Adventures in technology and corporate idiocy

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mekender
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Adventures in technology and corporate idiocy

Postby mekender » Fri Apr 17, 2015 6:03 am

2 days ago, Google Chrome updated itself to version 42. Among the changes was the planned disabling of NPAPI for plugins to use.

NPAPI (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NPAPI) stands for Netscape Plugin Application Programming Interface, first launched in 1995 with Netscape Navigator 2.0... Google announced in September of 2013 that they would be phasing it out stating "NPAPI’s 90s-era architecture has become a leading cause of hangs, crashes, security incidents, and code complexity." and their plans were laid out in the NPAPI deprecation: developer guide (https://www.chromium.org/developers/npapi-deprecation)

They also note in that guide the following:

April 2015

In April 2015 (Chrome 42) NPAPI support will be disabled by default in Chrome and we will unpublish extensions requiring NPAPI plugins from the Chrome Web Store. All NPAPI plugins will appear as if they are not installed, as they will not appear in the navigator.plugins list nor will they be instantiated (even as a placeholder). Although plugin vendors are working hard to move to alternate technologies, a small number of users still rely on plugins that haven’t completed the transition yet. We will provide an override for advanced users (via chrome://flags/#enable-npapi) and enterprises (via Enterprise Policy) to temporarily re-enable NPAPI (via the page action UI) while they wait for mission-critical plugins to make the transition. In addition, setting any of the plugin Enterprise policies (e.g. EnabledPlugins, PluginsAllowedForUrls) will temporarily re-enable NPAPI.


Fast forward to two days ago, Chrome updates itself and a sizable problem shows itself:

Dymo thermal label makers stop working in Chrome with no notice and no explanation... Yup, that is right, one of the most popular printers in the world suddenly does not work on the browser that is used on roughly 50% of desktops and tablets in the world.

Thankfully there were some rather astute people in a few Facebook groups that were able to find the Dymo developer's blog post from December 2014 and an update to the article advising people to use the workaround override mentioned above:

http://developers.dymo.com/2014/12/04/d ... nd-chrome/

In the comments, someone that I assume is a dev for Dymo writes:

Currently we are working on a solution which should be ready before September.


Which is where my head almost explodes... A division of a Fortune 500 company is faced with one of their major product lines suddenly not working any more, has at least 18 months notice that it is coming and they did not have a solution ahead of time to keep it from being a problem.

To give some perspective on how many printers we are talking about, the Dymo 450 Turbo sells roughly 20,000 units a year on Amazon and is one of 4 Dymo models in the top 10 thermal label printers on Amazon. As a pure guess because the actual sales numbers are not published, the full range of Dymo printers probably accounts for at least 250,000 units sold on Amazon a year. And that is just Amazon and does not take into account the hundreds or thousands of other places that such products are sold. In addition, these printers are significantly lower cost than models from Zebra, Brother and other manufacturers which means they are much more likely to be used in small businesses and homes where the percentage of users that use Chrome is significantly higher.

I made a comment on the blog which I doubt will be approved by the moderator:

I find it rather troubling that this NPAPI issue has been known for at least 18 months and the talk is that it SHOULD be fixed by September… I mean this had to have come up in meetings at least a few times, someone dropped the ball on addressing this issue.

Ahh well, maybe a 5000% increase in support ticket volume will make senior management realize that this should be fixed…


After some more discussion on Facebook, I commented:

I am putting together an email to Newell Rubbermaid, their parent company, in regards to the situation. For a Fortune 500 company to not address an issue that affects the ability to use some their products with 50% of the tablets and computers on the internet after having at least 18 months notice that it was coming is worse than just incompetence... Someone or a group of someones actively ignored an issue that could result in major losses in market share for their company.

