We've got to admit it, 2002 was not a year of
great revolutions in computer software. No matter what you consider as the
thing to remember of 2002 in the computer industry among the following
possibilities, that would not be a software release:
In short, the public did not have that much words for software in 2002, except
the Mozilla browser, version 2 of KaZaA and Morpheus and maybe, at most,
StarOffice 6.0 and Visual Studio.Net, for the few programmers of us. However,
there is still well enough good stuff for Powhertz awards, that I present
you right away! I repeat it like last year: the winner in a category is not
the most downloaded, not the best-seller and not the most voted of its category.
It is the software that, according to Powhertz, has had the most merit in
its category among the software released in the last 12 months. So
here are the winners and closest nominees.
- Release of the first TabletPCs
- Massive strike back by Corel which WordPerfect suddenly becomes
back a major rival to Microsoft Office in pre-installed systems
- Public release of several APIs of Microsoft Windows
- The Sims which became the best-selling PC game of all time (ahead
of nothing less than the great Myst)
- The late-year arrival of the Media CenterPCs (with Windows XP
- The first personal digital assistants (PDA) to finally get under
under the $100 barrier ($99)
- The new iMac that looks like a bedside lamp
- The unbelievable advent of digital cameras
- The vertiginous increase in spam
- The rapper Eminem's new record that reaches to #2 at CDDB's
top most played CDs before even the release of the disc in stores, making
the most obviously proof ever seen of how far music piracy has got
- The famous vote that approved the HP-Compaq merger announced
in 2001, to biggest merger of 2 computer companies ever
- Continuation and end of the Napster saga: loses its appeal
in court, declares bankruptcy, receives an interesting buynig offer from
Bertelsmann, is being refused the sell to the German group by the American
authorities, finally sells to the lower-quoting Roxio, without to forget
the resignation and comeback of its famous founder Shawn Fanning, etc...
- The billionth PC in the world (nearly 1 for every 6 humans on
- Powhertz' 5000th visitor in April!!!
|Linux Mandrake 9.0
Runner-up #1: Mac OS X 10.2
Runner-up #2: Red Hat Linux 7.3
We're not low on choices this year, so it is almost impossible not to go
a little bit into subjectivity to be able to rank this year's operating systems
like this, since a good operating system could, for example, be a wonderful
server but a bad desktop. Considering an operating system to be used as a
workstation, it's the latest Linux Mandrake that leads the pack this
year. Traditionnally, Mandrake has always been seen as the beginners' Red
Hat, but this perception has pretty much disappeared in this end of 2002.
I saw several ex-Red Hat users try Mandrake 9 and be so greatly surprised
that they now prefer Mandrake to Red Hat, including even a network professional
(for a bgi company that I won't mention here) that I know personnally. I
feel really bad not to have been able to find the necessary disk space to
put Mandrake 9 to the test on my PC before writing the current file, but
it will be done for sure in the beginning of 2003! I have the 3 installation
CDs waiting on my desk since over a month!... What do you want, these are
the negatives of working at 3 operating systems on an hard disk of only 30
GB! So I'm unfortunately not the best reference to talk of Mandrake, but
the numerous opinions I got lead to the same conclusion: Mandrake has became
an excellent choice for the desktop, not to say the best choice. Its philosophy
is on effortless configuration and the power of choice to the user, the version
9 even proposing simplistic but blazing-fast graphical environments that
were abandoned by most of the other distributions: IceWM, Enlightenment and
even Blackbox. I even heard from a user on the Internet that Mandrake would
now be able to support some more offset hardware that Red Hat does not support...
Let's also mention its score of 9/10 on the site ExtremeTech (http://www.nyq.extremetech.com),
the highest note given to a distribution of Linux on this site. Moreover,
Mandrake 9 became one of the first distributions of Linux to be LSB (Linux
Standards Base) 1.2 certified.
Apple's poor Mac OS X is once again left to an unfortunate 2nd place!
