20 February 2008 ~ 2 Comments

Water, Water Everywhere

McAfee’s update notification configuration dialog has several options for us to choose from. Unfortunately they all suffer from the same fundamental problem:

Each of them requires user intervention.

The less aware users are of our applications, the better. This is difficult for many from both sides of the aisle to internalize (business, engineering) and I believe it is primarily a psychological concern – many people lack the courage of their convictions that their applications should be instilled with.

A security update is available? Download and install it! Big download? Chunk it and do it in the background. Requires a reboot? That’s fine, the machine will be rebooted eventually. In the rare case where it’s a code red, a prompt is acceptable – those situations are few and far between though.

The normal mode of operation for our applications should be not be to “stop the proceedings with idiocy” (to quote Alan Cooper) but to proceed as one would expect.

2 Responses to “Water, Water Everywhere”

  1. theryman 24 February 2008 at 5:16 pm Permalink

    Maybe it is just me, but I like to know what is going on with my computer. I would have a big problem with my programs automatically downloading updates, because I have many of my applications fine tuned to work extremely well on my system. An update could throw this out of whack if i was not prompted beforehand and able to immediately change some options.

    On top of that, I just have a beef with things being put on to my computer without my knowledge. Call me crazy, but I am sure that any application could be cracked and used to download adware and malware onto my computer.

  2. Rob 24 February 2008 at 6:21 pm Permalink

    Hi Ryan, thanks for taking the time to comment.

    You bring up an interesting point. Some developers (e.g. Microsoft with the Vista SP1 release) have trained us to be skeptical of automatic updates.


    For me I have to think of the number of times I refused to update when prompted. Programs like Adobe’s Creative Suite (Photoshop, Fireworks, etc.). These seem to be updated on a fairly regular basis and I always accept the installs. McAfee automatically installs the latest virus updates (contrary to the options available in that dialog, strangely enough :) and I’m happy to know I have the latest security without being interrupted – rather that my PC is protecting itself when I’m not around. Pretty cool :)

    Perhaps Windows could keep track of programs I’ve allowed “automatic” update for? Similar to how it runs its own autoupdate…

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