Who is Fourth Ray Software?

Fourth Ray Software is owned and operated by Peter Vanvliet as a sole proprietorship, and is based in Houston, Texas.

Fourth Ray Software is not some fancy corporation with elaborate offices and lots of overhead. No, it is just me, working from home. Doing exactly what I love to do. There are no other employees, so I come up with the ideas for new products, do the design work, write the source code (which is all written in C++, by the way), test, document, and support the products by myself. When you contact Fourth Ray Software for technical support or to share your thoughts about the products, you are directly interacting with me. This is what I do full-time.

How Did Fourth Ray Software Get Started?

When I first started this business in August 2001, I thought it might be hard to be able to work 8 hours per day due to all the distractions one might experience working from home. However, over the years, looking back, it is quite the opposite. Because I love what I do, I can easily work 10 and sometimes 12 hours per day on the software products. Although I try not to write code on the weekends, I will still handle all e-mails. Lest you think I am some single-minded computer nerd, you might want to visit my hobby web site; I do have other interests!

I started a company called Visual Sage in August 2001. In October 2004 I renamed the company to Fourth Ray Software. However, I became a professional C++ programmer long before that. In 1990 I started working for a local software development consulting company, and eventually became a Senior Software Engineer. I wrote several software applications for a large oil company to be used in-house by their oil exploration engineers. The last project I did for that client was work as the technical lead for the user interface team for a huge 3D oil/gas reservoir simulator. There were about 30 developers on that team. During the dot-com craze of 1999/2000 the consulting company I worked for was bought out by a larger web consulting firm from Atlanta. Although they bought our company because of our programming expertise, most of their work was still just creating basic web sites. Because of the "Everybody gotta have a web site" craze, the prices that the company charged for web design were ridiculous. I left that company in early 2000 to start working for a local software company. They were trying to build the "next web browser", and were in negotiations with AOL® to make our product be their next browser. However, in 2001 AOL bought Netscape®, so that effectively put an end to the application we were developing. None of the other projects that the company had under development were of interest to me, so I decided to take the leap and start Visual Sage (later renamed to Fourth Ray Software). I had been thinking about doing that for several years, but it takes guts to quit your well-paying job!

I had lots of experience writing software applications. In additional to the professional work I had done, I would often work on my own software utilities at home in the evenings or on weekends. One of which I had made publicly available as "freeware". Usually when you are employed as a software developer, the company will frown upon, or outright forbid you working on any other software application, even in your free time. I had special permission from the owner of the software consulting firm I worked for, and would often share the applications with him.

Fourth Ray Software Also Does *Some* Web Design Work

However, starting the new company I knew it was going to be a while before I had a product ready to sell. I therefore started developing and maintaining web sites for other companies and individuals, on the side. I had been maintaining my own web sites since January of 1994, so I had plenty of experience. I decided to charge a reasonable hourly rate, not like that Atlanta consulting firm I worked for briefly. Fairly quickly I had about ten clients. These included real estate agents and brokers, crafts people, clubs, storeowners, etc. Eventually, the work started cutting into my available time for my software product development, so I gradually started cutting back (mostly through attrition). You can see my current list of web site clients on this Web Design page.

Our First Product

LinkCheck was the first software product I released in 2002. It was later renamed to FRSLinkCheck™, when the company was renamed. All products start with "FRS", which are the first letters of the company name. FRSLinkCheck flowed naturally out of the many web sites I was maintaining: "How can I verify that all of the links on the web sites I maintain are actually still pointing to a real page on the Web?".

More Products Followed

From day-one, I didn't want to be a one-product company. I enjoy the creativity from producing any number of products. And so, FRSLibrary™ came next in 2006. It took a long time to develop, but it was worth it. Part of that was due to the thorough design I did, which is the basis for all of our software products, even to this day. System design as well as user interface design is our specialty. Also released in 2006 was FRSGiftRegistry™, which grew out of a need of a web site client of mine who was maintaining her baby shower gift registry on a sheet of paper for each registrant! This has become a popular product for small mom-and-pop type of stores that provide registry services.

Giving Back

In an effort to give back to the community, I decided to also make several freeware applications available. In 2007 I released FRSPCReboot™ and FRSPCShutdown™. These are command-line only applications that quickly reboot or shut-down your computer, bypassing all the clicking that you have to do normally through Windows. They also make it possible to use them in batch files, so that you can automate those actions via scripts.

