If you need an opinion, I have plenty to spare.

What's Apptitude?

I wrote Apptitude to learn Svelte and at the same time figure a way to help my teammates know what competencies to learn, easily grab resources, and quickly use the knowledge to call out bad tech outcomes.

Apptitude is an attempt to start more dissatisfaction and rebel against poor product outcomes and groupthink. My hypothesis is that people need the knowledge and safety to critique, otherwise it's always safer to defer to people in high positions of power.

Red pandas, because they're cute
Red pandas, because they're cute

How do you know there's a problem?

Reading "Recoding America", everything inside resonates with my experience working on several tech projects. And honestly, I feel Govt's tech products aren't that good or flat out didn't make sense, especially for the large sums we spend (here).

Products can be slow, laggy, hard to use, super expensive.

Occam's razor applies - the simplest solution is almost always the best. Reflecting on my own journey and weaknesses, good decisions are mostly common sense, but that often doesn't get chosen in the public service. Like this meme below. Sometimes it's entrenched mindsets, but often people who make assessments don't know what the issue is and what's standard out there.

What's a bad product to you?

To me, a bad product doesn't solve a real problem. It doesn't solve a meaningful problem. It might not have a unique selling point.

It might offer a bad user experience, is hardly usable, is inaccessible to segments of the population.

It is costly relative to the value they bring, with costs that don't make sense vis-a-vis competitors/alternatives. This is made worse when we are stuck in situations when legacy, procurement, incompetent top-down reasons lock us/users into shitty products.

Red pandas, because they're cute
Red pandas, because they're cute

Good intentions, bad execution

I don't think any public servant wakes up and says "let me think of ways to waste money and make a bad product". If there is, fire that person! In my view, a lot of the time, decisions or policies made are head scratchers. Maybe because they were made by people who don't hear from the ones actually using or building these things. Or maybe they're unaware they're doing the wrong things despite best intentions, and then they get promoted.

Unfortunately there's no test for knowledge before people are put in positions of power.

What's in it for you?

I do this so that I can feel like I did some good for society. If you asked just one extra question that saves taxpayers some money or give users a better product, Apptitude would have done some good for Singaporeans.

(If this really does work out, maybe I should put some ads or make this in patreon or something. /jk)

Red pandas, because they're cute
Red pandas, because they're cute

Bad outcomes everywhere?

Seriously though, the comments below are very common in the public sector. Each of these is a major red flag for shitty products.

  • IDK what engineers are saying.
  • Let's spend allocated $$, IDC about saving it.
  • Engineers and users should just suck it up.
  • My system is good, I just need more MMF/$$ for it.
  • Stop asking and just do what my Dir said.
  • New SOR = existing + every possible rqmt.

You're too harsh!

I'm not nice (though certainly not at Linus' level). I don't know a way to say the stuff here nicely. I'd personally prefer someone to just tell me if I'm screwing things up. If you're doing good, share your wisdom with everyone else in a nicer way.

Red pandas, because they're cute
Red pandas, because they're cute

You're an idiot too, you think this is a good product?

In any case Apptitude only costs me $13.28/yr (incl GST), for the domain name. I got to learn Svelte through this, so it's not wasted effort. If you think this sucks, cool. It's cheap enough to write off without second thought. (This also helped me learn Svelte5 and Sveltekit.)

I found Apptitude very useful!

I'd love to hear from you - via this Google form .

Red pandas, because they're cute