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‘Maximum Viable Product’

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Clive Thompson, in a piece from April:

What if more developers developed a sense for the “maximum” number of things a product should do — and stopped there?

What if more software firms decided, “Hey! We’ve reached the absolute perfect set of features. We’re done. This product is awesome. No need to keep on shoving in stuff nobody wants.”

Sure, this would have risks. Standing still risks becoming obsolete, as other competitors swoop in.

But it can also just mean you have confidence in your amazing design.

Indeed, some of my favorite pieces of software feel very much like the “maximum viable product”. They seem like highly mature apps that realize they don’t need to significantly evolve new gills or appendages. For twelve years, for example, I’ve used Scrivener for writing my articles and books. “Word processing” is a super-competitive area, but Scrivener hasn’t had any feature creep I can detect. It stuck to its guns. I’d say the same thing about Logic Pro: I’ve used it for twelve years now for music production, and while it’s added new instruments and effects, it has done so gently — it hasn’t larded its UI with endless features. And it’s facing tons of competition, too, from Pro Tools and Ableton Live and others.

I think this is common for a lot of apps that have proven to have staying power. It’s why they have staying power. One way to think of it is that software should be designed a little more like hardware. A 2022 MacBook doesn’t have any more buttons or ports than one from 20 years ago. (In fact, MacBooks have fewer ports.) It’s mostly software where there’s a temptation to keep expanding in scope endlessly.

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martinbaum
4 days ago
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And then there was Adobe.
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kerrybenton
4 days ago
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Hear fuckin hear.
Washington, DC

Modern MacOS Upgrades Require Significant Free Disk Space

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Charles Edge (via Michael Tsai):

The net result is that when doing the last few upgrades, they have required 12+GB for the installer itself (which can be run from a USB drive) and up to 44GB for the installer to do the work it needs to do, so a total of up to about 56GB. Therefore, scoping policies to run an updater without causing undo issues to end users it’s entirely appropriate to make sure they have the amounts of free space indicated per version. Given that drives can be a terabyte in size, this doesn’t seem wildly inappropriate; however, many organizations still buy devices with 256GB drives (thus going from an eighth in the 64GB drive era to a quarter of common drive space required to be free for certain upgrades on smaller drives today). […]

If users upgrade to each version in sequence rather than skipping over versions, they will have a lower disk space requirement.

Even so, these space requirements make my eyes pop. In just a few years and with broadly incremental updates for users between versions, the MacOS installer is about twice as large and needs about twice as much space to do its job. MacOS is not alone: the iPhone X shipped with iOS 11 — released in 2017, the same year as the oldest MacOS version in Edge’s comparison — which had a 3 GB installer, about half the size of the current iOS 16 installer for the same iPhone model.

This is not limited to operating systems, either. Users are disrespected by increasing and surprising bloat in applications. For work, I need to run the Microsoft OneDrive client on one of my Macs, and I was surprised to see that it recently crossed the 1 GB threshold. This is a file syncing utility. For comparison — and you can check this for yourself — it was 70 MB just four years ago. I am not being dramatic when I call this sort of behaviour disrespectful; it shows contempt for users to eat up a full gigabyte of disk space for a background application that uploads and downloads files. OneDrive is obviously not the only offender — all Electron apps are needlessly bloated by bundling a discrete copy of Chromium, of course, and Adobe’s creative applications are several gigabytes each. But OneDrive is a grotesque example of needless bytes.

It is sort of miraculous that modern video codecs like H.265 have made it possible to fit videos of increasing quality and resolution into shrinking amounts of space. But when it comes to software, the pattern is exactly backwards.

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martinbaum
26 days ago
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Good god, stop bitching and just buy a new computer.
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‘Elon Musk’s X App for “Everything” Might Be a Non-Starter in the U.S.’

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Rita Liao, writing for TechCrunch:

Any organization that needs to produce content is on WeChat, from state media to fashion brands. The online media landscape in the U.S. is a lot more diverse. People read news on news apps, seek thought leadership on LinkedIn and encounter brands’ stories through blogs. The majority of businesses in China might not have a website, but they probably maintain a WeChat Public Account.

