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Author Topic: How NOT to Conceive Software Trials (and some new ideas around them)  (Read 2142 times)

ital2

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This is a triple spin-off from http://www.donationc...?topic=43711.new#new (CintaNotes Pro with 50% discount), from http://www.donationc....msg408619#msg408619 (Navicat Review) and from http://www.donationc...ex.php?topic=43805.0 (On Software Pricing).

So now the CintaNotes Pro freebies are gone - the immediately following posts were in answer to a placeholder -, and those who had the chance to read my teaser yesterday, in time, are able to try out its tag management to its fullest. (Did you know there is such a thing as a Google Tag Manager? Neither did I, up to this morning, but then, it's not for our file system...) As said in the teaser, what immediately follows may be obvious, but current state of affairs seems to prove that even for the bloody obvious, writing it down sometimes should come as helpful.


First. Given the marketplace for notetaking apps and what CN currently (! this may quickly change though) has on offer, it appears that not its current prices are the right ones, but that the original prices were too low, and it's at those prices from yesterday that most people you could consider as heavy users, bought their lifetime, or then, when lifetime was not included anymore, at least some Pro, which they then sometimes "update" by buying fresh on bitsdujour for example, when Pro is for sale there, and from where the developers only get a pittance anyway. It goes without saying that this mistake of those early years cannot be amended, but there's a second, running mistake which currently costs CintaNotes thousands in missed opportunities I think.

Second. In general: 10-day trials are rare, since most people just don't have the time to use such a short delay thoroughly: They have their professional life, their family life, brutally, they have got other, "better" things to do than to spend . Let's learn from Directory Opus, but it's not only their 60 days as a timeframe, it's another aspect, too - and of course, the longer the timeframe, the higher the risk for bad software that prospects discover it's not for them; I do NOT suggest this may be the case of CintaNotes and wouldn't take the time to write down these suggestions if I thought otherwise; no, in CintaNotes the current weaknesses are evident from first try, and in order to discover its strengths, you need much more time.

In general, always, and especially with CintaNotes' tagging system: Considering the above, starting a 10-day trial with the coupled free version (!) is suicidal and never-heard-of; there are cases though where developer provide a 30-day trial which, then only, reverts to some free version. In general, always: This often makes sense since in 30 days, the users will have become more or less accustomed to some more sophisticated features, and when then after a month, they don't get them anymore, they may be willing to pay. Or they discard the whole thing if they don't want to buy; it's simply too frustrating in most cases to continue the free version, after some more days or weeks in which they will decide upon purchase or abandon, depending, of course, on their impressions of usefulness ("do I need such software?") and quality ("how does it compare with similar software?"). But for the trial-users-prospects in order to judge that potential usefulness for them, they must have a chance to have built something in that software from which then they can appreciate if it's useful or not; especially for CintaNotes after 10 days, that's not the case.

As for DO's 60 days: Depending on the software, and certainly with a sophisticated file manager, in 2 months people will have done lots of tweaking and personalizing, so that after 60 days, buying becomes almost mandatory, in order to not lose too much investment in time and effort. (Abandons of DO will occur within the first week or so, but certainly not after extensive trial I suppose.) So in the case of DO, it's not about building up raw material, but it's about having built up the tweaks and manners ON the raw material, the files (and the time investment made in constructing them / "putting them together") and which for a new file manager constitutes then much of the "aggregated worth" of the thing for you.


A psychological AND practical thing: Many developers provide 2 versions, a free one and a trial one, and this concept comes with 2 advantages:

The psychological aspect: Frustration of the users would be less, since they would not know the paid-for features, in detail at least, so inclination to use the free version is much higher than in the aforementioned slap-in-the-face case, and so either the developer will never sell, or he will be able to influence his freeware users over a very long time to try out, and to buy the paid version. This requires frequent updates of the freeware, too, with absence of further crippling of the freeware by such updates - slap in the face: even if it's then in the interest of the user to buy, they will not do it, for fear of such a dishonest developer getting their money -, and with quite some advertising for the brilliant features of the paid version, advertising available without additional effort from the user, so the info should be integrated into the free version. I know users complain about menu entries just going to advertising, the giveaways by Swift-To-Do-List being not-so-convincing examples, but I could imagine much better teasing during long-term freeware use than that applied by Dextronet. Taking away functionality from the freeware is neither a problem in CintaNotes nor in Swift, I just mention it here in general; all to the contrary, CintaNotes regularly enriches the free version, too.

The practical aspect: With 2 different files for 2 different versions, free and trial, the user can get acquainted with the program whenever they please but start the trial whenever they have time and/or the demand for it: There is a real demand for "playing around" with some software, in order to see if you like the way it handles things - there are big differences in "handling stuff" between softwares doing more or less the same thing -, and then to really trial and decide upon buying when the need arises, which may be some weeks or months later. In other words, you have two possible discard decisions here: First, you "trial" the freeware version, in order to have a look (and without a time counter running), to sense if you like the style, then you either discard the freeware or begin the trial; almost immediately or at a later time; for the latter, you decide if "is it worth the price" and/or "does it meet special requirements of mine".

I understand a developer doesn't want to make their freeware too powerful, the distance between free and paid versions must remain considerable, but if the freeware is too basic, it'll probably be discarded too early, that is before the user will be ready to make a trial and/or buying decision, based on their extended use of freeware. Now CintaNotes is a very bad example for this either since here again, it's obvious that the freeware version is a very, very good, and functional, one, so that Alex Jenter, the developer, from this aspect at least has got all the chances on his side to finally "seduce" the user into buying.

But this incredible chance for Alex to have the user build up a functional, extended notes repository in CintaNotes (which should remain perfectly stable then since it builds upon the usual SQLite database engine), then come to the conclusion that they need some better tag management - which the Pro version provides -, and then extensively trial the Pro version, falls short, since those 10 trial days will then be long gone, instead of the user having built up the necessary material which then will need sorting out, be given some "room", some time in order to do so - bear in mind the user doesn't know yet, at that point in time, HOW to build up such a tag tree, so they will need some playing around, so that 10 days even then would be way too short.

It's obvious that forcing an immediately-starting 10-day (real) trial upon somebody who just wants to get a rudimentary idea, a "feel", at that moment in time, is not a wise decision, by general means, but as said, for a program that will become useful to its fullest extent AFTER some time of gathering material in it, such a suite "install > immediate 10-day trial > then good freeware but without the chance to sort the material into something manageable except for buying without trying" is suicidal.

A note program needs notes. These notes will come from here and there; it needs some time for them to gather in considerable number. This is different for people like me who gather or write dozens of notes each day, but the general public will need some time in order to get together some hundreds of notes, from which then they'll feel the need to re-organize, to really organize, them. While you don't have such a number of notes, what use for a tag tree (which is the main sales argument for Pro here)? You could play around a little, gather some 20, 25 notes, then hasten to see how to best organize those 20, 25 notes in CintaNotes' tag tree which could probably handle very well thousands of notes, but how could a user discover such organizational strengths from playing around with some dozen of notes: that would not be very natural to begin with, right? If the tag tree, the organization of tag combinations, and in various combinations, is done well, I mean if its functional in organizing many, many notes, you cannot reasonably discover with some dummy data, with just some notes upon which you force aleatory combinations in order to try out what they would look.

No, it's after some weeks that you'll have gathered a body of sufficient size and different, and in themselves quite coherent groups, so that it'll make sense to now try out hierarchical tabs, or even more to the point: Then you will even NEED to try them out - if you're more into organization than into searching at least. That'll be weeks, months after your 10-day trial ran out, so now you'll either buy the (having become) expensive paid version without the chance to try it out first, or you export your stuff into something else, abandoning this software, not taking the risk (that had been my reaction at the time), or you do what many people do, you just hold "some" stuff in it, and which then will grow old in there - that spares you the effort of exporting what you will have put in -, and you probably will never consider buying, without knowing how well it could it all organize, probably.


From the above, it becomes evident that even a 30-day trial for CintaNotes (and similar organizational software which first needs the stuff to organize then; DO doesn't have this problem since most new pc users will first use the in-built file manager, then switch to something better when the Microsoft thing isn't able anymore to correctly organize it) would not be ideal, and it's also true that a developer makes available their free version in order to incite as many freeware users as possible to buy their paid version, so it's in the developer's interest to remind their users of buying, but not by nagging - which, most of the time, will result in the abandon of the freeware -, but rather by proving how useful the paid version NOW could be for them. So it seems that a dedicated free version, and a distinct trial, isn't the ideal solution either, since it doesn't take into account the fact that the freeware's justification of existence is the developer's interest in selling the full version, and most freeware users will not additionally install and trigger the trial, since it's simply too much fuss for them.

Thus, a combined version indeed, but 10 days at the beginning, then another 10 days after 30 days or whenever the user switches to it? As said, there is some learning involved on the user side, so 10 days is not sufficient, but we're speaking here of software which is regularly updated anyway, and that brings a big chance for renewed trials. Also, there is the question of what "result" of a trial period will remain available to the user after possible reverting to free. If you provide repeated trials, it's evident that the user, within such a period, should be able to create as many additional categories as they wish, but if afterwards you allow for adding any new note into such an additional category, users could find a way to create the necessary categories within the "trials", and then use the software as a quasi-full version, in the meantime.

Some applications allow for free shifting forth and back between "trial mode" and "free mode", without time limit for the former, but it's evident that in order to do so, AND to prevent free use of that combo as a fully-fledged paid program, they have to cripple their "trial mode" in a way that the user will never get the full "user experience" the paid version could provide to them, so what about some full 30 consecutive days of trial whenever the user is ready to switch to trial, BUT with a warning dialog if they didn't gather too much "material" up to then (too few items and/or too few tags): "Wouldn't you gather some more material before starting your fully-functional trial, or do you prefer just some 10 days of trial now, for just playing around with the full power of CintaNotes? The remaining 20 days of trial you can then turn on anytime you want to seriously bring in order all your stuff! - 30 days now - 10 days now - Buy now - Escape (must think about it before deciding*) (You will not lose any of these alternatives by escaping now)".

