All the Graphics
By Thiravudh Khoman
I download a lot of software. This software eventually gets saved onto a CD which I carry around with me. With about two years gone by, this CD now holds over 400mb of files, not counting the stuff I've thrown out.
Frankly, I wouldn't mind getting my software some way easier than downloading. Each iteration of Netscape Navigator/Communicator and Internet Explorer, for example, have been very unpleasant downloads. Unfortunately, Panthip doesn't quite meet my needs because most of the software I'm looking for is either freeware or shareware. Because of their small size, such programs usually won't show up at Panthip (if at all) until they can fill up a CD, and when they do, they may no longer be the latest versions.
Recently, while browsing a newsstand, I happened to pick up a few local CD-bundled magazines: IT.Soft, QuickPC's EasyCD, and Multimedia Magazine. IT.Soft (figure 1) is a full blown magazine with a freebie CD full of freeware and shareware. EasyCD (figure 2) also comes with a free CD worth of legally distributable programs, but is much less of a magazine as it only attempts to document the CD's contents. (Note: There is also a QuickPC Magazine (figure 3) that is sold separately and without a CD.) Finally, Multimedia Magazine (figure 4) also has a CD filled with goodies. Content-wise, its magazine is a bit thinner than IT.Soft's.
It should be noted that the printed material is 99% in Thai as are the "shell" programs used to access the software on the CD. However, given that the software is generally of non-Thai origin, the software itself and the accompanying documents are invariably in English. Browse the CD and you'll find the files are no different from what you would download from the internet.
The software on the bundled CD's are reasonably current as a random check of a few software websites confirmed. Most notably, the latest IT.Soft issue 30, EasyCD vol. 5, and Multimedia Magazine vol. 3, no. 5 provided me with Netscape Communicator v4.7, Internet Explorer v5.5, and Star Office v5.1 for Windows, all of which are very sizeable downloads. Netscape and IE were godsends for me, as I promised myself I wouldn't download these any more ever since I switched to Opera. Incidentally, the latest non-beta Opera v3.61 also appears on one of the CD's.
Besides the mandatory Windows software, the IT.Soft CD also comes with "Macintosh" and "Linux" sections, both not surprisingly, less well-stocked. Still, in the Linux section this month was Phat Linux v3.2, a version of Linux which runs under a DOS/Windows FAT file system. At nearly 200mb, this is one of those things I would never dream of downloading. I've heard of Phat Linux before but never had the opportunity to obtain it. Now, I'm glad I did. A review of Phat Linux is in the works.
All three magazine/CD bundles have "Thailand-friendly" prices of around 100 Baht each and I believe they are published monthly. IT.Soft and QuickPC have websites but they're very "bare". IT.Soft can be found at https://www.itsoftonline.com. While there, you can download the front cover and table of contents of their recent issues in Adobe Acrobat PDF format. QuickPC/EasyCD can be found (but still "under construction") at https://www.quickpc.co.th.
By the way, for those familiar with the U.K. computer scene, computer magazines over there ALL come with freebie software on diskettes or CD's. Likewise, certain magazines in the the U.S. also come with free CD's on a monthly basis, most notably "Maximum PC". The cost of these magazines though, are 2, 3 or 4 times that of the Thai offerings, but of course we're comparing apples and oranges here.