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Last post Author Topic: Perfect Software?  (Read 29364 times)

nosh

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Re: Perfect Software?
« Reply #25 on: November 09, 2007, 02:00:51 AM »
My solution is to keep a lean and mean app and a full-featured one.

Examples:
Photoshop & Paint Shop Pro 5
Firefox & Opera
Winamp & Foobar2000

That way I don't feel like I'm cheating myself on speed or features and end up using the faster app over 90% of the time, Firefox being the obvious exception. Newer versions get tested on the main system (no virtual machines here...) but when it's time to upgrade the drive image, the last backup gets restored and only the good stuff gets on.

zridling

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Re: Perfect Software?
« Reply #26 on: November 09, 2007, 04:31:05 AM »
If a software app does achieve perfection, it's only transient until something else changes and it becomes inadequate. The idea of perfect software for me is that which enables other software, such as AutoHotkey. In any given year, there are some fantastic apps. XYplorer File Manager, for example, had a very good 2007. But so did Opera browser and ACDSee 10. EmEditor is going to have a knockout 2008 with its version 7.

I still lament the death of Ecco Pro. Hey, and what about Wolfenstein 3-D baby!!

tomos

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Re: Perfect Software?
« Reply #27 on: November 09, 2007, 04:56:46 AM »
Quote
I have an OCD like a lot of others to go with the newer, bigger,faster software

You and me both!

I saw Darwins post/quote first & thought newer=faster, naaa
but I see nosh has it crossed out  :up:

I have an OCD like a lot of others to go with the newer,bigger,faster software
Tom

f0dder

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Re: Perfect Software?
« Reply #28 on: November 09, 2007, 07:00:14 AM »
I'm still using ACDsee32 v2.4 - anything later I tried was bloated and slow... 2.4 is lightning fast and does what's necessary for a graphics viewer :)
- carpe noctem

Dirhael

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Re: Perfect Software?
« Reply #29 on: November 09, 2007, 07:23:13 AM »
I'm even going to try and boycott the FooBar2000 upgrades. Lets hope it doesn't go the Winamp (sucks the llama's ass) way.

Wait, what? I can see how one can be worried about things like this, but in the case of foobar2000, the latest beta releases is a major and important update from a usability standpoint. It's just as fast as it ever was, but without all the "tear-your-hair-out" frustrations of having to customize it to have a useful interface. When you then also factor in things like improved/simplified tagging functionality and music file management, I fail to see why anyone would want to stay with the previous versions. The new default interface also uses a very much improved playlist which makes it both easier *and* faster to locate the music you want to play.

Of course, if you just use custom components anyway it doesn't really matter but for the first time I have no problem recommending a foobar2000 release to everyone, including those that doesn't care for anything technical and just want to play their music. This is not the release to avoid.
Registered nurse by day, hobby programmer by night.

nosh

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Re: Perfect Software?
« Reply #30 on: November 09, 2007, 08:05:45 AM »
You're the kind of guy who goes to AA meetings and tells people about the great new Scotch you tried, innit? :P

It's a personal thing, Dirhael. The version I'm currently using does everything I want it to, including synching with my iPod. I installed the new release and immediately lost my customizations and I really have no patience for that sort of stuff so I got rid of it. I'm sure I'll take another look at it when I have a bit more mind-space, the only reason I'd upgrade right now is if a player was giving me better _sound_. 

Dirhael

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Re: Perfect Software?
« Reply #31 on: November 09, 2007, 09:42:09 AM »
You're the kind of guy who goes to AA meetings and tells people about the great new Scotch you tried, innit? :P

It's a personal thing, Dirhael. The version I'm currently using does everything I want it to, including synching with my iPod. I installed the new release and immediately lost my customizations and I really have no patience for that sort of stuff so I got rid of it. I'm sure I'll take another look at it when I have a bit more mind-space, the only reason I'd upgrade right now is if a player was giving me better _sound_. 

