Open Source

10 MORE technologies that are just plain broken

Some items from our original broken-tech list have been improved -- making room for a new crop of flawed and poorly implemented systems and technologies.

The last time I visited this topic, my sights were set on various pieces of technology. Some of those are still broken (Acronis, QuickBooks, Flash, Outlook, predictive typing). Others have finally managed to right their ship (Ubuntu Unity, Web browsers, desktop multi-touch). But as flawed technologies get their act together, they make room for more technologies to leap onto the list. That's right, I have 10 more broken pieces of the IT landscape that I want to point out. Let's just dive right into this list and have some fun!


I wanted to like GNOME 3. Seriously, I did. And I think the developers were on to something quite good when this radical desktop first appeared. But then... the GNOME developers pretty much just stopped listening to the user base. Now a large number of GNOME developers have left the project. The only good news is that GNOME 3 has already been forked. Linux Mint gives us its own GNOME Shell iteration, called Cinnamon. It's not an idea-for-idea clone, but it does seem to be a good mixture of what was GNOME 2.x and what is GNOME 3.

2: Single point of entry/failure

I've hated this concept since day one. Many larger companies deploy tools that integrate numerous tools into one place (ticketing systems, billing system, accounting packages). When that system goes down, nothing can be done. The very idea of single point of entry is flawed by nature. It is inevitable that that single point will go down and work will be lost. The only way around this is seriously costly (redundancy on many levels) and over the heads of most businesses. I may be alone in this thinking, but give me isolated tools for crucial tasks any day.

3: Windows security

No matter what Microsoft does, Windows security is fundamentally flawed. Sure if users could be better educated on how to avoid issues, this might not be such a problem. But we all know that's not going to happen. Nearly every Windows iteration is just a click away from infection. The steps Windows 7 took toward security did little more than annoy its user-base. Until Microsoft completely rethinks and retools its platform, it will be fundamentally flawed and insecure.

4: Printing

I spend a good amount of time every day working with printers. They break. Period. Either the hardware, the software, or the drivers — something will cause printing to stop functioning. And trying to do cross-platform printing is a nightmare. Why this is still such an issue I will never understand. Until someone finally develops a truly "generic" printer system that all devices can print to, printing will continue to live in the broken category.

5: Office suites

Instead of competing against one another, office suites should work together to create an all-encompassing environment. Until that happens, compatibility will always be an issue. There is a fix for this. That fix is standardization across the board. Without that, office suites will continue to struggle for compatibility. Microsoft has to understand that some businesses and organizations simply can't afford Office, and LibreOffice needs to understand there might be features that users might want (regardless of logic).

6: Exchange logging

One of the tasks I frequently have to do is set up NT Backup jobs just to clear out Exchange logs. The developers of Exchange need to look at the way UNIX and Linux handle logging and give some thought to that type of system. If not, C drives will continue to fill up and Exchange will continue to auto-unmount stores. Sure, you can set up circular logging to resolve this. But for some, circular logging just isn't the solution. Though the UNIX take on logging might not be ideal, it could serve as a good launching point for the Exchange developers to come up with a much better solution than the one they have.

7: Secure boot

Microsoft decided the best way to prevent boot-time malware was to create a system that actually made it easier for virus writers to create boot-time malware. Brilliant! During the process, let's make sure you create an environment that makes it problematic to install other operating systems on a machine. Again, I say, brilliant! Secure boot was a bad idea from the start. Scrap it.

8: Cross-platform technology

Can't we all just get along? There are times when I want to pull my hair out getting Windows and Mac, Windows and Linux, or Linux and Mac to play nicely. And every time I get it working, one of them comes along and breaks that work. Look, I get that you're competition. But in the end, people are going to use what is best for the solution — so you might as well stop throwing a fit and taking your toys home. This is only going to get worse as environments become more and more homogenized (more Linux and Mac deployments on the way). Platforms: Pick a communication technology, build in standards, and stick to it!

9: Windows 8 Modern UI

This interface is lame on the Windows phone and it's even worse on the desktop. Not only does the Windows 8 UI (formerly Metro) look like a child's toy, it's hardly an efficient use of space and movement. It's clear that Microsoft is shooting for the multi-touch moon, but on a standard desktop, Windows 8 fails. This version will go down as the new Windows Me. Back to the drawing board with you Microsoft!

10: Moving parts

Why is it that hard drives sold in modern machines still have moving parts? Moving parts break — especially ones spinning at such a fast rate. I understand the cost, but how long can that possibly be an issue? Solid state drives are not only faster, they're more reliable. With no moving parts, there's a smaller chance of something going wrong. Even DVD drives are becoming a thing of the past. With the cost of flash drives so low, it's just as easy to install operating systems from USB. Most software titles are available as downloads as well. Let's reach the point where PCs and laptops have zero moving parts and our technology will be far more reliable.

What else?

So that's my take on the latest list of broken technology. You may not agree with everything here, but perhaps we can all agree that the whole of technology is broken when constituent pieces are so flawed.

Are there other current technologies you think are broken and in need of serious (or even just moderate) repair? If so, share your thoughts.


Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website

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