Software, technology, sysadmin war stories, and more. Feed
Sunday, July 7, 2013

Responding to HN and other comments on the kickstarter

Oh dear, it seems that HN has gotten a hold of yesterday's post. Rather than trying to wade through the comments, I'll attempt to reply to some of them here. I'll also try to reply to the feedback I've received directly on my site.

Point: "There are other currencies than dollars".

True, but there's a problem. Frys doesn't take "whuffie". Neither do Ettus, Halted, or the ham radio shop in Sunnyvale. I can't buy a USRP, a right-angle SMA connector, and a flexible antenna on social capital alone. They usually only deal in USD.

Point: I could use something other than Kickstarter.

True. I could do that, but that means being stuck in a state of "will it or won't it" even longer. The last month of waiting on this thing to either work or not sucked, okay? I don't want to go through that again. I like knowing when something is going to happen so I can get working on it.

Point: I should explain how it excludes me from income.

I thought I did, but in case I didn't: it takes time to work on this kind of stuff. Besides the actual known matters of making it releasable to the rest of the world, there are support issues. Once it's out there, people are going to have problems, and I would feel compelled to help them out.

Yes, even for the people who paid nothing and are merely riding on the goodwill of the others who did pay for it. If I wrote it and it's causing pain to someone, then I'm probably going to feel the need to help them. The only way this breaks down is if something higher-priority comes along and bumps it out. Then I have to just walk away from it.

The funding was about making fred the one bumping out other projects, and thus it would "win" and get the time from me that it deserves.

I have multiple projects and clients competing for my attention. I was trying something different here to let the whole world be my "client". It was not successful.

Point: my "video thumbnail" could have used "15 minutes of graphic design input".

Sorry, that's not a video thumbnail. It's a static image that I generated in Omnigraffle. It replaced the initial hand-drawn image that I did on my marker board and photographed (!) to get things going.

For reference, this is what was originally on the KS page:

Kickstarter logo drawn by hand

... and this is what I made with Omnigraffle:

Kickstarter logo from Omnigraffle

What you didn't see is that I actually took a series of pictures as I drew the first image. I had a camera on a tripod and was playing around with the concept of making it into a stop-motion animation. The logo appears, fills itself in, and then gets wiped away.

Why didn't I do that, or indeed, any video? Easy. I'm not a video producer. I'm a programmer, sysadmin, writer, and a few other things. But I'm not any good at making videos, or really, making polished graphic art that looks like a professional. I can't be good at everything! I have distinct weaknesses and that is among them.

Sometimes I get lucky. My second book managed to get a pretty nice look if I do say so myself.

The Stupid Hour cover

I also did that with Omnigraffle. It's based on a picture which originally showed up in a post from December where County Roads put up the wrong sign. It looks good in a list of books. My original book did not.

The Bozo Loop cover

I call this the "Charlie Brown color theme". It's the product of maybe 10 minutes sitting on my couch with my now-departed iPad in the Brushes app. I needed a cover, and had no idea what to do about it. I also wanted to get the book out after working on it for so long.

It wound up looking like that, and yes, it's horrible. I actually intend to go back and fix it to make something more like The Stupid Hour one of these days. Then this hand-drawn abomination will hopefully fade away.

Point: There are so many other feed reader projects.

There are now. There weren't nearly as many, or at least, it didn't seem like it, back several months ago. The destruction of Reader basically made a bunch of stuff come into being.

fred started back in 2011 when I decided to bail out from Google properties. It predates this no-more-Reader thing.

Point: Release it anyway. A tarball of shit is better than nothing.

Nope. Not gonna do that. Not attributable to me, at least! If you want to put your name on a big pile of poop, I'm not going to stop you. Just don't expect me to join in.

Point: This software must have been trivial or it would have been easy to get the money later.

Well, actually, it is trivial... for some people. Some people exist to write plumbing and plug stuff together to make bigger systems. I am one of them. I write stuff to solve my own problems.

Other people are better at other things, and for them, this problem would be non-trivial. Their solutions to it would look as crappy as my attempts at graphical design (see above). But their graphical design might look awesome.

We're not all good at everything. Expecting that is folly.

Point: Holding onto it won't give you any revenue or popularity.

I never wanted to be the queen of feed readers. I did this as a direct response to the feedback from my "what should I do now" post. Remember, for me, fred is basically done. It lets me read my subscriptions in peace and doesn't get in my way. I didn't need to do anything more to it.

Point: You should have promoted it more.

I think I told everyone I know about it at least once. Probably more than once. I even bribed some of my friends with baked goods in order to get more eyeballs.

Have you ever baked an apple pie and then delivered it personally in order to make sure they'd remember you and tell everyone they know? I have.

I wanted this to work.

Point: Blah blah money evil dumb whore.

Remember protolog? I came up with it, tweaked it, and cut it loose on Github. It's still there. I didn't ask for any money.

An equivalent to protolog doesn't exist anywhere. People are still using regexes to grovel through this crap! I gave it away in an attempt to change that.

I haven't asked for any money for protolog, and I haven't received any.

So no, I don't always charge for it.

Point: You're charging money for something that's based on stuff that's free!

Which stuff, exactly? The libraries, so libcurl, libxml2, and jansson? Did you really want me to write my own HTTP client, XML parser, and JSON serializer?

I mean, I could... I've done stuff like that before. They wouldn't be good implementations of those libraries because they would only have the absolute minimum needed to make fred work. They'd probably have a lot of stupid holes which had already been found and squashed in the better-known libraries.

But hey, it would be all my code... or would it?

I'd still link to the C library on your system. The binary would run atop the kernel. I didn't write those. Did you want that, too?

Where does it end?