Any serious prospect (which means users who in case would also happily buy if convinced) will either chose 10 days or escape (abort would be the ugly, technical term here), and with every new update (or with an annual major update) you could make available the full functionality for another 10 days (and saying so then), but firmly withholding, after the first 30 days (10 plus 20 or 30 in one time), any re-organization capabilities. Whatever they will have formatted during those trials, will stay formatted (to mention another feature of the full version; never ever take away from the user), but those repeated trials will bring no chance to sort it all out anymore for free, while on the other hand you will already have gathered so much material that "Pro" functionality is really needed, while abandoning the program is out of the question now!

Similar renewed short-time trials could well help developers of other kinds of applications and even when no free version is available in parallel, since normally, the user will trial and then either buy or discard/de-install even, and then, in most cases, never ever trial again, all the less so since in most cases, since will be technically impossible, the trial/trial residuals blocking any new trial installation (or then it'll say "trial period is over"), while SHORT trials should be possible after every major update at least: 5 days every year, even with actively inviting the user to trial anew (and touting the major new functions) - but with an opt-out of course; rare will be users who this way will be able to fully take advantage off such an application, and it's 100 p.c. sure those will perfectly know all the other ways, too, needed to take advantage of trials as long as they need the application in question.

So, it's about giving the user the chance to really (!), effectively trial your application, and even when they missed that the first turn around for personal reasons, there should be second chances (and those users should know about them*), and if you do a free version, there should be repeated chances to get another, quick, but complete look, another 10 days with limitations, or another 5 days without any limitations (but then only once a years, not for minor updates).

*: For example, upon de-installation, not only the usual links to the developer's web site is possible, but also, from some (quantity-only) analysis of what the user has been done with the application up to that moment (and such quantity-only analysis - and which then, upon the dialog, should be communicated as such-only, in order to not enrage the user wanting to leave and who's very surprised anyway) is possible for any application, for example and also by timing the time spent within the application), from such quantifying analysis os real use of the application, the dialog could say, "You did not use this program much, just for creating and/or modifiying 3 files; instead of completely de-installing this program completely, why not leave it there for the time being, and have another trial [it's not necessary to mention here already that it'll be a rather short one] after the next major update? For that, this program will just ask once a month (!) for the existence of just an update (which then you can install or refuse, and also you will be able to de-select further such searches; except for this monthly check, the program will do nothing else! > "OK for now - No, get rid of it, I'll never want this crap again! - Esc (I'll have perhaps another look but don't want to decide now, in any case"

There are many possible variants within such a strategy, but any of them should take care of 1) never let go a prospect before they clearly say so, 2) not having them say so except when they really hate you (which means make offers, to not break the dormant relationship before it's really ice-cold, and which they very probably will not refuse otherwise), and 3) facilitate your prospects taking additional chances to get acquainted with your application afterwards, be it their "fault" last time around or be it that your application really wasn't that good enough last time so that you wouldn't have bought neither, hadn't you been their shoes.

And forget my 5 days above. Make it 10 days each time around, fully-functional, but not for minor updates, so that's it another 10 days once a year, and if you win your prospects' gratuitious "loyalty" by a free version, you don't even have to "sell" another trial: Your customers-in-waiting, once a year, are waiting for it, and if really they only buy after 4 years, discovering and experiencing that ace functionality which finally makes it worth for them to pay, that's so much better than having had them turning their back years ago.

Btw, the same is true for paid updates: Make them available for 30 days in a row, and if really then your customers don't want to pay, re-activate their recent version again. As it is, too many applications "sell" their paid updates from the feature list only, making it unnecessarily complicated for the user to go back in case.

It's about experiencing the usefulness of the full, of the updated version. This cannot be realized by playing around with dummy data, nor by not very clearly communicating or even actively inviting that the new version is ready for trial, even when previous trials did not fully convince the prospect.

And yes, most of the time, it's by lack of real data that web services trials fail. Are those web services vendors megalomaniac? Do they really think you leave your life data behind, begin some new service, out of twenty or so of the same kind and thus with no assurance you'll stay with their service? And then about your data which in the meantime have NOT been correctly entered into your life system?

It's one of the strengths of an application like CintaNotes that prospects are willing to enter some "addditional" data into it, data which up to then they probably would not even have stored at all, by lack of a quick, efficient way to do so. In order to sell the "Pro", make them dependent on it, and then have the "Pro" demonstrate how well it all can handle it.

I don't know how specific web services do this, but for example, when you got from Evernote paid back to free, they say you don't lose data gathered with paid, for example ocr. But the subscription model, when there is no corresponding free model (anymore), brings the problem of export, and of exporting in some format which henceforward will be acceptable to you, or let's put it bluntly: When EN becomes too expensive, people go to OneNote since that transfer is technically possible and convenient.

But it's very ironic that my model described above, multiple, fully-functional, time-limited trials in order to get free users paying or non-cutomers as customers, is even so much easier to technically implement in web services, while their model almost invariably is, one trial, then pay, or even, free with poor functionality, or pay for a year or so, then you can probably go back (if our free model continues to exist then). There could be much more flexibility, in order to push sales... or, in this case, service rents.

Btw, web space is rent, but web applications are not necessarily by rent: It's perfectly possible, technically, to buy your own web service you then install, say, on some amazon server; in other words, you'd not be dependant on some service provider, you would own your data and could shift it, together, with your web application, so some other space provider, or even to your own home (well, let's be realistic: office) server. The current situation is a transient one, where most web application developers see themselves as web services developers, alleged one-stop shops which in fact rent the web space they then rent out to you, and their coupling of data and of the not-making-available of their (for that: multi-customer, but would it not be multi-user most of the time anyway?) software is just for maximization of revenue reasons, so this should not hold for very long, corporate needs being different, and the needs of small businesses are, too. It's just that today's desktop software will go mobile, but its current replacement by web "services" will be ephemeral, it's just too much loss of control except for consumers.


Edit May 19:

Original short post was clearly worded as a placeholder AND was put here since I had wanted to give the possibility to readers here (thus the original title with "read this today Friday"), even when they don't check the usual freebies sites daily, to get the main example application in question for free, in a situation where my musings about the final subject weren't ready yet; at the same time I promised them for the following day (which for the freebie would have been too late), and I replaced the placeholder/freebie note that following day. (Another lead, from somebody else, in some other forum, was posted hours later than mine here; it was followed by a Thank you; the reaction here were quite different, weren't they?)

As for the "triple spin-off", I not only gave the abbreviated links and which do not contain the titles, but I also put the respective titles in parentheses, so that nobody, not being interested in reading the sources, was lent into following those links, in order to check them, since I made that check possible by reading the respective thread titles here. (Also, I put follow-up links into those sources, and in a similar non-obtrusive way, not as new posts over there which would have appeared in the thread list as such and would thus have incited readers to gratuitously open those threads, but as edits; with the exception of course of the main originating thread, in order for the main example application developer to easily find the link to my suggestions:

Since that developer monitors that originating thread, let's see if the 10-days-from-start-on will be changed to something else; for example, to very simple, to something like 60-days-from-start-on, as in DO; it's correct that DO has the technical means available, and uses them, in order to prevent multiple installs on the same hardware, while without those, there is a certain risk for the program to get unwanted free users, but those will be very few in numbers: the under-18 bunch who want to get anything for free no matter the effort, probably don't have so much use for a tool facilitating serious stuff, so there would be no real sales lost but many to gain, and if they really use, not only "own" it, even those "all mine!" kids will end up buying.

Some other little things I don't want to bother anyone with: Re Apple's Mac generations: it seems that both the F-key and the touchbar versions are from October, 2016 (with the said price difference of 300$/€), and that thus for some time at least, both versions will be available concurrently; also, the traditional wording for context-sensitive F-keys seems to be "Soft keys". - And last but not least, re software pricing: It appears that a higher price is also needed for status within a competitive environment, the proper term is "positioning", and then not so much more functionality is needed in the meantime: The higher price not only is accepted, but, conversely, helps (!) with the appreciation of the software/product as "superior"; I think DO does this extremely well, also since the premium (as put into perspective in the relevant thread interlinked and identified in this post) is very reasonable... while the surcharge for TB (ditto) is very considerable, but may also be reasonable, considering the very different respective user scopes (number of possible users) of a) a slightly higher-priced, very functional file manager vs other quite functional file managers (light premium not off-putting), and b) a strongly-surcharged data repository with graphical representation of items and links vs traditional data repositories (lists, trees) probably more convenient for everyday use of many users (then premium not off-putting either (very strong "exclusivity" factor) as soon as the alternative content rendering isn't off-putting anymore: if the main aspect isn't attractive but to a minority ("select group"), then those few will be inclined to pay even much higher prices, and instead of those prices harming volumes, they even facilitate the purchase decision: "club" effect).


Edit 2
Add-on May 19 - The Reverse Strategy: Hiding probable foils from the trial

In my article "On software pricing" and here, too, I spoke of TheBrain (TB) and its pricing; above, I said that neither CN nor DO have got any reason to fear an extended trial period; nor have many other applications btw.

But TB has, in a way. Some time ago, I had been surprised about the very poor import facilities of TB; maybe, they are better now, but I doubt that. My research found that TB staff was not interested in resolving this "problem" - at least, at the time, I had naively thought this would be a problem for that application -, and also, some user had written some import script, for some import format I don't remember, but after having unsuccessfully tried to sell the script to the TB developers, instead of making it available to TB users, he offered to sell it to them, one by one, at individual - maximized - prices. So that was then.

