Frequently asked questions about freeware

This is the general FAQ file, applicable to all freeware programs available at this site. For Frequently Asked Questions pertaining to a particular application, please see this application's own, separate FAQ.

Q: I reported a bug, requested a feature, or just wrote to say Hi, but you didn't reply. What gives?

A: Time. I try to respond promptly to bug reports. All feature requests are archived and considered. Sometimes you'll receive a reply within a day, other times it will take a few weeks. The more software I release, the more support email I receive - and it's gradually becoming too much for one person to handle (in addition to my real-life job that pays for all this nonsense! :) I am now receiving hundreds of messages each month, it is simply not possible to respond to them all. I apologize to all who wrote and haven't heard from me - your mail is very much appreciated, and if you follow the development of some of these applications you'll see that your comments do not go unnoticed.

Q: What's wrong with HTML-formatted email?

A: It annoys me :-)

First, Internet standards specify that email should be sent as plain text only. This is important, because sending and receiving email should not depend on the operating system or a particular program you use. HTML-formatted email will be unreadable to millions of people who use systems other than Windows or email programs other than MS Outlook, Netscape or Eudora. If you know for certain that your recipient can read HTML email, this is not a problem, but very often you don't know that. And when email becomes incompatible between systems or applications, the whole major idea of the Internet is lost and replaced by microsoft-net or something.

Second - and to me, this is the most significant complaint - HTML formatted email is more than twice as large as the original plain text version. Usually, the program will send two copies of the message: one is a plain text copy (for those programs which cannot read HTML), the other is the HTML-formatted copy, which contains the text and HTML tags. So it's the same text repeated twice plus all the HTML encoding: more than twice the size of the original message. Now, most people in Europe (and probably everywhere else, except for the US) pay for Internet access by the minute (just like phone calls - the connection is metered) or by the amount of data downloaded. So receiving an HTML-formatted email message is more than twice as expensive to me! It's pennies, but it adds up. The same goes for storage: more than twice as much disk space is required (and I tend to archive all my email, especially the messages I receive that are related to my programs; bug reports, feature requests, etc). HTML tags and character encoding make searching through HTML archives much more difficult than searching through plain text files.

Third, all this does not add any useful functionality at all! There is no need for HTML email. It's not truly necessary to use bold or underline or font colors in email. And in cases where it is necessary, you can always attach an HTML document (or a Word document, a PDF file, a GIF image or whatever).

Fourth, it's unreadable. If your email client does not support HTML, or if for some reason you need to view a message outside of the program you normally use for reading email, here's what you will see. This is a standard sample of HTML-formatted email message:

<DIV><FONT face=3D"Times New Roman">Many thanks for all of your work in =
putting=20
together Keynote. It's a very fine program!</FONT></DIV>
<DIV>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV><FONT face=3D"Times New Roman">One comment and a possible=20
suggestion:</FONT></DIV>
<DIV>&nbsp;</DIV>

Or even worse - this is what recent versions of MS Outlook produce:

<DIV><FONT size=3D2><SPAN=20
style=3D"FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt; =
mso-fareast-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; =
mso-fareast-language: EN-US; mso-bidi-language: AR-SA"><SPAN=20
style=3D"FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt; =
mso-fareast-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; =
mso-fareast-language: EN-US; mso-bidi-language: AR-SA">interested=20
in the new grid node and image viewer?</SPAN></SPAN></FONT></DIV>
<DIV><FONT size=3D2><SPAN=20
style=3D"FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt; =
mso-fareast-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; =
mso-fareast-language: EN-US; mso-bidi-language: AR-SA"><SPAN=20
style=3D"FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt; =
mso-fareast-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; =
mso-fareast-language: EN-US; mso-bidi-language: AR-SA"><SPAN=20
style=3D"FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman'; FONT-SIZE: 12pt; =
mso-fareast-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; =
mso-fareast-language: EN-US; mso-bidi-language: AR-SA">I=20
work as a field engineer in telecommunications and find Key Note =
invaluable as a=20
</SPAN></SPAN></SPAN></FONT></DIV>

(See also this document, or this one, including information about disabling HTML-formatted email. For another view, somewhat more succinct yet heavy on facts, see 7 reasons why HTML email is a bad thing.)

Q: If I report a bug, will you fix it?

A: Yes, if I can reproduce the bug and find the cause. A great majority of bugs that are reported to me are fixed within a day or two, and an updated version of the program is released as soon as possible. That said, I am aware of a few persistent bugs (minor) in some of the programs; these have to wait for the next major release.

