Monthly Archives: November 2014

Windows – what is still Missing! Free + cheap must-haves!

Must-have-Windows-8-apps-for-your-PC-or-tablet

Window 10, Windows 8.x, Windows 7, Windows XP Users!
We have a LIST for you…

I find it a bit surprising I have to download so many things for a 30 year old OS. Microsoft has plenty of money to buy all of these and bundle into the OS. But here is what I download on any new Window installation. It makes Windows a lot more productive, powerful and friendly.

Advanced Users (novices ignore): Rather than install these one at a time go to https://ninite.com/ and let it install many of these at once, and keep them up-to-date all at once 😀

Very Good Lists (with different choices) on others Blogs!

The downloads divided into groups

Everyone will want to download the Productivity group. Other groups just depend on how you use your Windows machine.

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Productivity

  • Clipmate – because cut and paste in Windows is very limited. This fixes all of that in a dreamy way.
    Download @ http://www.ClipMate.com
  • Chrome by Google – because IE sucks. Chrome is much more secure than IE and FireFox. patched faster for years in response to new threats. Blocks malicious software if users download and try to install.
    Download @ http://www.google.com/chrome/

  • Search Everything – because Windows search sucks. This is tiny and super fast. can find anything on your disk durn near instantly with very little overhead.
    Download @ http://www.voidtools.com/
    Read more about it @ http://techsuperheroes.com/?p=361
  • EverNote – a good cloud note taking system to keep lists and notes on your Windows that you can get to on your phone, tablet, Mac, work PC, etc.
    Download @ http://www.EverNote.com
  • FireFox – because IE sucks, and FireFox has a few add-ins I still need that Chrome do not.
    Download at http://www.GetFireFox.com

  • FoxIt PDF Reader – a FREE lighter, faster version of Adobe Reader. More secure. Uses less memory. Loads faster.
    Download @ http://www.foxitsoftware.com/Secure_PDF_Reader/
  • GoScreen Wish you had 2 or more monitors but cannot afford them? Way better than Windows 10 virtual desktop. Way Better. Virtual Monitors done right for people with only 1 monitor.
    Download @ http://www.goscreen.info. Not FREE, but under $30 and worth every penny.
  • TextPad+ – Because Notepad sucks. Only needed by people who edit tons of text files.
  • Download @ http://www.Textpad.com
  • Tor Browser – Allows you to browse sites your company forbids and blocks. Hides the site you browse from everyone who monitors your network. For something even better than Incognito/Private mode (some corporations may not allow this)
    Download @ https://www.torproject.org/projects/torbrowser.html.en
  • UltraMon – If you use 2 or more monitors this setups 2 or more separate task bars with relevant programs on the correct task bar (not all same programs lumped on several taskbars).
    NOT FREE – approximately $40 but I love it.
    Download trial @ https://www.realtimesoft.com/ultramon/
  • XMind – I think MindMapping is even better way to take notes than Notepad 😀

IE-Browsers

Web Browsing!

Here is the list anyone serious about browsing the Web and Safety needs to have:

These should really make you able to browse with more power (and safety) and speed.

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Graphics and Photos and Webcam Goodies

I have picked the programs that are easiest to got started with graphics, photos, and your webcam.

cloud-computing

File & Disk Management & Backups & Cloud – oh my

If someone else manages your computer, you do not need these. But if the person managing your computer is not using these, you may need a new computer person 😀

computer-mechanic   Computer-Woes

System Maintenance / Troubleshooting

If someone else manages your computer, you do not need these. But if the person managing your computer is not using these, you may need a new computer person :D