Over time, Public Accounts has morphed into a digital infrastructure for businesses that’s not unlike Shopify. That was made possible with the launch of WeChat Pay in 2013. While America spent the past decade improving magnetic card-enabled transactions, China never had widespread credit card adoption and went straight from paying with cash to mobile payments using QR codes.

WeChat Pay quickly attracted users in droves by becoming the default payment option for a few popular apps, including ride-hailing upstart Didi and food delivery platform Meituan — which are both backed by Tencent, one of the most prolific corporate investors in the world. Were Musk to start a new payments solution that follows WeChat Pay’s playbook, he’d have to form alliances with other internet giants to drive adoption.

Since writing about this last week, I’ve heard from numerous readers that there are more successful “everything apps” in Asian countries than I alluded to. E.g. Grab in Singapore. But WeChat is clearly the most successful, and the model for Musk’s vaguely-defined “X” concept. It can’t be overstated just how essential payments are to WeChat’s dominant role in Chinese life, but that’s because — as Liao writes — China went from cash to QR codes. That’s never going to happen in the U.S. or Europe.

Neither news nor payments are centralized in the West, and we already have cemented leaders in the personal messaging space. Those are the tentpoles of these “everything apps”. Worse still for Musk and his dream of using Twitter to bootstrap such an app is that Twitter DMs are the worst personal messaging service I’ve ever used.

See also: Nitin Pai: “Why an ‘Everything App’ Is Bad News for Liberal Democracies and Free Markets”.

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martinbaum
47 days ago
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The quoted writer lost me at “People … seek thought leadership on LinkedIn…”
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Bloomberg: ‘Elon Musk Proposes to Buy Twitter for Original Price of $54.20 a Share’

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Jef Feely and Ed Hammond, reporting an hour ago for Bloomberg:

Elon Musk is proposing to buy Twitter Inc. for the original offer price of $54.20 a share, Bloomberg News reports.

Musk made the proposal in a letter to Twitter, according to people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified discussing confidential information. Shares in Twitter climbed as much as 18% on the news, after trading was briefly halted.

The roller coaster is back in action.

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martinbaum
60 days ago
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That’s an expensive way to dodge two days of deposition scheduled for later this week, but to each their own. I’m sure he has his reasons.
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ThousandEyes Named a Strong Performer in The Forrester Wave for End-User Experience Management

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ThousandEyes is a strong performer in The Forrester Wave™: End-User Experience Management, Q3 2022. This placement comes during an unprecedented wave of business expansion and innovation for ThousandEyes.  

The Hybrid Work Explosion Changed The Digital Experience Paradigm    

As part of the Cisco family, ThousandEyes has experienced exceptional momentum the past two years, which started even before the pandemic unraveled traditional IT management approaches. The shift to hybrid work during the COVID-19 pandemic was a real wake up call for all organizations that Internet, cloud, and SaaS-driven environments are increasingly the determining factors that underpin employee and customer experiences.

With the advent of Hybrid Work, the world has changed. Forrester’s data indicates that “two-thirds of US firms are moving to anywhere-work models” and “more than six in 10 global leaders anticipate a permanently higher rate of full-time remote employees.”1 As a consequence of this, a significant and growing percentage of the environments now used by employees exist beyond the control of IT departments, and at a much greater scale. With the arrival of Hybrid Work, apps like Webex® by Cisco, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams are critical to how workers communicate not only with one another, but with their customers, prospects, and suppliers. Similarly, call center apps, like Genesys and Amazon Connect, are critical to how workers interface with consumers. This makes understanding remote end-user experience essential to achieve business success.

