You still occasionally hear of people from small towns who are surprised when their car or house is broken into because they never had to lock them back home on Hayseed or Dogpatch. I wish I lived in Hayseed or Dogpatch when I hear about things like this. It must be real relaxing.
You only hear about people still getting ripped off like this after five or six times when you're dealing with people who have some kind of organic problem that explains why they can't put cause and effect together. And you don't hear about people building houses and cars that can't be locked until you open the hood and turn on the "locks really work" switch, that would just be silly.
And yet when it comes to software, people keep using software that doesn't even have the equivalent of doors let alone locks. And there are software developers who swear that there's no way to build software that does have locks... even though up until about 10 years ago the idea of software running random code handed to it by strangers was bas science fiction.
It's like, people used to lock their doors in Dogpatch, but when they move to the big city they forget that doors exist.
(Originally sent to hates-software.com)
So here's MY hate for the day, software that for convenience sake makes the absolutely worst possible decision about unknown, possibly corrupted, possibly even malicious data. Microsoft has this bug the worst way, of course, with their browser integration, but everyone does it. Mozilla, Opera, iCab, Firefox, Netscape, all the mail software less than ten years old, instant messenger programs, streaming media players, network plug-n-play, now they're talking about having hardware trade code fragments over the network when it's booted to automatically adjust protocols and formats. It used to be that when I read science fiction about "sentient data packets" I figured that the writers didn't understand that network software never trusts code by default, that stuff couldn't possibly work, it was like the Good Times virus, right? A joke. Then Microsoft made Good Times real, but surely people will see this and quit using software that trades bodily fluids with any grimy hobo that grins around rotten teeth at it. But no, I was wrong, I underestimated the stupidity of the public... not only do people keep using this stuff, but it gets leakier and more agressively promiscuous, like it can't get enough wandering drug addicts so it has to go out on the street and hunt them down. And nobody cares. Not only don't they care, they don't see a problem, they argue with you even as you're peeling viruses out of their computer with rubber gloves and a pipe wrench that they should be an exception to the rule and you should let them keep on using Outlook. Or whatever sleazy tramp of a web/mail/news/IM client they're hooked on. Some days I want to see the whole lot of them, Apple, Microsoft, Mozilla, AOL, Real, every damn trampware vendor, sucked screaming down to hell by the suddenly physical tentacles they're metaphorically invoking. Hate Software? Hate's such a small concept to embrace this emotion.
Everyone does this, but most of them do it in little ways. They at least have that obscure switch under the hood, and you can turn it off... and most products do have some protections: you can't just start up the car, generally, you need to pick the ignition switch separately. Microsoft, I don't know, they seem to think that having an ignition switch is too inconvenient for people to put up with. Unfortunately, they seem to be right.
A nice explanation for why Microsoft in particular is adamant that you can't do a better job than they're doing at
Heal Consulting (mirror). Why people put up with it? Damned if I know.
My favorite quote:
"Suppose you're in a war and you have two tanks. You put one in a cave and the other you leave in the open, with all its specs published. Which one gets destroyed first?"If you want to put your Windows box "in a cave" with no network access, so it's never attacked, that'll work. But if you actually use it, so it's "out in the open", I'll hide in the one that's already stood up under fire, even if the guys shooting at them both have never been inside the yours.