Userland Templates: Zimran …

Userland Templates: Zimran Ahmed over at Winterspeak is talking about how Userland Radio doesn’t meet the ease-of-use hype that Dave and his gang are touting. I have to agree. Back in April of 2000 I tried out Manila because back then I still liked Dave and was still a fan of what he was doing with Frontier. With his permission I designed and built a Manila-based weblog to cover Mozilla news. It took me a couple hours to figure out Dave’s templating system in Manila, but I did figure it out. I was incredibly disappointed at how limiting it was. You were stuck with the default table-based layout that rendered dog-slow in Netscape 4.x browsers. I tried cleaning up the HTML and in the process started commenting out entire table rows and columns using a standard HTML comment syntax. What I did not realize was that this would break the way Manila rendered its templates and once I had committed my changes there was no way to go back in and undo them. I sought help from Userland’s people and they had to go in with an admin account and undo my HTML comments. I had high hopes for using Manila to run my Mozilla weblog but this kind of thing killed it for me because I did not have the kind of control over the template editing that I needed. I realize that it’s been almost two years since I’ve used Manila but I can only imagine that this flaw in Userland’s template architecture is still there and that Radio has likely inherited it (I have not tried out Radio yet). As a web designer I was intrigued by the CMS capabilities of Manila but did not like how the default HTML templates limited the kinds of layouts I could do and did not let me easily use my own from-scratch templates. I realize now that this is why every Manila weblog looks almost exactly the same and all Radio weblogs are very similar: it’s a limitation of the software being used to create them. The problem now is that if I bring up these issues with Userland I am seen as a critic and am blasted publicly by Dave and his cohorts. A good company will listen to the feedback from its customers (and potential customers), even the ones that they do not like. But I guess the people at Userland have not come to accept this basic tenet of running a business. Their loss.

Feedback on Userland will be posted unless you request it not to be.

VCs ‘R Dum: One of the founders of ArsDigita recounts how the VC idiots and “professional management” ran the company into the ground. Anyone who has been part of a VC-funded company can relate pretty easily. Like many people I’m starting to think that the entire “Internet bubble” thing was a direct result of greedy venture capitalists and if they’d kept their fingers and money away the Internet would be a much better place (and industry to work in) than it is today. But I’m starting to see a back-to-the-basics momentum growing among the people left working in the field, many of them like myself who started working professionally with the Internet prior to 1995. People are less obsessed about the money there is to be made and more excited about how we can use the technologies to make the Internet a better and more fun place to be. What worries me though, is the efforts of Microsoft and AOL to privatize the Internet by building proprietary technologies and networks that create competitive barriers of entry.

An ArsDigital employee says goodbye.

I asked in July 1999:

Why is it that any jerk with a Harvard M.B.A. who doesn’t understand the Internet economy or the new media culture is listened to by the executive morons, while every cube-farm dweller is hopping up and down and shouting at the top of their lungs that what the Harvard M.B.A. is proposing is going to do more harm to the company than good?

Excellent directory of HCI-related resources. Bookmark this.

This is awesome. Deaf people in the U.K. are going crazy over the ability to use SMS on their cell phones for communication. [via Boing Boing]

Matt IM’d the other night telling me about his beef with Critical IP. I mentioned to him that my phone number in the whois database has been 000-000-000 for over a year now, which probably explains why I haven’t received a call from them. Or maybe it’s because my Verison land line hasn’t worked since September of last year. People know that if they need to reach me, email or IM is the easiest and fastest way, or they have my business card which has my cell number on it.

Oh yeah, the LOTR bootleg I have is a copy of the screener sent out by the Academy Awards people. It’s got the scrolling warning across the bottom the screen at the beginning of each chapter. Ah well, I’m definitely going to buy the legitimate DVD when it’s released this Fall.

Posted by Cameron Barrett at February 10, 2002 08:15 PM

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