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

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

Hate Software? Hate's such a small concept to embrace this emotion.

--nick hates software: and zip file attachments

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.

The page at Heal Consulting has been deleted, but the Wayback Machine has a copy, and since it's CC-licensed here's a local mirror.

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.
Lynx-enhanced by <peter at> (Peter da Silva)