Fessing up

commentary There's no doubt about it -- we're living in a complex world. And that means we simply have to be more careful.



commentary There's no doubt about it -- we're living in a complex world. And that means we simply have to be more careful.

I just can't keep it inside any longer. There was a typo in the last issue of the magazine. It was pointed out by a staffer (or, more accurately, ex-staffer). And just in case you're madly running to your keyboard to alert me to another typo, let me add: there might even have been two.

I have no excuse for this. Yes, we have weeks to put an issue together, and I think we use that time fairly productively: our articles are written, checked, subbed, laid out, and proofed again. Colour proofs from the printer are checked after that. And somehow the occasional error still manages to slip through.

If that can happen, how can online sites, which are throwing up content on an hourly basis, ever manage?

Wait a minute, I know the answer to that one. Our own Web sites, ZDNet.com.au, CNET.com.au, and builderau.com.au putting up new content as we speak. But even they have checking, subbing, and proofing processes they follow religiously (though on a much tighter time schedule).

So how does the odd typo manage to sneak past all these checks? The only answer I can come up with is a very clichéd (and, I hope, not too flippant) one: nobody's perfect.

I feel much better after having gotten all that off my chest, but I feel compelled to add that we can't be the only ones wondering about this. I've seen articles on The New York Times' Web site where the entire body text was missing. And stories in the international version of Newsweek magazine boldly prefaced with [HEADLINE HERE]. And I'm sure their goal, like ours, is to eliminate these errors completely.

I have to admit that Microsoft's suggestion that users turn on the Automatic Update feature for Windows XP is something that really scares me.
By now I'd guess that you can see exactly where I'm going with all of this. Yes, that's right: Microsoft.

There has never been any doubt in my mind that designing and updating an operating system is a complex thing.

Nor do I have any doubt of Microsoft's sincerity when the company tells us how concerned it is about security. After all, those sentiments haven't changed at all -- in the two and a half years they've been voicing them, right?

If I wanted to, I could probably search the Web to find out to the minute how many hours Microsoft has spent on making the latest Service Pack 2 upgrade for Windows XP more security focused. But, let's face it -- I don't have to; I know it's a mind-boggling number.

And yet, I have to admit that Microsoft's suggestion that users turn on the Automatic Update feature for Windows XP is something that really scares me.

I can already hear the screams of network administrators in response to that suggestion. (As technically feasible as it might be, I would never tell our readers they could link to draft copies of our stories over the Net.) Because however much the new Service Pack has been improved, we know there are going to be issues. How could there not be?

On a mailing list I subscribe to I've already seen a number of network admins moaning over the glitches they're already finding in SP2. And these are in test environments. Imagine what is happening in real work scenarios. Sure, tech-savvy employees will know not to download the upgrades until it has been vetted by the tech department. But they're not the ones you have to worry about, are they?

What do you think? Is this the right way for a software company to display a sincere "concern about security"? Has your organisation upgraded to SP2? And, if not, how do you plan to do it?

Send your comments to edit@zdnet.com.au. I've got to finish this quickly if I'm going to get it through the subbing/proofing process at least twice before deadline.

This article was first published in Technology & Business magazine.
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