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Monday, June 24, 2013

Responses to reader feedback

It's reader feedback time!

Pedro wrote in to say that a cable TV service in Portugal has a remote which is just for kids, like in my post from Saturday. Apparently this remote has some flaws, like being able to "control all digital equipments", which can probably put the system in a bad mode by being too flexible. It also seems to have an "adult mode" which doesn't make much sense.

Still, it shows that someone was starting to think of the problem space. I guess they just haven't quite gotten it yet.

An anonymous reader wrote in on this same topic and mentioned the use of Windows as media centers. Windows itself supports multiple accounts so they might be able to have different permissions. Of course, that requires support throughout the whole stack, and it won't make sense if everything isn't expecting it. How much of that stuff expects to have administrator rights, or just expects to be "the only user" on a system?

One thing I never understood about Tivo type systems is why they didn't seem to have multiple user accounts. I should be able to watch my Mad Men and "delete" it without knocking it off the list of someone else who shares the same system with me. They can "delete" it at their own leisure, and once it's no longer being referenced anywhere, then it can really go away. It's a weird mix of garbage collection, reference counting, and the general concept of hard links on a Unixy filesystem.

This relative lack of innovation is what got me to write a post last year about why Tivo still exists. Someone else should have come along and eaten their lunch by outdoing them in terms of features. It hasn't happened. Where is the competition? My money is on patents scaring everyone else out of this realm.

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Regarding yesterday's rant about Apple moving "Spotlight", I had a couple of comments advise me that command+space would bring this up. I think I was aware of this previously, but for whatever reason, that's not how I usually bring up that thing.

It boils down to the whole "forced retraining" thing. I'm getting tired of it happening over and over again with software which I cannot control.

Imagine what life would be like if every time you visited your kitchen, there was a nonzero chance of having a knob or button move, disappear, or otherwise change its behavior. Would people really stand for that kind of insanity?

That's where we are with software right now.

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Finally, I was asked what I think of Larry, Sergey, and Eric.

I don't know them. I have no reason to think they know me.

They are three people who used to show up to run TGIF all the time. Then they started becoming aloof. Then, one day, they were all gone, and that "used car salesman" type guy ran TGIF instead. It turned a usually laid-back afternoon thing into a high-pressure rah-rah session. It was never the same after that. Sure, they made appearances, but it was a completely different vibe.

All of this happened far away from me in the organization. The people who cared about me had no power. The ones with power didn't care.