September 16, 2004
Isaac Leung (P.Eng.) got a degree in Engineering Physics followed by a Master's in Electrical Engineering after which he promptly got a job as a product engineer at a company which makes high speed datacom chips. He is old enough to have cut his computer teeth on Commodore 64's and first played with OS/2 1.3 EE while at a summer job with IBM. The first PC he ever owned came with Windows 95, but he soon slapped on OS/2 Warp 3 and has been Warping ever since. He has agreed to work for Transmeta while he continues plotting to take over the world.
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From The EditorOkay, okay, I know, it technically isn't September, but hey, what's a few days here and there. Anyways, my monthly (print) magazines never arrive during the month on the cover...
The usual suspects of work and family are taking their bites out of OS/2 e-Zine time. But we carry on!
More is better?
This month, I've been thinking about the "best" applications. You know, like how many magazines review, say, word processors. They list a ton of features, take it for a spin and declare a winner based on who has the most. I guess it must be standard, because that's how everyone does it and more is always better. And winning comparisons leads to more sales because people always buy the "better" one, right?
Unfortunately, this sort of stupidity is what led us to incredibly bloated (and I'm not talking about disk or memory usage this time) pieces of software that we have nowadays, like the full "office" application suites.
Is Microsoft OfficeXP a better product than IBM Works? Send it to a place like PC Magazine, and OfficeXP would win their comparison hands down, no contest. OfficeXP sure has more stuff, and to some people, it is better. But I can't imagine that a user like my dear mother would necessarily agree. I mean, if she uses a word processor at all, the most she would do with it is write a short letter to her friends or something. For that purpose IBM Works is faster, less resource hungry and most importantly for my mother, it does just everything she would need and is simple to use.
To use an analogy, imagine that "the best" cell phone not only made great telephone calls, but also functioned as a hair dryer, toaster and water bottle. While the "loser" was a compact, tiny, pocket-sized contraption which "only" made phone calls. Hmmm...
In the recent months, this was driven home to me as I "fought" with Microsoft Office day in and out. I consider myself an "extreme power user" (due to work, I use Lotus Smartsuite OS/2 at home, of course), and have been for more years than I care to remember. MS Office (in my view) probably peaked at about Office 97. I've Office 2000 and XP at work and I'm finding it harder to get things done. It is more intrusive and "smart" and there are even more features than the last version, 90% of which I never use, even though my documents are relatively complicated and automated. Oh boy, if an experienced Office user and technically minded guy is feeling this way, I can't imagine what your average user is going through!
I guess the moral of the story is, don't trust software reviews too much. Even if it comes from OS/2 e-Zine ;-). Use it only as a rough guidline. You have to decide for yourself what it is you need in a piece of software and how you like things to work.
Anyways, enough of my ranting. Please enjoy the various contributions from our many authors this month. And as always, please thank the authors if you enjoy reading their work!
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