Anecdotal evidence is not the best way to objectively study anything, but ask anyone what caused them to leave XPress for InDesign. Overwhelmingly, it all boils down to those personal stories of neglect that eventually eroded Quark’s appeal and made a potentially painful transfer to another product the lesser of the evils.
In 2001, Apple released OS X, which felt dog slow on existing hardware. Despite its inclusion of crucial publishing tech like AppleScript and ColorSync, it was definitely not production-ready. But OS 9’s failings are well documented—a bad font in an ad could literally cost you a third of your day dealing with system crashes. OS X’s single promise of Unix-like stability turned its other short-term problems with snappiness into non-issues.
Quark repeatedly failed to make OS X-native versions of XPress—spanning versions 4.1, 5, and 6—but the company still asked for plenty of loot for the upgrades. With user frustration high with 2002’s Quark 5, CEO Fred Ebrahimi salted the wounds by taunting users to switch to Windows if they didn’t like it, saying, “The Macintosh platform is shrinking.” Ebrahimi suggested that anyone dissatisfied with Quark’s Mac commitment should “switch to something else.”
It’s advice people apparently took—just not the way he meant it. It was likely that Quark saw increasing growth in Windows sales as a sign that the Mac publishing market was dwindling. However, what they were probably seeing was new users, not migration to Windows. I’ve heard about Windows-based publishing environments, but I’ve never actually seen one in my 20+ years in design and publishing.
Perhaps this seems like an overstatement, but desktop publishing was invented on the Mac. It would have been hard to find people more rabidly pro-Mac than people who were basically keeping pre-Jobs Apple afloat. So when a revitalized Apple needed all the help it could get, telling Mac designers to switch to Windows was all the excuse these creatives needed to think that the grass was actually greener on the InDesign side. Simply put, this was a crucial nudge for many.
The odious Yale Administration recently responded to the technological progress which transferred the printed-on-paper Course Critique (which my colleagues and I on the Yale Daily News first produced in the Fall of 1967) to a more flexible searchable electronic version on the Internet to tyrannically exercise the university’s power as webhost to censor and shut it down.
One has to shake one’s head over the fact that Yale continues to manage to hire and put power into the hands of people who are both so inclined to misuse power and simultaneously so lame. Dean Dodo who made the decision to take that website down obviously had only the dimmest reptilian understanding of the possibilities of technology and the enterprise and skill of the Yale undergraduate.
In January 2012, two Yale students named Harry Yu and Peter Xu built a replacement to Yale’s official course selection website. They it called YBB+ (Yale Bluebook Plus), a “plus” version of the Yale-owned site, called Yale Bluebook. YBB+ offered different functionality from the official site, allowing students to sort courses by average rating and workload. The official Yale Bluebook, rather, showed a visual graph of the distribution of student ratings as well as a list of written student reviews. YBB+ offered a more lightweight user interface and facilitated easier comparison of course statistics. Students loved it. A significant portion of the student body started using it.
Fast-forward two years. Last Friday (1/10/14), Yale blocked YBB+’s IP address on the school network without warning. When contacted, Yale said that YBB+ infringed upon Yale’s trademark. Harry and Peter quickly removed the Yale name from the site, rebranded it as CourseTable and relaunched. Yale blocked the website again, declaring the website to be malicious activity.
Later that weekend, Yale’s administration told the student developers that the school didn’t approve of the use of its course evaluation data, saying that their website “let students see the averaged evaluations far too easily”. Harry and Peter were told to remove the feature from the CourseTable website or else they would be referred to the school’s punishment committee. ...
What if someone made a piece of software that displays Yale’s course evaluation data in a way that Yale disapproves of, while also (1) not infringing on Yale’s copyrights or trademarks, (2) not storing any sensitive data, (3) not scraping or collecting Yale’s data, and (4) not causing damages to Yale’s network or servers? If Yale censors this piece of software or punishes the software developer, it would clearly characterize Yale as an institution where having authority over students trumps freedom of speech.
Guess what? I made it last night.
I built a Chrome Extension called Banned Bluebook. It modifies the Chrome browser to add CourseTable’s functionality to Yale’s official course selection website, showing the course’s average rating and workload next to each search result. It also allows students to sort these courses by rating and workload. This is the original site, and this is the site with Banned Bluebook enabled (this demo uses randomly generated rating values).
