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12Feb2019

Inside the World of Updates

Facetime updates got a lot of face time recently with all the reports about how a 14-year-old discovered a bug that left a mic open even if a recipient didn’t answer a group Facetime call. It was shocking but not surprising, based on how updates are developed and implemented.

Apple, Microsoft, Google and other technology companies are huge corporations and, as such, are highly compartmentalized. When I visit trade shows and conferences and can find an engineer or software developer to discuss very specific issues related to hardware, firmware or software, the conversations very technical and very tightly focused. They are brilliant people, but they operate in silos.

So, when a problem like the Facetime issue surfaces, it’s likely to involve a piece of code that only one person or a small team worked on – based on instructions that may have come down through several layers of command. That person or team didn’t talk the public or get any feedback based on a personal interaction. Further, the amount of code needed to implement a feature such as a group Facetime session is massive. It’s written in sections and assembled in sections, and even though they are tested, errors can occur each time lines of code from various teams are put together. The people involved do a great job, and the percentage of errors to lines of code written is practically microscopic.

The bottom line is that bugs will show up in the real world, and they need to be found and fixed before any catastrophic consequences show up. But code is not the only factor in updating software for use on a computer or device. We see a lot of old computers and devices with old operating systems that simply cannot handle updates.

We were reminded of the technology gap that opens up when working with older systems. It involved a family business, and technical challenges arose as some family members wanted capabilities that were requested by others. The challenges came as we had to work with computers and devices with a wide range of ages and with differences between Windows 7 and Windows 10. We had to be mindful that Windows 7 is 12 years old and that we are six versions into Windows 10.

Our common thread in the solution had to be sealing up security breaks. We can’t emphasize enough that security patches are the biggest improvements in upgrades and updates, although we all get excited about new features and capabilities. And the problem is that an older system can only handle a limited number of security and feature updates.

At some point, it doesn’t pay for a software or hardware provider to support older systems. Their developers have to jump from one issue to another like playing Whac-A-Mole, and then there is a smaller universe of real-world users to provide feedback on the new code and then use it.

One of our missions is to make the most efficient use of your money. We’ll always do our best to avoid having you buy new equipment or software by trying to find a good workaround. But sometimes, buying new technology can give you a better return on your investment, and one of the reasons to do so is to take advantages of upgrades and updates that are used by a larger universe of people and businesses. That can be especially beneficial based on the how the update world lives.

We can help you install, configure and test updates, and we can advise you on whether to upgrade or keep your current technology. Call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us for a consultation.

  • 12 Feb, 2019
  • Norman Rosenthal
  • 0 Comments
  • Apple, bug, facetime, Google, Microsoft, privacy, security, updates,

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