Monday, March 28

Save us from auto-updating software

Because my Apple Mac is so smart, so much of the time, when on occasion it wants to do something dumb, it's much more frustrating than it would be on a dumber machine.

For instance, I know that in a Windoze environment, the auto software update facility would forever be bugging me to download and install all sorts of crud, 90% of which would be designed to address problems I would never experience on my own Windoze config. I expect Microsoft's auto updater to be dumb, and to not really know anything about my config, so that I am forced to download crap to patch drivers video cards I don't own, for peripherals I don't need, and for software I don't use.

I expect a Microsoft auto updater to keep downloading great wads of pointless, inefficient, poorly-written cruft once a week until eventually my hard disk is too full of software updates to have any room left for my personal files. Being from Microsoft, if I delete a software update that doesn't relate to my machine, the next time the auto updater runs, I expect it to note the absent installer and download it again, even though the patch the installer adds was already applied and is still in place.

As a Microsoft product, if I uncheck a particular item in my latest payload of recommended dreck, I expect that next time the updater runs, it will forget I ever unchecked it, and recommend it for download again. And again. And again. Until I download and install it, dammit, and relinquish all free will and commonsense. For that is the price of working with the world's most common operating system.

So when all this happens to me on my Apple Mac, in OS X, I'm initially disappointed, maybe even blaming myself, thinking I've missed something that can make it all behave itself, or that Apple's just having a bad month and the auto updater will sort itself out in a week or two.

But no, this crap has been going on now since I first started running OS X, and it's haunting me still. Today the Software Update application wants me to download and install a 30Mb update to the iPod Photo software, bringing it to version 1.1, adding slideshow transitions and support for the new iPod Camera Connector for use with the iPod Photo. Which would be super-fabbo if maybe I owned an iPod Photo! Otherwise it's 30Mb (i dunno, but maybe 50Mb once unpacked and installed) of cruft I don't want to pay my ISP to download, that I don't want slowing down my computer, and that I could use to store a few more albums of music for the non-photo iPod I do own, fer chrissakes!

Come on Apple, make the Software Update application smart enough to sense what version of iPod is commonly connected to the Mac it's running on, not to mention the printers, cameras and other peripheral devices. And if a customer unticks something in the recommended downloads list, be smart enough to remember that choice and assume the customer knew what they were doing. This would not be rocket science... it would not even be diesel maintenance.

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