I’m not sure what that middle option means but it sure seems scary…
I found out today that I am worse than a software pirate:
“For us it’s probably a no-lose even with piracy as it is,” shrugged West. “But, as I say, second-hand sales cost us more in the long-run than piracy these days.”
Most of today’s key video game outlets – Game, HMV, Amazon – and even some supermarkets (Tesco) buy and then resell used games from customers. Game publishers have developed a number of initiatives to counter-attack this, the most popular being EA’s Online Pass, which bundles a free code with new games that can be redeemed to enable multiplayer or receive downloadable content. Whoever buys the game second hand won’t get a free code, which means they’ll have to buy a replica online for around $10.
Why do game publishers and developers not like second-hand game sales? Because they don’t get any money for the transaction – the shop reaps all the rewards.
I must be the worst video game customer they have. I remember playing my first video games on an Atari 2600 A LONG time ago. I’ve owned virtually all of the Nintendo, Playstation and X-Box systems that have been created. You could call me an old school gamer. When I am playing multiplayer games online I have to remember that I’ve been playing games longer than some of my opponents have been alive (so why are they so much better than me?). I am passing the tradition to my children with our Nintendo Wii and Nintendo DS systems. They play the Nintendo games while I keep the X-Box 360 for myself.
This habit can get to be expensive, considering how long I have been buying video games. When I got out of college, found a job and started paying for these systems and games myself I realized just how expensive it could be. I decided then to stop chasing the latest and greatest video game. I wait now for the prices to drop significantly in the used market before I buy a title (except for Gears of War 2 and 3 – I’ve gotta have those now!).
This keeps me significantly behind the curve for new video games. I don’t mind so much when I’m paying a lot less for the game than others do. I keep all of the games that I buy after I have finished playing them. When the next X-Box or Nintendo system comes out I have plenty of hardware to trade for a system upgrade and a few games. Then the clock starts again on buying new games. When I am fortunate enough to receive a Christmas bonus from work I take advantage of the holiday deals and buy enough games to last me for most of the next year. With a full time job, a loving wife and three kids, a fierce Geocaching habit and a strenuous work out schedule I don’t have the time to keep up with the pace of video game development.
When a hot new title hits the market and comes back used a few days later the used price isn’t that much different from the new price. When there is a five dollar difference I go ahead and buy the new game (if I truly can’t wait for the price to come down). The extra few dollars buys me an unblemished copy with no scratches. Have you ever seen how scratched up a used game can become? Of course, the developers don’t see any of the dollars from a resale but they have already made their money on the initial sale of that product. You can be sure that the person that brings the game back takes a heavy loss on the trade in value. I know I have at times.
I bet I am more typical than you would think. All of the kids that played Atari with me are surely still gamers now, right? To call us worse than software pirates is nothing short of insulting. I almost felt bad for Lionhead (almost) until I read this:
Fortunately, Lionhead has already managed to cover development costs with first-hand Xbox 360 sales, which are “in their millions”.
Wait a minute, you have already covered your development costs and have turned a tidy profit? Why are you complaining about this? When I studied economics in college we called this rent seeking behavior. As such, it should be dismissed out of hand. To the developers I say “meh, I will continue buying your games used.” Create something as good as Gears of War 2 and 3 and I will buy it at the midnight release party. Otherwise, please take your profits, shelve the atrocious behavior and get busy developing the next profitable title.
A few months ago an e-mail hit the TriLUG mailing list advertising an open source conference in Columbia, SC. The Palmetto Open Source Software Conference (POSSCON), now in it’s fourth year, brings together a who’s who of the open source movement. This conference brings together these leaders to discuss the latest technology trends with local professionals, students, academics and enthusiasts. It was very interesting to see groups of executives, developers, IT professionals and students all mingling together as a community. This more than anything drove home the breadth and depth of the open source community.
