Way back in April 2001 I released a piece of software called Launch!. Launch! is a Mac OS X application for connecting to Australia’s BigPond Cable service (it makes use of a slightly modified connection utility BPALogin, with extra capabilities for supporting sleep, switching users, and making it easy to use). It actually proved to be quite popular, with hundreds of downloads and many many expressions of thanks from people around the country. I even heard that Telstra technicians installing cable at people’s homes were bringing copies of it with them and giving it to OS X users to use instead of Telstra’s own software (that arrived years later, and never worked as well by all accounts).
The main need for Launch! was that BigPond used an annoying feature called the heartbeat. Basically BigPond servers would ping your machine at certain times, and if your machine didn’t respond they would disconnect you. It seems no one else in the world uses such as system, and it caused all sorts of havoc for end users.
Launch! also provided a visual usage meter – bypassing the need to log in to BigPond web pages to find out if you were over your usage limit. By popular demand I released a standalone product – Launch! Usage Meter. This application just includes the usage meter component, and is used by BigPond ADSL users (who don’t have the heartbeat problems that cable users do). Before long, I was getting requests from people at other Australian ISPs for a similar usage meter – which led to Launch! TPG and Launch! Netspace.
Anyway, I digress. The big news this week is that BigPond have finally retired the heartbeat. Great news for all BigPond Cable users. This of course also means that Launch! will soon no longer be required.
I’m not sad to see it go. It was a pain that users needed a third party solution in order to connect reliably to the BigPond cable service. And it was sad that BigPond took so long to give Mac OS X users a reasonable piece of software to do this, and when they did it was basically a rip-off of my software, and didn’t keep up with the latest OS X releases so it only supported older versions of the OS.
I’m not sure if Launch! Usage Meter will continue to work when all the changes are made at BigPond. It is possible that BigPond will change the way metering works, so I’m afraid this application may also be close to the end. But I do want to thank everyone who supported these applications and thank you all for the contributions and letters of appreciation.