Underhanded Software Updates

Adobe Flash UpdateSoftware updates are just a part of owning software in a connected world. Bugs get found and hopefully fixed and this leads to an update that is issued by the vendor. The cycle just continues to repeat itself until you replace the device and then the update cycle starts over on the new device. Okay, I get it. But one part of that cycle I could do without is the “Opt Out” bundling of other software with those updates. The reason companies do this is to make residual income on their sometime free software. Two vendors that are actively doing this now are Adobe and Oracle (bought out Sun Microsystems).

There are two parts of this really. The first question is whether software updates should be offering to install other software during updates. Apple does this when you install any of their software. Install iTunes and they offer to install Safari (and other stuff as well). Adobe Flash updates offer to install Google Chrome and/or the Google Toolbar for IE. Oracle’s Java Updater offers to install Google Chrome as well. This my be questionable, but it is generally accepted.

The big problem is whether the default is to install the other software or to just offer it and require the user to select it. When it is installed by default, this is called “Opt Out”. Most consumers do not read the fine print when they update their software. Can I get a show of hands for those that have read start to finish the most recent license agreement they agreed to? So people typically do the right thing and install updates without realizing that they are agreeing to change browsers to Chrome. The next thing they know, everything has been moved around in their web browser and they are confused. Oh well, they eventually get used to it. Also, Google pays Adobe a small fee (and perhaps a high five) on switching another user to their software.

My advice is to punish those that used such methods. I avoid vendors that push their software this way and the vendors that use their so-called free tools to push other software. If they are unethical with this then they are probably unethical when they use your personal information as well.

Like me, you may need to use some of this software though (or you may like said vendors). What you can do is be very careful when applying updates. Read the options that are available and be careful to un-check those boxes when they are presented. Vigilance is necessary to keep the “junk” (however you define that) off of your machine. Be careful out there.

Happy Birthday Connie

Happy birthday to my wonderful wife. We are now the same age (that would be somewhere around the 30s.. or so) for a few months. The kids love birthdays since they get the day off and this time even Connie got most of the day off. She went shopping and spending some time out and about. Since I work at home now, it wasn’t an issue at all.

She works so hard everyday of the week (with perhaps the possible exception of Sundays when she take a big nap, heh), but I was happy for her to have so “me” time. Or would that be “her” time? Anyway.

Connie your kids and husband adore you. Thanks for another wonderful year shared with us.

Dog Days of Summer

What started as a pretty moderate summer has really turned hot during the month of August (and the later part of July). The temperatures are up close to 100°F with the humidity close to 90%. When you put those together, you get a series of warning by the National Weather Service. There have been several heat exposure warnings. Seems like we get at least a month of this weather every year and sometimes two months of it.

I’m not big on watering the grass in the lawn as it just seems counter-intuitive, but I like to make sure that my trees get enough. Last thing that I want is a weakened tree right next to my house. The grass around them will get a little freebee out of it. Connie’s had to take extra care in watering her new landscaping though. It hasn’t had time to establish a good root system yet.

Staying hydrated has been my big issue these past few weeks. With cutting the grass, running and riding my bike, it’s been difficult to drink enough water to just to replace what I lost. On top of that, it also necessary to keep those internal body temps down during the long runs / rides. I’ve come back feeling pretty weak a couple times and thankfully I haven’t had any problems during an outing. Regardless, it’s something to keep an eye on during these hot weather waves. Remember, stay hydrated. Come on Fall!

Fitness Update

One of the more significant aspects of fitness (and health in general) is that it is relative. What I mean is that if you are having a tough time running a mile or so, then think about those that can barely get out of bed and walk to the kitchen. Of course those people are much better off than others that can’t even do that. Now compare those people with the 30 something runner that feels like they are out of shape because they can’t run a full marathon. It all ends up being about your perspective and attitude about where you are on the fitness scale and where you are headed. Being thankful first of all and then also having an interest in improving if possible.

For me, I go back and forth with different views on my fitness and I suppose that I sometimes get caught up in trying to make it to the “next level”. Right now, I’m pushing myself a little yet I’m having a lot of fun doing it. I think I enjoy it too much at times. Spending a hour to an hour and a half out on my bike or running the neighborhood can create some scheduling problems. The therapy is good for me though as I can really sort of clear my mind (while watching out for crazed drivers).

With all of my travelling with work during July, it ended up being a slow exercise month. I rode less than 200 miles on my bike and tried to make up for it with some running while away on business. This month I’ve been trying to get back on track. I’ve put in a little over 200 cycling miles and about 20 running miles (33 in July). I will admit that I could use a rest day though as I’ve been pushing it.

Mentally I’m in a better place though. My exercise habits aren’t driven by me trying to reach some pinnacle, but rather my own enjoyment from the actually exercise along with the little internal kudos that I give myself when I hit my goals. It’s easy to become a slave to it or just ditch it all together, but keeping some balance has been on my mind.

Next Gen Gaming

SkyrimIt’s almost a year into the next generation of console gaming. The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One have been on the market for several months and it’s interesting to see how things have gone for the major players. The sales numbers so far show the PS4 with a sizeable lead in the race. With 10 million consoles in the hands of consumers, they dominate the estimated 6 million consoles sold by Microsoft. Sony’s status among gamers is back up really high. What most gamers don’t know is that Sony as a corporation has been losing money in most other areas (with the exception of movies and music), so they needed this win. Though Microsoft has taken it lumps in the tech press (which seems to perpetually hate MS), the Xbox One is still ahead of where the 360 was at this point. So Sony is winning big, but Microsoft is doing okay other than perception.

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