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Slashback: Shooters, Ire, Boldness 117

More inspiration tonight for anyone planning a low-key entry to space, eyeball feed to celebrate Quake's semi-decennial, and a bit more on Scott McCloud's comic arguments.

Alternate title: Natural Born Fraggers JamesColburn writes: "I just noticed your article on the 5th anniversary of Quake. I spent much of last year with a couple of friends making a 40 min documentary on the game, the gamers and pro game playing ... Broke my bank. But it was worth it."

Are there prizes for other letters, too? gagganator writes: "If you thought that American aiming for space was headed for the darwin awards, check out this brit who seems destined to beat him (to the darwin awards, that is)."

The ten-million dollar X-prize is a pretty good incentive for early adopters, but I might wait until Boeing has done a few test flights, introduced frequent flyer miles, etc, rather than just sit among four strapped-together rocket engines.

If you must draw conclusions, draw them like this. Sudderth writes: "Scott McCloud has posted a reaction to the 'backlash' against his online comic about micropayments."

McCloud wrote and drew what is probably the best explanation of and argument for micropayments as applied to comics (in two parts -- here are the slashdot posts about the first and second parts) that I've ever seen. Seems like not everyone agrees.

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Slashback: Shooters

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Build it into the ISP infrastructure instead. Say your ISP charges you $5.00 more per month, and so you have $5.00 you can spend on micropayment stuff (by default) per month.

    If you want to buy a subscription to a comic, you get charged whatever it costs. $1 a month? I'd buy subscriptions to just about every comic I read.

    Encryption can be used in such a way that the artist need not know who is buying a subscription, and your ISP need not know who you're buying a subscription for.

    All it would take is a new internet protocol. Browser plugins could be used until it's built into the browser by default. On the ISP end, it's just another daemon that would be hooked into billing. On the content provider end, it's a third daemon.

    Jerry and Chris need to gather a group of engineers and write a spec for this protocol. Then they need to convince AOL that it will increase their bottom line - maybe AOL could keep whatever you haven't spent of the $5.00 when the month was up.

    After AOL implements it and there's a decently secure free implementation for ISPs and for content providers (also ISPs), the rest will fall into place.
  • It's Sorenson, not Sorensen.(Call me a troll, but then try to find the web site with the name misspelled.)

    Before you lay blame, please educate yourself about the problem. Xanim would *happily* include Sorenson CODECs if Sorenson wasn't so tight with Apple. But, the ways of intellectual property are indeed mysterious.... []

  • by jnik ( 1733 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2001 @05:37PM (#126468)
    I think you're missing Scott's position here. He's been talking about breaking free of the publishers even since the original Understanding Comics. He's taken it on the nose financially by alienating the print media. He honestly thinks that Tycho and Gabe should be able to live off PA, or whatever work they want to do, and has been throwing out ideas and calling people to think about different ways of looking at comics for years. He's lost money and respect trying to pave the way for guys like Tycho and Gabe. Or Piro and Largo and Dom and Seraphim and Tsubasa. Or Glenn and Will and Dan.

    On the other hand you have Tycho, who has had the idea of living off his art come falling down around his ears, at least for the short term. Hell, it's a reasonable expectation to hope to make money from creativity, and the fact that it doesn't always work is quite possibly the SUCKIEST thing about life. Into this comes Scott with his happy ideas and his bright vision of the future, and Tycho in understandable frustration lashes out with his excellent comic, making the point that IT DOESN'T FUCKING WORK!

    That's cool. I think it's what Scott wants to see: people engaging him about his ideas, and in a medium he loves. But Tycho's rant was a bit harsh against Scott as a person, and Scott's understandably hurt by that, just as Tycho's hurt by Scott's ain't-online-comics-wonderful attitude. The idea of Scott as some self-proclaimed spokesman is particularly laughable, as I'm sure he'd love to see other people come out and speak their minds. Yes, it's important to not steal time from the art by talking about it too much, but a certain amount of discussion can feed back into creativity.

    No, I don't think Scott is God or god. Neither is Tycho. Both of them are artists that I respect a lot. And I think they have a hell of a lot to say to each other (displomatically!). I hope they get the chance to say it.

  • Scott is earning a living? From what he said on his site, he in fact does have a day job..

    - jon
  • by Watts Martin ( 3616 ) <> on Tuesday June 26, 2001 @06:10PM (#126470) Homepage

    Scott's "end-run around conservative comic book publishing houses" is being attempted because he isn't making any money from them. Read what he actually wrote. Pay attention to the phrase "utility cut-off notices."

    McCloud's original source of ongoing income was Zot! it was never a huge seller, just a critical success, and it hasn't been a regular title for, what, nearly a decade now. Do you really think the royalties from Understanding Comics are so amazingly wonderful the man has no need to work, and is just advocating micropayments so he can get a few extra bucks?

    The whole spat really comes down to the fact that Jerry decided to take the fact that Scott has an offline name for himself as an excuse to wage an ill-informed holy war. Jerry's condition relative to Scott has nothing to do with the validity of Scott's argument. Jerry didn't even seem to have read the argument very closely, as Scott's response pointed out. (Your comment suggests you didn't read Scott's response very closely, either.)

