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‘NewNewWire Sucks, PulpFiction is the Bomb’ – Brent Simmons

PulpFictionI have a 96-minute MP3 from the 2004 O'Reilly Mac OS X conference in which Brent Simmons says "NetNewsWire Sucks, PulpFiction is the Bomb!" It occurs at 42:35, for those who have the MP3, and I'll spare you the full-length disclaimer and simply state the obvious: Brent is not speaking for himself, the quote is out of context, etc.

Unfortunately, at this point, it appears the bomb was a dud. Or rather, rendered a dud by the folks who purchased Freshly Squeezed Software a year ago.

Don Yacktman, whom I've written about a few times here on my blog (see here and here), bought FSS with his partner about a year ago. Shortly after the purchase, he released an update to PulpFiction - version 1.2.2 - that was mostly work Brad and I had put together. In fact, what little code he added introduced a bug. 😛

Since then, Don has done nothing with the company or the software. He went through a lot of "stuff," including health issues, but at this point, one year later, there's simply no excuse for not finding five minutes to post an update on his blog, on the FSS site, or to reply to any of the hundreds of emails I've sent to him.

I feel very strongly that Don's actions have made me look like a liar. After all, I assured customers that support would come from the new owners, that bugs were being worked on, updates and new features being coded, and so forth and so on. At this point, I feel that anyone who purchased software from FSS after I sold the company has basically been ripped off. My own image has been tarnished, and even to this day I get two to three emails per day asking what's going on because people associate my name with FSS (and because still forwards to me).

I talked to Don a few days ago when I called him after he'd (yet again) failed to return a voicemail. He re-iterated that he's working on things, has run into troubles, and is answering emails. He stated this despite the fact that I've sent him hundreds of emails - some of which merely said "reply to me so I know you're still around" - and never once received a single reply in the past six to eight months. My (former) customers don't seem to have any better luck.

I also asked Don to update his personal blog when I spoke with him, a feat he's failed to accomplish since November 19, 2005. I asked him to say "hey, I'm still alive, I've been having email and DNS troubles, but updates to PulpFiction, etc. are still in the works. I will keep you updated here." At least then I could simply refer my (former) customers to that entry. It's still not been published.

This, then, is my last ditch effort to shame Don into action.

I realize I have no right to demand anything from Don as I did sell the company to him a year ago. He's free to do with it what he wants. However, as he's made me an accomplice in his series of lies ("Updates are coming! I am responding to support emails!"), I feel personally injured in this.

To my (former) customers, I apologize for being such a poor judge of character. If you've bought software from FSS in the recent past, you may want to consider sending an email to simply asking that you get a response and, failing a response, issuing a chargeback with your credit card company. After all, you purchase a product with the intent that you get support for that product. Good luck to you.

Where I've Gone
Clearly, I've not pulled a disappearing act like Don, but that's not what I mean. I mean where have I gone with my life, what am I up to, etc.

After finishing some consulting projects, I now serve as Editor in Chief of The Sand Trap. I also consult on software and web projects, currently for some golf companies. I've been editing some books for O'Reilly and, in general, trying to enjoy my life and my family.

PulpFiction: Of course, as it pertains to this sad tale (the tale of FSS), I always said that I wrote software because I wanted to use it. The entire reason I created PulpFiction was to work the way I wanted to. And it's done that for quite awhile now. It's not as fast as I'd like, and it (still) doesn't support Atom 1.0 (which is supposedly in the "1.2.3" release that's never materialized), but outside of that, it's still an amazing feed reader.

I tried to use NetNewsWire today, but after three hours, I still hadn't managed to get it to work. Subscriptions jumped around from folder to folder. Groups were created seemingly simply because I had renamed them. I couldn't drag and drop .OPML files to the dock icon. The syncing with NewsGator (online) was difficult to manage (and I suspect, largely responsible for a few of the problems). It doesn't have labels, it doesn't allow me to delete items from feeds, etc. Basically, it feels as clunky and poor a feed reader as it did when I decided to create PulpFiction. It's in a transition period - and beta to boot - so I'll give it a pass.

I may be incredibly stupid, but I remain hopeful that PulpFiction will get a new life soon. Perhaps Don will sell it to someone who will care for it if he cannot. Perhaps whatever the hell he's been going through the past year clears up and he can actually honor the promise he made to me and, by extension, to his customers to take care of FSS.

