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Subject review (reverse sequence)

Posted by Shadowfyr   USA  (1,776 posts)  [Biography] bio
Date Thu 24 Jun 2004 11:47 PM (UTC)  quote  ]
Message
Well Nick. As so many people have pointed out before 'free' and 'opensource' is not the same thing. Yes, once you have the product, there isn't much to stop you from making a new version, but then you end up being the one that has to support all the changes you make. In any case, a lot of people are making money off opensource, and not all of them are giving away the entire thing. A good example is RedHat or Linspire. RedHat provides a free version, but without a lot of new features in RedHat. Linspire you can't even 'get' a copy of without buying it, but except for their improved click-and-run version of aptget, there is nothing they have done that a decent tech couldn't build themselves. They make money by providing a clueless newbie version that comes increasingly closer to the MS level of ease of use, without the unfortunate tendency that MS has of assuming everyone is a total idiot who doesn't need anything beyond what their interface allows.

There is a *big* different between opensource and freeware. Unfortunately, a lot of people are confused at what that difference is. Think of it this way though. You buy a device from an MS like company. They install a GPS device in it so, the first time you run it, the device becomes permanently fixed to that location (within say 200 feet). You could take the entire thing appart, but you could never sell it, unless it was to your next door neighbor, or you sold the building with it. You buy another device from company B, they use standard parts, design it to interoperate with other things and even provide a schematic. You could add special paint job, duplicate the design, modify it to do new things, etc. (as long as it doesn't breach a patent), and then resell it. At which point it becomes *your* problem if it catches fire, doesn't work, breaks or whatever.

Maybe not a perfect explaination, but it is basically the difference. If your entire business model is based on selling the product, instead of supporting it, then yeah, the difference can appear non-existant. Also, freeware doesn't always mean you can do anything other than run it (i.e. no code available at all), which is also a difference.

Somehow people are making money off of it, and the number of people managing to do so has MS and other companies scared out of their collective wits. After all, MS' *biggest* revenue sources are Windows and Office. Both are threatened by something with which they have no hope to compete, nor can they afford to opensource the product. They can't risk someone else actually managing to fix the problems with the OS and producing something other people will use instead of paying them. What they seem to miss is that in an opensource system there is nothing stopping them from incorporating 'all' of those changes, adding their own and still puting out something with full MS tech support that is better. People will buy that, though probably not at their current prices. Instead they are trying to beat off the only real competition they have ever had with the only sticks they know how to use, lawsuits, FUD and throwing around money.

Apparently no one ever told them that as bad as bringing a knife to a gunfight may be, it is worse to bring a single gun into a crowd of thousands and actually expect them to all run away, instead of throwing rocks.

main {
__if (Schrodinger_Cat is Alive or version >= "XP"){
____if version = "Vista" then Performance /= Number_of_Cores;
____call Functional_Code();}
__else
____call Crash_Windows();}
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Posted by Nick Gammon   Australia  (19,531 posts)  [Biography] bio   Forum Administrator
Date Thu 24 Jun 2004 10:34 PM (UTC)  quote  ]

Amended on Thu 24 Jun 2004 10:35 PM (UTC) by Nick Gammon

Message
Quote:

Who decided we needed to have CDs to run everything these days?


I agree about the CDs. It is intensely annoying to install software (games usually) that you cannot run until you hunt around and find where you put the CD. Particularly if the CD becomes damaged, and then you cannot play the game that you paid for any more.




As for charging for software, I have a great respect for the Open Source movement (BTW, The Gimp is a *free* program with similar features to Photoshop).

And I might point out that Linux was not written "by one guy". The kernel, initially, maybe. But what we regard as "Linux" these days is largely (in terms of volume of lines) stuff from the Free Software Foundation (eg. the gcc compiler, the shells, the utilities etc.).

Linux is really a large collaborative effort. It works very well, possibly partly because each person specialises in one thing. For instance, the PCRE regular expression handler (used in MUSHclient inter alia) seems to be the only major thing that the author of that wrote. Then other people specialise in databases, shells, text processing, and so on.