The new version 10.2, also known as Jaguar, has been much boasted and has
indeed a lot to offer... well maybe a bit too much. The strong points include
an integrated kind of Webshots Desktop, UNIX-Samba-powered Windows file-sharing
agreeably integrated to the simple preferences panel of Mac OS X as well
as integrated firewall and Internet connection-sharing utilities. In the
superfluous but still additional functionalities are the iDisk "public folder",
the included programs iTunes, iMovie, iPhoto, iDVD, iChat (IM) and an excellent
address book program. Compared to 10.1, if also offers performance increases
and keeps this magic semi-transparence a little bit everywhere in the Aqua
interface. The good words flow for Mac OS X 10.2, but just like last year,
it is tough to grant it a title of great winner for many reasons: its expensive
price, made to run on Mac systems only (its Darwin kernel runs on Intel processors
but not Mac OS X as a whole, which limitates its scope to fewer than 5% of
all micro-computers), incomplete exploit of the infinite possibilities of
a BSD kernel, compared to any Linux: lack of virtual desktops and lesser
customization capabilities, and always this same growing irritating Microsoft
Windows-like mania of integrating as much Apple-signed software as possible
to the operating system. Mac OS X 10.2 is still a good second.
We complete with Red Hat Linux 7.3, the distributor's first version
to come on 3 CDs. It is indeed one of the most complete and enjoyable distributions
of Linux to date. No major change compared to Red Hat 7.2, but several details
and stability fixes brought back Red Hat to its best days. Only one problem
that really irritated me during my few months of use: the bundled Web development
program Quanta that was crashing at almost every startup attempt when launched
from GNOME (from KDE it was long but was always getting through). Probably
a little incompatibility with the used Qt libraries.
In short, the rejected ones:
Very divided opinions on this new graphical environment Bluecurve,
which is in fact a GNOME, slightly merged with some KDE and some custom touch.
Some people think that this is a step towards a massive acceptation of the
"Linux as a desktop" formula, but a majority of long-time "Red Hatiens" (including
myself) did not appreciate very much the idea of centralizing the interfaces.
But beyond Bluecurve, I ran into a lot of little problems with 8.0 that did
not exist with the more polished 7.3:
It remains a good product and a product with ambition, but not a dream product
as we would expect from a giant who holds half of the Linux distribution
market. Still, 2 people that I contributed to their conversion from Windows
98/ME to Red Hat 8.0 are completely pleased of their migration.
- new functionality of auto-verifying of the installation CDs to ensure
we proceed to the installation with valid CDs, but this function is uniquely
there to frighten people who burned their installation CDs themselves (legally
of course) instead of buying them boxed! In fact, the utility told me that
my CD-ROM #1 was passing the test but not the 2nd and 3rd CDs, while these
3 discs had been burned in the exact same conditions: same CD brand, same
blank CD-R box, same burning software that did not detect any writing error
whatsoever, ISO files downloaded from the same place the same way without
any downloading error detection, etc... By ignoring this warning, I've been
able to continue my installation through the end without any small failure.
The discs #2 and 3 never shown any sign of defect...
- a particular case that only happened to me once: in a terminal window,
I typed the command "ls *.mpeg" and got the error "invalid option --e". I
typed the up arrow to make my last command reappear to which I only removed
the "e" to make "ls *.mpg", and it worked! Again the up arrow and put back
the "e": "invalid option --e" !
- file and directory named are now Unicode only, which causes incompatibilities
in the mounting of Windows 95/98 FAT partitions (the Windows ME/2000/XP FATs
are OK). Question marks and "Invalid Unicode" warnings will appear everywhere
there should be a character with an accent or any special character, and
many applications will be bugged by it (for example the XMMS MP3 player,
which is not able to open my MP3 files which name contain an accent and react
very strangely with directories which name contain a such character). There
is very few documentation on the subject on the Web, but what I found (various
"iocharset"'s) did not fix my problem. Anyway, that should be in automatic
detection or manageable through an utility.