Having driven in from Raleigh to attend this conference I had a rather high set of expectations. It’s a considerable investment to leave the office for three or four days and drive three and a half hours. This conference would not disappoint! Columbia is a wonderful place to hold a conference of this size. The hotels are an easy walk from the conference center. There are a lot of excellent dining establishments all within the same area. I didn’t have to go far to attend the conference, sleep or eat. I decided to drive this time but I would have been just as well off had I flown. I didn’t really need a car once I got here.
The support that this conference has gathered in its four years of existence is simply amazing. The sponsor list included companies such as Microsoft (yes, they were here), Oracle, Red Hat, Verizon, Linode.com, Google and many others. The support from the City of Columbia was also very impressive. Mayor Benjamin welcomed us on the first day and reinforced his excitement and support for the conference. It’s obvious that Columbia is making a big push to become a technology center.
Since I help produce a few conferences a year I spent some time looking over the visible POSSCON operations. I am always looking for better ways to put together our show. Here are a few lessons that I picked up this week:
At the end of the day I am very excited to have been able to attend this conference. Unless something similar pops up in Raleigh I will likely add this to my annual list. Thanks POSSCON for putting on such a great conference! I am excited to hear about what is in store for next year!
This is absolutely stunning…
The NC State Office of Information Technology has produced a video outlining the importance of installing antivirus software on your computer. You may not qualify for their software but you should run something!
I received this e-mail today from Shavlik Technologies. This is a very interesting twist on the government automobile stimulus program. It’s a shame we already use this product…
Shavlik Technologies is offering customers 1 million reasons to dump their resource-guzzling patch management, configuration management, and antivirus solutions with a rebate program that provides a cash incentive to customers who trade up to a more efficient way to manage these critical IT tasks.
In a play on the US Federal Government’s Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS) program, Shavlik is announcing its own “Cash for Clunkers” promotion.
IT security and operations news outlets are filled with stories of the impact (down time, reduced productivity, sensitive data compromise, breaches) of these rusted out clunkers on your business. Just last week Microsoft released two out-of-band patches. The Microsoft WU/MU team spent the week in a full scramble to correct bad data that left Windows Update and WSUS users thinking they were patched when, in fact, they were not patched and vulnerable to exploit.
Join thousands of your peers who turned to Shavlik because they are:
- Frustrated by unreliable, patch management lemons that leave you stranded beside the Internet freeway unprotected.
- Fed up with the reduced mileage they get from WSUS because it doesn’t address non-Microsoft applications from Adobe (Acrobat, Flash, Shockwave), Apple (iTunes, Quicktime, Safari) or Mozilla (Firefox); combined these products have had 26 security patches released since January 1, 2009. In comparison, Internet Explorer has had 4 security bulletins since January 1, 2009.
- Tired of antivirus bloatware solutions that guzzle system resources but don’t stop today’s malware.
- Weary of writing scripts or battling temperamental Active Directory and Group Policy to locate gaps between the desired configuration policy and the reality of systems on the network.
- Tired of trying to coax overblown systems management “suites” into doing a job they were not designed to do and whose bolt-together mentality means you spend more time tweaking and tinkering than getting work done.
Here’s how it works:
If you own an existing antivirus, patch management, or configuration management product or systems management suite that is forcing you to spend too much time, money, and IT staff on these critical tasks, go to this website and determine your eligibility for Shavlik’s Cash for Clunkers program. If you qualify, Shavlik will forgive up to $4,500 of the purchase price on a Shavlik product to replace your existing solution.
But you must act quickly. Cash for Clunkers is a limited time promotion. When those first $1 million reasons to dump your existing clunker solution are gone, so is the promotion.
Go green with Shavlik. Reduce your spend. Repurpose your staff on initiatives that grow your business. Recycle those resource-hogging, bloated, and buggy AV products for a solution that is fast, light on system resources and stops today’s malware.
To learn more and to sign up, click here to see if you qualify.
