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§ Avoiding burnout on the Internet

I've been a long time reader and occasional commenter on Raymond Chen's blog, The Old New Thing. Raymond's an old-time programmer on the Windows team and has a lot of good experience and advice to share... but as of late he's been becoming increasingly frustrated with the comments on his blog, to the point that he's actually begun pre-emptively attacking people by name. Raymond freely admits to having the social skills of a thermonuclear device, but given the buildup I've been seeing over the past couple of weeks that started with the Nitpicker's Corner, it seems to me that the fellow's getting a bit too close to blowing up. Sure, some of the comments on his blog are annoying or incendiary, but perhaps he should disable comments or take a break for a while.

One of the things I've learned about being on the Internet is that it's a really, really big place... global, in fact. That means you're really insignificant, and it's easy to be bowled over by the magnitude of it all -- especially if you attract a lot of attention, as Raymond has due to his skill and writing style. I've had to deal with this too in some ways, due to the popularity of VirtualDub. In order to avoid getting blown out myself, I've adopted some rules:

There are of course, some exceptions -- if the website's under attack, or a legal matter is brought to my attention, or I did something colossally stupid and embarrassing, then I need to prioritize that a bit higher than usual. Otherwise, though, I just do whatever and however much I want. I've found this to be fairly important. I tried doing a major rewrite of VirtualDub several years back with lofty goals like non-linear editing and a full client/server architecture, and it turned into so much work that it almost ended the project; I didn't want to work on the old code, but the new code was far too broken and complex. What saved the project was when I decided to restart from the 1.x code base, tossed out the more ambitious goals, and kept incrementally evolving the code base. Yes, there meant there are major features that people wanted that didn't get put in and still haven't, but it also meant that the changes that did go in were more in tune with what I was actually interested in myself, and thus better implemented and tested.

Of course, this means, that, yeah, there are some features and bug fixes that people want that may never get into VirtualDub. Sorry about that, but this is a personal project and in order for the project to stay alive I have to be interested in it. I do try to fix issues that arise even though they don't affect or benefit me, but that's partially because I have some pride as a programmer and don't like putting out a crappy program. I've also met some interesting people and delved into a lot of interesting problems while working on this, which is part of the reason I'm still doing this. In fact, in about a week and a half, VirtualDub's going to be ten years old -- what a scary thought.

Comments

Comments posted:


Fully understandable - I moderate a forum for 'tversity' (software that streams video to hardware playback devices)

'Burn-Out' and frustration is pretty common, I'm just a spam deleter who gives help when it's something I know about but it still drives you crazy

The sheer repetitiveness of answering the same question over and over again (dammit it's in a sticky, it's the top message..... you haven't even looked have you, just posted TELL ME messages'
Use the search - you're probably not the first to ask
Being sworn at because you don't have the answer they want
Repeated requests for the impossible and it being our fault that when it's not possible - 'I want hd video resolution on my iphone' - 'sorry your phone doesn't do it' - followed by ranting
Expecting that their demands be met right now because 'they're a loyal customer' - eh? you never paid anything, most never help other users and just because you've used it for 6 months the devs have to drop everything to accommodate your wishes? Are you serious...

After a while it just gets annoying (div by 0 and xvid ring a bell?)

With all that said, I'd love virtualdubs ff/rw buttons to keep going while 'held down' can you do it for me please as I've been a lyal customer for years, go on you know it more important than anything else you have planned
;-)

Karl - 29 02 08 - 18:43


lol @ Karl

10 years is great for a program that still acts like it should. I love that Vdub hasn't bloated with age as others seem to.

Your program, your page, your rules. Run with it. It's still working fine.

SonOfAdam - 29 02 08 - 20:21


Agree with Karl and SonOfAdam!

Just keep it the way it is. I'm reading your blog for 3 years or so, and i still enjoy it. Ok, most of the stuff is way over my head,
but i don't mind. It's always informative, without the "i-know-it-all-prick" attitude.

As for feature-request: it's sad to see how some people don't seem to be capable to even appreciate free software.

Thanks for all the work and letting us use it.

Martin

Martin - 01 03 08 - 11:46


I never cease to be impressed with how much you have given to the image processing and film making community. Thanks for all the incredible work!

Landrew - 01 03 08 - 12:52


man, no need to sweat it. Don't worry so much about the people outside. You have taken on and provided a tool that blows many commercial ones way ! I know. I work in the film and post community. Most are idiots that make the TV you see every day. They coulnd't tell you what the difference is between PAL and NTSC !! They do not know the medium they work in and yet millions buy into it !! Keep up the fantastic work.
Cheerios !

Beerbob - 01 03 08 - 16:53


HAY!

WHEN R U GONNA ADD FEATURE XYZ? BUGFIX BUGFIX!

-Random Luser

RandomLuser - 01 03 08 - 19:22


I've been regularly reading the OldNewThing myself, and have too noticed the recent deterioration in his mood (and he was indeed ill-tempered to start with). Can't quite understand why he keeps it up. Does he need a stage for all that ranting?

ofekSh - 02 03 08 - 04:46


ofekSh said:

“Can’t quite understand why he keeps it up. Does he need a stage for all that ranting?”

I suspect you have hit the nail on the head – nothing does my soul as much good as being able to vent my spleen at the odd (and usually thoroughly DESERVING) recepient :-)

Avery – it’s your part of the ‘net, you can do with it as you see fit !

