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Did Anyone Try Six Degrees?

After Joel evangelized Six Degrees last year, I signed up for the beta version.

I installed it on win2k pro no problem. I fiddled with the ui, read a couple of help files. I didn't really "get it" - how does this save me time? It what way am I more organized?

I gave up after one day. Did anyone give it a more serious effort? Impressions? Opinions?

sf_fish
Saturday, August 10, 2002

Joel's column:

http://www.joelonsoftware.com/news/fog0000000350.html

A helpful soul
Saturday, August 10, 2002

Six Degrees sounds like Sleuthhound, which I've been meaning to try for a while now:

http://www.wugnet.com/csreviews/software/TheSleuthhound/

.
Saturday, August 10, 2002

So I went to the wugnet site. Well I don't really have that much files on my hard disk and I am quite happy with
the Find function of Windows so far.

Here I just want to talk about the site itself. The linked page uses applet to do the animated buttons (in the menu on the left). The guy should've used javascript. (Actually on the home page they do use javascript. )

Maybe it's just me, everytime I see "applet buttons," I am kinda annoyed and can't help ranting.

Sam Wong
Sunday, August 11, 2002

Oddly enough, if you click a button, the nested pages inside the site use HTML menu buttons!  I'm sure he just swiped that applet code just to try it, otherwise, yes, it would be a waste of time. 

These 2 apps seem interesting, but I think 90% of people can get away with simply organizing their files into appropriate subfolders.  This app sounds like a trivial 5 line glob/regex perl script that does a site search.

Bella
Sunday, August 11, 2002

I don't get it either. Perhaps you need to "train" the application. It's not very useful as it is...

Patrick Ansari
Sunday, August 11, 2002

I signed up for the beta program.  I tried using it, but in the end I couldn't make head nor tail of it.

It's now uninstalled and I'm not taking the company up on the beta tester reward program.

Patrick Carroll
Monday, August 12, 2002

I have actually found Six Degrees to be quite useful so far.

Though I agree somewhat with what Bella says - that 90% of people can get away with simply organizing their files into appropriate subfolders - I think that cutting down on time spent organizing things is one of the ways Six Degrees is supposed to save you time in the first place.

To be sure, "organization" is the operative word here.  Perhaps the perceived usefulnes of Six Degrees is inversely proportional to how anal-retentive one is about being organized.  Also, the amount of time one has available to actually digest and categorize or otherwise deal with all the files/information with which one is bombarded is an important factor in determining whether you need such a tool or not.  If you are super careful with the naming, placement, and organization of all your files and projects, and you also don't mind organizing all the important emails you get that you might want or need to look at later, then Six Degrees may seem like overkill - an extra process to deal with.

In my case, though, I am the type of person who is often not very well organized (or at least I don't *feel* confident that I am very well organized) and sometimes it seems like I have 9 bosses like Ron Livingston's character in the movie OfficeSpace, except that all my bosses are telling me different and conflicting things as opposed to repeatedly telling me that I forgot to include a cover page on my TPS report.  So for me, it is not usually enough to simply use the Windows "Find" command, because in order to do that, I would need to know, for instance, that I am looking for a file called "COGWidget.zip".  In reality, my thought process is more like: "Ok, Boss #3 wants me to put together a report that requires some data from some Cost-Of-Goods-Sold spreadsheet that Boss #5 was supposed to have sent me last week.  Darn.  I wish I'd paid attention to that file at the time I got it...Now let's see...what on Earth was it called?"

By dragging Boss #5's name into the Six Degrees focus window, I am immediately presented with a chronological thread of messages and files related to him, as well as those related to everyone else involved in the discussion.  Within seconds, I can easily see that indeed "COGWidget.zip" is the file I am after, and that had I bothered to read Boss #5's message in the first place, (which I didn't because Boss #7 was in my cubicle distracting me at the time) I would have known what this file was for and that it was zipped along with a header description file because the email server was doing something weird to multi-part attachments that day.

At this point, if I am smart, I will save this snapshot of relationships as a Six Degrees project file on my desktop so that next time I am asked about all this, it will only take one click to find the answers.

All that said, if you are not inundated with emails and requests and constantly interrupted by impatient whirlwind bosses whose immediate request is always SO important that they expect you to drop whatever you're doing at the moment and help them save the world RIGHT THEN, than not only do I envy you (and hope that your company is hiring), but you also might not find Six Degrees to be very valuable.

Indeed, if you work in an ideal environment, mostly free of distractions, where everyone has their own private office and gets to work independently yet together on well-organized, well-designed, well-spec'd projects as part of a team that scores high on The Joel Test meaning that everyone uses source control and a bug database, then you probably don't need Six Degrees.

And if the preceding paragraph describes 90% of people, then I really need to start looking for a new job!! ;-)

I guess the bottom line is that I wouldn't go so far as to say that Six Degrees is Google for the desktop, as it is probably not useful to everyone.  After all, the internet would be almost useless without a way to search for web pages, but it is entirely feasible and possible to use your PC without Six Degrees.  However, to a poor overwhelmed disorganized slob like myself, the time savings and cover-your-ass capability that Six Degrees offers is definitely worth the $99 price tag...

Tim Lara
Monday, August 12, 2002

Beta tester rewards? How did you get asked - is it a secret club?

sf_fish
Monday, August 12, 2002

"However, to a poor overwhelmed disorganized slob like myself, the time savings and cover-your-ass capability that Six Degrees offers is definitely worth the $99 price tag... "

Thank you, this is what I was after, which was:
Is Six Degrees

a) usefull IF the user is very disciplined about associating files and emails with a Six Degrees project
-or-
b) not useful if the user is an overwhelmed slob who is not discipline and is destined to fail to use any product to even its minimum potential and therefore excluded from any marketing survey demographics.

sf_fish
Monday, August 12, 2002

Beta tester reward: you had to volunteer, provide demographics, and then attend some onluine training.  Then you had to try to use the product.

As for splitting users between the "disciplined", who'll get the maximum out of the tool, and the "slobs", who'll never get anything, well, how about another category: the desperately harried looking for any tool to help them along.

I'm very disciplined, not a slob, but I got nothign from the tool.  Perhaps it was because I couldn't take the time to learn it thoroughly, but that's what got me in in the first place.  I thought the tool would simply install and then allow me instant comprehensive control over my projects, via the e-mail I keep.

When the tool failed to deliver, I simply discarded and moved on.

Patrick Carroll
Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Disclaimer: I work for the Six Degrees team.

I saw the following post and couldn't resist replying:

> After Joel evangelized Six Degrees last year, I signed up
> for the beta  version.
>
> I installed it on win2k pro no problem. I fiddled with the
> ui, read a couple of help files. I didn't really "get it" -
> how does this save me time? It what  way am I more
>organized?

We did and do run into people who "don't get it". Our fault not yours, clearly. Sorry. To try to address this we put together a flash tutorial.

  http://www.creo.com/sixdegrees/product_info/tutorial_download.asp 

As for the gestalt. It helps you recover the time you spend organizing files and email. Intead of wondering where things are you find things by what they are related to, so you are viewing files and email with more contextual information.

John Phillips
Wednesday, August 14, 2002

Thanks John. I am definitely going to give it another try (as soon as I can install another Eval).

This may sounds silly, but having the Six Degrees icon in the system tray will make a big difference for me.

sf_fish
Sunday, August 18, 2002

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