Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Arlington ditches Windows-based election system (and training); more on mandatory PC updates

A couple of different small items today.
Arlington County had a primary election, and I found that Arlington no longer uses the TI Election system (on Windows XP and then Vista) that I was “trained on” in 2006 when I worked as a “judge.”  Troubleshooting was a bit difficult.  Instead, it went back to a paper Scanlon system, which Minneapolis used in the 1990s.  I was told there were too many security holes and failures with the Windows election system. Here’s a white paper on election IT security.
Yesterday, on both my HP Envy “desktop” and on my Toshiba Satellite, Windows 8.1 forced me to update both computers immediately for a “recommended” (not “important”) level “compatibility” update, listed, KB2976978 here. The Envy would not let me sign off without the update, and on the Toshiba, the trackpad mouse pointer suddenly stopped working (except on the blue screen) until I did an immediate Restart with Update. 
Windows 8 normally has allowed users two days to restart with update.  Maybe I missed the download earlier, but I don’t think so.  The trackpad issue is disturbing.
I don’t like “mandatory” updating to be sudden, because a machine might have to be turned off to go to the airport and started at the airport in a security line.  I have to leave “on time”.  Usually, on a travel day, I bring the machine I will travel with at home first just to check.  But it could trap me in an extensive update cycle. 
Most Microsoft updates are on Wednesday mornings (often the cheapest travel day, unfortunately, and the cheapest flights are often very early). 
Apple’s update protocols seem considerably more considerate.  But last week, on a MacBook, it did a major iOS update, and replace iMovie and several other apps, and took close to three hours.  All went well (on OS 10.8.2 as I recall)  but again, I had to go out and leave it running unattended. 

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