Putting a crank-shaft on the XO laptop was a mistake, but the biggest mistake was not having Sugar run as an application “on a vanilla Linux laptop”, said OLPC founder and chairman Nicholas Negroponte.
“Sugar should have been an application [residing] on a normal operating system,” he told ZDNet Asia in an interview. “But what we did…was we had Sugar do the power management, we had Sugar do the wireless management–it became sort of an omelet. The Bios talked directly with Sugar, so Sugar became a bit of a mess.”
After spending several years working in IT as a career I have learned that there is at times a disconnect between the words of management and the actual inner workings of a product. This looked funny to me so I wondered what the actual people working behind the scenes thought of this. Turns out Sugar wasn’t as bad as advertised:
Here’s the problem: through a somewhat regrettable set of naming decisions, the name “Sugar” came to represent two entirely different things. It was the name for the new learning-oriented graphical interface that OLPC was building, but it was also the name for the entire XO operating system, one tiny part of which was Sugar the GUI, and the rest of which was mostly Fedora Linux.
Nicholas, evidently, still remains blissfully unaware of any of this. As is plain to see from his own words, what he considers to be the biggest mistake of the project has nothing to do with Sugar the GUI, and everything to do with the gross, hairy, complicated systems development work that OLPC was doing to support the XO’s special hardware features. And to be clear, I mean “short bus special”, not “shiny unicorn special”.
Let me explain something to you. For most of OLPC’s existence, we had about two guys working on Sugar the UI. They were GUI developers, with GNOME backgrounds. They were not at all the same people doing systems development work to support our hardware. No resources were taken away from systems development to do Sugar. If Sugar hadn’t happened at all, we would have still had to do all the systems work to get Linux working on the XO, and it would have still taken just as long. So if you’re looking for things to blame, Sugar is not the droid you are looking for.
In truth, the XO ships a pretty shitty operating system, and this fact has very little to do with Sugar the GUI. It has a lot to do with the choice of incompetent hardware vendors that provided half-assedly built, unsupported and unsupportable components with broken closed-source firmware blobs that OLPC could neither examine nor fix.
So we wound up with a keyboard whose keys get stuck. A dual-mode touchpad, capacitive and resistive, where one mode doesn’t work at all, and the other makes the cursor spontaneously jump around and sometimes shuts off the touchpad altogether, prompting OLPC kernel developers to beg for saner hardware in the next round. We had board engineering issues that made power management practically impossible. We had a custom display controller chip that was incomplete in some regards, and completely broken in others. We had an embedded controller that blocks keyboard events and stops machine suspend, and to which we — after a long battle — received the source, under strict NDA, only to find a jungle of nested
ifstatements, twelve levels deep, and no code history. (The company that wrote the code doesn’t use version control, see. They put dates into code comments when they make changes, and the developers mail each other zip files with new versions.) And we had a wireless chip that is so far beyond fucked, it’s just about funny.
(Each of those words is a different link. Click them all, I dare you.)
Thinking back, there’s a hardware incident I remember particularly fondly: one of our vendors sent us a kernel driver patch which enhanced support for their component in our machine. They chose to implement the enhancement by setting up a hole which allowed any unprivileged user to take over the kernel, prompting our kernel guy to send a private e-mail to the OLPC tech team demanding that, in the future, we avoid buying hardware from companies whose programmers are, direct quote, “crack-smoking hobos”.
In the end, Nicholas’ bit of interview nonsense just doesn’t pass the smell test. Customers aren’t stupid. There’s close to a million XOs out there; if Sugar was OLPC’s biggest mistake, Windows on the XO would be selling like hotcakes. Let me remind you, then, that the number of Windows-based XOs that OLPC has sold is exactly zero.
So next time you hear Nicholas break out the egg metaphors and wave his hands about the Sugar that doomed it all, shrug and smile. Hell, If I were a meaner person, I’d ask Nicholas why it is that Windows — you know, the Windows from Microsoft, mercifully unstained with the mistake of Sugar — can’t even shut down an XO without throwing up a blue screen of death.
