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Author Topic: Why is Software for Hardware Always Sucky?  (Read 6897 times)

Renegade

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Why is Software for Hardware Always Sucky?
« on: February 22, 2011, 07:09:53 AM »
GPS units. Phone connectivity software. etc. etc. Why is it always sucky? And why do companies make brand new crappy interfaces that are always confusing, and rarely let you get things done easily, if at all.

Once in a while, things work ok. But generally they use crummy wizard UIs and are horribly limited.

I'm in the process of updating my GPS units, and it's just a complete disaster with a trillion pieces of software to do different tasks. Why not have 1 good piece of software?

Am I alone in this? Does anyone else find the same?
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vlastimil

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Re: Why is Software for Hardware Always Sucky?
« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2011, 08:53:32 AM »
I noticed the same. Sometimes, it also applies to drivers of sound cards, or to some special notebook hardware and such.

Hard to say why is that. Maybe the main reason is that the people in charge have too much money to spend and desperately want to *see* where the money went. Instead of investing into testing and behind the hood feature, they want the "better" custom GUI.

cranioscopical

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Re: Why is Software for Hardware Always Sucky?
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2011, 10:45:49 AM »
I've rather assumed that it's because those companies are hardware oriented and see user interface software as just a last minute chore that has to be undertaken before rushing to market.

Eóin

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Re: Why is Software for Hardware Always Sucky?
« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2011, 11:05:52 AM »
I always assumed it was to be flash, i.e. you couldn't possibly interact with our shiny new hardware through some drab efficient interface, here use our custom UI.

Stoic Joker

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Re: Why is Software for Hardware Always Sucky?
« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2011, 12:26:55 PM »
I've rather assumed that it's because those companies are hardware oriented and see user interface software as just a last minute chore that has to be undertaken before rushing to market.

I always assumed it was to be flash, i.e. you couldn't possibly interact with our shiny new hardware through some drab efficient interface, here use our custom UI.

Put these two together and I'd say that nails it. Engineering is guilty of the first one, and marketing the second.

f0dder

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Re: Why is Software for Hardware Always Sucky?
« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2011, 01:08:40 PM »
Yeah, it sucks. Sucks, sucks, sucks. Add printer and scanner drivers to the bunch - they've always sucked, but it's gotten extremely bad in the latest years, where printer drivers have started advertising for printer cartridges.

Phone connectivity... several hundreds of megs installed, whether it's Nokia or Sony/Ericsson or whatever. I try to stick with S/E because I can then use the nice unbloated MyPhoneExplorer :-*
- carpe noctem

Eóin

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Re: Why is Software for Hardware Always Sucky?
« Reply #6 on: February 22, 2011, 02:55:35 PM »
I try to stick with S/E because I can then use the nice unbloated MyPhoneExplorer :-*

I use that with my Android phone just fine, so that opens a load more phone choices for you in future.

nosh

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Re: Why is Software for Hardware Always Sucky?
« Reply #7 on: February 22, 2011, 11:10:35 PM »
+1 on the general issue. Don't even get me started on Nokia software! And I've had a mobo vendor offer to install the Yahoo Toolbar once the driver installation was complete. ;D For f***s sake, it's a new PC!! Give me a couple of weeks at the very least before offering to do it in!

JavaJones

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Re: Why is Software for Hardware Always Sucky?
« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2011, 12:57:33 AM »
Yeah, it's really pretty awful. I heard of this new one, i-something.... tunes maybe. Anyway, I guess it was a music player or cd ripper or something at first, but now it controls a bunch of different hardware devices, including phones and stuff that have nothing (necessarily) to do with music. Weird stuff...  :P

- Oshyan

Paul Keith

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Re: Why is Software for Hardware Always Sucky?
« Reply #9 on: February 23, 2011, 03:53:00 AM »
Because it's mostly closed software/specs.

Software for hardware is one of those things that few companies realize would boost their sales if it is further open-sourced.

Not only will it get rid of them needing to support everything - it's a good start for them to finally start acknowledging their customer service support rather than constantly hiding behind obscurity.

