Tuesday, December 20, 2011

When working for yourself, you still have to approach "moves" and software changes very carefully


I wanted to reiterate that even when working at home on my own ventures (self-publishing, music composition and soon video or movie making), I find that I have to be “strict” about making software changes.
 
Any time that I contemplate a significant change, I need 3-4 hour uninterrupted time to allow for the possibility that things will break or not work, and that I may have to call and reach support, or, in extreme cases, take a laptop or other item over to the Geek Squad or Apple Store “Genius Bar”  for investigation.  These days (especially during the holiday season), I don’t have a lot of 3-4 hour periods free.  I had hoped that dropping the Census job and completing some major personal travel would free more time, but I still find myself short on periods to work alone without interruptions.
 
It is important, when developing and deploying content, to have extended periods to work on material without disruptions. There are many sources of interruption, from software updates to these unstoppable telemarketing calls.  Volunteer work needs to be meaningful to me and related to my own circumstances, and not just based on emotion or on what “feels good”. 
 
Modern home systems frequently perform automated updates.  Microsoft supplies updates about once a week or two weeks.  These usually work without problems, but one or two have caused problems and disruption.  The Windows Vista and Windows 7 restart process requires “configuration” of updates during both shutdown and restart.  Microsoft does not give very good indication of the progress of the configuration. In one or two cases, configuration processes have hung.  But they never seem to hang if you do the update manually with the system up and restart , rather than at shutdown.  Also, my smaller Windows 7 laptop sometimes does not want to restart without closing the running program (windows  update) and requires manual intervention. 
 
My larger XPS laptop (Dell) had Vista from mid 2009 to the end of 2010, when I had it converted to 7.  At that point, I had to replace the Microsoft Word programs with 2011 versions and new licenses.  All of these changes on an “older” machine could contribute to instability. 
 
I can recall back in 2004 having to load Windows XP Service Pack 2 to a desktop 8300, six months after purchase.  That took about an hour and required multiple restarts, but worked.  Then there was a SP3.
Likewise, Windows 7 has had a Service Pack 1 on each machine. 
 
When one buys a new laptop or any computer, one likes to have current operating systems and service packs and updates.  But it seems that one always has to run multiple updates nonetheless, causing possible instability.   And remember, in my circumstances, stability is everything. I have to get my work done. 
 
PC Security packages also have to be updated.  As noted on my Internet Safety blog, there have been some issues with my Webroot Security Essentials Firewall suddenly overblocking.  Yesterday I got a comment from the company urging me to load the new Security Anywhere product.  But I have to make sure I have several free hours on a weekday when everyone on their end will be at work.   I’m not sure I have that time until after Christmas day (and everyone is back to normal Tuesday Dec. 27). Right now, I still have the current product protecting me satisfactorily despite the glitch, so I can’t take unnecessary “risks” until I have the time. 
 
Remember how it was when I was working?  Moves (elevations, promotions, whatever you call them) were done to applications on Fridays only, before the weekend cycle when there was more time to recover from abends.  System software changes were usually done on weekends (particularly Sundays).  ISP’s typically do their maintenance late on Sunday nights.   These kinds of things need to be scheduled.  


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