[KimDaBa] LWN review

jedd jedd at progsoc.org
Mon Apr 25 07:54:56 BST 2005

On Mon April 25 2005 03:35 pm, Eivind wrote:
 ] On Sunday 24 April 2005 15:34, jedd wrote:
 ] >  But it's often the case with reviews - while looking for this article
 ] >  on the lwn.net site I found the same reviewer's article about various
 ] >  email clients.  Some untruths mixed up with subjective assessment,
 ] >  wrapped up in a non-standard set of criteria between each of the
 ] >  products being reviewed.  Writing a comparative review is very
 ] >  difficult, and obviously exceeds the skill-set of most people out
 ] >  there who like to crap on about GNU/Linux stuff for a living.
 ] I'm sorry -- but this is highly offensive.

 I gather that's how Jesper felt about the original article, and
 it's certainly how I felt after reading the email client comparison.

 Actually, offended is too strong a word.  Annoyed, certainly.  But
 I can extrapolate from the mail-client review, speculate about what
 a casual user may make of KimDaBa's non-orthodox approach to
 image management, tempered with the fact that it was Jesper's
 creation that was being talked about in the other review, and
 understand why *he* found it offensive (though I think the word
 he used was 'pissed' - which down here means drunk, but we know
 that in other parts of the world it means annoyed - we use the phrase
 'pissed off' when we're cranky about something).

 ] Corbet has been writing about Linux and Open Source pretty much fulltime 
 ] for the last decade, for Lwn since its inception in autumn 1997. 

 As an aside, one of the neat things about living south of the equator
 is you get to witness the parochial nature of all the northern
 hemisphere types.  People in the USA, GB, EU etc all think that
 autumn occurs at the same time, no matter where you are on the
 planet.  And/or that people south of the border don't read.  Or
 have a computer. Or something. It's a quaint little thing. </aside>

 I stopped reading LWN about 4 years ago.  I'm not familiar with
 the guy's work, other than the article I mentioned.  It's quite
 possible that everything else he's written is balanced, accurate,

 Though given the reaction to the 'Grumpy Editor's Guide to
 Image Management Applications' this isn't all that likely.

 But I wasn't talking specifically about this guy, or everything
 he's written - merely my observations over the past decade or two
 about the kinds of people who write product comparison reviews.

 ] He is well-informed, thorough, open for critique, very positive of the 
 ] ideals behind Open Source and, ontop of that, runs one of the (imho) 
 ] better online linux-magazines on a shoestring and a truckload of 
 ] enthusiasm.

 This is good, and I'm very happy for him.

 But is it a good thing if other people make decisions based on his
 reviews .. and his reviews contain, shall we call it 'inaccurate 
 information' and/or oversights?

 ] In other words: If you can't convince him, you won't be able to convince 
 ] any *other* journalists. It is unwarranted to call what he does for a 
 ] living "crap".

 Indeed.  It's a good thing, then, that I didn't call what he does
 for a living 'crap'.

 The vernacular (again, a cultural difference) in Australia includes
 'crap on' - in the context this means to ramble, waffle, pontificate,
 on a subject.  I crap on about all kinds of things.  This email is
 a prime example of me crapping on, for example.  Whether the
 content *is* crap is up the reader .. but it isn't inherent.

 Consider again what I wrote :

 ] >  Writing a comparative review is very
 ] >  difficult, and obviously exceeds the skill-set of most people out
 ] >  there who like to crap on about GNU/Linux stuff for a living.

 I stand by this assertion.  It *is* difficult to write such a review,
 and it is obvious that most people out there selling themselves as
 reviewers aren't capable of writing a decent review.

 We may disagree on what constitutes 'decent' in the case of a
 review, but I'm happy to discuss my expectations in detail (later).

 ] Attacking people who write something you don't agree 100% 
 ] with is not an effective way to win friends. Yes -- point out his 
 ] mistakes. (I did, and many more did), but don't resort to personal attacks 
 ] like "obviously exceeds the skill-set".

 That's not a personal attack.  For a start it wasn't aimed at any
 particular person.

 Attributing people with quotes they didn't make isn't an effective
 way at making friends either.

 ] Yes. He missed several fundamental advantages of Kimdaba. (and quite 

 I haven't had the pleasure of that review yet.

 The fact that any, leave alone several, fundamental aspects of the
 application were overlooked .. is less than encouraging.  The sad
 fact remains that KimDaBa (as a prime example) takes quite a
 while to really get the hang of - insofar as how to use its power
 to your best advantage.

 You don't have to go through third form normalisation when working
 out your keyword selections, for example, but it's still a non-trivial
 task to do the mindset shift.

 ] On the other hand, I think that his 
 ] review is a lot *more* thorough than the review of a random user looking 
 ] for an image-cataloging-app would be. In other words: Many (if not most) 
 ] of our potential users would come away from a short test-fligth of Kimdaba 
 ] with the same ideas he did.

 It took me about 45 minutes to work out that KimDaBa was what I
 wanted (after about 30 minutes getting it to compile).  A combination
 of reading the documentation, and playing with a test set of data
 was enough.  I'm not sure what the random user would go through
 (the process they'd use to evaluate various image cataloging apps).

 Most people are probably limited by two things - not knowing what
 they want, and not knowing what's out there.  I hasten to add that
 I had both those problems when I started looking around for a
 solution to a problem I hadn't properly defined yet.

 Which kind of leads back to your question :

 ] What can we do about it ?

 Not sure I subscribe to the 'more documentation is better' approach,
 but in my experience the FAQ's for apps are often more enlightening
 than the walk-through guides.

 You're right about the 'why select KimDaBa' doc - a feature list
 with a comparison to other apps in its class (is there anything else
 that works at all like KimDaBa?)

 ] a print-function that exists trough a plugin nevertheless would better 
 ] appear in "File/Print" rather than "Plugins/Images/Print", the first 
 ] Location *is* where "Print" normally lives.

 See, I'd never noticed this - and probably never would - because
 I rarely print things out.  It's the kind of thing that'd probably
 pop up in the FAQ (with an explanation for why kipi puts it there)
 so I'd find it if I needed to .. but what would/should 'print' off
 the main (indexed image) page do, by default, with KimDaBa?

 ] Attacking people who choose to testdrive Kimdaba and write about their 
 ] experiences is not the way to go -- not even if the testdrivers appear not 
 ] to have a drivers license. (which ain't the case for Corbet in any case.)

 I was attacking the quality of a different article.  I was making a
 generic observation on the quality of ersatz journalists (as well as
 would-be authentic ones, I guess).

 I'll probably get to echo my thoughts on this subject once the
 article you're talking about becomes available.

 The one that I was talking about (email clients) was pretty


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