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Software Ethics

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If end-users were more aware of this, they might be more understanding and perhaps even assist the developer in pushing the supplier for a fix (rather than berating the developer).-Darwin (December 22, 2007, 05:05 PM)
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It's just a matter of communication between programmers and end-users.
If they would explain more, we would understand more...

Yes, this point underlay what I wrote above about transparency. Maybe I wasn't very clear (no pun intended  :)). Transparency was a bad word choice, come to think of it, as it's not exactly like developers go out of their way to hide this information from their customers, it just doesn't come up very often.

We don't need regulation. We don't need courts. We don't need "Certified Engineers" making software. We don't need lawyers drafting EULAs. We need people voting with the most powerful weapons in the know universe, money and word of mouth.
-tinjaw (December 20, 2007, 08:25 PM)
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IMHO eBay's system is powerful because it uses that kind of way, brilliantly taking advantage of the webs interactive capabilities (borrowed from forum and review site -- which also have a powerful influence on consumers decisions). there are ways around the system, but as a vendor or a buyer, you have to earn trust. If you don't, your crooked plans will be short lived  : unsatisfied customers or vendors will complain and that's it.

Maybe there's money to be made and quality to be gained if we could create a new model of software marketing/selling that uses some of the elements of eBay’s structure and some of the principles behind donationware... Just thinking out loud.  :)

Edit : I shall add that I still think we need EULAs, regulations, etc. In a well integrated functioning and healthy society these should only serve as guidelines and be used as safety nets though. ; the guidelines orienting the transactions, allowing the "measure" of trust and honesty.

It's a difficult topic and unfortunately I'm afraid I don't have any good news... IMHO today's world is ruled by the acceptance of mediocrity -- unless it's your boss and then as far as you & I are concerned only the best will do. ;D

IN a nutshell, build a better mousetrap, be able to deliver it, and sell it properly -- while the world may or may not beat a path to your door, you have a decent chance of owning the market... until someone else mimics your product for less $. Look at 3M & the Post-it note. Add regs, and you've introduced a double-edged sword: you tend to eliminate any judgment, ethics, or pride, lowering the level of mediocrity that's the norm, and you've paid for the privilege through your taxes. But hopefully you've also raised the bar so that the very worst isn't quite as bad anymore. As the old saying goes: "Good enough for government work".

Now consumers, customers, users, or whatever you want to call them will always bit** if given the chance and an audience. People like to complain... about the weather, their job, prices, their husbands and wives, and if you sell enough of your product that they can share their misery with their neighbor, they'll bit** about whatever you sell too. But the average person doesn't move to Florida, get a divorce, quit their job, and win the lotto -- hopefully they won't quit buying whatever you sell either. There's a difference between idle bit**ing and really getting riled over legitimate complaints. Lawyers get enthused by lawsuits -- would-be plaintiffs get enthused when they imagine a big windfall -- few if any want to be reviled on international TV because they sued a dry cleaner on principle over a pair of pants.  :D

It is great that many sites that have to do with selling allow visitors to rate merchants and products. If you make any purchase without checking it out now-days that's your choice alone. With the exception of a few merchants changing their company names, has it really changed anything?

Sony Vegas and Nero both have a very loyal following, and I seldom see much of anything negative written about either. Ulead has a fairly loyal following for their video programs. Adobe Premiere Pro and Roxio don't have the same loyal fans, and lots of negative postings. Where the negative postings are both accurate and numerous, it hasn't changed the companies or their products. And the loyalty based praise of Vegas, Nero, and Ulead is if not dishonest, overlooking several serious faults.

Personally I think that if software in general is going to improve it will be through the efforts of folks like those at Linspire. As they reach the point of surpassing Windows, for a person knowing nothing about PCs, regarding the total experience of buying and using a PC, they raise the bar, serving notice that there is a better mouse trap out there. The folks at Donationcoder are another great example, but their/your efforts are hindered by the sorry working environment: Windows, poor drivers, poorly written apps interferring, and so on. Sometimes taking the point position only gets you shot.

I don't pretend to have any answers, but whatever the answer is it will have to be a fairly large movement to overcome the collective software-developing behemoth writing code today. And it will have to overcome the dismal support efforts by those making and selling hardware too. It will have to be based on clear cut, realizable benefits for consumers -- no one is going to dole out sympathy to a developer making $120K (at least they won't when they realize s/he's making 120K). It will need to involve folks writing code and engineering apps learning something new: talking to and learning from the marketing wizards. Donald Graft (DGIndex) to me is a model of user-responsive coding and design, and you'll see why reading the forum for dgmpgdec on Impractical maybe, but there needs to be a 2-way flow of information involving marketing and technical on what's possible, what sells, and what current capabilities are -- and it needs to be marketing that gathers info from customers. That sort of thing will help build the better mouse trap, keep it improving so it's leader status is assured, and slowly, renew the hope & expectations, regain the respect of a consumer base so that they don't mind paying.

Right now the expectations are that anything PC related you buy is going to have problems, probably not work as advertised, have no support, probably can't be returned, and considering all of that, is probably overpriced, and often sold by someone who knows less than the little bit you do. In a household with 8 PCs & laptops, over the last couple decades we have had 0 success with any tech support, and have had to fight ~50% of the time over RMAs for anything from printers spitting out parts to chairs where the metal frame broke causing injury to boot. We have spent thousands on software, and maybe 10% has done what it said it would do in the marketing pitch. Hardware has failed, and manufacturers have failed to address known bugs and shortcomings. Any software installed it seems stands a better than 50% chance of screwing something else up, and despite any promises to the contrary, if there's a bug in a program when you buy it, it'll be there till the next version is released.Then I read in the news (not from any blog site) that some software association is maybe shaking down small to mid-size biz. Playing devil's advocate for a moment, just what in that picture would make me feel good about paying for anything having to do with a PC?

hi mikiem,

I'm not sure what kind of double standards we operate here.

we supply software to some of the largest companies in the world. when they buy, the order is in hundreds of thousands of dollars to millions of dollars.

one software deal requires that we supply:
- 24x7 hotline with 24 hours turn-around,
- bug-fixes within 24 hours or less.
- worldwide support. and overseas local support.
- software with super-rigerous testing, confirmed both by our QA staff and their (ie. that company's) staff.
- any enhancements or additions par gratis (at no extra charge).

the problem we face here is getting our suppliers to give something meaningful we can actually use.

in the course of two years, we dropped 70 (source-code, library) suppliers (nearly 95% of delphi market, 60% of MFC market) and financed our own library development.

looking back at the past, we wrote-off so much code due to quality control issues it's simply mind-boggling.

i don't know what incentives we can give to our (source-code) suppliers to produce meaningful code. throwing money at them don't work, motivating them to do better don't work.


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