Monthly Subscription = New Monthly Content

As new versions of software come out, some vendors are moving to make software a subscription or “software as a service”, as Microsoft calls it. While this works for other kinds of products, I don’t believe software needs to be or even should be, a monthly subscription.

The first supportive argument is that subscriptions allows software developers a steady stream of income so they can continue to develop their product.

I disagree.

In a nutshell, if I’m paying monthly for software, I expect new features to be added monthly. Not just minor bug fixes, but new, enhanced features regularly folded in.

This would negate the idea of, our next version will have the big feature advancement you’re looking for. My expectation is a continuous development cycle, where each month the software is better than the month before. I should pay you to keep the status quo for a year?

The way Microsoft handles things, as soon as you stop paying, the software stops working. I’m not on board with that. That’s not a subscription, that’s ransom.

In other cases, developers force users into some “Cloud” service to sync to their mobile devices. I’ve paid for your program, now I have to pay to access my data? Absolutely not.

I pay for software based on how it works today, whereas I feel subscriptions are the promise of software features for the future.

Another trend is major releases on a scheduled yearly cycle, which makes software disposable. Why buy this release when in 12 months you’ll be asking for more money? You are already admitting this software will be obsolete in a few months and you have no intention of supporting the current. What kind of relationship does that build between us?

I prefer Lifetime licenses over subscriptions. I would rather pay more for a program I use regularly knowing that future updates will be free. I recently did this for RightNote.

Another software problem is restrictive licensing. I’m sure most people have multiple home machines, so a 3 user license should be the norm, rather than the single license, which is outdated.

Steam and iTunes handle this is a pretty good way. I can install what I buy on any machine I use. I just can’t use two copies at the same time. Simple.

Software is a fickle thing. We want fantastic, feature right software at dirt cheap prices. Despite how it’s presented, the subscription model doesn’t offer that. It’s an interesting idea for products that (needlessly) cost thousands of dollars or that need to be shared by dozens of employees at the same time. However, it has no place for home users.

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Racing along in Dirt 4 and Dirt Rally

While they share a common name and perhaps even a common code base, Dirt 4 and Dirt Rally are indeed quite different in their play style, graphics and implementation. As such, it’s not quite fair to pit the two against each other as so many people do.

Dirt Rally is focused on the precision and unforgiving nature of rally racing. Career mode starts with lower end, two-wheel drive cars and progresses to the more powerful four-wheel models. But, through it all, the goal is to drive as fast and precise as possible, as every second counts, resets are limited and costly, and misjudging a corner will lead to more damage and repair time than your team can afford.

Dirt 4 takes many of the previous Rally traits, but blends them with the arcade feel of Dirt 2 and Dirt 3. The tracks are still technical, the cars are still fast, the misjudged corner can still lead to disaster, but Dirt 4 doesn’t have the same punishing, and admittedly, the same lonely feel as Rally.

Like previous editions, Dirt 4 has head to head competition in Landrush, and offers more vehicle types such as the trucks and buggies seen in Dirt 2. It also offers a “gamer” mode, geared toward those who want an arcade experience versus a simulator feel.

I have both games and enjoy them for different reason. Despite the reviews, they both  have pleasing graphics. Rally is far more technical and will test your nerve, daring you to go faster, but handing out stiff consequences for cutting it too fine.

Dirt 4 is has a wider variety of tracks, vehicles and courses. While still challenging, it feels like you can recover from an early mistake. Yet it still offers the challenge of how much time can you spend repairing the car and still be competitive. And like Rally, you can’t keep clicking Reset until you get the perfect run.

During the Steam sale, the bundle price of both games was less than cost of each individually. I picked up Rally in the previous sale and grabbed Dirt 4 in the latest one. After playing each for several hours, both had me in the grip of white knuckle driving.

Dirt 4 should be compared to Dirt 2 and 3, and by that mark has many advances. I still enjoy Dirt 2, except for the Gymkhana events, which I can do without. Dirt 4 has plenty of challenges, a nice selection of vehicles, and even when mistakes are made, I feel I’m still in contention, if not for the stage, but for the overall standings.

However, with the sales going on, I wholeheartedly feel racers should get both. They are a challenge in different ways. They have their own play styles and satisfy for different reasons.

