I’m beginning to think I ought to disqualify myself from having an opinion on software and hardware – were it not for the fact that I have a significant number of friends/colleagues/associates who share my views.

Where to start? The essence of my problem with software is that the only thing I can usually find with which to respond to most of the applications and upgrades that I’ve been looking at lately is, “Why?”

Maybe I’m moving in the wrong circles or something. I haven’t found anyone who is willing to identify themselves as a member of the particular subset of the population that is purported to be demanding the feature bloat, and in particular “user experience” enhancements, that are the justification for so many new products and upgrades.

Microsoft Word is a good example. Word 2000 was a good, clean wordprocessing application. It mostly did what was expected, and most controls were well identified and easily found. I resisted upgrading to Word 2003 until 2005. There is nothing about it that I like better than the 2K version. I’m baffled by the idea that swarms of little icons everywhere can make life easier. Thankfully 2003 left the menu structure reasonably intact. I’m now under pressure to upgrade to 2007, as more of my clients acquire new systems with it pre-installed. I truly dislike Word 2007 (and all its little Office friends). Everything I used to do without a moment’s thought in 2K requires avoiding or disabling wizards and other incredibly clever but pointless “user friendliness” features.

There’s a rant about operating systems living in here too, but I really can’t bring myself to get started on it. After a resurgence of Mac as a possible best solution to a requirement I have, it has again, and hopefully finally, been dismissed – Mac is fluff, expensive fluff. Windows 7 makes me feel nauseous – there’s nothing about it that I want, but I’m going to be forced to embrace it as support lives of prior incarnations end and updated applications cease to be supported. My response when I found it necessary to let Vista into my world was, “Well, it’s not as painful as I expected.” Even so, it has a lot more opinions on what I should be doing and how I should be doing it than I find pleasing. Yeah, I know – making computers accessible to the masses. Hmmmph. Never before have I encountered ordinary people speaking about “their computer tech” in the same way as one might speak of a doctor or dentist – an unpleasant necessity.

The iPod Touch is quite possibly the biggest timewaster since the internet. I’ve now looked at a lot of apps. “Cool” is the operative word. Most apps have a look and feel that makes you go, “Wow, that’s cool!” Free, $1.29, or even $6.49, it’s hard to apply normal buying sense. I now have gigabytes of applications on my iPod that I will probably never run again. Actually, most of my iPod use (apart from playing MP3s) is out of guilt at having such an expensive piece of gear lying around doing very little. Congrats to the countless “developers” who are enjoying their 7.5 minutes of fame.

My primary work applications are InDesign, Photoshop and Corel Draw. I used to diligently upgrade each time a new version was released. InDesign 1 to InDesign 2 was a superb forward step – basically from completely useless to a justification to change from PageMaker. I’m currently using CS2 (InDesign 4/Photoshop 9). So far nothing has happened to put me under pressure to upgrade. There’s nothing in CS4 that I want. I’m curious about all the workgroup/workflow enhancements that have kept appearing with each new version. Does this really reflect a real-world usage of these product?

AVS/Entrainment products are going the same way. The “ambient sounds with binaurals” genre seems to be flourishing. Again, cool, cute and nice are adjectives that come to mind. But who cares? I have no interest whatsoever in spending my time listening to syrupy slush. NPx/MWS remain the premium products, and they are the only AVS/entrainment apps I can be bothered with any more. It will be interesting to see how NP3 is received. As anticipated, it is the user interface that has undergone the most conspicuous changes. I have made it clear that I have found aspects of the MWS interface hard to get my head around. I now know that my head and that of the Transparent product creators are substantially dissimilar. I can find everything in NP3, I can make NP3 do everything it’s supposed to – but I do not find the experience intuitive or enjoyable. I had thought, when I launched this blog, that I would have a whale of a time using and reviewing all the latest and greatest – it really hasn’t worked out that way at all – I’m finding embarrassed silence to be the fairest response to most things I look at.

