Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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Shareware

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I like shareware. I like both the ideas of being able to try out programs before buying them and people writing and distributing programs they wrote for themselves to begin with. I guess I haven't paid all the shareware fees for every application I ever used but I started to try and pay for whatever programs I liked and frequently used at some stage. I even got myself a stack of dollar bills because I didn't have a credit card (and because giving your number away doesn't always seem to be the best idea), so I could send cash to people.

Things changed a bit since. Few people still accept cash, for example. Many tend to use systems which run through some credit card processing bit – be it Kagi or PayPal – and keep a good deal of the programmer's money. The average price of programs seems to have risen, despite better programming tools making it easier to get the same results. And there seem to be zillions of rip-off RealBasic apps around these days that 'remind' you to fork over €20 before even showing you their abomination of a user interface. (I don't think that RealBasic applications are necessarily bad – there's just a hight correlation.)

But that's not what I wanted to write about. My topic today is that shareware isn't parent-compatible. My parents quite like to occasional game on their computers. Be it Wizard Royal (complete with an intro featuring a hebrew reading of Genesis from the Atari speaker!), Pacman, Shanghai, Minesweeper, Solitaire or Snood – they can be pretty obsessed about 'their' game.

Snood was quite popular some years ago. Now, they rediscovered the OS X version on my brother's computer and play it – up to level 6 or so when it stops because it's not registered. My mum was quite upset about the game just stopping after a few levels. I told her she just has to register it to unlock the other levels. She went Huh?! or something.

In short, parents won't read the messages on screen. And if they do, going to some strange web site and entering their credit card details there is nothing they'd do. Still they like playing games and can afford paying for them. I think there is a case for shrink-wrapped software or at least shareware for sale at amazon or some other 'serious' site.

I guess, I have an idea for a christmas present now. Although a serial number feels like a strange christmas present.

November 18, 2003, 23:07

Tagged as software.

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