back to article The art of software murder

Only the guilty need be afraid Did you ever try Paint Shop Pro? It is the most splendid of programs, a faithful collie dog of a program. Whistle for it and it bounces up off your hard disk, and licks your face, and gambols around all eager and excited and ready to play. Design industry pros may swear by Photoshop, but that …

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  1. Les
    Gates Horns

    All so true...

    I used to love PSP. Used to recommend it. Bought numerous copies at work for people who needed image editing. Great software at a good price. Now it has delusions of being Photoshop, takes longer than Adobe Reader to load and has too much stuff in it. Meanwhile, Adobe got sneaky, turned Photoshop Elements into something useful and cheap, and that's what I now recommend for people who don't really need actual Photoshop.

    Oh, and .docx files? You'd bee surprised. I see several helldesk requests most weeks from people unable to open a file someone has sent them. We'll be giving everyone the converter...

  2. Andraž Levstik

    Brilliant

    This article just made my day... It lists so many things that are broken in the wordl today...

    But it's not only limited to the windows world sadly... Even free software projects

    did this and now some are getting back on track...

    Keep up the great work...

  3. Stuart Halliday
    Alien

    We all remember Coral Xara don't we?

    The ultimate software murder must be the purchase of the distribution rights of a marvellous British made vector drawing package called Xara back in the 1990s.

    It was 100x faster at drawing than Coral Draw, ran in piddling small amounts of RAM and was incredibly cheap.

    Coral immediately bought the rights to it and it became CoralXara.

    They stuck it in remote web site before anyone was using the web and effectively removed it from the shops.

    Amazing that you can actually kidnap software isn't it?

    Happily Xara managed to escape after several years out of Coral's dark cellar (no leopards) and is now whoring itself to any one.

    Do a google on it.

  4. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    PaintShopPro - version 5

    The only shareware program I was ever impressed enough to fork out the cash for. But they broke it after five - version six took twice as long to load an image. The only really annoying issue I had was its demented insistence on saving everything in its proprietary format, when it had a perfectly good .jpg there, and not defaulting to the previous saved type.

    Though I have to confess - I have an email from the makers responding to a request of mine in V5 days in which they sadly denied any intention to include a scripting langauge... it can be a pain when you have a hundred pages of scans, all of which need turning on their sides and saving as jpgs.

  5. Rich Silver badge

    Spot on!

    Totally agree with you. Some more examples:

    - Visio after it got bought-up and absorbed into MS Office

    - MS Office - I think the best version was the '97 (or was it '98?) version. Anything after that is just a huge blob of code that doesn't actually do anything that '97 did

    - I fear PHP is going the same way as Perl - getting bigger by the week and will finally get to the point where it's just too big and slow to run

    - Gnome desktop - Started off as an ok idea. Turned into bloated yuk long ago!

    - What about Sidekick? For those that don't know/remember, this started as a teeny and fast little DOS app that allowed quick access to some neat things. Eventually turned into a huge blob of useless crap.

    - MS Windows - Started off as an inefficient blob ('95). Turned into a HUGE virus-ridden blob that manages to eat up so much processor time and memory that it runs slower on today's multi-GHz multi-GB machines than '95 did on a 100MHz Pentium! And the worse bit is, it doesn't actually DO any more than the '95 version!

    Rich.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    FoxIt

    Thanks for that tip off - it's lightening quick! Adobe Reader will be gone forever - just as soon as I restart.

    (Just breathtakingly awful that a restart is required after uninstalling a simple PDF reader. I think that's a perfect illustration of everything that's wrong with Adobe.)

  7. A J Stiles
    Linux

    All this goes to remind me

    All this just goes to remind me again why I'm one of those evil, penguin-shagging communists.

    If an Open Source project dares to jump the shark, it will end up well and truly forked.

  8. Henny
    Unhappy

    I think it's the Big Company factor....

    ...it's not just PSP and Acrobat that've been killed by Adobe either. Anyone seen the monstrosity that is "Audition 2"?!? Take a perfectly good piece of software (Cool Edit) and add in lots of things that utterly break it and stop it being of any use to the main users of it...

  9. K
    Flame

    Adobe Reader

    I'm surprised you didn't castigate Adobe on the "FedEx" button in the new 'reader. Capitalism + bloatware

    Indeed you should talk to the US government about how easy it is to unmask supposedly 'read-only' pdf redactions. Deredact, deract, de-dact? what's a good verb for this?

    However, you shouldn't be too hard on MS for .docx files. How many of us have gotten an email with a .odt attachment, hmm?

  10. Shakje

    Re: Stuart Halliday

    I looked in google for it, and it produced the expected result:

    "Did you mean: corelxara "

    Also, isn't the death of COM a good thing? Especially since it was replaced by the GAC and .NET? As far as C++ goes, it's taken on a completely new role. Since it's the only language that runs native and CLR code, it's perfect for migrating projects to .NET slowly. Also, as a systems language it's not dead either, with C++0x coming out at some point in the future, introducing native garbage collection, etc.

  11. Tom Hawkins

    Applying a style to a paragraph...

    in each version of Word from 6 onwards costs me (an experienced Word user) a few minutes of muttering and clicking. Since 2003, add 'and swearing, and possibly throwing my squashy stress ball at the screen'. So no change there, then?

    5.1a for the Mac still rules :-)

  12. Chika
    Happy

    My memory isn't that bad!

