Volitans Software

Google Picasa – Failure of Design and Support

As part of my day job, I investigate applications for faculty to use. Some were interested in Google Picasa. It seems like a nice alternative to iPhoto, especially as it links nicely to Google’s Web Albums.

However, that last part we could  not get to work. The application would not sign in to Google’s services. As with anything internet related, I suspected our proxy/firewall. As required by law, we implement a filtering package here to prevent inappropriate content from being viewed.

I first used an IP to bypass the filter- used to check out blocked sites for whitelisting and verifying problems with the proxy. Picasa worked fine without the proxy in between. I used Wireshark to run a packet capture, and verified that Picasa was attempted to connect directly to Google’s servers instead of going through the proxy.

So I proceeded to see if I could find out way. I located a post on their help forums talking about the issue: from January 2009! I could not believe that this has been around for over a year. And their help is a joke. They have forums and a few FAQs for helps. But no way to report bugs or even contact their support.

This is why I am really souring on Google. Their services and applications are pretty cool, but if anybody has a problem, good lucky getting it solved. This happened with the Nexus One earlier this year too- there was no way to call or get help for the phone.

I am still amazed that an application can be written in 2010 without using the proper APIs to use the system proxy settings. Especially from a web centric company like Google. To me that speaks of bad planning and design. And the set up of the support website just further hurts the whole experience.