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Messages - Nudel [ switch to compact view ]

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51
General Software Discussion / Re: Directory Opus 9
« on: April 27, 2007, 03:24 AM »
[nudel]: ...nobody so far has mentioned a way in which Opus is slower than XY.
________________________________________________
Except for XYplorer has advantages in:
  • installation speed and ease
  • (free) portability to any device
  • quicker and vastly simpler customizations and program configurations
  • easier to save and load your configurations, and backup options
  • folder size calculations are done on the fly, in the background, and significantly faster than DOpus in large folders with lots of files (>10,000, for example)
  • licensing and maintenance costs; also ONE (Lifetime) license and ONE download, along with the fact that XYplorer doesn't presume registered users to be thieves and pirates
  • access to almost all of Windows System folders are all one click away
  • XYplorer is anywhere from 5% to 8% of DOpus's total install size, depending on what various parts of DOpus you install or purchase, if you can keep up with all the options, that is
  • a variety of configurably refresh options, from (superfast) thumbnails to network drives to file operations
  • distinctly faster, more comprehensive, and easier to use search options
  • renaming options for multiple files are one keyboard shortcut away

That's a start, at least. Download the latest beta; see first-hand!  :Thmbsup:

Most of which is irrelevant to the question I asked. Most of which is BS as I've already pointed out. I feel like I'm banging my head against a brick wall here.


Any takers for the DOpus advantages short-list ?
-tomos

Exactly! I don't have all day to list the things Opus does that XY (or anything else) doesn't. Like I said in my original, huge reply, programs don't follow each other down a linear path to "feature completness".

52
General Software Discussion / Re: Do you use 7-Zip files?
« on: April 26, 2007, 11:05 AM »
My first point is that the poll has two choices which, to my mind are identical: NO and NEVER... Unfortunately, I can't remove my vote to check how the poll was originally worded - was a distinction made? I can't remember  :-[
Here's the wording/choices:

Do you use *.7z compressed files as your primary archiving/zipping file type?
Yes
No
Sometimes
Never
Blue

53
General Software Discussion / Re: Do you use 7-Zip files?
« on: April 26, 2007, 11:04 AM »
RAR is by no means closed and undocumented. Yes, there isn't any compressor source available and you're not allowed to write one, but the format is documented and has portable decompression source available - that's good enough that you won't end up with archives you can't decompress.
Good point!

I still wish RARLabs would provide an API into WinRAR or licence the compression algorithm, or that people would stop using RAR so the format would die and people would then stop asking for compressions support to be added to other programs, but it is true that you'll be able to decompress the files whatever happens so there's no risk in using RAR now.

54
General Software Discussion / Re: Do you use 7-Zip files?
« on: April 26, 2007, 07:53 AM »
7-zip isn't half bad, and it's speed has improved a lot during the years. But while it's opensource, I dare you to actually do something with it - the LZMA SDK is one big pile of ugly spaghetti code, as I'm sure most people who's worked with it can attest. Dunno how portable it even is, without a lot of glue code...
At least it has an SDK, unlike RAR. :) The 7Zip SDK I was looking at looked very similar, almost identical in fact, to unrar for decompression. Might have been a higher-level wrapper around LZMA though (in fact, it must have been).

I almost only use Zip myself. It works well enough and it works in everything. The advantages of using another format don't seem enough to outweigh the hassle factor.

Hassle aside, I'm against using RAR to store data as I don't like the idea of storing data in a closed, undocumented format that people can't even licence a compressor for.

55
General Software Discussion / Re: Directory Opus 9
« on: April 25, 2007, 06:29 PM »
:D I took Don's analogy more in the spirit of XYplorer and DOpus are both at the top of the food chain in their respective niches and that he was basically saying "different horses for different courses".
That I can dig. Maybe I was being too defensive on Opus's behalf.

Thanks for the link to the manual for DOpus 9 - I hadn't noticed that being available.
-Darwin
No problem! It only just got finished/released.

And abterix, as to the licensing, I've never had a problem moving my DOpus' licences from machine to machine so imagine that doing the same with a USB licence will not present any issues, either.
-Darwin
Yup. By the way, when the USB mode was first being discussed in the closed betas I had the same worries/questions about how it would work. The way it works in the end is fine and shouldn't cause any problems at all.

Anyway, Nudel, nice to see you posting here, and in other threads. Welcome to donationcoder!
-Darwin
Thanks! There's lots of interesting stuff being discussed here. :Thmbsup: I'm trying to ration my time spent venturing outside of this thread to the weekends to avoid not doing anything else but chatting here. :)

56
General Software Discussion / Re: Directory Opus 9
« on: April 25, 2007, 05:46 AM »
General Opus 9 news
  • The Opus 9 manual in PDF format is available to download now to let people read it ahead of Friday's release:
    http://www.gpsoft1.c...9ReferenceManual.pdf

  • Greg @ GPSoft mentioned that there will be more features added in free updates after 9.0, for things that required large changes that there wasn't time for in the end (given that people need a Vista-compatible update yesterday already):

    I dont know if this is already answered somewehere else but this is the official dopus 9 topic so:
    Is the copy queue implemented in the new version ?
    -Delphier

    No. We had this on the list but it involves a very deep fundamental design change so it did not make this version.

    We have to draw the line somewhere with new versions and the Vista changes et al caused several delays.

    But it and several other advanced features are planned for the next update in a few months (which currently is planned to be a maintenance 'update' not an upgrade and hence free of charge.)
    -Greg

  • There's a new German translation of my Opus 9 intro (translated by Haage & Partner, GPSoft's distributors in Germany):

    http://www.haage-par....de/dopus/tutorial2/

Replies

Shout if I've missed something that needs a reply!

Q: is the licence bundled with hardware related properties
like drive number of the file system or like this?

Or enables this USB-licence just the possibility to store the settings into the xml file?
-AbteriX
I'm still under NDA about Opus 9 and I'm not sure how much GPSoft would want me to say about how the licencing/copy protection stuff works but what I can say is that GPSoft have erred on the side of "not making life hell for paying customers" rather than "doing everything possible to thwart pirates". There's nothing to worry about in this area.

: If DOpus is Godzilla then XYplorer is T. Rex — it always depends what suits you best for your current task.
-DonL
As we've seen, though, the memory usage of the two programs is very similar and nobody so far has mentioned a way in which Opus is slower than XY.

If it's significant that Opus uses a few meg more of HDD space then I must be living in a different era of computing to everyone else. :) Otherwise, I don't get the analogy. Which isn't to say that the two programs don't have their own unique strengths and weaknesses, I just don't see how Opus have a heavier footprint, beyond a few meg of disk space that nobody cares about in 2007.

but if I want something to stay in an archive an extended amount of time on my hard drive then I use the far more robust RAR format
-Innuendo
The problem with RAR is that RARLabs do not licence the format, or a library, or the ability the call into WinRAR (if it's installed) via any kind of API. The only API they give anyone is unrar.dll which is what Opus already uses for read-only RAR support.

I believe TC creates RAR archives by calling WinRAR on the command-line and I'm thinking about writing an Opus plugin which works in the same way. Seems a giant pain in the arse, though, and I wish RARLabs would be more sensible about licensing their format/algorithm/API for use in other tools instead of the idea that anyone who wants to create a RAR should be forced to use WinRAR or FAR. :-( (WinRAR is fine by itself but the idea that you shouldn't be able to create a RAR in anything else is just silly.)

If there was a proper RAR API available to licence then Opus would already have read/write RAR support. I'm not really looking forward to the fun of generating command-lines and parsing the text output of another program, plus the potential issues with Unicode filenames etc., but if nobody else is going to write the plugin then I guess I'll have to. :-(

7zip etc. are still so rarely used that it doesn't seem a big deal to me that you can't browse them in Opus but, as I've said, I'll look at writing a 7zip plugin myself during my sabbatical from my day-job if nobody has written one by then. (A couple of people started writing plugins but haven't finished them yet.) Since 7zip provide a proper library it will be easy to make a read-write plugin.

57
General Software Discussion / Re: RANT: High Software Prices!
« on: April 22, 2007, 01:37 PM »
Now... If you live in a developed country, then there's no excuse. You can afford my prices and what I'm asking for my software. If you're stealing, then you're stealing. Period. Agreed there.
Playing devil's advocate, what about someone who is in a developed nation but has chosen to do a low-paying job? (Or can't get a high-paying job.) They might work just as hard as someone else who earns more. They might be working on things that will really benefit their fellow man, which often don't pay as well as things that will benefit the 5 rich guys on the golf course who own everything. (The "payment" isn't in money but the satisfaction of making a difference, but that doesn't buy you much software or anything else in this world.)

To me, it comes down to much more than software. The problem with the world is that we have a system where the value of someone's work is defined only by the people with money. Capitalism means that, in general, if you don't have enough money to pay someone else to do something then what you want to happen doesn't matter, even if a billion other people in the same situation want the same thing. (Unless you can do it yourself or convince enough other people to do it with you, which is hard for some things, and I'm not talking about specifically software here.) On top of that, most of the people (or corporations) with significant wealth and influence are the least worthy of having either and the least suitable to decide what the rest of the planet should do with their lives.

It's not what's right or wrong, worthy or pointless. What is considered valuable in our world is not what will benefit humanity the most but, sadly, purely what a few really rich guys want to happen. Yeah, okay, it isn't really that simple and maybe a lot of it is inevitable but I think there's a lot of truth to it and it makes me sad and frustrated.

Going back to software, and what you said, I totally agree that it is basically cruel to prevent someone in a developing country from having something you can give them for free and which they would never have been able to afford. (Although you could argue that a "developed world" developer giving away his thing for free to "developing world" customers makes it impossible for someone else in the developing world to earn a living from making and selling a similar product aimed and priced at his fellow people. The cool thing about software is, provided you can afford some hardware a few tools and the time, anyone can write it and if someone in China has those things then there is nothing stopping him making a program as good as what someone in the USA or Europe makes. They could even sell it to customers in the USA/Europe at prices which massively undercut other developers, and still earn a very good standard of living. Is that fair on the other developers? Now they're being undercut by people whose costs are lower than it is possible to achieve where they live and they're forced out of business or forced to move to the developing world... On the one hand, the guys in the developing world deserve a break; on the other, the guys in the developed world can't compete and are screwed. You could argue that everyone in the developed world is holding the rest of the world down and it's payback time, or you could argue that most people in the developed world have nothing against anyone else. Even if the governments they elect are more than happy to exploit and keep down the rest of the world, most people don't even realise it's happening let alone explicitly vote for it to happen, so is it fair for them to lose their jobs because someone else in another part of the world can afford to do them cheaper?

I don't know, to be honest! I think that eventually things will even out around the world but I don't know how long that will take, nor how much the developing world's income and standard of living will increase and how much the developed world's will decrease. Maybe we'll all become extinct due to global warming before that happens anyway.

The more I think about the way the world works the less it makes sense!

