Sunday, March 30, 2008

Spring Cleaning

Discovering the price of the other programs can't be easier. Just contact their sales representatives.
Every year the list gets shorter. This time I have eliminated the lite and free alternatives. The purpose of the list is simply to compare the official prices, when declared. Perhaps I will create a new list for freeware. In this moment I am not very excited by the idea. I am deeply convinced, instead, that the best freeware available is still SwaN-MR. It's not terribly old, but it doesn't run on any computer currently for sale. I am saying that the situation is terribly worse that it used to be 10 years ago. I understand that it can be a problem for a student, but let's face the reality: is hardware free? Why should software? If you already believe that commercial software is evil, then you are mentally well prepared and happy to survive without ANY software or to write it by yourself (I am open to collaboration!). In case you think that it's fine to spend for software up to the half of what you are spending in hardware, you will find, following the links, something as cheap as €50.
Generally speaking, I think that commercial NMR software outsmarts the corresponding freeware, yet there is no correlation between price and value. For example, I prefer the free SpinWorks over the futureless Nuts. Even if TopSpin offers more value for money than VNMRJ, they are both clearly out of market. Those prices cannot be justified by brand value alone. Historically Bruker has been a weak competitor until recently (TopSpin was their first truly quality product), while the reputation of Varian has been declining markedly. They used to have the best software, but it was so long ago that it's only a cause for regret, today. The high prices can be justified only because there's a lot of money circulating in the NMR field. A few people, I suspect, buy the ultra-expensive products (those not listed) without even considering the cheaper alternatives here below. I don't want to hide the luxury. The list points to all the web sites that report a price. If you pass me more links, I will insert them. My personal advice is, however, to buy an expensive program only if it contains a vital feature that can't be found elsewhere. Even in this case, first contact the other makers and verify if they plan to implement the missing feature. It's more likely, however, that you'll ask this question the other way round: the less expensive programs are normally richer in functionality.
I understand that people are so frightened by the idea of learning something new that they are ready to pay whichever figure for the program they already know. What they don't realize is that their future needs can grow. What if tomorrow they need 20 or 30 licenses? Will they still afford them?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

who reads who

How many file formats exist? It's not easy to count all the variants. It's diifficult to associate a name to a format, unless you have a direct experience with the corresponding files, of course. Many instruments and programs are no more in production. How can we quantify the archives of data they have produced? Should we mind? I think we should not, unless the file format has been publicly defined.
The first column, in the table below, contains the links to my sources of information (the web pages of the makers). I have refused to report some formats, however supported, when I question the real existence or relevance of them in 2008. The classic example is the GE/Nicolet file format. For each brand, more formats can exist:
var = Varian = XL, VNMR.
bru = Bruker = AM, XWin-NMR, Win-NMR.
jeol = Delta, GX, Alice, Alpha, Lambda, Generic v.1 and Generic v.2.
tec = Tecmag = MacFID, NTNMR, MacNMR
che = Chemagnetic - Spinsight.
jdx = JCAMP-DX.
felix = Felix = Felix, Win-Felix, Felix .mat.
pipe = NMRPipe.
Nuts = Acorn Nuts = type 1, type 2 and type 3.
mest = MestReLab Research = MestRe-C (.mrc), MestReNova (.mnova).
swan = SwaN-MR.
.txt = ASCII, which means a different thing for each program and nothing in particular (JCAMP is also ASCII, for example).
NMRi = I am not sure what it means. I know about GE scanners and Siemens scanners and consider them as two distinct formats ("GE_MED_NMR" and .rda). With the single exception of iNMR, nobody mentions them. Does their "NMRi" correspond to one of the two mentioned scanners?
Thumbs down for Jeol, who created way too many file formats, a clear sign of confusion.


Spin Works11-----------

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

you don't need me

Apart from being a blog, this is the only web site (and the only font of information, in general) on NMR software. Before it, there have been lists of links only, and they will always abound, but without any useful comment. I have tried to change the situation, but blogging has become less funny that it was supposed to be.
The blog has been accused of being marketing in disguise. First I have been accused of promoting Bruker and then I have been accused of passing false information to discredit Bruker.
Believe it or not, this blog has never given me any economical advantage. I have always been open to collaborations and the only comments I have removed were either spam or trash.
Currently I have no information to pass because I have no information at all. In the last couple of months I have been working on my own software, I think with great results, but no trace of my work appeared here because I feel it's of no interest for the general public.
Anyway: what's the public? People that don't want to read the manuals, don't want to pay for software, don't want to change their minds. People like me that can waste 4 or 5 hours per day surfing the internet in search of nothing.
The spring is coming and there's a wonderful world out there.