Create New Applications or Improve Existing Ones?

My overriding philosophy is to constantly work on improving our existing software products. Early on, when I only had a few applications to maintain, I had more time to create new products. Nowadays, however, it takes a lot longer to create a new product. Not because the new products are harder to create, but because I take great pride in making sure our existing applications remain relevant, incorporate all the latest technology (real ones, not the hyped-up ones!), and have all known issues fixed in them. However, in 2009 I was able to create FRSWebSpell™ to help you check the spelling of text that appears on your web site. I also released FRSCalendar™, which is another freeware product.

In 2011 I released FRSFileList™ which also is a freeware application. I have always been fascinated by software utilities that manage files on the computer. When Windows 7 was released I was so fed up with the convoluted user interface of Windows Explorer (the built-in Windows file manager), that I decided it was time to fix that problem. There were many people on the Web complaining about the complexity of Windows Explorer, and quite a few who wanted something like the original Windows 3.1 File Manager back. So, after spending most of the year working on FRSFileMgr™, I was able to release it before the year's end.

In 2013 I released FRSProductMgr™ to make it easy for a small online or brick-n-mortar store to maintain their store's inventory and then publish that inventory on their web site. As I built more and more flexibility into the product, I realized that it could easily store other data that wasn't necessarily specific to a retail store. This has now evolved into a web site content management product. Nearly all of the web sites I currently maintain for clients have their content generated by FRSProductMgr!

In 2014 I released three new freeware applications, namely FRSAddressbook™, FRSPhotoGrabber™, and FRSPasty™. My philosophy around freeware applications is that the application must not take too much time for me to develop, and it must not generate a lot of maintenance work. So, usually these are applications that have a very specific purpose and have their functionality "fixed" with their first version. Of course, I will do routine maintenance on them, but for the most part they won't receive many new features down the road. That is why I can "afford" to release them free of charge. My commercial applications are constantly under review and most have a substantial "to-do" list of functionality that is still scheduled to be implemented.

2015 was another maintenance year. Most of the time was spent in working on updating our various existing products. 2016 saw the release of two brand new freeware applications, FRSStopwatch and FRSCountdown; one counts up in time, other counts down. FRSBikeTraxx was our new commercial application released in that year. It was a banner year for updates, since we did 22 releases in 2016.

2017 beat that record by doing 29 releases in total. We released these commercial applications: FRSTimeTrack, FRSTrainTracker, FRSMoney, FRSPhotoViewer. Why so many in one year? Well, actually I work on several projects at a time. All four of these had been in development for two years, so it just so happened that they were all finished around the same time.

What Are We Up To Now?

2018 will see a slight shift in Fourth Ray Software. In January we released FRSSystemWatch, a freeware application. We have one more new commercial application under development. That will get us to about 20 software applications, and, unless something really interesting comes up, that will be it for the new applications. We will then devote all of our time to improving each of those ~20 applications.

Versions of Windows

Below is a listing of the dates when Microsoft stopped, or is going to stop, support for that version of Windows. The ones that are struck out are those that Fourth Ray Software also no longer supports.

Trust

Fourth Ray Software does not participate in any adware, malware, phishing, spam, or any other nefarious and underhanded schemes. When you install our software, you only install our software. No secret tracking or advertising applications are installed; no web browser hacks are installed; nothing but our software application is installed. Our installation programs do not contain viruses. Period. If your anti-virus program complains about our installation program, it is simply lying (also known as a "false positive"). Some anti-virus companies allow us to file a complaint and have them check our installation program for themselves, but since we are a small company, they pretty much ignore us. Ultimately, it all comes down to trust. Do you trust me when I tell that you my software doesn't contain anything bad? If you do, then download, install, and enjoy the use of the software. If you do not, well, then you'll have to pass on the power and usefulness of our products. Our motto is "Shining a new light on software", which to us means that we create applications that are easy to use, intuitive, and that don't have all those underhanded things that a lot of software comes with these days.

See the McAfee Site Advisor.

If you have any questions about the products, feel free to use the Contact link at the top of the page. Enjoy browsing this web site, and enjoy using the products that I put my heart and soul into! Tell your friends, co-workers, and family members about our products. Everyone can use at least one of our products!