Unfortunately this is another area that seems like it's waiting for a large tech company like Google to "Android" about. There's firmware like Tomato and DD-WRT but companies know few people know anything about these things and the ones who do... well it's not like the hardware are as cool or as exposed as Apple's gadgets.

Also crappy shiny interface means the illusion of making minor upgrades seem like major steps. Neither the casuals nor the non-casuals really notice this but hell it's like your average best seller. Initial sales and then after that just hardware:

To quote 40hz:

http://www.donationc....msg238241#msg238241

Quote
I think this is just another classic case of a bright non-technical newcomer, who is thinking outside the culture, coming face to face with and older and established "tech & coding" crowd who don't feel a need to automatically go along with everything they're being cajoled into doing.

Shuttleworth no doubt feels unappreciated and not getting the respect he should. And the old guard are likely feeling that somebody who's mostly talk and charisma is trying to coopt or dominate the work they've dedicated hundreds of unpaid man years developing.

Sad thing is, they're both right and wrong in feeling the way they do about each other.

It's a complicated set of issues. Unfortunately, Bruce Byfield can't seem to see much beyond what's directly in front of him when he wrote his article.

And when I see people like inkscapee wondering whether it's "fanboy fickleness" or Canonical being "more into serving their own interests than creating a great Linux distro" I just have to laugh.

Canonical HAS created a great Linux distro. One which did more to successfully popularize Linux than the rest of the combined community was ever able to do. So to make a comment like that is (to be polite) somewhat misinformed.

Maybe he should try writing for the WSJ or the NYT? They're where you go to read tech columnists who show a talent for getting a story almost right.

I personally think the biggest problem for some dragons in the Linux community is that Shuttleworth is not out to personally destroy Microsoft, or humble Bill Gates, like they are. (Not that Shuttleworth's such a prize package either.)

Ah well...growing pains, real issues, and geek politics - combined with just a dash of green eyes. That's what makes the NIX world go round.

lanux128

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Re: Why is Software for Hardware Always Sucky?
« Reply #10 on: February 26, 2011, 08:20:50 PM »
the advent of 64-bit OS has become a good excuse for manufacturers to drop support for their older models, by NOT writing a 64-bit driver. thus enticing users to buy new hardware to complement their new 64-bit OS. at our workplace, we have 4 Canon scanners rendered unusable due to us upgrading to Win7 64-bit. i can see how this tactic will expand into other types of hardware.

Eóin

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Re: Why is Software for Hardware Always Sucky?
« Reply #11 on: February 27, 2011, 04:08:32 PM »
I'm not sure the 64bit aspect comes into it lanux, upgraded drivers have to be written for a switch from say Vista 32bit to Win 7 32bit too.

f0dder

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Re: Why is Software for Hardware Always Sucky?
« Reply #12 on: February 27, 2011, 04:11:28 PM »
I'm not sure the 64bit aspect comes into it lanux, upgraded drivers have to be written for a switch from say Vista 32bit to Win 7 32bit too.
Do they? I thought Vista and Win7 were pretty much interchangeable, except that Win7 likes WDDM1.1 video drivers :)
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Eóin

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Re: Why is Software for Hardware Always Sucky?
« Reply #13 on: February 27, 2011, 04:37:14 PM »
I hadn't thought so, but could easily be wrong.

Also related is a requirement MS impose that if you want your drivers certified, you must provide an x64 version

All products and drivers (kernel-mode or user-mode) submitted for Microsoft signature or logo certification for a given Windows operating system must support the x64 version of that operating system, with certain exceptions described below. All x64 device drivers must adhere to the Microsoft x64 software-calling convention, as defined in the Windows Driver Kit.

