Baises about Astrology Software
I am departing from my usual review of new programs this issue -- even though there are many very exciting advances that I will be covering next issue -- to focus on a growing problem in the astrological community.
I have just become aware that astrologers are fighting with each other over mis-statements and misrepresentations regarding different astrology programs and their value.
This is a very difficult matter, and I would like to start my response by sharing with you my procedures for reviewing software and my own issues.
1. The Review Process.
In order to give the fairest and most objective astrology reviews that I can:
A. I give each program a very thorough exploration and attempt to document every feature the program has. I also do accuracy testing.
B. When and if I find errors, I work with the company to fix them, instead of publicizing them or rejecting the program. I have donated thousands of hours to astrology software companies who were open to receiving my help in finding bugs, and in suggesting usability improvements & features that give their program(s) more power.
C. Only when I find a program that is seriously inaccurate or seriously buggy, that the creators are unwilling or unable to fix, do I reject a program and not review it. I never disparage a software program in print.
D. I generally avoid focusing on the weaknesses of programs or the features they lack, because I understand that a huge amount of effort goes into creating each program, and that the creators deserve our respect and support for putting so much into products having such a small market. (see also what I've written below on Favoritism Among Astrologers.)
E. I submit every review to the scrutiny of the company that produced it, and take their feedback very seriously, before I publish a review. In the large majority of cases, the creators of the software are both delighted with what I've written and have very few, if any, corrections or modifications.
2. My Considerations.
It would be naive to assume that anyone could be totally objective. Here are the things that I find worthy or unworthy about the companies and their software:
A. Integrity. I have encountered companies who respond appreciatively and quickly to my bug reports, and fix problems graciously. I have dealt with others who act infuriated that I am pointing out a problem to them and/or take years to fix very serious bugs. I have profound respect for the former.
B. Attention on the User. I am a very strong advocate for the computer user, and find it incomprehensible that some astrology software programmers have no concept of usability. They design their software either for themselves, or for a very technical audience, and as a result, their programs are hard to learn and hard to use. Other programmers pay a great deal of attention to users and the ease of use, and I applaud their efforts.
C. The needs of the audience. As a practicing professional astrologer (for 28 years) writing reviews for other practicing astrologers, I am very well aware of the core features that need to be in any truly professional astrology software program. If one or more of these core features are missing, I do not value a program as highly.
As a therapist, I am also very conscious of the potentially damaging effects of both mis-information and discouraging and frightening interpretations, and value astrology report programs that are accurate and not alarmist. For example, many transit and solar return reports delineate minor events or factors as if they are going to be both horrible and long-lasting, neither of which is true.
D. Commitment to buyers. When an astrology software company continually debugs and enhances their software, they serve their customers greatly. When, on the other hand, a company abandons the bug-fixing and development of their program(s) for years, it leaves owners of the software in a lurch. I have great admiration for those who continually give more to their loyal patrons.
E. Cooperativeness. Getting one's software reviewed is a great boon. A review is a chance for astrologers to learn about all of the features of a program, and for free publicity that generates business. During the review process, programs get thoroughly examined, and as a result, weaknesses may be uncovered and the company can fix bugs and improve their product.
It always amazes me, therefore, when companies choose not to cooperate. Some only want to send demos or trial versions, others don't bother to return calls or emails, many forget to send me updates, and on one occasion I was actually asked to pay for the program (and didn't, and when I finally received a review copy, it was terribly flawed). Companies that keep me informed, send me their software and subsequent updates, and dialogue with me, allow me to function as a reviewer effectively.
3. Favoritism among Astrologers.
Here we get to the heart of the present controversy. It seems that several teachers of astrology tout the software they use as the best, and as having features that no other software has, when in fact other programs may even have superior features.
Here are the issues that I see as relevant:
A. Outdated Views. Astrology software is a "moving target". Astrology programs are continually being enhanced -- in some companies even between new versions -- and it takes a tremendous amount of time and diligence to keep track of what each program can do. People get old and stale concepts about programs that they have seen once a few years ago, and need to realize that many programs keep reinventing themselves and improving greatly.
B. Chauvinism. There is a natural tendency for the person who owns one program to want to bolster their pride of ownership. However, if in the process they make ignorant statements about other programs, they miss the boat. Unless an astrologer has examined all of the major programs available -- and very few have -- they should completely avoid making statements like "this is the only program that does ...". Even I, who have every major program, have occasionally gotten caught by this trap, because it is so hard to keep track of every feature of every program. (At the same time, as a reviewer, I like to give appropriate praise to the innovations each company makes to the field of astrology.)
C. Every program has unique features. It does no one any good to negate the value of other's programs. It is amazing and incredibly gratifying to me that so many software creators are doing such wonderful and creative work. There is no one program that does everything, and I find very worthwhile features in virtually every program that I encounter. Instead of sharing criticism about other programs, astrologers should share delight in the unique gifts each program brings to astrology.
D. Different capabilities. Astrologers should also be careful not to over-react if they discover that one program has a great feature that their's does not. It is almost guaranteed that if you look into the feature set of a program not your own, you will discover something you're sorry you don't have. Instead of being angry at having purchased the program you have, realize that what you have is quite wonderful, but can't do everything. That's why it is so nice to get familiar with, and to own, many different programs.
E. Astrologies. Although we speak of astrology in the singular, there are actually dozens of branches that are complete in and of themselves. Some, like Chinese or Aztec astrologies, have very little overlap with Western astrology. Others, like Vedic or Cosmobiology, share many things in common with Western astrology but are really very different. Still others, like Draconic astrology, are simply offshoots of Western astrology.
The astrology software producers are challenged greatly by the diversity of astrologies, and strive to meet the ever-growing needs of astrologers for a wider range of techniques and approaches. This is a huge task.
That is why it is inevitable that programs will lack at comprehensive tools for some of the many branches of astrology. It is simply unrealistic to expect one program to offer comprehensive Vedic, Medieval, Chinese, Aztec, and Cosmobiological functions, not to mention the ever-evolving new techniques and even the new celestial bodies (like Quaoar) that keep being discovered.
F. Narrowness of Approach. Unfortunately, many astrologers are not open-minded. They narcissistically champion the techniques that they value, and dismiss both astrologers and programs that offer other methodologies. Astrologers who are too limited and settled in their range of techniques may perform excellently within their specialty, but they lose the excitement and invigoration that comes from learning new insights.
They may also alienate their colleagues when they disparage fields of astrology not their own. One of the greatest gifts that astrology software offers is the capacity to explore astrologies and techniques that you are not familiar with, without having to learn calculations that are beyond your capabilities.
Discounts on Software
Software discounts starting November 2002: When you purchase astrology software through me, you will get:
1. My free expert guidance in choosing the right program.
2. The best pricing distributors are allowed to offer.
3. Free U.S. shipping, unless prohibited by the manufacturer, and for some programs, free Express shipping Worldwide.
4. Additional benefits. E.g. I offer a very inexpensive excellent transit report for purchasers of Kepler & Sirius, over 60 free beautiful extra artistic wheels for Solar Fire Gold, etc.
5. You are supporting my website, allowing me to continue posting astrology tutorials, software reviews, and much more.
6. Your software is fully registered to you and shipped to you directly from the manufacturer, with their full customer support as well as mine.
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