Letter from the President - April 2018

When was the last time you had a day without a software update? It seems to me that every time I turn around, something on my phone, computer, or tablet wants to tell me that there’s a new version available. In fact, I saw it just this morning—my conference call software wanted to update from 2.210.1009 to 2.210.1106.

What happened to updating from version 2 to version 3? Is it really necessary to take version numbers out to eight significant digits? Any science teacher will tell you that’s a ridiculous level of precision. Is whatever new feature that just rolled out really worth it? And never mind the management headaches... when software releases trickle out like this it’s almost impossible to keep everyone on the same version. There’s one product on our network where there are 14 versions currently installed, all between 14.0 and 14.5. (I wish I were joking.)

All right, that’s enough with the rant. Most of the time, I’m grateful for how easy the update process is these days. Remember when you really had to pay attention when a program advised you to “close other programs before continuing with the installation”? Now I still save my work before an installation, but that’s it. Most installations don’t even require a reboot (even if you should maybe reboot anyway).

When it comes to update philosophies, I think there are generally three types:

  • The Live Wire: Installs updates the instant they’re available—if it’s automatic, so much the better.
  • The Resister: Imposes a waiting period on new software, to let everyone else find the bugs before risking their own machines.
  • The Stick-in-the-Mud: Waits as long as possible to change anything; runs updates only when there is absolutely no alternative left.

What kind of updater are you?

A one-size-fits-all approach isn’t likely to be the best strategy. On my personal devices, I’m basically a Live Wire. I have automatic updates turned on whenever possible, and when they’re not, I don’t usually wait too long before letting the update run. In general, I trust that developers don’t try to break things, and thanks to redundancy in my storage and programs, even if something does break I’m not likely to be at a standstill.

At the office, though, it’s a different story. We have a standard 30-day moratorium on any new program or update, unless it’s a critical bug fix. This is to prevent a “bad” update from crashing a product and interrupting business for dozens of people at once. Although frankly, we don’t see much crashing these days. We’re more often grateful for our waiting period because an “update to the update” gets released two weeks after the original update. By waiting a little bit, we save ourselves from having to deploy things twice. We’re cautious, but we’re not sticks-in-the-mud either—it’s extremely rare that we would decide to skip an update entirely.

I don’t really have “advice” to conclude with this month... maybe just a request that you look at your own software update strategy and make sure it’s reasonable. Test updates thoroughly before rolling out something that can affect lots of people, but don’t delay important updates just because they’re a hassle. (Hmm, I guess that’s advice after all!)

Before I go, one bit of news from the Board of Directors: Robert Green has stepped down as a Director and Treasurer. We’re sorry to see him go, but I’m sure he won’t go far. Chris Lindner is taking over as Treasurer, and Kimberly Fuhrman will be our new Secretary. And stepping up to fill out the remainder of Robert’s term is Frank Mayfield, a longtime AUGI member and forum moderator, and a contributor to the “ Tuesday Tips” series on the AutoCAD blog. Welcome, Frank!

Wondering how you can get involved like Frank? Email me:

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