Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Words with Friends® is a great Zynga game... I've been playing it on my iPhone and Google Nexus (with friends, of course) for quite a while and love it.

Naturally, I bought the paid app -- the advertisements on Zynga are particularly obnoxious: they show up early and often and hang around way too long before you can skip them. They essentially force you to buy the paid app to avoid the ads.

Now Zynga has reached a new low: on the paid app, they are inserting advertisements for their own paid extensions to the game. EVERY SINGLE TIME I tap "swap", I get a delay followed by a pop-up suggesting I purchase an extension to find the words that are available with my letters. Shame on you if you think that's a great way to make a game more enjoyable and playable!

I presume this is all perfectly legal (their Terms of [Dis]Service statement spans 7640 words / 47391 characters... nice easy reading, eh?) but it certainly offers plenty of opportunity for a more user-friendly game to get some traction.

Zynga: I'm still waiting for a response to my complaint; when are you going to fix this?

Update: To their credit, Zynga did remove this feature, a relatively short time (weeks?) after this blog post (but probably not because of it :-). My guess is they got flooded with complaints and decided to respond appropriately.

A few good file utilities...

Switching from my old laptop (Windows XP) to me new one (Windows 7) involved a lot of copying/etc. These free and (some) open source file utilities really made life easier for me. Definitely recommended.

WinDirStat (OpenSource)... http://windirstat.info/

FileMenuTool (Free)...  http://www.lopesoft.com/en/fmtools/info.html

CSDiff (Free; also have CS-HTMLDiff and CS-ExcelDiff utilities... http://www.componentsoftware.com/Products/CSDiff/

WinMerge (OpenSource)... http://winmerge.org/

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Word: 1; Google Docs: 0 / Unix: 1; Web2.0: 0

Sometimes - not always, but sometimes - raw functionality wins out.

Case in point: I wanted to create a Google document for sharing that would contain a list of directory names in a two-column table so that a group could comment on the names. I figured that would be easy: paste the list into a document, select all of the names, and insert a table. Nope - Google docs apparently can't do that.

I had to first create that table in Word, then select that table and past it into my G-doc, where it was promptly recognized.

Welcome to the world of using bits and pieces of various applications to get the whole job done. The concept is a little like the Unix paradigm of creating lots of little single-function programs and then allowing us to connect them together with the "pipe" operation. It worked great and assuming you knew all the little programs that were on a Unix system, you could build your own little stream of simple tasks to accomplish a much more complicated problem.

Now that we have way more computer power and functionality, we're reduced to emulating the pipe mechanism with manual cut-and-paste operations.

This is progress?

One uninstall invalidates another...

Here's a mess for you: uninstalling one product fouls the registration for another. This involves Microsoft SQL Server, Nuance PaperPort, and Nuance PDF Converter.

I uninstalled MS SQL Server 2008R2 from my development machine. Took awhile but seemed to work just fine.

Unfortunately when I opened  Nuance's PaperPort Pro and opened a document, PDF Converter opened and displayed an activation dialogue box which I responded to.  

No problem... right? Wrong. 

Once that happened, PaperPort throws a watermark on all my documents:

DocuCom.PDF Trial

Tech support at Nuance was no picnic... telephone quality to whichever country I was connected to was horrible. I could hardly understand the support reps because of the fuzziness and static on the lines. Four calls/transfers later, I'm told to uninstall and reinstall the program. I go back to my downloaded installer (was version 14.1), reinstall PaperPort and now I only have version 14.0 (14.1 fixed a file handling bug I had reported).

So what are my options at this point:
  1. Stick with the 14.0 version and hope that that bug doesn't come back to bite me again.
  2. Make another long, unintelligible call and pay more money to get the latest installer download link.
Yuck! I don't know if it's Microsoft's screw-up or Nuance's, but in the end it's  the customer that gets screwed.