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More...

A wrong sense of entitlement

This year, some people on the Student-Dev mailing list started complaining that they didn't get the beta while students attending WWDC did. There were the usual reasons given, and I think it's finally time to clear up a few things (yup, here comes a rant...):

The beta was up as a torrent the day after it was given out, they might as well make it available right away

If someone took a naked picture of you and your girlfriend, and wrote her phone number under it and a message inviting people to join in for a threesome, and distributed that via a torrent, would you walk up to her and tell her to stop complaining and just invite some of the 20 people calling her every day over? After all, we all know having sex is fun, and can be safe, right?

This may be an extreme example, but I really don't see why it's OK when you don't want to do something that these 20 callers should just accept that, while when Apple wants to do something they have to justify themselves every step of the way. Apple is not endangering your business, it's not breaking any laws, and it's not forcing anyone to do something. They just make use of their right to decide when to ship.

And before you think I'm full of it: There are people to which such things happened. A message under a stolen sex movie, or a fake entry in the classifieds or on contact web sites... seems like some people think stuff like that was funny.

Apple is marginalizing Student Developer-status members by not giving them seeds

This has nothing to do with students. Ask any indie developer, and they'll probably tell you they'd love to be allowed to at least get a Student Membership with all the benefits. The moment I graduate, I'll no longer be eligible for any of this. I don't know where these complainers take their sense of entitlement from that they think they can bitch when they already get a shot at having a value of $2000 for free? I know many indie developers who can't make it to WWDC for similar reasons as some students quoted. It has nothing at all to do with students.

In general, I think too many people think they're entitled to too many things. I've heard people all indignant when I didn't lend them anything anymore after they'd lost or carelessly destroyed something I'd lent them. "But I apologized" they'll say. Well, it always takes two people for an apology. One to give it, one to accept it. "Sorry" is not just a switch that you can toggle and everything's fine again. It is an implicit request for forgiveness.

Every time I feel I'm entitled to something I double-check my assumptions, and try to make comparisons (like the naked picture one above). If I suddenly don't agree with my entitlement anymore, I try to just shut up.

It's not fair that Apple doesn't release WWDC to the public for free while MS does

That's an interesting idea of "fairness". Fairness doesn't just mean: "If another guy can go to Harvard, I have to be allowed to, too." That's just not how life works. Face it, people are different: Some are smarter, some have rich parents, some have dumb luck...

Does it suck if you're the one who has to work over summer while others go on vacation? Sure. But that's not Apple's fault. Take it up with your country's welfare system or find a way to work around it.

Not accepted to a particular school? Well, teaching involves translating knowledge so the students understand it. The more heterogeneous the class, the harder this gets. There are many ways of appeal, so if you really want to, you can try again. Or you can find another school that's a better fit for you. It's not always easy, and not everyone can move across the country, but usually there's an option that works, and if it's not quite as good, you can educate yourself. Borrow books, read web sites, do little jobs related to your topic of interest.

Microsoft and Apple are companies. They decide what products they'll make, they'll decide when they're finished for release to the general public, and they decide who gets to see it before that time. That MS decided for Vista (and reportedly not for releases before that!) to show everyone right away is their decision. But just as you can write a love letter to your girlfriend without having to publish it to the whole world, Apple can create an operating system and decide who to give advance copies to.

I need the beta to ship my product/to code for University

So does every independent developer or two-man software shop. Sometimes, you just have to bite the bullet and wait four months before you can ship. If you have a good plan for a product, it'll still be good in four months (It worked for Snapz Pro X, which got its first intel-native release last week). Until then you can do prototypes or backend work on Tiger, flesh out your plans. People have released software long before there were things like seeding programs.

It may be less convenient than being able to start with a seed right away, but keep in mind that a seed is essentially just a snapshot of Apple's current development state. Even if you got the seed, you might not be able to use it because something is broken in this build that prevents you from continuing. They may screw up something before the final release but after the last seed you get. Apple may decide to pull un-announced features if they find out they can't get them to work in four months. I know people who have ported their whole app to use a new API, just to have Apple pull that API before release. This can happen even with betas, and that's the main reason why pre-release software originally wasn't widely distributed.

If you're tasked to develop software for Leopard by your institution, then it's their responsibility to pay for it. They can hardly expect a student to have paid for seed access, or even for a compiler. They're usually responsible for getting you an office, a chair and a computer, and any other tools you need to achieve the task they give you. If they require you to pay for this or to organize this, then you've either signed a bad contract, or you should take it up with your student representation. Not Apple's fault.

