What do we all really want from our software? Well speaking for my self I just want something that works, is that really too much to ask for? Recently I have had two contrasting experiences, firstly I decided it was time to upgrade my anti-virus software. So I read a few reviews and tried out a trial package which came with a computer magazine I subscribe to, and ended up buying a licence for BitDefender Internet Security 2009.

Whilst using the trial package thing seemed to work fine, but having bought a license BitDefender has become somewhat more flaky. Although it has added an anti-spam tool bar to my e-mail client (Thunderbird) it has never actually done anything, done of the buttons on the tool bar work! Fortunately Thunderbird provides its own spam detection and moves most spam messages to a junk folder as soon as they arrive. Then BitDefender went though a phase of telling that every web page I visited was a phishing site, including ones which I had written my self, none of these sites were asking for any personal information. So I thought since I am paying for support I would try their Customer Support Live Assistance, which was frustratingly slow and failed to give any useful answer. So I ended up disabling this feature as I mostly use Firefox which has far more reliable anti-phishing protection built in. Next the automatic update stopped working, having tried the customer support, I decided this time to try the Support Forum, where I found a number of threads complaining of the same problem but no solution other than to carry out manual updates until one of them sorted out the problem. Then BitDefender went through a phase of falling over as soon I went on line taking the firewall with it. Fortunately that has now stopped, but it is not want you want from a security package. So if you are thinking of getting a new antivirus and security suit, not bother buying BitDefender, it’s not worth the money. Whereas Firefox and Thunderbird are excellent value for money (they are free!).

Second recent software experience, having recently seen an upsurge in spam on one of my e-mail accounts, I realised that the contact forms I have been using on this blog and my web site have been compromised. So time to get a new contact form, this time with more robust spam protection, my old system relied on little more than a bit of JavaScript and simply hiding the e-mail address. It was only a matter of time before some nasty person figured a way of getting past this (in this case about four years). So I decided that I wanted something more secure, a PHP solution seemed like a good idea, server side processing away from prying eyes. A quick internet search yielded, Mike Cherim’s GBCF-v3 Secure and Accessible PHP Contact Form (also available as a WordPress plugin).

Now this is the sort of software I like, it is free to download, it works and if you do have a problem you can ask the developer and get a reply. Ok, if you want to make special modifications, say being able to choose more than one e-mail address from the form, he will charge you for making the mod, but then he has already given away the basic form for free and the guy has got to make a living. There is a web site which I am developing at the present where having a contact form where the user can choose from a list of recipients, who to send e-mail to, will be a useful addition. Especially if I can be reasonably confident that this won’t result in the recipients being spammed from the form.