Making everything a computer: an upgrade odyssey

We’re all used to software upgrades. Gentoo users has to update their tree daily and they’ll probably find something new, unless they are running a full stable system. Windows users have to upgrade their stuff regularly, too, and Mac users the same (almost, having all three operating systems in my office at the moment shows me that Windows update are the most painful, as they require a lot more restarts, and they appear gradually, like after I installed Nokia’s software, Windows Update decided to show me some more upgrades from 2006 and early 2007).

Nowadays a lot of “hardware” that we used to consider absolutely unconcerned with the idea of upgrades started to need those upgrades too, like they were jealous of computers and their operating systems that can upgrade. Or more likely because they started to move from being microcontrollers to full-fledged minicomputers.

So nowadays you update the firmware of your cellphones: Sunday I updated my brother-in-law’s Nokia E61i to the last version of the firmware, that solved a few problems it had. I had to update the firmware of my E61 last year, to fix a SIP connection problem, and to see if that helped my problem of self signed certificates (it didn’t). My VoIP phone also needed three upgrades since I bought it, the first right out of the box, and two later on. My router has had three upgrades (and its software still sucks, I keep it only because it has a nice hardware capable to connect me to the network with as much noise as I have here, which is something that I was unable to find from any other router).

Don’t even try to look at the MacBookPro! It required firmware upgrades to the machine itself, to the_keyboard_, the optical drive, and twice already to the battery! Still in Apple’s house, the Airport Express takes care of its upgrades on its own luckily, while the AppleTV would be quite easy to upgrade if only… let’s not get there now though, ok?

BIOS upgrades on workstation start to be quite common, especially to fix processors’ issues and to support new processors. And speaking of processors, microcode updates are also quite common nowadays, which is something nobody would have guessed when we were still stuck with 80486.

GPS navigation systems have obvious need to update their firmware and their maps but it starts to be ridiculous for me that I, although not owning any, have to keep three of them updated!

I was impressed by the way PSP updates its firmware by the way, just try to play a newer game and boom! it asks you to upgrade the firmware from the UMD itself. Nice way to force people not to limit themselves to older crackable firmwares, indeed.

And now this came to the area from which my considerations started to write this blog: the PlayStation 3 had a firmware upgrade today. A quite long one because I was messing with the network settings at the time and didn’t consider it would have restarted from the beginning to download the new firmware. The funny thing is that i bought it less than two weeks ago, and this is already the second firmware upgrade (the first was out of the box). Slick, uh?

Add to that the new router I’ve made a friend of mine buy today (his old router was a crappy 11b one, a very bad one in many aspects, and he wanted something nice and working): it needed a firmware upgrade right away or it was unable to forward ports through NAT. Ridiculous!

And in all this, I still haven’t been able to play with my DVD writer’s firmware .

I just wonder how much time I’ll have to spend upgrading and upgrading and upgrading.