one man's journey into creating gibblybits

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Workflows busted, courtesy Web 2.0

Well no sooner did I finish bitching about Gmail breaking some macros, only to find 37signals has really hosed me. I've been using an excellent dashboard widget from to set timed reminders. These reminders would pop up on my desktop via Growl, but I could re-arrange them on the web via Backpack's site.

Until today. Today, I got the lovely surprise of what you see in the pic. All my daily reminders are "undefined." Now, I'm no real programmer, but to go in and monkey with data in such a way that it breaks a simple bit of text string? That either takes talent or utter stupidity.

So now I'm on the hunt. I don't need an online calendar thing. I need a quick dashboard-based widget tool to put timed reminders in a bin, and quickly schedule them (I loved the "tomorrow morning" presets). I need something with Growl support. I also need to be able to log in on any machine and monkey with my triggers.

37signals used to provide this, but I'm sure as hell glad I never paid them a dime. I'm considering canceling the groupware tools I've set up on other accounts just because if this is the kind of dumb arrogance I can expect, I'll not trouble them with my rather simple demands. Y'know, make shit that works and don't break it needlessly.

UPDATE: Jason Fried of 37signals responded almost instantly to my email (which contained a link to this post). He said:
"Why do you rush to judgement and assume "dumb arrogance"? Do you think we meant to hurt you? We're just human like you -- sometimes things don't go as planned. 

Thanks for reporting the issue. We'll take a look at it. You may also want to let the guy know since he's pulling data from our API. 

-Jason "

Now look, I never suggested anyone did this maliciously. My problem is that creating a tool where the primary data object is text with a time stamp, then making a change whereby the primary data object changes in such a way as to break the core functionality is inherently wrong. Not wrong as in immoral or evil-- just wrong in that the user has to scramble to figure out what is wrong. Even when the user didn't actually "do" anything.

It's like a school where they lack the funds to upgrade to OS X. If all apps were web apps, they'd be really SOL, wouldn't they? Maybe OS 9 is working for them, maybe they have legacy apps that no longer exist. But we're obsessed with upgrades, building features, and essentially breaking whatever we've made in the vein of progress. I'm all for progress, but the reason I railed against web apps to begin with (long ago) is that the user is no longer in control. You have no option but to accept the upgrade-- or get lost. How is that good business?

While I'm impressed Jason reached out so quickly, and I'm also generally impressed with the work at 37s, I'm also tired of being burned by online apps and I'm considering a more stable workaround/kludge to get back the functionality I lost. 

UPDATE 2: PackRat update 1.5.2 crashes on startup, which is also due to the new Backpack update. Boom!

No comments:

About Me

My photo
This blog is the blowhole of me, and should not represent the blowhole of any other whale, living, dead or publicly traded on the stock market. Enjoy!