04 June 2013

War of the Worlds: Evernote vs. Earthlings

The role of invading aliens will be played by Evernote

In September 2012, T. J. Luoma, a writer for TUAW (a/k/a The Unofficial Apple Weblog) posted a pungent, well-reasoned article about Evernote's absorption of the highly esteemed Mac application,  Skitch.  You can read Skitch 2.0 is like Skitch 1.0 without all those pesky "features" for yourself.  Go ahead, you'll be glad you did.  The story of Skitch's dismantling demonstrates all too vividly what happens when the vision of creators, users, and opportunistic buyers clash.  "Creative disruption" can be a good thing.  Mutilation, not so much.

Today, I re-encountered Luoma's article.  It still resonates.  This time, I'm pausing long enough to respond and add a history update -- what broadcaster Paul Harvey called "the rest of the story".

Like thousands of other loyal Skitch users, I fought the good fight.  We who decried Evernote's gutting of the adept, feature-packed screenshot-and-image editor spoke up.  I tweeted, LinkedIn arms with Skitch devotees to sing Khumbaya and We Shall Overcome, signed petitions, wrote calm and rational emails to the Skitch founders and to Evernote, posted pointed comments at every tech blog and 'zine site which mentioned the remarkable application expressly designed for the Mac platform.  Relentlessly, Evernote's blitzkrieg rolled onward.

It is seven months now since Evernote's frontal lobotomy of Skitch.  Keith Lang, one of the original founder-designers of Skitch, made a brief flutter about how he heard our pain.  He conjectured a "Future Skitch-for-Mac Roadmap" based on the features "our oldest and most loyal users" had been vigourously vocal about losing.  Among those features, he remarked of FTP/sFTP, "coming soon."  Ditto for some "skinny lite" modified version of image hosting.  Did either arrive as promised?

I can't say.  While Evernote CEO Libin dithered around about how cool it was Evernote users could now draw arrows on their photos, I found and downloaded (again) the original, classic version.  As soon as word made the social media rounds that users could eschew the dreaded, stripped-down v. 2 Skitch which Evernote had just released, they eagerly turned back the clock, too.

Around October 2012, I was notified Evernote also planned to suck Skitch.com's website dry of users' carefully cultivated, deep-linked images and galleries.  I followed their ever-so-helpful instructions for rescuing my images via zip files:  a 3-year portfolio of work I'd designed, created, and slaved over.  I'm proud of this work; it's the best I've done.  I researched alternative image gallery hosts and found two flexible, non-destructive sites to house and share the images.

Not thrilled, mind you, about this wholesale disruption of my work and creativity, but I'd done all I could do.  Made the best of a rotten situation.  Lemons into lemonade.

Today, we've got lemons.  Again.
Surely there's a way to beat these aliens!

Remember the two zip files of Skitch.com-housed images I painstakingly culled, aggregated, and d/l'd per Ever-itch's meticulous instructions?  Duds.  Zombies.  Empty husks.  Doesn't matter what extractor, unarchiver, or unzipper tool I use or how much I squint and puff, the once-fulsome files are "unable to expand" and "no such file in directory".  "Get Info" tells me each zip file holds hefty-8 MB of images.

Retraced my steps, hoping to find some instruction I'd overlooked. Nada, nyet, cero, zero, ZIP.  I'll continue researching the issue; I'm stubbornly determined to unlock the faulty vault stuffed with my intellectual and creative property.  But, until I can picklock a way in, my design portfolio is as good as gone.  Swallowed -- devoured -- by the webvoid.  Vaporized by aliens.  It sits on my desktop taunting, "We're here, see?  But you can't get to us!"

Meanwhile, back at the E Bar S ranch, are people using nEvernote's Skitch?  Of course they are, silly.  They don't know any better.

It's the Ignorance-Is-Bliss principle.  For example, I have certain friends I never ask for dining advice.  They've never dined well, bless 'em, nor are they adventurous eaters -- they wouldn't know tikka masala from tapas.  Someone who never enjoyed a sumptious, savoury meal and flawless service in beautful, tranquil surroundings will tell you the local greasy spoon is a fine restaurant.  The Ignorance-Is-Bliss principle applies to any product or service.  People who use Evernote's eviscerated Skitch have no basis of comparison.

One of the best points Luoma makes in his article bears repeating, "See, when Evernote said 'Sharing in Skitch will go through the Evernote Service' it might have sounded like they were just saying that they are closing down Skitch.com, but what they apparently meant was 'Sharing will go through Evernote because all of your other options are being taken away.'"

Damn straight.
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Let's end this tale of app woes on an up-note, shall we?  Here's The War of the Worlds, by Angry Alien Productions, in 30 seconds and re-enacted by bunnies.  Two thumbs up.

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