Updating Everything…

Updating Everything… after the break…

Updating Everything…

What is the extent of being “spoiled”? I don’t have the challenges of “third-world problems”: Repressive governments breaking into homes and dragging people out just because the government doesn’t like you; Landmines; The illnesses associated with unsafe water, unsafe food, unsafe natural environments; Deep cultural divisions that have deep reservations about one another; Rampant inflation; Rampant unemployment…

Instead, I am cherished to live in the opulence of the first-world: Problems occur when the power goes out… Briefly; Disappointment happens when your favorite sports team loses; Office politics is the most common irritant in the day, or perhaps to busy traffic getting into work (either through private car or public transit); Frustration grows when the cable or satellite television link becomes unavailable…

I can remember when the Internet was a darkened forest of individual websites. Search engines were inefficient; Web Rings (remember those?) were your best bet in finding websites of similar interests. Free computer programs were few and far between.

There are some things that I liked about the Early Internet Era – The lack of quality non-commercial software was not one of them.

Today, it is approaching the exact opposite – The plethora of quality non-commercial software that is available is astounding. I live in the future of the Internet that I had hoped to see one day… Today. Right now. Office productivity software? Check. Music player? Check. Art program? Yup. 3d Modeling program? Yup. Web Browser? Old hat. Games? Pick your poison. Game-creation software? All types. Font creation software? That, too. Operating systems? Obviously.

All of these choices, though, has had an unintended consequence: Periodic upgrading of everything. Some programs, like web browsers and anti-virus software, simply update automatically. A lot of people know about “Patch Tuesday” (Microsoft’s typical day of releasing software upgrades for their operating system).

It’s funny how the act of upgrading a myriad of programs becomes both frustrating and amusing at the same time. I attempt to keep the programs on my computer updated reasonably well: Not bleeding-edge but by no means archaic. I’m not running an antique museum inside of my computer but rarely is it a state-of-the-art showroom, either. I don’t need the latest or greatest and, quite honestly, I don’t think that I would be that much more productive with it, either. The computer world has done a good job in scaring us into “upgrading or the bad hackers will get you” mentality.

It’s also funny how now I simply expect programs to have updates at all. A lot of these programs are “Free As In Beer,” as the saying goes. No one is directly profiting from working directly on them. It’s not a “job” in the classical sense of the word: Someone hires you, you sit down at a desk, work on something and someone hands you a weekly (or bi-weekly) check for your efforts.

In some alternate universe, the Internet doesn’t exist. Or it exists but it is still at that crippled, early stage where no one is sure where anything is. Or it exists but is so heavily watered down and controlled as to be effectively useless.

We get to live in a world where, quite frankly, the paid software model is effectively dead for the proverbial 99% of the population. Kids will always want their AAA-level computer games. Professional graphic artists will always demand the highest-end commercial art programs. Computer animation, sound design, web design… All of the high-end, “paycheck at the end of the week” professionals will still have their commercial software needs and rightly so.

Yet not only does the rest of us make do with programs that are free but a lot of that software is regularly updated, too. How neat is that when the biggest problem you have concerning computer software is keeping up with the updates?

And to think that we get to live in these times for the rest of our lives…


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