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Chris Long's Column: Ban the Internet...

Chris Long reckons we could all get along better with our software if the Internet was ‘turned off'... You reading this Microsoft?
Written by Chris Long, Contributor

I don't know about you but I often have brilliant ideas when I'm on the way somewhere. Occasionally I have the foresight to carry a piece of paper or a notebook to jot it down on. Alas as I am invariably late for wherever it is I'm going, I have to jot the note down in my note book while I'm walking. Not a good idea. More often than not I end up with an illegible scrawl that strangely always seems to include what looks like the word 'cheese'.

Going back to those notes I find things like: 'Must reach marble arch with cheese rifle' or 'is corned beef from corn fed cows (cheese).' If I knew what I meant when I wrote them I certainly don't when I read it back, but at least I am attempting to get my thoughts on paper -- it is now just a matter of time before one of them turns out to be truly great and/or readable.

It was going to the pub one evening that I had this brilliant idea and it was SO brilliant that I didn't need to write it down. Here we go --

The Internet causes bugs

See I told you it was Good.

It goes like this: before the Internet whenever a piece of software had problems -- a bug -- the solution would be to either wait for the next release or a new set of disks. There would be no service packs, service releases or those bleedin' live updates.

But now we go on to the Internet and download megabyte upon megabyte of fixes. The Internet seems to positively demand that companies release unfinished software.

Ironically Microsoft, who screwed up so spectacularly with Office 97 that it needed an 8 megabyte service release and then attempted to placate us via a CD ROM on the cover disks of PC magazines. This was decent of them because it meant we didn't need to spend a week on line with a 300 Baud modem downloading it at a byte at a time. But now service release 2 is an Internet download.

I've just tried to set up a Lexmark printer on a network but would it work? No it wouldn't -- not until a 12 megabyte download of a new version of their networking software.

This is the Internet's fault.

Everyone is doing it and, irritatingly, it is rare that these ever add extra functionality so it wouldn't be fair to call them upgrades. If there were a few extra buttons available then things might be acceptable, at least there would be the feeling of something for nothing.

So we are only downloading stuff to fix bugs and, thus the logic goes, since we have had the Internet the incidence of bugs and the need for fixes has gone through the roof, thus it must be the Internet that causes them.

There's no need to look at me like that! This is no different to the logic that says 'it's not guns that kill, it's people'. Or my own favourite, 'it isn't cars that kill, its that very hard bit at the front called the bonnet or that even harder bit called the road'. Perhaps not quite as succinct as the first one but you catch my drift.

And here is another thought, if the Internet causes bugs, we could start writing bug free software if we switched the damn thing off. Then we would be back to not having so many bugs -- and with fewer bugs there would be more chance of sorting them out.

So I'm calling for the abolition of the Internet in the name of bug free software, and just in case I forget I'm going to make a note of it.

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