I’ve been in the business of using computers, in one way or another, since 1982. I wrote my first college paper on an Apple III. I owned one of the original IBM PCs (Hercules Graphics Card! 512K RAM! Two full-height 5 1/4″ Floppy Drives! Dot Matrix Printer! DOS 2.0! Ashton-Tate Framework! All for the low, low price of $4,000!!!). I’ve worked as a software engineer, product manager, project manager, marketing manager, and user interface evangelist for software publishing companies. I was around for the birth of Windows 1.0, the life and death of COMDEX, the rise of the common user interface, the Year of the LAN, and a slew of other things, long consigned to the dust bin of computer history. I’ve been a user, author, coder, beta-tester, evangelist, designer, and planner. In short, I’ve held just about every job you can hold in the software industry.
Now I’m writing reviews.
I’m going to be reviewing hardware, software, and tech books. I’ll tell you what I like, what I hate, and why. I’ll tell you about great innovations, brain-dead implementations, hidden jewels, and all the stuff you don’t generally hear about in trade publications. In addition, I’ll review other things that interest me – guitars, drums and other musical instruments, amps and PA systems, automobiles, tools, movies, books – you name it.
Will I be unbiased? No. Of course not. Everybody (and I do mean everybody) comes into any endeavor with biases, perceptions, misperceptions, and prejudices. I’m no different. I will do my best, however, to tell you why I feel the way I do about something, which should give you the ability to see if my biases have had an undue effect on the subject of my review.
Will I be fair? I guess that depends on how you see “fair.” I won’t rubber-stamp anything. I won’t give things kudos when they don’t deserve it, and I’ll be merciless regarding things I find useless, kludgy, or downright stupid. Oh, and I’ll let you know when I’m reviewing something I paid for with my own coin of the realm, versus when I’m reviewing something I received at no charge, in order to review it.
Will I be informative? That’s for you to decide. Some reviews will be short (especially if the product’s a dud.) Some will be long (if I love it, or if I find it flawed but worth saving). The rest is up to you.
Can I be bought? I had a college professor that used to say, “I can be bought. My price for an ‘A’ is a challet in the Swiss Alps.” I like that. Since it’s unlikely to ever happen, we’ll go with “No.” But if my objectivity is ever compromised, you’ll be the first to know.
Will I be accurate? You bet! That’s why I actually take the time to read/use/try the products I review. This takes time, but it means that my opinion covers the product a lot more in-depth than the typical “slap the review together by parroting the bullet points on the box/dust jacket” school of reviewing.
NOTE TO PUBLISHERS, MANUFACTURERS, AND ANYBODY ELSE WHO WANTS THEIR STUFF REVIEWED: Drop me a line. Let me know what you’ve got, and I’ll tell you if I’m interested. I don’t generally review pre-release software (because you never know what will make it in the final build), but if it’s cool enough of a product, I’ll give it a look/see. As far as books go, galleys are fine, but I do always appreciate a printed, bound copy when the book is released. If it’s a physical product (on disk instead of downloadable, etc.) be sure and let me know if you need/want the review copy back. One last thing – I’m a reviewer…not a beta tester. If you’d like me to beta test something, that’s a whole ‘nuther kettle of fish. I do it – sometimes – but only for products that I’m dying to try. And even then, not that often.
That’s it for now. If you have a product you’d like me to review, give me a shout. I don’t review everything I’m offered (not enough time), so I limit my reviews to products that really grab me. If there’s something you’d like to see me review, let me know. And keep checking back here periodically to see what product or service I’ve put under the Captain Digital microscope.