    Yes, Stuart. I remember Xara very well, just as I remember where they came from (I still use Impression Style on RISC OS, and I know more than one person that swears by Artworks). A pity they can't relive those heady days prior to their sell-out!

    But then I've just read this after reading that article about XP SP3 and the comments about it and Vista and, suddenly, it all makes sense! Muckysoft are just doing to the NT system what Verity is suggesting others do to their applications.

    Hmm... wonder what I did with that copy of Wfw3.11 I had?

  13. Steve Sutton
    Unhappy

    Oh so true - give me PSP7 back

    I'd been using PSP 7 for years, and whey my boss finally upgraded me to a PC from a Mac, I needed some image manipulation software. I said, I'll have a copy of PSP, please, thinking I would get something like PSP 7, with perhaps a few improvements. But no, what did I get? PSP 10, and I regretted it immediately.

    Why oh why do people have to take software which is close to perfect, and bastardise it into something horrible?

  14. Hayden Clark Silver badge
    Gates Horns

    Everybody this xmas will have Word 2007

    It comes as a pre-install on all new PCs.

    But its a 3-month evaluation. So the owner will be forced to cough up for it as little Johnny has done all his homework assignments in it.

    Seen it.

    Sigh.

  15. Chris Cheale

    What like...

    ---------------------

    It often happens that a small software house with a successful product is bought out by a much larger company

    ---------------------

    What like JASC (your beloved Paintshop Pro) being bought by Corel? Although PSP still doesn't have native support for CMYK meaning Adobe PS has to remain the professional choice.

    Macromedia bought out by Adobe? *waves goodbye the the lovely Macromedia EULA that allowed you to install on work and home PCs*

    Syntrillium bought out by Adobe? CoolEdit was the greatest audio editor on Win PCs; what remains of that is now buried somewhere in Premier apparently.

    Oh, and every single half decent minor games publisher being bought out by EA and becoming tedious cloning machines.

    And that's just off the top of my head, the words merger or aqcuisition generally mean "prepare to kiss goodbye to much that was great" in whatever it has that's been bought.

  16. Alistair
    Happy

    haha.. genius!

    "There is that groan of realisation that can be regularly heard everywhere on the internet, when an accidental click on a PDF in a search results page means that the user is now confined at Adobe’s pleasure for the next minute or so, until Acrobat chooses to give back control of the web browser." so true, so true....

  17. Pete Wood
    Paris Hilton

    Adobe not wholly evil...

    Adobe aren't wholly evil. Last year they bought a good program used by photographers - Pixmantec RawShooter - and have so far turned it into a significantly better one - Adobe Lightroom. It ain't broke (yet!). Still, they're only on v1.x, I guess that there's time yet...

  18. TeeCee Gold badge

    Good Reason.

    You make a Good Product. People buy it. You make a lot of money. Eventually all the people who need this product and aren't addicted to a competitor's POS will have a copy.

    How do you continue to make money? You have to sell Version 2 to your existing client base. Why will they buy Version 2, though? Because of all the new features you've added since Version 1.

    Now move on a few years. The wish list is empty. The bug list is fixed (apart from a couple of things too complex to address and yet so trivial that only Matt from Fartbutt, Indiana gives a shit and he's 45 and lives with his Mum). What do you do? How will you afford your next yacht. Yes folks, it's Strategy boutique and Focus Group time...........

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Heart

    I really do miss PSP <sigh>

    It was the best picture editor out there - and the bloody easiest to learn and use - and FAST!

    I've had Photoshop since 2002, but it isn't a shade on the old PSP's useability - barriers to entry are way too high!

    I still find it difficult to find many of the functions that I used to take for granted on the old PSP.

    I used to create all sorts of graphics and images and it used to take minutes; not hours - not to mention the fact that it used to take seconds to start up.

    I could go on...

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Paint.NET is the new way to go...

    It has all the quick loading charm that PSP used to have.

    And it isn't the coders that make this crap so complex, I can't tell you all the times I've told my clients not to add some stupid bloody feature because it wasn't worth the complexity. But every user begs for his own little additions, and managers feel that they need to keep releasing new versions. I guarantee at some point someone emailed JASC and asked for Python scripting, and being as sensible as they were, they refrained from adding it until they finished every other more important task.

    Ironically its the same bloat that gets added in order to "compete" that drives everyone to the next smaller startup program (Paint.NET). It turns out faster and more intuitive are actually more important features than having python scripting.

    For some reason this whole insane industry honestly believes that there is a "cool new version" to be made of the text editor. Why in the fuck should I be expected to pay $400 every couple of years to buy a new version of Office that does the exact same bloody thing that the last version did?

    VB6'ers, go get stuffed, if you want to live in the past, go learn Fortran. VB9 kicks ass and has nearly identical syntax, and conversion tools to upgrade your sorry ass VB6 programs.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Foxit rocks

    Thanks for the tip regarding FoxIt. Its fast and simple, just like Acrobat Reader was before it was "improved"

  22. Peter Kay

    Only PSP7? The rot set in before then

    PSP used to be cheap, easy to use and quite powerful. A few releases later it was tricky to use and overpriced for what most people used it for. At least there are cheap, half decent paint products out now.

    As to MSVC++, all the C++ compilers can produce unmanaged code, even in the free Express editions - although you'll have to run the Windows 2003 SDK to find the 64 bit compiler. Alternatively, 150 quid or so will buy the optimising Intel compiler that's somewhat faster.

