Over at Technology Review there is an interview with Bjarne Stroustrup, the inventor of C++. Makes for some very interesting reading, he talks amongst other things, about software quality and why it is generally so poor. Well worth the read. It's a well balanced view and I'm sure for us developers there will be ring of truth about it.
In one section he starts by saying how there is some very good software out there, citing examples like the Mars Rover, Google and the Human Genome Project and points out that 15 years most people, even most experts would have pronounced these examples impossible. He also says that modern civilization depends on software so if software really was that bad, we'd probably all be dead by now.
He then turns his attention to the "average" piece of code and has the following to say...
I think the real problem is that "we" (that is, we software developers) are in a permanent state of emergency, grasping at straws to get our work done. We perform many minor miracles through trial and error, excessive use of brute force, and lots and lots of testing, but--so often--it's not enough.The rest of the article talks about a lot of other interesting things surrounding C++ and programming and how there are two kinds of programming languages in the world, ones which every complains about, and ones which nobody uses.