Whocaresware extends to hardware too. I get no pleasure out of trashing products. My quick looks have been my best effort at finding the good in products whilst acknowledging flaws/limitations. In some cases that’s been easy. In other cases, I have found myself wishing I had never met the product. None of the machines I’ve used has been a complete dog (iLightz comes incredibly close!) but most bring nothing whatsoever worthwhile to the party. Again, I wonder if I’m relevant in all this. As far as I’m concerned, 90% of the AVS products out there could be erased from the face of the planet with nothing lost.

Whocaresware goes way beyond computers. I am finding myself overwhelmed and saddened by the proportion of the economy that exists to serve completely fabricated and/or illusory markets. Humankind does not need even a small fraction of the crap that is being produced. I know people need to make a living, but has existence really become so pointless? Innovation? Mrmmph. Aaargh – this is heading into another rant – confusing spending with GDP and employment with productivity.

I’m going to crawl back under my rock again now. I can see I’m going to have to have a major rethink about what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. I enjoy AVS and I’d like to contribute something meaningful, but I fear that the market has already been overwhelmed by opportunists – how is anyone to identify value?


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  • Michael  On November 13, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    I identify value though reading posts like yours Craig. There are a million flakes out there touting AVS to win the lottery or find your soulmate and there are a million people looking to be taken. What you offer is down to earth no BS solid info. I appreciate it. Keep it up.

  • CraigT  On November 13, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    Thank you.
    When you have lived with a mood disorder, it becomes very hard to express strong feelings without fear that it is indicative of, or a precursor to, relapse. A couple of good friends have questioned the negativity of this post, and for their concern I am immensely grateful.
    I’d like to think that this post is consistent with my views as expressed in a recent post entitled Negativity.
    Anyway, objectivity, honesty? I just have to trust that my opinions, one way or the other, are part of a balanced diet, properly digested.

  • Michael  On November 14, 2009 at 8:51 am

    It’s been my experience with some of my patients who have/had mood related disorders that an intense bout of pain and or use of pain related meds can kick off a bout of negativity and downright grumpiness. Cut yourself some slack and keep cutting to the chase with AVS.

  • CraigT  On November 14, 2009 at 9:02 am

    Again, thank you. There’s no doubt that there’s been quite a bit going on that has put a strain on temperament. What that has led to is a real shakedown of what I do – it has to deliver real value for time spent. Everything I need on the AVS front can be amply fulfilled with a Procyon, Mind Workstation and a few little toys of my own.

  • jc  On November 27, 2009 at 7:23 am

    I could not agree more with what you have both expressed. The way I see it, it’s like what the referee tells the boxers who enter the ring: “Protect yourself at all times” For us, off the ring, it’s CAVEAT EMPTOR, since we live in a world centered on exploitation & maximizing profits…
    From the concept/discovery/invention of the wheel, we moved to a set of useful instruments called wheel-barrow, cart, carriage and finally to the gas guzzlers that pollute our air! AVS, computers and OS seem no different. They all seem to fall under the same modus operanti of the market place.
    I find it important to regularly take a step back and ask myself WIRI? What is really important? What is the basic underlying principle here? Where do facts end and marketing begings? And then verify if it is so, for me!
    It is not easy to get to the basic underlying principles, after eliminating the unnecessary frills & lies or deceptions that serve only to cloud & confuse (at first) the pressed for time consumer, so he can be better exploited! This difficulty applies equally to selecting a mattress!
    Most of your readers, including this writer, do not have time to reply to what they read here or elsewhere, but I can tell you that I make a point to check what Craig Tice has to say (here & elsewhere), because I find him to be a no-nonsense guy that knows how to think, and I value his feedback. Thank you, and I hope you’ll keep doing & sharing what you enjoy… until you no longer enjoy it.

  • CraigT  On November 27, 2009 at 7:55 am

    Thanks, jc.
    I wonder where it’s all going. And I wonder that I still wonder.

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