NY Times Says No To Useful App Rather Than Improving Memory

from the backwards-thinking dept

I have to admit that, while I became a fan of Twitter a while back, it jumped up to a new level when I started using a client-side app called Tweetdeck. While the app has many problems (it is still beta), it allows you to make use of Twitter in a very different way — laying out a series of groups and searches in near real time, such that it turns the stream of information into a series of very useful flows. From the perspective of trying to stay up on certain types of news, it’s become the most important app on my desktop. There are many, many things I wish they would improve upon, with a big one being memory management. It sucks up memory like crazy. However, my solution was to go out and buy some more memory for my laptop. Apparently, the NY Times has gone in the other direction. Mathew Ingram points to an internal memo at the NY Times where it says that due to Tweetdeck’s memory issues, the paper is asking employees not to use it anymore — though, to their credit, it doesn’t appear to be a demand, but a request. On top of that, the NY Times suggests that other apps can do the job. That may be true, but I’ve tested a bunch of different competing apps (hoping they could get over Tweetdeck’s other shortcomings) but I’m back on Tweetdeck because those other apps have even more problems, but Ingram again explains the better solution: “I agree that Tweetdeck can be a memory hog, and can sympathize with the NYT– but the solution is buy more RAM, not exclude Tweetdeck.”

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Companies: ny times, tweetdeck

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Comments on “NY Times Says No To Useful App Rather Than Improving Memory”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Standard crappy programmer comments.

It’s not bad software, you need more CPU.

It’s not a memory hog, you need more ram.

Write more efficient code, and neither is required.

This is the same complaint made often about Microsoft. What the heck is up Mike, this is like two or three times you toss up things that are just not very bright at all.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The software is still in Beta. One can’t expect software to be perfect when it’s still in Beta. It takes time to make code more efficient, don’t be so harsh on the app. If it’s a final release and then it has huge bugs I would understand. Beta, by its very nature, is unstable.

I do agree, more ram is not the solution to software that’s not (yet) written correctly. The most you can do is report the bug (but I’m sure they know about it already) and hope they fix it in the next release.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Don't support poor quality software

Don’t encourage crappy software.

I just DL’ed the app. Is it true the app is just a Shockwave file? Of course it’s going to leak. Gawd. Get rid of it! Shockwave wasn’t made for that..!

It’s Free, but is it Open Source? If so, fork the source and let’s start over!

Grey Ferret says:

If you only have 1 computer, then buying more memory may seem like a good option. However, if you have an entire company or organization, upgrading the memory on every machine can get quite expensive, especially when you consider the amount of time the IT department will spend on installing the memory.

We have about 80 PCs where I work, and we’re not really that big (I don’t know how many NYT has). And right now, there’s no budget for me to get overtime installing extra memory in 80 machines.

Sorry, but this article is very poorly thought out.

Crash (profile) says:

I can't disagree more

Usually I agree with you but being a programmer I have to agree with the other commenters the onus is on the developer to create a well designed app that doesn’t have a memory leak.

A large IT department can’t upgrade all clients just because an app is poorly designed. The cost in manpower alone going to each computer and installing memory would be ridiculous just so employees can have a third party social app.

When the developer fixes his app then they could use the app. It’s lazy programming to say just upgrade your computer because I don’t want to fix my program just yet.


Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: I can't disagree more

Usually I agree with you but being a programmer I have to agree with the other commenters the onus is on the developer to create a well designed app that doesn’t have a memory leak.

To be clear, I agree that the programmer should fix the app — absolutely. In fact I’ve publicly complained that the memory leak on Tweetdeck is a huge pain.

But that doesn’t mean the NYT should ban it. For many reporters an app like Tweetdeck *is* an essential tool these days. Telling them they can’t use it because of a memory leak is the wrong way to go about it.

No, it’s not great that the app is poorly programmed, but that doesn’t make the app any less *useful*.

Jason says:

Re: Re: I can't disagree more

To be more clear, the NYT hasn’t banned it. They just found it to be problematic, gave a proper warning about the problem with a recommendation against it for older hardware, AND most importantly they are (or at least they claim to be) taking action to find a suitable solution that doesn’t cripple their employee’s computers.

And this is the part where Mike backpedals on his implied assertion “But that doesn’t mean the NYT should ban it,” and says, yes, and I already said as much in my post.

We know, Mike, and even so, it’s not just what you say. It’s also how you say it. I’m still totally with you in general – just trying to help keep it real on this one.

Anonymous ex-Times IT Guy says:

Re: Re: I can't disagree more

First, they haven’t banned it, simply recommended against it. They’ve warned their users that installing the app will cause problems, which is completely true.

Second, a poorly programmed app is by defition less useful. I personally find apps more useful when they don’t choke my machine into a near-unusable state.

Just sayin.’

Yakko Warner says:

Re: Re: I can't disagree more

Actually, an app that makes your computer unusable (or just more difficult to use) would make the app very much less useful.

And if it was found that this application was consuming enough extra resources that it was preventing any other work-related applications from running, resulting in lost productivity and an increased drain on IT tech support, then they most certainly should ban it.

Michael Kohne says:

Who sent this?

I bet this came out of IT, who have no budget for upgrading systems, but get all the calls when the thing chews up memory and the systems get sluggish. Sorry, this isn’t news – this is the IT department trying to deal with user needs on a limited budget and no understanding of why the users have to have this particular app.