However it isn't totally clear how you make money writing "free" software. I mean, everyone has to eat, and food costs money. I suspect in some cases it is a hobby, in other cases, funded by Universities (and thus by the public in general), and in other cases by requesting donations (as they do at the FSF web site).

And then there is Shareware. Shareware cuts out the middle man (paying for boxes, expensive marketing, shelf space, salesmen etc.) but of course not everyone pays. Some people build in elaborate copy protection schemes, and then other people take that as a challenge and distribute "cracks".

MUSHclient is deliberately designed to not be "crippleware", so there is no need to install cracks to use it. As I warned before, the cracks themselves may not be all that great for your computer's health.

I don't get a huge number of registrations per week, you know. However the registrations I do get encourage me to develop further enhancements, plus the enthusiasm shown by people on the forum here.


- Nick Gammon

www.gammon.com.au, www.mushclient.com
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Posted by Shadowfyr   USA  (1,776 posts)  [Biography] bio
Date Thu 24 Jun 2004 08:44 PM (UTC)  quote  ]

Amended on Thu 24 Jun 2004 08:47 PM (UTC) by Shadowfyr

Message
Well Photoshop is likely a bad example anyway. As for some companies not being foolish (this is quite different than stupid)... How many times have you heard about someone in the computer department if a company trying to fix a problem, but being derailed by an upper manager that has a business degree, not a tech one? Having an education doesn't mean you can't be a total putz.

In any case, this has gotten way off the track of what I intended, which was merely to point out how overpriced some things are from the perspective of most people that would like to learn how to use them. I doubt anyone else in a similar position particularly cares about or for what ever philisophical views the companies have that lead them to making such choices. Especially when smaller numbers of people can sometimes manage to design as good if not better products, simply because they don't have a 1980s perspective on who matters and what works. The world is changing, some companies get it, others don't.

And some, like MS, get it, but can't afford to compete in the new world, so keep changing tactics in an attempt to find something, anything that will save them:

http://www.opensource.org/halloween/halloween11.html

I have read and heared more than enough from people who actually work for some companies to really wonder at times what they can possibly be thinking when they do some things. And like I said, even the best educated person can be a complete putz, especially if they are intrenched in a philosophy that limits their perspective.

main {
__if (Schrodinger_Cat is Alive or version >= "XP"){
____if version = "Vista" then Performance /= Number_of_Cores;
____call Functional_Code();}
__else
____call Crash_Windows();}
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Posted by David Haley   USA  (3,881 posts)  [Biography] bio   Moderator
Date Thu 24 Jun 2004 05:20 AM (UTC)  quote  ]
Message
Quote:
I will admit, this does not always equate to making "huge" profits, but personally I find the idea of making a lot of big profits, then suddenly being undercut out of the low end user market by someone else seriously foolish.

I guess time will tell, eh? These people are not stupid. If they would sell more with a lower price, enough to justify a lower price, then they would. They've been to college you know. :-)

And I'm sorry, but for most of these programs, they do not cost as much as you're making it sound. They do not target the amateur end users, plain and simple; they target the professionals, the ones who truly care about those 10% of features. PSP is fine and dandy for most things almost anybody will do. Like I said however, go to the newsgroups and talk to the professionals - they'll tell you exactly why they use Photoshop and not PSP (or 3DSMax and not Blender/whatever.) These people are not stupid and won't throw away their money - if a cheaper program could do what they wanted, well, they'd buy it.

The point here is that professional software just isn't meant for the end user. It would be like expecting Ferrari racing cars to be affordable by ye olde citizen. It's silly. These products are for a very specific target audience.

You make a point about selling products for low-end users. They could make more money by selling a less-performing version for ye olde citizen; that being said, it may not be worth their programmers' time to make a low-end version. Or maybe they just don't care, or have their own philosophy. Don't think it's stupid just because it's not yours.