- any MP3 (audio) or MPEG (video) player has been took off... or rendered
unusable! Fortunately, I knew in advance that Red Hat 8 would not be ablt
to play MP3 files anymore, otherwise I would have probably been in a total
confusion; the XMMS player is still there but unusable!! According to the
poor buys at XMMS, who have been burried under tons of e-mails, a clear and
significant warning was supposed to be put the the opening attempt of an
MP3 file in Red Hat 8's XMMS, but Red Hat apparently forget or omitted to
fulfill his promise.
- the new graphical system for RPM package management doesn't let you choose
packages by their name anymore! If, for example, I want to add the lib-exemple-1.0.1
package to my system, I have to guess in which category Red Hat has put this library
and find the user-friendly name equivalent of my package among the proposed ones,
and still that's only if this package is installable through this graphical tool!
Can be simpler for beginners, but the advanced user will quickly go back to his
- certain GNOME applets that were included into Red Hat 7.3 have been
taken off... certainly not for disk space reasons, because an applet generally
takes only a few kilobytes on a hard drive! Then why taking them off? No
one knows! Also, why grouping together in a same applet the processor, memory,
network and swap monitors that had always been in separated applets?! I took
a lot of time to find out to my dear applet of network monitoring was still
- baby-stupid Windows-like icons and text descriptions like, for example,
a planet with a text "Browse the Internet" to launch Mozilla (instead of
Mozilla's logo and a description like "Launch the Mozilla browser".
- a library essential to certain applications like the Opera browser
is still provided by Red Hat 8's openmotif21 package... except that this
package is not installed by default anymore, even in full-install mode! Opera
seems to have received a lot of e-mails from people who were wondering why
Opera 6.0x was refusing to install correctly on Red Hat 8!
- Galeon Web browser non working after installation
- under certain exceptional circumstances, incapable of deactivating
the firewall with Red Hat's utility when it had been activated by error (even
though that one would have probably been reproduceable in version 7.3 too).
Last year's winner is holding on without having made the news
much this year. ExtremeTech gives it a global score of 7/10, which is 10%
less than Red Hat 8.0 and 20% less than Linux Mandrake 9.0, while CNet accords
it (in a very close contest, I've got to say) the "editor's pick" title as
the best Linux distribution... The opinions seem slightly divided, but for
sure, there is nothing to really put it ahead of the other Linuxes in 2002.
Still, it was battling for the title.
Good alternative to Windows for beginners and the level just
after "beginner", but there is no free version and, according to many people,
no much fun there for advanced users. However, good ability to run Windows
applications in this user-friendly Linux.
Once again, no free version, and also no disk-partitionning wizard
in the installation.
A Linux without the GNOME environment and a firewall utility...
And without a free version neither... Except for that, it's fine.
Good idea and it's a good distribution as is, but as the companies
behind it are all integrating it to their own distribution, then automatically
the SuSEs and Turbolinuxes will worth at least a UnitedLinux, but in more
- Gentoo Linux 1.2 and Lunar Linux 1.0
Linux distributions that are wonderfully hailed (note by the
way Gentoo's user appreciation rate of 100% on Download.com!), but that are
aimed at a restrained public. Gentoo declares itself as a "distribution for
developers and network professionals"...
Slackware is dead, purely and simply. This might be real good,
but only its very long-time fans are still finding a particular interest
into this great veteran that is slowly collapsing under the weight of the
too big number of Linux distributions.
Still the greatest UNIX of this world, but limited to the SPARC
platform (the support for Intel-based systems has been temporarily taken
off for this release).
