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Last post Author Topic: Revitalizing the Reviews - Everyone Read in Please  (Read 16823 times)

Edvard

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Re: Revitalizing the Reviews - Everyone Read in Please
« Reply #25 on: February 21, 2006, 10:25:41 AM »
Nice find!!
Quote
It's freeware until 1.0, then who knows.
(from the website)
Quote
REAPER versions 0.4-0.99 are freeware, but starting with version 1.0 the license will change to very reasonably priced, uncrippled nag-free shareware (supporting unexpiring full functionality in unregistered form).
So, like, um... DonationWare, eh?

superboyac

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Re: Revitalizing the Reviews - Everyone Read in Please
« Reply #26 on: February 22, 2006, 05:44:06 PM »
You know, since the LateLate 90's to EarlyEarly 2000's I haven't really heard much about lately is Music Software. No, not mp3 encoders or the latest "yet another mp3/ogg/flac player with playlists, skins and cddb" but real, hands-on music creations software. I'm talking the likes of Acid, ReBirth, Cubase, Fruityloops, ProTools, and the scads of free-and-shareware projects that sprang up around them. For that 4 years or so, a few well known names came up and are now almost forgotten due to being snatched up by bigger fish (e.g. Sonic Foundry = Sony orca-bait) or disappearing altogether. Superboyac mentioned a few and it made me wonder... where are they now? Who are the big players? The up-and-comers? The Open Source renegades (Okay, okay... I know the answer to THAT one... Audacity) Is the desktop DAW a dead subject? It's been a long time since I've been in "the scene" but curiosity kills me sometimes... If I had more time I'd do a Mini-Review of "DAW-Tools of Yester, er, uh... 6 Years Ago!! but, you know, if I had the time... I'd still be interested, though. Maybe even help out a tad...

I think the open source market tends to be less accessible for these specialized, professional applications.  Most of the freeware and software that we talk about here are more like general "utilities" that help us do things (notetaking programs, little "snacks" to make life easier).  Once you get into the truly professional realm, the market becomes much smaller, and begin we're talking about software that costs hundreds of dollars and are used by professionals to accomplish professional results.  I think the major DAW tools fall in this category, along with software like MS Access, AutoCAD, etc.  So, while it would be nice for this kind of software to also join in on the whole open-source thing, I wouldn't expect too much.  I mean, it's not like a guy like you or mouser is going to spend his free time coming up with a Cubase replacement...that's pretty major.  Second of all, my expectations would be very low that even if someone ventured to make these programs open-source, that it would be as robust as Cubase or the other industry standards.  Sure, things like OpenOffice.org and the Gimp come around once in a while, but:
a)  Can you really say they are as good as the "industry standard" in all the subtle aspects?
b)  You just can't depend on these softwares to eventually go open source, so you're stuck with what's established anyway

It's an entirely different can of worms than shareware/freeware little applications.  For example, I just came back from training for a specific Electrical Engineering software called SKM (which I was really impressed with from a software standpoint, I'd write a review, but no one would care here!) and this software costs thousands of dollars.  Just imagine, if an open source program came out that was truly as good as this program, this entire company would be out of business...and quickly at that!  You have to remember that there are only a handful of users of these kinds of software and the word would quickly get around if something was out there free and just as good.

So what am I saying?  I don't know, really.  I guess when you get to a certain level of software (and you can tell what level that is) you know if you can expect a good open source program on that level or even several reasonable competitors, but for the most part, there are the industry standards, and that's that.

mouser

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Re: Revitalizing the Reviews - Everyone Read in Please
« Reply #27 on: February 22, 2006, 08:13:56 PM »
Quote
For example, I just came back from training for a specific Electrical Engineering software called SKM (which I was really impressed with from a software standpoint, I'd write a review, but no one would care here!) and this software costs thousands of dollars.  Just imagine, if an open source program came out that was truly as good as this program, this entire company would be out of business...and quickly at that!


this is definitely getting off topic, but i'd just like to add that i disagree with this.

i'm learning more and more over time about the price that has to be put on TIME and SUPPORT.

it seems that companies who buy these thousand dollar software products are buying the support system associated with a company as much as they are buying the software itself.  maybe someone like sentinel who does enterprise level purchasing can jump in here, but it seems to me that a company would rather pay $5000 for some software and be confident that if they have a problem they will be able to pick up the phone and get some tech support, than pay $0 and then end up with no one to contact for help.

this is why youll see a lot of the open source business models that are basically all about suppot.  the software is free, but you can buy a support contract for major money..

superboyac

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Re: Revitalizing the Reviews - Everyone Read in Please
« Reply #28 on: February 22, 2006, 10:57:40 PM »
Quote
this is definitely getting off topic, but i'd just like to add that i disagree with this.

i'm learning more and more over time about the price that has to be put on TIME and SUPPORT.

it seems that companies who buy these thousand dollar software products are buying the support system associated with a company as much as they are buying the software itself.  maybe someone like sentinel who does enterprise level purchasing can jump in here, but it seems to me that a company would rather pay $5000 for some software and be confident that if they have a problem they will be able to pick up the phone and get some tech support, than pay $0 and then end up with no one to contact for help.

this is why youll see a lot of the open source business models that are basically all about suppot.  the software is free, but you can buy a support contract for major money..

