Windows Updates gripe

Rant mode = ON.

So ZDNet has a post saying we should not disable automatic updates.

At least they admit that vendors make it problematic.

Here’s what I’m talking about: last week I had to write a check to a plumber and print it on my computer, since that is how I handle that.

What would I have done, if at that moment, Windows 10 had decided it needed a half hour or so to do updates, like it or not? It wouldn’t be the first time that I booted up and found the system was going to stall me while it did something like that. Just a few days later, it did exactly that – fortunately, I wasn’t in a rush then. But still…

The post says “Ideally – and I know I’m asking a lot here – patches shouldn’t require a reboot, or reboots should only be done when absolutely necessary. And ideally, if a reboot is required the operating system should return to the state it was prior to the reboot, complete with whatever apps and documents that were open.” That’s far too weak a requirement!

THAT’S what bugs me right now — I have no control over this when it requires a reboot. That’s obstructive as well as irritating.

Now, I am pretty good about getting updates. And the ones which don’t require a reboot install themselves. But this business of forcing a delay while working up to it is a pain in the fundament!

Until Microsoft and other vendors can find a way to avoid that, they are going to have people looking for ways to disable updates in order to avoid the interruption.

Mind you, I am okay with shutting down and THEN having the computer delay while it works on updating; I can walk away and let it do that and then shut down.

But this tactic of forcing you to wait during bootup is not just a pain, it can actually delay critical work. What if I’m trying to write a check for a service person standing there? (“Just wait a fifteen minutes for the update to complete, and I can charge you another $89 labor on top of the existing bill.”) What if I’m trying to lock the library doors with an app since it’s a snow day, or some other emergency, and the doors will pop open before the update is finished tying up my computer? Come up with your own rush matters, and it’s easy to see how this system is not functional.

Updates will be more popular when they become less obstructive.

Rant mode = OFF.

DVD-R formats and how we can play them

We have faculty who, quite reasonably, don’t see why they cannot play DVDs in the DVD drives of their computers.  Easy to explain, not easy for logical people to understand: they have the hardware but they don’t have the software for it.

Oh, sure, we have Windows Media Player included in Windows….

However, Windows Media Player (WMP) does not come with a decoder, so it cannot play DVDs.  Microsoft will tell you this.  They link to vendors who will sell you a decoder program, of course.

Some of the freeware I’ve used in the past require you to dig into the DVD and select a specific file to play.  That may or may not start where you want, and it’s not what most users want.  Or, you can go find a codec for free that will enable WMP to handle DVDs, and use a little program to tell WMP where you put the codec file.  All techy-type stuff most people don’t want to mess with, and who can blame them?

So, I went searching again, since we’re getting a lot of DVD-R format discs from DVD vendors (example: Films for the Humanities), and I wanted something simple for faculty to use, and for our IT staff to install quickly.  And frankly, I’m a little nervous about things like iTunes and Quicktime as malware attack vectors.

I found one called MPlayer which sends you to SourceForge to download it with a GUI front end called SMPlayer, which only requires you to specify the DVD drive to use — and it has a button to let it go test for the proper drive itself.

So far, it’s the simplest freeware answer (I don’t do payware answers because I’m not paid to buy software — and that is not a solicitation).

Any other extremely simple (as in “for people who don’t understand computers”) software that is suggested, I am open to take a look.