Now, in light of what I said above, and in light of what I know about TB, I see the whole thing very differently. When I said above, Give prospects a chance to trial your application in real-life circumstances, and thus after they will have had a chance to gather the necessary material in order to discover the strengths of your software, I now think that TB, while their trial period is the usual 30 days, it's not in their interest that prospects trial their application with large datasets, and within 30 days, those would either come from import or would simply be not (yet) there, in most cases.

Don't take my words wrong, I'm not implying TB isn't worth anything, I just think it's a quite valuable software for strategy, analysis and other tasks at hand, in the way of a spiced-up mindmapper. But those monster "plexes" they show you on YT and elsewhere, they look brilliantly and evolve the way they want you to see it, but you don't have a chance to WORK with those monster files with a maximum of items and interlinking, you just get the graphics' awe, but you don't get any feeling how it would be like to enter new elements into, or retrieve existant elements of YOUR choice out of, such TB monster files: You'd risk to discover in those processes that clarity suddenly isn't there anymore.

Now, by deliberately taking away, from most prospects, the chance to import their existing text/text-plus-photo databases, they limit the risks that prospects may discover that TB monster "plexes" are very probably far less manageable than their video presentations try to convey, while on the other hand, the quite little "plexes"/databases they will have the chance to build up from scratch, within 30 days, will stay quite functional and quite pretty, all the more so since trial users, because most of them will have to do it all from scratch, will be inclined to creae not one quite extensive "plex", but several quite tiny ones which will remain perfectly lucid, for example for strategy, planning, different aspects of one thing, and in which TB probably even excels.

This way, TB effectively optimizes (by intent - as suspected but not proven by me - or not, but at any rate by its outcome) the chances trial users will discover the strengths of TB, while missing its probable foibles before buying (and since it's a little bit on the expensive side, and since those users after buying and after discovering those possible problems will probably say to themselves, Oh, I could have discovered in time though!, many of them will then add, Ok, so now I have to negate those problems, in order to maintain my self-concept. A better solution to this dilemma would be to apply for some 60-or-90-or-even-180-days money-back guarantee ("no questions asked!"), and indeed, many applications come with a trial period AND such a refund policy - which, btw., is even another way of quicker selling of good software (but is often hampered by buyers not trusting such a guarantee from developers not having sufficient status in the market) -, but TB does not, to my knowledge, at least I searched google and their store faq in vain for it, and indeed, they would be badly advised to offer it (it's not specialized strategy-and-similar software). (Btw, current price is not 249 but 219, or the full monty for 299, 159 for subsequent years.)

As always, the example, here TB, stands in for the strategy it possibly follows or which can be applied to it, and the ideas described can thus be deployed to other use cases, even in dissimilar software or outside the industry. Regularly purging your forum from disturbing posts prospects may stumble upon is another successful element in any sales strategy and which of course is applied by TB.


Add-on May 25, 2017:
Another variant in inefficient trials: Trial too short to appreciate probable strengths, here not by lack of material but by lack of user experience

In the Navicat thread (link above) I probably spoke of its short 14 day trial. What I didn't mention though over there was the fact that I had installed and de-installed Navicat (not the free design version but the trial SQLite version) several times, and with de-installing always the same day of my install, but all that within those 14 days, so I didn't become aware of the fact that the trial didn't count my use days, about 2, 3 or 4 within the trial period, but that upon very first install, it set a final date of 14 days in the future.

Today, I tried another re-install, which worked, and then, upon opening the program, I was told to buy the program, and the dialog told me my trial was done at day x, some months ago.

Since that info is stored in some encrypted format anyway, somewhere on my computer, it would have been easy for Navicat to also store my de-installs, respectively, to store the respective lengths of installations, not in hours but in legal days, a de-install the same day counting for one day of installation; this way I would now have about 10 or 11 days of 14 left.


Why would that have been important? Since some months ago, I had been a bloody beginner with SQLite and just trialed the program by playing around; as explained elsewhere in this forum, I then went to SQLite Expert, for several things in Navicat for SQLite I hadn't been happy with, among them at least one replicable, big bug upon designing the database. Thus, at the time, because of that, I hadn't been that much more interested in the program's everyday capabilities for browsing the databases and editing the records, once the database design had been done.

Unfortunately, most SQLite database browsers are really, really bad, be they paid or not, and that's because most of them don't offer word wrap, in grid view, or even at all. Thus, when the text in some field is too long for the field's display, you must revert to horizontal scrolling within that field, which can become absolutely awful if the text length is not just a little bit larger than the field's width, but would need 3, 4 or more times its length.

As I probably said in the SQLite / SQLite Expert thread ( http://www.donationc....msg408674#msg408674 ), SQLite Expert offers word wrap; at the time, I mistakenly thought this was standard for paid database browsers/managers (and as said, SQLite Expert even has got it in its free version); I could not have been more wrong.

With SQLite Expert, I'm not that happy either now since whenever you do not only browse records ("select * from ... where ... ...") but then want to edit some "find", you will quickly discover that SQLite Expert offers word wrap for display, not for editing then, and thus, every little change is quite demanding, if it's some real change, not only some add-on at the beginning or the end of the record.

So now I've been trying to find a better alternative, not for the design (which I did, as said, with (free) SQLite Browser / Browser for SQLite), but for retrieval and changes, and now, as said, I had to discover that even for display, even most paid SQLite browsers don't offer word wrap (for example SQLiteManager (3.9.5, 49$; could not trial version 4, being on XP). (Some would offer more complete text display in an additional blob pane, but only for texts in blob format, not for text in text fields, and AnySQL Maestro (free) has got an additional, multi-line field, but always says "n rows fetched" after a query, even when then you select some field within the results and expect the text of the additional field to change to the full text of that field; since that is so and since I had trialed SQLite Maestro (99$) some months ago and now probably cannot trial it anymore, I suppose that in that paid program, it's that way, too, but cannot say for sure.)

Rare are the SQLite browsers which at least have got some "memo" pane which means that the content of the currently-active field is also displayed, and more complete, in an additional field; also editing is then possible there, and in the original field. But then, some of the browsers didn't even allow editing at all, in the grid showing query results (with or without "F2" or other means), but editing records was some extra function in those applications and needed display of another part of the program in which, you bet, the search results of the query were lost but where you had then to search for the record(s) to edit by some "find" function (for example SharpPlus SQLite Developer, 49$).

Also, at least for editing, you would expect a no-word-wrap browser to then show a better, multi-line "edit field", but for example, SQLite Expert has got such a field within an additional pane for if you disable inline editing, but within that additional pane, all these editing fields are of equal size, which means that three quarters of the space within that pane is sacrified for big fields without any content worth mentioning (space for 300 characters or such for a field containing 8 or 10 characters), while for the field you need to edit, you first must scroll down within the pane in order to even see it, and then it's too short for its content, and you must again scroll down within the field - so much for coders and them designing GUIs.

Edit May 28: SQLiteSpy: No field editing possible even when "no edit toggle" is set to "no", allowing for edit. F2 doesn't work, double click in a field doesn't do anything, Del in the memo field does not work, just Backspace and inserting but the "edits" you do there then aren't replicated to the cell, and the menu command "Edit cell" is greyed out. From its name, edit is not included, so probably the edit commands available have been met there for future developments; no way to know since there is no help file. And so, [End of edit]


from these experiences, you will understand that now I had become interested in trialing Navicat (89) and SQL Maestro (99$) again, which for Navicat, as described, was impossible, and which for SQL Maestro would very probably have been impossible, had I tried against all chances.

Application developers, be their trials a laughable 14 days or the usual 30 days, almost all start from the triple premise that their programs are only trialed by users who

- have the time ready in order to fully trial
- have got the material ready to really trial (see above), and
- have the necessary experience ready in order to know HOW to "correctly" trial.

It's evident that only in rare cases, all three conditions are met at the same time, and for example, even a very experienced user - "experience" here meaning experience with that particular kind of applications AND with the tasks at hand within the context of their use - could get some new deadlines within the time frame they had the intention to trial the program, and thus, after technically having begun the trial, would have to postpone it to some later time: For most trials, even an immediate de-install would probably not help; see how it's done by Navicat or probably most others.

It's evident that my observations only apply to time-limited trials, while there are other ways, but it's evident that if the developer cripples the functionality of the trial, in many cases the user will either buy from assuming, from help file reading, from making the mistake to imagine the functionality, missing from the trial, otherwise than it's executed in reality - or they will refrain from buying, precisely from fear of making such mistakes, from some bad experiences of that sort in the past; the latter is my reaction to crippled trials, but if combined with a money-back guarantee, AND if I had some expectation that in case, I would get my money back, a trial could be made. (In the web, reports abound re the applications of some big Chinese consumer graphics vendor who systematically refuses refunds, while they strengthen it in their advertising though.)

The only notable exception within the time-limited trials and of which I know is Beyond Compare: The trial is 30 non-consecutive days - the thing I had tried to do with Navicat - but without the need to de-install the program in-between.

I hadn't had in mind that program when writing my original post because in the context of a note-taking program, it's evident that the use of such a program would be daily... but the re-arranging of the notes (tag-tree management) would be not. Also, make the note-taking possible any day, and limit the note-management to 30 days, would be possible as I see it now, and perhaps 30 days for that would be a little bit long IF there is no time limit to the distribution in time of these 30 "special" days, but you can clearly see the possibilities here.

It seems the developers of Beyond Compare are the only ones, up to now, who have understood - but without communicating their find to the industry except by implying it by how they realized their trial - that users, in order to really trial, must have the time, the (real-life) material, and the experience to do so - their trial meets all the requirements, for their program in question. (What they haven't understood yet is the need to do file compare incl. moved blocks; but that's another discussion, which btw has been done in their forum and in this forum here, years ago and without results up to now.)

