Software that just isn't right by jgn on Saturday, December 1, 2007 in Technology

I've been thinking a lot about software I use that, in the end, just isn't right. Here are my two top candidates for destruction right now:

  1. Adobe Reader on Windows. Yes, the software that displays PDFs. Before I begin, note that Reader (version 8.0) is a 22MB download. Wow. As I watch the file names go by during installation, I see the likes of SOAP.API, and I'm thinking: Sheesh, the stupid thing uses web services? Please. Can we just do one small thing right? Like display a PDF? In any case, here are my top gripes:

A. I don't know WHAT is up with printing out of Acrobat, but if your printer is on a network, it can really get wacky with ginormous pauses during print setup that make no sense. I don't really care if there's an explanation: It's just wrong. To be sure, my printing is hooked up via a wireless printserver, but, you know, I just don't care. Maybe it's because it's a biggish PDF (8 MB). But again, I don't care. It doesn't work. Every other program I use prints fine. But not Acrobat. No doubt it is doing some bi-directional communication with the printer, and there's a lot of latency, but, again, it's just broken, bad design, I don't know what. Maybe I can blame the printserver, but I don't think so.

B. Viewing PDF in the browser. Every power user will tell you that on Windows, you never read a PDF in the browser. It is just too likely to hose your browser. Everyone downloads. I have had discussions with people who think it is appropriate to direct the user to just (left) click a link for a PDF, but then you will get the complaints for some poor end-user who follows directions that something is screwed up and the PDF doesn't appear. Well, tell those users to right-click and download the PDF to the desktop, and then open it up with Acrobat.

C. An old one: PDF is just too proprietary. I'm sick of it.

I would guess that Apple's version has been tweaked to play nice with everything. Maybe when I get my new Mac in January my excuse will be: I want PDF display and printing that doesn't stink.

  1. Outlook. The skin is nice, but the guts are bad. The latest thing that has been driving me bananas is this. I leave a computer on overnight, and Windows wants to do its automatic updates. I let it do its thing, because I want the security updates right away. So what does Windows want to do afterwards? Reboot. And if Outlook is running, what does Windows do? Terminates it. And when Outlook starts up, what does it want to do? Verify the stupid PST file. UGH! Stop the madness! Why does Outlook keep it open in such a way that termination might result in a file that needs verification!? It's awful software design, and on these grounds alone should be banned.

I could go on.

I don't feel better after this rant.

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