up my computer I get notices from Adobe to upgrade Flash or Acrobat. Apple does the same thing for Quicktime and iTunes -- two programs I have installed but never actually use.
The time I lose waiting for stuff to update is one thing, but it's even worse when I lose time because everything changed when the updates are done. I'm not saying that the changes are even that noticeable -- although Opera keeps reverting (perverting?) to the newer keyboard shortcuts and I have to reset my preferences back to the old settings.
Then the performance of my computer or device suddenly takes a hit because some programmer sent out an update that uses more resources than before. I can't leave Chrome running at night because the next morning it's eaten up all my system resources. And it's been getting steadily worse as it quietly evolves without my permission.
It's that "permission" thing that seems to have gone away. Programs don't ask anymore, they just install updates. I own a lot of old computers that I don't need to do much with -- if I accept every upgrade, my computer will eventually stop working.
My Windows XP box runs fine with 1GB of RAM -- a Windows 7 box really needs 2GB. This is true of a lot of the programs I run; I really can't install the latest and greatest on the early and below average computer. I know my computers, I've been using them long enough that I know how hard I can push them, kind of like driving an old car.
Letting some programmer randomly take control would be like having the Stig from Top Gear get behind the wheel of my old AMC Gremlin -- he's going to push it hard, burn out the engine or maybe roll it and then I won't have a car at all.
Unfortunately, because that programmer thinks he IS the Stig, he feels he knows better than I do, and figures if my car can't take it, then I shouldn't be on the race track, even if all I want to do is putter down a dirt track.