  • Belarc Advisor – must have for system survey. Not sure what hardware or software you have. This makes a nice multi-page report including product keys, product version numbers, etc. Allows you to answer anyone’s questions aobut “what kind of machine?”, “what software is installed”, etc.
    Download @ http://www.belarc.com/free_download.html
  • Long Filenames or Pathnames keeping you from deleting, copying or renaming a file?
    Get help @ http://longpathtool.com/
  • PC Decrapifier – remove all the extra junk software the PC makers added to your machine to save disk space and memory. Easy to use. Eezy peezy Japaneezy.
    Download @ http://pcdecrapifier.com/
  • Process Lasso – because Task Manager is sucky and weak and missing key features.
    Download @ https://bitsum.com/processlasso/
  • Oracle Virtual Box Not for everyone, for people who want to install other operating systems on their computer (other versions of Windows, Linux, hacintosh). Because free Virtual PC is too weak and VMWare is too expensive.
  • Registry Workshop to make registry editing a dream @ http://www.torchsoft.com/en/rw_information.html
  • Speccy – detects some things that Belarc Advisor does not. Gives you every technical spec on your system if any tech support asks you what your PC model, graphics card, disk drive, etc. is
    Download @ https://www.piriform.com/speccy
  • Take Ownership – when Windows screws up a file permission set so bad you can’t open a file. Read the fix @
    http://www.askvg.com/add-take-ownership-option-in-file-folder-context-menu-in-windows-vista/ (the fix works for Win 7/8/10)
  • Unlock Files that will not allow deletion or rename or the like – see the article @
    http://www.howtogeek.com/128680/how-to-delete-move-or-rename-locked-files-in-windows/
  • TeamViewer If you try to help family and friends far away this lets you take over their machine, see what their monitor sees, use the keyboard and mouse on their machine as if you were there. Because the Windows remote desktop client is stone age compared to this and hard to setup and use. And decent multi-monitor support if the target machine has 2 monitors. It is multi-platform. Nothing new to learn on other platforms. iPad or Android can control a Windows machine and vice versa.
    Download @ http://www.TeamViewer.com

Music, Movies, Music and DVDs and CD Goodies

Yeah music and multimedia rocks and here are the ways to get your computer rocking, dancing and singing (well rocking and singing at least):

* If you do not know what an ISO File is, you may not need this. But it is a pretty amazing thing I will attempt to explain here. Rather than load a CD/DVD into your computer’s drive to install software, you can transfer the CD or DVD into an ISO file (CD Burner XP is one way to do this). Or if a boss or co-worker wants you to install something rather than a CD or DVD they may just give you an ISO File. ISO mounting software lets you double-click on the ISO file and make ti pretend to be a CD/DVD drive then you install software while putting nothing in your CD/DVD drive. Very nice huh?

Why so many Add-Ons?

These tools should be built into Windows. Its a question people should be asking to Microsoft employees, at press conferences, in blog comments and when being begged to get excited about buying yet another site license and upgrade.

We are at Windows 10 by 2015 and after 30 years I should not need these many add on products to make it usable.

When this kind of consumer neglect kills Windows, I will not grieve for the lack of interest in Windows machine (and people using their phone as a PC or tablets, or buying Macs or Chromebooks) because this was easy and cheap to fix.

 pcguy_death

Windows still missing some BIG STUFF Microsoft

What I wish Windows had built in that sadly it still does not. Such huge omissions after 30+ years of Windows and over a decade of DOS are one of the many reasons people won’t trust or buy MS Operating Systems any more for personal use:

  • Security – unfortunately your newly purchased Windows 7/8/10 is still highly insecure. If you want security for your PC, friends or family, there is a WHOLE other set of Security add-ons you must download for free and/or buy and learn how to use.
    • MS spent billions fighting DOJ and Europe to force a browser on you even after FireFox and Chrome are way better, so you do not need IE.
    • MS threatens Dell and HP and all PC makers to not dare install a better browser for you that makes IE look bad, but does not stop them from installing so much crapware that  PC Decrapifier  @ http://pcdecrapifier.com/ is a THING you must download.
    • MS won’t fight DOJ or Europe to make your PC Windows as safe as Mac, Linux, iOS or Android. But instead they will spend a few hundred million encouraging their staff and loyalist bloggers to spread very inaccurate FUD about Mac and Linux and Android (and running Ads that Windows 7/8/10 is the most secure Windows ever).  But apparently the world’s safest OS needs another set of FREE and paid downloads to protect it.
  • Partition recovery tool – Every fricking tool that fixes this costs $50-$200 and you will use it for an hour. You will not need it again for years. And its all because the stone age MS partitioning tools do not support an Undo.
    • I guess Microsoft missed that day at “we care about the user” school.
    • Many Live Linuxes have this. So a bunch of hippies deliver something free a company with several billion does not?
  • File recovery tool – Many Live Linuxes have this. So no matter how much you pay for Windows, your boss pays, and your PC maker pays Microsoft does not care if you lose your files but a bunch of Linux hippies do… In fact Microsoft thinks if their OS loses your files with no UNDO you should pay a $50-$200 penalty and have to buy something to fix a Windows you pay for, your boss pays for, and your PC makers pay for. Pay for many upgrades by 3 sets of people and Microsoft could not put a crowbar in their wallet and recover your files they allowed you to delete without an undo feature? FT.
  • Basic Cleanup Toolssee this post!
  • A Desktop App Store (the Mac has one) – you should be able to buy Windows apps (not Metro/Modern apps) in their own store.

