Brand loyalty to a cell phone company is probably stupid, but I do kinda endorse Google Fi–Google’s mobile service. It charges a flat $10 per gigabyte of data and, if you don’t use all you’ve allotted for a particular month, you get a credit for the next month.
It’s not the cheapest plan I’ve had (on a per-gig basis), but it’s the most transparent. And its data plan works the same abroad as it does in the US.
The Google Fi’s biggest drawback is that it only works with a limited number of phones (sorry, no Apple devices).
When I moved into my first home in 1987, I partially did so to have my own clothes washer and dryer and escape the monotony and tyranny of the laundromat. I bought what would now be considered a “low efficiency,” top-loading washer that worked flawlessly for me for 14 years.
Then, my wife and I bought our first washer together–a “high efficiency” (what a load of crap), front-loading machine, by Frigidaire (the Affinity model). Since then it’s been one problem after another. (See my previous post about it.)
The washer soon developed a mildew stain on the rubber gasket on the front-loading door–despite our care with drying it out after each load and running its cleaning cycles. Turns out, this is a known issue that has affected hundreds of thousands of front-loading HE machines. There was even a class-action lawsuit about it.
To repair it is a major, expensive proposition. If you hire a pro to do it, it costs more than a new washer.
So, we bit the bullet and bought a new washer, donating the old one to a friend. We stuck with HE (big mistake), but got a top loader. Specifically, we spent about $600 at Lowe’s on a Maytag 5.3-cu ft high-efficiency top-load washer (model # MVWB835DW0). It had thousands of positive reviews and an average of 4.5 stars.
What a mistake.
From the start, my wife had trouble with lint gathering on her clothes if she hung them up to dry and did not run them through the dryer.
Then, after about a year, it began having a rotten-eggs smell after washing a load. No number of cleaning cycles would get rid of it. Online message boards are filled with complaints about this.
Final straw: This week, 14 months into our ownership of it, the machine began getting stuck in the rinse mode. Won’t go from there to spin without pausing the machine, raising the lid, and re-starting it.
And we’ve never felt that it effectively cleaned our clothes either.
All in all, a piece of crap, and an expensive piece of crap, too.
In a perfect world, I would never have to deal with Microsoft Office. With the notable exception of Excel, I can’t stand every application in that suite–especially Word and PowerPoint. I still persist in using WordPerfect for my everyday word-processing tasks. It remains a far superior piece of software.
That’s a dream world and so today I tried to install MS Office on a Windows 10 machine I recently “reset”. (Incidentally, Windows 10’s ability to reset to a clean, bloatware-free, pristine original state might be my favorite feature of the new release!) I own a licensed copy of Office Professional Plus 2013 and when I fired up the installation file, this is what I was told:
Internet connection working? Check? Enough free space? Is 1.71 TB sufficient? I know that Office is a notoriously bloated piece of crap, but it seems like even it could fit itself into 1.7 TERABYTES of free space.
So, off I go to search The Google for answers to his very generic error message. MS support pages have a “troubleshooting” tool, which was, of course, useless.
And now I’m stuck trying to cope with a crappy installer for a piece-of-crap office suite that I don’t really want on my computer.
Several years ago, we bought a high-efficiency, front-loading washer—a Frigidaire Affinity.
I have regretted it ever since.
The three main reasons that it is a crappy appliance are:
It’s impossible to keep its door seal (the rubber gasket that fits around the door to keep water from leaking out) clean. It inevitably becomes mildewy and moldy if you neglect to assiduously dry it out with a towel after each and every wash load. And once it becomes moldy, no amount of bleach or vinegar will clean it—resulting in a very expensive repair bill to replace it.
It vibrates like a sumbitch. I’ve worked on leveling it and put anti-vibration pads under it, but it still vibrates the floor so badly that you can feel it on the other side of our house. I shudder to think what it is doing to our foundation. If you don’t have a concrete floor on which to put a front-loader, I would strongly advise against installing one.
It’s inconvenient to load clothes into it. Each wash day I am literally down on my knees, feeding laundry into it.
If new washers weren’t so ding-dang expensive, I’ve had junked this one long ago.
On August 24, 2005 I created the Crappy Software blog to chronicle all the malfeasance in the world of software. I happily ran it on Blogger software running on one of my own Web servers. Then, in 2010 Google—which had bought Blogger in 2003—decreed that all Blogger blogs must run on blogspot.com.
I didn’t like entrusting control of my data to Google/Blogger, but I complied and moved Crappy Software and a couple other blogs over there. There were a few bumps in the transition, but I was basically satisfied with Blogger even as I began to use WordPress for more and more of my blogging and basic Website design needs. It’s gotten to the point now that whenever I need a quick-n-dirty Website, I slap together a WordPress installation in, like, 20 minutes.