It's evident that 30 non-consecutive trial days is very lavish and would probably not meet the requirements of most developers, but some non-consecutive trial periods with the same program on the same computer should definitely be possible, and without the need to de-install in-between, and it goes without saying that the developers should, as I described above, communicate the possibilities to their trial users, AND should communicate to them how to best take advantage of the trial set-up in question, in order to discover the strengths of the program - and all that within a framework that prevents the user from "using" the program for free. As explained above, smart (!) time limitations can do that, and without hindering the trial user to build up the necessary material in order to then much better appreciate the strengths of the program.

Btw, Navicat Lite only handles the very first 1,000 records of any database, not only on display of query results, but for the retrieval of any query result, too, so it's completely worthless; had I known this before, I would never had mentioned its one remaining download link here; I had thought it was helpful, but none of any free Navicat product ever is, as we thus have seen.


Again May 25: Allow (time) for comparisons!

In the above, I missed one simple aspect which does not even have to do with the need of first gaining some experience with that kind of software: The developer of good software should cope with the fact that a trial user will want (and has the "right") to trial several competitive applications. He should cope with the fact that a trial user may even choose to discard his* software, for some aspect or another, and then want to trial it again, since in the meantime, they (the user in question) have become aware of the competitors' foils, so that now they would like to check if they prefer to rather live with those of the provisionally discarded software (as I had, unsuccessfully, tried with Navicat, by de-installing it several times after just hours of trial each time).

It's evident that within even 30 days, let alone Navicat's ridiculous 14, such a "going back and check again" is not possible, and even 60 days will not be sufficient a time frame whenever, for any reason there is, the trial user will have discarded some software in favor of some other (for example for freewares, as in my case here, or then, when a user goes back to a free file manager but, with more specific requirements now vis-à-vis this kind of application, wishes to trial, let's say, DO again, 4 months later, the, apparently generous, 60-day trial period will be gone, too.

Thus, if you try to consolidate, to synthesize, all of the above, it becomes evident that any rather good software, which doesn't have to fear comparison (or at least any application which has got chances by the saying, "in the land of the blind..."), even on second or third try, should make possible such new trial, from a new perspective, which has now become a real "compared trial".

Thus, whenever possible, the developer should communicate his trial set-up and clearly state that it's in the users' interest to NOT trial every day but just for trial purposes, and that this is possible then even over a very long period of time, the application not storing private info, but storing trial days, AND communicating how many will be left. Also, this info should be stored whether the user de-installs the program or does not, so that even a previous de-install will preserve the remaining trial days. It's then up to the developer to prevent trial users from using his application in lieu of the paid program, by ways of combining with a smartly devised set of full functionality vs restricted functionality.

For note-taking programs, I gave an example above (continuous note-taking but management of notes only on special days, and certainly not 30 such days spread over a very long time), and for a database viewer or a file manager, it's evident that further trialing would not necessarily include saves of changes (IF this lack of functionality is clearly communicated: bulk rename's preview without the rename, copies/moves intercepted by a dialogue "n files would have been moved now", and so on: in good code, that would be a thing of just some minutes for every such functionality withheld from completion); it's just that all the functionality should be available in demo mode ("what does it do, how does it do it, by which (necessary) steps, by which GUI interactions):

It's about re-checking if you're willing to live with sub-optimal software, now knowing more or less intimately about the sub-optimality of its competitors.

*: I say "he" for "developer" since probably about 1 out of 1,000 developers isn't male (even Judy's Tenkey is (now) programmed by a man).

P.S.: I know about technical means like virtualization, restore points and so on. I think most software is for the general public, and the better part of that general public should not to have to be bothered with considerations like, "should we set a restore point, then trial some applications we've been eager to trial for some weeks/months by now, then go back to the point and have Windows updates reload for hours, let alone problems with mail and such of the meantime, and not even thinking of our not being allowed to set any settings from now on, for weeks, within our regular programs?"

That's all ridiculous: Make your application available to users; don't have them resort to convoluted stratagems in order to overcome fears of even some little "looking into it" making it unavailable for them for all future, short of buying (almost or completely) blind.


EDIT June 10, 2017: Make available the trial without asking for too much information
The (immediately) following isn't a new idea at all, but it hadn't been mentioned here: It's common understanding that by putting up too many hurdles before the possible begin of any trial, developers harm their business.

Just recently, I would have liked to trial WinSQL (free, 99$, 249$, from Synametrics) since the "Prof." and most expensive version looked appealing to me. They've got a trial in the usual form, it's 30 days for "Prof.", which then reverts to "Free". Unfortunately, they don't give away this trial but by
- asking for full disclosure, incl. street address, telephone number, etc., AND
- they say you'll receive the trial link by mail,

which in combination, in most cases, means that if you fill in dummy data into their application form, you won't receive any trial but they will first try to reach you by telephone, during their business hours. This is an incredible nuisance; it's similar to only get prices for some car or other assurance but by giving them all your personal info, and then afterwards you'll be flooded by mails and letters (when you will have unsubscribed from their e-mail list), and they always speak of your "application" when all you ever wanted had been some price.

It's not identical since Synametrics DO give a price, but as for all the rest, they do exactly as those developers for which a price must be a quote which means they try to get the max price from anybody, googling first their name, corporation and all that, and then think about the price which they will offer to you... all this when you don't even know their software except for their marketing speak and, perhaps, some screenshots.

Ok, ok, cynics will now say that the fact that probably 90 p.c. of all non-corporate users will back from ever trying is WANTED by those developers: They simply aren't interested in your (here:) 99 or 249$, but that they want only sell in numbers*.

To me, that appears to be exactly the opposite of what some other developers do: They (almost or really) give away their software to students, in the hope of them, later on in some corporation, will trigger licenses in numbers; this latter strategy can be VERY worthwile I think (ie if the software is of use in corporations, AND if it's particular and strong enough in order to not being overwhelmed by some other, competing software which isn't a competitor but simply has got almost all the market), while the strategy of "not interested in your bucks, and we let you know by pestering you" is just dumb**.

*: If they don't even do it for that effect but because they're just dumb, it's even worse, since, as I said above, there's really nothing new here so they should know better.

**: Of course, they hope they will have less customer service to do (10 licenses for the price of 8 but only 4 times the effort), but then, that's another misconception: Developers should do MUCH better help files AND charge for answering questions which are clearly (!) answered in those help files ("clearly" also implying "easy to find"): Clarifications needed because of a bad help file are not customer service but just product development, and customer service should be paid for - when developers complain that users don't read their help files, I'm sure they, the developers, do it wrong on BOTH ends here.

Some developers install a user forum, also in the hope that users will answer questions among them. This works, to a degree; in reality, the developer will, in most cases, either have to answer the question himself, or at least intervene after partial/wrong answers from fellow users, and this again and again, since the clarifications are somewhere in the depths of his forum, instead of being added to the help file, with just a short link to the user forum - the first time the question comes up; after that, any "short link" would trigger almost the same effort, and even checking the questions would cost time.

So you can see that a traditional user forum is to be avoided: Much better is a double help file, local and in the web, with monthly updates of the local one from the web one (not scrambled, no effort), and with amply links from the former to the latter (or even automatic updates upon every local consultation).

Then, users/buyers would put their questions into some field "in" the topic or near/"above" the topic (within their local help file, ie with user identification, and after the update check), ie into the field of a possible parenting topic***, and they either will get an invoice (10$) or a "thank you" and the link to the updated/newly created topic; in borderline cases, they would get a link, no invoice, no thank you either (and the developer should think of some additional clarification).****

And after some years, that software would have got a perfect help file and a very pleased, disciplined user base, instead of some inscrutable forum and an overworked developer with no time left for real development.

***: It goes without saying that today, it's so simple to put one (sub-)topic into any context it's needed ("cloning").

****: Wishes for the software would be handled the same way, they should be put into some inbox or into "related" subjects, and then be put, by the developer, and together with his opinion, into special help file pages (what about a different background color, chamois instead of white?) but which there are at their systematically-correct position: "Function xy? No." (and then the developer's argument for refusing them); "Function yz? Not yet./Will come soon./..." (And the circumnavigation for the time being, example for missing OCR in some information management package: How to use basic OneNote/EverNote for that while waiting.)

This would build up strong customer loyalty and strong expectation in order to ensure users regularly "go with" paid updates, and such a system could even become a reminders system for users having not updated: They would not only get the help pages for their current problem within their current version, but they would also get all the NEW pages, but in pink, in order to see what they all miss!

Btw, that's also the perfect system in order to get rid of "old" help pages within the online help system: As it stands now, almost any software with a forum has got 10- or 15-years-old help questions or bug reports which for 10 years or so have not been relevant anymore... but SOME of there still are, concerning problems which have never been resolved, so any non-expert-user, let alone any prospect, is LOST in those forums, not knowing which topics are of relevance now.

Ditto for bug reports: Just on the help pages to which there are of relevance, but with orange background, and any update will delete the pages bearing resolved issues, or will update those which have not been resolved ("we didn't find the cause but continue to search for it").

In development, well-organized developers all have got some "table", some database for follow-up of issues, but after release, they are willing to live with forums where about 80 or more p.c. of the messages either have become irrelevant or are (partly) wrong/misleading now.

Why do software users have to live with such a mess, which then prompts 2/3 of their new questions btw? Have your state of affairs online in real-time, and users and prospects will extrapolate from this superb organization (which, as implied, demands far much less effort than the traditional ways) onto your software, will happily cling to it, will happily buy it, some "not resolved/possible/available yet, but we're working on it" issues notwithstanding.

Demonstrate your program can be put into an up-to-date, systematized knowledge base; don't allow for users which, in 2017, want to know how to set sound track and sub titles of some DVD in Zoom Player, to be shown on page 1 by google tips from 2004 about that (not even how) to install additional "filters" from somewhere, not knowing if possibly in the meanwhile (13 years!) they COULD find the individual language settings somewhere! (See my Zoom Player add-on in the Software Pricing thread about ruining software by withholding base functionality.) Btw, it's also a sign of respect to not steal hours of wading thru some forum with thousands of posts and almost no info about the current state of the issues discussed over there.