They have OUR Money and Profits! Spend some on Windows

I hope the new Microsoft CEO that replaces Steve Ballmer fixes 20+ years of neglecting customer needs on Windows. So far he does not seem to be, as Windows 10 has none of this. They can spend billions on Skype, AQuantitive, losing tons on Xbox and not spend a few million on either making all this unnecessary or just buying and integrating these products.

Still Using XP on a Machine – we got your back and some advice

This is what we have for you:

Hope this LIST makes your Windows more productive – Charles Carroll

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Tech Recruiter Meetup – 3rd Wednesday night every month

 Recruiting-Corporate-What-my-friends-think-I-do-What-my-mom-thin-316ffa

Recruiters – Learn great Tech Recruiter tactics!

Once a month I hold a speech (with Q&A) geared towards recruiters! You will learn valuable tips to do your job better!

When?

3rd Wednesday of every month!

How Do I sign up?

Click here: http://www.meetup.com/Peoples-Technical-Training-PTT/

Where?

For now slightly south of Baltimore. If you want me to do it in your area email me at seniorprogrammerguru@gmail.com and provide me with a location with projector and I will travel to you.

Seasons Pizza in Linthicum Maryland

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Seasons+Pizza/@39.224934,-76.663601,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x89c81d69d6245857:0x4d607618cc5ce148

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Meeting Details

The meeting presents the best way to

  • Recruit talent without paying an arm and a leg on hourly rates
  • Recruit talent for hard to find jobs
  • Best technical interview strategies to find the masters, and weed out the less effective candidates
  • Finding out how to fill impossible job requirements for highly specialized computer professionals
  • Learn how C# and Java relate to each other and what will replace them in marketplace (no programming knowledge required)
  • Learn why ASP.net MVC differs from ASP.net WebForms and why it is hot now  (no programming required)
  • What the heck is Haddop, MongoDB, Hbase, Big Data and how are they related to SQL Server. How do I find qualified candidates.

USB 3.0 and ReadyBoost

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USB Stick as Windows RAM – ReadyBoost

Windows starting with Vista (an OS I skipped to go to the much better Win7) can use a USB memory stick as RAM.

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Get a Fast USB stick/drive

If you do that then find a fast one:

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Read More on ReadyBoost

The following articles will clarify more about what performance improvements to expect:

Hope this helps you eek more performance and run large programs.

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Notes

I run Windows on my MacBook Pro Retina so its an easy way to give my Windows 7/10 more RAM.

Here is to Fast Windows Computing! Kampai! – Chaz

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Pure Bluetooth mice are hard to find

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Bluetooth Mice – C’mon C’mon

Bluetooth has been around for over a decade. Yet 99% of the mice on the market need USB dongles. Foolish manufacturers make hundreds of non-bluetooth mice.

 

Bluetooth-logo

Why is Bluetooth so important?

A few reasons

  • Those of us lucky enough to have high end laptops and travel with several devices may run out of USB ports and don’t want to have to carry a hub. My MBPro Retina only has 2 USB ports and when I travel I use both before a mouse enters the picture
  • USB ports share bandwidth – a mouse and other USB devices slow down data transfer on USB attached storage
  •  I don’t like dongles. I switch my mice between several machines and tend to lose them.

 

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Microsoft Sculpt Comfort Mouse – Good, Bad, Ugly

Microsoft to it’s credit makes a BT mouse or 2. Of course it makes several dozen (in fact 100+) USB dongle mice. Tsk Tsk. Mac makes Bluetooth only mice and bundles with their hardware but I am not an Apple mouse fan. I use anything but an Apple mouse on my Mac. But it is not without its problems that I hope are fixed in next version:

  • It is big and bulky compared to every other MS Mouse. Anyone coming from a standard size mouse will be uncomfortable for a few days.
  • Right click just does not work sometimes.
  • To save battery it disconnects when idle. Sometimes it never re-connects.
  • It does not do sideways scroll on the scroll wheel.