Until the day (and I don’t even know exactly when) when Blogger decided to delete all of the images I’d uploaded between 2010 (when I moved to blogspot.com) and 2014. Dozens of images were suddenly missing. I still don’t know exactly why beyond some sort of weird clusterfuck among Blogger, Google+, and Picasa (and PicasaWeb). You see, Blogger, unbeknownst to me, was storing my new, uploaded images in PicasaWeb. Best I can guess, there was some shift in my Google account—perhaps when I activated Google plus—that disconnected Crappy Software from its PicasaWeb album.
I spent an hour or so yesterday trying to figure out exactly how it happened—following leads suggested here—but I was not able to track down Blogger’s crap move.
So, Good-Bye Blogger
And so that motivates me to bid adieu to Blogger. WordPress is a superior blogging platform. Why stick with Blogger when it’s going to do crappy stuff like this?
Many of my images are permanently lost, best I can tell. I still had all my pre-2010 images, from back when Blogger was good software. And several of the post-2010 images were still on my hard drive. It’s taken me the better part of the day to move all the text and re-upload images, but I think I’m going to be happier with WordPress as Crappy Software‘s new home.
In related news, I’ve taken advantage of the new top-level domain names (TLDs) and nabbed crappy.software for this blog. Ain’t that cool?
About four years ago, the University of Alabama, where I work, decided to “improve” the email experience for faculty and students alike. This was long overdue as the email product it had been using was truly horrible with an utterly useless Web interface that was here branded as “Bama Mail.”
UA students were all moved onto the Gmail platform. I should say, I am a huge fan of Gmail, which I have used since invitation-only, beta accounts were made available back in 2004. Its Web interface is extremely functional (its keyboard shortcuts have entered my muscle memory) and its spam filtering is second to none. Having used email since the days of BITnet and dumb terminals (tapping into UA’s Big Iron at UA1VM) and having suffered through monstrosities such as cc:Mail (shudder), I feel like I’ve reached email Nirvana with Gmail.
Consequently, I have been forwarding my Bama Mail to Gmail for the past ten years and I have set up Gmail’s “Send mail as” feature to “use Gmail to send from [my] other email addresses.” As you can imagine, I would have been quite happy to have my UA email ported over to the Gmail platform.
But that was not to be for UA’s faculty and staff. Instead, our accounts were moved from Bama Mail to Microsoft Exchange Server and we were instructed to begin using MS Outlook as an email client.
When I heard the news about the move, I think I might have physically winced.
I consider myself something of an email pioneer. Hell, I’ve been running a LISTSERV email list for over 23 years. Over the years, I’ve sampled many email interfaces and client software–from the egregious cc:Mail (still probably the worst) to the sweet Eudora (named for author Eudora Welty!) and the yes-we’re-still-here Mozilla Thunderbird. I’ve even run my own email server (Mercury, we miss you!). In that time, I’ve heard many horror stories about how difficult it is to keep a MS Exchange server from borking everyone’s email. And I’ve personally experimented with MS Outlook and found it to be clunky and bloated.
Thus, even when UA moved us to Exchange/Outlook, I continued to forward my email to Gmail. But within the past year, an official policy came down: No forwarding allowed! All faculty/staff must use Outlook and all email must be stored on UA’s Exchange servers.
I sighed. Why weren’t faculty/staff moved to Gmail like the students? I speculated about the reasoning behind the Exchange/Outlook move for faculty/staff (speculation I’m not going to air here) and recommended the UA Faculty Senate push back against the move, but to no avail. And so last week, I gave in to the inevitable, cut the forwarding to Gmail and began using MS Outlook–its desktop client and its Web interface. Besides, I thought, I haven’t used Outlook in many years; maybe it’s improved.
Improved? Yes (it would be hard for it to get worse). Still crappy software? Absolutely. Allow me to enumerate some of the ways in which it remains pure crap:
Its Web interface is optimized to work best with Microsoft Explorer (the world’s worst Web browser) and it eliminates features from its interface if you try to use, say, Google’s Chrome.
Even thought it’s optimized for MS IE, it still crashes IE on a regular basis. In the week I’ve been using IE and Outlook Web Access (OWA), it has crashed at least ten times. (See below.)
Its spam filtering is anemic.
Its “rule” system is less powerful than Gmail’s “filters.”
Its folder system does not allow you to tag one message with more than one folder–as Gmail’s archives do.
