October 20, 2013
So as some of you may know, I attended and spoke at the last C4 conference. It was interesting for a few reasons which I detailed in that post. But one thing I left out, and really didn't talk about until today was Wolf's very bizarre "Time to bury AppleScript" thing. Which was a minor poke at me as well, my love for that language is well known. Probably a bit of real-life trolling too, <shrug>.
The thing was, he never really showed that the language wasn't useful, or didn't do the job it needed to do. It really came across as "it's not a syntax I like, therefore it sucks."
Which is why this passage from Gus Mueller's article "Core Values" on his shapeof.com site, (talking about Wolf's (in)famous explosion about Apple's section 3.3.1 which required all apps for the iPhone to be developed in Cocoa amused me so:
One of Jonathan's core values is to help push humanity forward. And he believes one way to do this is through exploration and experimentation in software. If we didn't come up with new ideas and new languages to express our thoughts (and really- that's what we're doing when we program) we would be farther behind in progress.
Because I have a different memory. I have a memory of someone who only wants things to move forward if they do so in a way he approves of. If they use a syntax and a language structure he likes. I remember sitting in a room and having him, probably unintentionally, shit on the work done by a lot of people over the years. Good work. Maybe not groundbreaking. Maybe, if you're a dev snob, scripts don't count as "real" programming. But I know the folks using AppleScript do a lot of work, a lot of good work, a lot of hard work, and Wolf basically dismissed all of it because he didn't like the language.
I don't think he intended that, but it came across really clear.
Maybe Wolf has changed over the years. Maybe he's stopped caring about how a language works and is more interested in making programming more accessible to anyone, syntax wars be damned. I hope so.
But in 2009, he was as big a syntax snob as anyone, and you cannot be in favor of "exploration and experimentation", of "new ideas and new languages" if the only ones you'll accept look just like what you have now.
Because what I saw in 2009 makes this:
Section 3.3.1 cut off the possibility of inventing new programming languages on the iPhone, so by the values that Jonathan holds - this was a horrendous act by Apple. It cut off an arm of progress and invention.
look rather a lot like bullshit.| Comments ()
October 11, 2013
A trend that needs to go
...but sadly won't. Specifically the "You don't agree with me so clearly you didn't understand what I was saying."
No you patronizing dumbass, I did understand what you were saying. However, I still don't agree. There can be a variety of reasons for that. I have different data on the issue at hand than you do, I'm not you, different worldviews, I have a different interpretation of the facts at hand, whatever. There are lots of reasons why someone might disagree, and none of them, none of them are because they're too stupid to understand you.
Oh, you didn't call me stupid? Yeah dude, actually, you did. That's pretty much exactly what you are saying when you pull that line out. "If you understood, then you'd have to agree with me, because my viewpoint is the only correct one, so therefore, if you don't agree, you must be not able to understand me."
It's not only insulting, but it is so supremely egotistical that it boggles the fucking mind.
Which is why when someone pulls it on me, I stop giving a fuck about what they are saying, because at that point, two things are clear:
- There is only one acceptable viewpoint, theirs.
- They don't want to discuss, they want to win.
Neither is worth any form of serious consideration.| Comments ()
October 10, 2013
It's not just designers who have a responsibility
Go watch this: Mike Monteiro - How Designers Destroyed the World. Yes, it's long, I don't care, don't be such a damned baby.
It's deep, and it's right. It also applies to IT. Not word for word, don't be stupid. But it does. Because IT has a responsibility as well. We have a responsibility to make things not suck as much as we can. It's a hard one, because we do have to balance it with security, and corporate policy, (I am not speaking much to consultants here. I'm not a consultant, nor have I ever been one. I'm speaking to the people in my line of work, corporate IT) and regulations, and generally lazy management who want IT to solve their fucking inability to be leaders. But we do have a responsibility, and it is to the people using our work. The Users.
We are the ones, maybe the only ones who can understand both worlds. We're probably the only folks who talk to both sides on a regular basis. I think any one of my ilk reading this could go to their helpdesk history, and trace probably 50% of their tickets not to things actually breaking, or to someone just being dumb, but to shit design. Bad UI. Things not working right, not because there's a bug, but because, for a variety of reasons, as Mike said, one too many people said "Fuck It". Apple doesn't get a bye here, they have just as large a list of sins here as anyone. It's wrong. It's wrong that we see "Well, it's Enterprise Software" used as an excuse for something being hard to use, or needing weeks of training to be able to use, not master, but to use basic functionality. "Enterprise" is a market segment. It is not an excuse to torture people.
