Alright I admit it – part of yesterday’s post on un-unpinning a tab in Chrome was a set up for today’s post. Because just a few days after that I started using a shiny new Android phone, and, well… I posted this Facebook rant after my first texting experience.
“WTF is with software nowadays being so fucking un-customizable? I now have an android smartphone, and the native android smilie icons are UGLY as SHIT. (it’s a smiling green pile of puke!) Turns out there’s no option to replace them, or even just plain TURN THEM OFF. I have to go download a separate messaging app. Is this non-customization a thing now? Is this how we do software? I guess everyone got so used to Facebook just forcing bullshit on us that we don’t even question this crap. I don’t even…!!! ARRR!”
Yes, I know it’s a First World Problems rant. My recent frustration with Chrome not including simple things in its Options boiled over. Normally I wouldn’t publicize something like that in a permanent, searchable format. But this is just one more example in a trend of Crass Sloppiness. Very rarely does anyone care anymore that code is sloppy. I’m nowhere close to the first person to notice this, but it’s becoming ridiculous. Yes, bugs are hard to find, applying rigorous standards takes discipline and good leadership, and crap software is cheaper to produce – especially when you outsource the beta testing to your initial customers! MicroSoft’s era of shitty software has made us callous to these problems. What’s the first solution to every software problem? Right – reboot the damn machine. Is your computer running poorly? Well what do you expect if you haven’t power-cycled it in a day? Something crashed? Eh, just reload it. Nobody cares anymore. And if the users don’t care, why should the developers?
This has led to such a shitty work ethic that now even simple things like having the option to turn off or undo an intrusive feature is not included. How lazy do you have to be to not put in that option? How much Not-Giving-A-Fuck does a boss have to have to let that slide?
And since we are all computer users, this attitude of “Well, doesn’t matter if it runs well, as long as it kinda works, now let me get back to my cat vids” seems to have permeated all of society. I took my car in to three different places because it developed a rough idle and has lost a small but non-trivial bit of gas mileage. All three times I’ve gotten a shrug and “I dunno… it seems to be running though.” Yes, I know it’s running, but it’s performing sub-optimally, and apparently it’s not actually your job to give a fuck? I wish I knew a mechanic who actually had some pride in his work and passion for his job.
Ever since the dawn of tool use, human advancement has relied on ever greater attention to precision and perfection. This reversal when it comes to software is more than just a bit worrying. As Charles Stross has pointed out, we don’t use analog machines anymore. We don’t use telephones – we talk into computers, that transmit data to other computers, which then turn that data back into sound to play for the guy on the other end of the line. We don’t drive cars – we manipulate the input devices on large, rolling computers-with-engines, which use that input to drive us where we want to go. We don’t turn keys in locks – we identify ourselves via chips to computers that control the door locks. If software keeps getting more bloated and leaky and “good enough”, and both users and developers stop caring that it works cleanly, not going to space today may be the least of our problems.