David Haley aka Ksilyan
Head Programmer,
Legends of the Darkstone

http://david.the-haleys.org
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Posted by Shadowfyr   USA  (1,776 posts)  [Biography] bio
Date Thu 24 Jun 2004 04:27 AM (UTC)  quote  ]
Message
I am not talking about Photoshop specifically with respect to that concept of cost = good product. It was part of MS' own FUD against Linux. The idea that somehow overpriced junk was better than something you can get more or less free. But you see the same thing reflected in other markets. People are not that stupid, but companies sometimes can be, with help and some disinformation. I am not being insulting to the users, but to the companies that often seem to think this way. And there are ones out there.

As for those 10% of features.. Again, we need only go back to Microsoft, where virtually everyone that uses Word professionally will say that they never use most of the features 'ever'. However, adding them provides an excuse to never drop the price and convince people to upgrade, just in case a few people actually use that one added feature and you suddenly find you can't read the document.

As for the arguement about not knowing what those 10% of features in Photoshop are or do, I have used both. I find Photoshop has a few nice features that my make things a little easier, but at the expense of a major drop in speed of the software. So yes, 'if' you can afford it, there 'may' be some 1% of those added features that are really useful. However, I was talking about the old days, when PSP first came out and the price for Photoshop was still double what it is now. They didn't drop the price until somewhere around PSP version 6 or 7. Some companies either can't or won't acknowledge this pricing issue.

It is a matter of philosphy. Some of us want to use the software that actually helps us do something, but don't want to buy a small country just to get it. Others seem to think that only big companies should have it, because they all sell things back and forth to each other, and they often literally can't see all the little ants running around underneath them. People that spend long periods of time in such environments will often have some of that view rub off on them and will defend the right of companies to 'make a profit' even when logic, common sense and actually numbers all suggest that they are losing potential customers and stable profits in the process.

I will admit, this does not always equate to making "huge" profits, but personally I find the idea of making a lot of big profits, then suddenly being undercut out of the low end user market by someone else seriously foolish. So apparently do some companies like Maya, who sell low end versions, with the expectation that someone on the bottom may actually buy the full version eventually. Even Poser and many other provide cheap copies of old version, or even give them away for free, since they expect to eventually recoop the loss in upgrades. In contrast, some companies won't even give you a demo version without a bank statement and promise that you will give them your first born child instead, if you don't buy their product.

main {
__if (Schrodinger_Cat is Alive or version >= "XP"){
____if version = "Vista" then Performance /= Number_of_Cores;
____call Functional_Code();}
__else
____call Crash_Windows();}
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Posted by David Haley   USA  (3,881 posts)  [Biography] bio   Moderator
Date Thu 24 Jun 2004 02:38 AM (UTC)  quote  ]

Amended on Thu 24 Jun 2004 02:41 AM (UTC) by David Haley

Message
Quote:
Training is another matter entirely. If your potential employer says they only want candidates who know Office 2003, and the most recent version you have is 97, you're screwed.

Umm, tough? If you want to be a professional driver for a limo company and can't afford a limo to practice with, do you steal one..?
[edit]
Besides, most computers come with Office in one form or another, so I'm not sure what the problem is. Nearly any university will have it on its public computers.

By the way, anybody who's half-competent in 97 can quite easily figure out 2003 in a few hours at most... :)
[/edit]

Quote:
As for Photoshop.. I already pointed out that Jasc has managed to produce on for a lot less, that includes not merely half, but close to 80-90% of the same features. I don't have to prove anything for me to argue that there is a fundimental flaw in the idea of pricing things out of the range of people that want to buy them.
Perhaps it does all the things you need it to do. However maybe those 10-15% of features (an exaggeration on your part I would say) just happen to be business-critical to Adobe's market, which is why they don't really care about people like you - they're interested in their market, and their market is not amateurs. Besides, how do you know that those 10% features aren't 90% of the work/skill?

Quote:
It still reflects an attitude of 'well, people expect to pay more, since it makes them feel like it is better'.
Geez, can you write a post without being so incredibly insulting for once? People aren't as stupid as you think. Go to the comp.graphics.photoshop newsgroup and get yourself an arse-whooping about people spending a lot to "feel good".

