Thursday, March 22, 2007

Why is software so #$%^&#% bad?

There is a tremendous amount of bad software out there, and it seems to be getting worse.

Take, for instance, the backup software that came with the hard drive I bought last week. The default behavior is to back up certain types of files that many people have, and only those files. If I want to back up other types of files (because I use other kinds of software, some of which is decidedly not rare) with this program, I have to manually add the other file types, and not miss a file type. This is exactly backwards.
The point of a backup is so that, if the worst case scenario occurs, I can restore my files to the state in which they were at the time of the most recent backup. Thus the default behavior should be to back up any and every file type. Optionally, it can let me choose to not back up certain file types or certain folders, but it certainly should not fail to back up a file type that I forgot to add to the list.

I've also been having trouble with my income tax software. I have been using TurboTax, because when I first started doing my taxes on the computer TurboTax was the only Mac tax package which would allow me to do New Hampshire income taxes.* In past years TurboTax has worked reasonably well. This year, however, one of the forms I use sent the step-by-step interview into a loop that had to be broken by manually going to the next stage. Now, Intuit seems to be confused about whether my return has been accepted: I e-filed Monday evening and got an e-mail timestamped 04:14 EDT Tuesday saying the return was accepted, but the program thinks that Intuit doesn't know yet whether the return has been accepted. Not good quality control on Intuit's part here.

I haven't even gotten into Microsoft Office yet--I'll save that for another rant.

*Yes, New Hampshire has an income tax. See RSA 77:1 and 77:3.

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