Sunday, May 10, 2009

I hate software license agreements

today's rant started rather simply. i'd set my Facebook language to Pirates (English)— rather fun by the way, info courtesy Dade — and wanted to show some notifications I'd gotten via Twitter. I wanted something a little more than (Alt-)Print Screen, and could do some basic editing in it. I've used Techsmith's software offerings before, and they have a free lightweight screencap utility called Jing, and i decided to use that. then the fun began. i decided to actually read the license agreement for Jing, and by the time i got to the third paragraph i was tired of reading, for a couple of reasons:

  1. the agreement is especially verbose. not a big surprise there. just one more reason for me to hate lawyers and the law in general. developers like to adhere to the KISS principle. why can't lawyers — at least when dealing with unlearned mortals?
  2. the agreement looked like one gigantic wall of text (can you say gibberish?). call me lazy or stupid, but i finally agree: san-serif typefaces are much better for reading long blocks of text. the serifs just tend to drive you crazy. whenever i author on this blog, everything looks like a Matrix screen, so i tend to just concentrate on the part i'm just typing. sometimes i don't even pick up typos and whatnot because it's just plain hard to read (you get brownie points if you guess that the text is in a serif typeface, extra if you know that it's in a monospaced serif typeface. monospace has come to stay, but i'm beginning to think that monospace+serif = very bad idea.

i still don't know if the license asks me to murder my mother. and quite frankly, i really don't care. must it be so difficult to get software to use? even freeware? if i'm a measure of most people, license agreements are far too wordy and verbose to be of much interest/use to the people it affects the most. and i've no doubt in my mind that that is exactly what the lawyers want. did i mention i hate lawyers already? are you trying to help people or set traps for them, for crying out loud? i eventually installed Jing — without completing the license agreement — only to find that my internet was insane again and would not resolve Jing's mothership, the website. and since it's a new install, Jing didn't work. after uninstalling Jing and googling, i found Bug Shooting, another free screen capture software that has a smaller installer and a more readable license agreement. yes, it appears to lack a feature that Jing has and i'm used to — auto-capturing a window (you have to manually select the window area yourself), but i think that's not such a big problem if i can actually use the software, and it doesn't get in my way. Disclaimer: Jing is actually quite good. i've used it a bit, but i recommend you getting the not-free, but better-featured (and in my opinion, much better-behaved) Snagit if you can afford it. it probably worth the cash you'd fork out for it. i once got a free licence, but i wasn't in the mood for hunting it down where i'd backed it up.

anyhoo, here are screenshots of the respective license agreements for Jing and Bug Shooter. decide for yourself which one's easier to read (screenshots taken with Bug Shooting. and i still had to launch the GIMP to make the edits i wanted. picture i wanted to upload is here).


Bug Shooting

EDIT: double-clicking the Bug Shooting icon in the taskbar takes a screenshot of the currently focused window

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