    MSVC6 was a well integrated, reliable product, but its complete lack of support for the STL limits its usefulness. Also, the debugging support in later versions is considerably improved.

  23. A J Stiles
    Linux

    Scripting image manipulation stuff

    Actually, it's hardly surprising that scripting is being built into graphics editors ..... it's yet another example of Caged software playing catch-up to Free software.

    Under Linux, we already have the Open Source ImageMagick suite of command-line tools for manipulating images in various formats. Which makes it possible to do stuff like

    $ for i in *.jpg; do shrunk="`basename $i .jpg`.mini.jpg"; [ ! -e $shrunk ] && convert -resize 200x200 $i $shrunk && echo "Shrunk $i to $shrunk"; done

    to generate a bunch of thumbnails from digital photos; or

    $ for i in *.bmp; do jpeg="`basename $i .bmp`.jpg"; [ ! -e $jpeg ] && convert -rotate 90 $i $jpeg && echo "Rotated $i and changed to jpeg as $jpeg"; done

    to rotate a bunch of scans (almost invariably .bmp files if you were using a cheap scanner under Windows) and convert them to jpeg.

    Oh, and we get a C / C++ compiler included with the base system.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Four

    "I used to love PSP. Used to recommend it."

    I still run version 4.12, dated 1996, as my main image librarian / editor. It has a built-in browser that's faster and less annoying than XP's thumbnail view, and it's lightning fast for the simple stuff (rotating, resizing, cropping etc). It loads in a split second and it doesn't have a splash screen, or any of that nonsense with colour profiles.

    The other legacy application I still run is CoolEdit 1.52, of a slightly older vintage. It was bought by Adobe and became Adobe Audition, but CoolEdit is - like Paint Shop Pro - still fast for the simple stuff. I want to record audio, normalise it, crop it, and fade the ends. It has some excellently well-written help files. And a "brainwave simulator". Audacity can probably do exactly the same stuff, but I am used to CoolEdit's interface.

    I used to think that Cubase and Pro24 were complicated, back in the Atari ST days, but judging by recent screenshots it seems to have turned into the control panel of a late-1970s airliner.

  25. Peter Kay

    C/C++ compiler 'included with the base system'

    Well, no, it isn't actually. You get it included on most but not all Linux distributions. If it's not a dev system, and if the OS has a decent package management system, bundling a compiler is daft for the average non coding user.

    It's equally possible to download the Microsoft SDK/DDK with compiler for free, or gcc in cygwin, MingW, a non cygwin gcc, or all the Unix apps (including GCC) in the Subsystem For Unix in Vista.

  26. John
    Linux

    Ahhh memories..

    Penguin power ftw!

    Linuxland is where most apps do what they need to do, and don't try to do the bloat thing :]

    << Not a fanboy, just tried it a couple of years ago after windows was due a reinstall and damn me if it didn't actually stay on this time, and yes one of its main attractions is its plentiful small apps/scripts that do one simple job very very well.

    But well, Linux isn't for everyone, and linux isn't the cure all for every ailment, its just great at what it does and if it does what it does at what you want, winner!

    Like Guiness, its something everyone should try at least once, you may get a taste for it.

  27. bob

    Here's your paragraph.

    Development:

    Present on more than 25 million sites, according to Netcraft, PHP is one of the most popular scripting languages on the internet. Borland is the first large traditional company to invest in this language with Delphi for PHP, champion among development tools. The sofware brings with it many of the interface conventions from Delphi and make application creation more like what you have on the desktop.

    Enjoy,

    J

  28. TomDM

    PDF-XCHANGE VIEWER

    Also a speedy pdf alternative. Maybe the add-ons like in firefox is the way to go.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    Delphi for PHP award

    Completing bob's comment about Delphi for PHP award, this magazine is known within experts to write only good reviews of its biggest advertisers products. I don´t know about Borland, but Microsoft is one of then. Windows Vista was on the first page on the last 4 or 5 months. Microsoft won other categories, for example virtualization, with Virtual PC (followed by VMWare and XEN).

  30. Ed Hume

    So right

    I have used Paint Shop Pro since version 1.0. I have owned versions 3, 5, 7, 9 and 11. the only one I use is PSP 7. It loads quickly and does exactly what I want, with readily accessible commands. PSP 9 and 11 are boggy.

    It is sad to see a good dog die.

  31. Ed Hume

    w00t

    Thanks for Foxit. It has what Adobe gave up: speed.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Acrobat, Autoroute, Norton (Ghost+NIS), "Office Ready"

    I still use Acrobat 5, I may look at Foxit. Occasionally Acrobat 5 is apparently required to say "this document may contain features newer than your reader can support" but so far I have never found a single document that wasn't usable.

    Microsoft bought UK outfit Nextbase for their Autoroute package. Within a couple of versions, they'd completely broken it. Autoroute 97 was so bad that one of the mainstream UK PC rags was seriously suggesting it be taken off the market (has any serious rag been so brave yet with Vista, which seems to have similar issues?). The "97" also illustrates that software rot is not a recent phenomenon. Fortunately the bottom's fallen out of the Autoroute market in the last year or two; who wants to pay for Autoroute when for a little more money you can buy a complete satnav.

    Marginally more recently than Autorute 97, maybe five or so years ago, Symantec managed to seriously break both Norton Internet Security *and* Norton Ghost. No more Symantec here or on any PCs I support, which is kind of hard because Symantec are one of the leaders in factory-installed consumer/SME blackmailware aka trial versions which can't readily be uninstalled by punters AND cost punters money once the trial is over.

