Subscription Apps, Default Apps, and Cloud Services

1Password has received some negative press because of their push for more users to switch from purchasing the app outright to a subscription model and the use of their own syncing service. They have responded on Twitter in this fashion to see of the complaints:

On a recent episode of Accidental Tech Podcast, the hosts talked at length about some of the issues around this push from 1Password (and others) and, overall, are sympathetic to the needs of software developers for recurring revenue but are a little bit sour to the push toward more cloud services from software development partners. Panic, makers of Transit (my favorite SFTP and more software), has their own sync service and so does The Omni Group.

However, this proliferation of cloud sync services along with the continued push to never own software but need to continually pay a subscription has me rethinking some of the applications I use on a daily basis.

For one thing, I have an adverse reaction to paying a subscription for things. It doesn’t need to make sense, but I hesitate every time I am asking to pay, via a subscription, for a piece of software (even one I use often). I’m far more likely to search out alternatives at that point.

Another issue is that paying a subscription, especially to another vendor, requires maintaining correct payment information over time. When my credit card expires, I need to find all of the places I have used that card and update it. If I want to change my banking provider, then I need to search out all of those areas as well.

I pay Apple for iCloud storage and an Apple Music subscription. I pay Netflix for entertainment. I pay a VPS provider for my virtual server. After that, I pay for a lot of software but I pay once, use the software, and then purchase the next version the next time I am asked to pay. It is a one time purchase. I don’t need to maintain payment information. It is simple, low maintenance, and understandable.

I have the feeling we will continue to see more software vendors moving to subscriptions models (or trying it out), and so it has me looking hard and long at utilizing built-in apps on my Apple devices. Reminders, Notes, and some others might have a more prominent places in my life especially with the ability to lock Notes, I might be able to move off of 1Password if it ever comes to that point.

Moving from OmniFocus to Reminders would be more of a challenge.

Ask a Repair Shop

Ask a Repair Shop by Philip Yurchuk

An interesting look at the mindset around the purchasing of enterprise software. Obviously, there is no simple answer to all of the problems inherent with the purchasing and managing of large software products, but speaking with those who work with integrating solutions within similar institutions can be enlightening.

Choosing Your Tools Again

I forgot one huge thing, at least for me, when I am looking at tools: how they look.

It is completely and totally superfluous to an extent, but I won’t deny that how a tool looks (thinking of software mainly, but the same goes for hardware) does have an effect on how much I enjoy using the tool which generally affects how I feel about it overall.

A tool that looks terrible is less likely to have me coming back to use it in the future. For a CLI tool, the better the interface I am using, the more likely I am to continue to use it.

This is one of the reasons I continue to use Apple OS X and iOS instead of moving onto something else … they look and feel better. To me. This is entirely subjective, but it is still a quality I use to judge a tool by.

If you have a tool, and a website for that tool, but do not show off the user interface there is a good chance I am going to just pass on by for something else. Have a demo I can play with? Even better. Do you take real pride in your interface (both software and hardware)? That’s going to get my just that little bit more excited about looking at your tool.

Any tool still needs to ultimately get the job done, but if it can get the job done and look good doing it … then all the better. If it can get the job done, look good doing it, and then also be easy to use … I’m getting ahead of myself here. I’m going to try to not get greedy.

Image Credit: https://flic.kr/p/divHjN

Choosing Your Tools

What sorts of questions does one ask when choosing a tool?

I’m running into issues right now in my own head when it comes to choosing the tools I want to use for my work. It doesn’t matter if it is for my day job as a sysadmin or at night attempting to somehow fall into becoming something approximating an iOS developer (maybe … perhaps … somehow … ). It is hard to choose tools if you don’t have any questions to ask when you are choosing them.

Since sysadmin work is something I do more often at the moment, I’ll just list off some of the questions I ask when trying to evaluate a software package or any other kind of tool.

  • What is the license? This is where I start with systems stuff because licensing is a pain and often full of different ways to try and “get” you in the end. Microsoft seems to change its licensing scheme every few hours and SMART Technologies is doing the same sort of thing with their SMART Notebook software. Even forgetting the issues I have with interactive whiteboards (don’t get me started, they are a support nightmare), just dealing with licensing is a pain. If something is open source or has a pretty easy-to-understand license (thank you Attachmate), then I am more likely to look in that direction.
  • Does it have a web component? We have some things on campus which lack a web component and it hurts at times. What a first-class web component does is allow me to choose other tools (like my operating system) based not on if I have the proper software, but if I want to actually use something. “Enterprise” software is the worst with this because almost everyone has some Windows-only GUI you are almost required to use to do anything worthwhile.
  • This is a new one, but here we go: Does it have a mobile component? This is becoming more important as I use my phone for more and more sysadmin work. I can do a lot of stuff while on the road, but often mobile is an afterthought. Currently Request Tracker is the one tool I wish had a better mobile access to their excellent issue tracking software. I know these things will come, but it would be nice if it was sooner rather than later.
  • Does it force me to choose an operating system? I want to use my Linux distribution of choice and something forcing Windows on me or only “supporting” Ubuntu really doesn’t make me all that happy. I’m not going to toss it aside automatically, but I’m also more skeptical from the start because the tool is attempting to dictate infrastructure choices I would rather be able to make myself.
  • Is it in active development? Pretty self-explanatory. I want to see life before I start using a tool for something important.

Obviously this is not an exhaustive list, but it is a place I can start when trying to evaluate options. I left off some obvious ones (I assume that the tool will do the job and do it well), and there are many I automatically use even if I don’t think about them. What are some thing you need to consider when you are looking at tools?

Image Credit: https://flic.kr/p/bRHngB

Learning iOS Programming … Again

Time to dig into the past again … something I have been hoping to do but never jumped in and actually accomplish.

I’ll let you, the reader, search through the archives to find my failed attempts at learning iOS development/programming along with any number of other technologies. It is really a running joke in my own mind by now that I can’t follow-through with anything in this realm. I haven’t launched any products (web or otherwise) and haven’t put anything up on the App Store either.

Learning iOS Dev

I’m back at it again, however, and I hope I can get something onto the App Store this time (no matter how small it might be). This time I have Learning iOS Development from Addison Wesley to work through along with my prior work in iOS 5/6 to get me through this and to the next level.

Apple has pushed the platform ahead quite a bit with iOS 7 and there is a lot to learn. I’ve been lucky enough to watch the iOS 7 Tech Talks along with some of the WWDC 2013 sessions as well. It has worked not so much to give me an overview of the changes (which it has), but to get me pumped up and excited about development and the platform as a whole.

I’m shifting my focus a little bit to some small agricultural apps to start (I hope). There are many “paper only” tasks on the farm right now and I want to be able to capture those in some useful ways along with eliminating the need to write so often for things which really are just numbers.

I’ll hopefully have some more information that in the future as I continue to try to work out the specifics, but it will piggyback on the new farm entity we created (more on Martens Family Farm in the future, obviously) and the primary use will be small-to-medium farms and helping them get the most out of their work.

I hope.