By T.R. REID and BRIT HUME
The recent column in this space about our troubles with Broderbund's "Calendar Creator" program has brought in a tsunami of mail. Mostly, we heard from readers who sympathized because they have had similar woes. We also got one response that showed no sympathy at all and that one was from the maker of the program.
Finally, we got a letter that offered a simple and sensible piece of advice that would have avoided the problems in the first place.
As reported here, we've used "Calendar Creator" for years to print out personalized calendars, reminders and travel schedules. When Broderbund released a new version of the program (Calendar Creator Deluxe, version 6), we installed it immediately.
But this "upgrade" turned out to be much harder to use than earlier versions. Further, it messed up the basic settings on our computer. Its installation program deleted all the printer-driver programs we had installed in Windows, so we couldn't print anything.
We sent a frantic e-mail to the technical support staff as soon as this happened. When we wrote the earlier column, there still had been no reply. The other day, though, the technicians at The Learning Co. that's the firm that wrote Calendar Creator for Broderbund responded to our plea for assistance.
The tech staff told us, in a smirky message, that what had happened couldn't possibly happen.
"As intelligent as Calendar Creator is," the response said, "it is not intelligent enough to erase printer drivers."
We don't know how "intelligent" Calendar Creator is, but we do know this program devoured all our printer drivers. Two minutes before we installed the program, we were printing with no trouble. As soon as installation was finished, we couldn't print at all, because everything had been erased from the "Printers" directory.
That totally unhelpful "Help" message we got from technical support reflects an arrogance that is common in the software business. In most industries, manufacturers are apologetic when their products prove defective. But when software companies sell buggy programs, they blame the customer. The basic line is: If you encounter any problem using our product, it must be your fault.
Readers around the country who had problems with this and other programs reported the same kind of response from software companies.
Paula, a reader in Los Angeles who used version 5 of Calendar Creator, kept complaining to technical support about problems. She was told she had to go to the Internet and download various Broderbund "Service Paks" to make the program work.
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