Thursday, February 09, 2006

Knowing When to Ignore Your Users

I like reading Joel on Software. We use FogBugz at work, and use many of his suggestions on specifications, painless schedules, etc. However, when I read this I just said "huh?"

"Understand enough about time zones so I can enter a flight. Flights from New Zealand to Los Angeles arrive before they departed. It's confusing but it's true and if I can't enter them properly on my calendar I'm back to typing itineraries in Word."

So, apparently Mr. Spolsky is making so many flights between New Zealand and Los Angeles that not being able to record the departure and arrival times properly makes these systems unusable. Not only that, but he must also believe that a sizable enough portion of the potential users of these sites will also be in this quandary. I know that Peter Jackson has made New Zealand popular, but let's keep this in perspective.

Users will always have a laundry list of "must have" features that they are asking you for. The trick is knowing when to listen, and when to ignore them. Maybe if Mr. Spolsky were a paying user of one of these services, they might think of accommodating him...

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Paragent Manage 2.1 Release

We got Paragent Manage 2.1 out the door Monday, new downloader and all. For those not familiar with Paragent, we have been working on a p2p development platform that combines a traditional distributed hash table overlay network with a functional-based scripting language. Originally, we were going to try and market the development platform, but soon realized that was a pipe dream, so we decided to see what kind of application we could make with it ourselves. Our first product is a desktop management application that works without a central server. Most p2p apps we have seen out there have either tried to legitimize file-sharing in some way, or provide an easier-to-use communication medium. We like the idea of using p2p's ad hoc, decentralized nature to help provide business applications that have traditionally been a real PITA to deploy. Download the trial, and tell us what you think, good or bad.