Yet to Microsoft’s credit it is a pretty mouse I use everyday on my Mac – because every other MFR but Apple has few pure bluetooth meeses.

ms-sculp-comfort-mouse

 

Broken-Windows

Microsoft Fails

MS made a few mistakes in the mouse and software stack

  • Desktop motherboards don’t have Bluetooth. Ouch. MS and Intel its the 20th century.
  • Of their 100+ Mice almost none do bluetooth, and none do sideways scroll wheels
  • Most of their mice don’t do multi-touch…

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Hedy Lamarr and Bluetooth

This beautiful starlet was brainy too!

 

If you know of good Bluetooth only mice let me know

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Windows UI Fails: Dissecting Upload dialog box

File Upload Dialog Box in Windows

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This is a very common task. It affects so many people it should be right. The internet and cloud we are always uploading files, so our perception of Windows is resting on this among other things. They have APIs for this dialog and they have updated and tweaked these APIs with little regard to end users and maximum regard to programmers.

This box appears on:

  • Every Web Site that has a default upload (Facebook, Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.)
  • so many places that it really deserves to be a first class experience.

Those who say we give them an API. it’s the application programmer’s fault we have several answers:

  • This dialog box comes in all browsers YOU WROTE THIS MS
  • You strong arm programmers all the time about APIs and break them, and ditch them and change them. But suddenly now you can’t to help your customers?

I know whose fault this is not. It is not the User’s fault. They have every right to expect a big successful product that cost them money with expensive upgrades to be easy to use.

Windows 30+ years to get it right… Still waiting…

Windows has been around a while 1, 2, 3, 3.1, 95, 98, ME, NT 4, 2000, XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 8.1, Win 10 they have had plenty of time to get this right.

We have paid and paid and paid and paid (and our bosses paid, and our PC manufacturers paid) premium prices for our OS. Money was paid for premium support and per incident support. Bosses paid for annual software subscriptions even when no new OS releases were happening for years. OSes are free now in post PC world from Apple, Google, Amazon, etc. and you still have the gall to consider charging XP and Vista and Win 7 users for Wins 8.x and Windows 10. Wow! Really.

Really Microsoft? Really?

And your OS is full of dialog boxes like this for core features and enough UI Gaffes whole books can be written about it. Yet boo hoo, nobody trusts you and nobody wants to buy your OS and hardware any more.

If your primary strategy for keeping customers is

  • Stockholm Syndrome
  • We know more than the users
  • paid support and demanding the users file reports you ignore and close for years without fixing…

Maybe you should reconsider your business model. Or just accept that you created the post-PC era by consumer computing neglect, so the consumer mistrust of you and trust of others is your own fricking fault for inability to take consumer computing seriously for decades.

Windows 10 does not fix that

We pay a fortune in Windows license fee around the world. So does Dell, HP, Cmpaq, etc. on tour behalf because they pay a lot for our license to bundle it with our computer. They sure are not spending our money on perfecting Windows.

Sigh maybe by Windows 20 and another decade of upgrade fees and subscription

Uploading a file in Windows (in this case a graphic)

Here is the upload dialog.

Graphic_11_15_2014 2_29_08 PM

Let me list the flaws:

  • The preview can only be resized / split by grabbing a tiny 1 pixel strip to the left of the scroll bar. WTF with that much screen real estate and a huge monitor??!!
  • No maximize button.
  • Preview Tile is irrelevant when you have an extra large icon option.
  • Most of the time when I go to select the icon size it looks like I switch to another app entirely till I select it the upload Window actually looses focus.
  • Text Search does not work on Filenames or Folder when I am in DropBox or Google Drive (which can be done easily technically Mac Spotlight Search does it as does Void Everything Search a freebie for Windows)
  • Filename on status bar does not wrap when extra long (not surprising since Windows support for long path and filenames is still broken at many levels)
  • Filename is in TINY PRINT what is this a phone instead of a 2-5 million pixel monitor?
  • Button names like Open and Cancel are very ambiguous and not user friendly. They should be labelled by “application context” i.e. “upload pic to Facebook” and “cancel FB pic upload” plenty of room to label it we have 1920 x 1080 and larger monitors.
  • Print for all filenames captioning files is so small, illegible font, and NOT scalable. Do you just hate older users? They are the ones most likely to be using Windows instead of some post-PC solution. Have you just never seen a Mac Retina display? Have you never learned that responsive design is not just for the Web and post-PC devices.
  •  Drag and Drop folders works but no undo or confirmation. So anyone with no co-ordination could accidentally drop a directory somewhere they could never find it again.
  • I can rename a file with F2 or right click and choose rename. But if I rename and then select it and click “Open” it gives an error message about the old filename and I have to select it again.
  • If I right click a file there is a copy and move option. Neither offers a directory picker which means either opening a new window for drag or drop, or navigating to new place and then losing the original folder context.
  • Title is NOTHING which is ambiguous. What app/location/context are we uploading this too?
  • No check boxes for multiple selections. This is not Windows 3.x no one should have to learn about Ctrl and Shift and hold keys down.
  • No icons for select all or filtering to select a group.

