Your new update is ready to install!

June 30, 2017 | 07:00
Updates used to be something to look forward to but nowadays all the systems we use seem to be plagued by the continual need to install the latest update. It’s a function of increasing system sophistication, the family car is now a multi-microcontroller environment with wheels, software is everywhere and the consequences are…  updates.

In the early days updates were always something to look forward to; it meant that some annoying bug had been ironed out, a new feature had been added or a security vulnerability had been plugged, all for free. Nowadays they are greeted with a certain degree of annoyance. It’s not only your family runabout that needs to touch base regularly to have the latest firmware installed. Windows OS is probably the most widespread and well known example but Apple and Google are not much better. Google offer no updates at all for older Android systems but that isn’t really a helpful way to address the problem.

These examples are just the tip of the iceberg: Update of my network settings several times a year, almost every time I turn on the TV now it tells me new channels have been discovered and even my SLR camera needs a system update so that it can talk to the lens. There are far more microcontrollers in existence than there are people walking the earth. We are surrounded; I'm surprised my toilet seat still manages to function perfectly without a single update. Wherever there’s a chip, software and a network link the need for updates will be ever present. Like a petulant child they cry out for the latest patches "Updates, gimme an update!”.

Only today my three fixed-line telephones all required an update, it got me thinking just how much of my life has been squandered waiting for new updates to install. Taking into account all the devices I currently own or use I reckon I must see more than 100 updates per year. This may not be truly representative but I am after all an electronics engineer and to make sure all systems are always current, I never refuse an update. How do you cope? Has your relationship to updates changed from joy to frustration?

One thing is certain: with the advent of wearables, IoT, always on… etc, the situation will only get worse. Maybe it’s time for us to take a stand and introduce an update-free day?

Is it just me? Make use of the comments section and let me know what you think!
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