Writing tools

Up till a year back or so, most of the tools for writers available on the internet were offline installers. You went to their website, checked out the product and if it looked useful, you could download a trial version and take it for a spin on your system. Majority were time limited shareware; they were fully functional for a limited time, maybe a month, allowing you to decide if you liked them and if you did, you paid for it and it was yours forever.
bee pollinating some flowersNot so today. There’s an increasing trend for monthly or annual subscriptions for a product. You don’t buy it, you rent it. The product stays on the company’s servers and you get a tiny internet based front-end (much like your browser) which you install and use to connect to their server. No internet connection, no product functionality.
This means that the company gets to keep track of your usage habits – often under the guise of customizing their product to your specific needs – when you use it, how you use it and what did you do while you were online. I’m not okay with that.
mess of wires and soot behind my tableThis also means that if you go off to a mountain retreat for peace or for inspiration or for more time to write – basically anywhere remote where there is little or no internet presence (including your back yard if its beyond the range of your wifi), that product becomes useless. No-will-work. I’m not okay with that either.
Many of the products I would have recommended a year back are off the menu today because of these new harebrained money making schemes. Don’t get me wrong, subscriptions are good for some products – heavy weights like Adobe Photoshop and MS Office Suites often need so much processing power and hard-disk space that its more efficient to keep them installed online and let the users connect when they need to use them. It lowers the demands on users’ hardware and allows the company to update their products and keep them running perfectly maintained by their own experts. This prevents crashes and errors as well as incompatibility issues when installed with other software. And c’mon, how often do you really need to use Photoshop in a remote mountain retreat? Or connect with your office co-workers to deliberate new worker policies? And if you do, you shouldn’t really be in a mountain retreat in the first place.
Small software like thesaurus and manuscript organizers do not need all that. Their makers apparently assume that if it’s good enough for Adobe and Microsoft, it’s good enough for them. Probably the primary intent here is to duplicate economic success by following in their footsteps.
Don’t sell yourself short by indenturing yourself to some of these greedy product manufactures, if they were any good, they would still be doing an honest business and making their living on the value of their product instead of luring you to an auto-renewal scheme that takes money from your bank account and moves it in their pockets month after month. There are still a lot of good products out there which you can download and install and they will work fine without 24/7 internet connection. I’ll try and pick these one at a time in my future entries and devote at least one post to each. I want to stress though, that these are tools much like a hammer or a saw – on their own they do nothing but with your talent and effort, they can take a few fallen trees and some rocks to help you build your magnificent cathedral of words.

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