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  • dtoub 1:46 pm on Saturday, August 14, 2010, 1:46 pm Permalink | Reply
    Tags: fail, , SEPTA   

    SEPTA is short for idiocy 

    I take the regional rail line (operated by the Southeastern PA Transportation Authority, or SEPTA) all the time to the airport. I know the schedule pretty well, but do make sure to check for any changes when they issue a new schedule. I just walked to my local train station to buy tickets for Monday and noticed new schedules were out. I was pretty surprised to see that the airport line schedule didn’t give any information for transit between my station and Center City, Philadelphia. I had to ask the sales person behind the station counter what was going on and he confirmed that the trains were unchanged, but that “Septa are idiots.” I have to agree. I just tried to give them feedback on their customer feedback form, but each time I submitted it I got a CGI error (folks are still using CGI rather than ASP? Really?). Anyway, here’s my complaint to them in the hopes that someone from SEPTA will read it. 

    I just picked up the new Airport Line regional rail schedule and was very concerned. I travel from Jenkintown to the airport every other week by regional rail and strongly support it. Until now, it was easy to figure out what train to take from Jenkintown to and from the airport. Now, it’s not-the airport schedule only lists trains to and from Center City while the Glenside Combined schedule lists trains and one can only tell if it goes to the airport (and without an arrival time) by looking at the code at the bottom. Worse, there’s no easy way to tell which trains coming back from the airport will stop in Jenkintown. Even the Septa staff member at Jenkintown complained to me that this is an “idiotic move.” And I agree.

    • Les 7:27 pm on Sunday, August 15, 2010, 7:27 pm Permalink

      Isn’t ASP a microsoft technology?

    • dtoub 7:40 pm on Sunday, August 15, 2010, 7:40 pm Permalink

      Yes it is. But objectively, it is a better approach than CGI.

  • dtoub 12:41 am on Tuesday, November 3, 2009, 12:41 am Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , fail, , socialite,   

    how to kill a software application 

    All the way back in April, I took a look at the explosion of twitter applications for OS X, after realizing that my then client of choice, twhirl, was essentially end-of-lifed after being acquired by Seesmic. After much exploration, I found EventBox, which was in beta and combined twitter with RSS feeds, Facebook and a bunch of other services. Unlike many of the other social networking clients out there, EventBox had a very Mac-like UI, and while short on some features, did a lot of things really well.

    So I paid my $15 and used EventBox to manage my Facebook and Twitter feeds, and after NetNewsWire acquired ads, migrated my RSS feeds to Google Reader, which was supported by EventBox. So with one app, I could manage several things all at once. EventBox had a small development team that was pretty responsive, and while not associated with a large, trendy fan base like Seesmic Desktop, was a cool app nonetheless. Recently, EventBox development forked into a separate beta called Multibox, that had a lot of future features intended for EventBox. It lacked some functionality, though, like smart folders and even Facebook integration, so I kept using my EventBox beta, which served my purposes and held the promise of a lot of new functionality and even an iPhone app. I was a happy, nerdy social networker

    Well, all that’s down the toilet.

    Several weeks ago, EventBox was acquired by RealMac Software. I thought “Great-now they’ll have resources to bring new functionality to EventBox in a more rapid timeframe.” Boy, was I misguided. First, they renamed the app “Socialite” (note to RealMac Software: if you’re trying to build awareness of a new application whose user base is still pretty small compared with the big apps like TweetDeck and Seesmic Desktop, don’t change the name).

    Then they released a beta today that broke most of everything.

    First I noticed that my Google Reader items, after being marked as Read, reverted to Unread after the service was refreshed. Then I quit Socialite to see if that would help, only to find that after restarting, the main window was not there unless I went into the menu bar and selected it. The Preferences item was grayed out, and a host of bugs ensued. I took the advice of RealMac and rebuilt the various services like Twitter and Facebook, and at least the prefs and window behaved as normal. But then I found that threads were no longer functional, whereas they had worked fine in previous EventBox betas. And Facebook keeps trying to update and fails. And yes, the Google Reader unread items bug is still present.

    Realizing that one of my most-used applications no longer works, I went back and tried Seesmic Desktop, and while the interface is, to put it mildly, suboptimal, it works. Even better, it has a lot of functionality that isn’t found in Socialite/EventBox, and probably never will. Seesmic Desktop doesn’t do RSS, but I went back to NetNewsWire, and that works fine as always. I just have to ignore the ads, which is no big deal.

    Back to Socialite. It’s a shame that RealMac killed it with this beta. I’m willing to wait it out and see if things improve, but I’d like to see new features, not bug fixes just to get me back to where I was before today. True, I could revert to the last beta of EventBox, but why bother when I have stability and added functionality, albeit with two applications rather than one?

    In terms of social networking apps, I use Echofon (neé Twitterfon-what’s with all these social networking applications changing names all of a sudden? Geez…) on my iPhone, but could be convinced to use TweetDeck if I also cared to use it on my MacBook Pro, which I don’t, mainly because its layout is even worse than Seesmic’s. I’d be interested in seeing Seesmic’s forthcoming iPhone app, especially if it enabled syncing. EventBox was planning an iPhone app in the future, but that effort seems kinda dead for the foreseeable future. Which is a shame.

