Imagine this scenario. You’ve bought a house, moved all your goods and chattels in and have even managed a bit of DIY and decorating. It is finally starting to feel like home and you have that comfortable feeling of security and stability. Then one day, you come home from work to find that someone has painted your front door bright fuchsia and have replaced your perfectly manicured lawn for grey, hard concrete. On entering your house, you find that the hallway, kitchen and living-room have been re-decorated and someone has chosen a jungle theme with leopard print and zebra stripe everywhere!
After investigating, you find out that the company who originally built the house have come in and “updated” your home, as apparently, whilst you own the bricks and mortar, they still have rights over the decor and features. On further investigation, you find that this all part of the small print of your title deeds and they have the right to “improve” your home as when they feel is necessary or appropriate. You would be livid! Or at least I hope you would be livid. But replace the words house for computer and title deeds for license agreement and this is exactly what happens to all of us who own a computer, tablet, smart phone, or indeed, any device that requires software in order to for it to operate. In the good-old-days, you would buy your hardware, which would come with the necessary software preloaded, primarily the operating system and it would remain in this state until such time as the software company came up with a new version. But, at some point, in order to steal a march on would be competitors, they would release new versions ahead of all the bugs being fixed. The rationale being that they could release a “fix” in the form of a software patch at a later date as the bugs were fairly minor and would only affect a small number of people. This was back in the days of 56k dial-up when it would take longer to download a movie than it would to actually make and shoot the damn thing. With the advent of broadband, this all changed, suddenly patches could be downloaded in less than an hour in most cases and believe me, that was quick in those days.
The internet age has led us into a whole new era of half-arsed software releases and most people have their devices updated without even realising. Hardly a day goes by without being asked to update a tablet or smart-phone. I can receive notifications to update up to two dozen applications and a couple of days later I have to update another two dozen. This in itself wouldn’t be so bad, but how many times have we applied an update only to the detriment to the operating of the device itself. My daughter recently had an automatic update to her laptop’s operating system which led to her having no internet connection at all. My daughter was told by the retailer that it was due to a faulty wireless adapter, but I knew this wasn’t the case. After I fixed the bug and re-installed the operating system, the aforementioned laptop was back up and working. I recently updated the operating system on my phone only to find that I had lost almost 2,000 contacts, most of which were work related. These are just two examples of many and they are not just isolated incidences as any Google search (other internet search engines are available) will reveal a raft of people all experiencing the same problem.
My answer? I don’t really have one as the software developers have us by the short and curlies. Most of us rely on our devices to one degree or another and the last thing that we want is to ignore these updates, only to find that they don’t work a few months down the line because the software is too old and out of date. Most of us have a working knowledge of the IT that we use, but in the case of fixing bugs, this generally doesn’t stretch beyond the good old reboot, or “have you tried turning it off and then back on again!!” Aaaaarghhhhhh!!! But there is more we can do than you would think. Get on the forums that said software companies operate and start demanding better software, or at the very least working updates. Most people would be prepared to wait a little longer for an update if they were confident that it would actually work. Perhaps we should all threaten to start charging “rent” for housing their software on our devices – not quite sure how that would pan out, but it would be interesting if there were enough people to implement it.
So……rage against the machine? Most definitely! Or at the very least, rage against the software update!