OK, this will be my last thread here to keep it on-topic, but just to finish the thought...

True, mouser, I wasn't even thinking about that at the time.  Yes, the companies definitely do buy the support that comes with this software.  I think your exactly right.  For example, if SKM didn't give the support they do, I can see their software being pretty worthless, given some of its specific complexities.  Thanks for that last bit about open source business models...I always wondered (was amazed) by how companies can just write some of these complex programs for free and just give it away.  But if they get money for their support, I can see the value in it, so that makes sense to me.  I like that, because it gives the opportunity to an individual to play with the program on a personal basis, but also provides serious companies with the reliability and support they need to use the software on a professional level.

Ok, end of discussion (at least in this thread!).

Edvard

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Re: Revitalizing the Reviews - Everyone Read in Please
« Reply #29 on: February 23, 2006, 02:37:51 PM »
Quick Reply...
@superboyac:
I didn't mean to imply such a scope. I was just wondering how the Music Creation Software 'scene' is nowadays. Many websites of (especially) the share/free-ware tools are either gone or not updated at all. Some are hanging in there with a huge community that was built from the ground up but probably not a whole lot of new members. Perhaps I'm just waxing nostalgic for the days when everybody and his brother was writing trackers and VST plugins instead of Winamp skins and mp3 rippers. Anyways, I agree this has gotten off-topic and maybe we oughta take it to another thread...

superboyac

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Re: Revitalizing the Reviews - Everyone Read in Please
« Reply #30 on: February 23, 2006, 03:31:22 PM »
To bring this thread back on topic...
Mouser, for those of us planning on doing some in-depth reviews, what's the best way to submit them?  For example, if I were to do a long, detailed review, I don't want to type it all up in this forum's posting box.  So, should I do it in a Word document or something, organized and formatted just right?  Or should I use some special format that is DC-worthy?  I don't want to give you something and make more work for you, by having to reformat and change fonts, etc.  So if you tell me beforehand, we can all learn the "proper" submission process.

mouser

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Re: Revitalizing the Reviews - Everyone Read in Please
« Reply #31 on: February 23, 2006, 04:04:59 PM »
great question.
since we are trying to improve the layout, i have asked reviewers to simply write their reviews in anything they like, word, notepad, etc. but do NOT do any formatting.  ie dont bold, center, justify,etc. take screenshots but either just add them simply to the text or just add a link like [screenshot1.gif goes here].  do not use hard linebreaks to format text to 78 characters, use a text editor that supports wordwrap.

in other words, write it in something that will make it easier for us to format for final output when we determine the final output formats.

superboyac

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Re: Revitalizing the Reviews - Everyone Read in Please
« Reply #32 on: February 23, 2006, 04:15:24 PM »
Sounds good, I guess I will simply write it in my favorite text editor.

Edvard

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Re: Revitalizing the Reviews - Everyone Read in Please
« Reply #33 on: February 24, 2006, 01:29:30 PM »
Maybe post a css and those who are willing can write the generic html. That way you control what gets bold, center, etc. and we just provide the raw ingredients. Doable? or too complicated?

mouser

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Re: Revitalizing the Reviews - Everyone Read in Please
« Reply #34 on: February 24, 2006, 02:03:19 PM »
i think we still first have to make more fundamental decision about whether we want to present the reviews using some kind of content management system or something that would handle things like presenting it in multiple pages or one page for printing, etc.

zridling

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Re: Revitalizing the Reviews - Everyone Read in Please
« Reply #35 on: March 27, 2006, 10:38:50 PM »
My own reviews would be limited to my interests, and perhaps that's a good model for others, too, like myself. However, the programmers here are on a whole higher level of understanding when it comes a wide variety of software, and able to intelligently talk about their more complex and arcane features. For example, although I'm deeply involved with and interested in text editors, I could not have written the in-depth review/s that mouser did on the subject; I just don't know enough about code folding and other, high-end features to write about them with ease.

On the other hand, like nudone, if graphics — or perhaps word processing, spreadsheets, or disk management — software is your expertise (i.e., love), then you have an advantage that can be shared with the rest of us. Same is true if you develop an interest say, in some utility software or outlining software or what have you, for example.

Review categories can naturally be expanded; for example, when mouser followed up on his text editor review to update many programs there, and nudone's recent extended review of DonationCoder.com's Graphics winner, ACDSee, which has now evolved toward professional photographers with ACDSee Pro. Those kinds of reviews are not only enormous time savers for users, but are able to show you why certain programs deserve our attention.

For my Archive Tools review, most of my time (literally a entire month) was spent testing the programs' features, and then retesting and retesting in comparison with each other. I also tried to read every review I could find online of archivers, and detect their weaknesses and strengths. Most reviews were interested in only one thing — compression ratio — and nothing else. But compression ratio alone doth not make a great archive program. Thus, there's a measure of judgment that one must bring to the final review.

