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Friday, December 2, 2011

Beware the bozo loop

The Bozo Loop (eBook)

Some things seem to exist because of a loop of bozos. Clowns.

Quick, what's full of security holes, constantly needing to be patched, piggish enough to make your laptop sound like a jet engine, and yet probably installed everywhere?

Give up? It's Flash.

I thought about this. How is it that they can keep shipping releases which continue to be ridiculous and full of holes? You'd think that after the first dozen or so glaring problems that they'd take a big step back and rethink the whole thing.

Instead, every time I check in on my mom's computer, it's always in need of a plugin patch, and that plugin is Flash. It's slow, it's ugly, and it's broken. It's probably also not long for this world (thanks Steve!) but for the time being, we all have to put up with it.

I came up with a hypothesis I call the bozo loop. It goes like this: once your product becomes sufficiently crappy, nobody in their right mind will want to work on it. That is, the project actually becomes so bad that its badness rubs off on you. It stinks of death, and anyone halfway competent who cares about this reputation runs away from it.

You still need developers to work on your broken project, so you start scraping the bottom of the barrel. You get mercenaries who will work on anything for money because they just turn the crank to pump out soulless code and don't care about the results. You get people who are fresh out of school and don't know that it's a rotten dead fish of a project.

Finally, once in a while you get someone who's genuinely good and wants to fix things. They jump in and work like crazy, but it overpowers even them. They wind up quitting the project or perhaps the whole company, and go off and start writing war stories on their personal web site.

Because you let the bozos get to your project, all your project can now get to work on it is more bozos. I'm calling this the "bozo loop".

I'm not privy to whatever goes on inside Adobe, so I can't say for sure this is what's going on with Flash. They might have some completely different reason for why they seem to turn out nothing but horrible things. Maybe they have unlimited booze on tap and haven't mastered the Ballmer Peak. Who knows?

The clowns are out there. Keep them off your projects.

May 30, 2012: This post has an update.