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Updater Fever

I sometimes wonder what software companies—Apple, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, they’re all the same—want from their customers. I spend enough time with novice users to know how confusing using computer software can be. Especially online: It’s a scary world out there (they’re right to be scared) but these companies, which should know better, make it more so. By trying to hoodwink into using their products they are undermining users’ confidence in using computers in the first place. If they keep on doing this, expect more people to use computers less—and certainly to install less software, or experiment in any way online or off. Take what justContinue readingUpdater Fever

Playing the Software Pirates at Their Own Game

In the last post I prattled on about how Microsoft et al didn’t get it when it comes to dealing with piracy. So what should they do? I don’t know what the answer is, but I’d like to see a more creative approach. After all, these pirates have an extraordinary delivery mechanism that is much more efficient than anything else I’ve seen. Why not try an experiment whereby a user who buys counterfeit software, either knowingly or unknowingly, has six months’ grace period in which to ‘activate’ a legitimate version? This could be done online by a key download and a credit card. No bigContinue readingPlaying the Software Pirates at Their Own Game

The Tilted Software Piracy Debate

Software piracy is a tricky topic, that requires some skepticism on the part of the reporter, though the media rarely show signs of that in their coverage. Here’s another example from last week’s Microsoft press conference in Indonesia, one of the prime culprits when it comes to counterfeit software: JAKARTA (AFP) – Software piracy is costing the Indonesian economy billions of dollars each year and is stymieing the creation of a local information technology industry, a Microsoft representative said. There is some truth to these statements, but it’s not really what Microsoft is interested in. First off, is it really the Indonesian economy that’s sufferingContinue readingThe Tilted Software Piracy Debate

Catching The Surfer in a Blink

Interesting news for web site designers, bloggers and PR types: Web users judge sites in the blink of an eye.  An article in Nature (thanks, BBC) quotes a study by Gitte Lindgaard of Carleton University in Ottawa in the journal Behaviour and Information Technology, that “the brain can make flash judgements almost as fast as the eye can take in the information”: Lindgaard and her team presented volunteers with the briefest glimpses of web pages previously rated as being either easy on the eye or particularly jarring, and asked them to rate the websites on a sliding scale of visual appeal. Even though the imagesContinue readingCatching The Surfer in a Blink

The Fate Of The Home Productivity Suite

I was asked by a PR firm on behalf of Corel to give my thoughts about office productiviy suites used in the home. I don’t always do that sort of thing, but I thought why not turn it into a blog posting, thereby avoiding any danger of being perceived as aiding and abetting a company I write about (hard to imagine that my ramblings might be seen as helpful, but you never know). Here, for what they’re worth (and I don’t think they’re worth very much) are my thoughts, post-long day at the office, post-chicken tikka and a Heineken, or, cough, two: 1. What isContinue readingThe Fate Of The Home Productivity Suite

Is Thinking Small The Future Of Software?

Is there a future for small, niche software? Clay Shirky thinks so, based on his work at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP), where he found that students were ignoring the idea of writing big, scaleable, software for the world (the ‘Web School’) they were developing small, very specific programs — ‘situated software’, as Clay calls it — which is ”designed for use by a specific social group, rather than for a generic set of ‘users’.” Among the programs they wrote: one to describe and rate professors, one to coordinate group restaurant orders, another to coordinate group purchases of items where discounts could be obtained for bulk orders.Continue readingIs Thinking Small The Future Of Software?

Mail: MSGTAG Replies

Good software always seems to be controversial. That’s not to say there’s not two sides to the debate: Those who think Plaxo is a scam to get you to give up your private data aren’t exactly right, but they may not be exactly wrong, either: time will tell whether it becomes a great service or an intrusive nag. Similarly, another product I’ve taken to, MSGTAG, has its critics, who say allowing folk to check whether their emails have been opened is an unacceptable invasion of privacy, not least because most folk who receive such ‘tagged’ emails don’t know their email program has just sent aContinue readingMail: MSGTAG Replies

Mail: Strong Objections to MessageTag

Robyn Winter comments on my recent column about MessageTag: I noticed, from checking on MSGTAG’s website that you recently did an article on MSGTAG’s email tracking service. I recently received several email in which the sender utilised MSGTAG’s email tracking service. I was completely unaware that there was even any type of “read receipt” tracking until I had printed out the email and noticed the MSGTAG’s icon. This was because the icon and accompanying message was below the sender’s signature details. Apart from the fact that our company has a policy NOT to allow read receipts, personally, I strongly object to MSGTAG’S email tracking service,Continue readingMail: Strong Objections to MessageTag

News: Logitech io to get even smarter

  Fresh in from Logitech, news that the company’s AGM saw the first public preview of a hugely improved version of the software for the io pen, which I reviewed some months back.   This new version of the software, apparently, allows you to search all of the text you have previously written, not just the headers. It also allows you to change the format of documents on screen, for example by putting key sections in a different colour, or making the writing thicker. Last, this new version will include handwriting conversion software, to turn your notes into text. The new software is completely compatible with existingContinue readingNews: Logitech io to get even smarter

Column: search software

Loose Wire — Organize Me: Give us some software that really makes the information age meaningful   By Jeremy Wagstaff from the 3 April 2003 edition of the Far Eastern Economic Review, (c) 2003, Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Every time I visit a computer shop I get nostalgic for the dotcom boom. In those days people with money were throwing their cash at people with ideas, however silly, with interesting results. Sure, most of the ideas were so dumb they never saw the harsh light of day — or the harsh light of a business model — but at least some new stuff wasContinue readingColumn: search software

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