Its desktop client (I’ll call it Outlook Desktop Client or ODC) is difficult to configure. Setting up ODC on my home computer was impossible without a call to the UA help desk.
I am still trying to figure out OWA’s and ODC’s addressing and address book. Can one not insert email addresses into a message with the standard “firstname lastname ” format? Does an email recipient have to be in OWA/ODC’s address book first? If so, that is big-time crap.
On other email apps, like Gmail, when you begin typing into an address field, the app will try to guess who you’re sending it to and fill it out for you. ODC does this, but it only does it for addresses I’ve previously emailed. It does not seem to be pulling potential email addresses from the contacts I uploaded into the address book.
I’m sure part of the rationale for using Exchange is to get UA faculty/staff to rely on its calendar. Sorry, but I won’t. I’m quite happy with Google Calendar and I have dozens of repeating appointments (birthdays and such) that I am not going to try importing into Exchange calendar. Again I ask, with students using the Gmail platform, why aren’t faculty/staff?
When you install an Exchange account on an Android device, you get a very scary warning message (“Activate device administrator?”) about erasing all your data. I suspect this is as much Android’s fault as Microsoft’s, but, still, I don’t remember getting this when I installed other email apps.
I hated Adobe’s new plan of charging an extortion subscription fee for Creative “Cloud” when it was first announced. I finally and very reluctantly gave in to it when they reduced the annual fee to an absurdly low level for college professors like myself.
But now Adobe has shown me why this approach is so dangerous for consumers.
A few weeks ago, CC automatically updated Dreamweaver, a crucial piece of software for me–software that I use virtually everyday. And in updating to DW 2014.1 they disabled a key part of the program–its “design view.” Now, you are forced to use “live view” (although only when editing fluid-grid layouts).
The problem for me is that live view is extremely clunky and slow and absolutely does not fit into my workflow. And I depend on design view for all sorts of things–including very quick edits to Web pages.
The loss of design view makes Dreamweaver unusable for me. I’ve been a Dreamweaver support for many years, but if they don’t fix this, I’m going to have to find a alternative.
As I posted on February 7, 2014, iTunes continues to earn its reputation as the crappiest software on the face of the earth.
The error message I got at boot-up refused to go away even when I uninstalled and re-installed iTunes. Twice. So I had to continue wasting my time trying to get rid of this piece of crap. I decided that I needed to rid my Windows 7 office machine of all Apple software and I found this helpful post:
I knew that Apple had seriously crapped up my system when I reluctantly installed the detestable iTunes and the once-useful-but-not-really-any-more QuickTime, but I didn’t realize the extent of its craposity until I read that to get rid of Apple crapware I had to:
“Remove all of these items in the following order:
Apple Software Update
Apple Mobile Device Support (see note 1 below)
iCloud (if present)
MobileMe (if present) (see note 2 below)
Apple Application Support”
Getting rid of Apple Mobile Device Support is particularly difficult. I could not get remove it through Control Panel and, so far, I haven’t thought it worth the trouble to try all the following trouble-shooting, as described by the above article:
Some users have found that Apple Mobile Device Support does not want to uninstall. Running a repair session from add/remove programs or the programs and features control panel, then trying to uninstall again may work around this issue. Some users have successfully completed the reinstallation of iTunes without removing this component. Alternatively the Microsoft Program Install and Uninstall Utility (MS Installer “Fixit”) may help. Third-party AirPrint support services may also prevent Bonjour from being removed. If so these should be uninstalled first. It may also help to temporarily disable anti-virus software and/or the Windows User Account Control feature (Turn UAC on/off) while repairing software. See also HT3960: iTunes for Windows: Background processes installed on Windows XP, Vista, and 7 for a list of processes that might need to be halted.
All this? Just to remove an app?
At this point, I’ve gotten all the Apple crapware off my computer, with the exception of the pesky Apple Mobile Device Support. My plan is to avoid re-installing any of it as long as I can. Since I don’t sync an iPad/iPod to this machine, which resides in my office, I can’t think of a reason to have iTunes on it. And I can’t remember the last time I used QuickTime to play a movie. For video playback, there’s always the far superior VLC Media Player.
Can I live a blissfully Apple-free existence on this computer? Time will tell.
First, a recent attempt to update you failed. Now, EVERY time I boot my computer I get this error message about APSDaemon failing. A quick Googling reveals that MANY folks are afflicted with this error.
Do I bother trying to troubleshoot this, or do I just uninstall iTunes on this computer–on which I seldom use iTunes anyway because my iPad and iPod are synced to another computer and iTunes does not like us to share accounts among computers.
If computer software could be a dickhead, iTunes would be a dickhead.