All I can say is that if you don't want to spend the money on somebody's product, write it yourself (and see how hard it is, and why they ask so much) or use open-source. I'm all for open-source, but I don't have time to write it. Yes, I bought Photoshop (albeit a student version.) That's because I need it, and PSP just doesn't do what I need.

David Haley aka Ksilyan
Head Programmer,
Legends of the Darkstone

http://david.the-haleys.org
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Posted by Shadowfyr   USA  (1,776 posts)  [Biography] bio
Date Thu 24 Jun 2004 02:30 AM (UTC)  quote  ]
Message
Well. Frankly I don't believe the claim that AutoCAD and the like are high priced due to low volume or that they couldn't drop the price to reach more customers. If that is the case, then they have painted themselves into a corner and deserve all the competitors that makes similar product for a lot less money and don't have that problem.

As for Photoshop.. I already pointed out that Jasc has managed to produce on for a lot less, that includes not merely half, but close to 80-90% of the same features. I don't have to prove anything for me to argue that there is a fundimental flaw in the idea of pricing things out of the range of people that want to buy them.

As for anything I have or haven't coded... The regexp engine system I know I haven't a clue how to effectively design. Badly design maybe, but not effectively. The other possibilities that have come up I have ran into insurmountable issues, like a total bloody lack of documentation on how some things work at all, have derailed my ideas. Or in some cases, became unnecessary before I ever had a chance to design them. And that is the problem. If I could afford to find and buy something that correctly documented certain things, I could probably afford to buy that $500 solution. Personally I wouldn't buy it anyway, but I could at least afford to.

Designing 90% of a program, then sitting on it until I can actually find the information I need is flat out stupid, especially with Mushclient, where there are other talented people that could easilly produce a far less advanced, but usable design long before I had a chance to figure out the code I am missing.

In any case.. It seems that 'some' companies do manage to drop prices. Photoshop used to be a lot more than $580, like in the thousands. It still reflects an attitude of 'well, people expect to pay more, since it makes them feel like it is better'. Interestingly, MS tried this tactic, and when it failed, changed their direction all over again:

http://www.opensource.org/halloween/halloween11.php

Profit at the expense of your own ability to compete is stupidity. MS has just about hung themselves on that rope. Adobe and even the makers of the ultra-expensive Maya got off that boat a while ago, offering *almost* affordable versions. But some, like the makers of Flash still seem to miss the point, that there are a lot more single users with computers that 'may' be willing to pay for a lower cost version than big businesses that can afford $500-$1,000+ for something.

main {
__if (Schrodinger_Cat is Alive or version >= "XP"){
____if version = "Vista" then Performance /= Number_of_Cores;
____call Functional_Code();}
__else
____call Crash_Windows();}
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Posted by Neva   USA  (117 posts)  [Biography] bio
Date Thu 24 Jun 2004 01:55 AM (UTC)  quote  ]
Message
Actually, a startup company ought to be able to afford the software they need. It's called a business loan. However, there's the problem of somebody learning to *use* some expensive piece of software. Even student prices for things like Photoshop and Dreamweaver--even *Microsoft Office*--are patently insane. In a production situation, if you are using software to *make* money, you ought to be able to pay for it.

On the other hand, these are the prices we're expected to pay for software at my university. Thankfully, I got Office back on the old plan when it was only $20.

Office Professional 2003: $199.98 ($419.99 at Amazon)
Macromedia Studio MX 2004: $199.98 ($847.99)
Adobe Acrobat 6.0 Standard: $99.98 ($249.99)
Adobe Photoshop CS: $299.98 ($579.99)

Now, in comparison to their regular prices, those may be quite good. Big discounts. Lovely. The thing is, when you're living on ramen noodles and peanut butter, it's kind of insane to pay $200 to learn a word processor and spreadsheet that, because of Microsoft's monopolism, any future employer is simply going to expect you to know. All this while Microsoft gives copies of Office away free to businesses it's trying to convince to upgrade. Yes, it takes oodles of people to write these things. The average student, however, has the option of either going to a lab--which will at least provide *a* version of Office, though not the newest one yet--or pirating. In a situation where the software's actually being used, it doesn't hurt at all to say, "Y'know, we're broke. OpenOffice.org all the way! Yay, Gimp!" Because you can make that decision. Training is another matter entirely. If your potential employer says they only want candidates who know Office 2003, and the most recent version you have is 97, you're screwed.

