Posts Tagged annoyances

Freewares, sharewares and annoyingwares

While doing some searches on something fractal-related, I found one page with a list of fractal softwares. Also there was a brief description for each of these softwares, which most of the times also helps you to have at least a clue about what it is, even though it might be a bit subjective or can even be a forced good review pushing you to choose that special item of that list instead of others.

Anyway, there’s this interesting entry that says (some bits removed to not explicitly tell which software it is –  people can get picky at times and refuse to understand criticism):

“One of the most popular generators of fractal graphics in 24 bit true color.   This freeware 32-bit program, written in Visual C++ by (…), has capabilities far above many that are available, and is well worth taking the time to try out and use.   (Both the executable and source code are available.)”.

Did you read “freeware” there too? OK. Just checking. Also, the source code is available for those that like to see how it goes behind the curtains. Nice, and the description makes you think it’s a very good piece of software. But click the link and… there’s this disclaimer in the page that says:

Entrance to the (…) download area is for registered members only.

Registration is $35 and is made via Paypal.

Upon registration, you will be emailed with a link, password,
and unlimited access to the download area.”

OK, did you read that too? You will only be able to download this freeware (??) software after you pay a fee to enter the download section of the site. Now how can this be called freeware? To me it’s just something I’d call annoyingware. And then programmers complain that their softwares are pirated or shared in P2P networks and warez sites. If they knew how to sell them, they would sell.

I always liked to and did register as many softwares I could that aren’t extremely overpriced (unfortunately, most still are) and that are really useful and/or without bugs, and even I’ve made some small donations to programmers here and there to help the development of their stuff, and like I did with UltraFractal, when I thought I could sometime have a profit from stuff I did with it, it was kind of a moral and obvious decision to register it (and other similar stuff), if I could ever have any benefit from using it – read “benefit”as pure $$$ – it would be nice to “pay” the author of the software for that the same way you pay for a tool you use at work. But when a software is known for being buggy, overpriced, hyped, or that have a clone software that does the same (or almost) in an open source/freeware format as a paid software, I don’t register or buy it at all, and sometimes when I register a software that later becomes buggy or that lacks support or even that charges me a lot more for a stupid upgrade… I have no guilty in getting an “illegal” updated version of that. But this was the first time I’ve seen some stupid thing like that, a “membership” to download a “freeware”. Pffft. Maybe a bad choice of words or advertising, but still stupid.

Just to make things clear, here’s the definition of “freeware” seen in Wikipedia:

Freeware (from “free” and “software”) is computer software that is available for use at no cost or for an optional fee.[1] Software referred to as freeware is almost always proprietary. Software that is commercial is occasionally referred to as payware.

Also…

“Not to be confused with Free software.”

OK, the author might say that he’s asking that fee because you’re downloading the source code blah blah blah. And the asked fee is nothing like “optional” in that site. Don’t pay it and don’t get the software, it’s simple as that. Had the author asked for a donation, he would probably make much more money than using this “pay before you even see what you’re buying” method. This would be a little different than what I’d call a “freeware” as it stated in this definition, it could (and sometimes is) called a “donationware”.

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Why I don’t use Photoshop or Gimp?

There’s a big discussion involving fractal images and Photoshop, with several different points of view, but the main one usually is that if a fractal image is manipulated in Photoshop (or Gimp, or any other software like that) “it’s not a true fractal image anymore”.

I’m not interested in this technical discussion – each side of it has its own correct assumptions, but I’ve decided not to use Photoshop or any other image manipulation softwares because to me I feel that with them it’s much simpler to create something interesting with virtually no effort, I guess this is the same way I don’t like how Apophysis is misused by most of its users nowadays – the random, automated way to create an image or a batch of images. With Photoshop/Gimp etc. sometimes I feel the same happens.

Yesterday I gave Gimp another try (I really can’t get used to that interface!) but mostly to try something like the Droste effect which is quite interesting. I found that there is a plug-in for Gimp that does that effect (and many others) called MathMap, and it can give some interesting fractal-like results in regular pictures. I couldn’t make it work (I need an older version of Gimp it seems, and I’m using Windows), but I found some other quite interesting plug-ins that can make very nice effects and changes to your fractal images in a very easy way. I might even post some of these attempts here just for fun, the map to sphere stuff for example is really interesting mostly because I need some fractal that can look like a planet/world for a logo/icon to be used here, and an animated ” fractal planet” spinning using one of my own images will definitely look nice. But the easiness to make a fractal look “better” with a few default settings of a plug-in is what makes me go away from these image editors and not even try to use them. Not even for a simple sharpening, which gives a nice effect with images that have lots of details.

