Friday, August 1, 2014

Ass-U-Me Nothing!

Guys, I get that it's a normal human trait to make assumptions about things and people when they are unfamiliar and you basically make a snap judgment without even realizing it might not be true.

However, this trait starts to become dangerous if you start to use that assumption to make decisions without first checking if your assumption is even remotely based in fact. This happens in the 24-hour news cycle all the time and it's REALLY damaging. Most of what you hear being made fun of on the Daily Show is the media making these assumptions and reacting to them in basically the most harmful way ever.

The example of this that caused me to write this is an iTunes Store review I just read of the new Mac version of Shazam, the music tagging app. Somebody saw a countdown timer in the app the first time they launched it (it counts down from 4 hours. The reviewer made the assumption right away that this meant that the app was free to download, but that after the 4 hours, you would have to start paying for your songs to be tagged. This is ridiculous and not at all how Shazam makes money (they do it off advertising).

In a review, this in itself is pretty unhelpful. But on the next line, the reviewer goes on to say that they cannot believe a company would start charging for service like Shazam after a certain time, but that they wouldn't mention the timer in the app description, or that you had to start paying for the service after the timer expired. Keep in mind that NOWHERE in the app description does it say that this is happening. There are actually explicit signals when you are downloading an app as to whether the app has what are referred to as "in-app purchases", and this app doesn't have any.

The timer is presumably there just so that the Shazam service automatically turns off after 4 hours unless you restart it, so that it doesn't kill your whole battery just idling there indefinitely. It's a similar system to what they use on the phone or tablet version of the app.

These ridiculous and random assumptions from the reviewer are misinformed and ridiculous, and seeing things like this happen all the time to people and especially in the news media just makes me crazy every time I see it happening. Do your research or at least ask a question before assuming something is terrible. Enough things are terrible that you will be right sometimes, but if you're over-zealous in your assumptions you'll wind up condemning something that is perfectly harmless, which can be very damaging!