A Fond Farewell From Me


I’ve been writing about software for a long time now. Next week it will be precisely 35 years since I started doing so, as a writer on a highly popular computer games magazine in the UK. And when I’m not writing about software, I actually use it too. I do a lot of programming, and I spent almost 14 years in the IT department of a university.

The longer you work around software, the more you begin to realise that the price of a product is often a very poor indicator of its quality. Some of the best, most innovative software is being written for smartphones and mobile devices, and typically sells for less than $5. Some of the most complex, unreliable, buggy systems I ever used, where installation often required 2 people and took 3 days, costs tens of thousands.

There’s always been free software. Back in the 1980s it used to be called Public Domain. You downloaded it from online bulletin boards or you typed it in from the pages of a magazine. Some of it was great, but a lot of it was awful. Nowadays, public domain software is generally known as freeware or open source. There’s a huge amount of it around, encompassing everything from games to office suites to operating systems to video players and lots more besides. And yet the same rule of thumb from the 1980s is just as true today. A lot of it is great, but a lot of it is very poor indeed.

That’s why sites such as Gizmo’s Freeware, and all the volunteers that help to run it, have always been so useful. We help you separate the good from the bad. But ironically, the most useful role of the volunteers is the work that you never see and never hear about. For every piece of freeware I write about, there are typically 4 or 5 that I rejected. Maybe VirusTotal reckoned that the installer was dubious. Maybe the product simply didn’t work very well, or live up to its developer’s claims. Maybe it simply wasn’t something that I reckoned my readers would be interested in. And so it never featured as a Hot Find.

After about 8 years or so, I’ve decided to give my typing finger a rest and will no longer be writing this Hot Finds section. Rest assured that the section will continue just as before, with just as much great freeware. It simply won’t be coming from me. At least, not as frequently.

My sincere thanks to everyone who’s contributed suggestions to these pages. I couldn’t have done it without you. Here's to the future of Gizmo's Tech Support Alert, and the wonderful people that put in so much work behind the scenes so that you can have the best freeware.

Robert Schifreen

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Gizmo....Thanks for scaring the crap out of me. I've have been following Tech Alert for 30 some years (not a typo) just don't want people to figure out how old I am. From the bottom of my heart I THANK YOU for all the excellent advice you've given over the years. I always told my clients "if they didn't do anything else sign-up to Gizmo's Tech Alert" so many did and I was always told how useful they found your website. The thing is that 98% of my clients were single parents with God's Special kids or otherwise known physically or mentally challenged. I myself have been disabled for years so I really counted on donated hardware and software so when I had the parts I would build and give them a system totally free. I don't think I could have done it without the freeware or articles on your website. So truly I'm glad your site will still be around but those of us that's been around for a while need to slow down too. Thanks for all you've done to help me over the years...miss you is an under statement. God Bless and Keep You. Michael

Thanks for your kind words. Gizmo and the crew are still here, the farewell post was from one of our editors, Robert Schifreen. We miss him. :)

Thanks for all you've done Rob -- You will be missed!

He's definitely missed. :)

As with the others that wish you well, I'd like to add my meager but heartfelt thanks for the superlative contribution you've made to the world of computing. For a generation that preceded PCs, your site provided guidance that allowed us to comprehend the vast array of software that was out there, what it meant, and how to use it. From the earliest days, your contributions have been a guiding light for the uninitiated, and your creation has allowed many of us to acquire skills that we would never have earned without the overview you presented, and the software we could learn how to compute with. Thank you, and may your life be blessed with happiness and love.

Thanks for your hard work and service to all your readers. Don't let the typing fingers rest too long. Again many thanks.

Thank you for all your hard work and dedication to the freeware cause !
I have been using this site for about 15 years now... and I would not like to be without it.
Which is why I donated the other day -- and will continue to.
This site is of great value -- and we appreciate it.

Thanx Rob..!

Yep, I'd like to also add a fond farewell to you Robert. I have been using this website for some years, and it's greatest benefit is to point me towards useful, well-functioning freeware. As you point out, a lot of software can be poorly constructed; additionally I would like to add that another procedure with software is to have to download it to check whether it does exactly what I need. Your pages take away most of that tiresome stuff, here I am able to refine my software palette. Another benefit, is I end up with LESS software on board, because I have been able to choose my software more accurately.
I am a self-taught semi-geek, and I help friends and family keep their electronica under control, and I am always promoting this site as the go-to for safe, quality software. Cheers!

Well, I guess everyone has to retire sometime. Your contributions to the vast community of users has have been invaluable. Thank you so much. I understand that I may still look forward to the occasional post. May you live long and continue to prosper.

Rob, your career of top-shelf reviews of software has had an amazing effect on solidifying and strengthening my trade--the trade of software development I love. Thanks.

Thank you kindly Rod, for all the hot finds emails, and gems, you have forwarded to us over the years. Sorry to see you go. Certainly it is one of the few email I always looked forward to opening and discovering what new gems you had discovered. Cheers to you..

Thank you Robert - have been enjoying these daily emails for years

[replaced offensive word with thank you - moderator]

I'm a longtime fan of this site. Your reviews have always been spot on and helped me a lot when searching for new programs. Many thanks for your work and enjoy your retirement.

Many years of excellent advice and discussions, your act is going to be a tough one to follow. I have been retired no for about ten years. The first one was the hardest, trying to unwind into a less driven lifestyle. Wishing you well on yours.

All the best Rob. Hoping a rock won't fall into your swimming pool and an old colleague come to coerce you back etc. Maybe you'll be tempted to make the odd contribution still. Thanks for all your good work.

Thank you for all you do (have done). Many blessings to you and for your future. I will miss you.

You have helped take this senior citizen from computer illiterate to well, someone who has a handle on most computer issues. Thank you Rob and all the best in your retirement.

I have been a subscriber for years and always looked forward to great articles from Rob.

You will be missed mate, wishing you all the best in your retirement...

Many thanks, Rob, for all your excellent service and advice over the years. Your hard work in finding, testing, and writing about your Hot Finds has made my computing life much easier and better, for which I'm truly grateful, as (manifestly) are the others commenting here.

I wish you a long, peaceful, and healthy retirement, with perhaps - dare we hope? - the occasional Gizmo contribution when you come across some excellent piece of free software and just can't help yourself!

Vá com Deus!

I haven't registered before but I thought it was important to do so to express my deep gratitude for all the helpful suggestions and all the hours of effort that made them possible. Many, many thanks.

Thank you for all your work. It was greatly appreciated by myself and others that I pointed towards your articles. You will be missed by many.
Enjoy your well earned retirement.

Thank you for the time you contributed to Gizmo and the articles you wrote on the Free Software. I enjoyed reading about the software, but didn't see a lot of use for me to down load most of them. The ones I did get I still use and glad someone else had input on how helpful they would be for me. My son is also a programmer, but his programs are for the space and defense departments for the US government.
Enjoy your retirement and stay busy with fun things in life.


Thanks for all your good work

I'm happily adding my thanks to the others. Your insights and recommendations have added much to my enjoyment of the internet.
All the best!

With deepest thanks for your many years of dedication, and every best wish for the next phase of your journey!

May the rains be light, and the wind remain at your back.

Many many thanks - to Rob and Gizmo and the whole team.
Good luck and best wishes, Rob!

Thank you for all of your contributions and for writing about things in such a way that this great-grandma understands. Much happiness and have a great retirement.

All the best Rob. You will be missed.

Rob, thanks and you will be missed. May God continue to watch over you in your new ventures.