- OpenBSD 3.1 and FreeBSD 4.7
Excellent, extremely secure choice for a server... but what kind
of freak would swith to an OpenBSD for an all-purpose system?!
|Mozilla 1.0 / 1.1 / 1.2.1
Runner-up #1: Netscape 7.0
Runner-up #2: Opera 6.05 Windows / 6.11 Linux
A year a little less exciting than 2001 as far as Web browsers are
concerned except for one name to remember: Mozilla! In development
and tests for months and even years, Mozilla has finally became public this
Spring and rewarded everyone for their patience. Available on an incredible
range of operating systems (Microsoft Windows 32 bits -which means 95 and
up-, MacOS 9.x, Mac OS X, Linux x86, SPARC Solaris, AIX, HPUX, OS/2 and OpenVMS
for version 1.2.1, add to this list BeOS, FreeBSD, BSDi and NetBSD for version
1.1), it became the new reference in Web browsing, period. A responsible
Web developer should, in this second half of 2002, test his stuff in the
latest version of Mozilla first, and then only look at the results on Internet
Explorer 6.0, 5.5 and 5.0x, obviously used by much more people but limited
to only 2 plateforms (Windows 32-bit and MacOS, and I even believe that
IE6 is still not yet available for the Mac...), less respectful of the established
standards, conceived for the interests of one corporation as opposed to Mozilla
which is programmed by a community of volunteers who only wants to build
standard quality product, etc... The functionalities are all there, as much
for standards support as for the interface, which was its biggest thing to
improve at the beginning of the year. Mozilla has even reached this year
a point where it serves a good lesson to Internet Explorer on a technical
point of view, as shown by the Web page of the
101 things that Mozilla does and that Internet Explorer don't, written
by a Mozilla enthousiast following the release of Mozilla 1.1 (we now have
1.2.1, which has even more to offer). Personnally, the functionality that
conquered me the most is the "tabbed browsing", functionality that resemble
a bit the MDI interface that Opera has been using for over 2 years. It is
also the first time since Netscape's near-extinction that Linux developers
benefit from a Web browser that can be considered as a reference, feels good!!
First time also that these people can enjoy a browser that *never* crashes.
Maybe more Web developers on Linux for the coming year... Let's also mention
the extremely dynamic developer community, which has the bad habit to deliver
its versions 2 weeks late but works professionally and is really here to
stay (a detailed roadmap already exists for the upcoming 1.3 and 1.4 versions,
both of which expected for 2003). Maybe also mention the fantastic characteristic
that makes of each version of Mozilla a better version than the previous
one, which is also the case with Opera but not always with Internet Explorer
or Netscape). It's simple, no matter the OS you're running, no matter any
factor you want, you could and should always have the latest version of Mozilla
on your system. Only 1% of the global market for now, but it is likely to
continue expanding in 2003.
Helped by its Mozilla community, Netscape 7.0 was also, by obligation,
an excellent browser. Clearly superior to Netscape 6.0, which had deceived
a lot of people. It supports the "tabbed browsing" too and has highly improved
its startup time in Windows thanks to a quick startup icon in the system
tray that allows it to be more fairly compared to Internet Explorer, of which
some components were automatically stored in memory on Windows startup to
make Internet Explorer's startup look faster afterwards. Not much to reproach
it, except maybe of not offering much more than its parent Mozilla. Netscape-faithfuls
or those who feel more secure using the browser of a big company instead
of the browser of a group of volunteers are making an excellent choice in
Netscape 7. I believe that Netscape 7 is all that was missing to be able
to finally officially declare Netscape 4.x completely obsolete.
On its hand, Opera continues to be dominating, although is didn't
have its major upgrade in 2002. Their most important release of the year
was the 6.11 for Linux, version before which Opera was having very serious
stability problems under Linux (Opera has always been very stable on Windows).
Opera 7.0, which is currently in beta, starts the new year as a favorite
for the title of Browser of the Year for 2003.
Another fast browser would be FastBrowser,
but it is not even considered because it requires MS Internet Explorer,
which makes it not a pure browser (a little bit like NeoPlanet which already had
its small part of popularity).
|Shareaza 1.7 Pre-release
Runner-up #1: gtk-gnutella 0.91.1
Runner-up #2: AOL Instant Messenger 4.8
It is not in my habits to give a title to a software that is only in beta
mode, but this little file-sharing utility, that I just discovered during
the last week of 2002, is given a golden occasion to be honored with the series
of reknown but uninteresting software releases of 2002 in this category (Morpheus
2.0, KaZaA Media Desktop 2.0, Copernic Agent 6.0, ICQ 2003a, MSN Messenger
5.0, etc...) as well as the near-inertia of several others (Everybuddy, Trillian,
ZoneAlarm, etc...). Shareaza, however, still merits its title! Here
is a list of its strong and weak points found during Powhertz' series of
+its new protocol that it calls "Gnutella2" (it is, for now, the only file-sharing
client to implement it)
+continuous search (like gtk-gnutella, principle that I was explaining in
last year's Powhertz awards)
+pretty good interface, inspired by KaZaA and/or Morpheus, but better
+simultaneous multiple searches (when will KaZaA and Morpheus finally understand
that this is a major important feature in a file-sharing client?!?)
+automatically comes with support for 5 languages (is there any other file-sharing
utility supporting more than 2 languages? well, is there another program of
this kind that support multiple languages without having to download a separated
version or localization files?!!)
+search by file type (audio, video, application, eBook, image), THE thing
that is still missing to my little favorite gtk-gnutella and that I appreciate
a lot from KaZaA and Morpheus
+efficient transfer multiplexing
+automatically lists the search results with the icons from Windows' file
+excellent, detailed and practical tooltip texts when we hover the mouse over
a listed file
+comes with 4 different skins that we can select to our taste
+no spyware ---BIG advantage over KaZaA
+unlike most programs of this kind on Windows, does not use Microsoft Internet
Explorer to make annoying popup windows or advertisements popup at any time
+for the more technical users, a packet monitor that really allows to see
in details all the activity generated by the program
+uses the Gnutella network which, unlike the FastTrack network used by KaZaA
and Grokster, could never be ordered to close by Justice
-eats up lot of processing power
-tougher to find a rare file with Shareaza than KaZaA
-the way to treat the simultaneous multiple searches is maybe a bit less interesting
than in gtk-gnutella
-only available for Windows 95/98/2000/ME/XP, without public source code
Good (very good) second comes gtk-gnutella 0.91.1, the little inoffensive-looking
rebel that none of the 2 market leaders Morpheus 2 and KaZaA 2 has managed
to catch up! Due to changes in the Gnutella network, the little gtk-gnutella
has run into several difficulties in early 2002. That's why they released
version 0.85, but even there, it was not so reassuring for the future of
the small Linux utility. But, there was a bounce with version 0.90, and then
the reconsecration with version 0.91.1 . A very satisfying utility.
AOL Instant Messenger 4.8, that I personnally don't prefer to ICQ
for it, is probably the instant messaging client that shown the best progression
in 2002. Its idea of the stock alerts and sport scores alerts (a little bit
like the alerts for an incoming message) was genious and would have probably
been enough for it to gain this position of finalist to the title of Internet
utility of the year. But that's not all! This version has also brought the
possibility to send your contact list to another user as well as sending
greetings... Congrats! It's a sign that there is still some room for more
original improvements than new "emoticons" or new secured transfer protocols
in instant messaging!
The next ones on the list would have been, in order, ICQ Lite (people
were complaining that ICQ was becoming more and more overbloated, and AOL
was able to go over its arrogance and answer with a much lighter and agreeable
version for the majority of ICQ users, NICE!), Virtual Network Computing
3.3.4 (with the shutdown of the British laboratory of AT&T, we thought
that our dear VNC was dead, but VNC 3.3.4 is the version that relieved us!)
and 3D-FTP 5.0 (several improvements compared to the 4.x versions;
as for 6.0, there is no much new).