Hehe, well I do like me some good whisky ;)

I understand how you may not want to upgrade if it's already customized the way you want it, but if you had to do so [customize foobar2000] to the point where is becomes a hassle to re-install/upgrade it then the current version doesn't really qualify as a "perfect" software product and as such requires further work...right?
Registered nurse by day, hobby programmer by night.

nosh

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Re: Perfect Software?
« Reply #32 on: November 09, 2007, 09:52:54 AM »
Reinstallation is not a problem at all - you have to just dump the installation folder to the install location, the program settings, tabs/playlists, library are taken care of - I don't think it gets much simpler.

About losing some settings on upgrading, the onus of backward compatibility lies on the latest release. I agree, some work is required but the last release seems to have caused this particular issue rather than resolved it.

Dirhael

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Re: Perfect Software?
« Reply #33 on: November 09, 2007, 10:40:02 AM »
Reinstallation is not a problem at all - you have to just dump the installation folder to the install location, the program settings, tabs/playlists, library are taken care of - I don't think it gets much simpler.

About losing some settings on upgrading, the onus of backward compatibility lies on the latest release. I agree, some work is required but the last release seems to have caused this particular issue rather than resolved it.

That is only true as long as the foobar folder under appdata is intact (or program files if you don't use per-user profile). It is also impossible to share complete configurations without messing up your music database with the current version, whereas the new beta lets you import/export complete setups without touching you data. It's a whole lot easier to explain to someone that they should use the import dialog and open your config file than it is to explain to them that they need to locate the %appdata% folder (or the program files folder), overwrite the old files there with a bunch of files you copied from your setup, then having to re-add their music folders and scan them all over again loosing any additional data (play counts, ratings etc. if they were using components like that) in the process.

I also don't see how backward compatibility should be a requirement in any software product. This is one of the major problems that faces Windows, and one of the things I blame for making Vista the mess it currently is. Wasting time on fixing something that is broken by it's original design is usually not a good idea, when you can write something new that works better in half the time. Again, look at Windows, but this time Win9x. It was not written as a multi-user networked OS, and these functions wasn't really fixed or even really working until the move to the NT kernel in Win2000...and even there it is somewhat lacking due to the compatibility requirement with older applications. I'm not saying that Microsoft should have gone this route with Windows though, as compatibility is a major reason to it's success but I do think that it could have gained a lot (e.g. better performance, stability and security) from being able to get rid of the legacy code in there.

Going back to the topic of foobar2000 again, using simple config files is a much better idea than having both the configuration and data blended together in a mess, as it should (at least in theory) be a whole lot easier to make use of this even if something major changes is done in the feature. Also, it means that if one the items [data or config] gets corrupted, it doesn't mean that you loose both.

The next version of foobar2000 is not a perfect software product, but it's a step closer towards it rather than away from it so I don't see why one would feel the need to boycott it.
Registered nurse by day, hobby programmer by night.

nosh

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Re: Perfect Software?
« Reply #34 on: November 09, 2007, 10:52:42 AM »
Quote
The next version of foobar2000 is not a perfect software product, but it's a step closer towards it rather than away from it so I don't see why one would feel the need to boycott it.

Because the current version meets all my needs and I have far more productive things to do with my time. I'm not recommending the approach to everyone, just saying it's best for me.

Dirhael

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Re: Perfect Software?
« Reply #35 on: November 09, 2007, 11:03:29 AM »
Quote
The next version of foobar2000 is not a perfect software product, but it's a step closer towards it rather than away from it so I don't see why one would feel the need to boycott it.

Because the current version meets all my needs and I have far more productive things to do with my time. I'm not recommending the approach to everyone, just saying it's best for me.

Oh, no I understand what you're saying and I would not have upgraded yet myself either was it not for the fact that I just recently formatted my HDD and started from a clean slate anyway. It's just with regards to the topic at hand (perfect software) I found it odd to boycott the updated version when the current version still could use some improvements. Perhaps I'm just reading to much into the word "boycott" though, because when I hear that word on the web I imagine these guys going around message boards telling everyone how terrible something is, asking people to sign petitions where they are letting (in this case) the developer know how much they hate both him, his mother and the dog ;)
Registered nurse by day, hobby programmer by night.

nosh

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Re: Perfect Software?
« Reply #36 on: November 09, 2007, 11:44:55 AM »
Hehehe! No. FWIW, I love FB2K.  :)

Curt

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Re: Perfect Software?
« Reply #37 on: November 09, 2007, 12:00:34 PM »
... a question: does anyone know of a software company that said at some point, "this thing we make is as good as it needs to be, so we're not going to improve it anymore?"