58
General Software Discussion / Re: RANT: High Software Prices!
« on: April 22, 2007, 01:02 PM »
My point wasn't that it never happens but that it's rare and I don't see any signs that it's going to become so common that commercial software ceases to exist.

You seem to have substantially changed your stand now.

I don't think I've changed my stance at all. Re-read what I said originally:

I'm not sure there will ever be a collision between free and commercial software. Free software tends to be very small, simple programs that don't get significantly updated often and only do one or two simple things. That isn't bad, I use and love a lot of those programs and I've written and given away several myself, but when someone wants to make something really good, polished and powerful it soon turns into a full-time job. There's only so much you can do in your spare time. At that point you've got to start earning money from your software or the harsh realities of our capitalist world will swallow you up and spit you out.

(What really does annoy me is when people do try to sell those small, simple, spare-time software products. It seems cheap to me and, even if it's more costly to me personally in terms of my time vs my money, I'd rather write my own version of a small tool than pay someone money for something that only took them a day to write. Usually there's some other tool that'll do the same job for free, and that's alright.)

There are some very good, polished and powerful free programs but they're exceptions, IMO. They're also often funded by large companies with an agenda of killing off other products in the market.
-Nudel

If I seem to have changed stance then please explain why and I'll either admit my mistake or explain what I meant, but I don't think I've done any such thing.

Either you're extremely naive or you're simply in denial if you think good freeware that does more than one or two things is a rare commodity. I could give you a list of top notch freeware apps on my system that are as good as or better than any commercially available software.

Azureus and Utorrent are damn good programs that perform complex tasks and perform them well.
-Nosh

Downloading BitTorrents is hardly what I would consider a complex task. Both those programs do one thing and do it well. (At least, uTorrent and BitComet do it well. I have not used Azureus.)

I wouldn't categorize Firefox as a simple software that just does one or two things either, it's the most used app on a lot of PCs.

I never said Firefox was simple and I've said multiple times now that Firefox is one of the exceptions that has full-time employees working on it. Have you actually been reading what I have said, or are you just skimming it and posting a reaction to what you think I've said?

I'm sure a lot of folks on this forum will be able to mention great free IDEs that they use for developement.
-Nosh

I take it you're talking about Eclipse? IBM funded its development originally and even now it's still funded by a consortium of companies who stand to gain from there being a good, free tool in this area. It isn't something written in someone's spare time for free; people get paid to write it and my point is that that is unusual.

Is it just another exception then? Wait a sec! We're seeing quite a few exceptions here... maybe it's the rule rather than the exception.
-Nosh

If you want to argue that it's not that unusual then that's fair enough and I guess we just see things differently or are concentrating on different products which matter more to each of us. My opinion is that these "free but funded" projects are unusual, and are not going to extend into every area of computing, because there are only certain things where a company gains an advantage from funding something that they then give away free.

Maybe you are arguing that that such funding of free/open products is actually an inevitable result of competition and/or monopolies and something that will become the norm. If so, that's something I hadn't really thought about until now, and it's an interesting idea that's well worth discussing. You might be right there, eventually, although I think it is very hard to predict and there will likely be many areas where no company does such a thing.

If, on the other hand, you are arguing that people are going to write worthy replacements for all the existing big and good commercial products in their spare time at the weekends then I find that highly unlikely, based on my own experiences of trying to write code in my spare time and on what I've seen produced by others. The big and good free stuff has funding behind it.



Let's look at the stuff I use regularly on my own PC, pretty much in the order they are in my apps toolbar:

Directory Opus: Shareware/commercial. No free/open file manager comes close. (IMO no commercial one does either, but that's clearly a matter of opinion and personal preferences.)

Firefox: Free, but funded by two or three large companies with the agenda of preventing Microsoft from "owning the web".

Windows Mail: Free (with Windows), but given away by MS. MS have several items on their agenda here: To promote their OS. To stop people using someone else's mail client. To make it easier to upgrade to a non-free MS mail client. (I used Thunderbird 1.5 (free but funded) for a while but I got sick of certain bugs and, apart from the spellchecker which I miss, I never saw much difference between Thunderbird and Outlook Express (now called Windows Mail in Vista). I'm tempted to try Thunderbird 2.0 that just came out as I believe some of the problems I had with 1.5 are no longer an issue, but I'm sick of moving my mail back and forth between formats, to be honest. I don't need a more complex mail client so I stick with a free one.)

TextPad: Shareware/commercial. (I haven't tried every other editor but I've tried a lot of them and most of them suck, IMO. The editors that don't suck seem to other shareware/commercial ones, although ScinTilla has potential (but has also not yet spawned an editor that I actually liked). The other commercial editors might be better than TextPad now but they don't seem to add enough features that I care about to make it worth my while buying them, configuring them and getting used to them. TextPad has flaws (mainly the lack of Unicode support) but is generally very good at what I need it for so I've stuck with it.)

mIRC: Shareware/commercial. (mIRC also has flaws, like the options dialog that's straight out of 1985, but since it gained multi-server support several years ago it is undoutedly the best IRC client by a long shot, unless there's one I haven't tried. The others don't even feel like Betas.)

KeePass: Free/donation. Does one particular job well.

NewsLeecher: Shareware/commercial. Does one particular job well. This is one where I'm surprised there isn't a free tool that's as good, but it's so much better than the free alternatives that it was well worth the small price.

uTorrent: Free. Does one particular job well.

PuTTY: Free. Does one particular job well.

Remote Desktop: Comes with the OS, but does cost extra since you can only host RDP from Pro/Business/Ultimate versions of the OS, so safe to say it's commercial.

Virtual PC: Used to be commercial. Free now. Not open. Free because MS and VMWare are competing with each other in the high-end VM space by giving away their  products in the low-end VM space. (I know VMWare is supposed to be better, but all I want to do is run a web browser in a VM and VPC seems to use a lot less memory and doesn't install lots of services and other stuff. I've tried both and prefer VPC for my particular needs.)

Photoshop/ImageReady: Commercial. The Gimp seems to be the only free alternative and I didn't like it last time I tried it.

Media Center: Commercial. There are some free products in this area which sound okay but are not as good IMO (e.g. you have to keep a client app open else your TV won't get recorded, while MC has a recording service that works so long as the PC is booted), unless you want to look at running Linux (which isn't an option for me and PVR software on Linux isn't something I know enough about to have an opinion).

Media Player Classic: Free and open. Does one particular job very, very well.

foobar2000: Ditto.

Exact Audio Copy: Ditto.

iTunes: Commercial. Sucks. But gives me gapless playback and games on my iPod. (Two things that are also delivered by the Rockbox firmware which is a very impressive effort and something I was very glad existed when it was the only way to get gapless playback on hardware with a good amount of storage. But also, IMO, an example of something where people work on what they feel like for fun without concerning themselves too much about what "needs" to be done to make it a really polished, user-friendly and "complete" product that you don't have to be a geek to use.)

Acronis TrueImage: Shareware/Commercial. The only alternative I know of is Ghost which is also commercial. This is something I could see being developed by an open-source team, though, so maybe one day.

ImgBurn: Free. Does one thing well. (I miss stuff from Nero and would happily pay money for Nero again if it hadn't become ultra-bloated (VoIP in a CD burning suite!? WTF!?!?!?!?). Sadly, only the ultra-bloated Nero supports Vista so I have ditched the product.)

Visual Studio: Commercial. Rocks. Yes, there's Eclipse, but VS is still best for C++ and C# which are the languages I care about. (To be honest I wasn't a big fan of Eclipse when I started writing Java again for 6 months of 2006 but Eclipse isn't a bad program, I guess. Either way, Eclipse is/was funded.)

Process Monitor / Process Explorer: Free. Do one thing each very well. (Owned by MS now, FWIW.)

Resource Hacker: Free. Does one thing well.

Inno Setup: Free. Does one thing well.

Axialis IconWorkshop: Shareware/commercial. Best tool for creating icons I've seen. I'm not aware of another commercial tool that works anywhere near as well, let alone a free one. It is the kind of tool that could be written by spare-time developers, though, I expect.

TechSmith Camtasia: Commercial. Camtasia isn't without fault but it is good. There are more expensive products in this space but they didn't seem to justify the extra price. The free screen/video-capturing apps I tried were all crap.

WindowClippings: The basic 1.5 version was free. Now 2.0 is on the way and is going to cost money, so that the guy behind it can justify the amount of time he's spending on it. It'll only be $10 though so I'll be buying 2.0 as soon as it's ready. Does a bunch of things that other screen grabbing apps don't do, although it works both ways as TechSmith's GrabIt also has a few features which WC is missing. (GrabIt is also 4x the price.)

Various games which are irrelevant I guess, but all commercial.

Messenger: Free but funded by MS to attack/obtain the market share of other IM clients. I'm not a big fan of IM -- I wish everyone I talked to was on IRC FFS -- so I'd never pay for an IM client, but having just Messenger seems to let me talk to everyone I know who isn't on IRC so I put up with it.

NOD32: Shareware/commercial anti-virus. The only free products in this space that I'm aware of are limited versions of commercial products, I assume released as marketing (like the idea of Adobe giving Photoshop away free so people recommend it at work, sort of) or to stop you going to the competition. Maybe there's a free, unfunded anti-virus tool that I don't know of but if so then I'd wonder how they guarantee quality and response time without paying people full-time. Perhaps it could be done, with enough keen volunteers.

That's quite a mixture but the trend seems to be that the free stuff I use only does one or two things and the stuff I've paid for tends to be big and complex and unlikely to be replaced by something free any time soon. (There are exceptions, like NewsLeecher and IconWorkshop, which I can imagine being replaced by a free tool one day. And there's the stuff like Firefox and Virtual PC which are free but are given away by companies with agendas.) I'm just a geek, too. I don't even have Office installed at the moment (haven't bothered since I moved to a new PC), or an accounting package, CAD software or whatever else someone might need to do their work. (I guess Photoshop and Visual Studio are my main, big "work" programs.)

I'll state my point again: Big, complex, polished open/free replacements of all current commercial software is unlikely because it needs funding, and funding only happens when some company has an agenda that is served by giving away software that they pay to be created.

59
These days I rip using EAC in burst mode, and the "Test and Copy" feature. It reads every track twice and flags any that didn't rip identically both times. I figure if they match then it's really unlikely that there were any errors and it's so much faster than the secure mode.

I'll drop back to secure mode for tracks which don't rip, so it can end up taking longer for scratched or protected CDs but it saves enough time for the majority of discs that it's worth it.

Dual CPU encoding doesn't seem very important when ripping CDs, though. Each track is almost always done encoding long before the next track has been read off the CD. It does make a big difference when batch transcoding stuff that's already ripped, though.

60
General Software Discussion / Re: foobar...honestly...WTF?! WTF?!
« on: April 22, 2007, 06:46 AM »
fb2k is great. It demands that you put some time into setting it up but it works great and it actually allows you get the UI you want.