Runner-up #1: Evolution 1.2
Runner-up #2: Eudora 5.1/5.2
Version 4.02 was not so superior to version 4.0, but it's a little bit at
the same time to be forgiven never to have talked about Pegasus in
the past! This e-mail client is 100% free, small, fast and highly functional.
Also, is it the not well-known enough ancester of all e-mail clients, a true
pioneer! There is a Pegasus for any Microsoft Windows (even Windows 3.x)
and even a DOS version! Version 4.02 is available in 2 languages for now:
English and German, but French is coming. Great this little David Harris!
Click here for a
good review of Pegasus.
For its part, Evolution continues to impress with its version 1.2,
faster and more efficient than the 1.x series. Extremely complete, I know
have 2 important people in my office (including the president) who are now
using Evolution 1.2 in the everyday life and who still don't see any inconvenient
compared to the Microsoft Outlook they were using before. A great success
Finally, Eudora, which is still considered by many as the best-email
client around. Version 5.1 was adding the ability to import e-mails or contacts
from Netscape 6 while version 5.2 was mainly adding SSL encryption.
Mozilla 1.x's and Netscape Mail 7's e-mail clients has also
been good, but will have to content themselves of a 4th rank. As for IncrediMail,
I would have liked to encourage it, but it didn't have much new features
to offer in 2002! Also notice the absence of Microsoft Outlook Express, of
which no new version was released since the version 6 last Fall.
Runner-up #1: PKZip 5.0
Runner-up #2: WinACE 2.2
Very active these Rarsoft! They deserve to be rewarded for this good work,
because the archiver market in general was sleeping this year! WinRAR
has made the changes where is was important, and that's the way they distinguished
this year. An excellent 2nd choice is this new major version of the pioneer
PKZip by PKWare, which is even faster than before but mostly puts
the emphasis on the security aspect, with mainly 168-bit encryption of ZIP
archives. To help you figure out, a normal encryption of a secured site on
the Internet is only encrypted on 128 bits... Also to mention, a very tight
integration with Microsoft Outlook. Finally, to complete the list, let's
go with WinACE 2.2, new minor version of what remains one of the best
archivers available for Windows, clearly superior to WinZip that is still
10 times more popular.
Runner-up #1: AltaVista
Runner-up #2: Teoma
We won't lose too much time on Google. It is not a secret for anybody
now, Google is the best search engine and now even the most popular ahead
of the one that always been #1 since the early days of the Internet, Yahoo!.
It does not require any special presentation, and its nomination as best
search engine for a 3rd consecutive year was just obvious.
The first finalist is one that was really slipping away at an alarming rate
but which achieved to put themselves back on the track and rebecome excellent.
To do that, it didn't use too much originality; it followed Google's success
model, and honestly it's better like this! AltaVista is finally back
in the race thanks to a greatly simplified and faster home page, a new very
efficient spider system that won't let much broken links anymore, the indexation
of PDF (Acrobat) files, and more. It is followed close by Teoma, a
little newbie that impresses at many levels, including simplicity, speed,
the number of search results and relevancy of them. For example, for the
word "Nirvana", it is the 3rd search engine to come up with the most search
results behind only Google and FAST. Teoma returns in fact 753 500 results
for this search, and well-ranked. It's always a pleasure to encourage the
new ones when they worth the helping hand.
Honorable mention to FAST (what a DB!), Wisenut (a little bit slower since
it is at LookSmart, but not enough to make it a problem, and it is still
very good) and Excite (mostly for the themes!). I also had to cut off Vivisimo and Kartoo
which are really interesting but not real search engines as is, but more
meta-engines like AOL or Metacrawler (but in better-presented).
