Sunday, February 04, 2007

Bad Engineering

A friend of mine, a former computer geek turned attorney, goes around with the following bumper sticker on his truck (he didn't want to mess up his
Lamborghini): Friends Don't Let Friends do Windows. He's referring to
Windows of the Microsoft variety...

Most computer geeks have a visceral disdain for Windows, and for good reason (IMHO). But the issue is defining what exactly gets them all riled up.
Well, I now have a great example. It all revolves around my beloved new
Samsung phone
. I call it Beloved, but what I love is the phone itself, the
fly in the ointment is the software that it runs - Windows Mobile. When I
got the phone I decided to overlook that flaw. Because along with the flaw comes the fact that there's a lot of software out there for Windows Mobile
phones. So, I thought, maybe I can overlook the flaw...

Ok, but here's what's happening. I got Missing Sync for my Mac, which
enabled my Mac to sync my Microsoft Entourage (Apple name for Office)
contacts with my cell phone.

I should say that I have a lot of contacts. Business, pleasure, U.S.,
international, etc., etc... Several thousand contacts. Ok. But of all
these contacts, only one is named Errol.

So I try looking up Errol's phone number. Well, I get back Carol, Carol,
Carol, Harold, Carol, Barolli, Carol....Errol, Harold... About 50 responses
to my simple request for Errol.

I spent days, many internet searches, and many engineering man hours trying
to figure out what this Windows Mobile Contacts program was doing. I
enlisted some very senior engineers to look into it. I was sure there was
some option that allowed me to set this Contacts program to work the way I
wanted it to work; to only come up with the name Errol.

Finally I gave in and called Samsung customer support. I was pleasantly
surprised to actually get a live voice on the other side, and (after a
consultion with the "supervisor") to actually get the correct response.

In case you want the full details, you can find them here. But the short of
it is that some clever Microsoft engineer decided that when you key in an E
or an R in your Contact search, it will treat is as a "wildcard". Meaning
that it will assume that it can substitute E or R for ANY letter in the
alphabet. So the Err in Errol, could be anything (!!!). BTW, this makes
searching for much more common names, like Peter, quite a challenge too.

Who was this genius? And how did Microsoft let him/her get away with it?
It's this kind of jaw dropping stupidity that makes people like me and my
truck driving, Lamborghini owning friend despise Windows...


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