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(parent to child) We're worried about you, honey. You've fallen in with a bad crowd, you're picking up bad habits, and you're using beta plugins on a production WordPress site.

Parents: do you recognize these warning signs? (beta edition)

Parents: do you recognize these warning signs? (beta edition) published on Purchase print

Is your child more moody than usual — especially toward their devices? Are they displaying more impatience, for example by complaining about sluggish performance, buggy interfaces and frequent crashes? Do they respond to civil requests to come down for dinner with “Just a {expletive} moment! Everything’s {expletive} broken and I’m about to lose all my {expletive} work!”?

Then they may be in the early stages Compulsive Early Adopter Syndrome, or CEAS. This disorder, which tragically does not have an intuitively-pronounced acronym, compels the sufferer to install the latest beta version of any software they use, regardless of warnings about bugs, missing features or incompatibilities.

Let’s look at a typical adult sufferer. We’ll call him “Ned,” although his actual name is Rob and he’s me. Ned installed the iOS 11 beta on his iPhone 6 purely on the strength of “a mildly more interesting Siri”, and immediately lost access to several apps he relied on. Even after the developers released updated versions of those apps, and Apple issued the public release version of the operating system, Rob’s— er, Ned’s phone has been almost unusably slow.

Has Ned learned anything? Not judging from the fact that he recently installed the beta Gutenberg editor (and, soon, way of life) on his blog. That’s despite the fact it gives Ned no new functionality he actually uses, and despite WordPress’s official warning to “treat this as a radioactive biohazard and under no circumstances should you install it on a site producing content that is ever to be seen by human eyes.”

Ned, sadly, has fallen victim to peers who tout Gutenberg as “cool” and “hip” and “the most amazing content editing experience since sex, and that’s recognizing that sex isn’t actually a content-editing experience.” If an adult like Ned is vulnerable to such alluring promises, imagine the impact on younger minds when they read a page like this on WordPress’s own site — a page freely available to teens and even children.

There is, sadly, no cure for CEAS — apparently not even bitter, bitter, bitter experience. But until science develops a way to keep young minds from succumbing to the temptation of pre-release software, our only hope is vigilance.

That, and this new app I picked up that monitors your kids’ use of beta software. It’s still in preview release, and it’s buggy as hell, but I’m using it right now and I can tell you it 6wQFAFLe@ynt4xMgPst(n3r.Lj;mZzdAusgNBVtxDxdCMy

Google, plus or minus

Google, plus or minus published on No Comments on Google, plus or minusPurchase print

Cartoon originally posted to ReadWriteWeb.

In the words of anyone in a suspense film or TV show who’s ever broken into a computer system, “All right, I’m in.”

In this case, “in” means I have a Google+ account. The windows for creating one keep flicking open and then slamming shut; you have to leap with cat-like reflexes and then do one of those cool shoulder-roll-into-a-crouch moves when you land. (Fine, I’ll stop with the action tropes.)

Some quick impressions:

  • Part of the genius of Google+ is the way it acts, not as a walled garden, but as connective tissue for services you may well be using already. (And one of its chief limitations, at least so far, is the way it doesn’t do all that much to connect whatever non-Google services you’re also using.)
  • It’s not immediately clear how the +1 button interacts with your activity stream. Why is there a +1 button on my own posts? Why isn’t there one on items in Sparks?
  • I love how focused it is on creating circles of friends and contacts. And it makes me think folks may want to revisit Alex’s post on using Twitter lists to keep you connected to the people who matter most before they dive into Circles.

Are you in yet? Any thoughts?

2009-02-28-worm

2009-02-28-worm published on No Comments on 2009-02-28-worm

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