Sunday, April 20, 2008

Software doesn't matter?

The kid published tonight a post in which he stated that the software doesn't matter, it's the final result that people achieve with the software that does matter and that software will not make things happen if users are not set up to so good software's main quality is not being in the users way towards their goal.

While I very much agree with the first part, there are some things I would put in a different light for the second.

Indeed, nowadays software is just a tool (like almost everything in the world, actually): no one makes software for the software, or maybe some computer scientists in some laboratory -- that's the main difference between computer science and software and that's why I love the latter. We build software to help people do something, as good as we can, as good as they can: we give our best to create the best software we can to help people take maximum advantage of their possibilities.

And now we get to the second part: is the software that does not stand in your way the best software?

On one hand:
Is your friend that never criticize you your best friend? If we look at the question with user eyes, yes, it's most of the times like that: regular users generally don't have a particular attraction to learning new things and dealing with "the damn computer" or "the stupid software". I say that the software has to have an opinion, its purpose is to show the user "the good way" into computers and to help him getting better and better every day (remember, as good as they can), even against his/her will.
Our job is to really implement "the good way", to make sure our software does not create bad user habits or doesn't cultivate them, au contraire. There are situations when we have to take risks, we have to implement the good way even if everybody will hate us for it (that sounds so socially familiar) and nobody will use the software hence we'll get no money -- like persisting in caring for web standards when users use the browser that doesn't implement them . It might pay off at one point in the future, in which case we'll take the pride (and money) of being amongst the chosen few pioneers, it might not.

On the other hand:
Building a software that just doesn't stay in the way of it's users , isn't it a little too low for an aim? Why just that when we can do more? Yes, we start with that as a basis, always, we need to sell our software, people have to love it but let's set our minds to amaze them, user just satisfaction should be at the other end of the feature list. Why not propose to make the user fall in love with the software and do things he had never done before and go places he had never gone before?  (that sounds socially familiar, again) Achieving this is a challenge, we have to take it and use it as a doorway to slip into our souls, both as users and developers, the joy of going beyond what we used to call "our limits".

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Perfect Office Setup

Because the kid provoked me and because I've been here for a while and I thought it would be nice to offer some insight (read pictures) about how I live, here you go, my perfect office setup:

Version "school cafeteria setup around the only power source in the stupid place for which students fight eachother":

you can notice the lunch, the drink, the healthy part of the lunch sitting on a used napkin (used for explaining some code to a faculty colleague) and, of course, the big star: "the pig".

Version "in my room in the campus, the clean edition":

starring, in the order of appearance: devil tail, headphones (because have a hunch that my neighbours don't like my music that much), the booting pig in whose display you can notice the reflection of the cracked window (I swear it wasn't me), empty pill box, pens here and there, XWiki cup with some coffee left from this morning resting on the useless "Master de Sciences Mention Informatique. Livret pedagogique" (actually it's very good for resting the cup on, that's what I use it for), the lamp whose role is only to make me look like a smart hardworking student, used napkins, some mix of wires (cell phone cable, webcam, cam cable, small headphones, maybe some stuff I can't identify) mixed with a couple of cigarettes choco (left from the revision before exam I had the afternoon and night before), pills blister (again), knife (you never know when you need one), paper handkerchiefs pack, mobile phone, used subway tickets (from Paris, I hope -- I have a subscription for the Strasbourg transportation for 2 months now), some papers (I think it's actually important stuff written on), important papers plastic envelope, napkin roll.

There is also the "in class not paying attention to teacher" version and the "in bed" version for which I don't have pictures.

So, what's your perfect office setup?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

I got naked

Let me see you stripped! – Rammstein, Stripped

As proposed by the CSS Naked Day Initiative, I got naked today: my blog has (almost – because Blogger is a little shy when it comes to it) no styles, for the evening of April 9th and the following night!

Dare to get naked too!