    Which leads us neatly to MS "Office Ready", the current rash of PCs factory installed with a two month "free" trial of MS Office 2007, which has to be done because there's no other motivation whatsoever for either Joe Public or the sensible helpful IT (s h IT, geddit?) Department to look at Office 2007 rather than any previous Office (or even, heaven forbid, OpenOffice). Then after two months pay another £100 or more to the PC supplier to "activate" Office (what, no edu discount any more?). Way to go, Billco, you finally caught on to the Symantec scam, only took you a few years!

    The UK has laws against inertia selling, why is nobody testing them on this kind of thing?

    Merry Christmas everyone (well, except the tosspots that bring us this kind of thing, you can burn in hell forever please, and never mind 'goodwill to all men').

  33. Robert Grant Silver badge

    A warning about Foxit

    Probably best to stick with Adobe Reader if you want to print your PDF; I've used Foxit for a year now and it's perfect for every PDF need I have - except that :)

  34. Peter Krogsten
    Thumb Up

    MediaPlayer any?

    Take MediaPlayer which gets bigger and bloated by the version - and updates. Real bad thing is you can't go back to the verison you like, because Bill gates knows best. Same with IE.

    Real player isn't much better, but at least you can uninstall it.

    Not to start a Windows - Linux war, but in Linux I at least have control of what I want om MY PC.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Corel core competence

    Corel has a long and distinguished record for screwing up perfectly good software, starting with its own Draw! which in just five years went from a Windows killer app (along with Word and Pagemaker) to a bloated zombie that had to be held up in the ring in a back-to-back review with Xara. But it's not all bloat bloat bloat - there's a lot of sheer incompetpence too.

    A year or so later (1996) they published the (presumably acquired) CorelCAD a 3-D technical drawing package that was powerful and easy. I still use my copy, but the product seems to have sunk without trace shortly after release.

    And Wordperfect for Windows? Let's be honest here, it was a crock of crap when it first appeared and kept up this fine

    tradition through its sojourn at Novell and its arrival at Corel. I haven't looked at the most recent version, but the last

    time I looked (2004) it still eschewed Unicode. Oh, and whatever happened to Corel Linux?

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    @Robert Grant

    Seems YMMV when printing from Foxit - I just installed it and it prints fine for me. Is there a more specific issue?

  37. vincent himpe
    Paris Hilton

    so true

    Paintshop Pro was the best up until version 8. Version 9 saw a first shift because they ware adapting for a buyout by Corel. That company has a penchant to destroy software....

    Ever since it is in the corel stall it has gone down the drain. the installer throws all kinds of stuff on your machine like installshield update manager and tons of other stuff. furthermore they broke compatibility with a number of file formats. PSP7 reads a WMF or EMF file correctly. 9 doesn't.

    Another program that went down the drain : Micrografx Designer. I used that under windows 2.0 and 3.0 . Was a dream to work with... until it got borged by Corel... They still sell it albeit under a different name. I actually played with the downloadable demo. i immediately recognised it as Micrografx Designer.. throw a couple fo old files against it: opencorrectly. but the shortcuts have changed , and nothing works as it was.

    why paris ? ah we'' there someone you can build on. she'll always remain unreachable.

  38. Stephen
    Thumb Down

    TextPad

    Can I nominate TextPad 5 for a bloatware award. Previous to this version it was the ideal light weight editor for coders. Version 5 looks like it might have been C#/.NET'ed. It now has that characteristic slow, flickery rubbish feel of all C# apps.

  39. JimC
    Linux

    > penguin shagging communist

    Try getting any of the major Linux distros to install on a little oldbox that has got more than enough power to handle the job you have in mind... say a DNS or Apache server... It would run just fine if I could install it minus the 10,000 bloated useless packages... half of which seem to have to go on for pointless dependencies so you can get a minimum X screen... Everyone suffers from it...

  40. David Haig
    Unhappy

    CA eats all apps

    The biggest culprit, apart from MS - I used to run Windows 286 from a single floppy - is/was CA. They took the development languages Clipper and Visual Objects, rebranded them CA-Clipper & CA-VO, promised ongoing support and then parked them somewhere, probably in the far reaches of their evil empire with the Jasmine database.

    They also managed to take SuperCalc, made it CA-SuperCalc and capitulated to Excel - And whatever happened to SuperCalc 3D? Stunning piece of spreadsheet that allowed you name columns and rows instead of A1, and was truly 3 dimensional.

    And where is Ashton Tate now? I vaguely remember it was subsumed by Borland and that was it for dBase ...

  41. DZ-Jay

    @Stephen (RE: TextPad)

    Stephen, give EditPlus a look (http://www.editplus.com). Its been my text editor of choice for the past, oh, 10 years or so. Since then, the developer has added some nifty features, while keeping the original core application small, simple, efficient, and nimble.

    One of the main reasons I continue using it (even after trying many others which may be arguably better) is because of the developer's philosophy of rejecting the feature-du-jour of other text editors in exchange for speed and core functionality.

    That said, it still has syntax highlighting, auto-completion, external user-tool/filter support, mulit-file search and replace, and even simple code-folding.

    I'm not associated with the developer in any way; I am just very excited about the product.

    -dZ.

  42. R.E.H.
    Thumb Down

    Seriously?

