Monday, February 26, 2007

Monday Rant: Automatic Upgrade

This weekend, I figured out a way to play music from my laptop computer, and not have it sound crappy because of the laptop's small speakers. A prospecting trip to a pawn shop, a discussion, and a visit to a dollar store ended with me placing my old "ghetto blaster", I've had since the age of 12, on my kitchen table with a RCA/Headphone cable.

Much better. Now I can wash the dishes, cook, and generally be a lazy bastard with tunes. I'd still like a proper stereo system, but I don't have the time or money to invest right now. Anyway, that's not what this rant is about.

This rant is about MicroSoft's policy of insta-upgrading all the free software on my computer at the first available opportunity.

AFTER I got my stereo-computer Frankensteinian hybrid set up, I started Windows Media Player (Version 10). I've had version 10 for a while now, and I'm quite used to it - turn it on, press play, it does what I want it to do. But no, not allowed, by MS decree. A message appears advising me an "update" is available. Not an unusual occurence, and these are generally either "security"-related (whatever that means) or, especially in the case of WMP, provide a bit of code to allow my computer to decipher Uzbekistani Pop Vids or something. Not usually a problem, and the damn thing will just bug me repeatedly (at high volume) until I hit OK, so I tell it to go ahead.

Ooops, MS forgot to tell me that this "update", far from being the advertised 1MB (zero seconds at 28.8, what's up with that?), it's a 45MB download-upgrade-reconfigure-restart monstrosity. Twenty minutes later, I need to restart the system. Fuck off, I just want to listen to music! I left my MP3 player (Samsung) at school!

Oh, joy, a new version of a "media" player - I just use it for music and the rare video that isn't on YouTube, so I don't know why they insist on advertising its abilities to play weirdo combined ultrasonic-infared videos from Mars. It's shiny and black, unlike the old (and apparently no-longer-stylish) windows blue scheme. Vista must be shiny and black, too, and I'm guessing this version of WMP ships with that train-wreck of an OS. Perhaps it's black to hide the dead pixels generated by running such dreck? I can only speculate, futilely, as it slowly loads and then promptly loses my playlists. Much fiddling with margins and settings later, and I no longer have to look at the fucking useless "ratings" for each and every song and each and every album. Why does it provide such a large, obnoxious, and "convenient" link to buy these albums from Amazon? I ALREADY OWN THESE ALBUMS, WHY WOULD I WANT TO BUY THEM AGAIN NOW THAT THEY'RE PLAYING ON MY COMPUTER!?!

Why does MickeyShaft insist on this behaviour? I know that new products are generally pretty buggy, so I'd prefer to wait a few months before upgrading (if I upgrade at all - will MS ship me more RAM for free?). However, the programers / gibbering idiots at Redmond must want big sample sizes of guinea pigs to report the bugs to them, so they stealth this upgrade past my cynical defenses and then demand I submit Error Reports WHEN the damn thing fries my OS.

Did I mention the need to "verify" my copy of Winblows before upgrading? How, exactly, do I benefit from MS checking my system AGAIN for pirate software? They actually advertise this as a FEATURE in their monthly security upgrades! Yes, I get to reveal my harddrive to some snoop in Washington state! Excellent, exactly what I want to make my life easier and better! Seriously, I'm asking - what do I gain from you verifying my windows?

I don't know if it's related, but my first attempt to post the Red Mars Book Club failed because IE 7 (another stealth upgrade from a few months back) "experienced an error and has to close". FUCK. Just as I was lining up the picture, usually the second-last thing I do when posting.

Please, software development people - fuck off with you upgradefest. Newer does not guarantee better, and my computer's age prevents me from using the obscure flashy "features" (bugs) that you so love. Again, FUCK OFF.

My next computer, which I am unlikely to purchase within the next 24 months, is more likely to be a Linux-Box every time shit like this gets pulled.


Carlo said...

Oh, I was planning a more focused version of this rant in the near-future. Here's my biggest gripe:

Notice how, in Windows, once you upgrade any MS software, the system asks you if you want to restart. As I'm always busy, I click NO; I'll restart when it's convenient.

Why does the Miller-hating software KEEP ASKING ME TO RESTART EVERY 3-5 MINUTES!?!?!? WHY!?!?!?!? I told it I didn't want to, but a little box keeps popping up.

Worse than that, the box takes precedence over whatever software is running. No joke, I've DIED in games I was playing because, all of a sudden, I lost control to the box. I've also lost text I've typed because, once again, the dreaded box appeared in mid key-stroke! How is this AT ALL REASONABLE?!?!?! Who's the idiot who thought this up???

TheBrummell said...

I agree completely. That little box gets its very own special rant.

I want MY computer to be subject to MY will, not to what some annonymous code-monkey thought was a good idea.