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2006-06-06 16:35:06

SourceGear/Teamprise welcomes John O'Neill

I tend to think of myself as a reasonably tactful guy.  When I write, I try not to get people completely ticked off at me.  It doesn't always work.

Recently when the Guardian published a heavily-edited version of my article about why software has bugs, I got lots of "feedback".  Basically, it appears that I got email from everyone in the UK who has ever been frustrated at any software vendor about any bug.  All these messages had three basic things in common:

  1. There was no evidence to suggest that the person had actually read my article.
  2. The person was very angry.
  3. The person was convinced that everything was my fault.

All I could do was try to respond with some measure of empathy.

Actually, getting this sort of "hate mail" is kind of nice.  Sort of.

Back at Gnomedex 2003 I had the incredible privilege of going to the speakers dinner.  The table that evening included some really well-known writers like Tim O'Reilly and John Dvorak.  The #1 thing I remember from that dinner was each of those guys telling stories about their hate mail.  I remembering thinking that I must not be a "real writer" yet, because nobody had ever sent me a letter with a salutation of "Dear #+&@*#$ idiot".

(I never did figure out why anybody would send TimO that kind of mail when all his stuff seems so level-headed.  But when I heard that Dvorak gets that sort of mail routinely, somehow the world made more sense.)

Anyway, most of my stuff just doesn't generate a lot of negative response.

Well, actually, there are two other examples where people get kind of upset at me:

Prior to the Guardian thing, these two articles were responsible for most of my so-called "hate mail".  When I get messages like that, I usually do respond, and I usually try not to get into a big argument.

But the next time somebody emails me about one of these two issues, I will have new evidence to present in my defense!  Several weeks ago, we hired a sales guy with a PhD!

I am very pleased to welcome John O'Neill to the management team of our company.  John will be serving as CEO of our Teamprise division.  For the time being, he will be focusing primarily on sales. 

And yes, John has a PhD.  He got his doctorate in chemical engineering.  Please, don't anybody tell John that the primary reason we chose him was so that I get the people who think I hate PhDs off my back.  :-)

John is also the Editor and Publisher of Black Gate, a scifi and fantasy magazine.

So obviously, with a PhD in engineering and a weirdo publishing business on the side, John's background is fairly typical for sales executives in the software field.  Nothing to see here...  :-)

For me, the far more interesting thing about John is that he spent the last 9 years working in the cellular phone division at Motorola.  This means that I finally have somebody who can give me an answer to the following question which has been bothering me for years:

Why the &*$# doesn't my cell phone have an alarm clock built in?

I mean, it's not like this would be difficult.  The device already has the ability to make loud noises.  And it already has a clock.  In fact, it would be better than the typical travel alarm clock, because it automatically keeps track of time zone.

In other words, my phone has all the basic capabilities necessary to be a really excellent travel alarm clock, but it's not, and I want to know why.

And before I give John a chance to answer, I would like to preemptively respond to three things he is likely to say:

  1. Don't tell me the phone actually does have that feature and I just missed it.  I looked through the whole menu system.  Any feature which requires more than seven clicks to find isn't really there.
  2. Don't try to tell me that there isn't enough room in the ROM.  My phone's display has an animation of a creepy little alien that does pushups in full color.  Ditch the cartoon and just give me a simple way to tell my phone to ring at 6am.
  3. The fact that my phone is a Sanyo and John worked at Motorola is not relevant.  John is now my personal representative from the cell phone industry, so this whole thing is his fault.