I love reading Joel. I’ve been following his newer CoPilot product for some time now and never really gave it any real consideration. I mean, c’mon! I’m a developer and I work under both Linux and Windows daily. I know about 7,394,213 different ways to connect remotely to another computer. Why would I buy a commercial VNC? Well it turns out that his latest blog entry reflects a price drop along with some very compelling features that made me reconsider entirely. I was all like, “wow I need to buy a VNC!” Let me give you a little background to explain my conclusion. Last week I was talking to my aunt who lives three states away. My aunt fits the typical Joel profile for relatives who struggle with their computers. Over the phone I explained that I had this magic ability to make her mouse pointer glide across the screen using my mind. She was like, “wow I didn’t know you were telepathic! How come you never shared this with the family?” After responding that revealing my secret identity would leave them at risk to my arch enemy I attempted to summon the secret ability of mine. I directed her to http://www.whatsmyip.org. I asked her to read the big number on the screen, including the periods. I channeled those numbers through my keyboard of power only to hit a thud. I couldn’t connect! I couldn’t ping, I couldn’t web browse for a possible proxy, packets were silently ignored. My aunt had explained that she had numerous programs running from different vendor services. The classic phenomenom know as vendor spam-ware. You know the deal.
“Sign up for a Yahoo account and get popup blocker and virus scanner!”
“Signup for Earthlink internet access and get popup blocker, spam-judo, viral checkers and insta-email our flagship app that is so fantastic because it lets you read your email in a separate window!!”
“Thank you for purchasing this copy of MyRecipes for Windows! While synchronizing with our remote recipe database we noticed you do not have a firewall in place. Click ‘ok’ to run our evaluation copy of Norton ProtectAll. When the trial expires you will be repeatedly blugened with dialog boxes reminding you to visit our purcahse site to obtain a valid registration. Click ‘ok’ to continue or ‘cancel’ to reboot, loose all of your data and leave your system in a partially installed unstable and vunerable state.”
“Install our driver for your newly purchased MP3 player and we’ll scan your hard drive for music and generate playlists automagically, oh and while we scan do you want us to find and fix any viruses?” Of course I do, Mr. MP3 driver writing guru. There’s nothing I want more than a virus scanner running along with my music scans!
(Why do so many companies try to flood your hard drive with redundant crap?) After realizing what could potentially be running on the unknown machine belonging to the remote kin-folk of mine I decided to give up and admit that I’m a fraud. Yes Auntie, I lied partially. You see I can only use my powers on Tuesdays and Wedenesdays. I don’t like admitting defeat. I especially dislike admitting it to kin who know me as the ultra-powerful-computer-builder-repairer-programmer that works for a small company but can crack into CTU’s crime database faster than Chloe can re-position a satellite. It sux. So now I’m thinking, “Wow Co-pilot can help me redeem myself infront of my family! For five dollars I can buy back half of my hacker-war-games-cool-points I lost on Friday.”
Well guess what? I got so excited to try it out I started filling out the one field web forms on the Copilot homepage. I got to the second or third screen when I was asked to choose between three: “I have windows XP”, “I have MacOSX”, and “I have this other operating system because I’m too cheap to buy Windows or OSX!” submit buttons. That’s when I realized, D’oh!
This is a Windows world still…