Monday, June 04, 2007

Of the computer terms bastardized by massive commercialization of computer software and the internet, I think "beta" has taken the most bastardizing flak.

For those of you who don't know what the "beta" label means in software, web sites, and webservices that you've come across, it's a tag programmers use to indicate that the product has been deemed fit for user (i.e. idiots, you, etc.) testing. Users test the product and see if there are any problems, which the programmers will fix until somepoint there are no more obvious bugs, after which an official version of the product is released.

Beta is usually the final phase after the developers have finished creating the program and have done rigorous testing on their part. There are some bugs that only users (i.e. idiots) can find. That's why we have Beta.

At least, that's what it's supposed to mean.

Nowadays "beta" is just a fucking excuse for developers to get lazy and for marketers to keep people curious. Beta is now used to say "But wait, there's more!" in a sleezier way than how those Home TV shopping hosts go about screwing you in the arse hole.

Here's a typical virtual user-provider dialogue:

Provider: Check out our new product.
User: This is it? I don't think it's even working.
Provider: Of course right now it's still in beta.
User: So?
Provider: It gets better.
User: *is a gullible toad* Ooooh. Maybe it will.
Provider: Wait till you see version Beta 99999, it'll actually start working by then.

Ragnarok Online, an online role-playing game, is probably the best case of developers going all lazy and shit. It's been four years since the software has been released to the public and it's still in Beta. Bugs are still ever-present and the features keep on adding up to no end.

Normally, you'd get all the features at once and only bugs to work out. Not for RO's case. Features that should've been standard the moment it got out get integrated as part of the "beta" and then bugs happen because of this, forever dooming the goddamn game into a state of buggy beta that never ends.

In a real world case, a "RO-like beta" car would be just the chassis and four wheels. No engines, it just moves when pushed. Every now and then a new part will be added as a new "installment episode". Until you get those episodes, you're expected to use your car as though it were complete (but it's not).

It will eventually become a complete car (almost, at least) but by then, the car is 20 fucking years obsolete and the fact that everything is patched makes it very dangerous to even use. Despite that, you're expected to go "I was lucky to see the evolution of this product." Also by then, another set of "beta" cars will be out in the market - which will take another 20 years to complete.

Forever Beta = Lazy People.

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