    C'mon, seriously? Blaming Python for PSP's bloat? Besides that PSP was already a bloated pig at v7 (v6 was probably the last lean version), you're just tossing personal vendettas into the article.

    "I don't like Python so nyaaaaaaaaa"... that's all I got from this.

  43. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Go

    @JimC

    Try Damn Small Linux or Puppy Linux then. Both are tiny, will run on steam-computers, are *extremely* fast with a full desktop.

  44. vincent himpe
    Thumb Down

    @jumc

    jep. plus latley i get more 'updates' for ubuntu server' than i get for windows XP .... i wonder why.. must be an awfull olot of bugs in that ubuntu that it nees that mny kernel patches and other module patche. lloks they are handing it out before its completely debugged ...

    what's next lin$x ??? ( red hat is on the right track to become a lin$x. they charge an arm and leg for install .. )

    if only there was a 'gun aiming at pengiun' icon ....

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    Everything IBM Ever Bought

    Suffers from "buy a small company with a cool product and fuck it up beyond all recognition" syndrome.

    For those of you not familiar with their festering pile of filth, I offer you ClearCase, Rational Rose and Rational Purify.

    Every now and then, for a laugh, they also invent their own tool from scratch (e.g. Rational Software Architect), then abandon an old but perfectly serviceable tool (Rose), forgetting along the way to give you an import facility that actually works.

    As these new tools are based on Eclipse, you need more RAM than the combined computing resources of NASA just to start them up - and then you find they can't do half of what the old tools did anyway.

    And don't get me started on maintenance fees. Despite paying tens of thousands of pounds annually, we get about one bug in five actually fixed. The remainder are acknowledged, but don't get fixed because there's "not enough demand".

    Best of all is when they come round trying to sell you their "Unified Process", or whatever it's called this week. Apparently this is the Holy Grail of software development processes. Oh, the irony.

    Anyway, keep up the good work. Stob and Orlowski are the reasons I keep coming back to the Reg. Oh, the insane reader comments are good too.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Wot? No XPDF??

    You're seriously suggesting using that "**** FOR **** EVALUATION **** USE **** ONLY ****" piece of dog's bollocks over xpdf? Which even has a better GUI than Foxit does. (what? pageup/pagedown doesn't go to the previous/next page?!) Plus you can alter the source to manage your digital rights as you see fit (YES, I want to PRINT the f*cking form!)

    At least it did get me off my duff and install the latest version of xpdf.

    Anyway, just picking nits, the article was absolutely a delicious rant and spot-on.

    My favorite software kidnapping story is "Microsoft Streets" where they bought some company to compete with DeLorme and Garmin. 2003 had all sorts of functionality. You could save locations (such as home, work, closest pub) permanently, so they could be referenced on any map you made. You could export & import locations using CSV, which means I could import my GPS' plot trails. Plus some primitive drawing functions and "measure this distance" stuff.

    2004? We'll be having none of THAT! Export/import totally disappeared. Locations became "map-specific" and everything you did was a "new map" starting from a totally blank slate. Basically you could pan around and look at their out-of-date streets, and that was about it.

    And the sad part is that's the only piece of MS software I've actually bought and paid for myself. Needless to say, it was also the last.

  47. Dan
    Linux

    @JimC

    FWIW, if you have a moderately too much time and not enough pain in your life, you can always try - http://www.linuxfromscratch.org, and its various progeny, if you want to create a skinny, lithe penguin to shag....

  48. Haku

    Re: MediaPlayer any?

    MediaPlayer after verson 6.4 became a steaming pile of bloated crap IMHO, why does every company decide they want the interface to look like it was designed for a Fisher-Price computer? I love the simplicity (and usability) of the GUI that pre-WindowsXP came with as default.

    I use Media Player Classic all the time now, doesn't need installing which means you can carry it (single exe) on a USB stick/drive, even plays DVDs. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Media_Player_Classic

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    *cough*

    *fnord* http://www.oldversion.com/ *fnord*

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Office 2007 converter magic trick

    Some of the kids at our school started bringing files in from their home computers in .docx format. To allow the teachers to open the files and check they had actually done their homework we began installing the Convertor app onto staff PCs.

    Only it turns out there is a sneaky little function that the app has - when you right click on an Word file in explorer a new menu option has been added. 'Save as...'. This can be used to copy the file to another location... only the format it saves it in is .docx! If a member of staff uses this function to move a file to a flash drive they get home to find that they can't open their file any more.

    As a result, we have taken the decision that we will not support Office 2007 format files on-site at all.

  51. Alan
    IT Angle

    docx

    .docx ah ever a frustrating lunchtime when all our students descend on our computer suite... only to be informed that the word version of their important coursework on their shiny new student laptops isn't compatible with word 2003...

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    We own your computer

    Part of the problem is that lots of software originally designed for a single simple job is now designed to do several additional things you don't use it for. For example, when Nero 6 moved to 7 they decided to add in a stupid file indexing function to help slow down everyone's computer. WinAmp now tries to synchronise my flash mp3 player and SpyBot now wants to be a firewall.

    Anyone who uses a wide range of freeware and shareware, or uses several different but related tools (eg a range of different multimedia tools) will have a huge amount of unecessary functionality overlap. To get a speedy computer you don't just have to turn off unecessary Windows functionality, but turn off a series of indexing services, pre-launchers and auto-updaters and make sure all the file associations are set to match the software you want to use (I'm refering to RealPlayer especially).

