Monday, September 15, 2008

Teachers shouldn't write software.....

I work with teachers and have done for years now. Dad was a teacher. I have many friends who are teachers. And yet as a group, although I love them dearly and think they (on the whole) do a fantastic job of looking after our children, I've never met a more disorganised and ill prepared bunch of people.

So I wasn't that surprised by the absolute mess of a company I've been dealing with this last week. They're a software company specialising in teaching solutions run by teachers for teachers. It's as bad as it sounds.

The piece of software is basically a macro linked series of spreadsheets. But it just wouldn' load up on any of the network machines. Loaded fine on mine at home. Just not where we actually needed it. Phoned them up. Eventually end up talking to the bloke who made it. No idea why it isn't working properly. We try a few obvious things and then run out of ideas.

I go away thinking I'm going to have to pull it apart, crack the protection and re-write the macros to allow it to work over the network just so we can load it onto the one admin machine in the teacher's workroom so they can enter their data for pupil assessment. After messing around with it over the last few nights with no real enthusiasm and a complete lack of results I sat down at work today determined to get it done. One last attempt to get it to load on and then pull it to pieces.

And then I finally had the bright idea to google search the error message. I should obviously have done this at first because suddenly I think i've got the solution. Load up a version of Excel 2003 over the networks Excel 2000 and it works. The problem was nothing to do with the network and everything to do with the crappy software company not testing their software on the common platforms it would run on. I know Office 2000 is a bit out of date now, but I guarantee you we're not the only school using it. In fact I'm loath to upgrade whilst it still works fine for us. There's absolutely nothing extra on my Office 2003 that we need at school. In fact, there's nothing in Office useful for general usage past the basic Office 97 package. The extras are always touted as being wonderful but just seem like things only really high end users would find appealing. If I ever do need to upgrade for whatever reason I'm looking at going Open Office or equivalent. Free, basic Office suite is all we need for the tasks at a school.

So I think having Excel 2000 is perfectly reasonable and certainly feel that this software developer should have at least thought of this as a potential problem. But he's a teacher so no doubt planning is something he knows about because he sees other people do it.

1 comment:

  1. The low phase that has set into the IT sector is no longer news. The fall in US economy was a major blow to the IT world all over the world. In countries like India where you can find a software development company on every nook and corner are rapidly closing down because of lack of work. What is to be seen is the strategy formulated by the big fishes such as Infosys and Tata. The current situation is of uncertainty and fear as companies are sacking employees, something that was unthought of a few years back!