There are many contradictions in our high-tech world. Computers should make life simpler and allow us to do more with our time, but in fact the complexity of the PC can be a huge time suck. Technology hasn’t made the small or home office any less cluttered; in fact we have more devices taking up space and even though we don’t need to print for the most part, the majority of offices are filled with paper. And while there are new means of communication that allow workers to telecommute it only further blurs the line between work life and home life.
Perhaps the biggest contradiction that I’ve experienced is the need for upgrades, patches and other updates. I try to be methodical about installing security patches, software updates and other upgrades on a regular basis and this is something every home and small business user should also do on a regular basis.
Additionally, I run anti-virus and other maintenance applications during normal downtime to keep the computer running smoothly. Yet despite all these efforts, I still get notices for other updates with disturbing regularity. These should be welcome because these are improving my performance, fixing bugs and providing new options to my existing software, but in truth these are as unwelcome as a winter cold. The reason is that software engineers clearly don’t understand how small or home office users—or even major corporations—work. Nothing bothers me more than when I’m in the middle of writing an article (or doing something resembling work) when I suddenly get a pop-up window advising me to install an upgrade.
Often times this installation requires that I stop everything I’m doing. “Close all open windows and begin the installation” is a message that makes my blood boil. So I must ask why the software engineer who created this program automatically assumes that the installation is so much more important than anything else I’m doing!
Worse still is the fact that many of these applications further require the system to be restarted. Again, these upgrades are worthwhile, but I wish we could be given the option of restarting the computer at a later time or just hold on until the end of the day. Many times there isn’t even an option to say “restart later,” and instead you’re either left having to actually restart or have to work with a little pop up window demanding the restart until you take the time to do so.
Fortunately, some products such as Mozilla’s Firefox will automatically install the updates that will become active when the program is restarted. So if you’re in the middle of reading an exciting blog post you don’t have to stop just because Firefox demands it. More programs should follow this process of letting you restart the application when it is more convenient for you.
While I’ve tried to search for task schedulers I’ve never found a solution that will install updates at the point you try to shut down. Instead I must stick Post-It notes around my desk saying things like, “Install Widget,” “Update Adobe,” etc. Why hasn’t someone created a task scheduler applet that automatically updates various software applications at the end of each day? This seems like it would be simple enough to create.
If that’s too much to ask, couldn’t the engineers at least add an option that allows an “update at shutdown.” The application could download and install any updates while I’m shutting down my PC. This would increase my productivity, make sure the patches are installed and have my computer ready for the next biz day without any lost time.
So if any software engineers are reading, let’s talk. I think we could be onto something here!