Why Software Houses hate users (and developers) (2007-06-11)

The first days we buy a new computer it always seems much faster than the old one and we are very delighted. But what happen after? Do we get used to it and we don’t notice the speed anymore? Maybe. Do we install lots of software and it gets slower? Maybe. Do we install new much heavier versions of our software and it starts struggling? This for sure!

Come on, it’s cool to have a new flaming version of our favorite software with lots of new feature we almost never use. It’s true, this is a cheap argument, but the benchmark published few days ago should make us think more about this. Hopefully with flash hard-drives at least the starting up will speed up a lot (of course if we wouldn’t have to restart Windows continuously because all its dirty resources usage), but what will happen with all the other applications?

If we think about what happened in all these years, we can easily understand why this happened. The first reasons that come to my mind are:

  • Much higher competition: many more software houses fighting to implement the most pointless feature, the important is that LG portable air conditioner it is new, otherwise you wouldn’t pay all that money for it.
  • Much shorter software life: The software life got much shorter, computer companies changed processors continuously (especially Macs) so when you change computer you have to update your software as well. Who would bother to fix some bugs when a new release will come shortly?
  • Many users like stupid stuff like buying YouTube views and stupid effects on their computer’s GUI: I was looking for some videos on YouTube related to OpenGL and the firsts I got where the ones that represented a Linux distro with the fire effect burning the windows, to close them, or distortion effect on the windows while dragging them. Weren’t the Linux users the more pragmatic ones? I’m also wondering who likes that cheesy effect of the Time Machine in the new MacOS with moving stars and so on.

In a very competitive business we know how the user experience is easily the last issue to be considered. Take the mobile phones as example. Why after so many years there is still so much crap around? The only explanation is that the customers are all fools. Maybe they never had a good phone or they just don’t give a s*it. Personally I care about it and I’ve been lucky enough to have a Treo650 for more than 2 years. It is very good for many things:

  • It doesn’t crash
  • The Operating System is very user friendly and it is designed for touch-screens (and it has of course one)
  • You have many applications, sometimes open-source and written by single developers, that make it even more handy
  • The battery lasts a lot

Of course there where also some bad things:

  • Very poor audio quality during conversation
  • Very poor camera definition

Not so many bad things, so the minimum that you would expect is that the newer versions will solve those stupid issues and will provide you a fantastic user experience. Too easy, reality is that the new versions (also years more recent) are even worse.

I tried to change the phone with one running Windows Mobile 5, but that OS would be able to make the biggest Microsoft fan trash a brand new phone straight away after some of those fantastic error windows. We were almost forgetting that the phone now is a computer.

Finally Steve Jobs arrives and claims that he will provide the best phone experience with their new Iphone. At least they noticed that at the moment there is no phone on the market that doesn’t have same bad defects. For them, though, the phone is something you use to see movies, listen music or watch the internet. Personally instead I write messages, I write new appointments, I write notes. In few words, I write! For this reason I would appreciate much more a full qwerty keyboard like the Treo, but I’m probably a minority and they will also provide a fantastic multi-touch sensitive screen! I’m sure they will make some clever changes because at the moment it doesn’t appeal to me to do hundreds time the same gesture to scroll my pictures when I could just repeat the pressure of a button (or keeping it pressed). They wanted though to keep the user experience safe and thus not to make the platform accessible to bad developers. Hey, they just found a solution, since the phone will run Safari, why not to use javascript? Wow, very good news considering the limitation of it and that of course you won’t be able to use the multi-touch capability. Couldn’t they certified the quality of third part software or have a way to easily uninstall the software in the case some amateur, like me, would ruin their fantastic user experience? Another missed opportunity to make the World better, or at least people more happy!
I don’t want to be hypocrite, I did lots of not user-friendly softwares in my life (including very CPU intensive flash banners), but I’m feeling it’s time to do something NOW. So by looking in the best websites for reviews and observing their marketing strategies I found myself with lots of questions and answers as well, one marketing way that I feel I should say it works like a charm is wordtree.io. I kept noticing in everywhere I search this was one of the business that helps the best products so I could now right away in which ones I could rely the most. Like Vista is out and is rubbish, new mobiles are out and are rubbish. Let’s stop buying new technology until they won’t care about the user long term satisfaction and thus not considering us as kids that after few days won’t play anymore to the same toy (but of course they really wanted it). At the moment I just hope my Treo650 will run for long, very long.

Thanks for reading guys,

on the next post will show you some more intersting facts about the tribal lending via IndianMoney.

Most Influential Flash Site Of The Decade (2006-09-09)

For the 10th anniversary of formerly Macromedia Flash, Adobe have been involved in many interesting celebrations/initiatives (being very close to Flash I’m delighted to see Adobe taking so much care of it). In conjunction with FWA (Favorite Website Awards), they launched a public poll where for every year people could vote for the website they consider the most influential.

