Apple Vies with Microsoft for Most Incompetent Upgrades

Apple Vies with Microsoft for Most Incompetent Upgrades

What’s happening out there in software land? Is there a shortage of talented programmers or something? It appears to me that upgrading your computer or portable device has become risky business lately. For example, my Apple iPod Touch had been working flawlessly since Christmas, when I received it as a present. Then, a few weeks ago, while using iTunes with it, I was informed that a new version of the software was available. I downloaded the software and it crashed my iPod. I didn’t even realize that you could crash an iPod.

The iPod was frozen, dead. I couldn’t turn it off, nothing. I tried getting in touch with Apple support, but only got an appointment to speak with someone on a Sunday night. I wasn’t happy about that, since it was Easter Sunday and we were having company for dinner, but I made the appointment anyway. As it turns out, when my iPod ran out of power, I was able to get it working again just by connecting it to my PC, so I cancelled that appointment.

But I didn’t realize that the iPod still had problems until I tried to download a movie in preparation for a plane trip. The movie started to download and then I got an error message that the download had failed. I decided to go over to the Apple store in my neighborhood and have a heart to heart with one of the guys at the Genius bar.

The first thing out of his mouth let me know I was in trouble. He told me that the movie didn’t download because the iPod was downloading the movie via my WiFi connection. Instead, he thought I should download the movie to my computer first and then sync the iPod to the computer to get the movie. This is total BS. First I told him that my desktop computer was connected to the Internet via WiFi, so his comment did not make any sense. Furthermore, I told him that iPhone users sometimes get a message when downloading large files, telling them that they cannot do it over a 3G connection but must switch to WiFi instead.

He didn’t solve my problem with the movie download, but he gave me a solid piece of advice—restore the iPod to its original condition to get rid of whatever was bothering it. This meant I would lose all my songs, pictures, videos and apps, which I wasn’t happy about. But he told me to back up the iPod to my computer and everything would be okay.

I followed his advice and tried to restore the iPod to its pristine state. Weirdly enough, this crashed my iPod again. I was now stuck with a frozen iPod once more. I was about to set it down and let the battery drain again, when I had a thought. I went to the font of all knowledge—YouTube—and typed in “frozen iPod.” Up popped a bunch of videos. I clicked on one and found out from someone who sounded like a 10-year old kid that I could reboot the iPod Touch by pressing the off button and home button together. That worked. I rebooted the iPod, and this time the software installed correctly. The iPod looked just the way it did on Christmas Day. I was able to reload my songs and photos, but had to go back to the App store to get my apps. Luckily, most of the ones I use are free.

Then, I decided to download the same movie from iTunes that gave me the error message before. I had no problem whatsoever doing this—straight from iTunes to the iPod over the WiFi connection. So enough about Apple upgrades.

What about Microsoft? What kind of upgrade incompetence is occurring in Windows 7? About a week ago, I got the standard exclamation point in the Shut Down box informing me that an upgrade was available. As you know, these upgrades make closing out of Windows and booting up Windows a much longer process than the lengthy process that is already standard Windows operating procedure.

This time, though, when I booted up after the upgrade, I noticed that the message “Configuring Windows updates – 0% complete – Do not turn off your computer” did not change from 0%. After a long wait, Windows finally came up, but the old exclamation point was still sitting in the Shut Down box. This said to me that all the time I spent watching the spinning donut was for naught. Sure enough each time I shut down the computer, the upgrade started and each time I turned the computer back on, I got the message above.

After about a week or so, this stopped, and I thought my PC was back to normal. But then it started again a few days later. That’s the state it’s in right now. The unfortunate thing is that I have no idea what is causing this. Did I get bad upgrade code? Do I have a virus? Who knows? Where are the 10-year olds when you need them? Making videos for YouTube, of course.

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Joe Desposito has held the position of editor-in-chief of Electronic Design since July, 2007. He first joined the publication in 1998 as a technology editor covering test and measurement but quickly...
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