Which is totally beside the point. In this case, both of the example pieces of software--FeedDemon and MUSHclient--cost less than taking two people out to dinner, are *not* necessary in any fashion to continued livelihood, and in fact are of decidedly limited use in a business setting anyway; they're mostly for people's personal pleasure, and yet people expect to get them for free and have no inconveniences in using them. Which is just plain stupid.
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Posted by David Haley   USA  (3,881 posts)  [Biography] bio   Moderator
Date Thu 24 Jun 2004 01:18 AM (UTC)  quote  ]
Message
You don't seem to understand market, Shadowfyr. Applications like AutoCad, Photoshop, etc. - these don't make a lot of sales. Therefore they can't sell for much less otherwise they wouldn't cover their own development costs. And you blame them for wanting to make a profit?

Sure, Linux was made by one guy (and that's quite bull in Linux's current form) but can just anybody pick it up and start using it without a great deal of prior instruction...? No. The excuse you deride so much, "you're not in our target market", is oh-so-true. Mind you I love Linux, but here you have chosen the wrong reasons to bash Microsoft.

Quote:
I could code 99% of it in a week myself,
Go do it then. Then come back when you're missing a few lines of code. Remember the on-the-fly regular expression program, hmm? :-) Less talk and more code...

I'll be waiting to hear from you once you've written a program that's half as good as Photoshop, and you realize what you have to sell it for in order to cover your costs. Then, what you have to sell it for in order to make a living. Then, what you have to sell it for in order to compensate the incredible amounts of skill that are necessary to make such a program. Then we'll see how uppity you get about people stealing it.

David Haley aka Ksilyan
Head Programmer,
Legends of the Darkstone

http://david.the-haleys.org
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Posted by Shadowfyr   USA  (1,776 posts)  [Biography] bio
Date Thu 24 Jun 2004 12:41 AM (UTC)  quote  ]
Message
Well. I 'might' take the excuse of "it takes oodles of highly talented people to make it", except for a few obvious glitches in that theory. Windows - Took years and lots of people to develop version 1.0, which sucked. Linux was developed by one guy. Photoshop - Took lots of people to make, is an industry standard, costs ... more than I even plan to spend on a computer, let alone software. PaintShop Pro - Has 90% of the function of Photoshop, but only costs about $200. AutoCAD - Been around for years, is also an industry standard, cost more than bloody Maya. There are hundreds of programs from the free Intellicad to programs like Maya, which can do the same or in some cases more.

At one time buying a decent stereo system could cost you the price of a bloody new car. However, the price went down, because the technology became ubiquitous and wide spread enough that even a junk system now does what a car priced one would have done and more. But in the software industry, the prices for software either stay the same or goes up and up and up, for the same product, with just barely enough added (and usually unwanted) features to justify not lowering it so people can actually afford it.

Personally, I just won't buy something that costs me more than the down payment on a yacht in the first place. However, when you get idiots like the people that sell Flash for $500 (which is basically just a special script engine for that displays pictures), it is damn tempting to just steal it and pay them later. It is even easier though to learn Javascript and do 90% of it without them. If Python was more widely used, we wouldn't even be limited by the 10% you can't do.

Though a better example.. There is a company that sells a DLL that adds a form designer to your applications. I could code 99% of it in a week myself, but because they managed to figure out two to three lines of critical code even MS' wb site won't tell you how to use, they think it justifies selling it for $500. Its not even a usable application, just a bloody plugin gadget you have to code your own software to use...