    I’d love to have a single application that did twitter/FB/RSS and synced with my iPhone. But that isn’t the case so far. I paid for Twitterfon (now Echofon) and am pretty happy with that. I paid for EventBox (now Socialite) and am no longer happy with that. Seesmic is free, at least for now, and I can put up with the bad UI given that it works pretty well.

    So this has been counterintuitive. I thought that a larger company acquiring a small application development team would be a recipe for success from a user perspective. It isn’t, at least in this case. I remember many, many years ago when Symantec acquired the makers of MacTools Pro. MTP was a really great system repair utility, perhaps the best ever. Symantec killed it after buying it. Norton Utilities for the Mac never approached the usability and versatility of MTP. In the case of RealMac buying the manufacturer of EventBox, it’s even worse, since the damned software doesn’t work. And who charges for a beta anyway? Paying for it sorta made sense at the time because it sounded like a 1.0 release was really on the horizon, and I could save a little money over the price when the official release came out. In retrospect, that was stupid. And it’s insane that the original developers (The Cosmic Machine) and now RealMac charged and continue to charge. I’d like a refund, although I doubt that will ever be in the cards. I’ll probably never ever pay for a beta, even as much as I like to support small software developers.

    Sigh…back to checking my RSS feeds, Facebook and Twitter feeds. It’s an experience.

    • boga 1:14 pm on Wednesday, November 4, 2009, 1:14 pm Permalink

      life is more beautiful without facebook,twitter and such crap.
      I quitted facebook last year and i am still alive.
      By the way.I’ve heard your memos last week.mmm.Nice.I have manage to hear the first 5 min.
      Your music is like a book.You can’t hear a piece at once.It might take a some weeks.
      I was just wondering about something.Are you able to sing or perform the rhythm of your pieces,without your music program?i am very curious.
      And a general question:Are the musicians able to play your pieces without mental effects?

    • Richard Friedman 3:03 pm on Wednesday, November 4, 2009, 3:03 pm Permalink

      Ditto. I dropped out of Facebook, and Twitter, and now tend to keep to myself. I think all this social web software is a solution looking for a problem.

    • Luke @Realmac 12:49 pm on Thursday, November 5, 2009, 12:49 pm Permalink

      Hi David,

      We’re really sad to hear that you’ve moved away from Socialite (hopefully it’s just for the time being!).
      We’d just like you to know that we are currently working on all the issues that you’ve had, as well as some of the feature request that you made. We’re 100% committed to making Socialite an amazing application and will be implementing all kinds of great features in the near future as well as bringing the application out of Beta.

      We appreciate all bug reports and feature requests we receive and would love to see you return to Socialite one day soon!

    • dtoub 12:58 pm on Thursday, November 5, 2009, 12:58 pm Permalink

      Thanks. Hope it not only gets back to a usable state where it had been, but also is enhanced. It has a ton of promise, but judging from your forum and what I see from a quick search on Twitter, a lot of us are pondering alternatives. I’d like to go back; Seesmic has a bad UI as do all the AIR apps. But it works, as does Echofon’s desktop client, Beak, Tweetie and any number of Twitter apps on the Mac. One thing I mentioned to the Cosmic Machine developers is that Twitter users are fickle. We’ll jump ship to another app if it has better features and works well. If you look at some earlier posts of mine, I compared a lot of apps and chose EventBox. It was that good. Thanks for being upfront about everything. I’ll stay tuned.

    • Luke Hefson 10:08 am on Friday, November 6, 2009, 10:08 am Permalink

      Hi David,

      Well we very much hope you do come back! But please bear in mind that at the moment Socialite is a Beta (and not only that but a free beta) and as such it is prone to issues. We depend on users to report these issues so that when it’s ready to come out of beta it will be free of most bugs and our users will be happy to part with a little bit of money for a great app that we’ve spent a lot of time developing! Thanks!

    • dtoub 1:23 pm on Friday, November 6, 2009, 1:23 pm Permalink

      True, but keep in mind that many of us already paid for EventBox and perhaps thus beta should have been run in parallel with maintaining EventBox rather than replacing it during installation. Once people leave and find replacements, of which there are many, it’s going to be hard to get them back. I don’t know that returning to last week’s status quo before beta 2 will cut it. New functionality and improvements above what we started with might.

      While I have you here, Luke, any possibility the paradigm for viewing photos in FB might be improved? I hate seeing a ton of unread items that are each single images someone uploaded. Maybe these could be grouped? And going from one photo to the next should be better and not require opening a window, closing it and then opning the next image. Thanks.

    • Brian Stormont 8:02 pm on Friday, November 6, 2009, 8:02 pm Permalink

      I ran into this same problem today. I LOVED EventBox. I had been getting a message to install an update of the new Socialite beta every time I launched EventBox. Today I made the mistake of downloading the new beta and now NOTHING works. And, they made it so EventBox has been wiped clean, so if I return to using that, I have to re-enter all my feeds. Definitely not the right way to handle a beta… being able to use both in parallel would have been better.

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