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Geek Culture / Theory as to why software quality seems to be decreasing

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Dark Java Dude 64
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Posted: 9th May 2017 06:42
As touched on in my touch interface thread, it seems that the general quality of software these days is going down. I sort of had these realization the other night, and I think it's all the internet's fault!

See, consider a hardware manufacturer like Intel. They, without exception, absolutely have to get a design right the first time and before they put it into production. Setting up the facility to manufacture the design costs a massive amount of money, and once a particular design is set, it's incredibly expensive to change it -- I've heard a single photolithography mask for a modern processor can cost over a million dollars. And once processors are shipped, Intel can't simply update the design of the processor in Joe's laptop if a bug is found. Because of this, hardware manufactures (and manufacturers of other tangible products in general) usually pay really close attention to the design process.

Now consider Microsoft. When they release a new version of Skype, it doesn't really cost them anything to get the new edition ready for publishing (besides staffing costs which I assume are trivial). If they come up with a design change at the last minute, no big deal! Just update the servers. And if a bug is found after a particular version is released, no big deal! Just send out a quick update.

So because software is comparatively extremely cheap to distribute, and because it's possible to modify software even after it's been distributed, software companies go about their development with a sort of "ah well, it's okay, if anything goes wrong we can always just fix it then" attitude. And I think it would be more economical for a software company to run that way, spend as little time as possible on software development, keep quality control and testing to a minimum, focus on design and flash and marketability, and fix things if and and only when they break badly enough.

So that's what we get for having this whole internet thing! Crappy software!

Now, I'm still under 20, so I've never really used traditional software, that came on a CD or floppy drive and didn't update via the internet, while being cognizant of doing so. Maybe that was bad too? I don't know. It seems that the general direction software is going in is a steady decrease in quality. Even take iOS for example which (and I know people here might not agree) at a time was probably the most rock solid, reliable operating system used on a mass produced consumer device. Last time I used iOS though, which was around a year ago, it was ridden with all sorts of random little bugs.
"I do quite enjoy quoting myself, and I do so often. It's very fun." - Myself
Seppuku Arts
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Posted: 9th May 2017 19:37 Edited at: 9th May 2017 19:38
It would be the internet, yes. Generally before, you'd live with bugs or if a patch is released on a CD somewhere or a relatively small one on the internet, that would be a separate .exe. Patches were done manually and by choice and not automatically. But the interest was also considerably slower, so big updates weren't viable. My childhood/early teenage years were spent with dial-up, so something like a 100mb would have been INSANE and once we got 256kbps broadband, it was like things were lightning fast (yes, I know older members will go "why in my day, we only had magazines had to write the code from the magazines!" or something like that.

100mb used to take hours and nowadays...it takes seconds.

But software is generally easy to patch these days. Which is also a shame in that bugs get patched in games too, as odd as it seems, there are bugs you could use as exploits, which could be fun or just the general charm of learning about a bug and breaking the game in some way. Heck, in FFXIV, an MMO, somebody discovered a way of going "out of bounds" in a house district and for a long time Square Enix didn't know about this, so we'd just have fun going to parts of the map we weren't supposed to and the fun of showing people how to do it. Sadly they discovered it and eliminated it.

However, I wouldn't necessarily BLAME the internet, but maybe the developers for urging and pushing software out before it's ready. For them it's cheaper that way and they get money quicker and also users will tend to report bugs and I guess makes it easier to find, maybe another way to look at it, as pay off for us, may mean we get releases sooner and they're able to invest those resources elsewhere in their budget. Ubisoft, EA and a couple of others get a bad rep for it, especially Ubisoft. And of course Skype and Spotify too. At one stage, both programs were unusable for me. I also used to get it with iTunes waaay back in the day, but I don't use it any more.

And I don't think it's just desktop applications. It can be web applications too, which probably have the most friendly update cycle, because they only have to update it on their server, but some stuff is just so poorly designed and poorly optimised and somebody learning web development I see a lot of things I am taught not to do and think, where in these allegedly professional environments these bad habits have been picked up. Though my main annoyance is the web application we use at work and working without our VPN, although made by and made for the same company, the two REALLY do not work harmoniously (when logged out of the VPN, things work - except the things we need a VPN for). The old version of the application used old Active X controls and only worked in IE in Compatability mode and would break itself once in a while. Then they updated with a new one, which was supposed to be our saviour, whilst there were improvements, for example, cross-browser compatibility, meaning I run Google Chrome at work. But our VPN can still break it and recently, it's been a lot worse. The VPN is triggering Google Chrome's built in security features, which I am hesitant to override to avoid inadvertently breaking IT policy and I frequently get kicked out on Firefox. It's most stable browser is Internet Explorer, which to me feels odd, but I get no errors on it...however, it is also considerably slower. XD

But it's also us minions using it, not some end user, so I guess there's less of an incentive to make it work completely smoothly, as long as we can still do our job effectively enough.
Dark Java Dude 64
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Posted: 10th May 2017 10:46
Quote: "I wouldn't necessarily BLAME the internet, but maybe the developers for urging and pushing software out before it's ready."
Haha, that's basically what I mean. I'm not actually blaming the internet itself (most software these days would be useless without it!), but pointing to the internet as an ultimate cause.

Quote: "It can be web applications too, which probably have the most friendly update cycle, because they only have to update it on their server"
Ah yes, that's definitely a big one. All the sudden you go to YouTube for instance, and you're forced to welcome a new feature which may or may not be all that great.
"I do quite enjoy quoting myself, and I do so often. It's very fun." - Myself
Kevin Picone
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Posted: 10th May 2017 14:52
The internet was meant to make everything better, but it's making everything worse... abstraction/ form over function are big part of it for me... although a lack of hard limits tends to make people/programmers lazy though. why invest time/brains cells optimizing something when we can just pimp the upgrade your hardware line.. The ability to have a free-form platform is great and all, but It's a shame there's no minimum hardware requirement for level of Windows PC's.