Other day I found one of these links named “amazing fractal images” (or some variation of that) and there was a bunch of images of “fractal animals” – lions, birds, dogs, whatever. All had a fractal texture applied to the original images of the animals and one that doesn’t know fractals might think that the fractal software generated a true fractal image that was shaped like a dog – it didn’t, it was just a simple dog image with some Apophysis image “pasted” on top of it working as a texture, blended with the original image. You can actually see some of these here. Is this person a good fractal artist? No, he’s just someone that knows how to work with layers in Photoshop, and this is much easier to find than someone that can really make a (traditional) fractal from scratch. I remember when I found these images. In the first image I was like “wow, that’s nice” and while looking at about the 3rd or 4th I was like… “boring!…”. It won’t take you more than a few minutes to replicate that kind of effect, much different than waiting 50 hours for a real fractal image to be rendered.

Edit: with a few more clicks, I found the culprit: a plug-in named Fractalius. Annoying, really annoying. I didn’t know it was that easy.

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Thank you Google! (Not really…)

Yesterday I had another peak of visitors, around 40. Not bad. But when I went to check my stats tracking software for the reasons why I had these visitors… there it was, all about Mandelbulbs again.

What I don’t understand is that there is much more content about the other kinds of fractals here than about Mandelbulbs, but still it is what is listed the most and the best in Google – I redid most of the searches used by the visitors, and my site appears in the first page of results in most of these. I have some plans related to redoing and changing some of the tags of the images and the posts that seem that don’t work like I expected, but as there are about 500 fractal images here it’s not easy to do it at once. Sometimes posting one image at a time with some description even if it’s short seems to have more impact and better results for it to be found in search engines than the tags in the whole gallery post where the image is.

I’m starting to wonder what will happen if I start writing “Mandelboob” instead of Mandelbulb. Is porn still attracting visitors? There is as much porn in here as Mandelbulb images, I suppose.

Edit: I told you this would work. Some people already visited the site looking for boobs.

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Visions of Chaos

I’ve discovered this new (not so new it seems as it’s already in version 40 or something) fractal software a couple days ago called Visions of Chaos, and was having some good fun with it mostly with its simulations and the “genetic” mutations. Until I installed another trial copy in a PC with Windows 7 which is kind of my “main fractal workstation”. And it’s crashing like crazy, without any possible fix so far. Even setting it to work in compatibility mode doesn’t work. I guess it’s something about the 64-bit stuff, not sure yet. But it’s a pity, a very interesting software with such annoying bug(s). I was even considering registering it in the future although it’s a bit expensive mostly in the updates, 25% of the price of a new version just for a single update… and considering it’s in version 40 do the math and see how many upgrades existed so far. No thanks.

Edit: I’ve made it work with Windows 7. I had to uninstall the previous installation, then reinstall it in a different folder other than the (default) Program Files\Visions of Chaos folder. When the software asks you in what folder it should be installed, just remove the “Program Files” or the “Program Files (x386)” part of the install path and let it be installed at C:\Visions of Chaos instead (or any other custom folder you wish), this should work. It now doesn’t crash immediately after starting, but it still crashes quite often mostly while using the Genetics options. Annoying, but at least it’s working in Windows 7 pretty much the same way as it works in the Vista. If it wasn’t for all these crashes, it could be a very nice fractal software. Considering it’s in version 40, there shouldn’t be that many crashes like that. I guess.

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Menus updated

A few more entries added to the galleries menu in the front page, soon I’ll have them all listed there. Hopefully these will get as much attention as the single posts about my attempts with the Mandelbulbs. Sad, really. Mandelbulbs aren’t my cup of tea and will be restrained to these 2 images only (well not really just 2 images, I’ll be posting some Mandelbulbs here and there as I get how that thing works, but it will not be the main kind of fractal imagery you will find in here). Those who are looking for the Mandelbulbs here could at least have a look at the other galleries. I’ll stuck with Ultra Fractal and Fractint and the Mandelbulbs will be done just for fun, not because they are the latest trend. I can’t stand even Apophysis at the moment.

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