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Monday, January 28, 2002

Weather Swapping is All the Rage

Brian Andresen sent me a link this morning to a weather alert about snow in his area, for the first time in many years. His area of CA isn't exactly known for its cold weather and snowmen.

On the other hand, New England is known for cold weather and snowmen. So what's our weather today?

Mid-fifties and sunny.

It's even supposed to reach 60 today and tomorrow in Hartford. The radio tells me that this is a big record breaker.

VersionTracker's Stupid "Post a Review" Design

I was looking at the page for Radio 8, and decided to post a review. Here's what I saw:


Nothing on the page indicated that I hadn't logged on, and in fact I thought I was because I thought I already had an account on VT.

So, I spent 10 minutes writing a one paragraph review, and posted it.

As you've guessed, I wasn't logged on. That's fine... a good system that allows you to write something without logging on will store what you've posted in a session (on the server), then allow you to log on (or even sign up), and then return you to where you were (posting the review, in this case).

VersionTracker's is NOT a good system. They had a link back to where I was before it asked me to log on, but it didn't contain my review. Gone forever.

Even worse, now I've wasted another ten minutes writing about their lousy system.

At Least He's Excited...?

Some people are making an awfully big deal out of this.

There are others who are sitting back and shaking their heads in amusement. Some are using the word, "Fascinating".

I'm no "yes man", but I have to agree with the "Fascinating" crowd this time. Some of us have been doing this for a long time and have written an awful lot of UserTalk. The urge to modify Frontier's builtin code is powerful sometimes, but it's just -- N o t  A  G o o d  I d e a --. I don't care what your arguments are in favor of it; experience tells me there's always a better way.

You might think that your mods will eventually be rolled into the UserLand's distribution. You might be right, but only if you're both working in the same area. Once they've turned in another direction, there isn't much you can do to pull them back again.

This is what people mean when they say that bugs never get fixed in Frontier. It's true that there are a lot of very old bugs in there, but I see bugs being fixed all the time. The problem is that a lot of developers tend to follow UserLand around and work on whatever they're testing in public or have recently released. By the time the developer is up to speed and has lots of ideas for making things better, UserLand is miles down the road.

This is one thing I've found intensely gratifying about working on Conversant. It gained its own gravitational pull -- not as big as some of the stuff that UserLand has done, but we're closer to it so it doesn't matter -- and so we've been able to continue working on it without being discouraged that another company isn't working on a similar tool at the same time.

Anyway, back to the original topic: I like the energy, if not the idea. The enthusiasm around Frontier was a big part of what drew me to it in the first place (that and finding Frontier 4 on a QuarkXPress CD), but it's been lacking for awhile. Radio seems to be exciting a "new generation" of UserTalkers, as well as bringing some of the old ranch hands out of retirement.

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