Jeff: Thanks for bringing up Thom’s rants and going into his criticism. I disagree that this rant was superflous, though. Rants are very important, because they give people a voice who are not heard by the community and by the developers otherwise.
We’re all busy, and we all don’t have enough time to absorb enough feedback and valid criticism when it is scattered among thousands of bug reports, which is why we are perceived as arrogant although this is not the case, and often gain of momentum for specific improvements lacks not because we’re lazy, but because there aren’t enough people who get a significant amount of platform-related work done.
Sometimes we need an ISV or a distributor that sponsors and enforces a particular development to make framework improvments actually happen. Just imagine the current desktop without HAL and hotplugging. It would lack 50% sexiness. Kudos to David Zeuthen and everybody who helped to make this happen, including Red Hat that sponsored most of the recent significant platform improvements!
So we learn: Distributors can enforce development, end users (by definition they are no developers) can either ask nicely or rant, but identifying a tiny workflow problem is often harder than solving is, so this role is still very valuable, no matter how unfriendly the feedback may sound. That said, we were given very valuable and objective feedback as well, cf. the famous 40+ Suggestions for Better Desktop by Peter Chabada.
It’s like with personal relations: Subjective and loud, unfiltered clamor gives the criticized partner an opportunity to put himself in the partner’s place.
I find it personally refreshing to get bug reports presented in a concentrated and terse fashion, and I’ve heard most of the points myself during discussions with end users. Users often can’t distinguish between low-hanging fruit and demanding tasks, but they usually identify shortcomings (or their effects) of computer systems correctly.
At the moment, I’m in the process of upgrading my mother’s computer to Dapper, so that I can investigate and hopefully tackle the ZIP drive issue Thom writes about.