Pleco 4.0

mikelove

皇帝
Staff member
I mean there's a reason we mention 4.0 absolutely nowhere on our main website or instruction manual or App Store listing - if people ask us what we're working on or if such-and-such is coming we respond honestly, but we've never done a Kickstarter or preorders or in any other way tried to get anybody to buy our app in anticipation of that new version.
 

HW60

状元
Trying "to get anybody to buy your app" is probably not the problem of most of the users.

There is a detailed plan for the development of a new flashcard system in March 2015 in this forum, but since then "Not possible yet, already implemented for 4.0 (like so many other things...)" is the standard answer and "I'm looking forward to trying out the new ... features in Pleco 4.0". the standard optimistic view of the users.

I would recommend never talking about "5.0" after the successful launch of "4.0", unless you can say with certainty "this year" or "next year".
 

mikelove

皇帝
Staff member
Trying "to get anybody to buy your app" is probably not the problem of most of the users.
Well no, but it means the percentage of Pleco users eagerly awaiting 4.0 is actually pretty tiny, because we're not really telling anybody about it unless they ask. Most of the time, my response to a new user expressing dissatisfaction with such-and-such is to acknowledge their complaint and offer a refund rather than to promise that a better option is coming.

So while the delays have undoubtedly ticked off a number of people on this forum, I don't think the unhappiness has spread too broadly because we've been very disciplined about wider public discussions of 4.0.

I would recommend never talking about "5.0" after the successful launch of "4.0", unless you can say with certainty "this year" or "next year".
Oh yes, I'm never discussing upcoming versions again after this experience; I thought I was setting expectations low by refusing to discuss release dates, but the mere existence of an upcoming version and my occasional assertions that we were making progress led people to imagine a particular timeframe and get disappointed when we didn't meet it. (and now I understand why game developers often don't even announce a new game until it's at something approaching beta quality)

Going forward, my plan is to continue to engage thoughtfully with customer feedback, but never even breathe a word about the possibility we might actually incorporate them in a future release; if I remain disciplined, post-4.0, the only statements you'll ever see from me publicly committing to developing anything will be about time-critical things like bug fixes and compatibility with new OS updates, anything beyond that (even very big stuff like a sync service or Windows port) will remain a "maybe" until the day it actually ships.
 
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Fernando

探花
Human beings can be insatiable (me included), that's why one needs to manage their expectations. :)
I mean, I'm as eager to see Pleco on desktop as the next guy, but this is only because the app already fulfils and important role that no other app does as it is. So there's that.

But I also totally get it why people come here, read all these discussions about 4.0, Pleco for desktop etc, and then form the impression that those are all a few months away. Most people are not developers, and they also have no idea how big Mike's team is (myself included). I guess he realises that now. I'm sure 4.0 will be great, but the key to keep people happy is to promise little and deliver more than you promise, or else refrain from creating expectations and then surprise them.
 

Shun

状元
I fully agree. Getting used to something and wanting more and more also is one of the foundations of human progress. Otherwise we'd all still be living in caves with stones as tools, if even that. :)
 

mikelove

皇帝
Staff member
I'm sure 4.0 will be great, but the key to keep people happy is to promise little and deliver more than you promise, or else refrain from creating expectations and then surprise them.
In fairness I've also made some poor choices about development - I did not in fact expect that we'd still be waiting on this thing in 2022, I just wasn't in a position to state definitively that we wouldn't be.

I feel great about how the end product has come together, but as I've said here a few times, I would have been much better off grafting just enough new stuff to our existing Palm-era engine to get everybody off my back about new features and only then proceeded to retreat to a cave on a mountain to commune with the spirit of true dictionary app excellence or whatever the hell it is I've been doing since 2015.
 

Shun

状元
Many thanks for your perpetual openness; that by itself can build a lot of trust, too.

The image you evoke of worshipping the spirits in front of a cave in receiving (and sending) mode to represent product development is also very vivid and fitting, since designing an elegant application clearly requires, besides technical skill, a lot of imagination, vision and being receptive to what's in the air.

Edit: I apologize if that sounded too philosophical. Like @Fernando I am enjoying working with Pleco in its current iteration. Its main feature, the dictionaries, will remain more or less the same with Pleco 4.0, so that's something users already have full access to now.
 
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Fernando

探花
to commune with the spirit of true dictionary app excellence
I don’t know about the spirit of true dictionary app excellence, but my productivity spirits are very sensitive to interference from other bandwidths. They keep telling me never to stop visualising my goal.
 

Shun

状元
I don’t know about the spirit of true dictionary app excellence, but my productivity spirits are very sensitive to interference from other bandwidths. They keep telling me never to stop visualising my goal.
Same here. Are you referring to the so-called "Law of Attraction", whereby any goals you visualize repeatedly will be attracted by you and come your way sooner or later? (that law of the inner workings of the universe; there's plenty of material on it, and of course it's been a fad, but I think there is a definite truth to it, in how living beings interact with the spirits and other people, plants, animals etc.)

Edit: I was thinking too far, I now think you're using visualization as a tool to remain creative and targeted. I will now leave the spirits alone.
 
