RSS and TiVo

Yesterday's item provoked a flurry of responses. Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, who wrote the Washington Post story I dissected, points out that the nature of his assignment precluded broader coverage, and that he'd otherwise gladly have included bloglines. There's been lots of chatter about bloglines lately -- Chad Dickerson mentions it today -- so I was interested to hear from Martin Thornell about another web-based product, Rocket RSS reader. Doubtless there are others too. An implementation of one of these licensed for behind-the-firewall use, as Chad suggests, would be handy. As a matter of fact, that's how I use Radio UserLand's reader. It's nominally a desktop product, but I run it as a server and authenticate to it over SSL.

Vaughan-Nichols' critique of .NET's performance raised hackles with several readers, include Mark Levison:

I'm doing smart client (no touch deployment) .NET development at the moment. I find that we've no trouble getting excellent performance out of our app. When we do have problems it is usually algorithmic. Jon, what .NET client side apps have you tried? SharpReader? RSS Bandit? NewsGator? Are any of these slow? Let's test claims like this before repeating them. [dotnetjunkies]
I've used all of the above. It's always problematic to define what's meant by speed in cases like this. Application load time? GUI responsiveness? Data transfer? Every .NET app I've used loads slowly -- particularly when it's the first .NET app in use, but even otherwise. GUI responsiveness varies from sluggish to snappy, which I attribute to differing degrees of experience with the Framework and with the managed environment that supports it. Data transfer that isn't gated by your network pipe its mainly an algorithmic thing that depends on caching, not the runtime.

When I said .NET performance is "a real issue that will dog client-side .NET in the same way, and for the same reasons, that it has dogged client-side Java," I did not mean that I believe, as Vaughan-Nichols does, that use of .NET automatically means sluggish performance. In fact I don't think that. But the perception does exist, as it has existed for Java, despite evidence to the contrary (e.g., Eclipse), because there is also evidence to support it. Modern managed runtimes are a huge and necessary step forward, but the desktop is an unforgiving environment in which to deploy apps that depend on them. That's been a challenge for Java, and it's a challenge for .NET too.

Meanwhile, Russ Lipton brings me back to my original point:

Jon Udell reminds me yet again how pathetically inept we are at explaining technology so that normal human beings can make sense of it. As a result, normal human beings intelligently dislike the technologies that fascinate some of us. [Coffehouse at the End-of-Days]
Exactly. Normal people don't, however, dislike their TiVos. After a long period of foot-dragging I finally joined the TiVo cult and am fascinated most of all to watch my family, none of whom are very technical, integrate this Linux appliance into the fabric of their lives. Comparisons of the Linux desktop to the Microsoft desktop immediately fade to insignificance. If typical members of either of those tribes had written the TiVo software, my kids would be asking me what to do about the "disk is 97% full" message. But they don't, because TiVo spares them such nonsense. They only need to think about getting stuff and using stuff, and not much explanation is needed. All of our "real" apps, RSS readers included, should work like that.

Former URL: