Awasu » 2005 » July
Monday 25th July 2005 7:49 PM [Awasu News]

The first Awasu 2.1.3 alpha release (what's this?) is now available here.

It's been a long, hard slog putting this release together but it's been well worth it. Awasu has undergone a huge revamp and re-organization of it's user interface and it looks fantastic! :cool: Past releases have introduced a lot of new features and along with them, a bunch of options to configure them. This release tidies everything up, presenting all the settings in a more logical and easier-to-use way. There have also been a large number of new features and bug fixes included.

In fact, there have been far too many changes to list them all individually so the best thing to do would be to install the new release and just explore. This is an alpha release so nothing is set in stone yet and feedback is, as always, welcome.

Tuesday 12th July 2005 1:51 AM [General]

Dare Obasanjo objects to someone saying that Microsoft is "unable to create technological tidal waves [and] constantly misses the waves produced by others" by citing a few examples where Microsoft started using some new technology, abandoned it, which was then picked up by somebody else.

Sorry, but that just doesn't cut it for me.

Innovation is more than just having a cool idea. Execution is critical as well. Yes, Microsoft had the, um, "cool" idea of Active Desktop that sorta did the same thing as RSS now but it's fairly obvious (ok, maybe in hindsight) that building and promoting it in such a way that allowed advertisers to force their crap product placements onto millions of peoples' desktops was probably never going to become popular.

The same goes for his two other examples. I've only used Outlook Web Access a little but it didn't strike me as anything terribly special. A browser-based version of Outlook is hardly going to set the world on fire. As for Hailstorm, well, the reason why the idea of a Microsoft-run infrastructure for managing all our online data failed shouldn't be too hard to figure out :roll:

The fact that Microsoft simply abandoned Active Desktop/CDF and Hailstorm is telling as well. Part of the creative process is not only identifying when something is not working but also why. It's critical to be able to identify what parts of whatever it is you're working on are the important bits, why it's not working and then formulate another approach to try and get the damn thing up and running.

Rory also talks about the importance of things other than innovation. Check out his list of other important qualities in software: quality, support, stability, relevance and value. Awasu scores pretty well on all of them. And while Earl Mardle was kind enough to describe us as innovative the other day, it's about a whole lot of other things as well.

Execution is everything.

UPDATE: By sheer coincidence, Eric Sink writes today about execution here, amongst other things. Many other things. An insanely long post but as always, well worth the time. Check it out.

Friday 8th July 2005 10:01 AM [General]

FeedDemon recently got bought out by NewsGator. Old news, certainly in this fast-paced world of hourly RSS updates but NewsGator announced the other day that all their software products would be moving to a subscription model.

This is a mistake, maybe not from a business perspective but certainly one from the point of view of customer relations. NewsGator's CEO attempts to explain here why you, the customer, are in fact better off under the new pricing scheme. But he misses one key issue:

People hate subscriptions.

Look at this post from one self-described passionate user of FeedDemon:

It’s just not fun for me anymore. It doesn’t feel like it’s mine. It feels “rented". I don’t like that. I also don’t like that I need to continually upgrade and my purchased copy will be broken at some point because it will go to the subscription format.
I feel like everyone wants a subscription-type of yearly fee out of my pocket and it’s getting really annoying, not to mention quite costly. I’m sure others don’t mind, but I’m having an awful time supporting this model.

Some people have complained that Awasu also uses subscription-based pricing but that's a misunderstanding. If you purchase a copy of Awasu, it will continue to work regardless. It won't mysteriously stop working. You won't lose access to your data. What you get when you pay the annual fee is access to new versions of Awasu as they come out. You automatically get twelve months of these as part of your initial purchase and if, and only if, you like Awasu enough to want to keep receiving new versions, you can pay a bit more to get them. So, the pressure is on us to keep improving the product, otherwise people won't bother renewing. And if you decide to switch to another reader or decide you're happy with the version you've got, the software you have will always continue to work. It's yours. It's not rented. What happens is up to you.

So you might be ten bucks better off after two years under FeedDemon's new subscription model? Big deal. People don't use logic and reason exclusively when making decisions, even if they think they are. NewsGator's investors may like it but is it worth pissing off your customers for it? Things like this always happen when a company is bought out but it's still sad to see, even if they are a competitor :-). Nick Bradbury is a smart guy and like us, has always had a good and close relationship with his customers so I suspect he may be putting on a brave face about it all. But it's not about "owning your data," that is just so self-evident that it wouldn't occur to most people that it could even be any other way. Like most things, computer software is something you buy and then own.

It's yours.

UPDATE: So it looks like Nick and the guys at NewsGator have changed their minds and ditched their plans to go to subscription-based pricing for FeedDemon. Good on them for actually listening to their customers. Could this be a start of a trend in the software industry? One can only hope so :idea: :wink:

Of course, we were expecting a flood of disgruntled ex-FeedDemon users banging on our door that may not be coming any more but that's OK. We'll get 'em some other way :-)

Thursday 7th July 2005 1:11 AM [General]

This is pretty cool.

Long-time readers of this blog may remember that I've been training in Aikido for a while now. Aikido is an unusual martial art in that there is no competition whatsoever nor any free sparring. It's purely a defensive art, designed to let you take care of yourself and deal with any threats without (necessarily :-)) hurting the other guy.

The guys at my dojo have just released some DVD's that demonstrate not only the basics of Yoshinkan Aikido but also practical applications of it as well. You can check out some clips here if you're interested in seeing what it looks like.

I've been so busy with Awasu (plus all the other things that conspire to stop me from having any free time whatsoever :-() that I haven't been training as much as I would like. Seeing these videos make me want to start training full-time again.

Now there's a thought... :idea: