Saturday, January 06, 2007

A Warning and A Recommendation

I'm not here to tell you what to do. Let's get that out of the way. But I have no compunction about offering warnings and/or recommendations, which you can take or leave at your discretion. So in this post I will offer both.

First, a warning. Please be wary of so-called free trial offers. Whether you are solicited by telephone, by mail, or online, think hard before you say yes. "But," you say, "it's free. Why shouldn't I accept?" Two reasons: First, once the trial period is over, they will start billing you by default. That means that if you do nothing, if you forget to cancel in time or at all, you will be billed. The companies that offer these things know that a significant number of you will either forget to cancel or can't be bothered to cancel. Either way they're getting at least one billing cycle's worth out of you. Second, some of these companies make it very difficult, if not virtually impossible, to cancel. Check out PCWorld's article along these lines. So unless you're pretty sure you're going to keep the service, be very cautious about signing up. Now, if they made it so that the service would cease by default unless I chose to keep it, I might be interested, but don't look for that business model to appear very soon. (Actually, most trial downloads are exactly like that; they are either limited versions or they just stop working after the trial period runs out. I have no problem with that approach at all.)

Second, a recommendation. I've been a WinCustomize user and fan for a fairly long time; in fact I blogged about them way back before blogging became a serious pursuit for me. So I thought I'd bring it up again to a hopefully larger readership. WinCustomize makes several products, with free and paid versions, that enhance your Windows experience. The graphic shown here is just one of thousands of ways you can dress up Windows' boring design (click on the image to zoom). In fact, when I have to work on a computer that has none of these enhancements and is just naked Windows, I cringe in horror and disgust. You owe it to yourself to visit their site and see what all the fuss is about. You can check it out here.