why would anyone use soulver?

I acquired a license to Acqualia’s “Soulver” application from a MacZOT bundle a few months ago. The idea is that you can do math in “plain English.” As any programmer can predict, this is a total joke.

Q: What is $30 a month for 12 months?
A: $360.00

Q: You owe me 50 dollars and 0.62 cents.
A: $50.62

Q: M = half a million
   What is 10% of M?
A: 50,000

Wow! Fantastic! As their website says (emphasis theirs): It just knows what you mean.

Let’s try some more…

Q: 2 to the power of 2
A: 4
?: right!

Q: 2 squared
A: 2
?: wrong!

Q: square root of 2
A: 1.414...
?: right!

Q: cube root of 2
A: 1.414...
?: wrong!

Q: average of 1, 2, and 3
A: 6
?: wrong!

Q: sum of 1, 2, and 3
A: 6
?: right!

Q: 1, 2, and 3
A: 6
?: right!

Q: quotient of 9 and 3
A: 12
?: wrong!

Q: minimum of 1 or 3
A: 13
?: mind-bogglingly wrong

Q: 1 or 2 or 3
A: 123
?: wtf

Some of these are extremely fundamental errors. It seems pretty obvious that when Soulver isn’t sure what to do, it guesses, and it is willing to be wrong all the time for the sake of making the contrived demos on the web page work.

The idea that some poor sap paid $30 for this is depressing.

I reported these bugs. I have received no response, and there have been no new revs. I guess the definition of snake oil is that if it’s selling, it’s working.

Written on July 2, 2007
math   software   stupid