Jeremy Smith's blog

Entry Is Labelled

I Must Be the Most Demanding User in the World

There are two kinds of people in the world:

I am, obviously, the latter.

So, the two categories I am creating, for the purpose of this entry, are:

I, again, fall squarely into the second group.

Of course, I want technology that works. I've never heard someone ask for a non-working piece of tech. (Actually, I have; but they did it inadvertantly because they were very, very confused.) My problem is, it isn't enough that it works; it has to work well. And, I have sufficiently high standards for what constitutes "well."

I have never used a piece of calendaring software that was useful enough to justify its existence. I measure email clients in the amount of "bad" that it doesn't have rather than the amount of "good" it has. The fact that I have phone numbers in my cell phone and in my desktop's address book that in no way correlate to one another drives me nuts. The Apache web server doesn't come configured by default to serve characters as UTF-8, I find that annoying. I curse Steve Jobs's name because I can't publish my iTunes music library as an RSS feed. I clench my jaw and fight back screams whenever I have to log on to a protected web resource hosted at Case that does not use my Case credentials. What I'm saying is, it takes a heck of a lot for me to sing praises for a piece of technology; and even then, I have a list of caveats.

The other group of people seem to be appeased by anything that works no matter the hoops and needless complexities. They're okay with having to click three times to perform an action that should only take one click. They have no problems with manually running files through format converters so they can share data across different applications. They smile and shrug and endlessly navigate a series of trials and tribulations just so they can send a text message, access a remote file system, or copy something from one computer to another.

I don't get these people.

I mean, God bless these people, because as a person who develops pieces of technologies that others can use, they don't raise much of a fuss if some polish is missing. But, I feel for them. If only they could be shown there are better and easier ways to do things.

Obviously, the user-demands I carry around with me affect my personal and professional projects. I want technologies that I develop to meet the standard where I would actually use them. In this situation, battles must be strategically picked to win the overall war. For example, the Blog@Case system, I use it; and there are many things that bother me about it. It's too hard to edit templates and styles. The CGIs are slowing down (oooh... that one is really bothering me, but I am closing in on the problem). You can't look at your own site's stats. The current anti-spam system, I don't believe, will scale. You can't automagically create a blog for a group, organization, department, course, etc. that you are a part of. And, there's more; but hopefully, I will be attending to all of those. And, there's a lot of goodness in the Blog@Case system, too. It's a solid 3 out of 5 with strong aspirations to become a 5.

Where was I going with all of this? It's important, as a developer/implementor of technology to be demanding of what you develop and deploy — eat your own dog food. Whether it be a CMS, a Wiki, an email server, or a blog system; make sure you use it, you use it heavily, and you have the utmost demands for how the system should work. And, always check to make sure it hits the golden rule of "make the easy things easy, and the hard things possible." And, always develop 5s.


  1. gravatar

    Your attitude is refreshing.