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Macworld Review (Read 7437 times)
Mark Bernstein
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Macworld Review
Jan 27th, 2010, 12:47pm
 
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Ioa Petra-ka
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Re: Macworld Review
Reply #1 - Jan 27th, 2010, 6:38pm
 
The four mice is good, but otherwise I think it's an unfortunate pairing between software and reviewer trying to explain a special tool to a large audience, most of whom probably don't even need something like Tinderbox. For the people who don't know about it who do need it, the article doesn't really get too heavily into the things which might interest them. Reviewing Tb like this is like reviewing AutoCAD in 1,000 words in the New York Times. Smiley

Added: Forgot to say one other thing, that the review suggested Circus Notebook as an alternative to Tinderbox indicates the degree of misalignment between software, magazine, and audience. If anything, VoodooPad Pro, which is at least still a scriptable hypertext environment (though stripped down to even sub-WWW levels, and completely lacking in views, taking a 100% note centric philosophy).
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« Last Edit: Jan 28th, 2010, 11:53am by Ioa Petra-ka »  

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Gordon Ferrier
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Re: Macworld Review
Reply #2 - Jan 28th, 2010, 5:21am
 
Another point that the reviewer fails to make properly is that Tinderbox can be used in a very simple, note-centric way for as long as that is what is needed. As (inevitably?) the user needs more power and complexity it's there. But if you don't need to use it it doesn't get in the way. Smiley
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Mark Anderson
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Re: Macworld Review
Reply #3 - Jan 28th, 2010, 7:06am
 
I certainly felt the "too complex" issue was over-played. An app that eschews premature formalisation and embraces investigation of complex data has a challenge on a Mac. The ordinary Mac user is schooled that (a) tasks are simple (they just happen) and (b) it looks cool and sexy. Doubtless that's why there a lot of really neat single-task tools out there that do just one narrowly defined thing very well. with a narrow context lots of assumptions that reduce complexity can be made, making the task appear simple to the user. And, to be honest we do like that - why should everything be hard?

Still, there comes the point where a task doesn't fit the best-of-breed simple tool. The realisation dawns that, for instance, mind-mapping is a very constrained format for free association of ideas. That's where the likes of TB step up and there's the understanding that what seemed like complexity is now a lack of unwanted constraint.

If there is a fly in the ointment, it's probably the difficulty of getting started. Documenting an open ended tool is hard - most people want a quick simple answer to their own unique and context-dependent issue. I think I can fairly say I bear the scars of trying. Still it's worth trying. Lest my opening comments seem to take a glass half-empty view, I'm still working on helping improve ways to get started.

Were a reviewer to contact Easgate before a review, I'd suggest avoiding the "it doesn't do this [simple] task" pothole by giving them some specimen data (in a TBX) and an analytical task to do with it that makes them explore TB's analytical features. Give one (maybe more) TBXs showing what can be made - 'finished' examples. Frankly, such a package might aid all users - especially the finished examples as the public demo limits the number of notes that can make and so prevents them working all but the smallest dataset. But if they can see what they might achieve with the full app...  To the man with a hammer, everything is a nail. If the reviewer is left to compare TB with a simple To-Do list maker - likely the latter will come off as he simplest, nicest to look at To-Do app.
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russ lipton
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Re: Macworld Review
Reply #4 - Jan 29th, 2010, 8:51am
 
... that Tinderbox was reviewed at all (yielding some 'clicks' at Eastgate), let alone was treated respectfully (more clicks) will help.

The reviewer is entirely convincing about their having pulled off something more than just a 'toy' usage of TB (big plus) as well as the key point: its unique flexibility and power to do stuff that just can't be done normally:

"innovative and endlessly versatile tool ..."

"My test project barely scratched the surface of Tinderbox’s uses."

"... seemingly endless flexibility"

"exceptional power and amazing potential definitely justify its hefty price tag" - this is a remarkable compliment, given the product's 'tremendous' cost against current pricing perceptions.

These and the four 'stars' from the Mac's mainstream rag, current to the newest version, fulfill a huge check-off item for any software vendor - even one as avant-garde as Eastgate. One of the many things I appreciate about Mark is that he is not so snooty to forget he is running a business.

The (inaccurate) Javascript comment would have been a turn-off for me as an inquirer, but this review enables readers to self-select if they are truly candidates for Tinderbox. Eastgate should  be (and probably is) thrilled by that. If t'were me, I'd use the Jefferson analogy directly and humorously in citing the Macworld review ...

"Thomas Jefferson awards Tinderbox four stars in Macworld!"

Bottom line, "we" should take the review and head for the hills before the posse finds us ...

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« Last Edit: Jan 29th, 2010, 8:52am by russ lipton »  
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russ lipton
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Re: Macworld Review
Reply #5 - Jan 30th, 2010, 9:15am
 
A follow-up. I agree completely that Tinderbox is wonderfully suited for doing simple note-taking too. But, in fairness, it is ludicrously overpriced for that. The pricing becomes reasonable to the extent users discover that the usual walls, barriers, gotchas don't appear as knowledge increases, but the reverse. The 'temporary' walls of TB's undoubted learning curve begin to dissolve.

Tinderbox is that rare piece of software for which solving harder problems becomes easier the more you learn about the program. And, better still, you can now think of even harder-still problems which can be addressed which would have been unthinkable in other products that fall into varied single-task categories.

So, here is an idea: can we encourage Nathan to keep at it with Tinderbox?

It would be awesome to ask him to re-review Tinderbox, whether for MacWorld or, more likely, informally- six months or a year from now.

Setting two such reviews side-by-side would be greatly illuminating for potential Tinderbox users.

(Heck, even having anyone write a review from that context and juxtaposing the two reviews would be useful.)
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