Wise words about software

From a former Firefox developer, truer words were never spoken:

Software companies would do well to learn this lesson: anything with the phrase “users love our product” in it isn’t a strategy, it’s wishful thinking. Your users do not “love” your software. Your users are temporarily tolerating your software because it’s the least horrible option they have — for now — to meet some need. Developers have an emotional connection to the project; users don’t.

All software sucks. Users would be a lot happier if they had to use a lot less of it. They may be putting up with yours for now, but assume they will ditch you the moment something 1% better comes along — or the moment you make your product 1% worse.

I gave up Firefox as my main browser when Chrome decided to support WebGL on Linux, and Firefox kept back burnering it. Mozilla is now deprecating Thunderbird, which is the only product of theirs that I still use regularly. Guess that means I’m going to have to get used to GMail’s web interface eventually.

Sad to see something as critical as Mozilla, the beast that cracked the IE hegemony, become an also ran.

Node Announce writeup

I’m happy to say Lullabot featured Node Announce on Module Mondays:

Unfortunately, one of the most useful calendar applications can remain elusive: sending users an email when something is about to happen. That’s where the Node Announce module comes in. It can use date fields on a node as cues to send out email to specified addresses — notifying authors when their nodes will be published, attendees when events are about to occur, and so on.

Multiple friends pinged me yesterday about it, giving me congrats. Good thing that I fixed that critical Drupal 7 bug on Sunday when taking the new mhvlug.org live (fixed in 1.2). That would have been embarrassing to white screen everyone’s websites on theme rebuild.

Feature requests and patches welcome.

The City Dark – on PBS

Coming to your local PBS station this week:

Is darkness becoming extinct? When filmmaker Ian Cheney moves from rural Maine to New York City and discovers streets awash in light and skies devoid of stars, he embarks on a journey to America’s brightest and darkest corners, asking astronomers, cancer researchers and ecologists what is lost in the glare of city lights. Blending a humorous, searching narrative with poetic footage of the night sky, The City Dark provides a fascinating introduction to the science of the dark and an exploration of our relationship to the stars. Winner, Best Score/Music Award, 2011 SXSW Film Festival. Produced in association with American Documentary | POV.

We showed this at one of our Mid Hudson Astronomical Association events this year, and it’s a great film. Hopefully it will make you rethink the lights we leave on outside, that do nothing more than pollute our night skies.