In a word: Make your help file interactive. (I've never seen this done; if you have, please share the link(s); and I changed the title from "about" to "around", in order to align it to my add-ons.)


EDIT June 11, 2017: VIP Customer Service (incl. No-Reply) at Cyberlink
Yesterday, I missed relating some real nice little story perfectly illustrating how dumb people can be when they try to coerce you into their product by all means; this as an add-on to my WinSQL story where my interest in some software product had been aborted by too much zeal on the side of the developers, too.

Some time ago, I've had a question about PowerDVD, clearly stating I would buy immediately if the answer was yes, and that was indeed my intention.

First reaction from Cyberlink, the usual automated receipt, nothing to say against this, except perhaps for the more than ridiculous "VIP" name, but perhaps that appeals to 13-year-olds; on the other hand, pricing's a little bit on the steep side for little children**, but it would have ok with me. So:

From: CyberLink Customer Support no-reply@vipmail.cyberlink.com
Customer Support E-Mail Response
Dear ...,
Thank you for contacting CyberLink Online Support.
We are handling your question and will reply to you shortly.
Please do not reply to this mail. It is an automatic response and has been sent to acknowledge that we have received your submission.
If you have further questions at this point, follow the link below to edit and resubmit your question.
http://www.cyberlink...es.do?isNewQuestion=...

Then I waited a few days, and in came the second reaction from cyberlink, and again I got the real VIP treatment:

From: CyberLink Customer Support no-reply@vipmail.cyberlink.com
Customer Support E-Mail Response
Dear ...,
We would like to inform you that a response to your inquiry was posted at the URL. Please visit this address to view the response.
Note: For your personal privacy, a CyberLink account is required to view the response and keep an inquiry history. Get a CyberLink account for free right now!
URL: http://www.cyberlink...esponse-page.do?pId=...

Isn't that lovely as a treatment for eager would-be customers? Needless to say I've never created my Cyberlink "account" and have continued to use WinDVD instead, and I'll never know if the answer was yes or no:

If it was no, their way of treating my request would have been particularly nasty, stealing an additional 10 minutes of my time for the "account" creation, and if it was yes, their try to manipulate me was a hilarious fail, creating lose-lose instead of win-win, and they should have foreseen that, in order to not get treated like sh** in case of a No, I couldn't create the - then totally useless - "account", so a smart correspondent would have said, "It's my pleasure the answer to your question is yes. Please create an account with us in order to get the details how we'll do it!", and I'd be happy to go into that effort; this just as an advice how smart customer service staff could at least individually overcome the blatant dumbness of their superiors.

AND of course, there are some - rare - developers who not only prevent prospects' writing in their forum, but who even prevent them from reading in there; even though I don't remember the name of the product(s) currently, I've seen this at least once, quite recently - so much for sheer idiocy for today?

NO: I changed this thread's title again, why? Because, together with the term "conceive", "trial" will get you to artificial insemination on google, and almost exclusively so, and that's why I think the additional term "software" may do no harm here.

AND: The above cyberlink "links" ain't links, but they remind me of some artificially-created problem: Who invented that idiotic idea to abbreviate links in web pages in the first place? Weren't they aware that there's no link left when the reader copies the text which contains them, to some zettelkasten*? (It's said there's a special FF add-on which then fetches the original links from the source code and replaces the abbreviated ones in your clipboard with it; should try that, but it would be so much less fuss to have correct links in DonationCoder, for example.)

*: Oh, one more, this reminds me. In spite of a 10-minutes' search, it has been impossible for me to find Tietze's own zettelkasten product, neither on his site christiantietze.de nor on his site zettelkasten.de - just other products, and third-party zettelkasten software he recommends for Windows/Apple; probably it's a language problem (it's all in German over there (?)). But then, I would have liked to at least find some note with regards to that - defunct? - product, so we can note here: Communicate about things people MIGHT (still) search your site for, and be it solely because that reflects - both ways, positively or negatively - upon the other products you still sell.

**: Oh, what did I say? They ARE still real links, and they'll inform you: PowerDVD 50 p.c. off, just 85 bucks now, but just for a few days, so hurry up, and this will put their VIPs into ecstasis minus 70% (as quite very often during the year, see my remarks over in "Software Pricing" which apply here), and who wouldn't have wanted to be a PowerDirector for cheap at the age of thirteen? (Just 80 bucks; alternatively, there's a vacancy for a PhotoDirector if you prefer stills, just 50, down from 169.94. Oh my God what a treat.)
« Last Edit: June 11, 2017, 08:25 AM by ital2 »

eleman

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Re: How NOT to do Trials (Read this To-Day, Friday)
« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2017, 04:32 AM »
Wut?

anandcoral

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Re: How NOT to do Trials (Read this To-Day, Friday)
« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2017, 06:42 AM »
Hi ital2,

Your message is like Windows Error Message. Lots of text but ...
Can you edit your message and make if useful for us, members.

Regards,

Anand

ConstanceJill

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Re: How NOT to do Trials (Read this To-Day, Friday)
« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2017, 06:44 AM »
So huh… basically this is a teaser for some thread that will actually start tomorrow? ^^'
Well, also with an invitation to download said software for free, so it's not completely pointless for today, I suppose… thanks for the notification then ;)

Curt

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Re: How NOT to Conceive Trials (and some new ideas about them)
« Reply #4 on: May 14, 2017, 01:13 PM »
How NOT to compose a thread.

Ath

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Re: How NOT to Conceive Trials (and some new ideas about them)
« Reply #5 on: May 14, 2017, 01:22 PM »
(first post after massive edit of 13-05-17 from ~10 lines to ~300 lines)
tl;dr

Wut?
@ital2: please start your own blog, imo preferably elsewhere

eleman

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Re: How NOT to Conceive Trials (and some new ideas about them)
« Reply #6 on: May 14, 2017, 01:29 PM »
Is this a new trick to get better pagerank on google or something?

If yes, I submit the proposal for the deletion of the whole thread.

IainB

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Re: How NOT to Conceive Trials (and some new ideas about them)
« Reply #7 on: May 14, 2017, 10:24 PM »
Weeell, having only just now read it, I'd not be in such a hurry as to discount the value of that OP (Opening Post) by @ital2 as the comments that follow it would seem to do.
I say this because:
  • (a) Starting from the basis of 3 specific references to threads elsewhere in the DC forum, the OP makes some valid and pertinent points and arguments about some perceived deficiencies of software trial periods. Those trials would thus arguably seem to have been ill-conceived trials. I could understand this approach only too well, as the sorts of deficiencies described have often been perceived by me as being just that (i.e., "deficiencies", and mostly annoying) - this is from the experience of some years of developing, selling, Beta-testing and trialling software of various types, including CRIMPing(*1).

  • (b) The post then makes some valid and constructive suggestions, with some new ideas, about how those trials could be better-conceived and targeted for optimum user take-up, increased user/vendor benefit and improved overall marketing of the software products.
    ________________________________

Thus, given that the title of the OP is "How NOT to Conceive Trials (and some new ideas about them).", the post itself would seem to be pretty much exactly on-point.

It takes some effort on the reader's part to read and digest (or maybe even internalise?) some written material where the writer is attempting to communicate several different, but interrelated/interwoven threads in a complex argument. Whilst one's mind might be able to grasp such a thing "in the round" - maybe even seeing it as "simple" - attempting to articulate it as a cohesive whole in such a manner as that others might then be able to comprehend it is not necessarily always going to be an easy thing to do - and I would suggest that that could be the case with the OP above. The classic model for communications theory - if not the initial responses (above) to the OP - would seem to confirm this.

Unless the OP was written by a clever AI program, it would seem to be a tad discourteous not to make the effort to at least try to understand and recognise the sense of what the writer of the OP was trying to say to us. Having made the effort, I consider that the OP seems to be spot-on with its subject and I think the ideas suggested are new (to me at any rate). (I say this without wishing to comment on the style or use of English in the OP.)

The conclusion/summary is sufficiently concise about that (the ideas):
So, it's about giving the user the chance to really (!), effectively trial your application, and even when they missed that the first turn around for personal reasons, there should be second chances (and those users should know about them*), and if you do a free version, there should be repeated chances to get another, quick, but complete look, another 10 days with limitations, or another 5 days without any limitations (but then only once a years, not for minor updates).

In addition, I find the reference points and the expansion of points following the conclusion to be rather interesting and worth discussing. Generally, anything that could be done to improve the usefulness, value and marketability of software trials would probably be welcome.

I wouldn't necessarily say that it was all an overly easy read, but I hope that I was at least up to the challenge of trying to read and understand it and I also got some value from it - in the shape of some new/innovative (to me) ideas and some alternative ways to articulate/perceive some of the relatively familiar (to me) deficiencies in software trialling.

References:
______________________________
(*1) CRIMPing:
Quote
OneNote note: 2014-01-25 1625hrs: Definition of CRIMP (Compulsive-Reactive Information Management Purchasing):
CRIMP, crimp
CRIMP defined
Posted by Stephen Zeoli
May 10, 2006 at 01:05 PM
         
CRIMP stands for a make-believe malady called compulsive-reactive information management purchasing. Symptoms include:
 • never being satisfied with your current system of information management
 • continuously being on the look-out for something newer and better
 • purchasing every new PIM program you learn about
 • and secretly hoping you won’t find the perfect PIM, because then you’d have to stop looking for a better one

So, when someone speaks of succumbing to his or her CRIMP, it means acknowledging that they’ve purchased another PIM program even though they really don’t think they need it.
There must be a 12-step program for over-coming CRIMP, but who really wants to? It’s too much fun.
  Steve Z.

