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March 20, 2007

Dacal USB cd library, version 2

I received a Dacal CD Library as a Christmas present a few years ago. I was really excited to be able to finally clear off the three spindles of CDs and DVDs that had collected on my desk. Until…

I installed the software… and experienced what had to be the worst experience I’ve had with a user interface since programming COBOL. Not a single GUI rule was followed, not user interface best practice was even hinted at – just this festering pile of nastyness which was known as CD Library.

Sure, I could still use the library – manually. Just run a different database on my computer. But that just wasn’t the same as selecting a DVD on the screen and having the library come alive and roll out the disc.

Today, just for fun, I decided to find an alternative to this piss poor software. But first I wanted to see if anything had become of Dacal’s web site… well, that’s giving them a lot of free credit – it was more of a web page with some clickable links.

When I got to Dacal – I noticed I was redirected to a different URL – itechcds.com. Perhaps a corporate refresh or a buyout – I don’t really care… did they update the damned software?!

It appears they have! But it requires .NET 2.0… which I’m in the process of installing now. On a side note, this is also a good indication that a Linux version won’t be out any time soon, and that sucks. If it’s one box that could sit in a closet for years controlling a stack of these things without a hiccup it wouldn’t be a windows machine.

But wait, it appears that this is only a 30 day trial. The software was actually developed by “American Made Systems, LLC.” It looks like the only website they maintain is their product site: Discmanager.net and they want $25 for it. Dacal should provide me a free upgrade just for having used that previous crap they sent me.

So I continue on with the trial. After clicking next a few times, I find a new icon on my desktop. An icon of four stacked CDs – seems intuitive enough for most people.

After launching, I find a pretty slick user interface. It’s styled after Office 2007 and has a ribbon along the top with tabs and large options, many with icons that actually make sense.

The library software allows you to setup users and allow users to check out discs and set reminders. I can’t tell you how useful that would be in a busy I.T. department!

The software also does a fair job at thumb nailing images on CDs and indexing content from file backups or music CDs. Screen shots are available on Itechcd’s website for a better view.

Overall, I’m impressed with this software… but not enough to justify spending $25 on it yet. Maybe further on through the trial I’ll find that I just can’t live without it.

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