This new enterprise reality leads to new requirements, such as understanding and proactively addressing digital dependencies. Some of these include:

  • The behavior of your critical applications. SaaS applications behave differently to traditional on premise applications, and collaboration applications can be particularly complex. Users are often connected to multiple data centers—which may exist in different geographic regions—and applications are dynamically switching connections in real time. As a result, it’s vital to be able to “look under the hood” of the application to see what’s happening. With a capability like Automated Session Testing, you can automatically test the connection to the destination host on the fly. This dramatically reduces mean time to identify (MTTI) and mean time to resolve (MTTR) by streamlining the management and communications of performance issue—removing any ambiguity regarding what’s causing an issue. Understanding your application’s behavior is essential to making necessary architectural adjustments and to enforce SLAs with your collaboration application provider.

  • Digital dependencies within the “last mile.” Within a home office environment, delivery mechanisms such as Wi-Fi and VPN can be highly variable. You also need to factor in security components such as Secure Web Gateways, Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB), multi-factor authentication (MFA), etc. Are all of these accessible, interacting smoothly and are not impacting performance?

  • Performance of the third-party providers beyond your corporate network. Ensure you have insight into the behavior of the ISP, CDN, and DNS vendors you depend on. When you see a provider funneling traffic inefficiently, this can lead to lag, which kills digital experiences. By monitoring proactively and routinely benchmarking performance, you can escalate evidence of degradations to the provider before the user experience is impacted. They can affect the needed change (routing or policy decisions, etc.) on their side. 

ThousandEyes End User Monitoring (EUM) has become a critical lifeline for helping application, IT, and workplace support teams maintain solid user experiences for their employees. This is because we deliver visibility end-to-end across the full digital supply chain—including the Internet and cloud environments that traditional monitoring solutions are unable to visualize. Demand for this level of visibility has skyrocketed, and our growth has also been recognized in the Forrester Wave: “The company’s strategy is to help enterprises gain visibility in an increasingly cloudy and remote-first world. Triple digit year-over-year revenue, market-leading customer retention, and exceptional customer support suggest the strategy is working.”2

Internet Intelligence Drives Ever Greater Digital Business Success  

The growth in customers adopting ThousandEyes (EUM) was not just triggered by the shift to remote working during the pandemic (although, it massively accelerated it). It is part of a wider trend centered on Internet and cloud growth, which is grounded in many use cases, not just remote working. ThousandEyes is best viewed as an Internet and Cloud Intelligence platform within the Cisco business. We are driving greater Internet and cloud visibility within multiple Cisco initiatives: Hybrid Work, Full Stack Observability, SD-WAN, and SASE, bringing critical digital performance insights to each. Each of these is essential to customers' success in the digital age. Access to data across all these environments further enriches ThousandEyes’ own industry-leading Internet data set, continually improving the depth and detail of the insights we provide. Customers need to know and understand the complex changes within these environments to ensure excellent performance and experiences—and that’s where ThousandEyes is a digital experience game changer.

Know the Internet, Know Your Digital Dependencies, Control Your Future  

ThousandEyes industry-leading innovations, such as Internet Insights: Application Outages, Automated Session Testing, and the recently announced ThousandEyes WAN Insights, are all purpose built to empower enterprises to see, understand, and manage experiences in an Internet-centric world. Our approach is relentlessly forward looking and effective in driving excellent digital experiences for our customers.

But don’t just take our word for it, listen to what our customers have to say. At our recent Branch of One Summit, ThousandEyes customers shared their own experiences of how they mastered their hybrid work challenges and made effective distributed workforces a reality. In each case, having an end-to-end correlated view of their environments was essential to driving business success. 

ThousandEyes in the Forrester Wave for EUEM

Forrester defines EUEM as “A set of client-side capabilities that helps operations pros manage the daily technology experience of employees by collecting and analyzing telemetry data from employee devices, apps, networks, identity, and user feedback. These agent-based solutions reside on the endpoint itself and help operations identify and proactively remediate degradation in technology experience.”3

Forrester adds that enterprises use EUEM technologies to:

  • Reduce technology-related disruptions to employee productivity. 
  • Track and quantify employee technology experience. 
  • Collect qualitative feedback on tech experience.

An eagle-eyed reader might note, upon reading these points, that ThousandEyes does not focus on the qualitative feedback aspect of EUEM. This is entirely by design.

