Friday, January 7, 2011

Disappointment

I have a confession to make: I'm disappointed, for the very first time, in my userbase.

You guys are normally wonderful. You're very supportive, you donate money to the project like it's your job, and you're helpful with your error reports. Lately, however, I've started to feel like dealing with users on a general basis (the ones I work with on an individual, personalised basis are still a pleasure and a joy to work with) has become the worst part of my day. Everywhere I turn, I'm bombarded with complaints and demoralising messages. I'm told android2cloud sucks, that version 2.0(.1/.2) sucks, I'm told that I should just revert back to 1.0 and leave it.

I feel bad for posting this message here, because the people who read this blog and will see this message are the ones who care about the project, who are patient with bugs, who donate money, who are every developer's dream users. But lately, I've been getting less and less patient and helpful with users. And I wanted to share why. I try not to be; I try to do my best, I really do. But still, sometimes the messages people send are so upsetting or insulting that I can't help but link them to Let Me Google That For You, or sarcastically reply that no, I had no idea the latest version broke my software for 20,000 people, I didn't get that memo.

When people say things like "just give us the old version back", that's really upsetting to me. I worked hard on android2cloud 2.0, and for a very long time. It has been in development since October. I have worked with Google engineers to tweak Google's code specifically to allow features this application uses. I have ignored coursework and work as an intern for my University to develop this application. Now that it is buggy, I have put off work that I'm being paid to do as a freelance developer in order to issue two bug fixes in two days. My sleep schedule is wrecked beyond belief, and my phone is constantly blowing up with bug reports and support requests for android2cloud. I don't know if any of you have noticed this, but on top of developing and patching android2cloud, I respond to every single bug report and support request I can find. I have Google Alerts set for the term android2cloud, and will register on forums for the sole purpose of helping people get it working or hearing their ideas and feedback. I have a twitter search saved in Tweetdeck for android2cloud, and try to help everyone I find who has issues or ideas for it. From the beginning, I've tried to give the best support I could for this product, and all of the work is wearing me down.

So, here's what's going to happen. A lot of you want version 1 back. That's your prerogative. You can get the source code for everything from our project page's Mercurial repository. Don't know how to check out Mercurial source code? LMGTFY. You'll need to set up your own server, because I can't afford to be watching my pay schedule, hoping I get paid in time to pay for the server anymore. It should be free to run if you run your own, so go ahead and set one up. The instructions for doing so are still on our project page's wiki. Just do the minimum possible effort and look for them.

Note, though, that if you decide to revert to version 1, you forfeit any right you had to my support. I will not answer questions, I will not debug, and I will not patch for you. If you switch you version 1, you're on your own. If you stay with version 2 and complain that version 1 was better, I will simply direct you to this post.

android2cloud has always been, and will always be, an open source project. If you think version 2 sucks so badly, I would love to know why I have not received any patches from anyone for it. If it sucks, fix it. That is the nature of open source software.

I'm doing the best I can. Tonight, there will be no patches. I've responded to most the bug reports and support requests I got while I slept, and I make no promises that I'll respond to any more tonight. Tonight, I need to work on client work. Tonight, I need to pay the bills, fulfill my obligations, and stop being such a letdown to the people I've made promises to. I owe them better than what I've been giving them. Also, please remember that android2cloud does not pay me anything. I have to work on my $20/hour job that I don't get abuse from tonight, instead of the $0/hour one that gets me plenty of abuse.

I'll end with a positive note: Thank you, users who are doing the right thing. Thank you for your understanding, for your patience, and for your assistance. Thank you for realising this is a project, not a product, and you are as important to its success as I am. Thank you for understanding there will be bumps and bruises along the way, but we'll get there. Thank you for understanding that I'm human, and doing the best I can. You make this project worth doing. You make me glad I released it in July, instead of just holding on to it and using it myself.

10 comments:

  1. Let me be the first to chime in and say thank you, Paddy, for developing android2cloud. It has been an extremely useful product for me. Unfortunately, I am one user who has been affected by the recent problems; and let me tell you, I had no idea how often I used android2cloud until it was no longer working for me. I patiently await the update that will fix it for me. In the mean time, I wish you the best in trying to balance your personal workload with developing android2cloud. The job of a free software developer is often thankless, and it is indeed rare and refreshing to see a developer willing to put up with users' bad attitudes, while personally responding to their complaints. We're lucky not only to have such a great product, but also a developer who cares enough about his work to constantly improve the product and provide free support.

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  2. ... I might add that I actually just barely got everything working again. I went into my google account and denied access for all android2cloud references, removed chrome extension and reinstalled, then removed android app (including data) and reinstalled... re-authorized both the app and the chrome extension, and we're back in business!

    I have still have silent sending disabled for now, but no biggie. Thanks again, Paddy!

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  3. Agreed: Paddy, thanks! The new version has been a pleasure to use (after your prompt bug fixes). Thank you for sharing the development with us; I hope you can come back to android2cloud of your own volition, and on your own terms, once your life is a little more under control again. :)

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  4. Hi Paddy, that was very well articulated. I'm sorry for all the crap that goes with deving for the public. It is obvious that you are a talented, intelligent and caring person. I am grateful that you are drawing a line in the sand regarding user expectations and demands. Paddy given all of your responsibilities, would you consider enlisting some of your loyal followers to work as a buffer between you and the end user? Not sure how exactly but maybe we could throw some ideas around. Lastly I would like you to know if I send any feedback regarding a2c it is strictly fyi and never meant for immediate action. I don't know how you do all the things you do but I enjoy following you, thank you Paddy.

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  5. I am actually pretty excited to use this program but I unfortunately can't figure out how to get it to work at all :( I will continue to try to get it to work.

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  6. Great customer service and very helpful! Thank you so much for all your work, this program is now a new way to freak out my roommate ;)

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  7. Paddy, keep up the good work, it is much appreciated. I actually donated after it stopped working for me and even if I don't get it to work, the donation was well worth it for how much I have used it. I will continue when I have time to troubleshoot and read the documentation. Don't let the few goofs out there discourage you, there are people who really appreciate this hard work.

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  8. Keep up the great work Paddy. I just finally tried to set it up today but links are being received on Chrome. No biggie, I decided to download the donation app to help you a bit :)

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  9. Paddy, so sorry to hear you are being pummeled. Program has great promise. I'm presently unable to get it up and running using the most recent Chrome on my laptop and the most recent a2c app on aosp's Gingerbread on my hero. Could the issue be that a2c doesn't work yet on the latter? Again, thanks.

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  10. Just wanted to thank you for the an awesome app/extensions when I found this blog post. I'm a developer as well and something I've seen is that people that don't like something always seem to scream much higher than the people that actually love your work, unfortunately. So, it's easy to get the feeling that your work isn't appreciated even though this isn't the case. That said, keep up the good work. Cheers!

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