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No monopoly on buggy software

This column originally ran in ComputorEdge on October 17, 2003
(Issue 2142, Find Out Anything About Anyone)

While the numerous – okay, plentiful – bugs associated with various Microsoft products continue to provide seemingly unlimited opportunity and inspiration for virus-writers, Microsoft isn't the only company issuing software that's got holes big enough to drive a truck through.

New releases of Netscape and Eudora both continue to have stability and other problems – problems that have led your loyal correspondent (that would be me) to uninstall Netscape and find alternatives until a new release hopefully addresses those issues. And Eudora's ongoing stability issues, even in the face of a new release, have me seriously considering adopting a new e-mail client as well.

Finally ticked off

I'm what one critic has called a "FidoNet dinosaur" – I go way back with computers and the online world. I've been using computers since 1976 or so when my dad built a homebrew kit computer in our basement. I was about 14 then, and so got my feet wet relatively young for my generation.

And I've been online since 1987, when I discovered the old dial-up bulletin board systems, or BBSs (which could network together via a private Internet alternative called FidoNet).

All of which is meant to illustrate that I'm not all that demanding about software – I've been around since you either loaded programs into your home computer off cassette or typed them in from a magazine. Assuming you weren't a programmer writing your own software, which I'm definitely not.

Thus, as one who is dependant on others to provide software allowing me to conduct functional activity on my computer, I think I'm pretty patient when it comes to software having some shortcomings. Things are going to go whacky once in a while, and you simply deal with it and move on.

But Eudora's new version 6.0 ought to be more stable than version 5, no? True enough, I use the free version – the one with the advertising window in the lower left-hand corner. But supposedly the only difference between the paid and free versions is the presence of advertising – so I don't see that the paid version would be much more stable.

Yet a couple times a day, when replying to an e-mail, as soon as I try to paste in a URL or some text from another program, Eudora blows out on me.

As I said, I'm pretty patient – but we've been copying and pasting in computers for almost 30 years now (going back to the Xerox PARC projects), and Qualcomm (publisher of Eudora) ought to be able to get an e-mail client to handle copying and pasting without puking.

Netscape no better

Netscape 7.1 also recently was released; I downloaded it to upgrade 7.0, hoping that the folks at AOL (publisher of Netscape) had gotten a few bugs out of the new engine that debuted in Netscape 6.

But Netscape still hangs on me at times for no good reason; and twice now, it's crashed so hard that it corrupted my bookmarks file in the process.

That led to my uninstalling Netscape – for now, anyway.

No reason to compromise

As mentioned at the top of the column, Microsoft's competing programs – Outlook for e-mail and Explorer for browing – have massive security issues, so neither of those will be used to replace Netscape or Eudora.

For now, I'm using the latest build of the open-source Mozilla browser – which shares the base engine and many functional features with Netscape 6/7. The current version is 1.4, and it's available for free download for Windows, Linux and Mac OSX at

As to e-mail, I'm not yet sure what to do there. I've got thousands of e-mails stashed into various subdirectories in Eudora – and no time to spare to go through and save them all out in text files. (Yes, they're backed up to ZIP drive after my experience with the Netscape bookmark file.)

Mozilla includes a nice little e-mail client with the browser, and I may end up switching to that.

I just really like the features of Eudora – the ease of use, the security from scripting-style viruses (Melissa, et al), the adherence to industry standards in formatting.

But if it keeps blowing out on me every time I try to copy some text into a message, it's going to join Netscape in the Recycle Bin.