ThousandEyes' philosophy is that proactive resolution of an issue is more important than focusing on lagging indicators, such as qualitative feedback. This is very much a key tenet of Digital Experience Monitoring (DEM), which is the category that ThousandEyes most closely aligns with at a feature-driven level. DEM focuses on instrumenting the environment and the end-to-end digital delivery chain in such a way that issues can be recognized and acted on before the front-facing experience is impacted. We believe that this is the heart of DEM. 

We believe ThousandEyes’ DEM-centric approach is unique in the Forrester Wave for EUEM, as the other vendors included focus on Digital Employee Experience (DEX). What is DEX? Forrester defines DEX as “The sum of all the perceptions that employees have about working with the technology they use to complete their daily work and manage their relationship with their employer across the lifecycle of their employment.”4

Ultimately, our perspective is that DEX and DEM are effectively two sides of the same coin. They simply offer different ways to manage, measure, and improve employees' digital experiences in the workplace. DEX prioritizes qualitative feedback and device management, meanwhile ThousandEyes DEM focuses on understanding (and troubleshooting) the Internet environment and the SaaS applications being used. Case in point, as recently as last week, we saw several major collaboration apps used by remote workers experience serious performance issues. While an DEX-based approach would gather lots of feedback from users that they had experienced an issue, a DEM approach would help you pinpoint the source of the issue and work with your providers to address the root cause. In this case, the outage was nowhere near the end user. Rather, the outage was within a cloud provider’s infrastructure (caused by a power failure), which these collaboration apps happened to rely on. User sentiment would have done you little good during this outage, nor would having endpoint visibility alone, as the issue wasn’t at the user's level. That's where DEM shines. My colleague Mike Hicks’ penned an insightful piece dissecting DEX and DEM differences in some depth.

Most companies will be interested in a mix of capabilities from both DEM and DEX vendors (as well as other monitoring segments) depending on their unique priorities. We find that many of the other vendors evaluated in this Forrester Wave can often be found co-existing side by side with ThousandEyes in customers' IT stacks. This is because we offer a unique level of visibility into third-party service providers that many traditional DEX-centric vendors physically can’t, while they might provide qualitative feedback capabilities that we don’t offer. Many of our customers have shared with us that they plan to consolidate down to five or so monitoring solutions, with ThousandEyes taking center stage for their core Internet and cloud monitoring needs. This reflects the urgent challenges and opportunities that an Internet-centric world is presenting. It’s an Internet-driven world now, and we’re all living in it.

Want To Know More?  

ThousandEyes offers a more in-depth perspective on DEM and DEX in the blog: “How DEM and DEX Support Hybrid Work: Different Approaches Co-existing in the Next Generation Monitoring Stack.” If you are interested in finding out more about how ThousandEyes can help you bulletproof your customer and employees digital experiences, please contact us.


1. Forrester, ‘The Anywhere-Work Preflight Checklist’ by JP Gownder, April 22, 2022

2. The Forrester Wave™: End-User Experience Management, Q3 2022 by Andrew Hewitt

3. Forrester, Now Tech: End-User Experience Management, Q2 2022 by Andrew Hewitt

4. Forrester, Digital Employee Experience Is Not A Tool — It’s A Perception by Andrew Hewitt


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martinbaum
124 days ago
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Thank the gods I have no clue what this retyped press release refers to.
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US Puts Israeli Spyware Firm NSO Group on Trade Blacklist

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Aime Williams and Mehul Srivastava, reporting for The Financial Times:

The US has added NSO Group, the Israeli military spyware company that created software that has been traced to the phones of journalists and human rights activists, to a trade blacklist in a bid to tackle the growing surveillance threat posed by technology companies.

NSO and a smaller Tel Aviv-based company, Candiru, were among four companies added by the US commerce department on Wednesday to its so-called entity list, which would restrict exports of US technology to the companies.

I don’t know what the practical effect of this will be, but it feels justified.

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martinbaum
395 days ago
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Interesting. Among other things that come to mind, I imagine the NSA has their own kit that's better or this never would have happened.
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