I can’t fault the IT guys for not wanting to spend god-awful amounts of money to deal with this silly app.

Jason (profile) says:

More like a heads-up than a heads up their...

“If you do install TweetDeck, know that it will slow your workstation.”

Basically, they say it’s okay to use – just don’t expect them to upgrade your machine when it slows down, which it will.

I have to agree with others here. It sounds like Tweetdeck should be treated like a proof of concept and rewritten for better performance. I’m sure the NY Times has a hardware upgrade cycle like any other prudent IT shop. You don’t just go upgrade crazy because of one badly written app. UNLESS of course you’re ready to take out an ill-advised loan that can’t be supported by your current business model – no wait, Mike you were against that, too.

Besides, open source development moves FAST. Give it a few weeks. Someone will have a better rendition sooner than you think.

Anonymous ex-Times IT Guy says:

Pros and Cons

Pro: sounds like this app can help manage information, which sounds great for a tech-enabled news organization.

Con: it’s beta software. It costs money to support unpredictable software that is by definition not ready for release. IT staff have to spend man-hours learning what the software is and does, how to work around its issues. Have you seen the NY Times stock price?

Con: it’s *seriously flawed* beta software. With a known memory leak. It costs money to staff a help desk that reacts to help desk tickets that are *absolutely inevitable* with the use of this software. Have you seen the NY Times stock price?

Con: it’s a memory hog. So let’s say it comes out of beta but still requires 1GB or so to run. Are you seriously advocating spending 50K or so upgrading the entire newsroom to accommodate running this one app? What’s the ROI on that one? And what about the next beta app the editors insists on? Do you just keep caving regardless of the cost?

Your personal decision to upgrade your memory has nothing at all to do with the realities of managing technology in a large company.

Chris says:

Adobe Air

I’ve yet to be able to write anything more than Hello World app that didn’t leak memory in Adobe Air. IMO right now, AA just doesn’t do well for apps that need to stay open for any amount of time. But AA is stupid fast to develop in. If tweetdeck catches on enough, they should either change their choice of language or invest a few programming hours in fixing the relevant bugs in the framework. Either way, having worked in AA – its almost certainly memory leaks in the framework and not the app’s fault.

jrdixey (profile) says:


I stopped using TweetDeck for a while because it was chewing up RAM like crazy (800+mb at one point). Then I upgraded Adobe Air and it normalized down to about 150MB of RAM. It’s worth it to me to run the app — it makes Twitter useful for me, but then again I’m running on lots of RAM so it doesn’t matter as much as it might to someone else. I could see it being a superb tool for journalists. The Times is being shortsighted.

tijir (profile) says:

Other clients do the same...

I found Peoplebrowsr http://peoplebrowsr.com/ does a better job of information management and uses the browser instead of a downloaded program, though it has a steep learning curve. I use Google Chrome for peoplebrowsr so I can keep a watch on the memory usage, which is about half what tweetdeck runs. My point, I guess, is that if you won’t fix your program others will come along and try to make something even better.

Anonymous Coward says:


This reminds me of a large company I used to work for. They limited us to a small amount of disk space to store our emails on the server (unless you were an executive or or other upper management). In fact, with the disk prices at the time it was about $0.25 worth of disk space. So people were constantly having to try and pick which emails were important enough to save and which ones weren’t in order to say under the limit and avoid having their email frozen. Finally one day I got disgusted with the situation and walked down to the IT department and asked them to double my disk space and flipped them a quarter to pay for it. I don’t know what they did with the quarter, but I never get any increase in disk space.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

It maybe easy for an individual to upgrade his/her ram but when a corporation has tons of computers, its’ not necessarily that easy (and it’s expensive). First of all, some of those computers might have the maximum possible ram already. Also, some of their computers maybe using legacy ram that’s harder to find and hence would be more expensive. Not to mention different computers may need different ram which means they’ll have to find matching ram for each computer.

Jon says:


Whilst it would be great if every bit of software worked as advertised, the reality is always going to be different. I’ve managed to ‘cure’ the memory leak in Tweetdeck (and even Firefox which is notoriously memory intensive) by using a small piece of software called Minimem. You can download it here http://minimem.kerkia.net/ and try for yourselves. It’s free and seems to work fine.

JSF (profile) says:

Hardware Costs

Having worked in IT for 13+ years now I would have to agree with what the NYT has done. They requested that people not use a piece of software that is causing them major headaches. People can still use it, but they are going to have to live with the problems it causes and IT won’t support it.

As others have mentioned it is not a simple or cheap task to add RAM to hundreds or possibly even thousands of PC’s. Depending on the specific hardware and it’s age it may well not even be possible to upgrade the RAM. My main PC at home is less then 3 years old and can not take more the 2GB of RAM. So if I wanted to upgrade to 4GB I would have to get a whole new motherboard, CPU, and RAM. I wouldn’t be surprised if the NYT is in a similar situation with thier PCs.

Anonymous Coward says:

I don’t think I’ve even completely disagreed with an article on Techdirt before. The idea to upgrade your computer/ram because of a small app that’s poorly written is silly. Particularly when you are suggesting a corporate (100-1000 computer) upgrade for this free app. Hell it’d be cheaper for the NYT to hire programers and re-write the app correctly.

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