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Sunday, May 2, 2010

Why software sucks - Picasa is another example

I have been a user of Picasa grudgingly since it was first released. While it has many good features and is free, its user interface leaves a lot to be desire imposing a strict rule of operation on their users to the point of being annoying.

The feature that has antagonized many users is the feature that it must scan, in a very intrusive manner, your hard drives for image files to add to the library without user's consent or desire.

There is no shortage of people seeking assistance on how to turn off this annoying feature on the Internet. Perhaps it is a reflection of Google's culture of insatiable thirst to stick their nose into others private information without consent, in this case image files. This undesirable feature still exists despite many protests on the Net in its latest version, version 3.6. It is getting worse now including face recognition.

I have since uninstalled Picasa opting for PhotoScape, another free photo editing software that definitely does not intrude into my hard drive without my instruction.

Many recommendations to fix this undesirable features are superficial and ineffective. Let me show you why. All of them focus in the File Manager and recommend users to mark all drives/folders 'Remove from Picasa' like this:

Notice the folder circle in red as I am about to pick up a JPG file from that folder from Windows Explorer and drop it onto Picasa causing it to flip into edit mode of the file, a very nature and common operation. While the file is being opened in the editor, Picasa nosily scans that folder and its sub-folders recursively looking for images without my consent. A visit to the File Manager confirms such action has taken place as shown below:

Returning to library shows the presence of the images that are picked up in the background despite my instruction that that folder is removed from Picasa. This shows that the recommended remedy does not work. It further shows that Picasa' logic is faulty. The first picture indicates the user wants Picasa to have nothing to do with that folder and yet it can't help itself to nose around that folder and its sub-folders.

Picasa please mind your own business. To Picasa's developers: while you might think that feature is cool and you love that feature. Remember this saying "Your User is Not you".

Turning this ultra intrusive feature off is very simple - just add a check box in your options dialog box to say "Turn on auto scanning of images". If the user selects it (opt-in) Picasa can scan to your heart's content but if the user opt-out of that action, you should honor it.

To show Picasa is not interested in offering you such option, have a look at the dialog box when Picasa is first started up:

Picasa should take a leaf out of the book of Firefox, which politely asks the user if they want Firefox to import favorites from Internet Explorer; no such option is offered to the user. Automatic actions like these belong to the users and not the developers; Firefox and just about all the anti-virus software know that except Picasa.

With Tera Bytes hard drive not uncommon these days, your feature has been demonstrated time and time again to be a total time wastage and not a scalable feature.

Furthermore my experiment above shows the stupidity of such a logic - it is like someone calling a Square Root of 3.5 in a maths library and the program scan through the maths library calling sine, cos, tan, log, etc. every maths functions it can find. Or like opening a document in your editor and it scans and opens all others documents!

This feature really makes Picasa sucks and is definitely a prime candidate for this book.


Anonymous said...

I totally agree. Picassa is just another piece of shit software from the browser giant. Total Junk!

Irek Janek said...

Software does suck (most of the software anyway). The software designers try to accommodate everybody and by the time they are done the app is a monster. An average user probably uses 10 to 20 percent of the features (not all of them the same 10%-20%) and the rest if just useless for them. But because of all the features the user interface becomes a maze that it takes time to learn and understand. Picasa is not worse than any office app. For organizing my photos for example I use picManger (http://www.customdworks.com/picManager.aspx) it is an example of how simple an app can be.

Nick Werle said...

yes it does suck, these idiots never consult with real users

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