How to avoid almost everything

This is the second version of this post, I pulled the first off the net earlier this week because I really wasn’t satisfied with it. I wrote the first out of frustration, and that never works well for me 🙂

It started with my own hyperbolic metaphor:

Guess what people? According to Maciej Ceglowski and according to John Gruber, you should never own a car if you don’t want to be in an accident.

Because I was frustrated about this hyperbole from Maciej:

If you listen to the WordPress people, the answer to this is ‘be extremely zealous about updating your software’, which is the same as saying, devote half your life to learning and understanding WordPress administration.

I think I’m frustrated with the hyperbole because I hear this kind of thing all the time, and for a peer technologist to pervade the myth that being responsible with software is going to cause a significant investment in time or that the only way to protect yourself is not run the software in the first place? That’s frustrating. But we technologists, we like the hyperbole.

There are two core points I think: keeping your software upgraded (well at least most software upgraded, and that includes basically everything short of things like SAP and Peoplesoft) does not require you to spend “half your life” You do maintenance on your cars, you do maintenance on your house, you just do these things. If you don’t, and sometimes we don’t, then things change over time, the externalities cause things to break. You just hope that the software is updated, or hopefully it’s licensed in a way that you can find somebody that can update it for you if you can’t.

It takes some upfront responsibility and education to understand what you are doing, and it takes some ongoing responsibility to stay on top of things. That’s just what responsible people do. You run software update for your OS. You keep your apps updated when folks fix flaws and bugs. You update your web software when it needs it.

There are some that won’t make that investment. I think it would be foolish to say they “can’t” As my grandfather used to say “can’t never could do anything”. Anybody can do it, just like I can change my own oil. But I don’t, because it’s not worth that investment for me. For others, maybe it’s not worth the investment to run your own software. In that case, it’s fine, let somebody do it.

But you can do it. You just have to want to. And don’t listen to the suggestion of anyone that tells you not to do it if you do want it. Because it’s not that hard.