My guess is that the executive levels within the parent organization never heard about this being a potential issue and thus it was not on their radar as a priority. I bet that the entire organizational structure at Dymo is busy playing cover your own ass from the director level down right about now, desperately hoping that the board members do not find out that this happened and figure out who to fire over it.
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Re: Adventures in technology and corporate idiocy

Postby Aesop » Fri Apr 17, 2015 9:08 am

And anyone's corporate policy has been to promote the best and brightest to higher responsibility since...when, exactly? :lol:
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Re: Adventures in technology and corporate idiocy

Postby George guy » Sat Apr 18, 2015 1:42 am

Are MBAs typically taught to take an interest in delivering the company's product in a manner that upholds the company's reputation, or is it all about making the numbers look nice in the quarterly report?
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Re: Adventures in technology and corporate idiocy

Postby Kommander » Sat Apr 18, 2015 2:43 am

George guy wrote:Are MBAs typically taught to take an interest in delivering the company's product in a manner that upholds the company's reputation, or is it all about making the numbers look nice in the quarterly report?


From what I have seen in many large companies EVERYTHING is now about quarterly reports. It does not matter if what your doing will lead directly to the companies demise in a year or two, all that anyone is concerned about is that quarterly report. This total lack of long term planing is having predicable results in many corporations.

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Re: Adventures in technology and corporate idiocy

Postby 308Mike » Sat Apr 18, 2015 3:14 am

I'm glad we've never tried to implement ANYTHING related to Google Chrome!!

Apparently, they're becoming the IE of the Internet in the new DECADE (because it WILL change long before this decade is out)!!!

Watch while everyone starts complaining about Google Chrome.
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Re: Adventures in technology and corporate idiocy

Postby kapikui » Sat Apr 18, 2015 4:37 am

George guy wrote:Are MBAs typically taught to take an interest in delivering the company's product in a manner that upholds the company's reputation, or is it all about making the numbers look nice in the quarterly report?


I'm almost done getting an MBA and was taught to take into account the whole picture of the company. I suspect that like in every other field, what you're taught has very little resemblance to what is done.

When I worked for a state university, the incompetent were promoted because they didn't threaten the power of their supervisors. The long term was not really viewed because that administrator was going to be gone or transferred before the consequences happened.

Then you have to look at the egos of many managers. "I'm the manager, how dare you question me or my views, you're just the peon." In my experience, this is the standard, not the exception.

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Re: Adventures in technology and corporate idiocy

Postby mekender » Sat Apr 18, 2015 5:34 am

I think that there is an upward cascade of idiocy and failure in most companies where each subsequent level of seniority is so scared of getting shit canned, they go out of their way to make sure that they never have to report problems to the next level up. Which is fine and good if you have one or two levels between top and bottom... But when you are in a Fortune 500 and you have 50 levels, you get to play a giant game of telephone...
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Re: Adventures in technology and corporate idiocy

Postby HTRN » Sat Apr 18, 2015 10:55 am

Kommander wrote:From what I have seen in many large companies EVERYTHING is now about quarterly reports. It does not matter if what your doing will lead directly to the companies demise in a year or two, all that anyone is concerned about is that quarterly report. This total lack of long term planing is having predicable results in many corporations.

It has to do with "golden Parachutes" and stock options. What they're doing is the best way to improve the bottom line(and thus, make them dumptrucks of money when they cash out), making this kind of performance popular with stock holders... At least until the company goes belly up. The thing is, the guys running the company full steam into the ground, have been long gone by that point, having made their pile, they leave..

It's basically what happened to Chrysler when the damn Germans got their hooks into them - spending was cut to the bone, and anything to squeeze money from Mopar was done. When it got to the point that they couldn't wring out another nickel, they dumped Chrysler..

Short Answer: Don't let Germans buy your company.
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Re: Adventures in technology and corporate idiocy

Postby Greg » Sat Apr 18, 2015 2:50 pm

308Mike wrote:I'm glad we've never tried to implement ANYTHING related to Google Chrome!!

Apparently, they're becoming the IE of the Internet in the new DECADE (because it WILL change long before this decade is out)!!!

Watch while everyone starts complaining about Google Chrome.


In this case you have it exactly backwards.

Google is doing the correct, responsible thing with Chrome by cutting of this instance of perpetual backward (bugward, though I feel guilty about the pun) compatibility.
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Re: Adventures in technology and corporate idiocy

Postby toad » Sun Apr 19, 2015 12:12 am

The other problem with Google Chrome has been its susceptibility to being infected with malware and the slow response to offering clean up solutions. That's the reason I gave up on it.


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