Saturday, January 20, 2007

It's not your fault -- most software has some critical flaw (with podcast)

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I regularly get computer support call from my clients that begin with, "I was trying to do X, but ..." They are frustrated, confused and sometimes angry. Even worse, they often blame themselves for the problem, figuring that they must have done something wrong. Let me be the first to tell you, though, never assume, at the beginning, that your computer problems are of your own making. The truth is, every piece of software produced today has some critical flaw. Use your computer enough and you are bound to trigger them.

Even more important, don't let anyone try to make you feel stupid or inadequate, just because your don't have the benefit of 20+ years of experience with technology like I do. Due to my choice of profession, I have to know how to deal with problems that arise. As a user, you should never see most of the errors you do. They are signs of sloppy programming, inadequate testing and, in many cases, people who just don't care.

Take, for example, my recent experience with McAfee Total Protection for Small Business. I was installing this package for a client and encountered error after error after error. This installation took me over an hour when it should have taken less than 15 minutes. Instead, though, McAfee's installer software, probably due to conflicts with Microsoft's new Internet Explorer 7, failed again and again and again. It was only my extensive experience (and my sometimes dog-like tenaciousness) that allowed me to work through the install and start it working.

There is no way that your average user, no matter how knowledgeable would have been capable of completing this installation. They simply would have thrown up their hands (or possibly, thrown out the software) and given up. The fact is, the state of software flaws is appalling. I could possibly accept a small computer problem in 10% of the installs. That is still 1 in 10 computers, but I will give manufacturers the benefit of the doubt. Instead, I see exactly the opposite ratio. In my work, I am experiencing problems, both large and small, in over 90% of the computers I install or troubleshoot. This even occurs with computers new, out of the box. In almost every case, some piece of software or hardware requires my attention to complete the installation. I find this utterly ridiculous.

So, the next time you experience trouble with your computer or your software, don't jump to conclusions and blame yourself. More than likely, the product is flawed, not your computer skills.

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1 comment:

rackettfamily said...

Amen! We just tried to install Total Protection and our Earthlink Total Access went nuts...once we took off everything but VirusScan, we at least now have Internet Explorer working, but Outlook still hangs up when trying to receive mail. No one at Earthlink is any help, and you can't even get to anyone at McAfee. What a nightmare!