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Platform 101

Thursday, April 4, 1996 by Dave Winer.

My System 7 saga continues...

A lesson in platform management!

The problem: A vocal developer disses the platform vendor on the Internet.

The software isn't working! He's upset. And not in a mild-mannered way.

Inside the company, they know they screwed up. No one argues with that. They've paid the price, they've released new software that fixes the problems. But an influential weekly magazine has reported problems with the fix. There's a lot of confusion in the user community.


They know this for a fact: if the developer installs the new release, the problems will go away.

How to turn this into a win? How to get the developer to install the new software, and get some good ink in the process, and help the community move on?

Here's how you do it...


From Jim Gable, gable@applelink.apple.com, a product manager at Apple Computer:


Yeah, we have missed a lot of balls recently at Apple and a ton of them were software lobs. But I recommend you install 7.5.3 before getting more worried about it. This release is our `making amends' release and the feedback so far is quite good. (For example, compare the MacUser comments to the MacWeek ones!)

In fact, it's fair to say that the vast majority of 7.5.3 complaints are related to downloading it from the nets (it's big) and installing it (be sure to follow the read me file!) Once installed, people are really happy. Especially 7.5.2 users which I assume you are with your 9500.

After you try it -- let me know what you think. Yikes!

Jim Gable


This is a perfect response.

First, admit the screwup. Then put your personal reputation on the line. Offer justification, admit another screwup (everyone knows that it's been hard to get the new software, me too) to establish credibility. By the way, I pick up an implicit thanks for not reporting the downloading problem, it's appreciated. Then offer help if there are any problems with the installation, add a little humor, and sign it personally.

Done. Done well, in fact.

Most important overall point -- it's respectful.

The customer is always right, and so is the developer.

A really nice case study in platform management.

So I took Gable's advice, I installed the software. It's working. I'm hopeful! Fingers crossed.

I also got a pointer to a product called Default Folder, , which does what SuperBoomerang used to do, and works with the new system software. I downloaded it, installed it, and so far so good.

I still don't have a replacement for Deneba Artworks. But all in all, I'm back on the air and productive, and doing fine.

Have a great Thursday!

Dave Winer

PS: But things are still going slowly. I'm getting my sea legs on this new setup. Pretty shaky! You can see it in the writing. This DaveNet took me two or three times the amount of time to get together. Eudora crashes every time I do a preview. I'm learning to be more patient. Coool.

© Copyright 1994-2004 Dave Winer. Last update: 2/5/07; 10:50:05 AM Pacific. "There's no time like now."