Sunday, September 15, 2013

Shoddy Comes Fitted As Standard

I have an age old problem with computers.

Or rather with the operating system itself. I admit my experience is limited to Windows and I know there are alternatives out there but nevertheless I am driven to persist with the devil I know.

It's the updates.

The constant updates that make my machine lag just when I need it to be super quick; the peremptory order to restart so that the new updates it has shoehorned into its electronic gizzard without my knowledge can be installed properly; the interminable wait so that Windows can "configure" itself (and then stalls at 37% for hours) before my own machine is released to me once more.

I sometimes wonder who my machine belongs to. I distinctly recall paying a whopping great bill for the actual physical components. I still have the receipt. But it seems that as soon as Windows was installed Microsoft then took ownership.

Kind of like a sitting tenant. Yes, you own the property but Mr MS is living here now and possession is 9 tenths of the law so sod off; if he wants to set fire to the wallpaper he jolly well will and there is nothing you can do about it.

Now I know you can turn off Automatic Updates and make it all manual but, really, we humans are all on the paranoid OCD spectrum so we leave it all Automatic in case we miss the update that plugs the huge security breach that Microsoft didn't realize was there when they first sold the software to us (as being the next best thing to sliced bread) for £100+.

And that is my problem. A new version of Windows is in the offing or at least on the brink of being offered. It will undoubtedly be huge, i.e. you are suddenly going to need a dozen terabytes of memory just to run it and a processor large enough to handle the data from the Hadron Collider. Inevitably we are all going to be forced to go back to the computer shop of our choice and pay out another large sum of cash to buy more machinery that Mr MS will then move into and take possession of.

But I don't want this new version of Windows to be bulked out with new services, new apps and new lights and flashing bells (or whatever). I just want it to be like the one I have now but finished.

Finished. Perfect. Not broken. Not with bits missing. Not with any security issues. In short, without any need whatsoever to have to continually update itself.

I mean, if I buy a car I don't expect to wake up one morning 2 months later to find a team of mechanics on my drive changing the tyres.

"Sorry, gov, you can't use the car for the next 3 hours until we swap the tyres over. Yeah, they suddenly decided that the original square tyres that were fitted when you first bought the model aren't conducive to high speed travel so now we're upgrading them all with these round ones."

"But I need to get my wife to hospital this morning - it's an emergency!"

"Sorry. But you chose to have automatic updates and once the process has started we can't stop until it's finished - otherwise the car won't be configured properly."

Ridiculous!

Surely there is an operating system out there somewhere that gets it right first time?

Otherwise, the simple fact is, in thousands of years of human history we haven't actually improved upon the abacus...

26 comments:

Rol said...

Watch all the apple-geeks come shrieking that you should get a Mac and all your problems would be solved. But to anyone who starts that with me whenever I whinge about my own PC, I have a one word reply: iTunes. If your apple works as well as iTunes, I'd rather surf the web on an ironing board.

Just saying.

Steve said...

Rol: yup, that's what I've always been lead to believe too. The choice between a PC and a Mac is like choosing between Stalin and Lenin.

Colin A said...

Steve you have said all I felt one day last week when I was tired and needed to go to bed. I had to use the PC for a last minute school job and then, when I shut it down, it started to install 8 upgrades and I had to leave it on - only to rise in the wee small hours and turn it off when it had done (I'm such a miser with the electricity you see). There was no 'would you like to install these now or later?' it just went ahead and did it.

Steve said...

Colin: yep, I've been caught out like that countless times too. You have no option once the PC enters shutdown mode... any upgrades are automatically installed and you are completely at the mercy of the process.

Marginalia said...

Get a Mac....or change your operating system to Windows 3.1 and re-install all that lovely old software that you found was made redundant by Windows 95.

Alternatively you could clean out your PC give it a good wash and brush up and stop downloading all those so tempting from software.

Steve said...

Marginalia: funnily enough an old stand-alone PC at work runs Windows 95. Never been updated or upgraded and it works absolutely pigging fine.

Gorilla Bananas said...

I think it's possible to instruct your PC to install updates at 3am in the morning. But I'm sure you'd be tempted to visit it in your pyjamas, like Wee Willie Winkie, which might scare the house pets.

Marginalia said...

It wouldn't need to. No internet connection so no clutter/viruses etc. Ah Compuserve why did you leave me.

Steve said...

Gorilla Bananas: complete with candlestick... you know me so well.

Marginalia: I still have yearnings for my old ZX81...

the fly in the web said...

