Wednesday, July 16, 2008

SOFTWARE: Repeat After Me, "ONE at a time!" is a place I visit daily. It lists the new downloads and I pair it with visits to to make sure I know what's come down the pipeline in terms of updates over the last 24 hours. But sometimes I miss the odd update. So, today, I downloaded File Hippo's Update Checker and one I found on Betanews, Update Notifier.

These checkers do NOT check for updates to Windows, nor do they check for most of your windows drivers. Plus, they BOTH find items missed by the other. All in all, they do a good job in tandem and it doesn't take long to run either one. And no, they don't even catch ALL of the program updates that really exist out there. But there ARE some issues.

I had Firefox up and running, but minimized, when I ran FileHippo Update Checker. It DID bring up a window of things I missed. But when I clicked on the download arrows, NOTHING happened. At least that I could see. It turns out new tabs in the minimized Firefox were opening with each click. Discovered it later when grumpily clicking on Firefox to find a help page at FileHippo to see if I could figure out what was going wrong. Of such things are blogs worthwhile.

The download links for all of the programs I saw updates for were at FileHippo. The download process wasn't as smooth as I would have liked, as simply clicking on download links tended not to succeed until the second or third page. And I dislike that FileHippo Update Checker stays running after you are finished with it. Make sure you close it from the system tray each time. Also, uncheck the box to load at startup during install. Make sure you incorporate update checking into your weekly maintenance ritual. You know, the one where you check for virii, scumware and updates to your anti-virus, anti-spyware and firewall programs? You ARE doing weekly cleaning, right? Thought so.

Update Notifier is a bit of a mystery too. Copy it to where you are going to use it from, before running it. It's a no-install program. BUT, it does want to run each time you startup, so make sure that's disabled by pressing the options button. And like I said, run it from a shortcut. It has three panels for purview, the suggested missing updates, one panel for updates you want to monitor and a third panel with suggested software you don't already have. None of the stuff is bad and if you aren't using something in any category covered by the suggestions, go for it. But it really is just unobtrusive advertising. The best I've seen.

All in all, the missing updates were an interesting list. There were updates to daily-used programs like Gadwin PrintScreen, Foxit Reader, and my ATI Videocard drivers, plus Firefox (remember, I'm back to using v2). It also pointed out newer versions of InnoSetup, which I use for making install programs for my software, AM-Deadlink to show me what bookmarks are dead in my set of Firefox bookmarks (3K and still counting) and the latest Java and Flash updates. Other than Firefox, I installed all the updates at once and rebooted the machine.

I am here to tell you, THAT WAS STUPID!!!!

All the updates were okay, except for the one I KNEW was going to goof my hardware ... the video-card driver. I NEVER use the latest video drivers unless I have an issue. Being on the cutting edge of video-card drivers is for hard-core gamers who want the last little bit of oomph they can get. I know this, but still updated. I AM STUPID!

Naturally, the newer version of the product from ATI called @#($#@$(*$ (it has a real name, but that's what I call the #(@*$@#*()$ piece of software), screwed up my system. Took five reboots, one restore and lots of moving around of my two-screens worth of icons (both running 1600x1200 to afford me maximum screen real estate) to get me back to where I was, visually-speaking.

Then, I installed the other updates AGAIN, but this time one at a time. When faced with the final decision as to whether to install the video-card driver update, I thought about it for about a New York second.

Nah! It wasn't broke. No NEED to update it.

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