September 23, 2002

Out With The Old

I’m so sick of VersionTracker. Their interface is so sloppy and annoying I can’t even stand to use it anymore. This was kind of a problem because I have a healthy addiction to always getting the latest software the instant it becomes available. So I was quite annoyed.

Until today, that is, when I discovered a fabulous piece of Mac OS X software. MacUpdate is a lot like VersionTracker but with a much slicker interface and this. It’s a Menu Extra which pulls a list of the latest software updates into your Mac OS X menu bar. In one click you can see what’s new, short descriptions of what they all do, and link directly to their source to begin the download.

Of course, Apple decided to be cute and cripple third party Menu Extras so you need a Haxie to make it work. But once it does, it’s completely slick.

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Comments

Nick Runco

keep in mind you only need the haxie with 10.2 — apple only added the block then.

Walt Dickinson

He speaks the truth.

Sean Peisert

What’s your problem with VersionTracker?

Derek Gomez

I don’t like VersionTracker’s crass commercialism myself (particularly the 8:1 ratio of ads to content), but I rarely go to the site. I get a weekly email from them with all the updates listed. Seems to be OK that way.

But I haven’t checked out this MacUpdate yet…

Walt Dickinson

Let’s start with the fact that their default tab is still the Classic Mac OS tab. Most other sites who use a tabbed format to flip between X and Classic content have prioritized X by now. MacUpdate handles it nicely by having an All tab. Now let’s talk about ads. MacUpdate has a banner ad and a couple of very understated text ads on their home page from what I can tell. VersionTracker has a banner ad, a “sponsor” ad, most of the right column is ads, and there are text ads thrown in all over the place. In addition almost every other page has a huge ad for some VersionTracker service. One of my biggest beefs which VersionTracker used to do right is this: If you click on the size value of a product, that link should be the link to the product’s file, not another page with another giant ad. MacUpdate still does it right and they’ve even carried it over to their Menu Extra which includes the URIs of the files rather than only the URIs to the MacUpdate description pages. The only other real issue I have is that MacUpdate is just better designed. It’s sharper, the data is the focus, the functionality isn’t crippled for the sake of revenue.

Sean Peisert

Walt, oh I see — you’re complaining that you have to pay for VersionTracker. Which has none of those problems. Also I bookmarked “versiontracker.com/osx”, so the OS9 apps don’t come up by default. It’s a good service, I decided to support it, so I give them my twenty bucks a year. Same thing with Eudora, where I paid $35 or so and it gets rid of the ads. I don’t mind doing that for something I use every day….

Sean Peisert

Of course, I agree. Free and elegant/fantastic together are hard to complain about. :-)

Walt Dickinson

I see, they took everything that was slick about VersionTracker and stripped it out to create VersionTracker Plus. I didn’t realize that it worked the way it was supposed to if you cough up the dough. I’ll forgo the rant about crippling your software in order to encourage people to pay, and admit that I’m a bit of a cheapskate, but I wasn’t aware that they had intentionally made these changes. I stand by my opinion that VT’s design is ugly though. =-)

Derek Gomez

The design is hideous — no page should be animated to that degree and combine variously sized graphic ads and variously styled text ads (also, my facetious but not to far off 8:1 ratio). VT’s programmed delay (of a couple of seconds) prior to download just so you can be exposed to another huge square ad is dumb too. Someone at VT should take a lesson from Google’s advertising department. Less is definitely more; I for one completely tune out all of VT’s ads when I have to venture in simply because there are too many. Surely, this can’t be a good way to attract paying customers. (?) Maybe MacUpdate’s rise will help VT change its ways (after seeing what consumers are willing to deal with for free info).

Sean Peisert

Derek, I can’t look at that page. OmniWeb does the correct thing: “Cannot Load Address” This address has been filtered by your privacy settings” :-) Which, BTW, is what I did with VT before I paid for it. I filtered out the ads. Incidentally, Yahoo! Finance has become pretty hideous of late as well. Fortunately, again, I just filter out the ads pretty well.

Derek Gomez

I’m kind of getting off topic, but yeah, Sean, I miss that functionality with Mozilla (user-defined filtering)… but then I realized what really annoyed me was the pop-up windows. And Mozilla has a check box for disallowing those and you can limit animated gifs too. It was nice though, seeing clean pages. :)