Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Why This Site Has Moved: Blogger Turned to Crap

Blogger Logo
Blogger, which has slowly turned to crap.
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
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 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.

Hello, Crappy.Software

In related news, I've taken advantage of the new top-level domain names (TLDs) and nabbed for this blog. Ain't that cool?
So, please correct any link or bookmarks to point to for future rants about the crappiness of software.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Microsoft Outlook and Exchange Are Just as Crappy as I Remember

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:
  1. 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.
  2. 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.)
  3. Its spam filtering is anemic. 
  4. Its "rule" system is less powerful than Gmail's "filters."
  5. Its folder system does not allow you to tag one message with more than one folder--as Gmail's archives do.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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?
  10. 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. 

Friday, December 05, 2014

I Just KNEW Adobe's Creative Cloud Subscription Model Was Going to Be Crap...

...and now they're proving me right.

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.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

iTunes: Still MORE Crap

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:

"Troubleshooting issues with iTunes for Windows updates"

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:

  • iTunes
  • Apple Software Update
  • Apple Mobile Device Support (see note 1 below)
  • iCloud (if present)
  • MobileMe (if present) (see note 2 below)
  • Bonjour
  • 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.

Friday, February 07, 2014

iTunes: The Crap Just Keeps A-comin'!

Oh, iTunes! Your crappiness knows no bounds!

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.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Crappy DoubleTwist Installation

Holy crap, DoubleTwist!

Not only do you encourage users to install a useless toolbar and a video game (Angry Birds), but you make your installation screen look as if there's no way to avoid that crap!

As you can see in the screen shot below, the "Custom Installation (Advanced)" choice, which is the only way to get out of the crappy toolbar, appears to be greyed out!

Oh, my, but that's a crappy trick!
Posted by Picasa

Friday, May 10, 2013

What's Up with This Crap, Blogger?

Today, whenever I try to do anything on Blogger, I get this error message:

We're sorry, but we were unable to complete your request.
When reporting this error to Blogger Support or on the Blogger Help Group, please:
Describe what you were doing when you got this error.
Provide the following error code.

Weird thing is, whatever I was trying to do (start a new post, publish a post) WORKS, despite the error message.

Crappy Training Software

At the end of my crappy, mandatory, 90-minute, obviously lawyer-induced, the University-covering-its-ass training course in (1) reporting child abuse (how many younger-than-18 students do I encounter?) and (2) handling hazardous materials (which I never do), there was a box for comments. So I wrote:

"Very poorly designed training course. Should NOT rely on browser pop-ups and should NOT be written in Java (a computer language with numerous security holes)."

(The training platform was so poorly implemented that the College tech support had to configure special computers in a lab for faculty and staff to use. Most folks could not get it to run on their own computers.)

Today I got a response from Skillsoft customer support that said, "Thank you for sending in feedback. We appreciate it when subscribers take the time to tell us how they are finding the service. Our courses are designed to work on as many configurations as possible."

Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

Crappy WordPress Theme: DirectoryPress

What do you think of a premium (i.e., not free) WordPress theme that is buggy and that requires its tech support to fix and said tech support claims the only way they can fix it is if you give them FTP access to your server?

Sure. Emailing them the FTP password to your system. What could possible go wrong with that?

Sigh. DirectoryPress, I think it may be time that parts with you and your crappy-software ways.

When I told DirectoryPress' tech support that our University-based server was locked down and does not permit FTP access from off-campus they said, essentially: sorry, pal, you're on your own.

This issue arose when I discovered a security hole in their software that led to 455 injections of spam into our system. I contacted them for help and they said: oh yeah, that's version 6; you should upgrade to version 7. And when I did try to upgrade to version 7, it borked my entire site.

Oh, and their version upgrade requires you to export all the page/post data out of WordPress, then wipe it clean, and import your data after the upgrade.


I've been disappointed with DirectoryPress in the past as it seems rather hacked-together. It's part of a suite of WordPress themes for creating sites for classified ads, auctions, real estate, etc. I suspect that the directory theme is the poor relation in this suite, that they don't give it as much attention as the others. And there are aspects of DirectoryPress that are unnecessary or, indeed, don't make sense unless you're trying to sell something through your site.

So. I'm taking suggestions for a better system for a link directory. What do you say, Hive Mind?

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Crappy WiFi at the University of Alabama

From the "In Order to Serve You Better, We Are Now Going to Fuck You Over" file:

The University of Alabama's Office of Information Technology recently informed me that
The Office of Information Technology is pleased to announce a new secure wireless network for faculty and staff. In order to connect to UA-WPA2, employees will need to install XpressConnect on their devices by visiting As part of the installation process, users will be required to enter their myBama ID and password. UA-WPA2 provides secure wireless communications through the use of WPA2 Enterprise and will replace the pre-shared key SSID rolled out as an interim solution last year. Starting in October 2012, UA-WPA2 will replace UA Public Wireless for all faculty and staff. For instructions on installing UA-WPA2′s XpressConnect client, visit
When I first read this, I thought, So, instead of letting us connect to wifi as we normally do--a process that takes, like, two minutes--we are now going to be required to install a separate app and jump through several hoops.

This is going to be a mess.

And now that mess is here. I tried to install XpressConnect and access the new wifi this afternoon--using the instructions posted online. No luck.

Sent a note to the help desk and a very pleasant woman called me immediately to assist me. After 45 minutes on the phone with her, we still hadn't solved the problem. And she wanted me to walk across campus to the Help Desk to troubleshoot it there. I said no thank you. This (futile) process has already wasted enough of my day.

So much for an improved wifi system. I wonder if OIT will feel so "pleased" about it in January when all faculty and staff are required to convert to the new system and they run into issues like I did.