Friday, June 26, 2009

We Should All Have Careware

Today I reformatted the Mac (finally!) and upgraded my operating system to Leopard v10.5. (I CANNOT believe this has been sitting on my desk unopened since March - WHAT was I thinking?!). In the past, there has always been something missing at the end of the day - kind of like when you move, there is invariably one item that falls down the Black Hole of Residence Change forever (I suspect the dryer and socks are involved). So far, so good tho - nothing has been irretrievable, which is awesome. Having a 1.5TB drive to copy my entire previous configuration to most likely helped. Back in the days when 200mHz was "lightning speed" and entire backups fit on a CD, who woulda thunk in a few short years we'd need terabytes to assure ourselves a pain-free transition? But I digress...

As most old school geeks know, when you reformat like Mother Nature doing spring cleaning (take it down to the sectors and start over) it is required that you reinstall each application from scratch. Oh sure, there are tons of programs out there making a living by replicating your information and offering the ability to reinstate such an impeccable copy of what you had that you end up with the same pile of poo on your "new" drive, including all the flaws you think you have safely disposed of. No thanks. I'll do my own legwork to make sure the stinky stuff ends up in the dump.

Being as OCD as I am (thanks Mark!), I feel the Complete Corporate Reorganization is the only way I can be confident that no malware has transferred itself to my freshly scrubbed platters (Macs RARELY have trouble with viruses but spyware is still a problem). The good part about performing this task properly is sometimes you find upgrades that greatly improve performance, or in the case prompting this blog post, you find an awesome alternative to what you were using. Happy day!

My experience in particular was with an HTML editor. When I originally found Taco it was a freeware program (or at least I'm pretty sure it was since it worked fine but I can't locate a license in my paperwork or email). Apparently they've gone feral (read: commercial) since then, and I was not willing to cough up $25 to reinstall it. Not only is it a very thin program with few useful features, I don't like paying for something I don't need that often anymore.

I have Dreamweaver, but it's like my kitchen - it's only there because it came with the house (i.e., Adobe CS4). Using Dreamweaver is like putting a Corvette engine in a gocart - WAY complicated and WAY too much when really all you need is a mountain bike. Sometimes more is NOT better. Not to mention you might as well have a nap while waiting for it to launch (read: takes more than 5 seconds to open... slothly in our present nanosecond world. Hmm... I may have just offended sloths around the globe).

Wistfully, my brain turned to memories of programs past. Hot Dog was the app I learned to code on (I think version 3 was my jumping-in point). It was the number one editor used by webmasters (at least the ones I knew at the time) until the guys at Sausage Software got too lazy and rich (I'm assuming) to make proper updates. I hung in there way after everyone else moved on to greater programming, but ultimately had to bail when Hot Dog Pro 7 (which is still the version they're touting almost a decade later!) would no longer work properly with Windows XP. (Yes, I know... it's awful, isn't it? I was once forced to endure "that other OS." ::shudder:: I'm still recovering.)

In Hot Dog's dying days there was Home Site, which was a blatant rip off, but at least it worked with Windows XcrementProgram (funny how Vista makes XP look like something brilliant... you poor, poor PC people). Unfortunately Home Site got swallowed up by Macromedia, which got eaten by Adobe and subsequently smashed into Dreamweaver, never to be its own entity again. Ah, corporate merger. Thou dost suck.

I was thinking how beautiful it would be if some knight in shining Perl armor had decided to resurrect either program, having the same frustrations I do (or perhaps a lot of time on his hands). I tried searching Google for keywords such as "just like Hot Dog" or "looks like Home Site" but the results were not what I was looking for.

Defeated, I dragged myself over to to find a different free HTML editor and, hearing a chorus of angels, I found Arachnophilia. To my great joy, the screen shots looked remarkably similar to my departed favorites, and it was FREE. Oh wait - not really free. It was labeled "Careware." Say what?

I've heard of freeware (all free, all the time), and shareware (the abused marketing term for "try before you buy"), but I'd never heard of Careware. I figured it must work on the PayPal donation principle like ClamX (a fantastic bit of anti-virus for Macs, and yes, I have donated twice!). However, I learned Careware is even better. As I read the developer's description, I found myself nodding emphatically in agreement to every word. Here was the Sir Lancelot of Binary.

Careware is as old school as it gets - "they just don't build 'em like that anymore." Which is a grand shame. The basic principle of Careware as described by Paul Lutus, is NO WHINING. Lutus puts it succinctly thus:

...the basic premise of CareWare (people should stop whining) is so idealistic and out-of-date now that I will eventually have to remove all references to CareWare from my programs. Telling modern Internet users to stop whining is like telling them to stop breathing — it seems unrealistic and inhumane.

Too true. We are so blessed with this thing we call The Internet. The amount of collective knowledge at our fingertips is incredible and humbling. I have yet to ask a question that Google can't provide 10,000,000 responses for, from physics to music to OMG-How-Do-I-Get-Every Picture-I've-Taken-In-The-Last-Eight-Years-Back-Because-Yes-I-Just-Wiped-Out-The-Entire-Folder. The limits are as vast as our global population.

The sad part rests in the frivolous, foolish, narcissistic, or just plain ignorant stuff being posted in spades. Yeah, yeah, even I participate in frivolous and narcissistic once in awhile because it is part of blogging; however, I gladly risk sounding like my grandparents when I say, "I weep for the next generation." They make it challenging to find the intelligent, witty, spiritual, or just plain funny bright spots in cyberspace, but they're worth their weight in Planck time.

Anyway, my original point was that I am grateful and thrilled to have found Arachnophilia for my occasional HTML editing, and it looks like I've also located a substitute for MSMoney in the same site - PLCash (thank goodness because I've been depending on the bank to tell me my balance since I acquired the MacBook two years ago). The "No Whining" financing will be a cinch to pay forward as I have stock in that already.

You should absolutely take a look at everything Arachnoid has to offer; there are so many useful tools and well-written articles there I might never get to sleep tonight! What a treasure!