Nero: Snatching Fail from the Jaws of Awesome

Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.  And all that.

A long time ago when I first started to explore recording data, songs and music onto CD-Rs, I began with what was then ironically called Easy CD Creator, mostly because some crippled version came pre-installed on my computers.  I thought of it more as Easy Coaster Creator, but with enough effort I could burn a CD or two when adequately motivated.  For a few years I soldiered on, making a good supply of both coasters and CDs.

But as Easy CD Creator (d)evolved, it started to feel bloated.  And it seemed to want to take over my computer.  Before long I was just a spectator, watching as Easy CD Creator and RealAudio Player fought a turf war over my desktop.  I soon decided that I’d rather never hear another sound than to use RealAudio Player, and uninstalled it and all of its tentacles from my computer.

Not long after, I went looking for a “less is more” alternative for burning CDs.

I settled on Nero Burning ROM.  It seemed to be the favorite of the hardcore tech crowd.  It was relatively lean, and it had a semi-witty name.  And, best of all, it wasn’t Easy CD Creator.  Things went swimmingly for years.  Until Nero started to get fat.

Sure, the emergence of recordable DVDs required a some additional applications.  But when Nero starting growing it couldn’t stop.  Before long it seemed as massive as Easy CD Creator had been.  All I wanted was to burn some disks.  I didn’t want or need all that extra junk.

So I I went looking for a new “less is more” alternative for burning disks.  I found and installed CDBurnerXP, which badly needs a name change, but works well.  Still, I kept Nero installed and often found myself using it, mostly because of familiarity.

But Nero kept growing.  And that wasn’t all.  Somewhere along the way Nero decided to commit a couple of unpardonable software sins.

First, Nero began attempting to install other software during the installation process, and to change your default search engine.

If I wanted some stupid toolbar, I’d go get it.  Taking money (I assume) from some other desperate company in exchange for trying to slide their desktop clutter by customers is wrong on many levels.  Sure, you can say no during the install process, but it’s still wrong.

Second, Nero ignored my repeated requests for technical support after Kaspersky Antivirus kept telling me there was a P2P worm in the install package for Nero 9, the newest version of Nero, which I paid for (on 1/18/09).


So Nero 9 never made it onto my computer, and I guess Nero can keep my fifty bills.  But Nero won’t sell me any more product and people will get the pleasure of reading about my disappointment here.  Voting with your fingers and whatnot.

I suppose Nero heard at least some of the hue and cry, as it recently released a basic, stripped down, free version of its disk burning application.  That’s a good start, but it it looks like the installer still tries to slip a toolbar by you, and to change your search provider.  Not OK.  Nobody wants.

Nobody wants.

All in all, it took a while to do it, but Nero found a way to snatch fail from the jaws of awesome.

Knocking Out Norton AV Early

Dwight Silverman on his forthcoming look at antivirus applications: “I am not going to focus on their malware-stopping effectiveness, but rather how well they get along with other programs, user-friendliness and their effects on system performance.”

I predict a last place finish for Norton AntiVirus.

On a related note, I am a long-time Consumer Reports subscriber.  I don’t have any strong feelings one way or another about creating viruses to test anti-virus applications, but most of them claim to be able to identify new viruses by their behavior.  And how else could one test that claim?

UPDATE: Randy Abrams answers my question in a Comment and in this post.

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Google and Firefox Go to the Dark Side

Google, looking for the its first hit in a decade and hoping to avoid the oldies tour, and Firefox, perhaps wanting to ratchet down all the love it has been receiving, have joined the Bloatware 2006 Tour, headlined by none other than Real Player.

The only reason I can think of why Google and Firefox would agree to partner up with Real Networks is because Real Networks isn’t Microsoft.

Note to Google and Firefox: Sometimes the enemy of your enemy is NOT your friend.

As of now, all of the comments to the Download Squad post linked above agree that this is a bad move for Google and Firefox. And all agree that Real Alternative should be used in lieu of Real Player.

I’ve long been on record as far as my opinion of Real Player goes.

Itchy Fingers in the Blogosphere

Amy Gahran has an interesting post today about the itchy finger syndrome- when you click the “Publish” button too quickly and post something to your blog that a moment later you wish you hadn’t.

She tells of this post by Dave Winer, which went through several post-publication edits, all of which were, for some reason, grabbed and posted by Ian Bettridge.

There’s a lesson here, as Amy suggests. But first a little related business.

I saw those earlier posts by Dave too, in my feed reader. But I didn’t save them, and I certainly wouldn’t post them. Anyone should have the right to reconsider what they write the same way they can reconsider what they say in a conversation. If I am arguing with Dave about something, I’d rather respond to what he says and agrees with than what he said and later retracted.

Back to the itchy finger.

As Amy points out, once you post something, it will get picked up by your blog’s feed. It will also often get picked up by Google and Technorati and sometimes by Techmeme and the other memetrackers. Once that happens, it is a part of the permanent record.

A related problem is that any modification to a post will generally go back into your feed as a new item. So if you do 3 edits to an original post, that post will show up in your feed 4 times.

While we all try to avoid it, everyone has to edit posts for typos, broken links, etc. from time to time, and this is viewed by most as an unavoidable part of the process.

But when you change substantive parts of your post, the original content is still out there in your feed. Amy is correct- there’s no way to get it back.

Having said that, I’m not sure that’s such a big deal in many cases. Had Dave been talking to us as opposed to posting, he very likely would have said the same sort of stuff, refining his stated position (stated being the important word there) as he thought about it and heard our reactions. He would have ended up at the same place, and we would have heard the evolution of his position.

As Amy points out, however, when you remove something because you have reconsidered your position, it’s a good idea to explain what you did and why. Having said that, I suspect Dave removed the post more out of a desire to avoid a hassle than a change of heart (I don’t want to get involved in this debate, but I will say that I did not find Dave’s original post objectionable and I think there is a marginal utility to extreme political correctness that is wholly lost to some.)

Avoiding an itchy finger is certainly a good idea when possible. But at the end of the day, blogs are about conversation. And most conversations start at once place and end at another. Even if you’re talking to yourself.

That’s not such a bad thing.

UPDATE: Amy has more thoughts about editing posts.

Davis Freeberg TKO's Real Networks

Davis Freeberg, who shares my dislike of anything connected to Real Networks, lands some well deserved blows in this very interesting post.

He correctly points out the absurdity of Real’s obsession with Microsoft’s not even released yet Zune player and then sums up his version of what I have called the Real Player Syndrome in this flurry to the jaw:

“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to uninstall their software from my computer. Everytime I swear off their Real player, some clip comes along which I need their proprietary software to use. It’s neat that Real wants to put an end to DRM that locks consumers into proprietary systems, but I’d like to see them address their own service before they complain about big bad Microsoft.”

Amen brother.

That’s why I will forego watching something rather than install what is, in my opinion, computer-hijacking bloatware.

Dell Holds the Junkware

Before I starting building my own, I was a big fan of Dell computers. I bought 4-5 computers and a laptop from Dell over the years. When I am asked (as I am often) by friends for computer recommendations, I still suggest Dell desktops (and Thinkpad laptops).

bloatwareOne annoyance with any new computer is all of the junkware they pre-install on it, likely in exchange for payment from the vendor who hopes against hope you will buy the full version of the crippled junkware version that comes pre-installed.

Dwight Silverman reports today that Dell has added an option to dispense with the junkware. This is great news, and if you buy a computer you should always select the “no preinstalled software” option, if available.

Windows, an anti-virus program and any Office products you buy will still be installed. But you won’t get a bunch of crippled bloatware and offers for ISP services you don’t want.

Kudos to Dell for doing this.