Fly on the wall: “It doesn’t matter right now.” Matt 14 Aug 2006

26 comments Latest by dave bug

Each little word
Every word gets picked over. Example: We posted an upcoming “down for maintenance” alert at Basecamp. At first it said the site would be “down.” The framing of that wasn’t so hot. It was suggested that we change it to the friendlier “offline” or “unavailable.” George Lakoff would be proud.

This focus on language goes for under the hood stuff too. For example, Ryan wrote, “i just found an awesome word for the SR permissions model…note.privies, :create => privy…i’m working on some permissions UI, and the word ‘privy’ jumped into my brain. so i looked it up and was like ‘damn that’s perfect.’” (privy = “made a participant in knowledge of something private or secret.”)

Crisis points are oppportunites
Want to make friends? Be fast in replying to customers when you experience downti…er, periods of unavailability.

WHOA!!! IT’S BACK!!!I couldn’t even get the email out before you fixed it. In fact, if we hadn’t been demoing it, we probably wouldn’t have even noticed. Damn, you guys are good. I’ll take you over Oracle ANY day.
Thank you for the quick response. It seems to have been resolved. Your speedy attention is always appreciated.

And there were tons more emails like that. It really shows the power of being quick. Crisis points are make or break moments in your relationship with customers. Miscues can be opportunities to make customers like you even more. For more on this, check out Defensive Design for the Web, our book about designing for when things go wrong online.

There was some bitching about how slow Adobe products are on the new macs:

Jason F.
adobe better get their act together… their apps are dead slow on intel
Jason F.
you wouldn’t believe it
Jason F.
takes down the entire system when I run indesign
Jason F.
and I have 2 gigs ram
David H.
yeah, pretty crazy to think that intel versions of adobe are still 6 months off
Jason F.
Jason F.
thats what happens when you don’t have competition
David H.
guess adobe would just recommend that you run it under windows on the intel machines :/

Checks and balances
Design, programming, and marketing all push back at each other in order to keep things running smoothly. This week’s example: Programming telling design we need to do something about how we display lists in Basecamp. See, lists are heavy. And the load is killing us. Jamis said, “Somehow we need to stop querying every list and item with every page load.” He proposed we show three lists, collapse the rest, and open them on-demand via ajax. Jason worried about the impact of that on customers who rely on having lists displayed the current way.

A compromise was proposed for a quick patch followed by more research into a better way: “Quick win with the 5 open lists and remaining ajaxed titles. We get on this ASAP. Then after that it’s science project time.” But then we decided not to tackle the collapsable approach yet and instead tweaked the DB schema. Now we’re watching today to see how much that helps.

Moving on
Along similar lines, ya read this type of thing a lot in our Campfire room: “First off it doesn’t matter right now…so let’s not debate it. we have other things that are more important to do right now…we’ll address it later.”

Simple UI vs. complex data model
It’s interesting that the UI for Sunrise is really simple yet it has, by far, our most complex data model to date. It’s all about the permissions. Btw, now that the Backpack calendar is out, it’s full steam ahead on Sunrise.

Hello earthworm
Jason “introduced” 500 earthworms to his garden. He ordered them online. They came in a sack in a box. Jamis pictured Jason “with a staff in hand, raised to heaven, shouting ‘go forth, little earthworms!’” The worms made J feel more organic: “Between that and my composter I’m a natural force to be reckoned with.”

Nike + iPod + Spaces
Jason’s been using Nike + iPod and says, “It’s really incredible. So damn easy, so polished.” The demo of Spaces got some oohs and ahhs too.

Freud and DDT
We got a kick out of this comment on a recent thread:

Projects can be made late by using Javacs. Jason Freud and DDT are my hero. Rails make my projects earlier than when I started, so I am finished before I begin.”

Jason: “DDT — I’m totally calling DHH that now.”

Cheap stuff
Jamis is continuously amazed at how low the prices on books are at and

Version control on static sites
Version control on static sites was hotly debated. (Source of debate: A style sheet got overwritten on the server. There was no backup.) So why not implement version control? Well, there was concern that would create an extra step to updates. See, we’re constantly adjusting words, images, and layouts on the marketing sites. Little nips and tucks all the time. Making that process even a hair more complex/slow means it won’t be done as often and that’s bad. But, it turns out there’s a way to do it without any extra step. We’re on it.