This requirement applies for Windows Vista and later operating systems. It applies to all logo-qualified and unclassified drivers. X86 driver submissions are optional in all cases. When submitting an x86 driver or device, vendors must also make an x64 driver submission. Update submissions for x86 drivers need not include x64 drivers unless the updates also apply to the x64 drivers. This requirement does not apply to IA64 devices and drivers; there is no requirement for IA64 devices and drivers to support the x64 architecture.

lanux128

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Re: Why is Software for Hardware Always Sucky?
« Reply #14 on: February 27, 2011, 09:23:50 PM »
I'm not sure the 64bit aspect comes into it lanux, upgraded drivers have to be written for a switch from say Vista 32bit to Win 7 32bit too.

this could be the case for newer models but not for older ones. as can be seen in this 'win7 compatibility center' page for canon scanners, some are clearly marked 'not compatible'. i've tried using 32-bit drivers but win7 refuse to run while the 64-bit drivers of the nearest model crashes. all in all we decided that this was too much hassle to pursue any further.

SETUPSG_28_02_11_001.png

daddydave

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Re: Why is Software for Hardware Always Sucky?
« Reply #15 on: November 04, 2012, 08:38:39 AM »
I try to stick with S/E because I can then use the nice unbloated MyPhoneExplorer :-*

I use that with my Android phone just fine, so that opens a load more phone choices for you in future.

Since this thread is a year and a half old, I am reopening it to ask if either of you have installed MyPhoneExplorer (the desktop client) lately. It is the subject of my first ever Google Play review

Quote
Malware alert: avoid like a sharp stick.

To use this app, you will need to install the desktop client. It also installs at least two unwanted programs: snap.do and InfoAtoms. After having spent the day cleaning this up, I re-downloaded the Windows client to run the setup again twice to make sure there was not a custom install option where I might have avoided it. There definitely is not a custom install option, but when the Terms of Service comes up, you are actually seeing the InfoAtoms TOS. I believe most users will expect MyPhoneExplorer's own TOS to come up at that point, and just click Agree. If you click Cancel, you will get another TOS prompt for TranslateGenius. If you cancel that one, the install continues. So possibly you might be able to install MyPhoneExplorer for Windows without installing "potentially unwanted programs," but this was enough to keep me from trusting the software.

InfoAtoms puts ads everywhere, even Wikipedia and YouTube. If I had not been giving AdBlock Plus, a break, I might not have seen it. snap.do hijacks the browser's home page and default search. TranslateGenius, to my knowledge, did not get installed, and I have no opinion of it.

In fact, InfoAtoms put 3 ads inside of f0dder's post on this forum, and I'm still not sure it didn't insert the words "nice unbloated" and the  :-* in f0dder's post.

And yes, I am admitting to not reading Terms of Service (I guess End User License Agreement is a better phrase -- I'll probably change that in the review) when installing software.
If bad things happen to other people, it's karma. If bad things happen to me, it's kismat!
« Last Edit: November 04, 2012, 08:54:44 AM by daddydave »

Shades

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Re: Why is Software for Hardware Always Sucky?
« Reply #16 on: November 04, 2012, 10:20:47 AM »
Yeah, it sucks. Sucks, sucks, sucks. Add printer and scanner drivers to the bunch - they've always sucked, but it's gotten extremely bad in the latest years, where printer drivers have started advertising for printer cartridges.

Phone connectivity... several hundreds of megs installed, whether it's Nokia or Sony/Ericsson or whatever. I try to stick with S/E because I can then use the nice unbloated MyPhoneExplorer :-*

After a good deal of searching for software to regain the ability to manage my phone (Nokia 5530) after the latest update made it enter into an locked-in environment almost equal to the Apple crap (both on the phone and the Nokia Suite software), I was on the verge of buying a new Android phone.

However, I did find some old beta software from Nokia and that gives me the access I need. The installer says it only runs on Windows XP SP2, but Win7 still has that compability setting and it even works under Win 7 x64. I would say it is similar to the uncluttered interface you get from MyPhoneExplorer.

