Reading Shakespeare

 Charles Petzold has a post in which he talks about the unique experience of reading a book . In the post, Petzold mentions a device that caused a buzz at a recent O’Reilly conference; the device was a book that somehow embedded a screen for displaying hyperlinked content (from the picture, it looks like it used some kind of flexible screen). Petzold says that while this sounds good initially, it will inevitably lead to more and more ancillary “fat.”

I think he’s right. I remember that the first few Shakespeare plays I read were from school-provided texts. They had footnotes for virtually every sentence and they were incredibly distracting (“Fardel: A burden.”) It was only when I learned to willfully ignore the footnotes that I began to understand why people love Shakespeare. (Exception: ignoring footnotes is not recommended when reading Nabokov.)

Borland StarTeam Best SCM Tool, Says Survey

eWeek is quoting an Evans Data survey in which Borland’s StarTeam was rated the best source control management (SCM) software, beating out CVS, IBM ClearCase/ClearQuest, Microsoft Visual SourceSafe, Microsoft Visual Studio Team System, Perforce, Serena/PVCS, and Subversion.

It’s an interesting result, because surveys have a strong tendency to correlate with marketshare, but surely StarTeam does not have dominant marketshare. Meanwhile, SCM tends to be a “good enough” solution, where people generally stick with what they already have. Is StarTeam so exceptionally good that it can overcome those tendencies?

Update: Evans’ methodology is to survey users of the tool in question, which ought to overcome the “marketshare == survey results” problem that one gets in most “reader’s choice” surveys. On the other hand, it may inflate the influence of cognitive dissonance; people invested in niche products (StarTeam has about 9% marketshare, according to BZ Research) have a psychological pressure to praise them more than do people invested in market leaders (who, after all, know the market has endorsed their decision, making criticism come a little easier to the tongue).

I don’t have deep opinions about SCM tools (except about Visual SourceSafe, which I despise), but I asked one of the judges in that category for the Jolt Awards his opinion. He recalls Evans “finding that among Java IDE users, the preferred IDE belonged to Rational. This struck me (and others) as being implausible, but not impossible. This survey result, however, does strike me as quite impossible.”

Having said that, I solicited Eric Sink (of SourceGear, a competitor of Borland’s) for his thoughts and he responded in the comments section. Sink characterized StarTeam as a product that is in the category of SCM tools that are “mostly or somewhat liked” by their users.

I’ve only used StarTeam momentarily, quite awhile ago, so my skepticism about the results may be sheer ignorance of a great product.