A Fond Farewell From Me

I’ve been writing about software for a long time now. Next week it will be precisely 35 years since I started doing so, as a writer on a highly popular computer games magazine in the UK. And when I’m not writing about software, I actually use it too. I do a lot of programming, and I spent almost 14 years in the IT department of a university.

The longer you work around software, the more you begin to realise that the price of a product is often a very poor indicator of its quality. Some of the best, most innovative software is being written for smartphones and mobile devices, and typically sells for less than $5. Some of the most complex, unreliable, buggy systems I ever used, where installation often required 2 people and took 3 days, costs tens of thousands.

There’s always been free software. Back in the 1980s it used to be called Public Domain. You downloaded it from online bulletin boards or you typed it in from the pages of a magazine. Some of it was great, but a lot of it was awful. Nowadays, public domain software is generally known as freeware or open source. There’s a huge amount of it around, encompassing everything from games to office suites to operating systems to video players and lots more besides. And yet the same rule of thumb from the 1980s is just as true today. A lot of it is great, but a lot of it is very poor indeed.

That’s why sites such as Gizmo’s Freeware, and all the volunteers that help to run it, have always been so useful. We help you separate the good from the bad. But ironically, the most useful role of the volunteers is the work that you never see and never hear about. For every piece of freeware I write about, there are typically 4 or 5 that I rejected. Maybe VirusTotal reckoned that the installer was dubious. Maybe the product simply didn’t work very well, or live up to its developer’s claims. Maybe it simply wasn’t something that I reckoned my readers would be interested in. And so it never featured as a Hot Find.

After about 8 years or so, I’ve decided to give my typing finger a rest and will no longer be writing this Hot Finds section. Rest assured that the section will continue just as before, with just as much great freeware. It simply won’t be coming from me. At least, not as frequently.

My sincere thanks to everyone who’s contributed suggestions to these pages. I couldn’t have done it without you. Here’s to the future of Gizmo’s Tech Support Alert, and the wonderful people that put in so much work behind the scenes so that you can have the best freeware.

Robert Schifreen

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