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Seppuku Arts
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Posted: 10th May 2017 19:01
Even in my own little projects at work I've been coding to help make things easier and reduce errors on the work floor are wanted out when I have the functionality ready, but not necessarily completely ready. With the attitude, bugs and little niggles can be sorted out based on agent feedback as long as it does its job. But in their mind, and one can't blame them for in this scenario is that it is doing its job sooner, meaning the problem it's resolving is being done sooner. And as I did it all as a web application, updates weren't difficult to push out at least and could pretty much resolve problems as they came in. Personally, I would have loved to tested first, but that might be my pride speaking, every bug somebody found felt like an oversight. And I am about to release a new improved version next week that's also designed to be updatable & modified by an idiot (I still need to get an idiot to try it, I suggested one of my seniors), because we don't hire developers and we only have 3 members of staff who know how to program. And only 1 who knows JQuery and AngularJS (me!), so if I quit my job, changes would be difficult for them. So I am waiting to see what bugs come out, as my other responsibilities have me too busy to fully test it in time.
Phaelax
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Posted: 11th May 2017 01:19 Edited at: 11th May 2017 01:20
With it being so easy to push out updates these days, developers don't bother troubleshooting their programs thoroughly. Why waste time and money bug checking when they can just push it out and let the users report the bugs. When you bought a game on a floppy, it had to work because where were you going to get an update? How were you going to contact the developer? There weren't any web forums, at least not like we know them now.


Another reason I believe is just the lack of skill in modern coders. I think a lot of them simply do it because a career counselor told them its a good job and web tutorials make it easy to learn the basics. Back in the day, if someone could program it's because they actually enjoyed it and knew what the heck they were doing.

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Dark Java Dude 64
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Posted: 11th May 2017 07:05
Quote: "I think a lot of them simply do it because a career counselor told them its a good job and web tutorials make it easy to learn the basics."
I think you just hit the nail on the head. It's all those folks out there who want to make the next MMORPG! They want to program without actually programming. That is to say, they're probably the kind of person who focuses on the benefits of being a developer, just writing code and getting paid big bucks (if you're incredibly lucky) and making cool games and whatnot -- and they don't consider the deeply technical, intellectual aspect of programming, the tediousness of it, and the art of doing it properly.
"I do quite enjoy quoting myself, and I do so often. It's very fun." - Myself
Clonkex
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Posted: 15th May 2017 10:50
Quote: "I think a lot of them simply do it because a career counselor told them its a good job and web tutorials make it easy to learn the basics."


I also totally agree with that. It's amazing how many coders there are that think they know everything because they did some online course but in reality they only know the bare basics and have no concept of doing it properly, and definitely don't know what's happening behind the scenes. Having now worked full-time in IT (mostly web-dev) for well over a year I realise just how much I don't know yet. I thought before I started there that I would be fine in any IT job with the knowledge I had, but it's super obvious how naive I was. I only just feel like I have enough knowledge now that I could go to any IT job and do ok.
Ortu
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Posted: 15th May 2017 20:29
Quote: "Another reason I believe is just the lack of skill in modern coders. I think a lot of them simply do it because a career counselor told them its a good job and web tutorials make it easy to learn the basics"


There is a term for these types: brogrammer
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PAGAN_old
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Posted: 9th Jun 2017 20:41 Edited at: 9th Jun 2017 20:55
Really hard to say man Are you talking about the consumer software like skype, Firmware? for a router or a phone? production software?- large software toolkits used to make other software, Or maybe software inside of the navigation computer of an helicopter pilot or a drone? And Also if you notice that a lot of companies who make your smarphone, Also make... missiles, and are generally very involved in the arms research and development business. Remember how in the 1960s The us military (and anyone else who was interested for that matter) got dibs on AT&Ts UNIX System V while they were under a moratorium of selling it? Do you think Microsoft is still in the operating system business? (I know for a fact that at some point they were big into researching portable nuclear reactors for third world countries. Tech companies are pretty big and sometimes i am surprised to fins out about what those companies do on the side other than sell printers.

As for software getting worse over time, I cant really agree with you not disagree because its both. Also depending on who wrote that software. Is it some clunky development framework toolkit created under the GPL licence? (who knows where that code has been? Anyone who wasnt lazy got tossed lines of their own lines code in there)? Or was it done in a more professional manner (so professionall that every comment in the code was required to have a mini licence agreement that what you are reading is as stated in the documentation.... seriosly has anyone read Microsofts focumentation? thats literally what they write it like.

Say what you will about software but i think both hardware and software have both been mostly increasing in quality. and no Windows 10 with touchscreen support isnt crap because you are running it on your grandmothers celeron 400. If anything Windows 10 has jumped a DECADE ahead of its time.

Then again if you are speaking from a viewpoint of someone who want to take it apart and modify it like me, Their progress has made it much harder to do so.

I can argue my point back and 4th all day It all really depends on things.. I mean Iphone vs Android, people keep arguing over which is better and are too distracted to realize that Android initially targeted the market of cheap devices. apple manufactured their own and the elitist culture that surrounds the company and their products makes iphone a very different gadget than android marketed at very different kinds of people.

Someone who owns an iphone wont be trying to tweak the firmware and neither will he have any reason to. Hell just go to the nearest apple store and buy a new iphone.

An Android-based manufacturer however capitalizes on the fact that much of its customer base are nerds and technopholes who are constantly on the bleeding edge of tomorrow.
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