 From <http://www.outlinersoftware.com/topics/viewt/17/0/crimp-defined>
________________________________         
« Last Edit: May 15, 2017, 12:27 AM by IainB »

Giampy

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Curt

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Re: How NOT to Conceive Trials (and some new ideas about them)
« Reply #10 on: May 15, 2017, 09:08 AM »
My previous post now seems to have a different meaning than intended. My problem with the initial post is the announcement "tomorrow there will (still) be a post here, but then with a different text". When I modify my various posts, I do it for clarity or for correcting errors. But ital2 did it quite differently; he wrote an entirely different post! We are not telling him to use fewer words (PLEASE, USE FEWER WORDS, ital2!!), but we're saying that he should not change the entire content the way he did.

^That is what I was trying to communicate:

How NOT to compose a thread.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2017, 04:07 AM by Curt »

ital2

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If you didn't get CintaNotes "Pro" for free last time, today's the day again, and Zoom Player Max is available on Sharewareonsale for free, too, see my added remarks above with respect to both; CintaNotes is following quite bad examples as I see it. Further added details also in the "Pricing" thread - I didn't held up the distinction between pricing, trial conception and other marketing considerations (incl. giveaways) as strong as at the beginning lately - and database beginners* or users interested in how programs like CintaNotes work behind the scenes should refer again to the "SQL" thread again; it'll become of interest if google will better cover that last one one day (down to the middle of next page currently, so that's probably not that appealing for google); while my Trials and Pricing threads are about remote  subjects, admittedly, the SQL thread is as unique and of practical relevance for quite some people: Reading's quite demanding since it's written in the form of a journal, but compare with endless hours of unsuccessfully tryings things out when without the info being hidden there.

*: No, I'll put that over there, let's see if that helps a little bit for google.


EDIT (same day): Meta
In order to make my additions easier to find, I won't add to previous posts anymore but just to my most recent one; this is also true for posts in other threads; at the same time, nuisance to people not wishing to be bothered by my posts will continue to be minimized, by rarefication of said posts-to-be-notified to them.

EDIT (same day): TheBrain
I had spoken of TheBrain above, also with respect to my impression that it's not so much apt for big data repositories in its current form, and in the Pricing thread, about its quite clever pricing/positioning. Today, I've got finds for both aspects: According to http://forums.thebra...cyber-monday-8325459 , on Cyber Monday, 2016, they did a 10 p.c. discount, and still, they said, "We have had many users taking advantage of the sale today. We hope you can too, but if it's still not in your budget please use the free edition as long as you want." - If that's true, it would be in line of what I've said above on their pricing strategy; in the context of what I've said above and especially over there, it could very well be that full-price customers, especially those which don't use the program on a daily basis, because of its inherent problems (see the next paragraph), could lose some of their "select" feel and develop buyer's remorse if TB followed the advice of that thread's starter, Moltaire, "10%? What kind of a discount is that? One major barrier to adoption is the high license and subscription price, especially that whopper of a first year. That prevents many people from ever becoming paid users. If you had offered the first year for $159 and the pro license for $110, you would have recouped the losses of the lower prices with tons of new users. Or is my economics off? Curious to hear what other people think." - of course, other TB users held back their opinion, just TB responded.

And this http://forums.thebra...ith-thebrain-8413647 will be of interest for anybody interested in data visualization or just in data organization in general; this is not to be discussed by me here since it hasn't got anything to do with pricing/trial conception/marketing, just this: In some authors' writings in that thread, there is some undertone implying that users not intimate with TB may be overwhelmed by large TB "plexes", and that this was so partly because they simply aren't on par with TB - sort of "how to make its strength presentable to the masses"; but other authors identify the problem more correctly, as a more general one, and they even get so some intermediate solutions: mctrexler, "over the last year I've integrated a comprehensive Index into my Climate Web megabrain, and the Index alone is now up to >1000 entries" - of course, such meta-navigational tools are needed for any user, not just for not-smart-and-or-initiated-enough new users, and they should not be made by hand but programmatically, and then, in a further step, should be created and maintained by the program itself, so this thread clearly indicates where TB should bring in its main development efforts. Or the same author in another post of his, "But with no ability to use one-way thoughts to structure what people see, or to use basic "report" abilities to allow users to structure what they want to see, or to be able to filter TheBrain content in any way, it's VERY difficult to overcome the problems of cognitive overload in anything but the simplest of Brains (and the simplest of Brains totally miss the whole point of Brains)." - it certainly is an intriguing, fascinating application, it just has quite some additional conceptional work to do, in order to become really useful, by adding and optimally integrating sort of supra-navigation.


EDIT June 16, 2017: SQLite Manager (SQLabs): the most appalling of them all
As said in the SQL(ite) thread, there's also SQLite Manager from SQLabs, as an SQLite frontend, and speaking of version 3.95 here. The trial comes with severe limitations which make it unusable for daily work, but, in theory, you can use it to get acquainted with the functionality; limitations are listed in the nag screen, which then invites you to "Register - Use Demo - Buy Online".

THEN, though, after some (10? 14?) days, you'll* get a dialog, "Database Encrypted - Database file SQLiteManager.exe seems to be encrypted. Please enter the encryption key: - Cancel - OK" (Cancel closes, OK (without your licence number or whatever) brings further dialogs to enter your license number).

Note that we're not speaking of some encrypted database files (ie .db files possibly encrypted by another frontend), as the dialog would seem to imply, but of an encryption of the executable, of the application file itself. So what we've got here is a "trial" that comes with almost-total functional crippling - which is clearly communicated - AND with a (quite short) time limit** which is NOT communicated - up to now, I did not encounter any worse trial design than this, short of course of destroying your system; SQLabs SQLiteManager trial just destroys itself without warning.

*: Well, I get this dialog, at least, and even after "Repairing" the application with a new (!) download of the .exe (which the installer permits, which is a good thing when it works).

**: Or then, it's so buggy that even their "repair" doesn't do anything about it, which would be as bad.


EDIT Night June 16/17, 2017: Bulk Image Downloader (BID)
Speaking of good laughs (see below), www.sadanduseless.com is one of the best sites for dog and/or cat lovers (see the list of the 15 most popular threads, but also more than 150 pages available by the links at the bottom of the homepage); it's not for those only though, some current hit is http://www.sadanduse...com/2017/02/fashion/ .

BID is probably one of the best examples of simple but outstanding software, and one of the best examples how to do trials, etc. It had been mentioned here as being very good, but reasons hadn't been given, and I would also like to describe the trial.

I had tried half a dozen or so image downloader, free and paid, and none of them came even near the 25$-BID because the task is not about downloading almost anything several levels down (see for example Neo Downloader which I had been unable to do the simplest things but which brought me tons of rubbish, or other competitors which just find and download some of the pictures, and just in the quality present on the page while there is better quality just a link farther), but it's about to just download the pictures, but in the best possible quality, from the current page, and BID (only, it seems), does this highly effectively, from any sorts of web pages, for every picture there, even if that picture is much larger than a thumbnail, it checks if there is some link to a higher-quality picture, and then downloads that, all in bulk, as the name says.

The trial will not stop but lets you only choose up to 100 pictures to download from its pre-download (it identifies all the pictures, then loads thumbnails; on a slow pc, you'll just display a list of them, on a faster pc, you'll have those thumbs displayed, and then you can de-select the ones you don't want BID to download for good, into a dedicated folder for each bulk download if you want it that way; I have a slow pc, so I have it download just the whole list it will have created, and then I delete unwanted pictures afterwards, in FS picture viewer or elsewhere.

As implied above, the trial will download hundreds of thumbs, but as said, it then only downloads the first 100 pictures of the list which means that you even could use the trial for real "work"/fun since you could trigger the thumbs download as often as needed, for the same web page, and first have it just download the very first 100 pics, in the second run you delete the first 100 pics, in the third run you delete the first 200 pics, and so on - kids with no pocket money will probably do this for some time, and even the nagging screens which come up after 30 days stay more than bearable - nagging is done at program start, but not, as would be perfectly possible, before each download.

Why did I even encounter those screens? Well, most downloads are way UNDER 100 pics (see the humor web site in this example), so it seems that in everyday use, you will not even need the full version i.e. the license, in order to use this very fine program regularly. But then, after the nagging screens started, I asked myself, what was I doing there? Trying to avoid spending 25 bucks for just a brilliant program? (I say brilliant since it does so well what it promises to do, and that's so rare.) So I didn't buy within the trial period, but very shortly after, some 3 or 4 uses after, some 3 or 4 uses with (I said it, perfectly bearable) nagging screens.

So what do we learn here? This program is so pleasant, so likeable (the quality is there: big point!), that in principle, you're absolutely willing to pay (25$ is a perfect price for such a program: the developer gets real money, you get it for cheap, for all it does so smoothly) even if you do not really have to, BUT in my case, I needed 3 or 4 reminders in order to take action: Buying is an effort (the personal data, the buying screens, and all that), so even if it's cheap, nobody really likes to do it, but nagging screens remind you of the fact that you SHOULD do it, and after some of these, you DO do it.

Probably, the developer could rise the conversion rate by doing more nagging after some time, and/or by cutting down the number of possible downloads from 100 to lesser numbers (as implied, this would have a lesser effect since most such downloads are just 15-30 pictures in a row anyway), but it's also possible he does it this way in order to allow kids for real free use, the time they don't have the money to afford it, which for such a "fun"-related program would be even more likeable.

Official price is 30$, but whenever I look at the site, the "special offer, ending soon" of 25$ is present; in the really worst case and as described, you could "force" the trial up to the next special offer, in order to save 5 bucks if you must. It's a fine program, really functional, and its ability of downloading better-quality pics if linked (and which I found very reliable over a big bunch of different websites, even if probably that will not work for every site out there, some of them doing such links by scripting, ie by concatenating the links from several strings at different positions in the source code) makes it outstanding.

