Software Updates on Windows Need Fixing

Attention Adobe: when I start using one of your products, that is never the time that I want to start updating it. Do not have the “update me now please!” window pop up 3 seconds after opening a PDF.

Can’t you see that I’m trying to read?!

Honestly, though, this isn’t really Abode’s fault. The way that software updates are handled in Windows is badly broken. Some software tries to update while you’re using it, some tries to install applets in the system tray to download updates, and some won’t even check to see if there are new versions at all.

And when you do choose to update the software, if you’re lucky, the program will update itself and restart. If you’re not, you’ll have to go to a website, find the executable file, wait for it to download, and run it. If the developers are particularly lazy, you’ll might even have to restart your computer.

I shouldn’t have to deal with this. Microsoft, you need to take a page out of Linux’s playbook and make an official Application Update Manager a part of Windows. We don’t need a balkanized set of update managers from every software manufacturer; we need a simple, unified system for automatically downloading updates.

Just open the current Windows Update system to developers. Make it really easy for them to add their own programs to the update list. Then users could keep all their software up-to-date without having to touch it. You can prevent users from having to restart their computers over and over again by doing the installations all at once.

And if you’re smart about it, you can make it so that users only have to download the parts of the software that have changed since the last update, rather than every change made since the product was released to the public. (I’m looking at you EA Games.)

Adding this feature to Windows would finally make Vista worth the upgrade price.

To: Microsoft Re: Laptop Power Settings

OK, seriously guys. Why on earth would you want a laptop to hibernate by default when you close the screen?

Am I the only one who wants my computer to run while the screen is closed? If I’m running a spyware/virus scan, or even just trying to get to the USB port on the back of my machine, I don’t want the computer to take a nap.

Fortunately, it’s easy to correct this annoying behavior. Just go to the Power Options in the Control Panel, go to the Advanced tab, and change the drop down under “When I close the lid of my portable computer” to “Do Nothing.”

Please, Microsoft, Don’t Do This!

According to Microsoft insider Robert Scoble, users will not be able to change or mute the startup sound in Windows Vista.

Why on earth would you do that? Well, here’s the argument from Microsoft:

1. A spiritual side of the branding experience. A short, brief, positive confirmation that your machine is now concious and ready to react. You can turn on your Vista machine, go eat some cereal, while your machine is cold booting and then this gentle sound will come out telling you that you can log in. You won’t need to wait for your machine to startup, he says.

Folks, I do not care about your “branding experience.” I customize just about everything in my system using programs like WIndowBlinds. Everything else you mentioned can be accomplished with a user-defined start-up sound.

Also, is the boot time really slow enough that I can finish a bowl of cereal while Vista is starting up? Make it boot faster!

2. Volume control in a Windows machine is a wild west. A mess. The startup sound is designed to help you calibrate or fix something that got out of wack when you startup your machine. Let’s say you muted your machine, and you don’t hear your startup sound, you know you aren’t ready to listen to stuff. The Xbox has a hard-wired startup sound. There is one way to mute it: to turn down the speakers that are connected to your Xbox. Same will be true for Windows Vista.

That’s stupid. There are plenty of times that I don’t want my computer making noises–the library, for example–and Vista shouldn’t be designed to work against me like that. If volume control is that much of a mess, you’d better fix it, fast, rather than forcing me to hear things that I don’t want to hear.

Frankly, what’s wrong with the old system? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

(BTW: This annoying behavior has been a part of the Mac OS for years already. Is this Microsoft copying a bad idea from Apple?)

Thanks to Brainwagon for the link.

Firefox Plugin Request

Is there a plugin out there that will let me right-click on a picture I find out in the internet and upload it to my FTP server in just one click?

It would be very useful for bloggers: They could easily get pictures on their blogs without hotlinking them or going through the hassle of downloading the picture to the desktop and sending it back up to their FTP server. It’s the kind of process that should have been automated a long time ago.