Tuesday, 30 July 2013

On Changes in Software and Reactions Thereto

I've found any change in the software I develop and sell can produce a "I don't like this change" response, whether it is removing features, changing features, or adding something.

As a software developer and producer, one needs to develop thick skin. If I make a change and one person complains, I need to remind myself that other people like it. However, if many people complain about a specific change, then I should listen, try to understand their perspective, and consider rolling back and/or adding an option to have things either the old way or the new way.

With the "add an option" approach, however, one must be careful not to gain lots and lots of UI-cluttering options in the Preferences.

The "add an option" approach can also result in more complicated customer support - users inadvertently turn off features/changes in the Preferences, and then wonder why things don't work. Support personnel have the added complication of working out whether the user has done this.

So there are a number of issues being balanced here: the customer's (or user's) dislike for change; the potentially real complaint that the change has worsened the software for some users; keeping the software flexible; but not drowning the user with too many unnecessary options; nor making customer support too complicated.

Sign of the Times: Book's Kindle version more expensive than hard cover version

Screen Shot 2013 07 30 at 2 30 05 PM

The Kindle version costs less - much less - to produce and to deliver to me. And yet I still bought it, so great to me are the advantages of the Kindle version.


Monday, 22 July 2013

Copy Clipboard between computers: A solved (for Macs) problem

For years, I've found it painful to copy a fragment of text, such as computer code, or config settings, from one computer to another. I've often wanted the clipboard contents to magically be shared between computers. I've tried many approaches - some manual, some using third-party software that had to be installed on each computer.

I believe this problem is now solved in Mountain Lion, via OS X's "Notes" application and iCloud. If you have note-sharing iCloud activated on your Mac, which I think is the default behaviour, then copying a fragment of text between computers - any two OS X computers goes like this:

  1. Using Spotlight on computer A, open Notes
  2. Paste into Notes
  3. Using Spotlight on computer B, open Notes
  4. Wait a couple of seconds for syncing to make the new note appear on computer B
  5. Select text and copy into clipboard

As an added bonus, the content is shared with the Notes app on iPads and iPhones.

Alas, Evernote, you were a pretty good solution, but you required me to download and install Evernote on each device I used.

Irony of the Day

From a Hacker News discussion:

"Our local police force has set up a site for 'anonymous' reports from rape victims, and it had GA tracking on every page (plus Google CDN content, another issue). I wrote them to explain why this wasn't the best idea..."

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

The Worst Video Game Ever

I can't tell if this is real or not.

The drive from Tucson, Arizona, to Las Vegas, Nevada, takes approximately eight hours when travelling in a vehicle whose top speed is forty-five miles per hour. In Desert Bus, an unreleased video game from 1995 conceived by the American illusionists and entertainers Penn Jillette and Teller, players must complete that journey in real time. Finishing a single leg of the trip requires considerable stamina and concentration in the face of arch boredom: the vehicle constantly lists to the right, so players cannot take their hands off the virtual wheel; swerving from the road will cause the bus’s engine to stall, forcing the player to be towed back to the beginning. The game cannot be paused. The bus carries no virtual passengers to add human interest, and there is no traffic to negotiate. The only scenery is the odd sand-pocked rock or road sign. Players earn a single point for each eight-hour trip completed between the two cities, making a Desert Bus high score perhaps the most costly in gaming.



NY Times Crossword has an error!

Crossword clue in today's NY Times crossword: "It runs on Macs".

Only answer that fits the grid: "iOS"

I'm stunned. I'm shattered. A mistake in the king of crosswords. I've been doing these crosswords for a long time, and it is the first error I ever noticed.