Team Murder No Brain No Headache.

5Jan/07Off

Scandal And Idle

Haven't had a whole lot to say lately at least via keyboard as I took a pretty bad fall on the post-blizzard ice pack and managed to make my left wrist little more than a swollen source of pain that wouldn't bend in the ways that I wanted it to. The recuperation is most of the way complete now as I can actually use the shift key in conjunction with number keys (I won't even mention how using Emacs was next to impossible for a few days) and feeling less crippled. It is snowing again today so I'm home from work and in the mood to do something other than cradle my wounded paw and mess around with images in the Photoshop beta.

I've been following the conflict between Garrett Murray, the xPad developer, and Brian Ball, of MacZOT fame/infamy pretty closely and it has been continuously interesting. What should probably be said here is that I don't have any particular love for the xPad application. I own a license for it, obtained through MacZOT in one of those train wreck mystery zots that I was stupid enough to purchase, but I've only opened it a couple of times for reasons that should be pretty obvious to those who've been around Team Murder for a while; I'm a completely insane kook about text editors and most of them fill me with the rage the first second I try to use them. This is because I'm completely nuts but others seem to really love xPad. I'm willing to concede to that gestalt opinion because I obviously cannot be trusted.

What I feel like I've learned from all of this is that shareware is odd territory and that contracts between small fries is a sure fire path to disaster. People have said in various comments about this issue that the Mac community that actually uses non-commercial applications is a tiny and close knit community. I'm not sure if this is the case in those exact terms but I know a whole bunch of opinions about both Garrett and the business practices of MacZOT have been set in stone.

I think what complicates this more than anything else is the actual personal connection to their software that shareware developers feel and the fact that they've usually invested much more in their work than your average commercial application developer. I don't mean that in quantifiable units like man hours (yeah, I know) or marketing dollars spent or whatever but more in hazy areas like the anal retentive perfectionism that comes from working on a project a little larger than what is really possible given limited time/resources to devote to that particular project. When you've basically bet the farm on what is essentially a losing bet against the software industry (or music cabal or the freemasons or whatever your favorite shadowy conspiracy organization that keeps us all down might be) I guess that entitles you to feel a little cheated when the world isn't as enthusiastic about the fruit of your labors as you are.

I think this also reasonably allows the dev in question to be a little more upset when loopholes in the contract he is under are exploited by the party in the contract with more available resources. The funny part is that more damage has done to MacZOT than anyone else by this sketchiness. Garrett took back his stuff, considered that people were still interested in the application outside of the magical land of scandal, and freed both the application itself and the source code. Brian Ball, in contrast, though he just fucked up on a contractual obligation looks like a disorganized schmuck at best and like a backstabbing snake in the grass if you're feeling empathetically betrayed by his actions. The continued sales of applications licenses after breaking the contract is what is unforgivable to me. That said, I won't be buying any more MacZOTs because I don't believe that the business is set up to benefit anyone other than MacZOT no matter how much the PR fluff would argue otherwise.

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