  • It's a big...

    Willie! What is that thing?

  • I don't understand why people claim "the way Scott writes is like he's inventing the idea" of micropayments.

    Also, usable micropayments are not already in place. The few systems that exist (PayPal and the like) are not workable; they siphon off too much money; they sit on top of the credit card system. They can't be used to make payments of a few cents, because they aren't anywhere near efficient enough.

  • . Jerry didn't even seem to have read the argument very closely, as Scott's response pointed out. (Your comment suggests you didn't read Scott's response very closely, either.)
    Just because I, or anyone else, disagree(s) with an argument does not mean that I didn't read it carefully.

    Try to make the distinction between an artist who has played the game and earnt a living and now wants a bigger peice of the the pie and an artist that has never had pie.

    Mmmm, pie.


  • Check out his "Scott Who? []" page -- it's all about comics. Check out the timeline [] -- the only thing in his primary work, right back to high school, that isn't comics is public speaking. Check out his public speaking [] page -- it's mostly about comics, or the delivery of art in the modern age, or similar.

    Scott is setting himself up as an expert in the field, yet the advice he is giving is all hype and theory. While those not actually trying to make a living in on-line comics may applaud his "vision", those at the coal face finding out, for example, that payments through the Amazon Honour System approximately halve each month are a little less positive.

    I think Bluetooth is inevitable, but you try finding anything other than Ericsson's headset and the odd PCMCIA card. I believe that simple, robust devices are preferable to powerful complicated ones, but MS' Pocket PC is gaining on the Palm. I could give you all manner of predictions, but in a depressed economy those people who know that your wonderful-sounding bits of fluff are totally impractical are not going to be your greatest fans. For every person that claps when Scott finishes a speech on the future of e-comics there's an artist having to give up what he likes and become a suit because at the end of the day, this day, today, it doesn't work.

    And some of us resent that Scott's making money off of what are tantamount to lies.


  • by Kris_J ( 10111 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2001 @04:36PM (#126475) Homepage Journal
    I think the whole spat comes down to the fact that Scott is a successful comic artist who's had work in print, on shelves, and is now looking to on-line media to increase his income by doing an end-run around conservative comic book publishing houses -- while Jerry is a struggling artist who's recently been evicted because he complained about rats in his house and can't currently find a way for a very popular on-line comic strip to pay for its own traffic, never mind his living expenses.

    I can see both points of view, but I have a lot more time for Jerry's.


  • I totally agree. I think Jerry had interesting things to say, but he was saying what he said in (understandable) anger, so it was much harsher and less rational than it could have been.
  • The real problem with micropayments, as I see it, is that people like flat-rate plans. People prefer flat-rates when paying ISPs, for instance, even when their usage pattern shows they'd save money with a pay-as-you-go system. I just don't think people will want to undergo the stress of having to think about whether to pay for every little thing they read.

    This article [], linked to by Tycho, sums up my feelings about that.

    What that article does not mention, however, is that flat-rate programs currently in use ALSO fail on the Internet.. So who knows? Maybe the analogies in that article don't hold after all, and people would be more willing to part with a few cents than with a few bucks on the Internet? Personally, I feel that there's a good chance that will not be the case, and someone will have to come up with some billiant new idea, since none of our current ideas, micropayments included, work. *sigh*

  • Maybe everybody will have an idea for micropayments (and maybe that's what Scott wants, and if so, great). Here's mine: use probability. It would be a pain to mail him a check for a nickel, but I wouldn't mind agreeing to a roulette spin, and if it comes up on a particular number out of 100, I send him a check for $5.00. All we need now is a roulette wheel that we both accept as fair.

    A cryptographic protocol could do this job. Maybe Diffie-Hellman key exchange; if the shared secret modulo 100 is zero, we both know I'm supposed to mail a check. Scott will know if I've welched on him, and may extend less trust to me in future. Non-geek customers might be frightened by the complexity of DH, so maybe something simpler but still mutually trustworthy could be arrived at.

    Alternatively we could agree on some disinterested third party (, maybe) to act as the roulette wheel.

    The question of punishing welchers is a tricky one. The welcher can always invent a new user id and start over. Perhaps priveliges could slowly accumulate for user ids who demonstrate they are non-welchers. Or reputations could be managed by some third party (eBay, maybe) who already has a reputation tracking system in place.

    It'd be cool if eBay or PayPal or some such could set up both the reputation system and the roulette wheel. If it were done by somebody reputable, it would probably work.