And as said, its trial policy is original and worth a good look: This program hooks its prospects but then doesn't let them down when they hesitate; it remains available and stays with you, waiting for you to overcome your avarice/laziness; of course, such a policy is only possible within a price range where it's more laziness than avarice; in case such a program costs 100$, some people would probably need more than just 3-4 kind pads on their shoulder after the official trial period is over in order to take action.


EDIT June 20, 2017: Trials for Use-Once Tools: Demonstrate your (In-) Competence
A special situation in trial design arises for software which the buyer typically would use only once, and then perhaps again in another such situation when it arises months or even years later, but let's hope their need for that second or even third use will be for the same pc since such software typically is bound to the current hardware and can NOT be transferred to another pc, not even by "de-activating" it first on that machine for which you will have bought the license.

It's evident a time-limited but functional trial is not possible for such tools, so the developers typically implement a demo mode, for the prospect to know/"see" that the tool, when bought, will help them to solution the problem. In such cases, it can be utterly instructive to load and try half a dozen of even a full dozen of such tools of the same kind to compare since you will immediately see that most of them can't do anything/much for you, while other will solve the problem indeed; of course the developers of the latter tools will have done such comparisons, too, so they now that they compare very well with more or less useless "competitors", and so they take advantage of the comparison by pricing their, much better, tools, accordingly; on the other hand, even ineffective tools are often priced that way, in order to scam lazy* prospects who wrongly think that price invariably was in direct with effectiveness ("You get what you pay for"**).

*: It's not just about laziness in every use case. For example, if you need some de-deletion tool, oh, sorry, they are called data recovery tools, you will often have the problem that the tool is not pre-installed on the harddrive it now would be bound to work on, and not every user in that situation is able to get the harddisk out***, for it to be treated by and from another system, so this is a situation where users may be in panic and are bound to put even more errors on top of the already done ones.

**: "You get what you pay for" is mostly true, but in ONE direction only: For cheap, you will not get much in most cases - very rare, incredible useful tools like "Everything" being the exception to the general rule, not its invalidation. On the other hand, paying a lot of money for some sh** is NO guarantee at all to get help or any value for your money in general - hadn't it been Warhol in person who sold his own sh** in cans, for millions, in his time, in order to demonstrate this blatantly and irrefutably?

***: Those situations arise by incompetence of the user, either at the time of the damaging event or even months/years before. I'm not only speaking here of the avoidance of proper backups****, but also of buying the wrong machine. For example, I've read somewhere that Billyboy - remember, he needs all that big money of ours in order to save the World  - now sells, for some 1,200 to 2,500€ in Europe they say, "Surface Notebooks", laptops who will be destroyed when you try to open them, even for changing the battery (which allegedly holds 3 years, so then you'll throw away the device anyway), so getting out the harddisk (or whatever it is) in order to save its data will cost you 1,200 to 2,500€, let alone the problems arising from the fact that when it's out from there, it'll not yet be installed in some rescue system - re-usable connectors when in the original settings it's all glued? So you see that one big, big case of incompetence, buying from Billyboy*****, can have such disastrous consequences that ever after, even quite competent workmates cannot save much then.

****: Data backup is easy, but proper backup of the main system is not because of the incredibly bad software design of Windows itself: Whenever you do a backup, in practice - this is very different in big corporations, and for a reason - you will install all sorts of things afterwards, and when the situation arises you would/could/should need a backup, to re-install a backup I mean, there's the question which one of the past backups should be re-installed, so in practice you probably will decide to live with what you will have got in the meantime, and all the worse for the quirks.

*****: I've been warned long ago, fortunately, so the above doesn't surprise me in any way. I own some "Natural" keyboard from that man which, almost brand-new (all the captions are totally readable, Billyboy keyboard owners know what that proves) and always treated with kid gloves by me, reliably lost all functionality for the right hand keys - or was it all keys for the left hand? I don't remember, I shelved it years ago -, once the 6-months' guarantee period was over.

So, you can pay 100€ or more for some retrieval software, or you can pay some 30 or 40€ or 100€ and more for almost nothing, but with SOME tools in the higher-priced, you will have real chances, according to your situation; I've been in that trouble some years ago, and some of those demonstrated to me they would help, and the one I then bought did help indeed.

BUT for such a program in order to be bought then, it should really demonstrate it will help when bought, which is not the case in some cases, and I've got a current example of some nagging tool which either is more or less worthless or at the very least is NOT smart enough to really demonstrate it's worthy.

I'm speaking of "Reimage" / "Reimage Repair" / "Reimage Online" (it's all a total mess)

None of my notebooks get into WLan's anymore, or rather, "repair" makes they seem to connect, but then no browser opens any webpage anymore; if you browse the web for that problem, you see lots of blah-blah but no solution, and you can easily spend 2 full days with trying all the blah-blah out (which I did), without getting to any end.

So I finally installed "Reimage Online" or something, and then this blah-blah told me dozens of things I already knew, like "Your system is much slower than average."; it also told me NetWorks was a virus, or IN NetWorks was a virus, and another one to be in one of the endless lists of VLC add-ons (which might be true in the latter case and which is very probably a false positive in the former one); not a mumbling word about my missing WLan functionality (pc connected to web by lan, but WLan switch "on", and several open WLan's available).

Not a mumbling word about other possible problems either, and it even did give me - WRONG info about the temperature, 38 degrees, while I can easily almost burn my hand by laying it on the device more than the fraction of a second.

It gave me a very long list of totally irrelevant "information" while I positively know that my system - for the problem of re-installing backups see above - has got more than just one quirk actually, it's just that I can live better with those than with the one I would have liked Reimage propose to resolve.

No need to say copying the text from the screen was made impossible by them, so I made a little screenshot of the "2 viruses" part: windows\system32\drivers\network.sys, programs\videolan\vlc\axvlc.dll - when they read this, they will probably infer from it that in the future, they should withheld any specific "virus" information altogether but just say, "We found n viruses in your system, immediate action needed, blah blah blah."

Fact is, this - judging from its own usefulness demonstration - probably useless-for-me tool then offered to "repair" my system, for money, of course, but gave me not one price, but several ones for doing this; I admit I didn't bother to analyze the price alternatives; the demonstration of its incompetence just having killed any motivation of mine to spend even a dime for that tool.

BUT since it had pretended I had 2 viruses on my pc, I checked if it intended to run anytime but didn't see any entry in my startup folder settings, so I decided to not delete the tool but to run it again in a month or so, in order to check for any new alleged "viruses".

As you can easily guess, it bothered me the very next day instead. (Did I say "yesterday" above? No, installation the day before yesterday, reappearance and prompt de-installation yesterday, making it public today: You treat me like an idiot, I promptly react, you should have known better, folks.)

(Approximative retranslation:) "Reimage - important notice - too slow on start - scan now in order to solution these problems - patented - patented procuct - resolve problems now".

Now this is stupid, isn't it? Just the day before, it had spoken about these problem and offered paid solutions, and the very next day, they offer another scan, and another solution: They don't even wait some days in-between, spying your system, for then presenting some alleged NEW problems, no, they just bother you daily (!) with what you already know and obvious have decided to live with: Stupid, stupid program, if you were a dog, we should have to put you to sleep!

That's of course what I immediately did, so I'm not absolutely shore about it bothering you every and every day, but as you can easily guess again, the de-install didn't went smoothly either:

"Are you sure you want to remove ... and leave your PC unprotected? Get Reimage professional support for free to check out your PC! Added value for free - just one phone call away! ... Call now toll-free ..."

Hahahahaha! Free, toll-free... Of course we all know what such "expert advice by phone" (or as they call it, "professional support for free") really is, in 99.99 p.c. of ALL cases: some commercial agent (preferably in India, 20 cents the hour*) pretends to be an "expert" while reading some blah-blah from their screen, to the sole purpose of your taking "immediate action", ie pay the full price for their software to show you the full monty which in this case probably would have ended up to some unfruitful run and then a, "Well, if you really want your system to be brand-new, you just re-install it then!" - hahahahaha!

*: Of course, they show one of those inevitable, pretty, "almost-white"* stock photo phone girls instead, faintly smiling right into your eyes, her pretty blouse wide open, immaculate denture, slightly overhead, eyes up, head inclined as all liars do, in a word, they're professional marketeers.

*: Why do I say "almost-white"? Well, that's the new standard for these telephone-"service"* stock photos: White, but with with one (however-)colored ancestor out of 8 (I took a screenshot; it's them who try to racially manipulate people, I'm just describing; the European "Ikea" catalogs**, those last years, have been infinitely more honest, real and likeable than these stock lies).

*: In the old times, they called this "hard-selling". Hahahahaha! And why I'm almost sure that those pretty girls or rather their real-life replacements will try to convince you how good Reimage Repair is after all when you want your money back? I'm just speculating, of course.

**: If you don't know these catalogs: 2/3 of their human models are colored now. No objection. Neither to mixed races. It's the "we'll take a pretty, female* white but with just a minimal, almost imperceptible scent of color, that will sell best" strategy I find utterly appalling, and I dare say so.

*: Female "computer experts"? On the toll-free telephone? Hahahahaha! Of course, there are female computer experts but they are quite rare and so got better things to do, most of the time. Btw, my VoIP provider has got a live chat, 24/24, and it's always "Mary" speaking to you, any time, mornings, afternoons, and in the middle of the night; they oven show you a "real" photo of "Mary" - not some stock sh** but a real photo of a real young (colored, btw) person (I changed the name, in order to not harm them since otherwise, their service is impeccable): "Mary" does not sleep but is on service 24 hours a day (don't remember if on week-ends, too).

