Whether it's Facebook's constant gyrations that keep leaving bugs and quirks in every nook and cranny, or the CSS model, or Apple's iTunes and iPod devices, or Ford and GM automobiles, I'm just sick to death of everyone giving them a passing grade when there's so much bullshit. We've become so accustomed to the bullshit level that we think it's normal now. Cheap, thin, plastic dashboards with flimsy fixtures and awkward anti-ergonomic controls and indicators. Inconsistent API models. Devices that have predictable problems. All of this shit we're just getting used to as being "OK".
It's NOT OK.
Folks: Hold these dipshit’s feet to the fire and DEMAND better results. Our grandparents sure did. They didn't buy cheap shit. They wouldn’t stand for it. That's why their stuff lasted. You think anything you purchased in the past 5 years will last long enough to pass down to your kids or their kids?! Hell no! Maybe SOME furniture could qualify. But none of the electronic junk we have now will last that long, and it's not even supposed to. We know that. Everyone knows that cellphones have a limited lifespan. Cars have a limited lifespan.
Look, my grandfather drove his old Ford Galaxy to over 250,000 miles by just "taking care of it" rigorously. He NEVER overhauled the engine or transmission. It was built to last. Same goes for one of my old neighbors and his 1953 Oldsmobile. Some of those cars ended up in backyards with weeds growing around them, but they didn't rust out to nothing.
Yes, there have been some improvements like air bags, GPS, crumple zones, collapsable steering columns, radial tires, and so on. But the overall product doesn't last as long. It's disposable. We're a disposable culture. Everything is throw-away and we’re just fine with that. But the unintended side-effect is that we’re also just fine with shoddy quality. No, wait a minute, let me qualify that quantification gyration a bit:
It’s not that things are just shoddy. They’re designed to be sufficient for a specific lifetime. After that they fall apart. You have to baby the hell out of most products to keep them in top shape even up to their expected point of death. Beyond that and you have to adopt a whole new religious practice to keep it looking and working good. Engineering is getting that granular folks. Engineered lifespan is a valuable commodity in today’s industrialized markets. This is especially true if the lifespan plays into a revenue model that ties in with some sort of overarching service (think cell phone features, iPod, digital cameras).
But getting back to my original thought, which is that in some respects there is shoddiness throughout the products and we’re just blind to it from overexposure.
Cases in point:
Facebook – The Notes feature is quirky as hell. Create a “Draft” and save it, but don’t publish it. Then leave it and try to get back to it. You can’t. Not unless you start another Note and cancel it, and THEN you get a link to “Drafts”. How many ways can you get to parts of your personal profile? Shouldn’t one be enough?
Twitter – I think it should just make the stupid whale image with the “oops, sorry, our shitty-ass crap-app is overloaded again – try later” as the default home page. Everytime some lame-ass code-nerd tries to snob me with some bullshit pitch about Ruby being superior, I just point to Twitter and scream like Sam Kinison.
iPod Nano – PIECE OF SHIT. Period. I somehow ended up with five (5) of these f-ing pieces of trash. All from different sources (two direct from Apple.com), and at different times. They lock up constantly. The “shuffle” is as predictable as a political speech. Apple gets a free handjob pass from the fanboy crowd because it’s hep to have anything with a Cupertino fruit symbol on it.
Live Messenger – Oh my God. Forget the chat aspect, IF you can find the chat space behind all the cluttery over-bloated buttons and ads. Move that shit out of the way and let me chat gd-it!
Apple Update – NO – I DO NOT WANT SAFARI ON MY WINDOWS DESKTOP!!!!!! Stop shoving it in my face!!!
Symantec – Just please, put down the crack pipe and stop bloating out your code to death. Soon it will require a Cray SMP with 40 terabytes of memory just to load your “Security” product suite. The only way it makes a computer secure is by rendering it unresponsive, so even bad code can’t get a slice of that CPU.
Autodesk – Please, I beg you, listen to me for one second: there are many of us (you know, those people called “customers”) that (a) do not want to wait for WsCommCntrl.exe to stop hogging the CPU in order to get working in AutoCAD and get the boss off our backs, and (b) don’t have time or company policy allowance to participate in your Customer Improvement Program. Let us TURN THAT SHIT OFF PERMANENTLY! Stop burying it in places intended only to make it difficult to disable it. It aggravates the shit out of us and it’s really tiresome. If you want to know what we think, pick up the phone and call us.
Adobe – Really? Seriously?! Are you kidding?! You charge HOW MUCH for Acrobat Professional? Holy f-ing cow! To make fancy PDF files. I suppose you’re ok with charging $100 per square of toilet paper in your company restrooms too? And why is PhotoShop so expensive? Do you read? People are actively looking for cheaper alternatives and they’re actually finding them. I’d be worried if I were you. Get real. Drop your ridiculous pricing.
Google – Can you please put a consistent interface on your vast array of web products? I mean, seriously. How many engineers do you employ? How much do you spend on the infamous cafeterias and daycares? Can you spare a few bucks to clean it up a bit? Maybe get things out of “beta” in less than 5 years.
Microsoft – R2? What’s that? Windows 7, Windows Server 2008, IE9, Expression 4. Hey, how about forming a committee to tackle the problem with version numbering? Which is it: a number or a year? And does every product really need 11 syllables? System Center Operations Manager? System Center Virtual Machine Manager? Can we dispense with the “System Center” prefix? And while you’re at it, how about cleaning up the mess your developers have made with things like MSXML service packs, and .NET updates? IT folks are struggling to package and push that stuff to thousands of computers. You could help us out a little.
Mobile Apps – Don’t tell me how “mobile” is going to overtake the desktop when your stinky mobile apps still don’t have all the features or options I have with the crusty old web desktop version. Facebook and Twitter for mobile devices still cuts your hands off when you need to do certain things. Shouldn’t a mobile app be AT LEAST equal to it’s web counterpart?
And, speaking of AT LEAST: what happened to the idea that an “upgrade” should never take a step backwards? Why do so many upgrades seem to quietly remove something we had in the previous version?
Let’s go back to making QUALITY code, ok?