Happy 15th Anniversary, Download.com

download.com

download.com

Today we have application stores up the ying-yang. But 15 years ago, trying to find applications for your computer was a lot harder. We did have two decent sources: Tucows.com and download.com (a CNet company, now owned by CBS). Since then, these two sources have grown to better catalog Freeware, shareware, and paid applications. This week, we say Happy anniversary to Download.com.

While the domain was registered on February 24, 1996, Download.com will officially launch on October 23rd, 1996 (Reference via CNet article). Since then, the website sees almost 10 million downloads of software a week. The top downloads being AVG and Avast antivirus software. A long cry from Hey, Macaroni (the dancing macaroni meme), WinZip 32 and Duke Nukem 3D – which was the most downloaded in 1996. WinZip is still one of the top 5 download pieces of software on the site.

For 15 years, download.com has kept a great archive of software, weeding out the obsolete, malware producing items. They have been sued for some software downloads, most notably the free music download program LimeWire. While download.com did not promote the download of mp3 music or movies, the peer-to-peer software is another way to download legally shared items. Of course, this has always been the conundrum of file sharing.

In retrospect, TuCows has been in operation since 1994, offering the same services. Other services have come and gone, but download.com has stayed strong. So happy 15 years to a source that I’ve personally used many a time from my IT career.

Unscrupulous Scruples: Watch where you click.

antivirus

I’ve been seeing this more and more. You have to upgrade a product – a home (free) edition or something. You press the link and it sends you to a page that talks about upgrading. In fact, everything this page screams is “We don’t have the free version, you must buy an upgrade to continue”.

But if you scan the page, you see on the bottom in small print “No thanks. Register the Free version”.

Another case in point: I was searching for Drivers for a friends computer. I got to the companies webpage and selected what I thought was the driver. Instead, it shuttled me to download a program that would then collect information on my PC and find the right drivers.

It was not malware, but more of Bloatware. And that program wasn’t afraid to do the same thing – ask to install more Bloatware.

This practice is on the verge of misleading. You have to really scan pages to make sure you are selecting the right option.

Case in point #2: There is a great website out there that helps webmasters. We won’t get into the name, because this is not a witch hunt. I will say that when you purchase something on their site, you are taken to a page that looks like you have to press an “OK” button. However, this button is not to OK the purchase, but to add additional services. By scanning down the page, you find the “No thanks – Continue” option stuffed in the bottom part of the page.

In advertising creation, you learn a little trick. When an eye hits an ad, they instinctively start in the middle and work clockwise around the ad. Therefore, you put your “Hook” in the middle and the other items on the sides, including the name of the product.

What these sites have done is made the ad, but then put the “No thanks” in a spot where upon first glance, the eye will miss.

I just bought my ticket for Blogworld / New Media Expo. I used a discount site to purchase the plane ticket and hotel. After making the initial purchase, I was inundated with options I should look at. I suppose it’s so the discount site can offer lower fares. Once again, I had to carefully scan for the “No Thanks” option, although those other buttons looked like they were part of the processing.

Recently, people have been finding extra charges on their credit cards. They went to an online shopping site and chose the great deal of the day. They then pressed a button that looked legitimate to sign up for monthly deals (or something like that). Of course, those deals came with a price.

I really think that the FTC needs to start recognizing these little nuances in websites. It would be like if you went to the grocery store and the clerk started asking “Should I also add in a gallon of milk?” even if you didn’t grab milk.

As for this upgrade – I understand you need to make money off the product, but being sneaky about doing it is only going to make me go somewhere else. Put the “No thanks” in a more visible area. The consumer will buy your product if they don’t feel they are getting swindled.

In The Land of iPhone, iTunes is Still King over All Others

This last week I gave up my older HTC 8125 for the Apple iPhone. It’s been an interesting experience so far and I really like how the phone works. I also like the apps – Especially the ones that keep me productive. I am not really a gamer or a fluff app person – I may download and try it, but those apps usually go to the wayside.

Two apps I was excited to try out were Stitcher: a Podcast aggregation site, and Pandora: for online radio stations. I’ve used both before getting the iPhone and couldn’t wait to install and try them.

Of course, I could just use the integrated iTunes program on the phone. It does music and aggregates podcasts. However, I like to try out all the options – make sure I have the easiest and best program.

So let’s take a look at each program and see what advantages there are to it.

Stitcher

Stitcher

If you haven’t tried this site out yet, you should. Stitcher is a Podcast aggregator. You can get many great podcasts, add them to your watch list and be alerted when new episodes are available. You can listen to your shows on your iPhone, Blackberry or on any PC.

In turn, iTunes also has an area to download podcasts. You can search the store and download episodes. However – As Todd noted in his last podcast – While the PC version lets you subscribe to the podcast, the iTunes store only allows you to add episodes. I have yet to find a way to “Subscribe” from the iPhone.

Pandora

Pandora

Pandora

Pandora has just been in the news because of the agreement they have reached for Internet radio. You can join up with a radio station, listen to it and move on. The control of the music is not that great; which was a design of the new agreement.  You can skip songs, but only 6 per hour. All this, so you won’t have to pay for any music you want to hear.

Flipping over to iTunes, you can pay .99 cents a song, sync up with one computer to get your playlist of songs and go. You can customize your playlists and listen to new songs. They even give you some free ones.

There are other apps, like Audio books. Audible lets you read books right from your iPhone. iTunes also has an Audiobook option. I have not tested that feature yet, so we will leave it as a footnote.

iTunes

iTunes

The Advantage

The biggest advantage iTunes has is that if you have to use another application; like checking your email, whatever you are listening to will continue to play. If you try the same for Pandora or Stitcher, the program will close. Once the application is re-opened, you will be able to continue listening. However- in the case of Pandora – it will not continue where it left off.

iTunes will also do video – TV shows and even Video Podcasts. While there is no Hulu application (yet), you do have the option of YouTube – which also comes with the native OS.

I don’t want to make it sound like you shouldn’t download Pandora or Stitcher. They are great programs in their own right. The applications are free and can be an addition to any iPhone. That is why they are on my iPhone to stay.

UA Student Convicted for Downloading Music & Movies

Parvin Dhaliwal,18, a student at the University of Arizona (UA), is the first person in country to be convicted of a crime under state law for downloading music and movies. Dhaliwal pleaded guilty to possession of counterfeit marks, or unauthorized copies of intellectual property, and was sentenced to a three-month deferred jail sentence, three years of probation, 200 hours of community service and a $5,400 fine. Dhaliwal must also take a copyright class at UA and stop using file-sharing applications. What makes this conviction notable is that copyright protection is normally a federal matter.

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