It's sad that Winamp, with its millions of ugly and functionally-challenged skins designed by people who think hiding buttons in strange Photoshop filters makes a good UI, never provided me with a UI that I liked half as much as what I got out of foobar2000 with half an hour of tweaking from a fresh install. (After discovering columns_ui and the album-art plugins, of course.)

I'm glad there's at least one media playback application for Windows that doesn't have to look like it came from outer-space (but can if that's what you want).

Here's my fb2k config. It's simple and it's exactly what I want.

61
Since you're already using Photoshop by the sound of it, I think there's a feature built into Photoshop (I think it was added in version 7, if not in CS2) for making tiled backgrounds.

I haven't really played with it myself (if only I had the time to read through the whole PS manual and learn all the features!) so I don't know how well it will work. From a quick search through the help file it looks like the feature is called "The Pattern Maker filter", but it's possible I've found the wrong thing. :)

I get the impression it is somewhat automatic so it'll probably work well for certain things, like grass textures where you can safely blend parts together, but not for others where you need more structure to the repetition.

Something I miss way back from Deluxe Paint on the Amiga was the tiled painting mode where you'd define a tile size and then everything you did to the image was repeated in each tile. That was great for making repeating backgrounds since you could paint them directly without having to work out how the overlap would look. In Photoshop, unless there's something I don't know about, you'd have to pain the tile once, then offset it by 50% width and height and make the edges match up, then repeat if you messed up the other edges in the process, until done.

62
General Software Discussion / Re: RANT: High Software Prices!
« on: April 22, 2007, 06:17 AM »
First, Microsoft gave Sun $150 million and then another $1.6 billion just to use Java in Windows, among other patents from 2002-04.
What on earth has that got to do with OpenOffice?

Second, StarOffice could never threaten MS Office since its open source replicate
-zridling
Why does it being open source mean it cannot threaten MS Office? Firefox threatens Internet Explorer and it is open source. Being open or closed source doesn't have a large effect on success, IMO; having a full-time team of developers is the most important thing. What I've been saying through this thread is that very few free products have full-time development teams and those that do tend to be funded by a company with an agenda. Agendas are not necessarily bad. I'm just saying that it is rare for a company to want to make money by giving something substantial away and your FireFoxes and OpenOffices (and Internet Explorers) are the exceptions, not the rules.

OpenOffice is far more prevalent on desktops than StarOffice.
-zridling
You are aware that OpenOffice is based on StarOffice, right? My point was that OpenOffice would not exist had Sun not funded the development of StarOffice. Nothing more, nothing less.

Third, Sun didn't create StarOffice, they bought the company and re-engineered a good bit of the code through most of the 1990s.
-zridling
True, but it's also true that StarOffice was closed-source and proprietary before Sun bought it, and the company that made it, in 1999. My point still stands: It is rare for an open-source and free product to be  large, complex and polished, and when one is it is almost always because it has been funded by a company with an agenda.

From Wikipedia:
OpenOffice.org is based on StarOffice, an office suite developed by StarDivision and acquired by Sun Microsystems in August 1999. The source code of the suite was released in July 2000 with the aim of reducing the dominant market share of Microsoft Office by providing a free, open and high-quality alternative. OpenOffice.org is free software, available under the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL).


Nudel, you seem to have a hostility toward open source software. Is there a reason why?
-zridling
I have no hostility whatsoever towards open source software as a concept. If I appear to then you've got me wrong. I write my own open-source software in my spare time so it would be very odd for me to be against it.

My point is purely that open-source and/or free software is unlikely to ever replace commercial software in general because of the reasons I've already argued.

OSS/free software compliments commercial software. There are loads of great open and/or free utilities that I wouldn't want to be without but we all (in general) still need the big, complex, powerful and (if anyone beyond die-hard geeks is going to use them) polished products as well as those things. Yes, there are some open/free products which fit those criteria, but they are exceptions and I don't think that will become the rule because you need to pay people to work on things full-time to get those things.

Is it because of open standards (e.g,. OASIS OpenDocument (ODF) format) perhaps?
-zridling
WTF would I be against open standards? You're putting words in my mouth and going off on a tangent based on completely wild assumption. Stop it.

FYI, I ***HATE*** the fact that MS Office uses closed file formats. Have you any idea how much of my life I have spent trying to create a reliable viewer for Office formats? In fact, I hate MS Office in general. I think it's a badly written pile of crap that should be scrapped and started again from scratch. (Don't get me wrong. Office is great for general users but when it's your day-job to write code which interacts with Office, or your hobby to write things which try to view office files outside of office, you will quickly learn to despise it. On top of that, Office is responsible for Variants and Visual Basic in general, two crimes against computer science in my book. No, I do not like MS Office at all.

While I agree many open source apps lack the polish of an Adobe app, but understand that most open source software is targeted to do one (or a few) thing really well and just work.
-zridling
That's along the lines of what I am trying to say!

OpenOffice might not exist without Sun releasing it under the GPL, but StarOffice would.
-zridling
Witout Sun releasing it under the GPL it wouldn't even be part of this discussion for completely obvious reasons.

As you suggest, instead of people proudly ripping off big commercial software despite the issue of affordability, it's better instead to [conscientiously] use an open source alternative.
-zridling
I agree, where there is a reasonable alternative. For many things there still isn't.

63
General Software Discussion / Re: RANT: High Software Prices!
« on: April 21, 2007, 06:27 PM »
In other words, imagine the case of photoshop.  Ideally, as long as they don't have to provide you with support, they aren't negatively effected if 30,000 high schoolers have pirated copies of photoshop and learn how to use it.  In fact it helps them by establishing a more dominant user base and trained users who may eventually buy the program.  But they can't "officially" give out those copies of photoshop or charge $5 for them, because they need to be able to charge the pros $500 for it.
-mouser
Although it may have been one bloke who thought of this on his own, and not Adobe's company policy or whatever, I have heard a story about an Adobe trainer going to a university media course to show people how to use Adobe's stuff who also showed them where to get pirate copies. (I heard this from a friend who was in the training session. I've heard similar stories second hand, too.) Clearly it is in Adobe's interests for people who can't afford their stuff to use it anyway and they seem aware of it. (As are Microsoft judging by their recent quote.)

Ignoring Adobe's interests, though, I think that if you can't afford Photoshop then you should use something else. Use something free if you want or buy something cheap. Hopefully by supporting the cheaper products they will get better and better, which is good for everyone (except Adobe).

That said, I can afford Photoshop and the last time I checked (which was many years ago) all of the alternatives were horrible. I don't like having warez on my machine now that I'm a working man rather than a kid/student with no money, so I still bought Photoshop.

That brings up another idea: Should software should be free for kids and students? I don't know how they would prove their age/status or how it would be enforced, nor what would happen when they grew up and all their programs became illegal (maybe they could keep them but upgrades would cost full price). I just remember being a kid who couldn't afford to buy everything but still loved playing around with computers and powerful software. I guess there's more free/open-source stuff for kids to mess around with now, and they've got the free time to really get into that stuff, so maybe things are different to when I was growing up.

If kids should get free/cheap software, should poor people? Should software cost a percentage of your income? Heh. Actually, why is this question even about software and not about products and prices in general? If only money more accurately reflected what a person deserves.

Over the last nine years, since I graduated, pretty much everyone I've worked with has been fairly well off. Not talking in particular about where I'm working right now (although it has happened once or twice there, too), but it really bugs me when I hear people boasting in the office about how they've got a pirate copy of XYZ or modded their console so they can download games or whatever. These people could buy all of that stuff legitimately without any lifestyle hit whatsoever and it's made even worse by the fact that we're all writing/supporting software for a living just like those they're ripping off. (Nobody can pirate the software I/we write at work because it's custom software that's only of use to our company. I'm guessing people's attitudes to piracy would be different if we were working for a commercial software house.)

It's like people forget why they're nicking stuff and, once they're able to afford to buy things properly, they don't realise it's time to change their ways and support the people who make the software/games they use and enjoy.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not an anti-pirate nazi who would shop his mother to FAST or FACT or ACT or FAT FIST F**ERS or whatever they're called now; it just offends me that well-off people can be so proud about gratuitously ripping off fellow software developers. Sure, I modded my own Xbox for music/video playback in the lounge -- XBMC rocks -- and, even though I thought I wouldn't, I ended up downloading a couple of games since it was so easy and there were some I wanted to try but wasn't sure enough about to buy. In the end I never got around to even trying most of the stuff I downloaded. Not surprising since I wasn't *that* interested in those titles, by definition. The things that I tried and liked I bought, though, just like I bought Doom 3 for the PC even though I had already finished a pirate copy of the game two weeks before its UK release. (There was no way I was going to hold off downloading a copy when everyone in the USA was talking about it but fair was fair and Id/Activision still got my money.)

How would you account for Linux then? What about Gimp, Open Office, Azureus, Utorrent?
-Nosh
Azureus and Utorrent aren't big/complex enough to be sold commercially, IMO, especially with so many other good, free and almost identical programs for doing the same job.

Open Office is one of the examples of what I mentioned where a free/open program was created and funded by a company with an agenda. (In this case, Sun, wanting to eat into Microsoft's Office market share. Sure, people can now contribute changes but the suite wouldn't exist at all if Sun hadn't paid full-time people to write Star Office.)

Linux and The Gimp are indeed examples of complex, powerful free software from an open-source model, where (as far as I know) lots of people have managed to collaborate and be organised enough to build something that competes with commercial products (to some degree). There aren't many other examples, though, at least that I know of. Perhaps, with stuff like Ubuntu, Linux is even showing signs that it has people willing to turn a large, powerful open-source product into something user-friendly and polished. I don't personally like The Gimp but maybe it's another example (I'm not familiar enough with it to have a fair opinion, I just found it a bit weird, not just compared to Photoshop but compared to what I expect from a GUI app on Windows).

My point wasn't that it never happens but that it's rare and I don't see any signs that it's going to become so common that commercial software ceases to exist. For a complex program to be polished and commercial quality someone usually has to get paid to do the boring stuff, if not just because it's boring then because it takes a lot of time and effort which people don't have if they're busy doing something else to earn a living. Polish needs consistency and it's difficult for lots of people contributing small individual efforts to pull it off. Linux is now popular enough that, to use a bad analogy, so much shit's being thrown at it that the good bits will stick (even if it takes years and years to happen), plus lots of people are paid to work on Linux full-time by companies that make money from Linux in other ways. I might be wrong but I think Linux is pretty unique example.

Of course, it goes without saying that commercial software isn't necessarily good, powerful or polished. One example proves this all by itself: <SPIT> Lotus Notes <SPIT>

64
General Software Discussion / Re: Directory Opus 9
« on: April 21, 2007, 04:40 PM »
Hope it's not just an update of the previous album with a couple of new chords here and there then ;).
I bought all of his remix records, plus (two copies of) the remastered version of TDS, too. :-)

65
General Software Discussion / Re: RANT: High Software Prices!
« on: April 18, 2007, 05:15 AM »
What really does annoy me is when people do try to sell those small, simple, spare-time software products.
-Me
Just to clarify, I mean when people sell them individually for more than a couple of dollars/quid. I wasn't having a dig at the DonationCoder concept which I think is pretty cool.

