Thursday, 13 January 2011

Gettin' Shaped: First Rant of 2011

I know it's only data. And to many this might sound trivial, but I have recently become aware of just how much downloadable bandwidth I'm losing via programs like Windows, Apple, and, OMG, Adobe. They can gobble up a bandwidth allowance simply by updating your precious software with all their regular Important Updates
I recently changed my service provider so have a slightly different data allowance. The 'big print' in the contract tells you that you have 'unlimited downloads'. But, of course, the small print stipulates that once you go past a set amount, in my case 10Gb a month, the download speed  becomes shaped. Don't you just love that terminology? In plain English it means that means a trip back  to the dark ages of the 28.8kbps modem.  The "Why bother at all" speed. 
To cut a long story short, I got shaped at an inconvenient time (isn't it always inconvenient?) just when I needed to upload some data to a publisher in the UK. 
I got onto the bog and bone and persuaded the nice person at the telecom to throw the switch back to normal speed, just this once which saved the day. When I had time to check, I realised that my bandwidth had disappeared partly because of the voracious data download diet of Messrs. Gates and Adobe.

Like most computer users, I have my OS set up to download updates automatically. Never again. This inevitably occurs in the background which also explains why, at certain times, the computer begins to run like a wet blanket.
 

I suspect most of us are scared into implementing this update regardless in order to stave off any possible hacker intrusion or virus outbreak. Fair point, but if you check your download manager and look at the downloads, a lot of it is media for programs live Windows Live, Powerpoint, Word - clip art and templates. Non-essential stuff most of us never use. 

I opened up Windows Update and sure enough there was another 500Mb of 'important updates' queued up. And that was just from Microsoft! And there was another 550Mb of updates waiting from Adobe. I have three computers which means, if I leave it on 'automatic', I'm about 3Gb of bandwidth behind the proverbial 8-ball before I even start Firefox. 

I now check Windows Update on a regular basis and read the small print to decipher just how 'vital' or important the updates really are. That way at least I can keep prevent myself from being shaped when least expected.
And while I'm on the subject of improvements, every month I seem to get a download from Adobe for Bridge (among a lot of other stuff). The funny thing is, after months of updating, Bridge still freezes and crashes three or four times a day, regardless. Anybody else experience this, or is it just me?

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