Banned Bluebook never stores data on any servers. It never talks to any non-Yale servers. Moreover, since my software is smarter at caching data locally than the official Yale course website, I expect that students using this extension will consume less bandwidth over time than students without it. Don’t believe me? You can read the source code. No data ever leaves Yale’s control. Trademarks, copyright infringement, and data security are non-issues. It’s 100% kosher.
My intent behind Banned Bluebook is to demonstrate two points to Dean Miller and the Yale administration:
If Yale grants students access to data, the university does not have the right to specify exactly how students must view the data.
Censorship through IP blocking and Deep Packet Inspection is not only unethical, it’s also futile.
Don’t the Nazi tools they hire to run Yale even go to the cinema? If Dean Wurmser has seen Josh Wheedon’s “Serenity” (2005), he or she would have heard the line from Mr. Universe: You can’t stop the signal, Mal.
There are all sorts of reasons to read books. In some cases, we may select our reading matter simply on the basis of its past selection by a reputable and respected publisher.
Karyn Reeves has a blog discussing her personal indulgence of reading one older edition (pre-1970) Penguin paperback per week.
I sympathize. I always buy unfamiliar old Penguins myself whenever I run into one with a promising title at a book sale or antiquarian book shop.
My capricious choice of Penguin cover, I find, was not felicitous. Efandrich wrote a terrific review, well and truly demolishing this one.
Our four characters are sailing the mysterious South Pacific seas, not humming Bali Hai because Rogers and Hammerstein haven’t written the song yet. Anyhow, clever Arnold discovers two things. One, Judy is a doctor. He deduces this from the way she hands her cousin a scissors to slit some book pages. (Tidbit for youngsters …This is a time when book pages have to be slit apart. If you go into a library and find an old book with unslit pages you know the book hasn’t been read, no matter how many times it may have been checked out. But I digress ….). Apparently Judy slapped the scissors into her cousin’s hand the way a surgeon would. And clever Arnold concluded Judy was not a surgical nurse because she looked more like a doctor. Okay….. The second thing Arnold discovered was that “THERE WAS PLAGUE ON THE SHIP.” Now, to give Judy some credit here, she noticed that bodies were being dropped overboard after dark and thought something was odd, especially since some of the bodies, including the doctor, weren’t really, most sincerely dead. Besides, a rat dramatically expires at the entrance to the dining room. Most of the passengers just figured it had eaten some of their dinner.
WHAT TO DO! Should Judy reveal she is a doctor and come to the aid of the passengers who are becoming sick??? Not our Judy!! Screw the Hippocratic Oath! Let’s get off this damn ship! So Judy and the two heroes plan their escape when the ship docks at a small village. They have to sneak off the ship because there is a cholera epidemic in the village so passengers can’t disembark! (Talk about the headache and upset stomach dilemna….plague or cholera, maybe even both!) Quietly, Judy prepares. She takes some quinine, lots of money, and dresses in her prettiest outfit with silk stockings and lovely dancing slippers. Then they hail a passing canoe and climb aboard, only to be discovered by Mrs. Mardick. Afraid she will blow the whistle on their escape and thwart them (neat word, thwart), they force her into the canoe. Didn’t think to tie her up and stuff her in a life boat where she would be discovered the next morning. Nope, much better to bring her along.
THE VILLAGE The plan was to hire a fishing boat to sail up the coast 30 miles to a port where they can get connections to Europe. They will be on their way home before their passenger ship gets out of quarantine. Now they face their first major obstacle. The village fishermen won’t sail them up the coast because they are “fighting” with the fishermen up the coast. Now, considering this is a very, very poor village and that our heroes’ pockets are stuffed with money, wouldn’t it be sensible to “rent” or even “buy” one of the little fishing boats? It would probably be more money than the villagers saw in a lifetime and both Judy and Stewart are world-class sailors.. Noooo… There would be no novel if this happened. Instead, they hire a guide who speaks a sort of English and head into the jungle!! Let me stress, THERE IS NO REASON TO HEAD INTO THE JUNGLE So our six adventurers.. ..Deotlan the faithful Indian companion, the faithful guide and his beautiful native girlfriend Wan Nau…...and our four Europeans head into the deep, dark, dank, dim, dismal, damp and dangerous jungle. (Guess which two do not survive, bearing in mind that “white is right”.)
