Travis Smith: my resume, bio and photos back to the main blog page

Hi.  I’m an addict.  I’m addicted to updating software.

Sure, we all do it.  Some do it when they’re required to, some do it out of curiosity, and some do it when they want the fresh new features that an upgrade brings.

But I do it compulsively.  I do it all the time.  I do it to my computer, my wife’s, my brother-in-law’s, my mother’s, my sisters’, my friends, even to complete strangers. I’ve basically been banned from modifying Susie’s machine without her supervising, and even still, she’ll sometimes come back to find the latest version of Filezilla all ready to go in her Start menu.

And don’t get me started about what I’ve done to her iPhone.

On my own computer, Apple’s Software Update was fine for a while, but there’s only something new there every week or so.  I got tired of waiting, and frustrated with constant checking.  And while a security update is fine for a quick update jolt, there’s nothing different about the system afterwards.

Microsoft Update on the Windows I have installed on my Mac os a little better.  There’s more alerts, and they seem to be more complicated: “This critical security update resolves two privately reported vulnerabilities in Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) processing. An attacker who successfully exploited this vulnerability could take complete control of an affected system.” Awesome! Plus, they might just hose your computer.

But what fun is it updating a system you never use?  I’m not saying I don’t update the Windows side —as I say, I’m helpless not to.  But it was the Mac that I need to get my fix on.

Recently, I discovered two free Dashboard widgets provide a more frequent stream of updates. Application Update and Widget Update give me a heads up about non-system software that might be OUT-OF-DATE. Oh No!  Hit F12 again!  And again!

Then, AppFresh came into my life.  It’s free.  It’s fast.  And it tells me about all sorts of applications that are out of date.  ComicLife upgraded a .. release?  Fabulous!  NetNewsWire released another beta? I’m there.

Many programs on the Mac are shipping with the ability to self-update these days.  The free programming module that powers this is called Sparkle, and it makes getting the latest version super-easy. Programs that have easy self-updating get an extra star in my personal rating scheme—Adobe, I’m not talking about you. Adobe Updater is like those gag gifts you get that are a cheap mechanical pencil inside eight wrapped boxes.

On the PC side, I also recently found joy with File Hippo, a Web site and app that tells you what’s out of date on the Windows side of the aisle.  Again, it’s free.

I’ve also tried VersionTracker, a service of CNet, but it’s a monthly subscription, and just like I don’t think hunting big game on a ranch is sporting, paying to get told about the latest updates seems somehow wrong to me.

I think I started writing this as a cry for help and an attempt to change my ways, but as I went to each service and saw updates, I realized—who am I kidding.  I’m not going to change.  I might update my computer, but I’m unlikely to update myself out of this habit.


“The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.”

...who said it?

“Almost every American I know does trade large portions of his life for entertainment, hour by weeknight hour, binge by Saturday binge, Facebook check by Facebook check. I’m one of them. In the course of writing this I’ve watched all 13 episodes of House of Cards and who knows how many more West Wing episodes, and I’ve spent any number of blurred hours falling down internet rabbit holes. All instead of reading, or writing, or working, or spending real time with people I love.”

...who said it?

“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”

...who said it?

“I play with variables constantly.”

...who said it?

“Only the person who has learned Continual Love coming from a heart of Gratitude/Worship can effectively deal with the problem of loneliness.”

...who said it?




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