A perfect program of its time was Dale Nurden's TClockEx 1.42


master.gif


Also, Alexander Davidson's MetaPad 3.5, as mentioned on page 1.

[Edit: "Notify"]
« Last Edit: November 09, 2007, 12:07:51 PM by Curt »

J-Mac

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Re: Perfect Software?
« Reply #38 on: November 09, 2007, 12:30:35 PM »
A couple of examples come to mind. I'm not sure if it was a conscious decision on their part, but the fact was that these applications languished, and are now really historical footnotes.
  • PKZip - While this did everything it aimed to very well, a "bloated" Windows app (WinZip) eventually cleaned its clock despite using the same underlying algorithms.
  • Lotus 1-2-3 - Languished in the version 2 realm for ages, waiting for others (particularly Microsoft Excel) to catch up. Eventually a version 3 was released, but it was too little, too late. At one time "Lotus" was synonymous with spreadsheet, but now that name seems to carry the connotation of "Notes".

In both of these cases, while the app itself may have been well-suited to the platform it targeted, the evolution of platforms (particularly the triumph of Windows over DOS) sealed its fate.

A similar story is in progress for the super-organizer Zoot, but I hope that the sequel comes out before the story ends. This is still a 16-bit app, and has been passed by by the need for rich text and volumes of data beyond what its 16-bit space can handle. It's been tweaked continually, but hasn't had a major revision in several years. Luckily, there is now a public beta for a 32-bit port, so hopefully it will fight its way back (it deserves it).

This all seems to imply that even when an application is "just right", the developer can't just rest on his laurels. The evolution of the platform underneath him will eventually kill his product just as surely as poor quality might.

(edit: fix formatting)

Wow - Lotus 1-2-3.  Used it, and WordPerfect 5.1, for many a year.  And, Oh my I am going to show my age here: I used - and actually trained people - in Visicalc prior to Lotus 1-2-3!!

And you're right to an extent - I have never been able to work in any version of Excel as easily and productively as I did with 1-2-3.

Jim

J-Mac

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Re: Perfect Software?
« Reply #39 on: November 09, 2007, 12:32:50 PM »
... a question: does anyone know of a software company that said at some point, "this thing we make is as good as it needs to be, so we're not going to improve it anymore?"

A perfect program of its time was Dale Nurden's TClockEx 1.42

 (see attachment in previous post)

Also, Alexander Davidson's MetaPad 3.5, as mentioned on page 1.

[Edit: "Notify"]

"of its time"????  I still use TClockEx 1.42 today - it is installed om every PC I own!!

Jim

CWuestefeld

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Re: Perfect Software?
« Reply #40 on: November 09, 2007, 01:06:35 PM »
Wow - Lotus 1-2-3.  Used it, and WordPerfect 5.1, for many a year.  And, Oh my I am going to show my age here: I used - and actually trained people - in Visicalc prior to Lotus 1-2-3!!

Interestingly, I think you've got the counterexample there as well. It appears to me that WP completely did itself in by rushing to expand features (and platform, viz Windows and OS/2), yielding an application that was unusable (and I mean literally unusable: there were so many problems that it just wasn't possible to be productive with it). IIRC, that was around version 6.

Actually, I wasn't particularly a Lotus 1-2-3 fan. I very much liked the spreadsheet in Enable's OA suite (bias alert: I worked for the company!)

Anyway, my point was that part of the value of an application is how well it works in the context it's used. This context changes as technology and platform progress, so what seems "just right" today is likely to be less good in a couple of years. And this isn't just because competitors have newer features, but completely on its own, it may be less usable.

Just like my old LP records: I loved them 25 years ago, and they haven't gotten any worse, but I don't listen to them anymore.

Curt

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Re: Perfect Software?
« Reply #41 on: November 09, 2007, 02:53:27 PM »
"of its time"????  I still use TClockEx 1.42 today - it is installed om every PC I own!!