Q: If I request a feature, will you implement it?

A: That depends - on a great number of things. Such as: Do I think the feature is useful? Will I have fun doing it, or will it be a drag? Will it take a day to implement, or will it take several weeks and require major restructuring of existing code? Will it conflict with existing functions? Do I have the necessary skill - or, in some cases, the necessary tools? (Remember, all the programs here are free; I cannot purchase code, components or commercial solutions. When I use other people's code in my programs, I only use packages that are freeware and include source code.) Is the feature coherent with the overall design of the program? Will it make the program grow significantly in size, or increase memory requirements? All these considerations are important and will determine whether your request will be granted, and how long it will take. I can safely say that on average I have implemented well over half of the improvements suggested to me, for all the applications put together.

Q: Why is there little or no documentation for some of your programs?

A: Simply put, because there is only one thing that's worse than writing software documentation: updating the documentation. More seriously, it's a matter of the time I can devote to working on these programs. I do realize that for some of the programs, available documentation is minimal. However, I try to design them so as to make the purpose of the particular features and functions as clear as possible. Also, each application displays tooltip information in the form of hints and messages in the status bar; you can use those to learn about the particular functions. Also, there are always several text files included with each program, that provide the most important information. I hope to improve documentation with time; meanwhile, you can always write me and ask.

Q: Why can't I see the toolbar? (Icons on toolbar invisible or corrupted)

A: The original Delphi 3 toolbar control does not work well with all combinations of Windows versions, service packs, etc. I am gradually switching to other toolbar components. Meanwhile, if you are using Windows 95, try updating your common control dlls by installing an upgrade from Microsoft: version 4.0 or version 5.0. It has helped in all the cases I know of. Systems later than Windows 95 should not have this problem.

Q: What's up with the toolbar buttons, icons, glyphs...?

A: I am horrible with graphics. I can't draw a simplest icon. I typically use standard Windows icons for the toolbar buttons, but they are often used for non-standard meanings. On the other hand, the meanings are standard across all my applications... If you can help by designing neat icons or bitmaps I could use, then I would certainly appreciate your assistance!

Q: Can I distribute your software on CD? Can I place it on my website / mirror for others to download?

A: Yes, but before you do, please see the relevant license distributed with the software, to make sure you accept the conditions. This only applies to freeware, not shareware applications. If you place some of these files on your website, please let me know so I can link to you. Most importantly, these programs may not be sold - at all. They may not be used as part of any advertising-sponsored system or package, or to promote any such package. These applications are made available here with no strings attached, and third parties may only distribute them on the same conditions. The programs are free, and you are not allowed to take any of that free-ness away from them. This is the basic rule.

Q: Will you put my banner advertisements into your program?

A: Yes! I will be happy to do so. For a fee of $1.000.000 (one million US dollars) per application, I will modify that application to prominently display your banner ads and update them via a TCP/IP connection as needed. I also reserve the right to distribute a non-modified version of that application that does not include your banners. These conditions are non-negotiable. If you don't think your banner ads are worth one million US dollars, then frankly, I don't think they're worth whatever you have to offer.

Q: Program [X] is freeware in the beta version. When the final release comes out, will it become shareware? Will you charge for it?

A: No. If a program was meant to become shareware, I would say so. I write freeware for pleasure. However, I may eventually write new applications which will be distributed as shareware. Also, since working on these freeware applications has taken a great deal of my time, I will be very grateful for any gifts or donations you choose to make, though they are by no means required or expected.

Q: I'd like to translate the interface of your program into my language. How can I help?

A: I appreciate the offer, but at the moment most of my applications aren't translatable. I simply didn't design them in a way that would allow for localizing the interface. It's a lot of additional work, and since I tend to update these programs very often, translating one is not a one-time job; every few weeks there would be some more text to add or change. Future versions of my freeware applications may support other languages than English. Currently, only Oubliette version 1.9 and higher can be translated.

Q: Is {program X} also available for Linux, or are you planning a Linux version?

A: No, because I know nothing about programming for Linux... or have the time to learn it. I need Windows for my everyday job, so I need my programs on Windows first. However, some of my programs are released with the source code; for other applications I will make the source code available in time. Perhaps someone will take that code and compile it for Linux, if at all possible; I'd certainly be very happy with that! If you seriously want to do such a thing, please contact me; I'll do my best to help you with understanding the source code and the principles behind its design. Also, you should be able to run KeyNote, Oubliette, PhoneDeck and KookieJar under Wine. If you have success that way, please consider writing a how-to which I could add to this FAQ.

More questions?

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