I sit, imagining a world in which profit far outweighs the importance of innovation and reliability. In this world companies release new software and hardware on shorter and shorter life-cycles, to the point that such things are compromised due to poor quality control and testing. Critical functions are present but disabled and can be activated “for a fee”.
In this world, everyone sues everyone else for ripping off ideas, even though the new ideas are often better than the previous ones. Here we have devices with singular tasks that lock up, quit responding, or need firmware updates to fix bugs.
Closed systems abound, where software and data cannot be transferred between different devices in order to “lock-in” customers.
It is a world in which the early practices of proprietary, closed systems are becoming vaunted, yet were shunned less than a decade ago and once considered the greatest failure of the personal computer industry while in its infancy.
In this same world are thousands of mobile devices, none of which can perform perfectly on a regular basis. All have their flaws. All have their weaknesses. We also find digital recording devices that forget to record programs, drop the audio, or suffer odd freezes and other problems. Here we have gaming consoles, once the haven of computer geeks that grew tired of configuring computer systems and having to purchase the latest hardware, receiving updates on a regular basis – not just the systems but the games as well.
Here we also find individuals no longer have software backups. New content is only provided electronically but even when purchased there’s often no guarantee it can be re-downloaded without additional charges.
But this isn’t really an imaginary world. This is today. This is the past year. That’s not to say that all technology worked perfectly in previous years or that all current technology is crap. Some of it is and was crap. But there are too many problems with the software. What we have today should be better than what we had yesterday. But it’s not. The added features make it seem better but when I consider reliability and cost it seems to break-even, at best.
Reliability is a growing problem. My only guess is that either quality control needs to be improved or the development life-cycles need to be extended. My old SD Tivo worked much better than my new Tivo Premier. My first iPod didn’t do much, but it did it well. My previous analog cell phones, that could do nothing more than make calls, worked better than my early Windows phone or iPhone. Sure, the “smarthpones” can do far more but guess what? Sometimes they still can’t make phone calls. Sometimes it’s cell service but other times it’s odd things like the device running slow, not dialing, or not hanging up.
Perhaps it’s a problem caused by the lack of specialized hardware and more reliance on software? Perhaps it’s just poor programming practices?
I don’t know what’s causing these issues but lately I’ve found new technology less and less reliable and more and more closed.
These problems are actually the reason this blog even exists.