Flock, Slashdotted

Yeah, the Slashdot minions have made their move after our latest Business Week article, so I dusted off my old Slashdot account (back from the squatting my friend’s server at velikov.com) and went a’huntin’.

Geeks really have a problem with large fonts, since when did linux users care about presentation?

On Swiss Army Knives:

“Swiss army knives have great portability and lousy tools. I think I’ll stick with a browser that’s made only for browsing, thanks” — from

Define browsing. Do you use bookmarklets? How about Flickr? Which are your favorite ads? The way people browse the web has gotten significantly more involved in recent times, you’ve got javascript all over doing everything it can to make your browser into a client application, web sites offering alternative interfaces to their data that are much faster and more versatile, even using so many ads that loading an RSS stream makes it many times easier to read.

I don’t know how you browse the web, but I don’t think it is how I do.

On wording:

“Why do geeks simply never say “It’s a way to work together with your friends over the Web!” Why do we have to use nonsense words like “dashboard” and “collaboration” when there are perfectly lovely plain English substitutes?” — from

They are metaphors, you use them to describe something. What does a dashboard do? I guess somebody could say, “it places information and tools in front of you for quick random access,” but if you say dashboard, people know what you mean. Collaboration is just a cool word 😉

On functionality:

“It looks like it won’t be doing anything in terms of functionality that a dedicated FireFox user couldn’t get via extensions. That said, it doesn’t look like it intends to compete on functionality. The name, page layout, and co-opting of GMail’s invite viral marketing all make clear that they’re going to go for broke on the presentation and marketing. Hey, it worked for the iPod–there are plenty of mp3 players out there with greater functionality, but people like how the iPod looks and will seek it out.” — from

I’ll just go install the “enhanced user experience” extension, I guess. Extensions for Firefox are very powerful, you can do an immense number of things… so are plugins for Vim… and Emacs is a better operating system than an editor (thanks Ian, for that quip). You can do the things anywhere with enough hacking skills, but you can’t necessarily pull it together well enough to make it good.

We love the press we’re getting, we aren’t a marketing company but we have good design. People like iPods because they are consistently more enjoyable to use than the alternatives, we fully intend on providing a powerful and enjoyable experience.

We have a strong mix of people working here and we think you’ll like what we’ve come up with.

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5 thoughts on “Flock, Slashdotted

  1. “since when did linux users care about presentation?”

    Hmm, thanks for the dis. I’m a 24/7 Linux user (currently running Kubuntu) and I do a lot of design work in Scribus, Gimp and Inkscape. I most certainly care about presentation. You might have noticed that current KDE4 development has a heavy focus on, you guessed it, presention.

    Just because we started on Unix and KDE 1 and are used to things being shiznit ugly doesn’t negate the fact the GNU/Linux has made leaps and bounds in the de-uglification process. I want websites to look good (www.csszengarden.com), dangit. I wasn’t the one who dissed your design, btw, but don’t stereotype Linux users. There’s too much diversity, and you’ll almost always end up with your foot in mouth.

    Good luck with the browser. I recommend opensourcing. 🙂

  2. Aha! The main problem is that you’re trying to use Helvetica Neue as your primary font. Who the heck would have Helvetica Neue? It costs money, and even the shareware clone Helonia costs money. So no one will see your site as intended.

    I personally would have gone with standard Helvetica, though it looks ugly in Linux, since the truetype engine doesn’t seem to be able to antialias it very well at all.

  3. Yup, best to wait and see. I read many comments on the page design, but don’t forget Google had quite an empty page (still in a way) in the very beginning. If you are coding the tool for the next decade you have no time for silly things like webdesign (or sleep, so I read).

    I am switching to Emacs, and I am one of those “one tool for just one task” guys.

    P.S. I like the name, Flock.

  4. and you can’t take a Swiss army knife on airplanes. It was crazy a few months back – at Geneva airport they were selling them in duty free.

  5. “People like iPods because they are consistently more enjoyable to use than the alternatives”

    Really? ISTM they use ipods cause apple has captured the mindshare of the mp3 player market, so people turn to it first and then there product is good enough that people don’t leave. There are certainly downsides to using an ipod that you wouldn’t have with other players (like itunes lock in)… I wonder what percent of ipod user have ever used another mp3 player.

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