15 17 20 years a long time ago my friend Daniel once caught me spending about one hour trying make Windows 3.11 to understand that when I click the middle mouse button that god damn means “doubleclick”. Daniel couldn’t understand why I would spend so much time on something that would never save me the time I used in the first place and he has been teasing me on this ever since. And I have never stopped to demand from my computer that it adapts to my needs rather than the other way around.
But since I’m not a programmer but rather a power-user what I do to solve my computer problems is search the web or fritter around with setups, manuals and email support. Although there is a lot of helpful information out there, I often found software tests insufficiently detailed and uncritical (if not propagandistic). I also spend a lot of time giving feedback to the developers of the programs I use as it usually takes me less than an hour of trying out a new program until I find a bug (really!) and in the rare cases where that is not the case, I probably submit a feature request.
I am writing this blog to let you know what I consider useful (or useless) software for my work as a scholar, more precisely as a university employed social scientist. In other words, I am not going to do extensive comparative software tests according to an explicit list of criteria, I am just going to write down my own experiences and what I like or dislike about a software product. If you try it out, you might agree with me, but don’t blame me if you don’t, because that just means we have different ideas about what it should do or how it should do it.
In sum, the software4scholars blog is about software that may be useful for scholars. It is meant to (1) give advice in choosing the right software product for a given purpose, (2) make suggestions regarding customization, (3) make life easier by showing how your computer can do annoying work for you, rather than annoy you, (4) save you some of the time that I spent with annoying and hence not useful software by warning you not to use the program.