66
General Software Discussion / Re: RANT: High Software Prices!
« on: April 18, 2007, 05:13 AM »
I'm running Vista and I haven't had any problems with Photoshop CS2 (I don't have any other apps in the suite).

There are some very minor things, like sometimes the splash-screen has bits of other windows in it while the program loads, but that's all I've seen. I don't exactly use every part of Photoshop so there might be something bad lurking in there that I haven't come across.

The main thing I want in CS3 is the way it remembers the steps you did and lets you tweak and re-apply them later, as if you had done something different in the past before applying the steps after that. (Like the existing history, but with a "redo after changes" I suppose.) Doesn't seem worth £500, though. :)

BTW, trains in the UK aren't great these days but they're definitely not the worst in the world!

67
General Software Discussion / Re: Don't call it "the tray"!
« on: April 18, 2007, 05:06 AM »
After reading Raymond's post about it a while back I started to try to use "System Notification Area" but I gave up and went back to "tray". Nobody understands WTF you mean and it's not exactly a catchy name.

Language changes. Things get nick-names. If you call somehing A and everyone else calls it B you can explain that it was originally called A but beyond that you've just got to deal with it, I think.

68
General Software Discussion / Re: RANT: High Software Prices!
« on: April 18, 2007, 04:42 AM »
I bought Photoshop a few years ago. I had been using a pirate copy like most other people who used Photoshop at home for non-business stuff. I think PS was the last piece of pirate software I used and that was because of the price. So I thought.

(I couldn't have used something cheaper because all the alternatives to Photoshop were garbage back then. Whether that's still true I don't know.)

One day I was out buying a new digital camera to take with me on holiday. At the time digital cameras were expensive -- about the same price as Photoshop -- but I wanted one and I bought one. It then occurred to me that I'd use the camera while on holiday and only occasionally afterwards but Photoshop was something I used almost every week, sometimes quite intensely.

Clearly Photoshop is more valuable to me than a digital camera, but why would I pay for one and not the other when the cost was (back then) about the same?

Was it because one was a physical device and that made it seem worth more then something that was "just software"? No, that wasn't there reason. As a programmer I knew that good, powerful software like Photoshop was as difficult and time consuming to make as digital camera.

The reason I hadn't bought Photoshop until then, but had bought things like digital cameras, was simple and wrong: Photoshop was easy to steal and digital cameras were difficult to steal. Once I realised that I realised I had no excuse whatsoever. I went over the road from the camera shop to a software shop and I bought Photoshop 6.

Since then I've upgraded to Photoshop 7. I skipped CS1 as it didn't add much that interested me. I upgraded to CS2. Now CS3 is out and Adobe are charging UK customers 230% of the price they charge US customers. I've written them a note that that is ridiculous and that I refuse to support them any more until they treat their different customers fairly. (It's not clear if the US update will work on a UK version/licence or if they have to match. Either way, Adobe are now taking the piss out of their UK customers and I don't want to support that.)

Piracy isn't something I'm going to resort to if Adobe never equalise the UK price of CS3, though. I'll investigate the current alternatives, or just stick with CS2 and get on with it. Or I'll get drunk one night and think, "dammit, I want that new feature," and spend the money before I know what I've done. But it's a lot of money and I am insulted that I have to pay 230% of what someone in the US has to pay. That 230% is AFTER converting the GBP price to USD, too (I'm not being an idiot and complaining about the exchange rate):

An upgrade to Creative Suite 3 Design Premium from CS2.3 costs an American $471.90 with Californian sales tax. The exact same upgrade in the UK costs £546.38, equivalent to $1080.31 as of going to press. That's a markup of almost 130%, significantly beyond the usual price-doubling that Brits have reluctantly come to expect.
-The Register
http://www.theregist.../pay_twice_you_wish/

Will me not buying Photoshop influence Adobe? I seriously doubt it. They're not aiming the product at me. It's for businesses, where paying that much for some software is a non-issue and where they have to have not only the best software but the standard software that they know will be understood by everyone they hire. All the same, I bet some of the smaller companies will be just as annoyed as home users like myself when they realise how much the UK are getting screwed.

Due to the wife's career, I work in Missouri, but actually live in Chicago, a 7.5-hour drive. No train service. I'll go back and forth four times in the next 11 days.
I don't know how you can cope with that commute. (I've heard of worse commutes but that's definitely up there!) Anything over 45mins drives me crazy after six months.

If you have to live in Missouri and there are no other jobs out there, why not write software for a living? You can do that at home and try out the idea of giving away your life's work for free and earning a living purely from donations. You could be a pioneer of a new software model that, with any luck, changes the rest of the world, too. One day there won't be test-drives at car lots; people will simply go to the lot and drive off with one of the cars, perfectly legally, and a few months later when we think "yeah this car isn't bad!" some of them might drive by the lot and leave $100 for the owner. I say go for it! I'm as sick as capitalism as the next guy.

no matter how fast your system is, Photoshop is guaranteed to bring it to a crawl!
s/Photoshop/any graphics package/

Graphics are big. Especially when you have layers and so on to deal with. Editing them in memory takes a lot of memory. There doesn't exist a graphics program that lets you edit high-resolution images using layers (etc.) that doesn't use a lot of memory because it's physically impossible (unless the program is using a lot of temp files on disk, in which case it and the rest of your system will be even slower). Photoshop also doesn't use much CPU except when it's processing something which usually only takes a few seconds and is quite fast compared to other programs I've tried. Don't get me wrong, Photoshop is a big app, but it's doing a big job so I don't see what there is to complain about and I doubt you'll find anything that is significantly better. (Except, maybe, in terms of start-up time which Adobe seem not to care about improving with their products.)

Having said that, with Photoshop set to its default settings, where it will use at most half of your physical system memory, I haven't noticed PS slow down my PC for literally years. I can leave it running and it doesn't have much effect. Pre-Vista it might all get paged to disk if I don't use it for a while and then it takes a while to load back in when I go back to it, but even that seems fixed in Vista (which has greatly improved things in that area for all programs). Sure, I wouldn't leave PS running when I wanted to play a game since they both want a lot of memory to themselves, but generally I wouldn't think twice about leaving PS running in the background. It doesn't slow down your PC, unless you've got a 486 or something.

With the open-source/freeware explosion happening these guys are sooner or later going to have to start slashing their prices badly to stay afloat anyway, why not do it right away?
-Nosh
I'm not sure there will ever be a collision between free and commercial software. Free software tends to be very small, simple programs that don't get significantly updated often and only do one or two simple things. That isn't bad, I use and love a lot of those programs and I've written and given away several myself, but when someone wants to make something really good, polished and powerful it soon turns into a full-time job. There's only so much you can do in your spare time. At that point you've got to start earning money from your software or the harsh realities of our capitalist world will swallow you up and spit you out.

(What really does annoy me is when people do try to sell those small, simple, spare-time software products. It seems cheap to me and, even if it's more costly to me personally in terms of my time vs my money, I'd rather write my own version of a small tool than pay someone money for something that only took them a day to write. Usually there's some other tool that'll do the same job for free, and that's alright.)

There are some very good, polished and powerful free programs but they're exceptions, IMO. They're also often funded by large companies with an agenda of killing off other products in the market.

The only way free software can be good, polished and powerful, beyond lots of small utilities, is if lots of people donate their time to a project, but that often doesn't work because people work on only the stuff that interests them, not the stuff that needs to be done to make something work properly or polished for general users, and because it's difficult to manage so many people without the codebase becoming a mess. It's not impossible but I don't think it'll become the norm any time soon.

Personally, I hope that society doesn't stop at a 5-day week. It used to be 7, then 6 and now 5 and we seem to have lost momentum. If everyone wasn't made to waste so much of their lives working on stuff that is usually of no benefit to anyone except the rich megalomaniac on the golf course who owns the company then we'd have more time to create and give away things that make everyone's lives better. Things that people don't seem to value enough to pay enough for that you could write them for a living but that we still want to make and give away because they're cool and because it's fun to make things.

I'm about to take a sabbatical from work because I'm sick of it. My job's okay but I'm sick of having to do something 5 days a week that drains the life out of me and leaves so little energy to get anything done after work or at the weekends (and if I want to get things done I end up not seeing friends and missing out on other things I enjoy like films and games or trying to learn the two musical instruments I bought that are gathering dust). I'm very lucky to be in a position to not "work" for a few months. (I'll still be working, just on stuff that doesn't get me paid.) I think it should be normal, and the law, for everyone to do this regularly, to be honest. If I thought I could earn enough money making interesting/useful software full-time, as my day job, then I'd be doing that right now, but as it is I'd have to take a huge pay cut and I don't know if I could adjust to that. Plus I'd be at the mercy of people who seem to think that "continually" asking for money for full-time work is somehow wrong, as if buying an apple from someone one day entitles you to a pear the next.

69
General Software Discussion / Re: Directory Opus 9
« on: April 16, 2007, 07:19 AM »
My brief impressions of TC, and some of the odd feature requests from ex-TC users about what they'd like the mouse buttons to do in Opus, is that moving from it to any other program would be a bit weird in a few ways. Or maybe that's just a configuration thing (i.e. it allows you to make it weird but it also has the option of working the way most other Windows apps do) in which case that's fair enough.

Right, I've gotta get out of the house to go buy the new NIИ album that came out today (tomorrow in the USA) for £12. Despite buying his last five albums and turning a few dozen people on to his music, I don't get a free copy :(.

70
General Software Discussion / Re: Directory Opus 9
« on: April 16, 2007, 06:21 AM »
Thanks for the reply. I guess we've both said all there is to say really.

Paying USD $16 a year (i.e. USD $40 every 2.5 years) for keeping a useful tool up-to-date with new features doesn't seem expensive to me, but maybe I'm rich or something. :-) (Of course, it's not as cheap as paying nothing; it just doesn't strike me as expensive.)

Comment spam is such a pain so I understand you disabling them. We had a lot of issues on the Opus forums until Steve installed a bunch of things that seem to have stopped them for now. Spam is bad enough but spam with explicit pictures that could get someone fired for reading an innocent site just isn't funny.

71
General Software Discussion / Re: Directory Opus 9
« on: April 15, 2007, 05:43 PM »
Scratch that, I would definitely prefer the 7-zip plug-in which has been talked about on the DO forum for a long time but never seems to go anywhwere.
I'm not sure what's going on with Nosh's 7-zip plugin. I think maybe somebody else had also started on one?

