January 2007 - Posts
In a comment on my post about problems running Cropper on Vista, Chris Hammond pointed out the Snipping Tool that's built into Vista (Programs, Accessories. I wasn't aware of this tool - it's really quite cool! It allows you to draw a rectangle or free form shape on the screen, and captures whatever is displayed on the screen in that region (it also supports the standard window and fullscreen snapshot). Thanks for the pointer, Chris!
I have a feeling Vista is full of little stuff like this that I'll be discovering in the common months (if not years). Hell, there's still little things I'm discovering in XP! Is there some catalog of new little tasties like this described some where? The "What's New" documentation never seems to cover small stuff like this.
This morning I was pleased to find a comment to yesterday's blog post about JetBrains from
In contrast to my earlier post, this is a very smart way to sell software. "But", you may say, "they haven't sold anything". And that's true, so far. But what they have done taken a disgruntled prospect, who probably wouldn't have purchased the software at this point anyway, and turned him into a potential advocate for their software. At best, I may like the product so much that I recommend to my co-workers that we buy more licenses. At worst, they've addressed a public complaint and generated some good will. This is one of the beauties of the software business, by the way - it doesn't actually cost them material goods to do this. Just an email containing a license key.
Kudos to JetBrains for keeping their ears to the ground and staying engaged in the community. Even with a lowly ZZ lister like me.
I stand by my contention that time-limited license keys are a bad idea, though. Had the software simply been time-bombed from the install date, I might have been a real paying customer from the get-go.
One of the implications of the new Vista look and feel that I hadn't considered before upgrading is the effects of the new Explorer color scheme. In particular, I've noticed that some notification icons (I won't call them tray icons lest Raymond beat me about the head and shoulders with his Windows 95 Ship-It Award) have color schemes that don't play as well on Vista. A good example is PureText, the extremely useful tool for removing rich text formatting on the clipboard. On XP the icon looks like so:
Looks OK, right? Here's how it looks on Vista:
Definitely a lot less contrast-y. Something to keep in mind when designing apps for Vista.
One of the unfortunate casualties of my upgrade to Vista has been Cropper, the excellent screen capture tool from Brian Scott. It seems that desktop composition wreaks havoc with Cropper's ability to capture screen shots correctly - the Cropper overlay shows up in the captured image, thusly:
Setting the Compatibility option on the Cropper executable to "Disable Desktop Composition" fixes the problem, but of course without Glass the screenshots don't look nearly as cool.
I exchanged a couple of emails with Brian, and he's working on a fix. I look forward to an updated version - Cropper has been my screen capture tool of choice.
JetBrains is currently running a special promotion for Resharper, offering a "Personal License" to individuals for $99. Being potentially interested, I've spent the last couple of days trying to get an eval license so I could try the software before buying. Unfortunately, filling out the form for a 30 day eval license and submitting it just results in the error ""Our server is temporarily busy. Please, try again later or contact us via e-mail: email@example.com". I sent an email to that address, but got no response. This does not make me feel warm and fuzzy about buying their software.
This also highlights what I think is a silly but not uncommon practice - the timed-limited license key. If you want to enforce a time-limited eval, great. But don't make me request a special key in order to evaluate the software - just start the clock when I install it. You goal as a software vendor is to make it as easy as possible for me to try (and hopefully get hooked on) your software. The more barriers you put up to that, the less like I am to try it, and the less likely I am to buy it. The "request a key" approach is both an additional hassle for me and introduces a potential point of failure - as in JetBrains' case.