[techbooks] REVIEW: "Bad Software", Cem Kaner/David Pels
- BKBDSFWR.RVW 981122
"Bad Software", Cem Kaner/David Pels, 1998, 0-471-31826-4,
%A Cem Kaner
%A David Pels
%C 5353 Dundas Street West, 4th Floor, Etobicoke, ON M9B 6H8
%I John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
%O U$29.99/C$42.50 416-236-4433 fax: 416-236-4448
%P 365 p.
%T "Bad Software: What to Do When Software Fails"
Bad software. Isn't that phrase redundant?
This book is *not* about viruses, trojans or other malware. It talks
about software that doesn't work as it should, and what you can, or
should, do about it.
Chapter one is a kind of beginner's panic guide to getting a refund.
It's quite practical, although those used to fighting their way
through the retail bureaucracy will find little new. On the other
hand, most people aren't used to that particular battle, so the book
will have a fairly wide audience. One proviso: when it gets to legal
issues, as with all too many such books, the material is strictly US-
centric. Chapter two is not very clear, up front, as to what it is
for. Ultimately it says a lot about the problems at software
publishing houses, and not very much about yours. While this might
make you more (or less) understanding of the problem, the advice given
in chapter three is much more useful. It does tend to be of the same
variety as that given in the troubleshooting sections of most
documentation, but the second section, dealing with reasonable
expectations of software and representations, is quite good. Judging
by the number of pages, chapter four starts to get into the comfort
zone of the authors: figuring out a negotiating position. This is a
good template to follow, setting out all aspects of the problem and
its significance, and providing good standards for what is reasonable
to expect and what is not. Chapter five covers the support or
complaint call itself, and, again, is reasonable, but nothing new.
Chapter six reviews the various types of consumer protection agencies.
Again, when dealing with the governmental departments, the material
only applies to the US (and this holds for chapters seven through ten
as well). However, the coverage is both reasonable and practical,
noting, for example, that the loudly vaunted Better Business Bureau is
funded by business, not by consumers, and is a franchise operation
that varies in operation from place to place. Warranties,
disclaimers, and misrepresentation are discussed in chapter seven,
with illustrations both from statutes and numerous cases. An outline
of the process for a lawsuit is provided in chapter eight. Chapter
nine looks at negotiating with lawyers. The procedure and limitations
for small claims court are given in chapter ten. The final chapter
gives some general advice on shopping, and being a careful consumer.
This work does give you advice, breathing space, and a roadmap for
pursuing a complaint about software. It is appropriate for neophytes
in computer use: not only the home hobbyist, but the beginning
technical support person in a larger office. However, as my wife
pointed out when I was describing the book, the biggest issue for most
such people is having the confidence to know that the software, and
not you, are at fault, and there the text is of less use. The
strengths of the book are in negotiating tactics, and in a
dispassionate view of what you might be able to expect. Although, if
you have the experience to know what is reasonable you won't need the
book, and if you have little enough experience that you need the book
you probably don't know enough to be comfortable standing up to some
copyright Robert M. Slade, 1998 BKBDSFWR.RVW 981122
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