I'm in the process of arranging to take a sabbatical from my day job for a few months, during which I plan to do a lot of Opus plugin work because it's been bugging me that I haven't been able to add certain features to my existing plugins and that there still aren't plugins for certain things. (Multi-page TIFF for example. I've done a bunch of work towards that already but there's only so much coding I can get done at the weekends.)

If nobody has finished a 7-zip plugin by then then I'll make one. The 7-zip API looks pretty simple so it won't be hard.

I also wish Opus had a read-write RAR plugin, instead of the read-only one it has currently. Seems to me the only way to do this, since there is no read-write RAR API/DLL for whatever reason (sigh!), is to call rar.exe or winrar.exe from the command line, which is a PITA but seems to work for Total Commander and others. I wasn't sure how well that would work with unicode filenames, though. Haven't really looked into it enough.

72
General Software Discussion / Re: Directory Opus 9
« on: April 15, 2007, 04:52 PM »
- have double click to select a file in the program even though Explorer has single click
Do you mean to launch a file, rather than to select one? If so then yes, to a degree. Opus ignores Explorer's "single-click" mode, but does have its own option if you want "single-click to select" inside of Opus. So you could turn single-click on in Explorer and leave it off in Opus. (It's off by default in Opus.)

The only problem will be when Opus is displaying a folder via one of Explorer's views. (Opus relies on Explorer to display My Computer, Recycle Bin, Network Places, and similar folders. They are displayed within an Opus window, but Explorer is doing the work behind the scenes.) In those cases I think Explorer's settings will be respected, so things will be inconsistent if Explorer and Opus aren't configured the same way.

- use the standard 'Commander' keys found in many dual pane managers - such as F5 (copy), F6 (move) etc
That's easily done. You can create standalone hotkeys via Settings -> Customize -> Keys. You can also assign hotkeys to toolbar buttons by editing the buttons. (Toolbar buttons' hotkeys will also be listed in the Customize Keys dialog.)

Tip: If you try creating some hotkeys in Opus 8, make sure you uncheck the System-Wide Hotkey option, else the hotkey will function even when Opus isn't the active program. (That's useful for certain things but you wouldn't want it for stuff like Copy and Rename for obvious reasons.) The System-Wide Hotkey option is turned on by default for new hotkeys in Opus 8. Opus 9 turns it off by default since it kept confusing people. ("Why does Opus start doing stuff when I press a hotkey in another program!?")

- have left/right/tab move between the 2 panes
Do you mean you want to be able to move folder tabs from the left to the right and vice versa? If so you can do that by dragging them. (Drag the tab's icon, not the label. The icon represents the tab while the label represents the folder, and dragging that would be like dragging the folder to another location. Similarly, right-clicking the label and the icon give you different context menus.)

- Ctrl+Shift+<Drive> goes to that drive
Easily done through Customize Keys and commands like "Go C:\". You'd have to create a separate hotkey for each drive letter but it's a one-off job and hopefully not too much hassle (unless you've got 26 drive letters).

Over time, I want to learn more Opus specific features and use them, but in the meantime I want something familiar which doesn't disrupt my work too much.
Perfectly reasonable! Change Opus's configuration for yourself, not the other way around.

73
General Software Discussion / Re: Directory Opus 9
« on: April 15, 2007, 10:56 AM »
Thanks for the comments. Wow mouser, your post count is bigger than mine is on the Opus forums. :)

Fair points about the pricing etc. I'm not an economist or businessman so I don't know what the right answer is (if there is one!). I agree that price, and things like optional extras and free-update windows, have a psychological effect that can outweigh or pre-empt other factors.

If you use even a small percentage of its features then I think Opus is more than worth the price but it can be difficult to know how much you'll get out of a program before you use it and if you're put off by the price so much that you don't even test-drive the 60-day trial then you'll never find out. Even if the price of something is completely fair for what you get, if people don't try it then they won't realise how much value they'd get for their money.

It's a balancing act of pricing and of marketing/promotion. It's really difficult to explain what Opus does and what makes it special. It's the the sum of lots and lots of small things that don't matter much on their own.

KenR and patteo both said it well. The massive bullet point is configurability and that's hard to explain (if it's even a word :)). I could say to someone, "Opus is great because it allowed me to create a button that runs a tool that embeds folder.jpg from the same folder into the WMA files I had selected", and they'd probably think, "WMA album covers? I don't care about that, it's not worth the money!" The point isn't that it could do that particular thing but that it allowed me to do what I wanted and will probably allow them to do what they want, whatever that is.

The difficulties I had explaining the benefits of Opus prompted me to write my introduction to Opus a while back. I wanted to list out some of "the little things that add up to something big" and to give a few examples of what I made Opus do for myself in the hope it would help people understand what Opus can do for them. I don't know how successful I was but at least now I can paste the URL into conversations instead of fumbling with words. :)

Many people don't seem to "get" configurability. They see a screenshot of a program and think that's it. "It's got too many buttons." But you can remove them. "That cat picture (at the bottom of the first page) is ridiculous!" I know, it's meant to be!

It seems to me that most people, at least on Windows, are used to letting the tools they use dictate how they get things done. Most programs aren't very configurable so people aren't used to saying "F*** this, I'm sick of seeing this dialog all the time!" or "I do this thing every day and it takes five mouse clicks, why can't I do it in one click or via a hotkey?" or "Why are all these stupid programs that I never use on my context menus in the way of the things I do use?"

Opus is the kind of program that you can adapt to solve problems like that but I don't think many people realise problems like that are there. They accept "it's how things work" and don't wish they could change things, so when the odd program like Opus comes along they don't see how it's useful. Opus lets you customise just about everything to your personal needs and that requires something that I don't think people are used to using: imagination about how they could use their computer better. Of course, it also requires the investment of time and energy towards tweaking things but if you're a geek like me then that's often a pleasure in itself. (I seem to spend half my time tweaking my computer so it's easier to tweak my computer. :))

Comparing the two is like debating whether or not chocolate or vanilla ice cream is better.  They're both delicious.
Well said!

I guess the only other thing I can ask for is maybe GP can give an *extra* discount for Donationcoder users for the upgrade?
-superboyac
I hope GPsoft takes this into account and gives us another nice discount!
-Hirudin
I don't know what GPSoft's plans are but I'll mention it to them.

if I have to install 8 to make 9 work
-Hirudin
You won't have to install Opus 8 first. You'll get a new licence code that unlocks Opus 9 directly. At least, that's how it worked from 6 to 8.

Don't worry, I would go on strike and post the longest whine in the history of the Internet if GPSoftware ever made the update/install process force you to install the previous version in order to install the update.

(Installing CyberLink PowerDVD, for example, drives me f***ing nuts. Every time I reinstall Windows or switch PCs I have to faff about installing the first version of PowerDVD I ever bought and then installing every update since then in sequence, each with a different licence code, because the PowerDVD installers refuse to install with an update licence code unless they can see the previous version, even though the installer contains the full set of program files. It's so painfully stupid. I could understand them asking me to type in my old licence code to prove I'm entitled to an update (although didn't I do that on their website in order to get the update code?!) but actually having to install the old versions, one by one? WTF. It'll never happen with Opus. Not on my watch!)

How are the upgrades going to work? More or less we'll get a new key and the old key will no longer work, right?
-Hirudin
Technically, if you buy an update to Opus 9 then, as far as I know, your old Opus 8 key will continue to work with Opus 8. Of course, legally, you wouldn't be allowed to have Opus 8 installed on one machine and Opus 9 on another using the two licences (unless you had a two-machine licence) since you've bought an update and not a second copy. But if you needed to go back to Opus 8 for some reason then I don't think anything would stop you doing that.

About the whole "Bread Crumb" thing... yeah, I thought it looked like MS stole that feature from DO, and improved it.
-Hirudin
On a slightly related note, it's great to see that Explorer in Vista selects the filename, minus the extension part, when you press F2 to rename something. Just like Opus always did (by default). I don't know if MS got the idea from Opus and I don't really care; I'm just glad they added it to Explorer so I don't get irritated every time I rename a file on my Desktop!

Btw, it's really not neccessary to register again just to support me! You should better spend this money to support the victims of the Tsunami flood, or the hunger in Africa...
-Ghisler
Respect to that. Every so often the mIRC guy donates a month's registrations to charity, too. He's donated a fair amount. It surprised me how much actually. Something like $30,000 for a month of registrations which is a lot of people buying mIRC, but I guess a lot of people use mIRC and at least some of those registrations will be people who are buying it again just to donate.

I just want to uppercut every time I see that. (I hope this refrence isn't lost on everyone here!)
-Hirudin
Is that a Mortal Kombat reference? That had a face that appeared on the screen sometimes, right? I'm rubbish at those Beat 'Em Ups, pretty much anything post-IK+, where the control systems turned into a case of weird input sequences that you had to work out and memorise. I managed to get to grips with Ninja Gaiden (the newer Xbox one) and God of War but the one-on-one two-player games make me throw the controller at the wall in frustration. Actually, Ninja Gaiden did too at first, but that game really rewards perseverance!

Your reference probably had nothing to do with beat 'em ups and now I've started a weird tangent, haha.

Actually, XY is now taking me 16mb of mem, thus, if it'd behave in my computer as it does in yours, you're right, DOpus would take less.
-jgpavia
Probably not less, to be fair to XY, but a similar amount. Coincidentally, as I type this my Opus is using just under 16MB (15,692K) as well. Depends what I'm doing, of course, as it would in XY too.

I'd like some brown sauce with my crow, please, and a pint.
-Darwin
:-) Thanks for taking the time to compare the two. I'm not sure where the impression that Opus uses lots of memory and/or is slow comes from but it's one of those things that people seem to think and repeat without really checking it out. When examined it doesn't turn out to be true. If Opus is using a lot of memory or running slowly then it's probably because of a 3rd party thing that Opus is hooking into.

For example, Opus relies on the video codecs installed on the computer to make thumbnails of movies and to get information out of them to display in its columns (e.g. dimensions and length of time). Unfortunately, a lot of video codecs are full of bugs for some reason. (Dunno what it is about people who write video codecs!) If a codec goes into a 100% CPU loop or leaks memory all over the place then it's dopus.exe that gets the blame in Task Manager since the codec DLL is loaded into the Opus process. If you see that happen and don't know any better then it's easy to think Opus is buggy.

I think it's a lot like reports of Firefox being unstable. They usually turn out to be due to extensions, not the program itself. That's the risk of hooking into other people's components.

Another thing I remember is when someone posted some timings which appeared to show that Opus copied files significantly slower than Explorer. The timings sure looked bad but after some investigation Opus was exonerated. It turned out to be two things:

First, the tester was copying thousands of small files and in Opus the options to preserve timestamps and attributes when copying files were turned on. Explorer doesn't preserve those things (or maybe it does one but not the other? I'm not sure right now) but Opus does, by default, since it's nice to do so and it normally takes a negligible amount of time (i.e. milliseconds). When copying a huge number of small files, though, that per-file overhead adds up and takes up as much time as copying the files themselves. It didn't add up to a hell of a lot, as I remember, but it still made Opus appear to be slower than Explorer, which was bad. I turned off two checkboxes and the time to copy the same files in Opus and Explorer became so close that I couldn't call a winner. (The time fluctuates, of course, but I did several copies and averaged the results.)