Clay Shirky describes how government IT cannot effectively translate planning into reality, avoids testing, and insists on shunning a phased roll-out approach but then finds itself experiencing exactly that.
It’s certainly true that Federal IT is chronically challenged by its own processes. But the problem with Healthcare.gov was not timeline or budget. The problem was that the site did not work, and the administration decided to launch it anyway.
This is not just a hiring problem, or a procurement problem. This is a management problem, and a cultural problem. The preferred method for implementing large technology projects in Washington is to write the plans up front, break them into increasingly detailed specifications, then build what the specifications call for. It’s often called the waterfall method, because on a timeline the project cascades from planning, at the top left of the chart, down to implementation, on the bottom right.
Like all organizational models, waterfall is mainly a theory of collaboration. By putting the most serious planning at the beginning, with subsequent work derived from the plan, the waterfall method amounts to a pledge by all parties not to learn anything while doing the actual work. Instead, waterfall insists that the participants will understand best how things should work before accumulating any real-world experience, and that planners will always know more than workers.
This is a perfect fit for a culture that communicates in the deontic language of legislation. It is also a dreadful way to make new technology. If there is no room for learning by doing, early mistakes will resist correction. If the people with real technical knowledge can’t deliver bad news up the chain, potential failures get embedded rather than uprooted as the work goes on. ...
[Emphasis added:] The vision of “technology” as something you can buy according to a plan, then have delivered as if it were coming off a truck, flatters and relieves managers who have no idea and no interest in how this stuff works, but it’s also a breeding ground for disaster. The mismatch between technical competence and executive authority is at least as bad in government now as it was in media companies in the 1990s, but with much more at stake.
The Oldest College Daily recently advised the Yale community of a potential downside to the use of free University-provided email addresses.
Yale students’ email accounts are subject to search without consent or notification by the University, as outlined in a publicly available but little-publicized document.
Under the University’s Information Technology Acceptable Use Policy, the University maintains the right to access not only employee accounts, but students’ accounts as well. While 55 of 73 students interviewed were unsurprised that the University can monitor their correspondences, few were clear on the specifics under which Yale can search their accounts.
Only three students of 73 interviewed were aware of the specifics of Yale’s policy, with one adding that he learned about the University’s regulations through a class.
“I feel like the University should make clear under what circumstances they consider searching emails,” Sherry Du ’17 said. “The school should do more to publicize this.”
Most students said they were not taken aback by the policy because the email account is provided by Yale.
Graduate students who came to Yale after working in the corporate world expressed especially little surprise over the policy. Ashlee Tran SOM ’14 said employees at large corporations assume their emails are monitored.
“It doesn’t shock me at all that they can do that,” Acer Xu ’17 said. “It’s Yale email, it’s an internal server.”
According to its Acceptable Use Policy, several circumstances warrant access to students’ emails: “preserv[ing] the integrity of the IT systems,” complying with “federal, state, or local law or administrative rules,” carrying out “essential business functions of the University,” “preserv[ing] public health and safety” and producing evidence when “there are reasonable grounds to believe that a violation of law or a significant breach of University policy may have taken place.”
Administrators did not define what actions constitute a significant breach of University policy, though ITS Director of Strategic Communications Susan West described these circumstances as “specific and unusual.”
For the University to access a student account, two administrators must give their approval: University Provost Benjamin Polak as well as the dean of Yale College or the appropriate graduate or professional school, though deans are allowed to delegate this task.
However, in situations where “emergency access is necessary to preserve the integrity of facilities or to preserve public health and safety,” systems administrators may access an account without approval.
No explicit mention is made in the Undergraduate Regulations of the University’s right to access student accounts, though the Appropriate Use Policy is accessible through a link on page 128 of the 131-page document.
“Preserv[ing] the integrity of the IT systems,” complying with “federal, state, or local law or administrative rules,” carrying out “essential business functions of the University,” “preserv[ing] public health and safety” and producing evidence when “there are reasonable grounds to believe that a violation of law or a significant breach of University policy may have taken place.”