I honestly don’t know what to say to this. It’s a shame that the top down management style of the OLPC project nearly killed it. I remember sitting around with my IT buddies excited about the future of Sugar and the XO laptop. To be honest, most of us have moved on to something else. What a shame…
Sometimes, some things are just too good to be true. Earlier this week, Microsoft made a relatively stunning announcement that it would contribute some 20000 lines of code to the Linux kernel, licensed under the GPL. Microsoft isn’t particularly fond of either Linux or the GPL, so this was pretty big news. As it turns out, the code drop was brought on by… A GPL violation.
This story begins when Stephen Hemminger, principal engineer with open-source network vendor Vyatta and Linux contributor, finds out that a network driver in Microsoft’s Hyper-V uses open source components licensed under the GPL. These components were statically linked to closed-source binaries, which the GPL does not allow.
Consequently, Hemminger contacted Linux Driver Project head Greg Kroah-Hartman, who works for Novell. Commendably, Hemminger wanted the case to be worked out without fireworks and massive media attention. “Since Novell has a (too) close association with Microsoft, my expectation was that Greg could prod the right people to get the issue resolved,” he writes on his blog.
When the code drop was announced Monday, nor Microsoft, nor Kroah-Hartman spoke of the violation. To confirm the story, About-Microsoft blogger Mary-Jo Foley contacted Kroah-Hartman, and he confirmed that Hemminger is indeed correct: the code drop seems to have been brought on by a GPL violation.
A “break from the ordinary” and a “significant milestone”? None of that – just a silently handled case, with an overdose of marketing spin, to prevent a major embarrassment for Microsoft.
I expect Microsoft to be evil and work to destroy the open source software movement. This isn’t much of a surprise. It is a bit of a disappointing end to this story though…
This is absolutely stunning:
In an historic move, Microsoft Monday submitted driver source code for inclusion in the Linux kernel under a GPLv2 license.
The code consists of four drivers that are part of a technology called Linux Device Driver for Virtualization. The drivers, once added to the Linux kernel, will provide the hooks for any distribution of Linux to run on Windows Server 2008 and its Hyper-V hypervisor technology. Microsoft will provide ongoing maintenance of the code.
Linux backers hailed the submission as validation of the Linux development model and the Linux GPLv2 licensing.
Microsoft said the move will foster more open source on Windows and help the vendor offer a consistent set of virtualization, management and administrative tools to support mixed virtualized infrastructure.
“Obviously we are tickled about it,” said Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation. “Hell has frozen over, the seas have parted,” he said with a chuckle.
I am surprised by this move. The Linux community would be well served to review this code very carefully. Are their motives completely noble?
While observers hail Microsoft’s Linux kernel code submission as good for the industry and a substantial step forward, the move isn’t pure altruism.
The drivers will make it easier to support Linux guest operating systems in their emerging cloud infrastructure, and it will guarantee Windows is a part of every enterprise conversation around virtual Linux servers.
And virtualization integration baked into the Linux kernel appears to provide Microsoft with a heavy stick with which to beat up VMware.
“Why should Microsoft let a religious distaste for Linux get in the way of making a lot of money on Windows Server 2008 being the hypervisor under all those Linux servers?” asked Jeffrey Hammond, an analyst with Forrester Research. “Microsoft’s desire to take money away from VMware and other alternatives has outweighed its distaste for embracing Linux and the GPL. That is a sign of the opportunity they see here.”
Microsoft, however, won’t have an exclusive on virtualization drivers in Linux. VMware has certified kernel mode para-virtualization drivers but administrators have to install them separately because they are not part of the mainline Linux kernel.
“Microsoft is taking a short cut,” said Chris Wolf, an analyst with the Burton Group.”This is a big deal. When you get in the mainline Linux kernel it is a competitive advantage for Microsoft.”
I thought so…