BIRDS ON A MONDAY AND A THIRTIETH ANNIVERSARY EVENT

Today is the day before Garry and my 30th anniversary. It’s been a long time a’coming. I spent the day taking too many Tylenol and finally going to the hospital to get a COVID test because I’ve been running a low-grade fever for weeks and I feel like my head is going to explode. Today is our 30th anniversary. No one thought we would survive a year, much less thirty of them. But as different as everyone thought we were, we were extremely similar in many ways. Stubborn, born fighters, never-giver-uppers.

Garry is far more given to that male habit of saying “Let’s talk,” then stalking out of the room as soon as you don’t agree with him, but that’s a guy thing. I expect him to understand … but husbands do NOT understand. They suffer listening to us, something Garry didn’t have to do until he got really much better hearing aids. And yet — we agree politically. We both read and write and research. We search for truth — and we find it. We have both worked hard for awful bosses and understand each others’ moans and groans.

Emotionally, we are a man and a woman, the two most incompatible creatures on earth, but intellectually we are exceptionally well-matched. You’d be surprised how far that can go in a relationship. And very attracted to one another too, which doesn’t hurt either.

We can’t go anywhere special for dinner, We can’t buy each other presents, though Garry made a special little video for me. I took some birdy and squirrelly pictures. Because the birds and the squirrels were very busy this morning.

Fresh Prizes: For Marilyn and Garry | lifelessons – a blog by Judy Dykstra-Brown

A happy 30th anniversary to both of us. Who imagined we’d last this long?


Fresh Prizes

Even though she thinks she knows him to the bone,
another little detail comes forward to be shown.
Like a little prize, presented for her viewing,
after all these years, he’s not finished with his wooing.

No fact  inconsequential as he unveils his life,
so even after decades as a man and wife,
new mysteries are still revealed in words coined charismatically.
Each new revelation, an avowal made emphatically.

This poem is in answer to Marilyn Armstrong’s comment about her husband, Garry:

“We still are discovering things we didn’t know about each other. You’d think we’d know it all by now, but we keep surprising each other. It’s kind of cool.”

Source: Fresh Prizes: For Marilyn and Garry | lifelessons – a blog by Judy Dykstra-Brown

REMEMBER “LOOK ALIKE, FEEL ALIKE”?

“Look alike, feel alike” used to be the motto of the User Interface area of software development. The idea was that as you developed a product, each new version should “feel the same way” as the one that came before it. Doing this made it much easier for users to understand additions and fixes to the software they owned and when properly trained, developers understood how to “tune” the software to make the lives of customers easier and better. That was way back in the days when software engineers and company owners still cared about customers. Making good software was what they wanted to do — not necessarily squeezing the last dime from each and every customer.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 180-square-marilyn-at-blackstone-canal_gar-061920_012.jpg

I worked for (mostly) newly-hatched development companies. A lot of them never got their products to market because when the “dot com” bubble burst, they lost their backing. When an economic bubble pops, it’s like dominos going over. Nothing stands alone. The little 10-person company for which I worked is being funded by another, slightly larger company, funded by possibly several somewhat bigger organization. Many of the products we were working on eventually did come to market after going bankrupt, but the same people found new funding after the economy righted itself. Always and forever, our goal was to create software that could be easily understood by the customer, NOT just by the developers.

This is why I did so much testing as part of my job. I had to make sure that whatever the developer was attempting to do actually worked the way he or she said it did. Developers don’t test the way users need products tested. Developers have all kinds of shortcuts so they don’t have to go through every step of the process. Their “quick tests” are fine for them, but users MUST go through every step of the process because they have a job to do and they can’t cut chunks of their work out to get to the end result without doing all the parts in the middle. For example, since I worked most of the time on databases, the end point of the process was that a company would enter its products and all of the pieces that were part of the product into a database. You could call up the product and see all its parts, or you call call up any of its parts and see the larger product. It didn’t matter whether it was a truck or an engine, or a part of an engine or some kind of aviation monitor. In order for the database to do its job, ALL the parts of the product had to be listed in a variety of ways to make it possible for the customer to find the piece — even if it was the nut on a screw — he or she needed to fix something. And this had to work quickly and be extremely accurate. It had to be easy to remove an old part that had been redesigned or eliminated from inventory as it was to enter a new product and all its parts.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is fpq-sketch-still-life-alienware_071320_001.jpg

The easier you made the product, the better ratings you got. Most of the little companies I worked with who invented stuff were ultimately bought by larger companies who took new stuff and included with existing technology. That was how business was done.

