Friday, July 31, 2009

Can I get an update on that?

There are two things that I find very frustrating in todays technology age. The first is when someone makes a terrible product full of bugs. But even more frustrating is when the problems get fixed, and the fixes don't get delivered. Here are some examples.

A few years ago I got a new phone to use for work. It was an HTC Apache phone. Of course, every time I called my Sprint technical support about one of these phones (which was often) they always acted like they didn't know what I was talking about. I would say "I guess you guys call this a '9700'" and they would respond with "oh yeah, it's not called an Apache". This would result in my schooling a recent high school graduate in why it would make better sense if Sprint would just stick to the model names and numbers assigned by the manufacturer rather than make up their own clever nicknames. But I digress.

My HTC Apache was a piece of total dogshit! This is not just my opinion. Everybody returned these phones. What I ended up finding (after months of screwing around with that brick) was that the Operating System was to blame for most of it's problems. What OS? Windows Mobile 5! At the time the phones were delivered to us, Windows Mobile 6 had long been released. So I called Sprint and said "I would like to upgrade my phone". "Easy!", they said, "you just need to call *228". But that updates the list of cellular towers, not the phone's operating system. After a lot of arguing with various people (including our sales account representative) I was told "we do not provide software updates to our phones". That's interesting. This is the equivalent of buying Windows XP and being denied access to the service packs for it. Never mind that a software update for the phone would have saved the account we had with them. We have since switched to Verizon and our local Sprint "business" division bit the dust (HARD).

I am not just picking on Sprint. My Verizon phone is an EnV2 which I really like. The only complaint that I had about it was that it only takes one button press to unlock the phone and start dialing. That one button, is the "OK" button. Needless to say, the call volumes from the inside of my pocket shot through the roof my first week of use. I tried calling Verizon and they gave me a similar song and dance telling me that I would have to lock my phone with a password to prevent butt dialing. I suggested that I am a "smart-ass" and my ass might guess the bad passwords that I always use. They disagreed.

After a bit of searching on Google I came across a group of angry phone users who had the same problem. It seems that the manufacturer of the phone, LG, had long since released an update for the phone which allowed for a two-button unlock method. Verizon (of course) did not support this update, nor allow users to perform it themselves. Well, FUCK YOU Verizon, I downloaded it from a bit-torrent along with the software that your in-store staff uses and I performed the update anyway. Since then, I have been very, very, happy with my phone. An no more butt-dialing.

And here I am at example number two.

The past few days I have been copying mass amounts of medical records to my PC so that I can archive them to DVD. This will satisfy a backup requirement that I have, but also takes a lot of time and patience. We are talking about burning 3TB's of storage, at 2.4x speed. Ugh. I can handle all this burning. What I can't handle is my PC locking up on me and requiring a reboot. After about the 10th time I locked up this week, I narrowed the crash down to deleting mass amounts of stuff. If I selected a number of gigs and tried to delete it all at once, my OS (Ubuntu Jaunty) would freeze.

A bit of searching lead me to a long running bug report which explained that this is a problem with the kernel I am using and the ext4 file system. What is the fix? Installing a newer kernel. Being the wise guy that I am, I always check for and install updates when I have problems like these. So why didn't I get the fix? Because Ubuntu didn't release it ... yet.

I guess it's not just vendors being lazy, stupid, and greedy that account for problems like these. It also happens with open source software.

This is one of those times that I really hate technology, and how we use it.