My Turn My Mac #16, Aug. ’96

225 MHz. That is the speed of a upcoming Power Computing Macintosh. 225 MHz. Wow. A year ago, 100 MHz was on everyone’s wish list. Now we have a choice of a Macintosh that is 125% faster than that. Unreal. Or is it?

Faster than a speeding bullet. Well, no, but damn close! CPU clock speeds just keep getting faster and faster, but what does this mean for us users? If you have a 100 MHz computer now, does that mean you can only do things at half the speed of users who may buy a 225 MHz machine? Of course not!

Here is an example. I load Clarisworks 2.3 on a 16 MHz Mac, and load Clarisworks 4.0v4 on a 100 MHz PowerMac, which one is faster? The 16 MHz is, when I first launch Clarisworks. Why? Clarisworks 2.3 is smaller, does not have to load anything when you launch, and does not have all the overhead version 4.0v4 does. “But Tim!”, you all cry “Version 4.0v4 is so much BETTER than that old version!” And indeed, the new version IS loaded with more features. But I ask you, if you are only using Clarisworks to write your sister in Cleveland a letter, or creating a nice Resume, what the does it matter HOW many new features Clarisworks has?

My point is this: Sure, CPU speeds are going through the stratosphere, but so is the demands and resources all the newer programs ask for. And for the most part, most new features are not needed by most users. When was the last time you put a QuickTime movie in a Word 6.0 document? When was the last time you needed a QuickDraw 3D object in Clarisworks? You can’t send it to anyone that way. You can’t print it like that. So what’s the point?!?

Innovation is a good thing, but can it be taken too far? Why must every new program be so memory intensive? Perhaps OpenDoc will be the answer. Perhaps that will finally give us the opportunity to only load that which we need. How many of you even use the communication program in Clarisworks? How many of you use the news group reader in Navigator? Not many, I bet. Sure, they both work fine, but why can’t I have the choice whether or not they load when I startup that program? That would be a nice feature….

Installers. I HATE those darn things! Who came up with this idea, anyway? Sure, they come in handy for System software and Adobe Photoshop like products, but they are used WAY too often now. Just recently I downloaded a five dollar shareware program, and it was on an installer. That in itself would not be a bad thing, but all it turned out to be was a system extension and a read me file. I know where a system extension goes, thank you very much. But what killed me was that it put the read me Simple Text file in my STARTUP FOLDER!!!!!! And after the installer was done, I rebooted. You got it, the first thing that happened was my Mac launched that read me file. Look, if I want to read your file, I will. DON’T force it upon me!

Installers are everywhere now, and I feel that it is time to make some rules with their use. First, if your program needs a reboot before it will work, fine. But give ME the choice if I want to restart after I install your program, don’t force me to do it. Maybe I did not WANT to restart yet! But all you gave me was a dialog box with a restart only option. Hey, maybe I have a few other programs I wanted to install. Now I have to restart after I install all three programs? STUPID! Why not give me the CHOICE to restart now, or wait until later. A small dialog telling me I have to restart before it works will suffice. In fact, if you are reading this, and you are using installers to distribute your software, I demand you give me the choice! The next shareware product that forces me to restart without an option will get taken to the trash….I’m not kidding! For commercial vendors, I give you six months. After that, I may just return your products for a refund.

Next, give me a “custom Install” option, okay!?! I already have SimpleText, I don’t need another copy. And if you’re also sending out a ATM file with your program, please make your installer intelligent enough to see that I have a newer version already. Same goes for extension and control panels. There is one program I own that I do not keep on my Hard Drive, but rather install it when needed. (Not often). But THIS damn thing keeps wanting to put QuickTime 1.6 into my system folder, and moves my 2.5 version to the trash. It also installs drag manager, clipping extension, etc…I ALREADY GOT THEM!! But no, I gotta sit here doing nothing while your anal retentive installer puts outdated system software into my computer. Thank you. You make me SO much more productive. Can’t wait to buy another product from YOUR company!!

Another thing. If your program is going to dump a bunch of preference files on me, you can at least be kind enough to name them all alike. Who would guess that “PrefzBoot” goes with “SuperMac Draw”. (I made those up as a demonstration. If there are programs named as such, sorry!) Some programs are good, and only create one preference file. Others make three or four, and name them all differently, so I don’t even know what they all go to. (Thanks to the creator of File Buddy! Too bad I need your software all the time, though.)

So, if you are going to use an installer to distribute your next software release, please heed my gripes here. I know others feel the same, but most people don’t have any way of telling you all this. So I am. For the other Mac users like me, be sure to write in if you have something bugging you. I will print some in the next issue as space permits. Hey, if you hate the way something is being done, this is a good place to let it be known! You never know who is reading! (Well, I do. YOU are!)

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