But "Mary" is in very different moods, you can judge by what and how she writes, sometimes it's "Sir", sometimes she's very casual; at some moments in the day, she's in a genial mood, and at other times, she's formal, on the verge of coldness (but always perfectly helpful; I contact them once a year since prolongation of my contract has to be done with help, I'm one of their very early-on customers so cannot do it with their screen forms - I deem this precision important since otherwise you would ask, why can they be recommendable if users have to contact them so often? Very sorry for my encyclopedic style...): Well, that's certainly those moments when "Mary" really, really needs some minutes' sleep between two chats but the chat bell ringing too loud for some snooze...

But back to them bothering me. So you have got that "Reimage Repair Uninstall" screen with that pretty white stock girl which probably though would have got problems with the nazis, and with FOUR possible reactions:
- "Call now toll-free..."
- "Keep your PC safe with Reimage Repair Active Protector (recommended)": "recommended" in bold, and pre-selected (check mark): Well, it's preferable prospects simply buy without first incommoding their sales staff, toll-free or not, isn't it?
- "No Thanks, Just Uninstall Reimage Repair": in programming, they call this bump style: is it for impeding reading? In fact, the font is very cramped..., and
- "Cancel", which means, "have us bother you daily (?) in the meanwhile!"

So I clicked on "No Thanks..."; you will have guessed already this brought a new dialog:
"Uninstall feedback. Your opinion matters! Why are you uninstalling Reimage? Which software are you using to protect your PC? What other issues did you experience while using Reimage?" Well, I could have written "Reimage sucks" but then, I preferred to give my opinion in public, and in detail. "Name: ... Email:"

This without any more pretty girl now, but with "Back", "Skip" and "Cancel"; I admit that from their text, I could probably have given my opinion even without filling the Name/Email fields (but I didn't try), and I also admit that "Skip" is the pre-selected button here.

So I clicked on "Skip". As you already will have guessed... and know what? YOU ARE RIGHT!

The (by me) long-awaited web page opened up in my default web browser and read:

"Is it true that you want to leave us?
WAIT! Before you remove Reimage completely and leave this page, we've got a deal for you!
You'll get 50% off the regular price of Reimage by clicking REDEEM OFFER below!
This offer is good for a limited time only.
REDEEM OFFER"

etc., etc., and again "Our professional support team" (see the photo in the dialog before, I suppose? Hahahahaha!), and I have to admit that they even "guarantee" a 60-days refund; I of course don't know if that "guarantee" is reliable; as said above, another software vendor also "guarantees" a refund but the web abounds of reports by people NOT having got their money back... BUT that's a big video play-around-software vendor from China, and you cannot blame Reimage people for that not-connected-in-any-way third party's behavior, that's for sure; on the other hand, even if you pay by PayPal, PayPal will not help you to get your money back in case of immaterial goods with no physical support, so you'll rely upon Reimage.

Also, since their scans rely upon web communication, you couldn't even blame them if they tried to reset your system to any pre-Reimage-Repair "repair", since "no money, no service" is a widely accepted precept you couldn't rap them to apply in your case, in case, and such a reset could probably have some harmful side effects, in case even unwanted by them - bear in mind your Windows installation is a living beast now, at least in generation ten.

But you see, if Reimage/Repair/Online or whatever they finally call it, did show me the real quirks my system has AND would have been available for my other pc(s), too, let's say 2 at least (and perhaps it even is, but that having become irrelevant, I didn't bother to check anymore), I would have taken the chance of the investment... and would neither have encountered their display dummy nor their half-price, hahahahaha.

So what do we learn here? Show what you'll do for the money or shut up, instead of showcasing pretty girls who don't even work for you.*

*: Of course I'm aware that such offerings get lots of paying customers, whatever they do, since more than one prospect is in panic and will thus be willing to do lots of wishful thinking even when the presentation of (in???)competence is as lousy as with Reimage. Either they are as bad as it seems, or they have lots of presentational homework to do. Remember, this thread is about NOT to conceive trials.

As for my unresolved WLan problem, I consider buying a USB WLan stick, they're pretty cheap now that "nobody" wants/needs them anymore. Perhaps (!) they come with enough electronics of their own in order to overcome the internal pc de-set problems. (*-problem above resolved, in case you will have read this add-on during the first 10 minutes of its publication.)


EDIT July 2, 2017: Reimage is even much worse than I had thought, see my additional comments on them here: http://www.donationc...82.0;last_msg=410253
« Last Edit: July 01, 2017, 02:12 PM by ital2 »

eleman

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Is there a way to not be notified about some specific user's posts?

wraith808

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Is there a way to not be notified about some specific user's posts?

I'd think that you should ask a generic question in Site/Forum Features, rather than singling someone out in this way.  Not very much in the spirit of DC, I don't think.

You can ignore users, and threads.

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Put your user number on the end.

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eleman

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I'd think that you should ask a generic question in Site/Forum Features, rather than singling someone out in this way.  Not very much in the spirit of DC, I don't think.

You're right. It wasn't my best behavior. I am sorry.

anandcoral

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You can ignore users, and threads.

Thanks for the tip @wraith808. I remember another on mouser gave for display of all mesgs in one long page, I forgot.
Is there a thread/page which displays all these tips of DC  forum ? If not, I think it will be of great help if one is made and published.

I read "A Practical Guide to DonationCoder.com Forum Search" thread http://www.donationc...dex.php?topic=9434.0 but it says it is very old and I did not find the required tips there.

Regards,

Anand

tomos

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Could some moderator maybe split this topic from post #12 down?

wraith808

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Thanks for the tip @wraith808. I remember another on mouser gave for display of all mesgs in one long page, I forgot.

Well, one tip - I've noticed you using the @ syntax in several thread.  It doesn't do anything.

anandcoral

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Thanks for the tip @wraith808. I remember another on mouser gave for display of all mesgs in one long page, I forgot.

Well, one tip - I've noticed you using the @ syntax in several thread.  It doesn't do anything.

Ahh....actually I saw members addressing each other with @<nick_name> in another forum and thought that was way, so started doing it. May be it had some meaning / auto link etc. on that forum. Anyway will not use '@' now. Thanks for pointing the mistake.

Regards,

Anand

IainB

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@anandcoral:
Re: Use of the "commercial at" symbol "@" as a prefixed Tag: You are not "making a mistake". For the purposes of improved communication, it is taught as being quite useful (depending on one's objectives in making the communication). This is typically useful within the context of circumstances where the classic communications model applies.

I guess I would probably not be alone in using the prefixed Tag @NAME as a learned behaviour - to be used both as a courtesy and (more importantly) as a tool/protocol for identifying and getting someone's attention for communication, and providing for an acknowledgement and response path, as required - a sort of conventional "AT/ACK" equivalent protocol in human communication. This was simply as a result of my professional training, where I learned that it can be useful for communicating across large, diverse discussion groups/listservers/forums, where there may potentially be a lot of "noise" and where one may be in a hurry, or does not have the time to read everything and thus needs to sift through the noise in outgoing and incoming messages and thus filter and condense the relevant/important information:
  • (a) Usage: It is useful shorthand for directing the comment being posted at a specific, named and unique ID/person on the forum being used - so (say) @anandcoral or @John is addressed to that named handle "of this parish" (of this forum), as it were, not just any "Anand" or "John", and not (say) "@Anand on MajorGeeks" or "@John on Twitter".

  • (b) Reduce feedback noise: By being specific, it can thus avoid seeming to make a general comment to nobody in particular and so inadvertently inviting comments from all and sundry. However this is not necessarily always going to be successful, and some people might not get the hint, as, with the breadth of opinions out in the world and in relatively open forums, it may be almost impossible to ensure that one has not posted comments which may be perceived as having inadvertently trodden on someone's toes/paradigms/sensitivities or (say) a sacred cow or other religio-political belief or (depressingly) contradicted someone's perhaps unstated but nevertheless dogmatic and strongly-held-opinions-that-must-be-emphatically-stated-and-enforced-as-rule/truth for us all. There are ample instances where we can see how this can inadvertently start a flame-war or even cause the loss of a political election - e.g., and especially where some news media or other religio-political commentators/communicators amplify the message or add ambiguous "noise" that may be deliberately intended to amplify or even distort the perception of the original message out of context, all out of ulterior motives.

  • (c) Filter out noise: It can provide an easy search key/filter for comments one has addressed to various people (with @NAME) and to help to sift through the noise - e.g., in searching through the zillions of posts in one's bazqux feed-reader logs. A potentially huge timesaver in this time where the exponentially growing volume of information is subject to mass and almost instant wide-band broadcast. Interestingly, the marketing strategies developed and advocated at EDS Corp. had presciently and accurately  predicted this potential before it arose and so built it in (as attacks and defences) to their excellent and far-sighted VBM (Value-Based Marketing) methodology  - especially in the Communications Planning section of VBM. Hats off to the brains at EDS who thought of that.    :Thmbsup:

Wikipedia has an interesting general post relevant to the use of the commercial "@" prefix:
Quote
The at sign, @, normally read aloud as "at", also commonly called the at symbol or commercial at, was originally an accounting and commercial invoice abbreviation meaning "at a rate of" (e.g. 7 widgets @ £2 = £14). In contemporary use, the at sign is most commonly used in email addresses and social media platform handles. It was not included on the keyboard of the earliest commercially successful typewriters, but was on at least one 1889 model[1] and the very successful Underwood models from the "Underwood No. 5" in 1900 onward. It is now universally included on computer keyboards.
The fact that there is no single word in English for the symbol has prompted some writers to use the French arobase[2] or Spanish and Portuguese arroba, or to coin new words such as asperand,[3] ampersat[4] and strudel,[5] but none of these has achieved wide usage.
The mark is encoded as U+0040 @ Commercial AT (HTML &#64;) ...(more at the link)
- Wikipedia <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/At_sign>
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ital2

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Aside (topic add-ons continued above):

"to be used both as a courtesy"

Speaking of courtesy in this raided thread (any third-party non-meta content way-off off-topic) is a very, very good one: Thank you for the very good laugh!

IainB

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^^ Ouch!    :-[