It wasn’t unusual for these small companies to be funded by larger companies in the first place. It gave the baby company a lot of freedom to invent products that bigger organizations would never have created. But — at no point did anyone produce a new version of an existing product that would require a corporation to retrain an entire organization to use it — which is what WordPress has done. In a real business world scenario, this would probably put them out of business and if the market for blogging weren’t so minimal, I don’t think they’d survive this current scenario.

So for all of us who find ourselves pushed into a corner and having to use the block editor for work that doesn’t need a block editor while discovering a post now takes twice as long to complete as it did before, welcome to what we used to call “badly designed software.”

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 300-two-woodpeckers-082020_050.jpg

I didn’t just write documents. I was part of a team and worked with developers — each of whom had a specific area to develop — to build software which was intuitive (read “easy”) to use and as bug-free as possible. Upgrades always included real improvements to functionality or major fixes to bugs, not just glitzy overlays. It had to integrate with a previous version and add VALUE to the software.

These days, many products are so overlaid with bells and whistles no one wants or needs, the functions of the customers (us) are lost beneath whatever a developer thought was a “really cool idea.”


Thus when you find yourself using the “classic” block in the editor to get an imitation of what you did before and you wonder what the point of all of this confusion was? Money.


In this case, it’s trying to make the editor able to build something that imitates a fancy, commercial magazine site. It has nothing to do with what most of us do. The developers who have been doing the work never asked us what we wanted or needed. They are developers who have never written a post or a photograph.They have no understanding of writers or artists. If you ask them, they also don’t care.

Yes, the “classic” block more or less mimics the older classic editor — leaving one with the sour taste of why they couldn’t leave us that to use if that’s what we wanted. If you buy their higher priced packages you CAN get the classic editor back, by the way. You just have to pay more than twice the price for something you used to get as part of your package. You just have to love price gougers, don’t you?

The “classic block” is not the classic editor. It’s an imitation and they can take it away, just like they took away all the high quality customizations we originally paid for and that’s why I am very loathe to pay them more, even if I had the money. I used to get all this same stuff for the price I’m paying, but they stripped it out and put it in a more expensive package. They did it once and they will do it again. You can’t trust them.

This IS what I did for a living. I didn’t just write manuals. I worked with a team of developers to create software which did what customers needed done.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 300-studio-masks-garry-tv-gig_070620_001.jpg

The point of setting up this kind of process was to make the software “intuitive.” Things that worked in tandem were grouped together. It should not take more than 10-minutes for a user to grasp how an upgraded editor works. It doesn’t have to be this way. Properly done, new software can and should be easier to use. Also, the result of the effort ought to be a better product or why bother with an update at all? Oh, right. I forgot. Money. I keep forgetting that this isn’t about customers. It’s about money.

Still — why make it harder? Usually, it’s because no one is in charge who understands customers. There is no excuse at this point in the software development cycle for creating a stupid User Interface. It’s not as if we went blindly into the interface biz. What the software does “underneath,” its essential functionality, is one thing. How it’s presented to the user is done by developers who specialize in designing a user interface.

This isn’t 1982 when we’re figuring out how an editor is supposed to work. We’ve been there. Done that. If WordPress listened to their customers, this didn’t need to be such a mess. It didn’t need to have so many pointless complexities. I shouldn’t NEED to go searching for the “sticky” function. It should be grouped with other publishing tools. It’s sloppy work at its best and it will be years before they get it sorted out IF they sort it out. They fix bugs only when they consider them bugs. Just because it’s inconvenient and hard to use, they don’t have to fix it.


It’s not a bug. “It’s a feature.”


Since they often just leave things (no matter how poorly thought out), but keep adding stuff on top of stuff that doesn’t work well, issues lurk. It won’t matter how much money you pay. Badly designed software gets worse over time. It only gets better if and when someone cares enough to make it better.