Personally I just want to thank you for the MANY hours of work that you have given to VirtualDub. The end product admirably displays your programming skills: fast, simple, compact and stable. Wish I could say the same for the code that seems to ooze forth from a certain large and now well overfunded commercial operation !

I’m glad Avery you have seen fit to keep VirtualDub as a ‘universal’ Win32 application (so it still works perfectly on my NT4 systems). Hope this never changes !

Calvin.

Calvin (link) - 02 03 08 - 22:28


10 years?? When i started programming we didn't have any of these sissy icons and windows. All we had were ones and zeros. And sometimes we didn't even have ones.

...Ever try writing a program with all zeros??

(from an old Dilbert cartoon, my favorite. AND YES, that was my experience too)

roseman - 04 03 08 - 11:25


There are exactly 2 people on Raymond's blog who are notorious complainers who take every opportunity to vent about their personal issues regardless of whether the issues relate to the topic of the day. Raymond's attacked them both by name, and one of them has since gone away.

I do think Raymond freaks out too much, but I don't think naming someone in particular is over the top; probably because I find these people just as annoying as he does.

Floopi - 04 03 08 - 19:13


IMHO there are a precious few blogs/sites/etc that are GOLD in an otherwise wasteland of single-digit IQs.

Avery's VirtualDUB
Raymond's blog
xkcd
penny-arcade
Sam's (et al) SDL
Lightning UK's ImgBurn
Beyond Compare (it's not free but it is pure GOLD)
(others too, but you get the point)

I believe that all the net-scum that besmirch(?) any of these net-SHRINES will burn in hell... upsidedown... in lava-hot cow dung. :D

I think Avery must score an ELEVEN on the teflon-o-meter - nothing sticks to him. :D

BitBasher - 05 03 08 - 12:41


Hey, sure no problem, I can wait some more for longer in-memory buffer and working sound/video sync during capture, it's only been since around 90s now ;) In the meantime the whole country moved to 100% digital TV and so on, it's a tough race whether it will be VirtualDub or some really cheap hw converter to digitize first my VHS library succesfully, some Plextor ConvertX boxes etc are closing in fast. Some of are patiently waiting :)

VirtualDub is great and I have enjoyed both your writing and using the sw for some conversions, but all of the above is true and I'm really waiting/looking for a solution to get rid of VHS tapes before the VCR turns to dust. Thanks and take care,

Kefa - 09 03 08 - 01:11


Answering n00bs (who have h0000 knowledge about digital video but they just have to do this re-edit-encoding-swap-all-audio-channels-super-effects-maximum-I'm-asking-a-question-that-reads-on-the-sticky-faq-so-why-can't-you-answer-to-me-now -project) on the Virtualdub forums is not the biggest negative thing that I see around the web, it's the fact that almost everytime Avery puts out a new version, people comment on it "This function was fine in the last version, why the f did you change it to this and this - now this piece of s is useless to me." (well, not that rough comments, but the mentality is almost the same) Why can't people just say "thank you for your hard work, this program is amazing."? How many times have I read negative comments on some features from people, who never read developement section on the forum, this blog, or even the 'changes' list that's posted with the new version and they don't grasp the fact that things can be done more efficiently - If I had had the balls, I would've defied forum rules and told these people just plainly to f off. Thank the Virtualdub Maker I haven't. I can't believe Avery's patience on answering some of the most annoying and idiotic questions - calmly, thoroughly and in the style of 'thread-over'.

I have a habit of asking stupid questions on the forum and blurting out weird stuff, making me look like a complete idiot - just read the rant above - but I always try to keep the perspective and understand that Avery really does this project on his freetime and he can't answer all questions (except the lexture on pixelshaders - that I will remember and will pay back) and implement every crazy suggestion (which he actually does). :D

So Avery,
from one n00b who has been following this project from 2003,

Thanks for the coolest program on the http://www.
As a comparison, I use Premiere, After Effects, Edius and Avid among other things in my line of work, but Virtualdub is the only one I use daily - even for quick previews on what some file has eaten (hexedithexedit!). Thank you, and don't ever quit.

Loadus (link) - 10 03 08 - 23:07


Avery,
VirtualDub has been indispensable for me for video processing research. The addition of native YCbCr support is quite welcome too. The only thing missing is raw YUV file (and file sequence) import (UYVY or YV12 without AVI wrappers).

pshufb - 11 03 08 - 14:23


As a longtime home-video & PC hobbyist, I have relied on VirtualDub for years. Frankly, it has always been one of the most dependable pieces of software I've encountered, free or otherwise. I don't know where I'd be without it. So... here's to Avery and 10 years of VirtualDub excellence! Thank you!!! *cheers*

mattyo - 13 03 08 - 20:55


I think the key is to remember that for every moron who makes an unreasonable request in an inappropriate manner, there is someone else quietly working away with it who truly appreciates it. It's a shame that it's the former that get noticed.

I realized recently that there are a number of tasks I do all the time in VirtualDub that I'm not sure how I would accomplish otherwise. Surely there are other tools for easy processing with precise control over codecs and conversions, but I can't think of them off the top of my head.

Thanks so much for staying in the game for so long.

Warren O - 24 05 08 - 17:51

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