Archive for March 3rd, 2006

Untested software

My father in law is here for a few days and we went to Frys yesterday, as electronics are cheaper here in the US than in Europe. He bought the Mobile NoteTaker for $99, in order to use it when at work (it’s a digital pen that can record strokes and save them as .gifs on a PC).

The problem is that the software wouldn’t work correctly. The driver worked, the pen2text companion application also worked, but the main application of the suite, the Notetaker 2.2 didn’t. It would complain about a resource file missing and the app wouldn’t start.

After fiddling with it for hours, my husband found out what the problem was. The appication does not work if you are not logged in as Administrator! Of course, for such an application, there is absolutely NO NEED to run it as an admin. In fact, the low level driver supports the device just fine, for any user. It’s the application that screwed up. And judging from their FAQ, the company doesn’t even have a clue that their app is not multi-user compliant.

I wonder if there are grounds to sue the company for false requirements. They claim that their product requires XP or Win2k to work. But obviously, this is not exactly correct, because XP is by nature a multiuser operating system, and their application has not tested with more than one user — which needs to be the Admin user. Microsoft recommends to not run as an admin, and professional people (like my father in law) can’t run as admins on their work laptops. My husband also blogged about it.

Mac OS X has many such problems too. If you don’t run with admin privilliges, many drivers and apps won’t run (we saw the problem twice on OSX with printer drivers). On Linux, being a most and foremost a multi-user OS, the problem doesn’t really exist. People who program for Linux are usually more clueful, at least when comes to multi-user.

On other news, there was an interesting 2-hour documentary about ancient Rome last night on the History Channel and Peter Weller (the Robocop actor) was appearing in it as one of the scholars commenting on Rome! I didn’t believe seeing him in that position, I am really impressed, hats off (the actor also guest stars in the “24” TV series). Weller, 58, who holds a master’s degree in Roman and Renaissance art and is working toward a Ph.D., has become one of Syracuse University’s most popular professors!