When I have someone freaking out because their mail doesn't work, and the answer is "Oh, that's just Google. Use the web ui instead, you're in "bad client timeout", it'll work in a while", that shit is wrong. It's wrong that I'm stuck saying that to someone who has done nothing wrong, and it is wrong that anyone, Google, Apple, anyone is either so incompetent, or so fucking arrogant that they punish people for using the "wrong" client to connect to their precious email system. It is at best lazy, it is at worst evil. How arrogant can you be to tell someone who knows what they are doing, even if that thing they do isn't programming that they're wrong for not using something the way the programmers intend? Do the Gmail programmers come out and observe the people they tell this kind of shit to? Of course not. They're too damned smart to bother with talking to people who aren't them.
But we aren't. When this happens, even if we probably won't win, we in IT still need to do what we can to stop it. We won't always win, but if we don't try, we can't ever win. One of the reasons I was so hard on Adobe about installers was because if it's that hard for me to install software, the new features in new versions, which may be incredibly useful to people won't ever be used, or there will be a delay in them getting to use those features, because it will take that much longer to get the software on their machines. Luckily for lots of people, Adobe did something you don't see often: they listened, and they improved things.
Sometimes, you win. But if you don't push, you won't win. You can't win.
When I see people beating their heads against walls created by developers who either don't give a fuck at all, or who stopped caring I get angry. When I bring up the issues, and I get some bullshit response back, I get furious, because not only did you not give enough of a fuck about your work to make people want to like it, but when someone is trying to tell you that your lack of fucks is causing people to actively hate your work, you're going to come back with some shitty blowoff? At the very least, the very least, put it in the list as a feature request. Don't tell me stupid shit like you can't allow for new user templating because "each user is so different, that will never work."
Yes, that is in fact a direct quote.
In this day and age of security freakouts, I still have to deal with "Enterprise" apps that don't allow me to set a "change password on next use" flag. When I point out this is something that should be changed or we should be able to reset passwords, I've been told "that won't work, as every password is unique."
I don't know which is worse: that someone is so uncaring as to think that is a good reply, or they think I'll magically buy that bullshit.
If it's the latter, they don't think that for long.
How can you not get angry? How can you see someone who just wants to send an email or update a project struggling with a program that has no fucking sense, created by people who view "QA" as "button B successfully executes code block C" and nothing more, and not get angry? How can you say there's nothing wrong with a program that shows you the fucking copyright symbol as a goddamned keyboard shortcut? How can anyone justify uncaring design like that? But I see IT people doing it all the time, and I want to fire them. Out of a cannon, into a pit of fire.
Why aren't you filing bug reports and feature requests? Do you want to be helping people over the same fucking hill for the rest of your career? Because that's what happens if nothing gets better. You will be forever, for-fucking-ever, fixing the same goddamned problem if you don't even try to get the people who created it to fix it. If you can't be arsed to do that, why the hell are you in this career field? This is one of the things you're supposed to be doing. Not fighting fires all the goddamned time, but getting the fucking landlord to maybe fix that shit wiring. If you aren't even trying, why the fuck are you here?
That is what IT and helldesk and sysadmin people are here for: to make things better for the people who aren't in IT, and if you think it's for any other reason, you're wrong. It's not easy, but it is required. Maybe that's why IT people burn out so fast. It's a hard thing, trying to balance all this. Trying to make things better while dealing with all the other crap we have to do. But we're the only ones who can do it, because we talk to our users, we work with them, we even are occasionally friends with them. We're the only ones who can translate their frustration into actionable bug reports and feature requests. We are pretty much the only ones who can help them. If you aren't constantly trying to do that, why are you doing this job?
This is also why I am so angry, so very angry when a company outsources their user support to some fucking call center, because what that is telling me is they don't give a fuck about the people doing the work that makes that company money. They don't want people who are there and able to learn what those folks actually need to work at their best. They don't want people who will move fucking mountains to solve problems to make things better. They just want someone who will give them a new pacifier and shut them up. How little must you care about your employees when you tell them that from now on, the only support they're going to get is someone on a phone who knows fuck all about them or their needs, and will just read them a script, then either reimage or swap out their machine.
Who the fuck does that help? Other than someone's fucking profit-margin-based bonus, no one. When I read about companies doing that, I also feel very happy I work for the people I do. Because they have not yet stopped caring about their employees. They still get it. It's a big part of my loyalty towards them.
I may not always be able to change things for the better for my users. I accept that I will lose more often than I win. But I will never stop fighting to try and make things better for them, and if as an IT person, you can't do that, then please, find a different career. Because I'm tired of people thinking I'm you.
And if you're one of those companies who views its employees as overly expensive things to be kept quiet and compliant, then fuck you. You should all go out of business, you don't deserve your success.| Comments ()