Before you drink, do you want to update how the lid opens?


Time for a useless rant now. Some first-world problem rant that serves no purpose but to give bored, self-righteous people an occasion to say “There are people who actually suffer in this world!” That’s their contribution to changing the world…

One morning, I was ready to go to the gym when I thought not to put my computer in sleep mode as I usually do, rather to use that time to do a thorough malware scan. I open the software expecting the usual “You do not have the latest database (since the last time you’ve used it…two days ago), do you want to update?”. I usually click ‘Yes’ and it takes a couple of second before I can just click on ‘Scan’ and go my way.

However, that day it was not just the database that was not up to date but the whole software and there I was clicking, clicking, clicking, faking a read, clicking, waiting, clicking, clicking and clicking and wasting my time before it eventually updated itself. And after that, I still had to update the database and as I clicked on ‘Scan’, Windows reminded me that Abode also had an update waiting…as did Java. For the second time this month.

Thank God, it has not asked me to restart the whole computer!

Why can’t we just do simply something on a computer today without having to update everything before we can use it?!

Except for Chrome, everything I want to use after a couple of days is asking me if I want to update it and I found myself having to click on a million or so “ok” and “next” buttons and arrows, agreeing to a thousands of endless conditions no one ever reads before having to restart my computer twelve times for the installation to be properly finished. When it’s actually asking me to restart and not just doing it automatically, forcing me to just do something else altogether. Yes, I am talking about you Steam and Origin!

How many times during my lessons at work I have to do on PowerPoint, and therefore use a laptop, did Windows suddenly pop up to tell me that it had, for “my greatest pleasure and comfort”, downloaded a couple of extremely important updates and the computer would restart in 4 minutes? Not being the administrator of the school’s computers, I have no word to say on when it will restart so it does in the middle of my Spanish lesson, just for the whole baffled class to see the screen filled with “1 update out of 35”…What?! Go explain that to the parents…

We tend to say that it’s a Windows thing and frankly the latest development on Windows 10 when users will not have any control on when and how the updates will happen is not helping them. But it’s not just Windows, it’s Abode, Java, Oracle, Antimalware, Avast, CCleaner, Spybot, Real Player, VLC player, Steam, Origin, Minecraft, Firefox…And it gets even worse when I consider every single of I-something device: I-phone, I-pod, I-tunes, I-pad…

Why all these updates?

The companies will tell us it is for our own good, safety and security. Which is why Windows 10 is about to disable update control from the users so we have no say because it has realised we have become a bit more clever (and fed up) as well as less sheepish in our acceptance of all these updates and Microsoft finds it frankly childish of us, I guess. They wanted to get rid of the Nanny State just so they could rise Nanny Ltd.

There are different opinions though. An article in the Guardian pointed out at our needs. We are somehow asking for these updated without being fully aware of it. The argument is that we have become so used to them that if they don’t happen, we forget the product and/or we tend to think the company is not caring for us. If updates are not here to keep us thinking that they are constantly working on improving, we will eventually lose faith in the companies’ interest in us and our comfort.

All well and good but what about Chrome? I use Chrome everyday and do not have to constantly stop or postpone everything because there is an update. I see things changing: display, options and we have sometimes a little pop up that warns us something is new but I don’t feel forced to do it and that’s why I like Chrome. It doesn’t stop me from using it, from being able to browse the Internet when I need to.

My issue with the updates nowadays is the constant botched job they are making because products keep coming and it means updating the new as well as everything older than six months. I know a fair amount about computers and how to tend to them so they last and because I keep a laptop running well for more than five years, I am facing with more and more problems the more updates come than the other way around.

If I consider Windows, I have two computers and the one I use everyday – not for work – is a Samsung I bought in 2010 with Windows 7. Time and again, updates were downloaded and I installed them to find out they impeded on my computer’s performance and made things more difficult: games I paid for were not working anymore, there were many issues with compatibility with my 2010 Office Suite…And I had to spend hours fixing the new problems.

Friends with Windows 8 or even my 2013 Lenovo “work” computer with Windows 8.1 are not encountering any issues with these updates (that always come on the exact same day) but my “old” computer with Windows 7 always is. So I have eventually resorted to checking and selecting each update with Microsoft technicians on the phone so I am sure it is actually necessary and not just another fancy option I was perfectly happy without and will screw everything up before it was quickly and badly devised.

But when it comes to fancy crap I could easily live without, Apple takes the cake. My last update misery was with my I-phone where I was stupid enough not to follow my own decision to not update it anymore and gave in into the whole “This is for your own good and comfort”.

Here I am plugging my phone on my computer just to change a couple of playlists. It’s 6pm and I think I have time for a quick update with I-Tunes (which I had to update first too). I mean, it cannot possibly take four hours and suddenly here I am clicking that million buttons and screens just to see my phone go dark for about an hour before I get a message on I-tunes telling me it has failed and I have to restart the phone.

I then spend two hours on the landline with four Apple technicians restarting, resetting my phone then having to uninstall and reinstall I-Tunes like after every single “for my own good” update. The technicians are baffled by the scale of the mess a single update has created. Why wouldn’t they? They have been trained to preach and pray to the “It’s for your own good.”

It’s now 11pm and I am still facing with having to reload my entire 12,000-song library and redo my 50-odd playlists as well reinstall all the apps on my phone and while I am doing this, I discover that the one and only one thing that has changed on my phone is that I now have Time Lapse…which I cannot use because I have an I-phone 4S and therefore only 5Gb of memory for everything. So I cannot afford make a video longer than 10 seconds anyway, except if I removed my entire music library to make space for some pointless crap I did not even ask for in the first place.

The last man on the phone is of good advice, of course: I should use the Cloud, he says. Very useful, I replied when you only have 250 Mb of free Internet every month to have to virtually, constantly download everything you do. Also I don’t live in Manhattan or the City but in a town in the middle of the Beauce where Internet is scarce at the best of time. When I am not working, I am in my car moving so the Internet is anything but reliable and when I am at home with my own Internet where I could use the Cloud, I needn’t have it because I do have two laptops with everything on it and on hard drives. Which are completely inaccessible to Apple, unlike the Cloud.

He is not giving up and tells me to buy a better phone or even an I-pad. I ask him if he’s ready to give me the money. Apple is not exactly the cheapest brand and I am not a man to spend more than €80/100 on a phone! As for the I-pad, how would I carry something that big and heavy? Also, the fact is that I love the I-phone 4S before it is, for me, as good as a phone can be: the size, the shape, the use, the weight, the minimalism. I love everything about it but the real question is there a reason why I feel punished for sticking to it everytime there is an update?

Bottom line is, my overall impression of updates has grown into believing that the engineers are working brilliantly on making sure everything is fine for all devices and softwares no older than six months whereas the rest is botched work. I don’t want to give in into my instinct and say it’s on purpose to make people fed up and push them to buy the newest product because that would be giving it into conspiracies and they tend to be the work of less educated minds seeking to overcome their lack of understanding with insanity. But the case is growing stronger. Especially after that man telling me everything would be okay if I actually bought the latest I-phone…for what is two month worth of rent!

The truth is: that new I-phone will be new and trouble-free until the next new I-phone that will come out probably in two or three months along with the usual litany of . updates and their “unfortunate” compatibility issues.


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