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June 22, 2007

Interesting and Uninteresting Comments

I enable anonymous comments on my blog because I understand there are times that people have interesting things to add to the discussion and they either don’t want to be bothered to register an account or perhaps they just want to remain anonymous. Sadly this sometimes means I get rather uninteresting ( aka rude ) comments from anonymous users that must be moderated. Most of these negative comments seem to originate from a particularly hateful person a certain company in Bedford, MA ( remember, YOU are not really anonymous on the Internet ) but I digress. The real purpose today is to touch on an interesting question an anonymous reader asked:

Very interesting, Chris. Did the question of business ethics come up at all? InstallAware has had some really bad press recently...caught stealing other installer website designs, then using those situations to showboat, which seems a bit dirty. It would be interesting to hear what Sinan had to say about that in person that would convince you he was worth spending 5 hours with.

That's a very fair question. When Sinan first emailed me I have to admit I almost felt like turning down the invitation to get together. When I mentioned it to my wife she remembered the `oops they did it again` and `all’s fair in marketing and war` threads and got very concerned that I was meeting with Sinan and worse, was I considering working for them instead of Macrovision?

I did have a bad feeling in my stomach, after all it as InstallAware's Michael Nesmith who once accused me for being on the take with Macrovision because I've been published by Macrovision in the DevLetter series. I assure everyone, Macrovision has never given me a penny. I write for the benefit of fellow developers. I love meeting with anyone who has a love for setup. So I decided to accept the invitation and go there with two goals::

1) Keep an open mind on how InstallAware technology attempts to solve setup problems.
2) Attempt to communicate user stories that I feel today's authoring tools don’t do a very good job of supporting.

With that in mind, we had a very good back and forth technical discussion for about 5 hours. It was not until the last 20 minutes or so that we started discussing the `politics` associated with the small world of setup. I didn’t throw Sinan any softballs, but I also didn’t try to hold him to the fire. I listened to his perspective and I shared a few of my concerns. But I would not say any of this was framed as `ethics` questions or debates, but more just an exploration of the relationships between different people/groups and what could be done better to further the goals of all involved. After all we are all different. We are all trying to solve different problems with different methodologies. Some of us are trying to improve an install, some of us are trying to run a business, some of us are trying improve an installer tool, some of us are trying to improve an installer SDK for installer tools and users to use. Regardless of where we fit, we don’t always agree on how it should be done and sometimes the internet brings out the worst in us. Frankly I’d rather smooth the waters and get back to having good conversations with anyone who cares about setup.

I don’t know if that actually answers the question the anonymous commenter had so feel free to ask follow up questions. I may or not be able to answer as there were some aspects of the discussion that I'd like to keep confidential as to not stir up trouble with third parties that were mentioned.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You know... I've had this in the past with a different installation software company based in Michigan who was bought by another one based in Utah, which was recently swallowed by one in California. I was accused of all sorts of things by the CEO of all people, and eventually I told him that thanks to his behaviour I would never consider his product again.

I went on to work for InstallShield for years. Comments like those can be ignored immediately, don't take it too seriously. It is interesting though to hear that InstallAware is accused of all sorts of shenanigans in reference to their old employer (if anything, the founders of InstallAware don't ring a bell - they either started at Macrovision/InstallShield after 2001, or left before 1996). Oh well.

Funnily enough I still find a lot of comments about my work with InstallShield around on newsgroup archives (ahhh, those were the days).