    Setting up a fresh installation of OS on a computer doesn't just mean installing third party software - it increasingly means divvying up jobs between programmes that used to do entirely different things but now want to be all things to all users. 'Jack of all trades, master of none' seems to be the dominant software design philosophy of the day.

  53. Anonymous Bastard
    Stop

    Re: TextPad @ Stephen

    Thankyou for beating me to the punch on this one if only to get the message out sooner. The search page/pane in version 5 is reason enough for state execution.

  54. Ishkandar

    Foxit ??

    In the days of yore, when knights were gore......there was/is a nice bit of freeware called Ghostscript.

    About 10 years ago, a techie(?) sayeth unto me that PDF files *cannot* be modified and I proceedeth to prove him wrong with Ghostscript. Lo and behold, modified PDF files flew at him thick and fast and smote him hip and thigh. A beam of pink light shone upon him and he converteth unto theTrue Faith although he was *NOT* on the road to Damascus !!

    It is a sweet and tiny little application that pops up instantly when needed in any version of Windows from 3.0 to NT !! No data for any later versions of Windows available to me.

    And Ghostscript saves files in any of the common formats and prints nicely too. In fact, it used the Unix concept of "print" as in "print" to printer, "print" to screen or "print" to disk !!

  55. Andy Davies

    ultimate software murder

    "The ultimate software murder must be the purchase of ... Xara"

    No, sorry, it was FoxPro - it just was OK!

    (... but Clipper *did* taste more like real programming!)

    AndyD 8-)#

  56. Dale Richards

    PSP7 vs. PS CS3

    Paint Shop Pro 7 was a legendary piece of software, and in my honest opinion it still pisses all over Photoshop CS3 for speed, ease of use and plain usefulness.

    Foxit Reader is an excellent find, too. I first installed it a little over 6 months ago, but even now I still find myself letting out a little smug chuckle every time I click on a PDF and it opens immediately. I remember being a little concerned about potential advertising in the latest version, although I tend to get very twitchy whenever I see anything that even remotely resembles an ad...

  57. Rich
    Thumb Up

    docx attachments

    I've had a few. They open directly in Outlook 2003, unlike docs where I have to save and re-open (which is supposed to miraculously protect against viruses - like wearing an upside down cross, or whatever).

  58. Craig Errington
    Happy

    Hands up anybody who has seen a .docx file in the wild.

    I see them in my role at the helpdesk all the time.

    Although, in saying that, it is just to install the compatability pack so users can open them in Word 2003..

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Hmm yes, Office 2007, you will install it, o'yes you will...

    I have discoved to my undyeing joy, that when you upgrade Office 2003 to SP3, you gain the ability to rewrite all your old documents, because there too old!

    Or you can find a PC with a SP2 version of 2003, and save them as text files, then open them in SP3 version and add the formating back.

    I was so joy full that MS added the 'feature' that prevents you opening old documents, because there possibly 'unsafe'. Gee Thanks MS.

    I also love the fact that you can not roll back SP3, and you need to flatten Office and reinstall, then reupdate to SP2.

    Screw .docx, I want .doc!!!.

    Still you can turn this 'feature' off, if you willing to edit your registery and risk reinstalling your OS.

    A pal sent me this when I pissed and moaned enough:

    Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

    ;

    ; See MS KB articles 938810 and 922847

    ;

    ; Excel

    [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\11.0\Excel\Security\FileOpenBlock]

    "LotusandQuattroFiles"=dword:00000000

    "DifandSylkFiles"=dword:00000000

    ; PowerPoint (open)

    [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\11.0\PowerPoint\Security\FileOpenBlock]

    "FilesBeforePowerPoint97"=dword:00000000

    ; PowerPoint (save)

    [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\11.0\PowerPoint\Security\FileSaveBlock]

    "Converters"=dword:00000000

    ; Word

    [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\11.0\Word\Security\FileOpenBlock]

    "FilesBeforeVersion"=dword:00000000

    ; Corel Draw

    [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Shared Tools\Graphics Filters\Import\CDR]

    "Enabled"=dword:00000001

    As for PSP, yes I used to recomend it, and use it. However they did add too much to it, I mostly used it for little tweaking and its viewing lots of files options. I belive there was a sort of scripting avalible in one of the shareware versions, not that I had any need for it.

    As for the PDF alt, I will give that a shot, I am fed up with adobe stuff updating every 5 seconds.

    -ano

  60. Jacob
    Heart

    I badly need a time machine - back to Y2K

    At that time, we get :

    * Windows 2000 - the first OS that offered us stability and improvements with a small memory footprint and avoiding childish eyes candy.

    * Office 2000 - the last release offering *real* improvements, easy to install, easy to manage.

    * Textpad4 - I just trashed the textpad5 release ; having "office like" menus is not enough to justify an upgrade

    * VC6 - fast IDE, fast compile time, small memory footprint and blazzing fast binaries

    * Delphi 5 - also producing fast and compact binaries. Since then, Borland was not even able to produce a decent help file. Not even to speak of the PHP thing ; use directly PHP !

    And the big cherry on the cake, ".Net", that MS does not even use for its own softwares (with the motto "Do what I say, not what I do"). I will only use this crap when MS will give us an entire OS and productivity apps written with .Net. Actually it is only bloatware, changing at light speed (how many release since two years ?).

    And a special thanks to the pubzines for their products showcases. Really helpfull.

    My wishes for 2008: back to win32 binaries !!!

