Solipsism Gradient

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Buzz Andersen, the author of PodWorks, weighs in on the shareware debate with a great suggestion:

I have personally thought about the problems with the “shareware” designation for awhile now, and I’ve come to one conclusion: that the term I prefer is independent software.

…Shareware may be dead, but who cares: indieware is alive and kicking!

I think it’s an excellent idea. So, “indieware” it is. This can also be considered an abbreviation of “individual software”, which is very fitting. Now, every former shareware author should write in to VersionTracker ( and similar websites to have them change their labeling…

The end of shareware?

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Slava Karpenko of Unsanity proclaimed that Shareware Is Dead:

So I think it is time to rethink our vision of this world and get rid of the Shareware and Commercial distinction. Shareware existed a few years ago, and now has merged with other types of software distribution. I think we all have to realize that we sell and buy software, and not “shareware”, “nagware”, “commercial” and so on.

Erik J. Barzesky says it died long ago:

…shareware died when the Internet became popular…

Nowadays, being tagged with the flag “shareware” can be a death warrant to a lot of people or small companies. “Shareware” means “please steal me.” “Shareware” is too vague…

So yeah, “shareware” is dead. The term may live on, unfortunately, but “shareware” itself no longer exists. It all died right around 1994, as best I can peg it.

I must say that I hesitated between calling my product “shareware” or “low-priced commercial software”. In the end I went with the “shareware” tag, so as to not give the wrongful impressions of a larger company with a help desk and huge support resources, as seems to be expected nowadays… I’d rather be known as a one-man operation that gives excellent support under those circumstances. And of course, more informed people know that the definition of “shareware” today is very different from that of a decade ago;while less informed users may refrain from trying out software labeled as “commercial”.

…still, in a year or so I may change my labeling. Let’s see how the market evolves.

Posted by Michael Tsai’s Weblog:
Michael Tsai’s Weblog linked to this post

Is Shareware Dead?

Slava Karpenko Erik Barzeski Rainer Brockerhoff Daniel Sandler Steven Frank At present, I call my software shareware. By that I mean that it’s free to try and isn’t crippled, although it will nag you. Users get support directly from me, and I’m responsive to their suggestions. I encourage people to share the software (but not their serial numbers) with their friends, and it’s available on various compilation CDs and at Info-Mac. But I guess I agree that the term “shareware” has become meaningless because everyone has a different idea of what it means. We stopped saying in ATPM reviews whether a piece of software claimed to be shareware. It wasn’t a distinction worth making. After all, BBEdit now has a shareware-style trial, and it’s backed by a responsive company, but it isn’t shareware, is it? Instead, we list the price and briefly state whether you can try before buying and how the trial is limited (if at all). I should probably start doing this for my software. The question that remains is what to select in VersionTracker’s the License popup.

Rainer Brockerhoff wrote:

…just after being chided by my editor for not turning in a couple of articles that are somewhat overdue…

My ADSL connection went down this morning and I held off withdrawal symptoms just enough to write the first of the articles: a review of “The Wireless Networking Starter Kit: The practical guide to Wi-Fi Networks for Windows and Macintosh”, by Adam Engst and Glenn Fleishman. I’ll post an English translation here sometime today.

Also, my RSS feed subscription list today reached the 150-sites mark. (The file is in the .opml format exported and imported by NetNewsWire.) From my empirical observations, 150 subscriptions is the critical mass; NNW needs about 5 minutes to update all those subscriptions, and you need the remaining 55 minutes to read everything. Assuming NNW is set to scan hourly, the cycle immediately begins anew and any orbiting consciousness will never be able to leave the informational black hole. Time is relativistically compressed in such a way that you sit down at the computer in after breakfast, say “just a few minutes, honey, I swear”, and boom – time to go to bed again!

That reminds me: I still have to write a review of NetNewsWire…

CRN (among several others) has news on the coming acquisition of “significant assets” of Connectix by Microsoft. Connectix main claim to fame in the Mac world is its Virtual PC emulation software. They’ve branched out to produce other emulators recently, so much so that the CRN article talks mostly about their Windows products.

The general gut-level reaction in the blogosphere seems to be distrust. The SlashDot crowd seems to think that they’ll cripple the products to restrict them to boot only Microsoft OSes. Dori Smith at Backup Brain can’t see Microsoft supporting Virtual PC in the long term. Michael Tsai and both think that they bought Virtual PC to kill it (just like in the Bungie case).