Second, and much more importantly, the person who did the original timings hadn't done a fair test at all. They copied the files in Opus and then copied the same files in Explorer without doing anything in between. Since the filesystem caches data Explorer had a massive advantage since Opus, before it, had caused all the files to be cached. Opus was reading files from disk while Explorer was reading them straight out of RAM. Test the two in the opposite order and Opus appeared much faster than Explorer. By doing a fair test, where I made sure the filesystem cache was filled with other data between copies, I found that the two programs were really the same speed.

Doing all those tests, copying files over and over again with different combinations of options, was really tedious but I wanted to work out if the results the user posted were valid. If they were then I'm sure GPSoft would have fixed the problem but, happily, it turned out there was no problem to fix.

74
General Software Discussion / Re: Directory Opus 9
« on: April 14, 2007, 01:27 PM »
Before I begin, I'd like to clarify/disclose who I am:

I'm the author of the What's new in Opus 9 guide. (The one linked in reply #19 of this thread.) I'm also an Opus beta-tester and plugin writer and I answer a lot of questions on the Opus forums. I don't work for GPSoftware, I don't write Opus and I don't make my living from Opus. I have a day job doing something completely different. I'm just a very enthusiastic user who puts a lot of his spare time and energy into helping GPSoft make Opus better and helping people who use Opus get more out of it.

With that out of the way I'd like to respond to a few questions/statements made here, as best I can.


ability to launch DOpus via double-clicking the desktop even if the process is not running in the background (wonder if this is true, too, of double-clicking on folder icons on the desktop when in "Explorer Replacement" mode?)
-Darwin
Yup, it does apply to double-clicking icons in Explorer Replacement mode. If Opus isn't running then it will be launched to display the folder. This isn't a new thing, though. Explorer Replacement in Opus has always worked that way. The new thing is that when you double-click an empty space on the desktop (i.e. your desktop wallpaper) then Opus will open a new window, even if it wasn't running at the time. Before Opus 9 the empty-space double-click event only worked if Opus was already running. Of course, you can turn off the empty-space double-click, and/or Explorer Replacement, if you don't want them. I find them both really, really handy, though.

So I can choose to go to locations like 'Control Panel', 'Recycle Bin' inside it, and the display columns will show me content specific to those, instead of just being a file manager for files and folders.
-MrCrispy
Opus does that as well. I haven't used Xplorer2 but I'm assuming that it and Opus do the same thing which is to call on Explorer itself (or a shell extension/namespace for 3rd party special folders) when you go to those folders. You can host Explorer's views inside any application and sometimes it's the only way to provide such a view because the underlying system or data is undocumented and/or subject to change in future versions of Windows.

Opus also lets you choose from a wide range of columns when displaying normal folders containing normal files. You can define different columns/views for different locations (e.g. "C:\Windows" where you might find it useful to display DLL version information in a column), and/or types of folders (e.g. Network Drives, where you might want to avoid any columns that cause Opus to look inside the files because the network is slow). You can also tell Opus to automatically add columns or switch view modes when you enter a folder containing a lot of image files (for example).

"Perhaps the thing I like best about DOpus is being able to assign keyboard shortcuts to specific folders and files if I want"
-zridling
Can I ask you how this is done?  I use Dopus 8.2.2.5 and I can't seem to find how to do this?
-TheOmen
In Opus, go to Settings -> Customize -> Keys, then add new hotkeys with commands which run things like Go "C:\Program Files" -- That will make the active ("source") window go to that folder. Opus 9 also lets you assign hotkeys to items in your Favorites tree, which is a lot easier to manage but the end result is the same. The Go command can be given lots of extra arguments if you want the folders to open in new windows or tabs or whatever. If you have more questions, drop by the Opus Resource Centre forums where myself or one of the many other people there will help you out.

I'm at work, and I can't view that preview because the address has nude in it.
-cthorpe
Hehe, sorry. :)

If anyone else has the same problem, there's a mirror of my Opus 9 guide at my personal website ( http://www.pretentiousname.com/opus9/ ) but, if you can, please used the published URL ( http://nudel.dopus.com/opus9/ ) as GPSoft have much more hosting bandwidth than I do and all those images and Flash demos add up!

it's lightweight (which is a feature DOpus doesn't have, IIRC)
-jgpaiva
Define lightweight? I leave Opus running 24/7 on all of my machines at home and at work and it has no effect on other programs. If Opus is using a lot of memory it's likely due to a configuration that uses lots of large background images (they all have to be in memory, uncompressed) or toolbars with hundreds of external icons (ditto), or because you're viewing lots of thumbnails (ditto, but only while viewing the dir, of course). As well as those things, you can also reduce memory a bit more by disabling plugins you don't need.

Right now my dopus.exe process is using all of 5MB of memory and that's with a window open, a few images (not many, no big ones) and all of the plugins enabled. That seems low actually; I think it usually uses more like 10MB with my current configuration, but as I write this TaskManager reports just under 5MB, even after doing some stuff in Opus to see if it would push the memory usage up. Anyway, in 2007, I don't understand why anyone really cares if a useful program uses 5MB or 10MB when machines have a gig or two of RAM and when, more importantly, Windows pages out the memory of idle programs you aren't using when something else you are using needs it. It's a non-issue unless you're using a 486 with 16MB of RAM or something, in which case you've got bigger problems to worry about. :)

Probably DOpus is developed by a big team
-jgpaiva
Nope, just Jon, the main coder, and Greg, who generally handles running the business, writing the manuals and the official support emails. (Not to be confused with the Resource Centre forums which are, I guess, semi-official support. Greg & Jon also reply to questions there, but most things get answered first by the community other users.) A few things are done by people outside of GPSoft, e.g. Trevor Morris did the graphics and icons, Steve Banham looks after the Resource Centre forums and I've written several plugins and a few guides and tutorials in my spare time, as have several other users. There is also a team of beta testers, generally selected from enthusiastic users who have given useful feedback in the past. (Jon is the same person who has been writing Opus since the first Amiga version in 1990. The program has never changed hands, although the old Amiga versions were given to other people to take over when GPSoftware moved to the PC and started a new program from scratch.)

So, the hope that it'll evolve into something even better then DOpus isn't lost
-jgpaiva
Don't forget Opus is a moving target and will also evolve into something better than what it is currently. :) (Better, of course, being subjective. To some Opus isn't the best file manager, just as to me it is. There's no absolute best for everyone.)

it is not as svelte and quick as XYplorer
-Darwin
What sort of stuff do you find slow in Opus? I would think most operations are bounded by how fast the filesystem can supply directory listings. You can slow things down by turning on certain options, though, so maybe that's what you're seeing? Or maybe there's something none of us have noticed that could do with fixing/improving. Let me or GPSoft know and I'll pass it on.


The rest of what I want to say is mainly in response to Zaine Ridling's weblog post.

Zaine, I tried to reply to your weblog but there seems to be an issue with the comments system there. That probably explains why every post has zero comments. The page gives you the impression that you can post comments but they seem to go into the void. If you have cookies enabled (which I don't by default, except for a whitelist) then your comment will appear, but only for you. Is that to disguise the fact the comments are moderated (but never approved by the look of it), or to make people think they've had their say when nobody else can see it?

I'll reply here instead but I wish I could have my say on your weblog to add some balance to what you posted because your post ranges from incredibly subjective to downright misleading and borderline slanderous in places.


XYplorer beats DOpus in many ways, among them speed and options at-hand; that is, within a keyboard shortcut or right-click
-zridling
As I asked someone else above, what do you find slow in Opus?

Regarding keyboard short-cuts and right-clicks, I'm not really sure what you mean by this comparison. Opus lets you can assign just about any internal function, or external command, to almost any keyboard shortcut, toolbar button, menu item or right-click context menu. Do you just mean that the things *you* use are not configured by default in Opus? Ever considered that other people use different things to you and if every single Opus function was added to the default menus/toolbars then they would fill a pair of 30" monitors and then some?

If you mean that it can be difficult to find settings in Opus 8 then nobody can deny that. It comes with having a lot of settings! Opus 9 helps by making it possible to search the Preferences and Customize windows. There are still a lot of settings, of course, but Opus is that kind of program. People who don't want many choices always have Windows Explorer, etc.


However, I counted no less than twelve features that Directory Opus either copied or is finally catching up to XYplorer 5.x on, from breadcrumbs to thumbnails to folder tabs to new rename options to new find features, and more
-zridling
I wish you'd qualify statements like "twelve features" and "beats DOpus in many ways" by giving a complete list. I wish you'd also point out and/or realise that twelve features out of several thousand is a pretty insignificant percentage. Also, as I'll get to in a moment, I wish you'd realise that all or most of what few examples you did give are wrong.

FYI, I don't think anyone involved in writing or beta-testing Opus has ever even installed XYplorer let alone scoured it for ideas. Jon never has. Greg never has. Trevor never has. I never have. Suggesting that Opus has stolen ideas from other file managers is pretty rich considering Directory Opus has existed for 17 years, since the first Amiga version way back in 1990, and is often explicitly mentioned as the inspiration for many of the Windows file managers available today. Opus invented and introduced more than its fair share of ideas. Of course, it is possible (and in some cases true) that some feature requests have come from users who saw something in another program and asked for the same thing in Opus. To my knowledge, though, that's never happened with features from XYplorer. The actual examples you gave in your blog post are completely and utterly off-base:

a) Opus 9 stole breadcrumbs from Vista's Explorer, not XYplorer. In addition to that, Opus 8 already had a "hot paths" feature, thought up by GPSoft independently, that was already quite a lot like breadcrumbs (minus the pop-up menus for sibling folders) before anything I know of had breadcrumbs.

b) Are you seriously claiming XYplorer invented thumbnails? (WTF!??) Opus 6 had thumbnails. Explorer has had them since I can't remember. There's prior art going back to the stone age.

Or did you mean to type "Tiles" instead of "Thumbnails"? If so then I can confirm that the idea for Tiles mode was indeed "stolen". Not from XYplorer but from Windows Explorer, again. I imagine XYplorer got the idea from Explorer, too, if it also has Tiles mode. Or maybe the XYplorer developer thought of it independently before Windows XP came out, I don't know. It's hardly revolutionary to say "let's combine thumbnails with more textual information than just the filename" so it's not unthinkable that different people thought of similar ideas. If you're going to accuse Opus of stealing ideas, though, get your facts straight about where it stole them from!