BMW pokes Audi
We got a kick out of this BMW ad that pokes Audi.

Spell it out
Jamis’ son is learning to read. Mom was looking at some cooking magazine with him and he saw this:

Pronouncing the three icons there, he read: “kw”+ “apple” + “d” = “kwappled!”

Apple disses Microsoft
Apple dissed Microsoft a bit at the WWDC…

Jason F.
These MS burns are unnecessary
Jason F.
childish. Apple should pay attention to their own stuff.
David H.
Agree. I don’t understand why they’re so scared?
David H.
What the fuck are MS going to clone now?!
David H.
They’re struggling just to get the crap they currently have out
Ryan S.
maybe they want to encourage a mainstream viewpoint that MS are uncool copycats as marketing
Sam S.
sounds like they’re just trying to rile up the developers
Jason F.
yeah it’s just developer fodder I guess
Ryan S.
that too
Jason F.
it seems like they feel like they are *losing* developers though and they need to keep them.
Jason F.
instead of having the great momentum that they already have

Rock package

Marcel M.
Jason Fried: looks like you just got some drum stuff delivered here
Jason F.
oh rock. literally.

Megapopular thread
There have been 700 comments on this thread on the Garmin Nuvi 350. The post comes up third for Google searches on the product. Google loves that title tag.

Simplicity treats
From a customer survey:

What do you like BEST about Backpack? #31: “Simplicity. No features which get in the way. Very careful reduction of features to the bare minimum makes using the software much easier. Constraints. For example, until I used the Backpack calendar, I thought I needed duration and notes on each event. Now that I can’t do that, I’m finding that I make a page about important events, or a note on a common page about repeating events, and that’s a much more appropriate place to do it.”

Ryan: “That customer gets a biscuit.”

Holiday calendars

Jamis B.
I don’t understand people that have to subscribe to these huge holiday calendars
Jamis B.
it’s like they feel some need to have every square full or something
Jamis B.
who cares about 99% of these holidays?
Marcel M.

26 comments so far (Jump to latest)

Brad 14 Aug 06

I felt the same way about the apple adds at WWDC. They were clever and funny, but unprofesional. Mockery is always easier than true creative innovation - even if it’s just banner bylines. Petty and arrogant and doesn’t help them in their effort to encourage switching. “Hey look everyone, Windows developers are stupid and uncreative… not us, we’re just stupid… and uncreative”

Let the innovation speak for itself.

nursegirl 14 Aug 06

If Jamis likes the price of books at BAM, he should also check out Alibris. It sells a combination of new and used books from booksellers across the US. I often find that even their new books are cheaper than BAM and they often have hard to find books that are out-of-print.

nursegirl 14 Aug 06

If Jamis likes the price of books at BAM, he should also check out Alibris. It sells a combination of new and used books from booksellers across the US. I often find that even their new books are cheaper than BAM and they often have hard to find books that are out-of-print.

nursegirl 14 Aug 06

Sorry for the double post

Joe 14 Aug 06

Re: Holiday Calendars

If the customers are accustomed to it (i.e. seeing the holidays on a calendar they buy), then they are much more likely to stick with it. Go into a calendar store and try to find one calendar without those major US Holiday dates on it.

Sometimes having a complete understanding of the customer isn’t worth the effort. At some point, you just have to go with the customers habits and stop trying to get them to adapt to your (i.e. the designer/developer) style. Its been personally frustrating for me, not understanding, but at some point you just gotta take it as fact and then deliver the results.

RS 14 Aug 06

the most common meaning is �latrine.�

Yeah I saw that too :) It’s alright on the system side if things have a funny double-meaning.

Fwiw, we had already settled on different semantics for the permissions model. So “privy” was more for kicks when I mentioned it.

Greg 14 Aug 06

Jumping on the “Jobs overdid it at WWDC” bandwagon. I think that part of the conference was a textbook example of why some people hate Apple - because they sound like smarmy jerks. They’re playing to a crowd, though. 4000 OS X devs aren’t going to weep for Microsoft.