Bring back the Sinclair whatever it was!


Just try shutting down in a hurry as the first thunderbolt sizzles past the window without prior warning and thre damn fool screen says it's downloading ten updates.

On an earlier computer when
I had pulled the plug in just such emergencies when I switched on again a mournful message would inform me that I had carried out an unauthorised act...

Steve said...

The fly in the web: oh God... the old "you don't have permission to do this" message! Even more proof that our machines don't belong to us. They are setting the rules for us. The take-over has already occurred; we just haven't had the wit to object.

Nota Bene said...

Ah yes, I know the feeling. Last week my work computer restarted eight times in one day with various updates....and I 'upgraded' my home laptop to windows 8, which by any measure is pants.

Steve said...

Nota Bene: from what I've heard an actual pair of pants makes for a much better OS all round.

Alex Walsh said...

It does my nut on PC. The endless Windows updates that I somehow always forget to turn off auto install for. The daily Adobe Reader updates that threaten the very integrity of the universe if I don't install immediately.

Consoles are as bad: the PS3 game I've spent the most time on is system update. We've got a 100meg cable connection but Sony seems to host the update files on a dial up server somewhere in Romania. Yesterday I fired up the Wii U to review Wonderful 101 and it took about 15 minutes to run a system update. I'd lost the will to live by that point.

And it's getting as bad on Android now. I've got apps set to auto update without needing my permission but it seems like every time I try and go into certain apps, I'm greeted with a welcome screen like I've never used the bloody thing before.

Steve said...

Alex: what worries me is that we are becoming conditioned to accept this upgrade culture as the norm; that we expect software and hardware vendors not only to not get it right first time but never to get it quite right.

Being Me said...

You ARE wee Willy Winkie with his nightgown and candlestick!!! GB was spot on there.

Anyway, suffice to say, Rol was right: GET A MAC (ok ok I know that's not what he said but he was the first to mention the "dreaded A-word").

I've used Macs for nigh on twenty years now - helps to have a geek permanently installed in the household, possibly - and have been blissfully update-virus-hacked-free that entire time. I don't know what people have against them. It's not like going from frying pan into the fire if you go from PC to Mac.... I daresay too many who do make the move are determined to prove their point so go looking for the things that are wrong!

Seriously, if you want an intuitive OS that makes sense and leaves you the (bleep) alone to actually use your machine.... the solution is obvious. Just, unfortunately, rather pricey. But aren't they all? (Do you want something that actually works or something cheap that gives you grief, I guess it comes down to)

Steve said...

Being Me: but I'm frit of the MAC! They scare me with their perfect ergonomic design and intuitive system... And I can't of get the idea MACs are for graphics whereas PCs are for words, hence why I have a PC...

Being Me said...

Are you saying I'm not wordy, man?! You did read my epic ms didn't you? Not to mention my blog. I've got Word, Excel.. the usual. But why a PC when you can have a Mac and get the best of both functions? ;-) Don't be afrit. They're really very gentle. Come to the daaaark siiiiiide, Steeeeeve.....

(and wtf is with the word veri on this comment: ifishmen???)

Steve said...

Being Me: you are, of course, right and I realized that within minutes of posting above the reply but by then I was on my way to work and no way to take it back, darn unthinking fool that I am. You are right and I am so not worthy. Regarding MACs it is not just me - my entire house is a PC house: PC for me, PC for the wife, PC for the kids and a work laptop (also PC) and all networked. Could a MAC be introduced smoothly into the melee?

Trish Burgess said...

My updates always happen when I shut down in the evening. I don't think I did anything special to make this happen but my computer never does what yours does and it's pretty old.
Of course, now I've said that, I'll have cursed the bloomin' thing!

Steve said...

Trish: computers are very susceptible to bad ju-ju...!

The Poet Laura-eate said...

And most updates are NOT even things you WANT, but CRAP to slow your computer down and spy on your movements.

Aaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrggggggghhhh!

Let's have a petition against upgrades, particularly the unsolicited yet enforced variety.

Suburbia said...

Love it! I recognise every word! Bloody technology!

Steve said...

Suburbia: just glad technology allowed you to leave a comment!

Fran said...

You're right. Such a sense of loss of control of something you're meant to own. I never had this problem with my Remington typewriter. I changed the ribbon all by myself with no interference.

Steve said...

Fran: imagine if a new ribbon meant you had to upgrade the mechanics of the entire machine...! Typewriter's would never have caught on!