You'd be a strange person indeed if you preferred that developers avoided adding useful features if they were already present in something else. Personally, and in general, I'd rather have all the useful features in one place so I don't have to live without anything or switch between different things which ultimately do the same task. Where two programs have the same feature, let them compete by how well they implement it. (For example, in Opus's Tiles mode you can define which information is shown per filetype. If you want the focal length or GPS coordinates your photos were taken at to be displayed next to them then you can do that. I don't know what XYplorer's tiles view (if any) is like but there's no such option in Explorer, at least.)

c) Are you seriously claiming XYplorer invented tabs? (WTF!?!??) Tabs in Opus were inspired by Firefox which probably got the idea from Opera which was probably just applying Microsoft's MDI concept to web browsing.

I mentioned your weblog post to Trevor Morris, creator of the graphics and icons inside of Opus and long-time beta-tester and collaborator going back to the Amiga versions. He replied: "Funny, because I think I was one of the first people to suggest/request tabs in DOpus, and I've certainly never installed (nor even heard of) XYplorer." I don't know when XPlorer got folder tabs but Trevor was asking for them years and years ago.

Actually, forget when they were first requested, Tabs were already in Opus 8, which itself was out years ago! Opus 9 has improved on them but your weblog makes it sound like Opus only just got folder tabs and is only just "catching up", which is utter rubbish. Credit where it's due: I believe the ideas of locked and renamable tabs originated with Total Commander. Those features were added to Opus 9 after people who had used TC kept asking for them in Opus. Again, if you want to accuse a program of stealing ideas, get your facts straight and at least accuse it stealing from the right program! Or, even better, see it as a good thing. Would it better for the Opus developers to ignore all the people asking for a feature because it already exists in another program? Nobody wins then. If something is a good idea then let it be added to all programs and let them compete on how well they implement them.

I trust that if XYPlorer adds a dual-pane feature (if it doesn't have one already; I don't know for sure, but two posts here say it doesn't) then you will post to your webblog about how XYPlorer is "catching up with" and "stealing ideas from" Directory Opus or some other file manager going back to Norton Commander or whatever it was that first came out with a dual-pane view. (For what it's worth, and as far as I know, Opus was first file manager to combine being able to open as many windows as you want with being able to have dual-displays in one (or more) single window(s) when you wanted it, for the best-of-both-worlds combination of the two paradigms. Maybe something else did it first but if so I never saw it in action.)

Different programs have different features. Differnet programs might gain different features at different times. Programs which do similar jobs are not all heading down the same road in the same direction towards the same final end-state of feature-complete perfection because there's no such thing. Different developers and users have different opinions about what makes a perfect program, and that's a good thing because it gives us all choice. (The only thing the whole user and developer community can agree on in the whole world is that Lotus Notes sucks.)

A lot of the stuff added to Opus 9 has been in the feature request list for literally years. There's only so much that can be added to a program in any one update and the developers have to make a call about which features they think are important for the next release, taking into account how long they'll take to integrate with the existing code and what effect they'll have on other things that are also wanted. If another file manager adds something that Opus doesn't have then good for it; meanwhile, the Opus devs have been working on some other feature which some people might find more important. Or less important. It's subjective. Even if those two programs then trade features at a later date, it doesn't mean one is "catching up" to the other. It just means those features seemed like good ideas, or were asked for by users, and it made sense to add them at that time. It doesn't even mean one program is copying another as the features may have been thought up years ago, or inspired by a third program or something with nothing to do with computers at all.

Neither program is a subset of the other. If I had the time or saw the point I'm sure I could list hundreds of features that Opus has that XYplorer hasn't. That would be pointless, though. They're two different programs. I have nothing at all against XYplorer. From a quick look at its website it looks like a good program and I wouldn't hesitate to include in the list of file managers I'd recommend people try when working out which is best for them. It looks like XYplorer has its own unique features that aren't in Opus just like Opus has its own features that aren't in XYplorer. Neither fact makes one program better than the other.

I just wonder what planet you are on by attributing the invention of things like thumbnails (or tiles if you meant that) and tabs to XYplorer and claiming that Opus is "catching up" to XYplorer because XYplorer "stole" Vista's breadcrumbs idea before Opus did. (If Microsoft stole breadcrumbs from XYplorer then I apologise for that accusation but, like I've said, I don't see what's wrong with "stealing" ideas like that. To not do so would be like IE not adding tabbed browsing for years after it became apparent to everyone else that it was a killer feature.) Using the same type of logic and arbitrary selection of features that you used in your weblog post it would be easy for me to argue that XYplorer has a lot of catching up to do with Opus, but that wouldn't paint a fair picture of XYplorer at all. (e.g. The very first item in the most recent XYplorer update on their front page: 29th March 2007 "Added preview of *.tga (Targa) files!" Opus had that years ago. Oh my god, a stolen idea! ...Or maybe, up until now, displaying TGA files simply wasn't the top priority in the minds of the XYplorer developers who were busy doing other things.)

All you've done is arbitrarily pick some features that have been added to Opus recently and were already in XYplorer while ignoring all the other new features added to Opus that XYPlorer doesn't have. More importantly, you've ignored all the features Opus has had since version 6 or 8 that XYPlorer doesn't have. You're also judging the Opus 9 update before you know everything that's in it, given that the full list of changes has yet to be published (my guide ignores literally hundreds of small changes that might be a big deal to some), and in addition to that it's apparent that you didn't even finish reading my Opus 9 guide or GPSoft's very brief highlights list before running off to slag off the Opus 9 update on your weblog simply because it costs money. (How strange, saying something is too expensive or should be free before you even know what's in it.)

Regarding your "four very important ways" and other statements:

Portability and Size

I assume that by "portability" you mean running from USB. I guess you didn't read my guide or GPSoft's highlights because this is covered in both.

In Opus 9 your complete setup, including the program itself and all your settings, can be copied directly to a USB stick in about 5 mouse clicks. You can then run Opus from that USB stick by double-clicking dopus.exe in the root of the drive. No installation, no copying and no registry changes. (The U3 system is also supported but Opus doesn't require it and doesn't rely on it, or anything else, to clean up the registry since Opus no longer stores its settings in the registry.)

As for size, my Opus install is 20MB, 9MB of which is optional plugins that I could delete to reduce the size to 11MB. Even if I add on the optional online-help files, optional PDF manual, optional language translations and the multiple copies of the Release Notes for various versions I have sitting around, Opus is still only using 37MB of my HDD. (If your Opus install is bigger than that is probably due to a load of background graphics that you've copied into the directory or somethign like that.)

10MB to 40MB is hardly massive or likely to fill anyone's computer, iPod, memory stick or whatever in this day and age. I put it to you that it just doesn't matter if a program is 1MB or 20MB. I also put it to you that functionality is much more important than a few meg of disk space. I've you disagree then I've got a copy of Norton Commander that you might like. It fits on a single floppy disk with room to spare for a low-res, heavily compressed JPEG.

XML settings

In this thread (but not on your blog) you also mention that XML settings is something XYPlorer has that Opus doesn't. Once again, apparently you didn't actually read the list of changes! My guide has an entire section about XML configuration.

Yeah, it would've been great if Opus used XML settings all along but that's life. The move to XML settings and other changes for USB mode took a lot of time and effort which (a few small things aside) only really benefit the relatively small number of people who want to run Opus from a USB stick. That's why USB mode is an optional extra. It was significant amount of work for a relatively small number of people so those people are being asked to pay for it if they want it. If they don't want it or don't think it's worth it then nobody is forcing them to buy it.

To put things in perspective, if I had Opus 9 without USB mode and I needed to buy the add-on in order to help a friend down the road with his computer then I would spend as much on a return pair of bus tickets (GBP £2 each) getting to his house as I would on USB mode itself (GBP £4), and I'd be able to use USB mode forever afterwards, unlike the bus tickets.

Ability to easily save and restore all settings to/from external files.

There's a settings Backup & Restore Wizard in Opus 9, also shown and mentioned in my guide. You select Settings -> Backup & Restore from the menus, select the Backup radio button and then click Next a few times. A second later all of your settings are saved to a single file that can be imported just as easily. (The backup is just a zip file with XML files, background images, etc. inside it so you can open it up and edit it if you need to for some reason.) Opus even puts your username and the date into the default filename so you can easily keep several historic backups in one place without having to rename anything. If don't think that's easy then I don't really know what to say. It wasn't exactly difficult in Opus 8, either.

System Integration

In this thread you mention "System integration" as somehing XYplorer does better than Opus. What do you mean by that? Opus hooks into folder double-clicks (Explorer Replacement mode), and it'll run just about any other program that has a command-line or DDE interface, too. It lets you create system-wide hotkeys, docked toolbars on the desktop, etc. It lets you view My Computer and Recycle Bin, etc. It lets you view Word documents etc. Sounds like system integration to me but I don't have a clue what you actually meant by that. What is it that you feel is lacking under the vague label of "system integration?" If something is missing and it's a good idea then I'm sure it will be considered for addition. Enlighten us! Just throwing around vague terms doesn't help people decide which program is better for them, nor does it help developers improve their products, because nobody but you has any idea what you're talking about.

Lifetime licence

When I first read this I thought you were suggesting that the Opus licence expires some time after you buy it. It doesn't and it'd be nice if you corrected your weblog post so that people reading it don't get the wrong idea.

You buy a version of Opus and you can use what you bought forever. The only thing that expires is the right to official support and that expiry, which has never been enforced to my knowledge, only kicks in if you are still using an old version a year after a newer version has been released. In reality people in that situation still get support. They'll certainly get support from myself and the other fellow users at the Resource Centre Forums and my guess is that they'll still get support from GPSoft. (I've been copied on replies from GPSoft about Opus 6 issues that had some relation to me, e.g. plugins I've written, even in the last few months, for example.) The clause is just there to stop someone who bought Opus 6 in 2001 *demanding* support for it in 2015 when Opus 6 is ancient history and nobody can even remember how it worked. Seems reasonable to me.

Having read some of the posts here I see now that you were not talking about licence expiry. You were talking about the right to free updates forever. There's a big difference between the licence to use a piece of software and the right to free updates for a piece of software and it's not helpful to anyone to confuse the two. Aside from anti-virus products (for obvious reasons), very few programs expire unless you pay more money. (There are a few exceptions. CDRWin springs to mind. I don't know if it's still around or using the same annoying licence/protection system that forced you to buy updates every year even if no significant work had been done on the program but that annoyed me and made me switch products.)

Okay, let's look at the idea of being able to buy the right to free updates forever:

So far I've only found three companies that honored their "lifetime" licenses — WinRAR, XYplorer, and UltraEdit so far.
-zridling

Like you said, three companies in total. Why expect this from everyone?

Given the assumptions that developers don't have unlimited time and that developers need money to pay for food and rent, it seems to me there are only four ways such a business model can work:

  • The developer rarely spends significant time improving the product and users almost never get major updates, only the odd bug fix or minor feature that nobody would pay for in the first place.

