Companies Deliver Crappy Software

Pieter Heerema is a skilled sailor currently taking part in the Vendee Globe, the world’s hardest race around the globe. It is a single-handed non-stop sailing race which lasts about 10 to 12 weeks.

Pieter had an unexpected severe problem with his auto pilot in the middle of the southern Indian ocean, 4500 kilometers away from the next harbor. The autopilot keeps the boat on track. Obviously, the autopilot is a very important piece because the skippers have to go to sleep during 10 weeks alone on a boat.

In a live interview in the Vendee Globe web TV live edition on the 15th of December 2016 he said:

“[…] …these companies that deliver this crap… […] …they just keep on pluging in new items and new software and new this and new that and it’s all nonsense. I mean, we don’t need all that stuff. We just need an straight up and down autopilot. It’s all this electronic designer geeks that really ruin a system. It’s so unstable! You don’t find all this crap on a fishing boat or a tug boat. It’s all way too advanced stuff that is designed behind a screen and a board and has nothing to do with seamanship or a seaworthiness.”

These are true words spoken by a man whose life depends on software. In my opinion this can be applied not just to companies writing software for boat electronics.

Here’s the original video. The interview starts at about 3:55.