Guy Richardson, an avionics engineer in Louisville, Kentucky, can't live without his computer. Guy Richardson, an avionics engineer in Louisville, Kentucky, can't live without his computer. Guy Richardson, an avionics engineer in Louisville, Kentucky, can't live without his computer. Guy Richardson, an avionics engineer in Louisville, Kentucky, can't live without his computer. He estimates his hard disk contains 50 different applications, from favorites such as Microsoft Word and Excel to high-powered design tools. That means Richardson has a problem: How does he make sure he's running the most up-to-date and bug-free versions of this huge collection of software?
"The technology changes so fast," he worries, "software is outdated by the time you get it home, and you don't even know it."
Time for Oil Change, a new utility from CyberMedia, Inc. Oil Change scans your hard disk and creates a profile of the software applications and hardware drivers you've installed. Then, using the Internet, it compares your software with CyberMedia's database of state-of-the-art versions of 600 different applications and drivers. Oil Change indicates which upgrades and fixes are available, describes what they do, and lets you choose what to download.
Richardson has been using a beta version of Oil Change since May (the retail version was scheduled for release in September), and he's hooked. Recently, Oil Change recognized a bug in his version of Excel that created problems when large numbers (over 15 digits) were entered into a spreadsheet. It located the necessary patch, installed it — and the problem disappeared.
Richardson runs the program once a week and says it takes roughly 3 minutes to search for updates. He says it's never taken Oil Change more than 10 minutes to install new code. "It's so easy to use," he marvels, "it essentially runs itself."
CyberMedia plans to walk its up-to-date talk. Oil Change will have a unique user interface that changes every three months. But users won't have to worry about obtaining the latest release. Oil Change will simply give itself an "oil change" whenever the next quarterly version is available.
Coordinates: Oil Change requires Windows 95, a minimum 14.4kb modem, and an Internet connection. It can be downloaded for $39.95 from http://www.CyberMedia.com, America Online (keyword: CyberMedia), or CompuServe (GO CyberMedia). Or call 310-581-4700 for information.
A version of this article appeared in the October/November 96 issue of Fast Company magazine.