Sullyblog recently found itself another humanitarian crusade to climb on board.
Bad enough our letting the Bush Administration roughly handle jihadi terrorists (Torture!). On top of that, we allow domestic cats to reproduce and then we “introduce” them into natural environments properly understood to be the park and preserve of rodents and small birds. We are kind of like God introducing Spaniards into the New World.
Disapproving Aunt Andrew quotes crusading vegan journalist Deanna Pan writing in Mother Jones about the findings of a study of feline atrocities by the University of Georgia.
About 30 percent of the sampled cats were successful hunters and killed, on average, two animals a week. Almost half of their spoils were abandoned at the scene of the crime. Extrapolating from the data to include the millions of feral cats brutalizing native wildlife across the country, the American Bird Conservancy estimates that kitties are killing more than 4 billion animals annually. And that number’s based on a conservative weekly kill rate, said Robert Johns, a spokesman for the conservancy.
“We could be looking at 10, 15, 20 billion wildlife killed (per year),” Johns said.
Doesn’t it seem fitting that the moralizing and modernizing representatives of the progressive community of fashion not only hasten to defend the Mussulman bombmaker, but also take time out from ordering the stars in their courses to champion the rights of mice, rats, pigeons, and house sparrows?
Spoilsport Deanna Pan (I bet she was not born with that surname) thinks we should bell and bib our cats in order to foil their hunting.
(Also quoted by Andrew Sullivan) Amanda Marcotte, writing in Slate, contends that helicopter-pet-ownership, i.e. persistent bien pensant human supervision and restricted access to the out-of-doors, is the solution.
One of my cats spent the first year of her life as a completely outdoor cat who slept in a barn, so getting her to stop begging to be let out took some spine, but now she’s perfectly happy to have her outdoor life limited to small amounts of time on the balcony. If I ever feel bad about exerting power over her in this way, I just remind myself I’m being much more generous to her than she’d be to small creatures that she comes across, which goes a long way toward relieving any guilt.
All of which proves, I think, that no limits to officious theorizing of the modern pseudo-intelligentsia can be found to exist.
Personally, I think all these self-appointed legislators’ pantries should be infested with hanta-virus-bearing mice and pigeons should target them whenever they go outside.
“They were running the biggest start-up in the world, and they didn’t have anyone who had run a start-up, or even run a business,” said David Cutler, a Harvard professor and health adviser to Obama’s 2008 campaign.
[T]he age of chivalry is gone. That of sophisters, economists, and calculators has succeeded; and the glory of Europe is extinguished forever. —- Edmund Burke
Dan Greenfield observes that no one should be very surprised that the Obamacare web-site failed to work. In this case, it was simply a matter of the Nomenklatura’s characteristic magical thinking attempting to take the place of software engineering in very much the same way the idea of Obamacare itself tries to replace the market with a theoretical determination of what is best by similar great minds.
Our technocracy is detached from competence. It’s not the technocracy of engineers, but of “thinkers” who read Malcolm Gladwell and Thomas Friedman and watch TED talks and savor the flavor of competence, without ever imbibing its substance.
These are the people who love Freakonomics, who enjoy all sorts of mental puzzles, who like to see an idea turned on its head, but who couldn’t fix a toaster.
The ObamaCare website is the natural spawn of that technocracy who love the idea of using modernity to make things faster and easier, but have no idea what anything costs or how it works.
It’s hard to have a functioning technocracy without engineers. A technocracy made in Silicon Valley with its complete disregard for anything outside its own ego zone would be bad enough. But this is a Bloombergian technocracy of billionaires and activists, of people who think that “progress” makes things work, rather than things working leading to progress.
Healthcare.gov showed us that behind all the smoother and shinier designs was the same old clunky government where everything gets done because the right companies hire the right lobbyists and everything costs ten times what it should.
If the government can’t build a health care website, how is it going to actually run health care for an entire country is the obvious question that so many are asking. And the obvious answer is that it will run it the way it ran the website. It will throw wads of money and people at the problem and then look for programs it doesn’t like to squeeze for extra cash.
