Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Is it time to upgrade? Again?

Its too bad that my body doesn't have automatic upgrades like my computer programs. I could use the upgrades. But, if you use a computer, smartphone or tablet, upgrades are now a part of your life. You can ignore them, but if you do, I can predict dire consequences. Ultimately, failing to upgrade leaves you in computer dinosaur-land and we all know what happened to the dinosaurs. OK, it time to stop being silly and get on with the subject of this post which is upgrades, both hardware and software.

Some of us (who will remain anonymous to protect the guilty) resist upgrades simply because we hate change and an upgrade implies that the program or hardware we are using will change in some way. Yep, that's what happens. Program upgrades are usually for the purpose of correct some error in the programming, i.e. a bug. (The term "bug" came from finding an actual insect in the Harvard Mark II computer as publicized by Grace Hooper, see Wikipedia: Software bug). But underlying all of the so-called upgrades is the fact that technology is constantly evolving. In the not too distant future, I am sure our grandchildren will giggle over the quaint old antique smartphones and computers that we used when we were younger and before they were born.  This fact of life was brought home to me again this week when I went into my local phone store to renew my 2-year contract. As usual, renewing the contract implied a whole plethora of options and phone upgrades. I still had my old iPhone 4 as well as the iPhone 4S I was using and found out I could trade-in the iPhone 4 for a substantial discount.

That was the good news. The bad news was I would be upgrading to an iPhone 5 which was likely to replaced by Apple before the end of September with another newer iPhone in the series. So, should I wait and see what the new phones brought to the table, or go ahead an upgrade. The complication was that my wife and I are on different upgrade schedules and she is using a plain old cellphone without Internet connection. Its not that she wants to be retro, but adding a smartphone also means adding a data plan and that costs extra money. In addition, we found we could save some money by finally dropping our land line for all cellphone based service. Our visit turned out to be much more involved than we had originally planned.

I opted to go ahead and get an iPhone 5. If the new iPhone is significantly better, I will trade in my old iPhone 4S, which is essentially now an iPod Touch, and when my wife's plan renews we'll think about getting a data plan and moving her to a smartphone.

Now, this seems much more serious than simply watching Microsoft Windows upgrade your system every time you try to shut down your computer which is always accompanied by threats of dire consequences (see above) from Microsoft if you turn off your computer in the middle of the upgrade.

How do I like the iPhone 5? Is it significantly better than an iPhone 4S? Actually, there is only a little bit of difference in the actual product. I keep my electronics up to date so there was no new operating system issues and all my apps and data just moved seamlessly over to the new machine. It is slightly lighter, which I like and slightly larger, which doesn't seem to make much difference. It also has an entirely new connector for recharging the unit which means I will ultimately have to purchase some new equipment. It charges a whole lot faster than the older iPhone 4S. Otherwise, it is about the same.

Genealogy programs are not immune to upgrades. I find people are inordinately concerned about full-version upgrades because they cost money. Yes, computers and programs do cost money and no, paying the money never ceases. Owning a computer is like being a renter without the benefit of a landlord to take care of the maintenance. What I find funny, as I have observed previously, is that people will spend tens of thousands of dollars on new cars, but get offended when they have to upgrade their genealogy program for $29. I avoid this problem by realizing that I am not ever going to have a computer or a program that will last more than a couple of years and I might as well look more at the benefits of owning a computer than moan and groan about the upgrades.  


  1. I totally understand. I'm trying to decide how to update my plain old phone (like the on your wife has) to a SmartPhone. I need to have an unlocked GSM phone and because we don't have a contract I'm trying to keep us non-contract. It's painful making these decisions.

    Have you heard of Red Pocket Mobile. It's attractive and doesn't require a contract.

  2. My problem with the upgrades, especially Windows, is about six months ago they started to give me a message that it has "failed" to install.

    A few times I have been unable to start up the system and had to go into safe mode to do a system restore.

    Is there a place where I can find out the why and how to install the updates?

    1. Unfortunately, you don't mention what version of Windows you are using. Try doing a Google search on failure to install updates with your Windows version. There seems to be a variety of possible issues.