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.

Annual library software CD

For several years now, I’ve been making up a new updated batch of Library Software CD-ROMs each fall.

We have a number of students who either are not able to get, or cannot presently afford, the cable or DSL internet connections for broadband.  They have to put up with good ol’ standard telephone lines and modems, and sometimes are stuck with ISPs (Internet Service Providers) who don’t realize how much downloading is required these days, just to keep current.

Students with Windows XP, for example, who are told they have to have Service Pack 1 (128+ MB) or 2 (272+ MB), or IE7 (15+ MB), or whatever, and find they are simply not allowed to remain online long enough to download them, are pretty much out of luck.

Along with that, it’s amazing how many sites that download software want to “examine” your computer and offer you only what that computer needs — so you often can’t get what you might need for another computer by going to a friend or to a computer on campus.  So much for downloading elsewhere.

So, I’ve tried to assemble the most essential software that can reasonably be handled through an academic year…. that still fits on a CD-R (since some older PCs don’t like CD-RWs).

This time around, I’ve got Firefox 2 (since 3 hasn’t been tested with our Blackboard version yet, although it seems fine with Library services), an alternate PDF viewer (since Adobe Acrobat Reader has grown too large to fit the CD, plus it uses a lot of memory), IE7 (which may or may not actually install), Java, and the Windows XP Service Pack 1 and 2 upgrades (which may or may not actually install).

The SP3 for XP takes up too much room, and it isn’t essential for our purposes, so I’ve left it off.  Maybe in the future I’ll have to go to multiple discs.  And then there’s the SP1 for Vista…. no, don’t go there, that’s definitely more space than I have on the CD.

For a bonus, I threw in OxygenOffice Suite, which is the enhanced version of OpenOffice, and that’s a whopping 261+ MB in itself.  But, the enhanced version is able to handle the 2007 XML (suffix ending in “x”) formats, plus “a rich clip art gallery to variety of standard document templates (CV, greeting cards, etc.), plus over 90 text fonts, OOOWikipedia (integrated Wikipedia Search Tools), ability to run Visual Basic for Applications from Calc (the OpenOffice alternative to “Excel”), ability to import Office Open XML (Microsoft Office 2007 — all the docx and pptx and such files), and option to export (save as) documents to PDF, LaTex and MediWiki. To top it all off, OOOP has been able to integrate importing of Works and WordPerfect documents.”  Hey, something to handle MS Works at last!  And my WordPerfect stuff too.

I posted the instructions for it, but the printed instructions just cover copying the contents to your own computer and then bringing up the HTML web page.  That way, I was able to put links for downloading the software and more besides on the web page.

I can’t guarantee the Microsoft stuff will install, given the updates and everything that MS insists on doing along with it, but at least the big chunks of the files themselves are available.