Cheryl Campbell, senior vice president of CGI Federal, left, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington on Thursday. CGI will earn at least $290 million from its Obamacare contract to design the site.
Mark Steyn identifies the Canadian Company which got the no-bid contract to build the botched Obamacare web-site. Who knew? They were already famous for their achievements on behalf of the Canadian Government.
CGI is… a Canadian corporate behemoth. Indeed, CGI is so Canadian their name is French: Conseillers en Gestion et Informatique. Their most famous government project was for the Canadian Firearms Registry. The registry was estimated to cost in total $119 million, which would be offset by $117 million in fees. That’s a net cost of $2 million. Instead, by 2004 the CBC (Canada’s PBS) was reporting costs of some $2 billion — or a thousand times more expensive.
Yeah, yeah, I know, we’ve all had bathroom remodelers like that. But in this case the database had to register some 7 million long guns belonging to some two-and-a-half to three million Canadians. That works out to almost $300 per gun — or somewhat higher than the original estimate for processing a firearm registration of $4.60. Of those $300 gun registrations, Canada’s auditor general reported to parliament that much of the information was either duplicated or wrong in respect to basic information such as names and addresses.
CNN Money describes the problems and quotes technicians about what it will take to fix it.
Experts say the major problems with the Obamacare website can’t reasonably be solved before the end of 2013, and the best fix would be to start over from scratch.
After assessing the website, Dave Kennedy, the CEO of information-security company Trusted Sec, estimates that about 20% of Healthcare.gov needs to be rewritten. With a whopping 500 million lines of code, according to a recent New York Times report, Kennedy believes fixing the site would probably take six months to a year.
But would-be Obamacare enrollees only have until Dec. 15 to sign up for coverage starting at the beginning of 2014. Nish Bhalla, CEO of information-security firm Security Compass, said it “does not sound realistic at all” that Healthcare.gov will be fully operational before that point.
“We don’t even know where all of the problems lie, so how can we solve them?” Bhalla said. “It’s like a drive-by shooting: You’re going fast and you might hit it, you might miss it. But you can’t fix what you can’t identify.”
Several computer engineers said it would likely be easier to rebuild Healthcare.gov than to fix the issues in the current system. But it’s unlikely that the government would toss out more than $300 million worth of work.
The sheer size of Healthcare.gov is indicative of a major rush job. Rolling the site out too quickly likely increased the number of errors, and that makes the fixes more difficult to implement.
“Projects that are done rapidly usually have a lot of [repetitive] code,” said Arron Kallenberg, a software engineer and tech entrepreneur. “So when you have a problem, instead of debugging something in a single location, you’re tracking it down all through the code base.”
To put 500 million lines of code into perspective, it took just 500,000 lines of code to send the Curiosity rover to Mars. Microsoft’s (MSFT, Fortune 500) Windows 8 operating system reportedly has about 80 million lines of code. And an online banking system might feature between 75 million and 100 million lines. A “more normal range” for a project like Healthcare.gov is about 25 million to 50 million lines of code, Kennedy said.
“The [500 million lines of code] says right off the bat that something is egregiously wrong,” said Kennedy. “I jumped back when I read that figure. It’s just so excessive.” ...
..The New York Times report said five million lines of code need to be replaced just so the site can run properly.
But the Obamacare website has bigger problems than simply getting people registered for health care. The code is also riddled with security holes, according to Kennedy, who outlined his cybersecurity concerns on Trusted Sec’s company blog.
“If someone can’t register, that’s obviously bad—but if the information gets hacked, you’re talking about one of the biggest breaches in American history,” Kennedy said. “I think security is an afterthought at this point.”
The site itself, which apparently underwent major code renovations over the weekend, still rejects user logins, fails to load drop-down menus and other crucial components for users that successfully gain entrance, and otherwise prevents uninsured Americans in the 36 states it serves from purchasing healthcare at competitive rates – Healthcare.gov’s primary purpose. The site is so busted that, as of a couple days ago, the number of people that successfully purchased healthcare through it was in the “single digits,” according to the Washington Post.
And our liberal friends believe we ought to be happy to turn over our healthcare choices, and a one sixth portion of the American economy, to the same government which demonstrably could not even satisfactorily develop a website in three years?