What Do You Do When Your Favorite Tool Goes Away?

The icon for Jing (tears courtesy of Photoshop)

We’ve all experienced it before. Maybe it was that easy-to-use grading application that only ran in Windows 95 or that version of Facebook that actually made sense to you, or in my case, it was Jing, an absolutely perfect screen capture tool that I used for creating all my online tutorials. Sooner or later, with the advance of technology, something you love will get lost in the shuffle, overdeveloped, or just phased out.

For me the wound is still fresh. Techsmith, the creators of Jing, have decided to stop developing their lightweight screen capture tool in favor of some of their more heavily-laden (more expensive) products. The announcement came a few months back, but they promised that owners of Jing Pro could continue to use the software through 2013, so I happily entered the first stage of grief,

DENIAL.

Well, I kept making my five-minute-or-less videos figuring I had plenty of time before I had to find a new application to love. Faculty members asked me hard questions and I’d pump out short how-to’s to solve the problems, post them to YouTube and send them the links. Surely Techsmith would reconsider and Jing would be saved at the last minute. In fact, today I opened up the program to prepare some new Blackboard tutorials and up popped a friendly message telling me I needed to install an update. An UPDATE! That meant they were actually spending time and money to develop the software even though they said it was now on life support. Maybe they had reconsidered after all. I updated. I restarted the software. I waited for Jing to reopen. I waited. I waited.

ANGER.

It now appears that the “update” Techsmith insisted I install ended up disabling the software. I’m sure this was not intentional, but I spent the next two hours troubleshooting the problem, all the time kicking myself for being dumb enough to believe that the update was actually going to be useful.

BARGAINING.

After two hours, I was ready to give up, so I thought, let me delete this version of Jing and download it again from the web. I really just needed the software to work for the rest of the week. Just a little more time to find something new that I could learn to love. I deleted the application, restarted the computer, downloaded a fresh copy from the Techsmith site, and…same problem. Jing swears it’s running but it’s not doing anything. Let me try it again. Maybe I did something wrong.

DEPRESSION.

So here I sit, not wanting to do much of anything technology related, feeling betrayed by my favorite, go-to fix-it-all tool, and afraid to even open any other programs, for fear that they will also stop running after a fraudulent update. Why couldn’t it have been Microsoft Word or some other program I hate but have to use (I’m not talking about you, Cascade, don’t be so paranoid)?

ACCEPTANCE.

I’m not there yet, but I know I’ll have to get there sometime soon. There are web tutorials that people are counting on having and there’s got to be some other tool out there that will (almost) do what Jing did. But right now, I’m not feeling it. I’ll probably end up using Quicktime’s screen capture tool, at least for a while, but there’s no way I’m ever gonna love it.

CONCLUSION

So okay, maybe I’ve gone a little overboard with the hyperbole, but as I answer angry emails from my faculty today because Blackboard has changed yet again, my usual internal reaction that says, “get over it, it’s just a tool,” is tempered with more than a little sympathy. Our computers and the programs we use are deeply personal to us, and when we lose them, we need to acknowledge that they meant something to us, they defined us in some small way. Think about your favorite piece of software. Maybe it’s Facebook. Maybe it’s Photoshop. Maybe it’s Angry Birds. Now imagine that tomorrow it’s gone for good. Tomorrow will be a sad day.

About Mike Blum

Mike is the Academic Technologist for the Humanities at the College

Comments

  1. Hi Mike,
    I am a TechSmith employee, we are the folks who make Jing, Snagit, and Camtasia. I assure you that we would never send end the life of a product under the ruse of an ‘update’. We wouldn’t treat our customers that way, otherwise we wouldn’t have any customers left! I think what you experienced must have been a technical glitch with authenticating Jing and it can be fixed to work for you on your Mac. Can I put you in touch with tech support so that you can continue using Jing Pro until next February? I would also be happy to get you a copy of Snagit so that you can continue recording MPEG-4 video and utilizing YouTube uploading. Please contact me directly: r.badra@techsmith.com
    Best,
    Renee Badra, Online Community Specialist @TechSmith

    • Hi Renee,
      I apologize if there was any intimation that the update was intentionally designed to disable my Jing Pro. I am sure there was no such intention on the part of Techsmith, whose products I love. I have seen updates break software in the past, and I’m sure it was just a case of bad timing. At the moment I’m getting used to the new capture software I’m trying out, but will definitely keep your generous offer in mind.

  2. Mike, thanks for this. Do you have any links to announcements from TechSmith about the phasing out of Jing? We use it in our library to make quick how-to videos. I tried digging around & could only find this Feb 2012 announcement which doesn’t mesh with your experience: http://www.techsmith.com/jing-pro-retires.html
    I’d really like some more details so I can let our librarians & library staff know! I’m a fan of Jing too.
    By the way, I sent a tweet @TechSmith so we’ll see if I hear back from them on this front…

    • Hi Monica, Yes, the non-Pro version of Jing is still hanging around, but the features in the Pro version are exactly the ones I needed to make Jing useful for my tutorials, specifically, saving as .mp4 files and uploading directly to youtube. Also, I’m pretty sure the non-Pro version puts this stupid Jing watermark on all your videos, but it’s been a couple of years since I’ve used it. Anyway, the real problem for me was that the latest update broke my version of the software (for Mac) and reinstalling was useless. Since the product was scheduled for mothballing in February anyway, I decided it was time to cut my losses and look for another tool.

  3. “I’m not talking about you, Cascade, don’t be so paranoid.” — comedy gold!

    • That is great, but I don’t remember using that exact turn of phrase. Kudos to our editor Kim Mann for fixing my rough prose there.

  4. Mike, Sorry for your loss. Are you familiar with VLC? About as cross-platform as one can get, open source, GPL license. Not just for playback! http://www.videolan.org/vlc/index.html and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_screencasting_software

    • Hi Dave, Yes, I know there are other tools out there, and I’m currently using something called Screenflow, which works just fine, probably better than Jing, for everything I need. But you know how it is when you have something that fits you perfectly, whether it’s a piece of software or a shirt or what have you. There are probably better objective choices, but the idea that our computers and the software we run can become pretty personal is, for me anyway, a testament to our nature as human beings, forming attachments and developing relationships, even with inanimate objects.