What they got right on Upload

Its a short list unfortunately:

  • The icon sizes including extra large are nice. It never remembers it consistently so you will be constantly choosing “Extra Large” so many times if you upload a few dozen files.
  • The “Recent Places” is a godsend. Wish it noticed every interaction and added every folder instead of just most of them.
  • Nice they stole the ability to add shortcuts to the left from the Mac. Also very nice.

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Get it right Microsoft!

Or

  • Don’t complain when Android, Mac, iOS becomes beloved because they are releasing fixes for their UIs several times a year and listening to customers and they are releasing their OS upgrades free. You have been charging hundreds of $$$ each for OS upgrades since Windows 1.0 and there has been Win 1, 2, 3, 3.1, 95, 98, Vista, 2000, XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, and Win 8.1. We paid you thousands of $$$ to get this OS right, as did our corporate bosses.
  • Microsoft Bloggers, quit writing blog posts about the imperfections of your competitors you need to enter the market to offer an alternative for.
  • Microsoft Bloggers, quit writing about platform fragmentation on iOS and Android unless you have 100% of PCs running Win Latest (8.1 at moment) you are typically at 20% adoption or less of a new OS the first few years of its release. Android and iOS have that beat by a wide margin.

Broken-Windows

You had one job in 30 years!

Game Review – some new discoveries

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4 New/Old Awesome Games

Its one of the few things my 76 year old Mom, Girlfriend and teen kids and 20 something nieces and nephews can do together.

I run some game meetups if you want to ever join me to play @
http://www.meetup.com/Game-Knights-Maryland/

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Some Games I have enjoyed playing lately….

  • Splendor – wow! A favorite among all my gamer friends. Simple rules. Fast turns.  Great look and feel. Lots of strategy and opponent watching.
  • Compounded – Amazing game visually and strategy wise. A real blast.
  • King of The Elves – A card game that is quite challenging and fun.
  • Outpost – A Eurogame that is a blast with a lot of people.
http://www.amazon.com/Asmodee-SCSPL01-Splendor-Board-Game/dp/B00IZEUFIA/
splendor

  • 2-5 players!
  • Really easy
http://www.amazon.com/Stronghold-Games-2003SG-Outpost/dp/B005J2RYZS/outpost

  • A Blast with many players!
  • Medium complexity (not as hard as Power Grid)
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dicehateme/compounded-better-gaming-through-chemistry/postscompounded-plus-geiger

  • Not super easy. Not super hard.
  • Fun with 2-5 players!
  • Drop dead gorgeous!
http://www.amazon.com/King-Elves-Rio-Grande-Games/dp/B002QE7HZYKing-Of-The-Elves

  • Easy to learn
  • Fun with 3 or more players

 

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What else do you play?

The short answer is a lot. Keep your eyes on 3 places to read more:

Have Fun gaming – Let me know if you play these and like or hate them
– Charles Carroll!

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Windows Search is Broken! Here is the FIX!

How-Can-Fix-Slow-Computer-Boot-Windows-Computer-Boots-Up-Slow

Fixing Windows Search

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Why is it Broken?

Windows Desktop Search is a memory hog, a disk hog and a CPU Hog! Its not that fast and ignores attached cloud storage (like Google drive and DropBox).

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What can I use instead?

http://www.voidtools.com/
is awesome and is FREE.

Install this and uninstall Windows Desktop Search to speed up your computer.

Why MS did not fire the Desktop Search Team when they saw this and just replace it with this and hire the talent…. Just quit giving a damn and quit holding themselves to the high standards Gates set in the 90s.

