Everything's broken and nobody's upset
Software doesn't work. I'm shocked at how often we put up with it. Here's just a few issues -
literally off the top of my head - that I personally dealt with last week.
- My iPhone 4s has 3 gigs of "OTHER" taking up space, according to iTunes. No one has any idea what other is and all the suggestions are to reset it completely or "delete and re-add your mail accounts." Seems like a problem to me when I have only 16 total gigs on the device!
- The Windows Indexing Service on my desktop has been running for 3 straight days. The answer? Delete and rebuild the index. That only took a day.
- I have 4 and sometimes 5 Contacts for every one Actual Human on my iPhone. I've linked them all, but duplicates still show up.
- My iMessage has one guy who chats me and the message will show up in any one of three guys with the same name. Whenever he chats me I have to back out and see which "him" it is coming from.
- I don't think Microsoft Outlook has ever "shut down cleanly."
- The iCloud Photo stream is supposed to show the last 1000 pictures across all my iOS devices. Mine shows 734. Dunno why. The answer? Uninstall, reinstall, stop, start, restart.
- Where's that email I sent you? Likely stuck in my Outlook Outbox.
- Gmail is almost as slow as Outlook now. Word is I should check for rogue apps with access to my Gmail via OAuth. There are none.
- UPDATE: Yes, I know how OAuth works, I've implemented versions of the spec. A Gmail engineer suggested that perhaps other authenticated clients (GMVault, Boomerang, or IMAP clients, etc) were getting in line and forcing synchronous access to my Gmail account. Gabriel Weinberg has blogged about Gmail slowness as well.
- I use Microsoft Lync (corporate chat) on my Desktops, two laptops, iPhone and iPad as well as in a VM or two. A few days back two of the Lync instances got into a virtual fight and started a loop where they'd log each other in and out declaring "you are logged into Lync from too many places." So basically, "Doctor, it hurts when I do this." "Don't do that."
- Final Cut Pro crashes when you scroll too fast while saving.
- My Calendar in Windows 8 is nothing but birthdays. Hundreds of useless duplicate birthdays of people I don't know.
- iPhoto is utterly unusable with more than a few thousand photos.
- Don't even get me started about iTunes.
- And Skype. Everything about the Skype UI. Especially resizing columns in Skype on a Mac.
- Google Chrome after version 19 or so changed the way it registers itself on Windows as the default browser and broke a half dozen apps (like Visual Studio) who look for specific registry keys that every other browser writes.
- I should get an Xbox achievement for every time I press "Clear" in the iPhone notification window.
- I've got two Microsoft Word documents that I wrote in Word that I can no longer open in Word as Word says "Those aren't Word documents."
- Three of my favorite websites lock up IE9 regularly. Two lock up Chrome. I never remember which is which.
All of this happened with a single week of actual work. There are likely a hundred more issues like this. Truly, it's death by a thousand paper cuts.
I work for Microsoft, have my personal life in Google, use Apple devices to access it and it all sucks.
Alone or in a crowd, no one cares.
Here's the worst part, I didn't spend any time on the phone with anyone about these issues. I didn't file bugs, send support tickets or email teams. Instead, I just Googled around and saw one of two possible scenarios for each issue.
- No one has ever seen this issue. You're alone and no one cares.
- Everyone has seen this issue. No one from the company believes everyone. You're with a crowd and no one cares.
Sadly, both of these scenarios ended in one feeling. Software doesn't work and no one cares.
How do we fix it?
Here we are in 2012 in a world of open standards on an open network, with angle brackets and curly braces flying at gigabit speeds and it's all a mess. Everyone sucks, equally and completely.
- Is this a speed problem? Are we feeling we have to develop too fast and loose?
- Is it a quality issue? Have we forgotten the art and science of Software QA?
- Is it a people problem? Are folks just not passionate about their software enough to fix it?
- UPDATE: It is a communication problem? Is it easy for users to report errors and annoyances?
I think it's all of the above. We need to care and we need the collective will to fix it. What do you think?
P.S. If you think I'm just whining, let me just say this. I'm am complaining not because it sucks, but because I KNOW we can do better.
Related Posts in this Three Part series on Software Quality
- Everything's broken and nobody's upset
- A Bug Report is a Gift
- Help your users record and report bugs with the Problem Steps Recorder