FTPeel: I've switched to using Transmit. Since the Panic boys copied FTPeel's "Magic Mirror" - a feature request I originally made of them when Transit first came out and I was writing for MacAddict - I've not suffered much loss of functionality.

MailDrop: I've yet to find a replacement. I know there are some out there, but none work quite as smoothly as MailDrop 2.0 was going to work, nor do they come anywhere close to the feature set. I avoid REALBasic software with a passion, so that rules a few of them out.

Rock Star: Continues to work. I play it once a week or so. If there's any piece of software I can still say "buy," this is it. It's relatively bug free, inexpensive, and works really well.

Other Products: I never really used iWipe or Booklet much (never had much need). iChem was a senior project in college, so I have little use for it. They continue to work, last I heard, but iWipe's functionality is now in the OS.

The Site: As I write this, and all other domains (which are, oddly, still registered to Don's former partner Gary Longsine) do not display a site. Pings work, but the site does not come up.

I'll ask just one more time: Don Yacktman, are you out there?

11 Responses to "‘NewNewWire Sucks, PulpFiction is the Bomb’ – Brent Simmons"

  1. Check out Vienna. It's open source and has some, though not all, of the functionality I have grown accustomed to with PulpFiction. I've been using it for about a week and so far the transisition has been almost seamless. Much easier than trying to use NetNewsWire after using PulpFiction for so long and definitely worth using as a substitute until PulpFiction is updated.

  2. I'm not looking for a substitute for PulpFiction - just hoping that it gets developed soon. The only problem I have with it is that it's a tad slower than it needs to be.

  3. PulpFiction is the only RSS reader I have found for OS X that uses the "mail" or "message" paradigm for feeds, which is the way I see RSS feeds. That's why no other RSS reader will work for me.

    I, too, hope he picks up development soon. I gave up emailing him a while back, since he quit responding. Early on he was pretty quick, but then he just quit. 🙁

  4. I still swear by PulpFiction. Indeed, it's a bit slow, but I just can't appreciate any other readers' interfaces.

    I really do wish Don would get on the ball, as he's promised to do. This is getting ridiculous.

  5. I used to use PulpFiction, but these days I've just been using Safari. No, it doesn't work the way I want it to work, but it's convenient.

    PulpFiction was cool, though.

  6. I still use Pulp Fiction but I am about to switch. There are a couple of bugs that crash the app and lately the database has been getting corrupt. I've cleaned up some of the old entries but it seems to only help for a while. I've been begging for an update! I hate to switch but I feel like I'm not being left behind if new features are being released on other readers!

  7. I never used Pulp Fiction, but I have sent multiple emails regarding Mail Drop, probably the best mass mailer for small businesses, and have received no replies. It works seamlessly with Daylite. I had a great experience with FSS, but am not impressed with who ever bought the company. Oh well. Just my 2 cents.


  8. By the way, I don't blame anyone at the old FSS. I had a great experience before the sale, and sometimes, things go tits up after a sale of a company. That's the risk we take buying a product. What will happen with Macromedia's software after Adobe bought it? We will all find out very soon, but, we can't blame Macromedia if Adobe decides to go with a GoLive user interface and ditch Dreamweaver. So, again, FSS was great before, but, things change, and I never once blamed the old FSS for not getting Mail Drop out of Beta, only the new company.


  9. My PulpFiction installation is approaching a quarter of a million articles. The only complaint I've had with the application was its sluggishness. I do kind of get the feeling that PulpFiction is abandonware so I've been exploring my options. I know that PF uses sqlite so if need be, I can export the 200000+ articles I have and hopefully import them into another solution. But I like PulpFiction and don't want to change. So today I had a look at the sqlite database used by PF. I discovered that the articles table did not have a lot of indexes on it. In fact, I think only the primary key was indexed. So I started adding indexes to the columns that I figured I would most often use. Perhaps it's just my imagination (I would expect that much of the sluggishness is not database-related) but the application seems to be running much snappier. It's not ideal, but it's much more tolerable. Erik, as the original developer, do you think these indexes would have sped up PF to such a noticeable extent, or am I just seeing a placebo effect?

  10. Ha. Don Yacktman cares so little about Freshly Squeezed Software that he hasn't yet noticed that "" - the base href on the FSS site, expired on August 24 (two days ago) and now resolves to Dotster's "" site. Two...

  11. By the way, PF users may want to check the TrackBack with today's date on it… and look for the word "Iris."