Friday, June 19, 2009

Things That Have Ruined The Internet, Part I: "Free"ware

So, I went to make a recording. (I'm not much into recording. I prefer to let any given performance, warts and all, be ephemera. I find myself more easily convinced by the praise of others when there are no records to disabuse me.)

I fired up SndRec32, the multimedia extravaganza application built-in to Windows (my only mic is on my Windows laptop, though thinking about it now, I could've booted it to Ubuntu, hmmm) and recorded for about 3 minutes.

'course, SndRec32 stops recording after a minute. You can force it to go in minute increments with some trickery but I thought, shoot, I could put together a simple recorder in 5 minutes. (Might, even.) Surely, there would be a plethora of simple sound recorders.

Which brings me to something that's ruined the Internet: A proliferation of pages offering "free" software that tops any search you do, where the software isn't free at all--or the download link for the free software is almost completely occluded by a bunch of links to paid software.

I ended up downloading a program called AVS Audio Editor, a "full featured audio editor", which was so not what I wanted. (I just wanted a slightly less dumb SndRec32, fercryingoutloud.) But what the hell, I figured I'd try it and see. If it were a genuine limited-use software I might stick with it. (For what I need, I don't really want to pay $40. And even more than the $40, I don't want the overhead of keeping track of some registration key and upgrading, etc. etc. etc.)

So I hunt around on this massive panel for a "record" button, set up the microphone (oh, yes, it required setup, because this is a Serious Audio Application) and got to recording. Recorded my three minutes again and used the special effects panel to boost the rather soft results. Went to save and discovered that the "trial" version inserted a blank second for every 5 seconds or so of recording. In other words, you couldn't save.

Well, fine. I guess. I looked for a free app, instead I got a non-free one by mistake, and it was so crippled and annoying that there's no chance, ever, that I would buy or even use this application. Of course, I uninstalled, but nothing ever really uninstalls in Windows.

And it's all due to these jerky pages serving these "free" apps and, besides plastering 10 ads on the page, hide the legit app to full you into downloading a fake one.

I miss BBSes.

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