This morning, as I struggled to feel awake enough to get out of bed — as my three-year-old and one-year-old daughters were urging me to do — I skimmed through the morning RSS influx using NetNewsWire for the iPad.
It was a nice moment. Sierra (16 months) was using the iPod touch, Anya (3 and a half) was using the iPhone, I was using the iPad, and Lauren was wishing we’d all turn off our screens and let her sleep some more.
Anyway, NetNewsWire. I was skimming through, sending various interesting-looking articles to Instapaper, and noting the same tiny small handful of NetNewsWire bugs that I keep encountering in the app, and thinking not for the first time that I ought to email developer Brent Simmons to make sure he knows about the few annoyances I keep running into.
Now, I don’t “know” Brent; we’ve never met, we’ve never spoken, and we’ve never even IM’d. We have exchanged emails, and I’ve reviewed his software (NetNewsWire 2.0 for iPhone), and written Macworld stories about various projects Brent’s involved in. But I figured that as a developer, he’d appreciate knowing about bugs in his software if they were reported with enough detail.
Still, I didn’t (and haven’t) sent the note yet. I’m guessing he already knows about the way that not every post in a folder gets marked as read when you tap the button, and that some posts only show up in the individual feeds when you tap into them, never surfacing in the folder view. (I suspect those two bugs are related.) And he’s already posted on the NetNewsWire for iPad FAQ that support for “Mark as Unread” is on the to-do list.
So that’s the background. After I served my girls breakfast, I tucked them in the playroom and began cleaning up the kitchen. Oh, and browsing those stories I’d filed away in Instapaper.
Brent had a good one. He wrote it geared toward his fellow developers, as a missive on being nice in dealing with others online. As I read, I was thinking about how it applied far beyond software developers, thinking I would send the piece to folks on my “Product and Community” team at my day job about the need to respect and appreciate customer feedback. Brent’s advice includes thanking people who write fair reviews, and ignoring obnoxious people who write jerky comments on the App Store. (He even advises trying to learn from those jerks if possible, which is an admirable goal; I too often only learn “I would like to avoid Jerky Person X for eternity.”)
When I approached the end of the piece and saw Brent’s postscript — saying that he’s not perfect, and that he still owes one Lex Friedman a thank-you for a certain NetNewsWire for iPhone app review — I was truly surprised.
Reading a post I was really enjoying (and planning to share), from a developer whose software I use literally every single day across multiple Macs and i-prefixed gadgets, and then spotting a thank-you to me was, in a word, shocking.
So, Brent: You’re most welcome for the review. Keep up the great work. Thank you for singlehandedly sparking the shift to an RSS-centric world for me and thousands of others. And I found a couple bugs in the iPad version of NetNewsWire that I’d love to talk to you about.