    WinRAR was one of your examples. When was the last time WinRAR received a significant update that anyone would have paid money for? I'm not knocking WinRAR here; it does what people paid for and it's not falling apart or anything like that but since you bought WinRAR have there been any updates bigger than those that would have been free for Opus? I'm not an avid WinRAR user, and apologies to RARLabs if I'm wrong here, but, as far as I'm aware, the answer is "no". So the "unlimited updates" thing doesn't mean a hell of a lot in this example. Sure, it's nice to know you won't get screwed for a minor update just because it's been a year since you paid some money, but that isn't how Opus updates work either and any program that was sold like that is probably best avoided in the first place.

  • The developer offers lifetime updates at a *significantly* increased up-front cost compared to buying discounted updates normally when they become available.

    You used UltraEdit as another example so let's look at that: USD $50 gets you UltraEdit and entitles you to free updates for a year. Fair enough. However, if you want unlimited updates then that will cost you USD $125 instead. That's 2.5 times the product's FULL price. Factor in that upgrades don't cost full price, and that no company in the world will guarantee they will carry on producing new versions of any product, and it doesn't seem like a great deal to me, unless UltraEdit has non-free updates very, very regularly. I have nothing against the people who make UltraEdit for offering such a deal but it's not one that I would take up.

    Let's examine a hypothetical world where Opus had a similar pricing scheme offering unlimited updates for 2.5x the "new user" price. Back in December 2001 when Opus 6 was released for Windows you would have paid USD $175 for a licence with lifetime updates. (I'm using current prices and exchange rates to avoid confusing the issue with one of general foriegn exchange speculation.) Fast forward five and a half years to 27th April 2007 and the release of Opus 9. You would still be USD $25 down compared to what you'd have if you'd bought Opus 6 for USD $70 and then paid USD $40 for each of the Opus 8 and 9 updates ($175 vs $150). There were about two and a half years between Opus 6 and 8 and the same between Opus 8 and 9 (there was no Opus 7) so let's assume Opus 10 gets released about two years from now, in 2009. Eight years after the start of the original deal you would finally be saving money. You would have paid USD $175 while someone who did things the usual way would have paid USD $190. Wow, that's a whole USD $15 saved over an eight year peroid for an up-front investment of USD £105 above the usual price. Whoop-de-doo.

    Of course, your investment would not have been risk-free. During those eight years someone else might have come out with a better program that you decided to switch to, making your investment worthless. Or the developers of the original program may have taken it in a direction you didn't care for, producing updates that had no value to you and that you would not have paid for given the option, making your investment worthless. Or the developers of the original program may have converted to the Church Scientology and stopped releasing updates at all because they became too busy lecturing random people about anti-depressants, making your investment not only worthless by as bad as paying money to see a Tom Cruise movie.

    However I look at it, spending 2.5x the full price of a product to get free updates forever seems like a crap investment to me. Here's a better idea: Buy the normal updates and stick the rest of the money in a savings account.

  • The developer has won the lottery or something and is so filthy rich they don't have to worry about paying bills or buying food ever again and yet, inexplicably, they still charge money for the initial purchase instead of giving the program away for free.

    I don't know of any examples of this.

  • The program's userbase is expanding so quickly that the developers can make enough money even if they only charge new customers.

    I can't think of any examples of this, either.

Note that I haven't mentioned one of yours example, XYplorer, because I don't know where it fits in the 4 scenarios. Maybe it fits in a 5th scenario I haven't even thought of.

Of course, there are other situations where the program is given away free and there's no concept of "free updates" because everything is free anyway. This is usually either because the developers work on the program in their spare time and have other sources of income (in which case major updates are *probably* quite rare) or because the program is funded as a loss-leader by one or more companies with some larger agenda (e.g. Internet Explorer, Firefox, StarOffice). Neither case applies to Directory Opus which is a full-time job and the primary source of income for the two people who are GPSoftware.

Affordability

If you think it's too much and that Opus doesn't give you enough in return then that's fair enough. I can't tell you what your money is worth or which features are important to you. Personally, I think that Opus is more than worth it. I also don't think think GBP £35 or USD $70 (that was USD $65 a couple of years ago; the US economy is sliding) is a lot of money for such a useful tool. It's subjective, of course, but we're only talking about the price of a decent meal out for two or a couple of rounds of drinks on a night out with some friends. We're not talking about a month's rent, like if you buy Photoshop, or something like that.

I bought DOpus 6, skipped 7, and spent another $90 buying everything I wanted for version 8.
-zridling
There was no Opus 7 to skip. The version numbers jumped from 6 to 8.

(Trivia: The version number was changed quite late in the Opus 8 beta cycle. If I remember correctly, we were all testing "Directory Opus 7" until the last couple of betas. AFAIK the number change was for purely silly and cosmetic reasons: Someone didn't like the look of the number 7 at the end of the Directory Opus logo! 6, 8 and 9 have nice rounded edges on the right which balance out the big letter-O on the left of the logo but 7 has harsh straight lines. :) Silly if you ask me, but so long as the version number increases with each release I'm happy enough, and it's a nice bonus when it means people talking rubbish on weblogs and forums get caught out a couple of years later. :-) )

Speaking of which, I do not understand where your $90 figure came from. If you owned Opus 6 then updating to Opus 8 would have cost you USD $40, at most, plus USD $10 extra if you bought the Secure-FTP module, which was the only optional extra at the time. That's at most USD $50, not $90. (I say "at most" because the upgrade pricing from 6 to 8 used a sliding scale that maxed out at $40 depending on how long ago you bought Opus 6. GPSoft dropped the sliding scale for Opus 9 updates since it was confusing and made it impossible to publish a clear upgrade price, even if it was arguably fairer for some. My guess, and it's only a guess, is that they might be nice to you if you just missed the five-month cut-off date for a free update.)

They really should sell just one complete version.
-zridling
If they did it would presumably cost as much as it would to buy the normal version plus the two optional extras that are currently available.

People keep asking, "why isn't there a cut-down version of Opus with fewer features?" The problem is, as always: Which features? Something essential to one person might be completely useless to another, and vice versa. How do you decide?

If they want to modularize it, then fine, but start with the portable/micro version and go up, rather than extracting features that should be part of every copy.
-zridling

Exactly my point. You're saying "I think feature X is essential but I don't use feature Y. If there's going to be a cut-down, cheaper version then it should clearly have X and not Y. Anything else would be stupid." Yet someone else is going to feel exactly the opposite to you and, if you think about it, USB mode is a niche feature. It's very useful to enough people that it was well worth implementing. I think it's cool and I carry Opus around on a USB keyring just in case I end up working on someone else's computer. It's cool. It's really, really useful to some. But it's still a niche feature. The vast majority of users run Opus on their own computers and don't go around to other computers with a USB drive sticking out the front.

In the end, the way I see it (which may not be the way GPSoft see it; I'm just assuming):

  • If something is likely to be useful to just about everyone then everyone gets it as part of the main program.
  • If something didn't take a lot of time and effort to add then everyone gets it.
  • If something is difficult to separate from the rest of the program then everyone gets it.
  • If something took a lot of time and effort to add, yet is only used by a handful of people, and is easy to make optional, then it might be turned into an optional extra.

The last point has only happened with two things so far: SSH/SFTP/FTPS support (basic FTP support is standard) and USB mode. Those two things cost more if you want them. If you don't want them or don't think they're worth USD $10 then pretend they were never added to the program.

Potentially, I could also see a feature being optional where adding it required licensing a costly library or other technology. That hasn't happened yet but if it did it would seem unfair to pass that cost on to everyone when only a few benefit from it.

There is scope for a future version of Opus that has some of the current features removed and costs less or maybe even a really stripped-down and free version. Who knows. People keep asking for it but, again, it's hard to know which features to remove without creating a crippled program nobody wants to use, or that doesn't offer anything that you can't already get from some other cheap/free file manager. Look at Photoshop Elements, for example. It's a complete piece of crap and it makes the real Photoshop product look bad by sharing its name. Anyone who wants a cheap/free photo editing program would be better off using PaintShopPro or The Gimp, and the users of the real Photoshop would be better served by Adobe not diverting resources to a lesser product they have no interest in.

Also, no one REALLY gets too hot under the collar about the price of an upgrade from say Office 2000 to 2007, so who am I to criticise? The comparatively nominal cost of going from DOpus 8 to 9 will probably benefit me far more than the upgrade, costing far more, from Office 2003 to 2007.
-Darwin
Good point about paying for Office updates. There's also a lot of software that seems to be updated once a year, without fail, even if there are no significant new features on offer. I don't mean Office, where lots of features do get added but very few people use them; I mean programs where you're being offered version N+2 when it feels like you only just bought version N, let alone N+1. Where the update email seems more interested in the date than telling you about new features, of which there are only five to speak of, none of which excite you. I won't mention any names but I've noticed it in the backup and defrag software market from several (not all) of the vendors. (It's happening with computer games now as well.) I find that annoying myself but, meh, I'm free to skip updates until one comes along that I want, and that's what I do.

You're free to skip Opus updates as well, of course, but Opus updates don't work that way. GPSoft seem to be releasing major (i.e. non-free) updates only once every two and a half years or so. They don't release an update that costs money unless it actually adds significantly to the product. This in turn means that between releases GPSoft are working hard so that they actually have something to show when the next update is ready, else there's no food and rent for them when the new users dry up! The jump from Opus 6 to 8 was massive. The free 8.2 update added several major features for free, since they were already coded up at the time and there weren't enough of them to justify selling a new version. There were also ten or so (I don't know the actual number) other, more minor updates for both Opus 6 and Opus 8, adding small things and fixing various bugs as they were reported (a couple of times within a day or two of the report, if the problem warranted it). Many vendors would have charged for 8.2 but GPSoft gave it away. The jump from Opus 8.2 to 9 is here now and it's significant enough to warrant being a paid-for update. It's a personal call whether the new features interest you enough to pay for them but people seem very positive so far, once they've learnt what they are. I would also bet that there will be more features added in free updates after Opus 9, like the 8.2 update added to Opus 8. Just a hunch.

If the update price seems a lot, keep in mind that you're paying for updates about half as often yet arguably getting more when the updates arrive.

GPSoft only provided two minor updates to Directory Opus 8, and now they want almost 66% of the full price for an upgrade, with several options being left out of the main program unless you want to pay for them. That’s bullshit, and reason enough to claim that GPSoft is hostile to its current paying customers.
-zridling
Here's another version of the truth: The only thing that is bullshit, sir, is your knowledge of the facts. 8.2 was far from a minor update, as cthorpe thankfully pointed out, and there were many more than two updates for Opus 8. (It didn't just go 8.0, 8.1, 8.2. There were minor revisions between the point releases.)

Since when is "several" used to describe two things?

And "hostile to its current paying customers?" In what way, exactly? How is offering two and a half years' work for USD $40 a hostile action? Nobody is being forced to upgrade, nobody who bought Opus 6 or 8 is having anything taken away from them. Customers old and new get ridiculously good and swift support, on the whole, from the Opus Resource Centre forums. Hostile to paying customers? That's so wrong it's insulting.

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