Reader Comments: (RSS Feed)
William Moss writes:
I'm not taking sides in this debate. (Really, I understand both sides). But I do think it's worth pointing out a few oddities which may lessen lessen your point. First, the sex analogy does more to confuse and debase than enlighten the debate. Equating [reproductive activities with a girlfriend] as analogous to [Apple spreading their developer seed] is just wrong. Even developers at WWDC have no expectation that their access is exclusive (high class tart instead of girlfriend?). STDs devalues sex for future "users" when talking of humans but not of software. Sorry, see about 5 other problems with the analogy but I'm going to have to interrupt myself and say that this is too demeaning and crass for me to continue. Please understand that the analogy will create more heat than light on this subject. Second, as I understand it, the seed delay is the latest volley in a bigger debate about what the ADC is becoming. Some people see that Apple is returning to the days where they charged huge sums of money for developer documentation. Their fear is that Apple will start treating developers as a "profit center" rather than the beneficial co-partner relationship it has used for the last decade and a half or so. Microsoft (being the "standard") has turned their development platform into a profit center by stratifying access levels to certain documentation, tools, and even features in the IDE. There may be a few people angry over the Leopard seed release (it IS frustrating) but the bigger fear is if Apple chooses to price you out of the development community one day. That day isn't today, but is it coming? You may be more adamant about justifying Apple's need to delay the release of the seeds, but I would advise you to maybe tweak your argument style to head off what's probably going to be a coming flame war.
Will writes:
I posted another comment about imperfections I see in your argument (rather than the argument itself) but just in case you thought I might be trying to inject my own opinion in and undermine something in yours, I thought I'd better add my perception of the WWDC seed release debate. Personally, I've always seen WWDC as a unique issue. It costs a heck of a lot for Apple to stage, not only in fees but in lost development time of their staffers who are teaching instead of coding. There's no way they make back anywhere close to what it costs. But opening the door to every developer and fan of Apple who can afford a trip to the West Coast would both increase their expense and reduce the benefit to the attendees. There is limited space, time, and teachers, so limiting the attendees is an unfortunate but necessary step. WWDC shouldn't be an event like going to a theme park or a circus, and the money is a good way to separate those who truly need the information versus those who are just enthusiastic fans. Who really should come? Those who can pony up the price of a computer is a pretty good yardstick among professional and dedicated fans. Among students, any price will be significant when every penny counts but it's also necessary. All the elitist talk and exclusives about WWDC attendance is to justify the high cost to the beancounters who have to pay for the attendees trips. Exclusive seeds, keynote tickets, first access to new information, and so on are nice hooks that can justify things in real terms, but once you attend you will find talking, sharing, learning, and networking to be benefits that are much more valuable. (Assuming you use your time well). Those things are intangible and unquantifiable so Apple has to play these kinds of "exclusive" games for WWDC. If WWDC were only about the exclusives (in the mind of Apple and the attendees) then we should see attendance drop to nothing next year since Leopard will be out and there will be nothing to "sell" the conference. We may see a drop in attendance, but it won't be cancelled due to lack of interest. I didn't get to go to WWDC this year due to personal conflicts in time, but both the money and interest on my part were there. That's really frustrating to know what I'm missing (and it's not the Leopard seed). But my wounds will heal in October and I'll do my best to get back to WWDC next time (whether there is a seed given out or not).
Uli Kusterer replies:
<< First, the sex analogy does more to confuse and debase than enlighten the debate. Equating [reproductive activities with a girlfriend] as analogous to [Apple spreading their developer seed] is just wrong. >> Urk. Actually, I didn't even think of this analogy :-S In German, the translation for "seed" in the WWDC sense has no second sexual meaning, so it never occurred to me one could read it that way. That really wasn't my intention. Also, I don't see anything bad in charging for compilers and documentation. When I started out in programming, CodeWarrior was the only game in town, and each Inside Macintosh volume cost in the ballpark of 70 bucks. I eventually bought the two most important books (Imaging with Quickdraw and Toolbox Essentials) and later the Inside Mac CD, which was more expensive than those two, but contained all the books in DocViewer format (essentially the then-Apple-equivalent of PDF). Similarly, compilers need to be programmed, too, and these programmers need to be paid. Would I prefer it if Xcode and the docs stayed free and available for free? Sure. But I'd fully understand if Apple charged for that (though I'd hope they'd do educational rebates etc.).
Dan Gelder writes:
Fairness is a funny thing when it comes to copying things. Apple gave a DVD to thousands of people, in an age where it would have been simpler to just put it on the net in the first place! Maybe next year they can sell it to you only on Blu-Ray, and accept only two-dollar bills, and REALLY make a stand against the universe.
Uli Kusterer replies:
@Dan: You didn't see the DVD. It has some really nice holo-effects going on :-)
Dan Gelder writes:
Not as nice as that picture of my girlfriend :-)
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