I did think “Introducing Vista 2.0” was clever, though.

Chris Mear 14 Aug 06

But, it turns out there�s a way to do it without any extra step. We�re on it.

I’m saying “post-commit triggers”! Survey says…?

These days I wouldn’t dream of doing static sites without version control. I even have all of the images, and Fireworks/Photoshop mock-ups in there. Having experienced the magic rewind button in my programming projects, I miss it everywhere else.

Different Brad 14 Aug 06

So where were the earthworms ordered from?

Tom Jones 14 Aug 06

I�m saying �post-commit triggers�! Survey says�?

I’m thinking svn webdav autocommit.

James Head 14 Aug 06

Double posts could be solved with a onclick=”this.disabled=true” added to the submit button.

I always find it irritating when web application in big bold letters state “please click submit only once”…

Jough Dempsey 14 Aug 06

“Privies” in the plural definitely means toilets. It does add an extra dimension when you think of your private data as “going in the toilet” though.

The Apple pot-shots at Microsoft were pretty lame, but they were aimed at Mac developers, so I suppose they were as appropriate as Balmer’s monkey-chant a few years ago.

The funniest one is “Hasta la vista, Vista” since it’s unlikely that Leopard will even pull a single point out of Vista’s market share. I guess they’re saying goodbye now before Vista pulls so far ahead of them in sales that Microsoft can’t hear them anymore.

For better or worse, OS X is locked in to Apple hardware, which means it will always be a niche OS unless you can install it on commodity beige boxes (or black boxes, as PCs all seem to be these days).

As for “kwappled”, it sounds like your son has learned phonics, which are not being taught in many schools today, so your kid is hooked-on and ahead of the curve.

I guess teaching kids how to sound-out words that they don’t know hurts their self-esteem.

Jough Dempsey 14 Aug 06

Double posts are caused by the system entering the post but not updating the page.

I know to just wait for the spinner to stop spinning now and I assume that my post will have been added, but for those new to the comments page here they may prefer some kind of feedback letting them know their post was made - otherwise they’ll be likely to press the “Post this Comment” button again, thus making a double or triple post, and then another post to apologise for the previous double-posts.

Letting people delete or edit their own posts would alleviate the double-post problem too, although not completely solve it (since not everyone would clean up their own mess).

Better still would be to provide feedback, even if it’s just via Ajax that uses the YFT on the post that was added above the form.

Darren Stuart 14 Aug 06

I was not suprised with the Apple stuff this week bagging MS.

Just a continuation of the Mac V PC adverts which are crap.

I think they are not selling thier good points with those adverts just slagging off thier potentional customers.

I like apple products but not the elitism that goes with some jerks who use them.

great read guys.

prabhu 14 Aug 06

I am also looking for a way to do version control for static sites, post a blog on what you find out.

Thijs van der Vossen 14 Aug 06

Just wondering, why not fragment-cache the lists?

Mario 14 Aug 06

I don�t understand people that have to subscribe to these huge holiday calendars
Jamis B.
it�s like they feel some need to have every square full or something
Jamis B.
who cares about 99% of these holidays?

I actually just like knowing all the culturally significant dates so I can consider partcipating. For example, I like fasting on Yom Kippur despiter not being jewish. I also explicitly avoid people on Canada Day cause the patriotism is a bit much for me.

Ryan 14 Aug 06

A privy is also a toilet.


Bob Monsour 14 Aug 06

Please DO post your static site v-control solution when you can. I’ve been debating myself about it for a year or so.


Sebhelyesfarku 15 Aug 06

Apple doesn’t innovate just repackages tech to retards (Spotlight = BeOS FS, Spaces = virtual desktop, Time Machine = backup with SVN etc.) Whining about being copied is funny, but Maclots dig it.

dave bug 15 Aug 06

Speaking of double (quadruple, quintuple posts), that thread of “700 comments” is full of ‘em.

Is it that Google searchers are worse about reloading pages they’ve posted? Quadruple-clicking the post button? Perhaps threads that get that long cause people to click again since the page is still loading?

If it’s the last, then it’ll self-perpetuate, as the quadruple posts further lengthen the wait for the next poster, increasing the chance of the re-clicking/reloading.