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Shun

状元
Feels very… Shinto?
Let’s say I‘m not sceptical of what might be behind the curtain, but rather of our ability to see it, and if we catch a glimpse, to comprehend it.
Perhaps it's Shinto. I believe that almost all humans are born with this sixth sense of feeling other living beings, places and spirits without using their eyes, they just tend to observe their sixth sense unconsciously or have lost their connection with it because of too much rational thinking.

A good way of training this sixth sense, I believe, is to ask yourself, "What I'm feeling right now, is it coming from me or from the outside?". If you feel multiple things, which part comes from my own body and from the outside? The more one does that, the more one becomes aware of the vibrations of the places one is at, people one meets, forebodings etc. It's really almost everyone that comes equipped with this ability, and it also helps in making important decisions quickly. I like how every place feels different, and every living being, too. It's a really wide register.

Let me add that I'm not trying to proselytize at all, it would just be nice if more people rediscovered these senses in today's very rational world.
 
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Fernando

探花
have lost their connection with it because of too much rational thinking.
I agree with you that the world today lacks spirituality, but I don’t think it’s because of too much rationality. I think it’s the opposite, there’s so little spirituality because there’s also very little rationality. Reason is a spiritual faculty, but very few people form their opinions and beliefs based on reason, and by that I mean pure assessment of evidence. One of man’s primal instincts is to belong to a tribe, another one is to be cognitively comfortable. So we often, without even realising it, seek to conform to a prevailing opinion, form our views in accordance with social cues, or reduce our worldview to what can fit into our mental framework and/or cognitive boundaries. It’s dreadful to be alone, horrifying to stand before an incomprehensible universe. The more we leave our primal instincts behind, the deeper we delve into the spiritual. But that’s also not without its perils. In doing so we are, in a sense, outgrowing our shell.
 

Shun

状元
Oh, I fully agree with this, as well. Can you elaborate a bit on what it could mean to outgrow one's shell? Is it that we humans with our psychological framework weren't made for questioning what guides our feelings and thinking, because as soon as we do it, we won't take the signals we get from our environment seriously anymore, leading to being unfit for life? Here, I would say that we need to consider that humans were the first species, to my knowledge, to introduce division of labor. So they once were either hunters or gatherers, and in today's world perhaps, some human beings may be doers, and others may be thinkers. The doers are happy with a limited set of initial conditions and will then proceed to full action. The thinkers are never quite happy with what they know. Both of them can produce things that can be useful to the other, in the ideal case creating a symbiotic relationship that can bring advances to the species as a whole. But of course it's a lot more complicated than that, being well-balanced along the doer-thinker scale is also a very useful thing, even when your thinking isn't being taken to the extreme.

I was a little sloppy in my use of the term "rational thinking". What I meant by it is more the purely logical thinking, which may have emerged broadly in the Age of Enlightenment in Europe and has rejected the spiritual in favor of a purely rational approach to understanding the world. So everything had to be explainable by reason, otherwise it didn't exist. So that is a rather limited perspective that doesn't make full use of our mental faculties, and I think this is how our connection with our roots and spirits has gone somewhat missing. China has retained more of it.

I like your understanding of rationality, which is of the well-grounded, independent kind and is desirable to have. Of course, rationality and sprituality can and should work closely together.

So overall, I am clearly taking an optimistic view of things here. I think it isn't really possible to get lost in a train of thought when you let yourself be guided by the spiritual aspect, which also tells you what it is you're currently thinking about.

Thanks again for this interesting discussion, it's like we are engaging in a sort of "layman's philosophy" discussion enriched with life experience and a sound rationality. :) So I think it's very valuable indeed. Taking a subjective view can take one much further than forcing oneself to stay entirely objective in this case.

Edit: Let's continue our exchange as DMs, if you wish.
 
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Fernando

探花
I think your theory of a division between thinkers and doers to be a little too optimistic. Human intelligence does seem to have evolved out of practical necessity, that is, to allow for collaboration between individuals and better adaptation to the natural environment. So materialists have that going for them. There are indeed mechanisms in our brains that produce predictable results. Think of that monkey with electrodes in his skull playing pong. The monkey plays pong to get the banana, and if he needed to collaborate with other monkeys in his pong game to get bananas he’d do so as well without putting too much thinking into it. We have similar mechanisms hardwired in our brains too but, unlike the monkey, we can stop and ask, ‘Why tf am I playing this silly game? Why pong?‘ Even if we’re absolutely starving, we’d be capable of asking ourselves why pong is the only way to get the banana. We can look at a reality, even a necessary one, and feel nauseated or amazed by the arbitrariness of it. Some of us really can’t see that though, and just play pong. Others successfully fool themselves into believing that there is inherent purpose in the game of pong, which amounts to just playing the game and getting your banana. But if you really outgrow your shell, that shell that’s your inherited, animalistic practical intelligence, you will seek purpose, will create purpose if you can’t find any. I believe that it is in the realm of purpose that the gods (or God) are, where the absurd makes sense. So to outgrow one’s shell is no excuse to be dysfunctional, if anything it obliges us to seek and spread dignity.
 
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