Runner-up #1: No One Lives Forever 2: A Spy in
Runner-up #2: Mafia
Just like last year, Powhertz' author and administrator did not play much
PC games during the last 12 months, except for 2 NHL 2002 seasons, a few
games of the demo of NHL 2003 and a few games of the latest Wolfenstein,
released in 2002. We have to take off the Powhertz 2002 seal and refer to
what we saw on TV (mostly at M. Net with the Grand Talbot, on the
airs of Musique Plus), heard here and there, and read on the Internet's gaming
sites. By the way, here are the main references used:
Let's face it: these 4 Web sites are choosing a different game as the #1
PC game of 2002! Gamespot chose Warcraft III, GameSpy selected No One Lives
Forever 2, PC Game Review chose Medieval: Total War and Web Wombat goes for
Hitman 2: Silent Assassin! Well, Powhertz will just add up some confusion
because it will opt for a 5th game: Battlefield 1942! Without having
had the chance to play the game personnally, what I saw really impressed
me and made me feel that the bar was too hight for a #2 to catch it up. Without
going too much into details, It's really a very well-made game that gives
a lot of power to the user. No One Lives Forever, another one that
made unanimity, is chosen for a 2nd place, while Mafia, so much anticipated,
has finally delivered and finds itself among GameSpot's 5 finalists for the
title of Game of the Year. The following ones on the list would have been
(in order) Medieval: Total War, Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos, Neverwinter
Nights,Grand Theft Auto 3, Unreal Tournament 2003, Hitman
2: Silent Assassin,Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast, Madden NFL
2003 and Microsoft Age of Mythology. Little deceptions, just to
name a few, to EA Sports NHL 2003 and Salt Lake 2002.
Coup de coeur
(software that particularly impressed Powhertz during the last year
and couldn't fit in any other category)
Runner-up #1: gtKam 0.1.4 / 0.1.5 / 0.1.6
Runner-up #2: xine 0.9.10
Powhertz' MVP this year is certainly the office suite OpenOffice 1.0
(and then 1.0.1, which was a very minor update), the kind of software that
you seriously wonder why not 90% people do not have it installed no their
PC. For those who didn't follow the story, this is an open source office
suite directly derived from Sun Microsystems' StarOffice, which is unfortunately
not free anymore since its version 6.0 . We now have to pay for StarOffice,
but we don't and for sure never will for OpenOffice! It is programmed by
volunteers who gave a helping hand to Sun for the upgrade from version 5.2
to version 6.0, but who kept (legally of course) the source code of 5.2 provided
by Sun and the code that they programmed themselves to form a new, separated
office suite. That said, OpenOffice 1.0 is like a StarOffice 6.0, but in
100% free and lacking only a few little functionalities, very insignificant
for the large majority of us, added to StarOffice by Sun before they launch
StarOffice 6.0 .
OpenOffice 1.0 is sublime. Except for a few stupid ideas of Microsoft like
Visual Basic macros inside a so-called text document, OpenOffice's word processor
is as good (better, if you ask me) than Word for at least 95% users (if not
98-99%), the spreadsheet is almost as good as Excel (but does perfectly
the job for at least 90% users), the presentations software is relatively
comparable to PowerPoint, without to forget all of the other components that
I never used... Except that Microsoft Office XP Standard (grouping together
Word, Excel and PowerPoint) costs US$429,99 on Amazon.com (less expensive
for an upgrade edition but even more expensive for the professional edition)
and is only available for Windows 32-bit (95/98/ME/2000/XP) and Mac OS X
while OpenOffice is entirely free and is available on 3 more platforms: Linux,
FreeBSD and Solaris! Also, it produces data files of a very respectable size.
I converted a spreadsheet file from the StarOffice 5.2 format to the OpenOffice
1.0 format... I shrank it almost by half! It is sincerely to wonder why so
many people are losing their time and honor at illegally copying/cracking
Microsoft Office or worse, lose their money to buy it. I repeat it proudly:
OpenOffice has become, in 2002, an absolute necessary on any PC. And don't
bother for your Word/Excel/PowerPoint files; OpenOffice handles them very
well! It is also 100% compatible to StarOffice and the programming team is
even working on an import/export for Corel WordPerfect files!