Fortunately, when I had questions or needed help with certain archivers, someone here in the DonationCoder.com family came to my aid, and mouser himself is a lifesaver, so you won't be alone. These are some things to consider, and if you do decide to dive in and write a review, you'll learn more than you ever expected to, and have a blast!

superboyac

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Re: Revitalizing the Reviews - Everyone Read in Please
« Reply #36 on: March 28, 2006, 12:41:33 PM »
Mouser, you know that I'd be willing to do the reviews.  But I may have a few suggestions as to how to make this process more manageable to most of us who are pretty busy with our other commitments.  I won't get into it right now, since I have to go back to work, but I'll post something soon.

By the way, as far as reviews go, there are "reviews" and there are "shootouts".  The shootouts are A LOT of work.  Reviews aren't so bad.  I can review an individual piece of software and do a good job once a month or so.  But a shootout is a whole other animal, that is a huge amount of work.  And, I think we're finding out that shootouts are difficult to do a good job on because there never is clearly one best winner, and if we start getting into things like picking multiple winners and such, it might make the shootout less meaningful.

mouser

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Re: Revitalizing the Reviews - Everyone Read in Please
« Reply #37 on: March 28, 2006, 01:37:36 PM »
Quote
By the way, as far as reviews go, there are "reviews" and there are "shootouts".  The shootouts are A LOT of work.  Reviews aren't so bad.

basically our main full reviews are all shootouts, and as you say they are a LOT of work.  very few people can survive them with their sanity intact, and all who have attempted them have had a burnout period afterwards.

the single app "reviews" we have been calling "member mini-reviews"

we really do need to find a way to make it easier to do the full review shootouts..  there are several people working on a few of these now and they really take a lot out of you..

i had an idea recently:
what if we made the full shootout reviews a sort of product of the mini reviews?

for example, what if we said, ok this month we are going to do a full shootout of text editors. then asked users to write mini reviews and/or their comments about which program they think is best and why, with screenshots, movies, etc.

then it would be the job of one person to combine the most relevant aspects of the mini reviews to product a shootout summarizing them.  this is similar to the "What's the Best" child board in the review section (http://www.donationc...index.php?board=78.0).

zridling

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Redefining what "review" means?
« Reply #38 on: March 30, 2006, 11:00:09 PM »
Something else might be to define the status reviews by type and approximate number of words:

Mini-Review: 500 words or less, focused on discussion of one program, namely it's latest release;

Review: 1500 word article that reviews in significantly more detail a specific release of a single program;

Shootout or "Review of..." [Archive tools, Downloaders, etc.]: 4000+ word review of four or more of the leading tools within a category, rather than an exhaustive, kitchen sink approach, which can still be done, but is perhaps unnecessary.

Hirudin

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Re: Revitalizing the Reviews - Everyone Read in Please
« Reply #39 on: March 31, 2006, 04:58:52 AM »
[At this point, I haven't read the whole thread, I read too slow, and I'm too tired]

I'm with nudone on this one, in la la land I'd like to write a review or two. I've thought about writing reviews of the various DVD copying software I've been using lately. But every time I think about what I would write it turns into more of a tutorial, instead of a review.

Would it be appropriate to have a tutorial section on the site? I'd like to share my knowlege of DVD copying techniques if I could.

Hirudin

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Re: Revitalizing the Reviews - Everyone Read in Please
« Reply #40 on: March 31, 2006, 05:03:33 AM »
Something else might be to define the status reviews by type and approximate number of words:

Mini-Review: 500 words or less, focused on discussion of one program, namely it's latest release;

Review: 1500 word article that reviews in significantly more detail a specific release of a single program;

Shootout or "Review of..." [Archive tools, Downloaders, etc.]: 4000+ word review of four or more of the leading tools within a category, rather than an exhaustive, kitchen sink approach, which can still be done, but is perhaps unnecessary.

I think I can safely count myself out of the "Shootout" category, but I would like to give a go at another mini-review or review or two. As I mentioned, I know a fair amount about "ripping" CDs and DVDs to use their content on your computer. I think I could do acceptible mini-reviews of ~4 pieces of software right now.

CoderMan

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Re: Revitalizing the Reviews - Everyone Read in Please
« Reply #41 on: April 05, 2006, 01:20:48 PM »
This matches with my feeling that the Reviews are the single most critical aspect of DonationCoder to improve.
---
It's just a ton of work to do these reviews, pure and simple, and *most* people just aren't cut out for writing things like this.  It takes some discipline and love of detail, and real self-motivation.

im not asking for commitments to once per month - in fact im not asking for any commitments at all, just trying to find some people who are interested in embarking on a journey to make our review section a real showcase for the site...

I've snipped until your quotes are tattered and in shreds, but the essence is intact. :)

Agreed, writing reviews takes a lot of work. They are, however, very useful when deciding what to download, whether a particular software could useful, a waste of time, or even damage a system.

I'd like to do this, and having you ease the level of commitment is reassuring.
« Last Edit: April 05, 2006, 01:24:06 PM by CoderMan »