I can definitely sympathize with people that are fed up with all the stupid excuses for why some places charge so much. My favorite is, "but your not in our target market!" Umm. Ok, I'll be sure to also tell that to the other 150,000 people it would take me five minutes to find that also want you product, but would have to sell a kidney to buy. lol

Sorry about the rant, but it just strikes a nerve, especially when half these clowns create convoluted, but plausible patents on stuff like MS trying to patent double-clicking to open an application (I think, it may have been something similarly lame), so you have no choice but use their overpriced solution.

main {
__if (Schrodinger_Cat is Alive or version >= "XP"){
____if version = "Vista" then Performance /= Number_of_Cores;
____call Functional_Code();}
__else
____call Crash_Windows();}
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Posted by David Haley   USA  (3,881 posts)  [Biography] bio   Moderator
Date Thu 24 Jun 2004 12:03 AM (UTC)  quote  ]
Message
Quote:
I have some sympathy for the people who pirate the massively expensive software.
But on the other hand, typically massively expensive software is so expensive for a reason - it takes oodles of highly talented people to make it, and they won't get sales like video games do to make up for it. The only time I would somewhat accept somebody pirating such software would be if they are a startup company who will save no money from sales for themselves until they have paid back their "debts" by buying the software.

I've often wondered what it is that makes people think pirating is ok. I've even heard developers say that they pirate things. When I ask them what they would think if somebody pirated their software, they get all ticked off and say nobody should do it. Heh. Sounds rather two-faced to me. :-)

David Haley aka Ksilyan
Head Programmer,
Legends of the Darkstone

http://david.the-haleys.org
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Posted by Neva   USA  (117 posts)  [Biography] bio
Date Wed 23 Jun 2004 07:33 PM (UTC)  quote  ]
Message
I have some sympathy for the people who pirate the massively expensive software. Not a great deal, but some. More for the people who download things like no-CD cracks, although it's still risky. (Who decided we needed to have CDs to run everything these days? I have a laptop, and it's a pain in the... okay, digressing.) FeedDemon? It's $30. Less than my fiance and I generally spend on a night out. MUSHclient is only $20... I registered it either during or immediately after high school, before I was ever working. If I could manage that, so can anybody else.

Ugh. MUSHclient, I wish more people would register for Nick's sake, but if you don't, it's just a lag screen, not the end of the world. To download a piece of software from an unknown source and run it on your computer just to gain a few extra seconds when MU*ing... Bad enough all the junk you can end up with just surfing the internet these days.
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Posted by Nick Gammon   Australia  (19,531 posts)  [Biography] bio   Forum Administrator
Date Wed 23 Jun 2004 06:37 AM (UTC)  quote  ]
Message
Yes, it is funny. I liked this quote:

Quote:

Now, let me see here...thousands of people download executable code from sites run by people who brag about being criminals, warez sites earn money from installing spyware on your system, zombie systems launch large-scale DDoS attacks. Anyone wonder about the connection?


Put it another way, if you have a cracked version of MUSHclient, in itself an illegal act, don't be *too* surprised if the "crack" is more than it seems, ie. you have given control of your PC over to someone else who is planning to do something even more illegal with it (like, steal your credit card information).

I'm not saying I would do that, I wouldn't. But you don't know what the "crackers" are doing.

- Nick Gammon

www.gammon.com.au, www.mushclient.com
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Posted by Magnum   Canada  (580 posts)  [Biography] bio
Date Wed 23 Jun 2004 04:09 AM (UTC)  quote  ]

Amended on Wed 23 Jun 2004 04:10 AM (UTC) by Magnum

Message
One of the ezines I subscribe to pointed me to this blogsite where Nick Bradbury, author of FeedDemon talks about his software being cracked.

I thought maybe Nick Gammon would be able to relate to Nick Bradbury, and might get a chuckle from reviewing the text. (As well as anyone else).

http://nick.typepad.com/blog/2004/06/feeddemon_crack.html

Get my plugins here: http://www.magnumsworld.com/muds/

Constantly proving I don't know what I am doing...
Magnum.
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