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How can I disable search to speed up my PC again and regain disk space?

Here are the details by each Windows type:

Hope this makes a big difference for you!
Charles Carroll!

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Want to meet/find other programmers in DC Metro Area? Want to learn?

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DC, MD, VA, Baltimore Coder Community

Recruiters often call me to find programmers. I suggest they visit User Groups and Code Camps. Those place- are a great place to:

  • find qualified job hunters
  • hear great speeches and learn on technical topics
  • meet recruiters who show up to network

So

be-there-be-square

These places are recruiter heaven and heaven for programmers who want to learn their craft even better!

A List of Coder Meetings/Events

I will update these as people tell me about ones I forgot!

The Places to find many more meetings!

 

  • A pretty cool way to find a lot of user groups and meetings @ http://www.communitymegaphone.com/
  • Meetup.com has them all. Programming, Book clubs, Movie meetups, Comics, Crochet, Zumba, Yoga, etc. if people get together it is going down there.
    meetup
  • EventBrite.com is also a good spot I have not explored much but will be.
    eventbrite

 

These are the 3 I know of please let me know about more so I can add.

 

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Discussion Groups to find out more, post jobs, post your availability, etc.

There are email groups and web sites you can join to learn more and find other programmers

 

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Tell us about other groups to put on this Blog!

I will add them promptly. There are several ways to tell us:

Good Luck to recruiters and job hunters and learners using these resources!

me-whiteshirtandtie
from Charles Carroll, Programmer, Software Architect, Teacher, Writer, Community Leader

 

 

iPad MS-Office – Crippleware & NOT FREE :(

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Microsoft twists the meaning of FREE again

Office for iPad unlike many cloud solutions that are actually FREE and full featured is crippled in some key ways.

As a loyal Windows and Office purchaser since 1.0 I am not a freeloader. Just letting people know it is FREEMIUM not Free, so if they see competing FREE software (of which there are many in the Cloud Office space) they know they are not comparing Apples and Oranges.

But I expect FreeWare, Jr, Software, Limited Feature or Freemium to be labeled correctly by a big company like MS – surely they have lawyers who should be tolling them misrepresentation is risky with pockets as deep as theirs.

Yes premium features will be the Gotcha.

The history of Windows and Windows server is littered with free crippled things that once you get serious you realize you need a better license. And then MS or people say “You did not expect us to give away everything?”. Actually if you say something is FREE for a certain class of customer, or in certain usage situation it should be feature complete, or it’s not FREE. Its crippled.

I used free Windows Server for a personal project. I bought the awesome O’Reilly Windows Server Cookbook on scripting, and none of the scripts would run. Once I asked around and Googled I found out it was because they removed many core ADSI scripting objects in the free server.

What Others Have to Say Besides Me to Inform Your Choice

Plenty of others have wrote well about what you get for FREE and what will cost you, here are some of my favorite articles:

[Note: I will be updating this list of links frequently as new insightful reviews hit the web].

Even the Paid Stuff From Microsoft is Incomplete These Days

I paid for an Office 365 2 years ago, since I paid I expectd my Word and Excel to be feature complete. I expected the Office 365 I paid for to be fully internationalized since my children who use that PC sometimes are bilingual like my children. I did not expect to have to pay more to type text into my Office 365. Particularly since the Japanese IME is built into Window and works with Wordpad, Google Docs, Zoho, etc. its an example of me paying for software worse than the FREE equivalents. And not even good warnings – I had to Google to see why Japanese input was broken in my paid Office 365 – no error messages or warning when I tried to use it in Office 365.

Sometimes the FREE thing is the most expensive

The Japanese say “sometimes a FREE thing is the most expensive”. I think if you want certain features the competitors will always be cheaper and better, easier to use and the features more robust when every level of user can access them. Less people pay premium fees or for Feature packs so less testing and believe it or not MS has less interest in fixing FREE stuff, even when Premium or Feature Pack customers are involved.

Microsoft is lying when labeling FREEMIUM stuff as FREE – gaining the prestige from naive customers who use other excellent FREE products without being extorted to upgrade for basic functionality.

Blame the Consumer – How dare they expect FREE stuff from us?

