Of Temper and Price

Of Temper and Price.

There's a microflap in the RSS world right now. It started when a blogger lost her data, and then lost her temper.

She did this very publicly, and because she has good friends and good enemies
she did this very visibly. The spreading ripples have left lots of name
calling in the wake. ( I'm not going to link to the flap; it's a fender
bender. Nothing to see. Move on.)

Software will make mistakes. This is emphatically true of beta software, which is what this unhappy blogger was using. You should expect
beta software to do bad things, but even release software will,
occasionally, not behave as it should. (Even if it behaves as it
should, this may not be what you expect, and in that case the fault
might not lie with the software)

Software is complex. Tinderbox,
for example, is not the largest or most complicated program out there
— but it's very large and very complex and has a vast number of moving
parts. The operating system has lots of parts, too.

Nobody knows how to write bug-free software. In fact, nobody
knows how to write software that won't crash and lose your data. Nobody
knows how to cure cancer or fly to Mars or put a chicken in very pot.
We're working on it. The longest journey begins with a single step.

Use common sense. The very first words on web page of the
product that aroused such ire are “Beta software has bugs! Nasty,
vicious bugs with great big, sharp teeth! Don't use beta software
unless you're clear on what 'beta' means and you're comfortable running
beta software.” Later, the vendor specifically warns against testing
the feature that caused the problem.

Don't listen to the pundits. Newspaper and magazine
columnists write as if defect-free programs were as easy to ship as
defect-free automobiles. It isn't. Get used to it. Don't listen to the pros, either,
unless you know them well and know enough about the field to be sure
you're a good judge. A lot of people who seem to be serious experts are
really cranks.

Software pricing is out of whack. In the instance, an
influential professional was using free 30-day trials to select a
professional tool she used extensively every day, a tool that was close
to the center of her worklife. How much would the successful vendor
receive for winning the competition? $24.95 . This is absurd. [Mark Bernstein]

Leave a comment