Why? Didn't you upgrade to XP or Vista? I don't think TClockEx looks good on XP (so now I am using BetaClock from AlfaClock. (Hmmm... I see there is also a version that comes with "a loader" - I haven't noticed that one before. I think I will try it now!).
« Last Edit: November 09, 2007, 02:56:44 PM by Curt »

Armando

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Re: Perfect Software?
« Reply #42 on: November 09, 2007, 04:18:23 PM »
The cure: Use an old 233mhz machine with 64mb ram as your only pc for the next few years.

You will start to seek out and love the small single purpose tools that have no bloat. You will lose your desire to upgrade and begin to look for things in which you can actually downgrade to the most efficient version. You will begin to really look at features offered and how you actually use the software to decide if the added features are of any real benefit to you.

But then, the worst will happen, and the object of your desire, for too long violently repressed , will shift ; and you'll slowly be moved by awkward feelings ; envy, lust for that shiny 4ghz super light laptop with a 8h battery capacity...

Ralf Maximus

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Re: Perfect Software?
« Reply #43 on: November 09, 2007, 04:32:39 PM »
Quote
The cure: Use an old 233mhz machine with 64mb ram as your only pc for the next few years.

And sometimes I hit myself in the head with a hammer, because it feels soooo good when I stop.

Ralf Maximus

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Re: Perfect Software?
« Reply #44 on: November 09, 2007, 04:47:53 PM »
Interesting.  From Abobe comes this news: They're planning to strip down the PhotoShop UI to bare essentials.  "Everything you need, nothing you don't want".

http://blogs.adobe.c...photoshop_as_se.html

Of course, it'll mean a new version... but maybe they're headed in the right direction.  I just hope they don't pull an Office2007 and replace a complicated but understood interface with something "simple" that really isn't.

tinjaw

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Re: Perfect Software?
« Reply #45 on: November 09, 2007, 06:41:46 PM »
Personally, I think Hello World is the only program that should have ever been created.

Ralf Maximus

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Re: Perfect Software?
« Reply #46 on: November 10, 2007, 12:30:07 AM »
Personally, I think Hello World is the only program that should have ever been created.

I disagree.  "Hello World" is just a ridiculous bloated version of the original "Hi World".

I never botherd upgrading.

f0dder

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Re: Perfect Software?
« Reply #47 on: November 10, 2007, 05:01:18 AM »
"Hi World"? Why do something THAT bloated, when we know the correct lUNIX way is not to output anything on success?!
 
- carpe noctem

tinjaw

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Re: Perfect Software?
« Reply #48 on: November 10, 2007, 08:57:46 AM »
Personally, I think Hello World is the only program that should have ever been created.

I disagree.  "Hello World" is just a ridiculous bloated version of the original "Hi World".

I never botherd upgrading.


Yahya

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Re: Perfect Software?
« Reply #49 on: November 20, 2007, 09:46:22 PM »
[...] Anyway, my point was that part of the value of an application is how well it works in the context it's used. This context changes as technology and platform progress, so what seems "just right" today is likely to be less good in a couple of years. And this isn't just because competitors have newer features, but completely on its own, it may be less usable.

Just like my old LP records: I loved them 25 years ago, and they haven't gotten any worse, but I don't listen to them anymore.

What a wonderful and perfectly apposite simile!

I reject the notion that "perfection is unattainable".  Yes, many open-source developers do fear creating an actual Version 1.0.  That may be because they don't live in a commercial world that obeys the Pareto Principle, aka the 80-20 rule: The first 80% of anything takes 20% of the time; consequently and conversely, the last 20% takes 80% of the time.  In their view, an app is only perfect when it contains every feature that someone's grandma (who only really uses her PC to heat her log cabin in the Tasmanian wilderness) ever asked for.  But for the rest of us, an app, like anything else, is perfect if and only if it does just what we want.  For example Windows Media Player 10 was perfect for me; now that I've upgraded to version 11, it keeps trying to synchronise my digital camera, which is not how I use it, so that the later version is actually a downgrade.


edit by jgpaiva: fixed quote tag
« Last Edit: November 21, 2007, 10:44:26 AM by jgpaiva »