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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Software Quality - We Are Loosing It

This may sounds silly, surely not technical, but today I've lived the last drop before crackpots!

IE6 Inside The Cash Point

I am not joking, I have no idea how many cash points use windows and IE to run a 7 screens software. Have you never noticed a "click clack" while you are performing your operations?
OK, maybe banks do not even buy Microsoft licenses, or maybe those are dedicated cache machine version of Windows, but I could never imagine to find a windows popup with an error in a cache machine, it is ridiculous!
Those one with just text? Well, they look old and ugly, but I've rarely seen one disabled.
We have dozen of valid Operating System able to perform the same software for years without requiring a single reboot. How difficult will be to create an OS specific for a cash point where operations are always the same, adding just 1 image format supported? What I mean is that you can find active screens with lottery ads inside running 24/7 without problems over a hilarious hardware.
Take one of them, add 20 buttons function, that's all we need to click: £10 and digit few numbers, isn't it?

The Hub 2.0 Router Firmware Disaster

I am having constant problems with my ADSL since the first day. First of all the company wrote in the website that for first 10 days I could have noticed disservice but after everything would have been fine. So far, so cool, I was freaking out thinking "OMG, my router is alive, it programs itself!!!" ... then I have simply realized that this company is just selling, so once they bring you the router they have a ready excuse if things are not working as expected ... you have already signed, and good luck with assistance 5 days a day, without specific hours, and during the week ... sure, I day off to wait somebody for somethig I am already paying.
Moreover, without touching anything, and monitoring the router directly via its interface, they asked me via phone if I was in Wireless or Cable ... I mean: WHAT? THE ROUTER IS TELLING ME ITS SPEED, I HAVE NOT A NETWORK PROBLEM!!!
It does not matter, I am struggling with 160kbps of bandwidth and apparently, even if for 2 weeks everything was almost fine, now it's my problem ... they need to come here ... to do what?
Checking online the firmware of this router has the worst history ever.
Is it that difficult to develop a firmware or this company just payed the cheapest one "who cares about the software if it works somehow"?
Right, now I have the latest version of one of the most problematic firmware I have ever seen. I was complaining with ASUS and its firmware nightmare where nightmare meant 1 every year and now I have discovered than a much simple device has so many software problem ... OK, cheap router, but they sell it like gold, and crappy software ... that's cool!!! I wonder how many problems there could be in a standard configuration as whatever phone line is. Is too noisy? Cable problems? No, it's the router, but they'll never tell us their router has problem. Most likely they'll let us buy a new PC to discover that the problem was not the PC ... cool!

Supermarket Big Chains With Bugged Self Check Out

Again, I am not joking, in the place where I go almost every day to buy something for lunch I hve never seen all self check out machines active without problems, never!
The hardware is pretty simple though, touch screen with basically 3 big buttons, a barcode reader, and a money counter for the change. Simple, isn't it? It's not, 'cause these machines never work more than 2 consecutive days ... always problems. Well done Big Chain, as summary you paid the cheapest machines, and your are paying 10 times more due to constant problems these machines have. Everybody does its business, right? Today there were 2 3 of us stuck in front of these machines all without notes change ... I mean, the machine counts money, it is never wrong with the change, and it does not understand when it is finished? The money scanner knows there's no money left there, and it tries again, and again, and again ... used software did not think that when it's finished, it's finished, the machine should simply start to flash the top red light with a clear warning: I HAVE NO MORE MONEY
This would make everything more efficient, since I spent 10 minutes in a self check out machine rather than 1 in the human driven one ... cool!

Run To Deliver

Too many competitors, but apparently it's not the same about developers quality. This is true for the web, for microwaves, for every electric stuff ... the hardware does not cost anymore, what we pay is always the software. 20 years ago there was less software but hell if it was working as expected. Nowadays, software development time is too frenetic, there is no time to do a proper analysis, no time to properly structure the code, no time to write decent comments, no time to describes problems, no time for brainstorming, no time to find the best solution, the first that quickly work is fine ... everything is a quick fix, and if it is not and we had time to things properly, we won't have time to create unit tests. Agile, SCRUM, Extreme, these therms are rarely concretely applied over whatever development team but they are fashionable therms, so everybody is Agile today ... We used that OS lib, without showing credits anywhere in our sold application, we have quickly fixed everything without testing, but we have respected the ridiculous deadline 'cause the customer is waiting ... but isn't the customer the one unhappy when things do not work as expected?

AS Summary

We need to slow down, we need to think more, we need to understand why that program worked better, why that library is solving this or that problem and how it is doing it, if we would like to be able to extend it or to customize it. This "1 hour deadline" for everything is visible, touchable, on daily basis with daily software wherever it is ... what is going on? We can't blame always outsourcing though, isn't it?

1 comment:

Akinorew said...

Year 2011 and still we have the same cash machine problems, not saying about ticket machines in the underground. Almost impossible to use them.. ;) Obviously not so many changes across the years..