Powhertz would also not forget to mention the small Linux program gtKam,
included with Red Hat Linux 7.3 and 8.0, among others. How not being impressed
by this little wonder of computing? Written by only 2 lead programmers (with
several contributions, I've got to admit) of good faith who do not make any
money from their activities, gtKam 0.1.4 supports over 200 models of digital
cameras and groups them into an interface that is often more simple and functional
than the software of the camera makers themselves and that, without any help
from a Kodak or HP to write their Linux drivers (drivers are generally written
for Windows and MacOS only)!! gtKam is not perfect, but I'm confident that
will become so. It is still a little fragile, but practical! But even without
being perfect, it really impressed Powhertz and easily grabs its title of
#1 finalist to the Coup de Coeur award 2002.
In all honesty, there was no real, very deserving #3, but let's go with xine
0.9.10, an audio/video player for the Linux OS. Another software in development
that is not perfect yet, but that is already of a precious help to Linux
users. This version of xine plays DVDs, MPEG videos and even AVI videos
(a Windows format)! Are the .ASFs next?!?
I can't hide my low enthousiasm for the Windows applications market in 2002.
I already use almost no Windows anymore (the author and administrator of
Powhertz passed at least 85% of his time on Linux in 2002, the large majority
of the other 10-15% Windows only to play NHL some NHL games!), I didn't see
anything very major on Windows this, except the OpenOffice mentionned above.
First, Winamp 3.0 has been a clear deception. The biggest new feature from
the 2.x version is the ability to play MPEG videos... but it does it bad!
At least, clearly not as well as (yes, I can admit it when it's true)
Microsoft Windows Media Player. Also, some menus changed without any apparent
reason other than the like to change, the oscilloscopes work pretty bad generally
and there is a new bug, inexistent the 2.x versions, that prevents Winamp
3 to open MP3 audio files which name contain an accent... Then, QuickTime
6? Well, it's for the MPEG4 support, but I still didn't see any (and I really
mean none!) MPEG4 file to date!... Photoshop 7? Maybe I just don't know it
enough, but is it really worth the upgrade from version 6?... I also tried
SuperX 7.0, an X server software for Windows that didn't manage to excite
me. Would be left the utility One-click Audio Converter that I liked
pretty much and Microsoft's Visual Studio.Net and Windows Media Player 9,
that I didn't try at all.
Note: Last year I forgot the CD-ROM-burning application Nero 5.5, which really should
have been in the good runner-ups for this category.
category that changes every year
year: The category that is not one
|The Logitech MX700 mouse
I thought of many possibilities for the category that changes every year,
but none was catchy. Powhertz' author and administrator works at the same
place than last year and has nothing special to say about travel Web sites
in 2002 anyway. The only interesting thing linked to computer science that
comes to his mind: his newLogitech MX700 mouse!!! Optical, cordless,
fantastic ergonomy, incomparable precision, damn nice look, relatively quick
battery charging (more or less an hour and a half for a full charge), useful
special buttons, etc... It's the dream computer mouse! Also, for those like
me who would have some fears, I can tell you that it works very well in Linux
when configured as a Logitech MouseMan+! The only problem: 3 of its 6 special
buttons won't work properly in X-Window... So what! So even if it's written
on the box that Windows or MacOS is required, don't worry; it is conceived
standard enough so that its main functions can work in most operating systems.
Thanks to EarthV.com for the picture of the MX700
And the grand winner is...
The only award winner that was almost sure of its win for several months,
the only one which domination was so clear. This suite, composed of an e-mail
client, a Web page editor, an address book, an IRC chat client and, most
of all, a Web browser, made the news more than once this year and it's a
very well-deserved success! Now that it managed to hurt such a big name as
Netscape, let's see how much time it will take to become, as Linux compared
to Windows NT/2000/XP, a well-known Microsoft enemy.