Monopoly Incompetence

Sunday, December 21st, 2008

Need more proof that monopolies are bad business? Just try to pay a utility bill online sometime. I have just gotten through attempting to pay my cable, gas, and electric bills online. Exactly none of them offered what I would consider a minimally competent site. The exact problems varied, but there was one that was common across the three. Every single one required registration before they’d take my money:

  Welcome to My Account Online services! Please enter your user ID and password to sign in. New User? Register now.

By contrast, non-monopoly sites like Office Depot have long since learned that registration is an optional step they shouldn’t let get in the way of completing a sale. But the utility companies? Either they hire developers who are distinctly behind the state of the art, or they just don’t care because you have to pay them, or both.

Java is Dead! Long Live Python!

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

Version 3.0 of Python has been released. Notably Python has again done something Java has long resisted: it has broken backwards compatibility with Python 2.x. Notable fixes include a much saner string processing model based on Unicode. I am told by my Pythonista colleagues that a lot of other weirdnesses such as the print operator and the meaning of parentheses in except clauses have been cleaned up as well. Though I don’t expect all Python programmers to upgrade immediately (and version 2.x will be maintained for some years to come) version 3.0 is clearly a simpler, better, saner language than version 2.x that will enhance productivity and make programmers’ jobs more fun. Bravo for Python. This is clearly a living, evolving language.

Java by contrast, is dead. It has at least as much brain damage and misdesign as Python 2.x did, probably more; yet Sun has resisted tooth and nail all efforts to fix the known problems. Instead they keep applying ever more lipstick to this pig without ever cleaning off all the filth and mud it’s been rolling in for the last 12 years. They keep applying more perfume when what it really needs is a bath.