Scotts Radio :: Radio UserLand Part 1 or Its Not Just a Web Application
Last updated: 8/20/2002; 9:20:41 AM
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Scotts Radio :: Radio UserLand Part 1 or Its Not Just a Web Application

Radio Userland Part 1 or "I'm a Moron…"

Looking Out from Cliveden Castle, England

Having had my breakthrough, I'm now a happy 
Radio user and figuring it out.  Here's the proof.

Disclaimer #2:
I'm so happy with Radio that tutorial #2 is 
up.  Check out here for it.

I'm Not a Moron, Really…

For the past six years or so, I've read Dave Winer's newsletter regularly and when the whole Weblogging thing started, I was definitely intrigued.  People I know and respect, such as Russ Lipton, write weblogs regularly and I really, really wanted to start. 

But, and isn't there always a but, every time I downloaded Radio, I kept hitting problems.  The simple fact that I'm still using FrontPage to write this says more than anything else.  Radio is supposed to be easier than FrontPage.  Still, this morning, I had a break through, a flash of blinding light that was just dazzling.  Hence this essay…

Here's My Problem

There is a new thing in the Radio world called "Instant Outlining".  I don't get it yet but I've been an outline user ever since Ready (and that's 86ish) and before.  So I wanted to use this.  I bought a Radio license – best to be legal – and tried to get started.  Here are the directions from:

How to install 

1. Download and expand the install package:
Windows, Macintosh.

2. Bring the Radio application to the front.

3. Choose the Open command from the File menu in the Radio application. Open the install script, installInstantOutliner.ftds.

4. A confirmation dialog appears. Click on OK, to update Radio.root and install the Instant Outliner parts.

What I Learned

Now, this is what makes me think that I am a moron.  When you run Radio from the Program Files menu, you get a screen that looks like this:

It's a browser.  Nothing wrong with browser centric apps.  I write them myself and it is a fundamentally better way to write products.  Browsers make better interfaces period (but that's another story).  Anyway, here's what drove me nuts:

3. Choose the Open command from the File menu in the Radio application. Open the install script, installInstantOutliner.ftds.

What File menu?  I went through every hyperlink looking for a File menu.  Since you can easily make menus with dhtml, this isn't unreasonable.  Then I installed on another box thinking that it was a software glitch.  No luck.  Then I noticed the little Radio icon on the status bar:

Whenever I double clicked it, I got the Radio browser window above.  Then, I had the insight flash.  What about a right click menu.  I tried it and then I got:

Seeing the Open Radio option, I selected it and then I got:

Oh my god.  There is a File menu!  There's a whole application.  Now, in Radio's defense, This is probably mentioned somewhere.  But, anyone downloading software, particularly cheap software (Radio is $39.95), has the attention span of a rabid gnat.  More on that below.  They tend to give up immediately when they hit a problem since their investment in the process is minimal at best. 

My Recommendation

I looked at the Radio Userland menu installed into Windows and I saw the following items:

The Radio Userland shortcut takes you only to the browser page.  Why isn't there a separate Radio Application shortcut?  That would have eliminated about 30 minutes of head scratching.

Here is an excerpt from an email that I sent to the makes of Limewire,, a very, very cool Gnutella application.

From: J. Scott Johnson []
Sent: Tuesday, March 26, 2002 11:33 AM
To: ''
Cc: ''
Subject: Some thoughts on improving sales of Lime Wire Pro

Hi there,

I just downloaded LimeWire and from a basic marketing perspective, I think there are some things that you could do better to increase your user registrations. Here are my thoughts:
a.. Installation was very good. No errors. I would say you are missing a marketing opportunity here by not display some more info as you install but install is quick so might not be needed.
b.. When Yahoo Messenger is first run, it basically forces you thru 6 Wizard like screens that point out why the product is good. Given that download users have the attention span of a rabid gnat, this is very useful. It lets you put your best foot forward and gives the users at least a potential chance of remembering "oh yeah, I think it does that… Now where is it?".

Remainder… (not relevant to Radio but interesting, IMHO)

Given that I am building software for download right now, you can bet that I'll do this myself.  Its a really, really good thing for any application but particularly for downloadable apps.


I'm not a moron.  Here's my resume:  I code regularly, know how to administer NT, Exchange and Linux boxes, I've set up SendMail, know SQL, etc.  I just had a huge conceptual disconnect with Radio.  I still don't understand it very much but the light has dawned… 

Copyright (c) 2002, J. Scott Johnson. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections being, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled " Appendix 1 - Terms of Use ". Note: I'm new to writing a Free Documentation statement and the above might not be perfect. 

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