Both games are excellent, and continue building on a fine franchise. Dirt Rally is a slight departure, but offers plenty of thrills and a more simulator styled experience. Dirt 4 offers a wider variety of racing, and gives an edge of the seat racing experience. Rally will keep you on the edge of your seat as well, but time is the ultimate enemy.

Dirt 4 eschews the glamour of the X-Games style racing of it’s predecessors, but still have the same showy feel. Dirt Rally throws it away all together and your only gauge for how well you’re doing is the tone of your co-drivers voice.

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AllMyNotes Organizer v3 for $9.97

There is a new version of AllMyNotes Organizer out and if you jump over to BitsDuJour, you can pick it up for $9.97 rather than the full $34 price.

I’ve had AllMyNotes for about 3 years and it’s works extremely well. It has a nice tree structure on the left hand side, supports Rich Text, embedded pictures, links to sites and documents, to-do lists and offers some simple calculation functions.

If you’re looking to get organized and store notes in a convenient location, this is an excellent place to start. In the past I have used AllMyNotes to store email templates, Powershell scripts, screenshots, and full documentation for Exchange Server and Windows Server.

It’s also just as versed to store information for recipes and create checklists. It’s also very handy for logging information related to Shroud of the Avatar. The “tabs” are the city locations and inside is pertinent information about people, loot and quests.

AllMyNotes is solid software and $10 for this new version is a great deal.

AllMyNotes on BitsDuJour

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Disk Drill 3.x Lifetime License

As part of my switchover to macOS, I’ve been looking for a disk recovery tool. For Windows, I’ve got EaseUS Disk Recovery and Recover My Files. These have served me well and Recover My Files recovered tens of gigs worth of data from an external drive fiasco.

Now that I’m using macOS, I’ve got TimeMachine as a backup tool and have been looking for full file recovery. Disk Drill comes up time and time again as a tool of choice and it’s now on sale for 70% off, including Lifetime License.

I haven’t had need of Disk Drill’s services yet, so this is a preventative purchase. But this is a solid deal and it’s worth the small investment now, rather than full price later should things go awry.

I will say, I have Disk Drill running to take advantage of the SMART monitoring. I have a couple of drives in this Mac, and want to make sure nothing happens to them. So far, all is running well.

The discounted version is available on BitsDuJour and the license key is immediate. I’ve been watching for a sale, so it looks like Black Friday is at hand.

Disk Drill Pro 3 for Mac

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The dirty and beautiful SpinTires: Mudrunner

It’s no secret that the original SpinTires is a strangely wonderful game with an equally strange relationship between developer and publisher. At one point, SpinTire disappeared from Steam only to return hours later amidst accusations of sabotaged code. The thrill of outrageous 5mph white knuckle driving was marred by a completely uncertain future and lengthy gaps of silence.

Adding to the frustration, the game always seemed unfinished, perpetually living as a technical demo, sporting odd bugs, a quirky interface and almost a complete lack of objectives to play.

The tables may be turning as SpinTires: Mudrunner comes to Steam, still helmed by the original developer, but published by Focus Home Interactive without ant oversight by Oovee, or at least we hope so.

In essence SpinTires is back with the same gloriously large and ridiculously powerful Soviet era trucks, the same sparse and eerie rain soaked landscapes and the same impossibly brutal terrain, narrow roads and debilitating mud.

I’ve already taken advantage of the 50% off discount for previous SpinTires owners and the trucks are just as well detailed as they ever were, with articulated suspension, winch points, and top heavy loads of wood just waiting to topple over at the most inopportune time.

While it looks and feels a lot like the original, it actually feels complete this time. There is a tutorial to get acquainted with the basics. There are challenges to get the ball rolling and mud flying. And there are new maps full of log toting goodness. There is also multiplayer, which is basic, but will hopefully improve. And it works more fully with a controller.

The Steam Workshop is also included, so if things work out well, there should be a slew of trucks to play around with. I also have the feeling that although Mudrunner might be the spinoff, it’s most likely the one that continued to be developed while the original SpinTires has probably reached it’s end of life.

So, if you’re looking to drive oversized trucks, throw some mud and balance an obscenely overloaded logging on the side of a cliff, Mudrunner is the game you need to get.

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