May 22nd, 2007


Character flaws.

The new laptop has a manufacturing flaw. The CD drive will eject if you touch it gently anywhere near the button. It’s nice that it will work so easily, but does it have to be so sensitive? It pops open so frequently that I have developed a reaction to push it back in when I hear the click. Frustrating, but not enough to send it back.

I use a lot of things like that. In particular, I have a sordid history with instant messaging clients. In the 1990s, I had a different client on separate VTs for every network of any repute. BitchX, naim and micq were the applications of those dark ages. However, when I switched to Jabber, I knew the race was over for me. I assumed once the world used a standard protocol, the quality and diversity of clients would increase.

That’s not exactly what happened.

There are a lot of theories as to why there are so many options for IM. The prevailing one is that it is just too easy to switch, and too easy to be present on all the networks at once. Multi-protocol clients like GaimPidgin, Adium, Miranda, Fire, Trillian... I could go on for a while... they offer a unified interface to all the choices.

Web 2.0 has made it worse. Has anyone played with Twitter? What about Jaiku? Pibb? Meebo? Their founders espouse maxims like “no business will fail that offers an innovative method of facilitating human communications.” (paraphrased) But, at this point, this feels very much like churn. How is Twitter any different than away messages? Pibb from a normal web forum? Meebo from that long list above? I know - I know, the location field is the new command-line. But I thought we outgrew the command-line - we’re supposed to have options!

Or, take a cue from Apple, and take some away.