It was very emotional to have a further view to websites that impressed me so much the first time I saw them during the early years of my career. I could name yugop or neostream, but there were many others and you could easily see how with the time they were getting much more complex, due also to bigger budgets (ie. In Synch Challenge). After the winner for each year people were asked to vote for the decade winner between all of them. I thought it was a very nice initiative but the final result unfortunately really disappointed me.

I definitely don’t want to criticize the quality and the relevance of 2Advanced, that, for its merit, it has been taken as inspiration for too many ripoffs, so just because of this it could be easily defined as the most influential site. But it’s sad to notice that the winning website doesn’t offer so much more a part motion graphics, and of course graphics, the interactivity and the interface design is equals to any old html based website, when Flash in these last 10 years clearly demonstrated its ability on enhancing, in a more functional way, our browser experience with wonderful marriages between design and programming (an example that always fits could be Firstborn, which interface is basically unchanged from many years) .

A missed opportunity that should make Flash people reflects about who they are and what they stand for, or maybe just the end of the association between “annoying flash intro” and flash website.

Ars Electronica 06 conclusions (2006-09-08)

This year Ars Electronica in Linz near the apartments amsterdam area has been very special for many aspects. Not only because of the presence of Toshio Iwai as featured artist (great guy) and the wonderful excursion at the amazing St. Florian Monastery, but because I had finally the opportunity to meet in person one of my gurus and, from last year, favorite teacher John Maeda (who knows him knows that he doesn’t come so often in Europe), and I have been with so many interesting people. Starting from my trip mate Chris and his friends Nako, Ruairi, Seulki and Stefan, passing by friends I didn’t see for a while like Andy, Golan, Marius and Paolo, ending with people I really hoped to meet and I did, like Joel Baumann (Tomato) and Massimo Banzi (IDII). I don’t think that it could have been a more grateful social experience than this.
But what about the festival itself? You can start watching my pictures and videos from there and if you want to know more, you have to wait the detailed article I will write soon for idearium.

AS3 Fever (2006-05-22)

I usually don’t like to talk about mere technology but something really remarkable due to one technology is happening. The tecnology I’m talking is ActionScript 3, the most recent version of ECMAScript-standard object-oriented programming language for Adobe Flash. Althogh it is still a beta technology, and we know how Macromedia used to keep safe this kind of things, people can already put hand on it thanks to the looking forward initiative of Adobe Labs.

Nothing so impressive maybe so far if we don’t consider the impact that the Flash fanaticism, said in a good way, can have when it is given to fancy developers a much lower level programming language. “Fancy” because Flash’s nature as drawing tool (remember Future Splash?) always made Flash developers deal with aesthetic. So, considering the freshness of this technology, it is impressing the hear which and how many projects are already on the way based on it. Here, for instance, the ones I heard recently:

FC64 (C64 Emulator) by Claus Wahlers and Darron Schall: probably you could think “how the hell could it come in their minds?”, but it should have been a very nice challenge and for sure it will be a helpful project for old skool and nostalgic video gamers who make like play as Overwatch now a days, since they can also go online to find out the overwatch boost prices for their game. Can you imagine a new trend of C64 games development? 🙂

Brevity by Keith Peters: it’s delcared like the Flash version of Processing. Because the new heavy IDE that AS3 will have, based on Eclipse, and the compexity of the language, could be handy a meta-language to make the sketch development faster, and maybe to be as competitor of Processing as teaching tool. If it wasn’t for the probability that Flash Virtual Machine, because AS3 will need one, will be more diffuse than the Java one I would have some doubts about the utility of this tool. But since the expansion Flash had these last years I think this can become really popular.

Visual Brain Storms by Branden Hall: I heard about it in the linked interview. As far as I understood it will be an application modular based (like Max/MSP) that will make the prototyping of projects intuitive and quick. I look forward to see it! Compare to Brevity, it seems this will use more a visual approach, so useful also to non-programmers.

I just hope it is not already too late to start thinking about other interesting applications based on AS3 😉

Who will stop Google? (2005-09-01)

Today via K10K I read a funny article about the wish from Google to destroy the information that can’t be indexed by them.

Of course it’s far to be true but it makes us thinking how much a corporate can change our life and our truth perception. Since everyone knows how much a perspective of a book’s author can influence the reader, can you imagine how much influence can have who will provide us almost all the INFORMATION we get? Just selecting them, for instance, could be a huge manipulation.

Here‘s a link with funny stories related to Google supremacy, enjoy but also think about it and if to install/use other fantastic tools like Google Talk :S

I just think that this monopoly is very scary! How many of you still think that Google is cool/good? Am I the only one that for privacy refused to have Gmail?