  61. Mike Wharton
    Thumb Down

    WINAMP - SOLD OUT

    Divx went this way, I fear the same for winamp, as soon as I saw the AOL logo I knew that gone is the nifty lightweight media player i once loved.

    Anyoine remember when Real Player was a good app???

    (YES ITS HARD TO BELEIVE!!!)

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Halo

    the joy of .xlsx

    In my work environment, I'm the only one using OSX (Leopard), and I have the apple package Iworks installed. This package as you all know contains Apple's attempt at a spreadsheet program called "Numbers". I'm generally derided for owning a Mac in a Windows IT world. However he who laughs last laughs longest. A little while ago, a customer sent his information in, in the new .xlsx format. None of the "Windows wizards" could open it, or knew what it was. Imagine their surprise when the "useless" Mac viewed it, and then Numbers opened it and could export it as a traditional .xls file. Now they are shitting themselves, as they realise that they will have to upgrade to Office 2007, which means either very slow operation on their cheapware, or upgrading machines to ones that will run it, never mind the sting of the cost of all those licenses. I've tried to tell them about Openoffice or just sticking with word 97 and its crew, but all to no avail. I'm Looking forward to an "interesting" 2008...LOL

  63. Peter D'Hoye
    Alert

    @ Neil Barnes

    if simple manipulations are all you need, and possibly in batch, just use IrfanView. I fear the day a company buys its codebase and tries to improve it...

  64. Misha Gale
    Linux

    @K re: Adobe Reader

    >How many of us have gotten an email with a .odt attachment?

    Well, none, because OO.o (does changing to a damn silly name count as shark jumping?) supports the ubiquitous .doc, so files being sent by email get converted. If word supported .odt (haha, I'm here till Friday, try the fish) we wouldn't need to bother.

  65. John Campbell
    Linux

    Acrobatics

    Adobe reader? Is that like Ghostview?

  66. Daniel B.
    Flame

    @Andy Davies

    Ahh... you beat me to the ultimate murder. Yes, as a former FoxPro developer I cringed from the jump that was FoxPro 2.5 (it does everything I need, and better than dBase) to "Visual" FoxPro 3. Fox Technologies should have never sold out to M$...

    And whatever happened to Aldus (Adobe) PageMaker? It was one of the original "killer apps" for the Mac, so much that many other apps tried to copy their concept (Ventura Publisher, M$ Publisher and such). Even my CV's still in PageMaker 6.5 format, as most of my research papers. Speaking of Aldus products, its funny how PageMaker went to Adobe, and Freehand to Macromedia... now both companies are one and the same. Fate?

    ICQ might be another example. Yes, its free, but it seems that most versions after 2002 have crippled most of the functionality that distinguished it over the others: no more "real-time chat" (it worked like UNIX's talk) and other features I can't remember.

    I could go on and on ... Norton Antivirus, Office 2007, Vista, but my memory's failing and I'd bore to death with such examples. :)

  67. Steve Brecknock

    Software Genocide

    It seems to me that most software becomes bloatware in the end. The worst crime of all is buying out a company just to kill it off.

    Electronic Arts bought Westwood so they could kill the 'Best' MMORPH there has ever been. (Well, IMHO) I still mourn the demise of Earth and Beyond. I swore I would never buy another EA game and I never have.

  68. Bronek Kozicki
    Go

    I can tell how it looks like from the other side of the fence...

    Well, to start with, the only asset that software companies own is source code. Source code is actual implementation of software features that can be sold and managed. Which means if you want to sell next version of your software, you need to add new features to the old source code. And this is where the software hell starts - because, as it turns out, this is not truth at all.

    This is just what suits, brought from other industries to manage software companies, believe in. The *real* asset of software companies is experience of developers implementing the stuff - because you can only design and write well something similar to what you have already written before. The trouble is, the owners can't cash on this when they sell the company - new owners want the code (that is instant gratification), not experience.

    Also, as time goes by, developers are demoralised by constant maintenance of the old software, or heartbroken by seeing it breaking its neck under load of quickly hacked in features it was never designed to perform. Had anyone asked them to implement the same thing from scratch, they would have happily make it twice as efficient and ten times as scalable - with the experience they gained. But that would slow sales income for long time, or even worse - clients would not see the new version for the same long time. Futhermore, there are very, *very* few companies where developers count more than the source code they produce. This is because managing *people* is a lot more difficult than managing so-called assets like, say, source code.

    This is how new companies are formed by former employees of the old companies - by people dismayed by their employers, or simply laid off by new owners. And these new companies, with considerable know-how and experience, can actually write good stuff. But I leave finding examples to others - it does not happen often. More often developers just give up.

  69. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't fix what's not broken

    PSP 7, Acrobat Reader 5, ACDSee 3.1... welcome to the library of ultrafast software which does mostly everything you need. It's nice when you just click the icon and the program is ready for use.

    Basically I only update programs when there's something really bugging me, or maybe I check when reinstalling the computer (about every one-two years). Else that I don't feel the need to get the latest software, which seems to have almost the same set of functions while working signifficantly slower.

  70. John Stag
    Heart

    Visual C++ 2005 express...

    VC++ Express is the perfect replacement for VC6.

    Paint shop Pro? One of the few programs I actually paid for, but then it was bought by Corel - where good software goes to die.

    Paint.Net is rubbish, a glorified Windows Paint, little more.

    You missed a few though - Nero burning ROM, Acronis TrueImage, Norton Utilities...