On the other hand, Glenn Fleishman writes:

‘ll be curious to get Apple’s reaction, but this is certainly a strong indication of Microsoft’s continued commitment to development on the Mac platform – or possibly an escape plan. If they tweak Virtual PC to work fast enough, they could just develop Office for Windows and bundle Virtual PC with it as the Mac version…

Paul Bissex at Forwarding Address: OS X also sees this as an attempt by Microsoft to increase their revenues on the Mac side.

On the gripping hand, Bill Bumgarner takes a different tack:

It is interesting to note that Microsoft has now positioned themselves to move forward in a similar fashion as has Apple with its transition from OS 9 and prior [Classic] to Mac OS X.

That is, Microsoft does not have to worry as much about backwards compatibility because they now have the basis for an excellent black box within which “legacy” applications can run in a more traditional environment.

In other words, Virtual PC (both for Mac and for Windows) would be Microsoft’s “Classic” compatibility box, and an opportunity for them to continue selling present and past OSes both for Macs and for new Intel platforms, into the indefinite future. They can even do what Apple did, and abandon binary compatibility completely. This may even be Microsoft’s tactic for easy transition into 64-bit architectures and the new DRM (mis)features…

I personally think this might be the most favorable scenario. I’ve met Dan Crevier (the current head of Microsoft’s Business Unit) before he went to Microsoft, and he’s both competent and a great Mac fan. If he hasn’t thought of this before, he’ll certainly give it due consideration now.

Also, Virtual PC’s current performance on any but the fastest Macs – somewhere between glacial and just barely adequate for some restricted tasks – will certainly be much improved after some tweaking by people with access to the Windows source code. After all, this is an opportunity to sell Windows to a group of users otherwise lost to Microsoft; if they made it a little faster, halved prices, and bundled some of the applications that switchers regret leaving behind, sales of Virtual PC would easily double or triple – at little extra cost to Redmond.

Grupo de interessados abriu um site para pedir um “recall” generalizado de iMacs G3 e displays da Apple, que aparentemente queimam a placa analógica com facilidade. Quem estiver afetado por este problema, deve ir lá ver como proceder.

Disclaimer pessoal: na minha família há dois iMacs G3, com 3 e 2 anos de uso, funcionando sem problemas…

Joel on Software writes about the options for talking about future products:

When Apple releases a new product, they tend to surprise the heck out of people, even the devoted Apple-watchers who have spent the last few months riffling through garbage dumpsters at One Infinite Loop.

Microsoft, on the other hand, can’t stop talking about products that are mere glimmers in someone’s eye. Testers outside the company were using .NET for years before it finally shipped.

So, which is right? Should you talk endlessly about your products under development, in hopes of building buzz, or should you hold off until you’ve got something ready to go?

…I have a policy lifted from Marlon Brando, playing a mob boss in The Freshman: “Every word I say, by definition, is a promise.” The best way to avoid breaking promises is not to make any, and that’s as good a reason as I need not to talk about future versions of our products.

I find myself mostly agreeing with Joel here. While I see no harm in collecting user suggestions, and saying “this (or that) is on my list for the next product release” at reasonable places, it’s rarely good policy to preannounce major stuff. Unless (or perhaps even if) you’re Microsoft.

That said, how does this apply to XRay? While I have a quite reasonable list of features “for the next release”, some of the things on that list – like batch processing – entail a complete revision of fundamental components, such as the plug-in interfaces. I’m confident that it can be done, and it will be done in version 1.1, but I still may release another 1.0.x version before 1.1 comes out.

For several reasons, new XRay versions have been delayed. While I still spend about an hour a day with user support, time to do concentrated work on the next version hasn’t been available… until now. This weekend I’ll be restarting full-time work on XRay.

Sorry, can’t say yet when the next version will come out, or what number it’ll be… icon_wink.gif


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I’ve downloaded Safari, Apple’s new web browser for Mac OS X, just after yesterday’s MacWorld keynote. Despite breaking Apple’s previous record for downloads – meaning that their servers were under an unprecedented load – it came in at full speed on my 256K ADSL connection.

Anyway, I’ve been using it quite a lot and once they fix a few bugs it should be solid enough to displace Internet Explorer for most purposes.

If you’re using Safari, you may be interested in David Hyatt’s weblog. David worked on Chimera and is now one of the principal Safari developers.

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