So, if you (still) have a Symbian S60 phone, search for the following: PCPhone_install_1.2.2078.exe (I couldn´t find it on the Nokia webpage anymore).

f0dder

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Re: Why is Software for Hardware Always Sucky?
« Reply #17 on: November 05, 2012, 05:51:32 AM »
Since this thread is a year and a half old, I am reopening it to ask if either of you have installed MyPhoneExplorer (the desktop client) lately. It is the subject of my first ever Google Play review

Quote
Malware alert: avoid like a sharp stick.
I actually did, and ended up with some crap on my system as well (apparently some "IM smiley pack" thingy, can't remember the name) - only noticed it because Skype started crashing - I assume the crapware hooked into IE, and Skype uses the IE rendering engine... or something.

It's piss-poor behavior to bundle crapware with your application, and the underhanded tactics used in the MPE installer to get you to install the crap is infuriating. I'm still using MPE since I haven't found any better alternative (I'm a bit worried whether if there might be something nasty hidden in the Android client?), but from now on all updates are done in a VM where I can copy the files safely from. Also, I had considered donating a few bucks to the author, since it's a good program - but no way in hell that's happening now.
- carpe noctem

Jibz

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Re: Why is Software for Hardware Always Sucky?
« Reply #18 on: November 05, 2012, 08:18:43 AM »
I have always had this idea it is because the software developers who are employed by hardware companies are of a different breed. For most of their work they have to focus on not making any irrecoverable errors. If you write a desktop application and you make a bug, it might crash that one application and annoy people, but they can just uninstall it -- if you write a hardware driver and you make a bug it could irreparably damage hardware or require a somewhat complicated process to get the machine going again.

I assume this is why desktop software is fancy looking, sleek to use, and full of bugs, while driver software is usually ugly, a pain to use, but generally doesn't blow up your machine ;D.

It has gotten a lot better though in many cases -- I think perhaps some companies are employing a bit of a mix.

tslim

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Re: Why is Software for Hardware Always Sucky?
« Reply #19 on: November 06, 2012, 04:48:44 PM »
I assume this is why desktop software is fancy looking, sleek to use, and full of bugs, while driver software is usually ugly, a pain to use, but generally doesn't blow up your machine ;D.

Few days ago, I try to update my OCZ Agiity 3 SSD firmware. Very carefully I follow the instruction to be sure I will make no mistake but the update fails with no apparent reason... it ends up damaging my SSD (BIOS no more detects it).

Ugly bugger!

Target

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Re: Why is Software for Hardware Always Sucky?
« Reply #20 on: November 11, 2012, 06:29:28 PM »
DRM or what?

This was posted on Techdirt last week Mouse requires net connection

pretty sad state of affairs when a 'generic' device (and a damn expensive one) isn't fully functional out of the box

Tinman57

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Re: Why is Software for Hardware Always Sucky?
« Reply #21 on: November 11, 2012, 07:13:04 PM »
DRM or what?

This was posted on Techdirt last week Mouse requires net connection

pretty sad state of affairs when a 'generic' device (and a damn expensive one) isn't fully functional out of the box


Which is why I thank god for hackers.  I've bought software over the years that require an online connection to function, and I'm not always online, plus I don't want software that "reports" back to home base to get permission to use.

  All of the software I've bought that uses this form of DRM I find a way to hack it, or send it back for a refund.  Personally I think it should be illegal for them to sell you anything that has to report home in order to use without advertising it on the software/hardware, and I'm not talking about tiny 6 point font either.  It should be bold emblazed on the front of the package and highlighted in the ad.

Personally I hope all of the companies that use this strategy goes down in a ball of fire.  And I hope that hackers continue to break their software/hardware so we can use it like we paid for.

Target

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Re: Why is Software for Hardware Always Sucky?
« Reply #22 on: November 11, 2012, 07:20:28 PM »
Which is why I thank god for hackers.  I've bought software over the years that require an online connection to function, and I'm not always online, plus I don't want software that "reports" back to home base to get permission to use.

All of the software I've bought that uses this form of DRM I find a way to hack it, or send it back for a refund.  Personally I think it should be illegal for them to sell you anything that has to report home in order to use without advertising it on the software/hardware, and I'm not talking about tiny 6 point font either.  It should be bold emblazed on the front of the package and highlighted in the ad.

granted, but you should never have to rely on a hack to get full functionality out of a mouse, especially not one that costs almost $100...