Those who who would call me a complainer because I want something for FREE or want advanced capability is not fair. I buy a lot of software (I do not pirate), and have bought a lot of Microsoft and other software. Quite often the things I get for FREE turn out so useful I buy them out of gratitude, not because I am extorted to do so. XMind has a very capable free version as does ClipMate. I bought them because the FREE ones are so useful I felt gratitude towards the developer – not because an essential feature was hidden behind a “pay wall”.

A lot of the Must Have Products for Windows Power Users @ http://techsuperheroes.com/?p=278 I love have FREE versions. Yet in many cases after falling in love with the FREE versions I upgraded to paid ones out of gratitude not to get any features.

There are FREE and cheap Cloud and App and Desktop Offices out there

I use quite a few with great success:

  • Google Apps in the cloud.
  • Zoho.com has an amazing suite of Office products that run in the browser/cloud – the free version is very capable.
  • On the desktop Libre Office and Open Office. I use a paid Open Office variation called Neo Office that cost me $10 on the Mac.
  • on the iPad Pages and Numbers and KeyNote [very different UI from Office but fairly easy and powerful]. KeyNote is much better than the free PowerPoint for iPad.
  • Docs to Go on iPad and Android.

Bottom line: If you are not trying some great new Office software by Microsoft competitors you are missing a treat – many have better UIs and a much cheaper TCO (total cost of ownership). Paying for and updating MS software over the years can get expensive.

But But But they don’t do everything MS-Office does

That is the trap I fell into. These days I use MS-Office when I need a high end feature, and many other things that all write MS-Office files fine when I don’t need these features. I used ot passionaetly argue the “party line” with others – if you use a lesser product and they don’t have a edge case or high end feature you need well you are doomed with your choice.

They could have easily answered – “well THAT document I will use MS-Office for and keep most other simpler documents in easier FREE or cheaper products” Many of these products are easier, friendlier and better designed competitors. And very low total cost of ownership or FREE.

Sometimes you need a hammer, not a sledgehammer, electric impact hammer, or jackhammer. Using a Swiss Army knife when you need just one of it’s features is often using an inferior tool (the stand alone tools have better handles than on a Swiss Army knife). But MS changes the conversation “that way” when people think of using a competitor because they fear that scenario. I maintain a couple hundred documents ad some core business documents with FREE and Cheap Office software. And a few dozen with MS-Office when I need the high end features – SmartArt (great feature), Label Sheet printing, book document features (indexes, TOCS, references). I use other easier friendlier tools when I don’t need all that and save to Word if others need to see it.

And I don’t get “locked in” to knowing only Microsoft products, and have blinders on about the great products others are inventing. I discover some delightful friendlier, easier Office software. After some initial learning curve I found my productivity higher due to innovation and focus on ease of use many of these have.

MS could offer FREE for past office customers
They have tons of past and current customers money to do so

There are companies that offer FREE software subsidized by their paid software, and MS has plenty of budget to do that. They paid several billion for Skype and it is FREE and labelled as such. And is hardly crippled. One only pays to contact landlines. No features are missing – I can type non-English languages in the chat, etc. so they know how to offer TRULY FREE STUFF AND DO.
I would be fine if they labelled it as Freemium.

Free means FREE. Freemium is a correct designation for what they offer. The commercial Office 365 is incomplete and crippled as sold. Bilingual people with non-Latin alphabets are not mutants. I should have to pay again on top of my paid Offie 365 level for a “feature pack” unless it is labelled as such – i.e. Office 365 Jr, Office 365 Gold-Silver-Platinum, etc.

A company with double digit billions in cash can give away a premium office to keep us locked into their file formats and because it inter-operates well with other products they sell or just as advertising to keep mind share, or “dumping” to hurt Cloud upstarts like Google and the like.

FREE does not equal Freemium

I paid a fortune for several versions of Office and Windows and we collectively contributed a lot to these profits.

It should be labelled as Office Jr, Office Gold-Silver-Platinum

Otherwise running a huge “we are FREE” campaign is disingenuous.

Some of us paid a lot for every Office since 1.0 suddenly trying to shame us as cheap skates is not OK. And we deserve better features than iPad users trying Office with no history of buying it before.

Those of us who bought many offices deserve a better office than the newbies – be it free service packs, etc. or you are treating new customers better than loyal ones. I think customers with prior versions of Office (heck even current versions on Windows) don’t deserve the same “feature paywall” everyone trying iPad Office FREE has to deal with.

micro-lies Not-Free