  71. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    @ Gnome

    > Gnome desktop - Started off as an ok idea. Turned into

    > bloated yuk long ago!

    You haven't experienced KDE then.

    > Software Genocide

    http://www.catb.org/~esr/jargon/html/R/rococo.html

  72. Not That Andrew

    Re: Ex-developers writing better program

    There are may examples of that, but a classic one must be Bryce and Vue de Esprit. After the death of Metacreations and during the subsequent drift from Curious Labs to Corel to Daz3D, the original design team was shed as excess baggage. Several of them went on to design Vue de Esprit, which is to 3D landscape creation today what Bryce was 10 years ago and it is also considered a serious design tool, which Bryce never really was.

  73. Anonymous Coward
    Heart

    Verity...

    ...I love you. And so do my pets - nc, ndd, nu, sd and sf. Sadly these lithe whippets no longer play. They were forced to the sidelines long ago by lumbering boars, expensive, smelly pigs and several elephants. Some of the latter started off grey, but became distinctly whiter as time passed.

    Softicide. Beautiful - stolen!

  74. Neil

    Updating software

    Palm has not upgraded their software for sometime. Almost every article about Palm points out their software is ancient.

    Although the above article is cute, it seems the market demands refreshed glitzy software.

  75. Bronek Kozicki

    @Neil

    "it seems the market demands refreshed glitzy software." - almost. The fact is that there is no such thing as software without bugs (if we put aside TeX). Users want to be sure that the software they depend on (whatever it means) is actively maintained, so that the bugs in the current version will be eventually ironed out. One thing to look at is the age of the newest version or most recent fix - if it's "old" (whatever it means in any given market sector) users will worry that the software they are about to commit to is not actively maintained and they will be stuck forever with bugs in the current version.

    The point where interest of users and that of a vendor diverge is difference between "new version" (= more bugs, more sales) and "bugfix" (= less bugs, free)

  76. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    EA

    I don't buy much professional software as I leave that to the (mis)management.

    I do buy games though and EA are one prime example of a company buying others to get their winning titles in an effort to cash in.

    Westwood, DICE being the main two. Shame.

    Cheers for the foxit link as I can't stand adobe ugrades and helpful splash screen. PSP 8 is as high as I got with that. Long live my little software library as every new machine gets that installed. :)

    I support 2007 for my sins, it's "pretty" but "bloated" and "annoying" are two other good descriptions.

  77. Schultz
    Heart

    Natural lifecycle of software ...

    is not so different from other living things. Growing up into something useful is followed by obesity, dementia and death. Gotta develop some health plan to keep those favourite programs fit and healthy!

    Loved the story!

  78. Allan Rutland
    Happy

    Word 2007...

    as was said, isn't all evil. I have to admit, when I first played with it bloody 'ell, whats this mess. But after getting used to it, it's oddly growing on me. The interface etc. Fine the whole docx thing is a pain, but easily turned off. And for the times I have goofed up and moved files as it, MS have posted addons for Word 2002 and 2003 which allows you to read and write to them. Is docx an evil format...no idea as no one uses it. But

    As for Acrobat (and I won't call it Adobe Reader as it's still bloody Acrobat! just like a Marathons a Marathon and not a damn Snickers!) very much as you said. Drives me up the wall everytime I see it now. Oddly enough burried in the depths of the Adobe website they do still allow you to download versions 4 and 5 for "older systems". Pfft, dunno on that, but those two atleast worked and worked without all the guff.

  79. Brian Sherwood Jones

    Another one for the list - Smartdraw

    Smartdraw used to be lovely till they brought out Smartdraw 2007; ruined (much) 'better than visio at half the price'.

  80. Jon Nicholas

    Bloatware is everywhere

    I agree with every word of this article. The new Adobe "Reader" must be the worst piece of software of all time. Would you like to add comments to this text? Would you like to animate it, start your own blog? No, I just wanted to read a pdf document.

    But I think the author is, like me, the wrong side of 40, and what he is seeing is the 21st century. And it doesn't just apply to software, look at the automobile industry.

    A car needs one motor, which turns the wheels round. OK, maybe another one for the windscreen wipers. But a modern car has hundreds of motors to move the seats, to move the wing mirrors, to squirt water onto the headlights and raise the bootlid. It also has an entertainment centre, a navigation centre and a communications centre. It has Bluetooth, USB and you can dock your iPod.

    But I just wanted to drive to the office.

  81. Trygve Henriksen
    Thumb Up

    Splashscreens...

    Remember the OS that could?

    In OS/2 there is a setting for how long apps can show their splashscreens(default is 2 seconds, I think) and you can even switch it off entirely.

    That is, if the app uses the correct APIs to generate the splashscreen...

  82. Rob Beard
    Unhappy

    Large companies buying smaller software companies.

    Three words... Adobe and Cool Edit.

    For those who don't know, there was a great little audio editor called Cool Edit. In fact it isn't really little, it's fairly advanced. This cost about £35 for a licence.

    Adobe then promptly bought the company and changed the name of it to Adobe Audition. At the company I work at we upgraded a load of machines from Windows 2000 to Windows XP and in the process upgraded from CoolEdit 2000 1.5 to Adobe Audition 1.5. There was absolutely no difference in the application as far as we could tell, apart from the name and £200 increase in price.

    They're on version 3 of Adobe Audition now, it does have more toys but does it really warrant a £235 price!?!?

    (Personally I use Audacity, but then I don't really do any audio editing and I use Linux at home).

    Rob

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