  • Your analogy is flawed. Advertisers pay for ad space because it helps to sell product. Any clicks that are made just to "show support" for the site are worthless to the advertiser. If 99% of the clicks for a site are of that nature, then the advertiser is going to pay very, very little per click. People who click and immediately go somewhere else effectively give no money to the site. Micropayments, on the other hand, would give money to the site with every click, guaranteed.
  • Ok, so I was heading in the wrong direction. I still think you can't directly compare them, however. It's dishonest to click a banner ad just to support the site when you actually have no intention of buying anything from them, or even of taking more than a cursory look at the site that paid for the ad. There's also a plain dislike of advertising, so people try to stay away from it as much as possible. You may very well be right, but I wouldn't be surprised either way. It may be that people will be a lot more comfortable with a "click here to give us ten cents" button and hit it a lot more often than they hit banners today.
  • I can picture the launch pad now:

    Bennett waits in anticipation.

    The countdown contiues.

    Thunderbirds are GO!!!

  • could do it, if they found enough motorcycle parts!
  • He did not say they were in place, and did not claim to invent them. He was simply showing people who only know the word 'micropayment' as a buzzword, how things would actually work, and why.

    How is this any different than any other reporter doing up an article on micropayments, and painting a scenario?

    He didn't claim to invent it, to take credit for it, or anything else.. he only discussed it.

    And where, pray-tel, are micropayments already in place?

  • Well, how do you get money into your paypal account for use, if not by credit card?

    Also, paypal charges $.30 a transaction, plus 2% or something for premier/business accounts (personal normal accounts have no $.30 fee, but are very limited in how much funds they can receive each month). THat elimenates their use for micropayment right there.

  • Sure, they don't charge you for paying others from your paypal account, but they charge those others $.30 for each trasaction, plus their percentage, and that's the problem.

    What if I want to charge $.50 for access to my web page, for some special info I have there daily? Paypal will take over 60% of that as a fee.. it's not feasible for me to do it. Paypal is no good for micropayment.
  • Regarding micropayments - paypal is not a micropayment system. It does not allow me to simply and easily pay $0.25 to view a page, or download the latest copy of winamp, or whatever.

    Regarding banks: Why do the banks *have* to be at the center of it all the time? I know they are, but let's remember, the bank does not have a god-given right to make money off every human money transaction. I should be able to pay you without paying someone else a fee as well; or at least, not just paying the bank. A competitive market of micropayment providers would be good, all linked together.

    Also, regarding not using credit cards: There are two reasons to use a credit card, in real life, for me.
    One, is of course, credit. To spend money I don't have, to even out my cashflow. I can pay to have my car fixed even though I'm out of cash, and then pay off the debt when I get paid. That's the 'credit' part.
    The other is service. The credit card is only a token; it belongs to the credit company. It's a token that, accompanied by my signature or other method, is used to prove to the credit company that I am using the credit they extend me. If someone guesses/copies that number somehow and uses it, its' NOT MY PROBLEM AT ALL. If they steal my physical card, its' my problem up to $50, or until I tell the credit company the card has been physically stolen. Fair enough; I should take measures to make sure it doesn't get physically stolen. In the online world, this is the important part. It gives me buffer time to cancel transactions and not have my bank account drained.
    Believe me, if you dispute a transaction, the credit company will immediately halt it, and ask the merchant to verify it. If the merchant still insists it was you who did it, they will make the merchant PROVE that it was you, and barring your signature on the slip or good shipped to an address owned by you, or where they can prove you were staying, they won't have much luck.
    Good luck.

    A cheque is a monetary insturment instrcting the bank to transfer funds. Once they go through, you can't reverse them. You can't change them. The money is gone. I rather like the credit system.

  • Yes, my point was simply that it shouldn't necessarily be banks in the middle of it all (I don't like banks, can you tell?). I'd rather see competing micropyament providers.

    I wasn't implying that checking had a fee, only that I find it hard to beleive there isn't SOME fee associated with your having a bank account. In these days of Plus/Cirrus/Interac, there are fees all over the places just for the previlege of carrying money.

  • Actually, if you use the Pay Pal system for other things, such as Ebay, it doesn't hurt to keep a few dollars in it. I think I usually have about 30 bucks in mine, and as I put it in there all at once, it cost $.30 one time. So I can make donations to people all over the place, and except for the original bit they take off, paypal gets no more money of those transactions.
    In other words you can use it like a bank account that charges you $.30 to make a deposit.
  • Let's face it, people are not going to pay for something they can get for free somewhere else. People have their favorites of course, but if the average consumer is suddenly faced with the prospect of paying for PA, they'll likely drop it from their bookmarks, and go read PVP, or MegaTokyo, or whatever sites still offer free content.

    I don't think so. Imagine a world where you can have a link "Donate $.10 to Penny Arcade". How many people would do it? Certainly not everyone, but a substantial enough portion would to make it worthwhile. His example of PVP says 30,000 regular readers. Based on this number, let's assume a hypothetical web comic Assuming that there are at least as many irregular readers, it's probably safe to assume that the site gets > 400,000 visits a month (I'm assuming 4 strips per month). If 5% of those visits (20,000) result in donations, the author would be bringing in ~$1800/month ($2000 - 10% transaction fee). And of course, if he no longer needs the day job, he can put more effort into the site which should generate more traffic, therefore generate more revenue...

    The problem is, as Scott's articles point out, there is no viable method of donating (or charging) such a small amount. Until their is such a mechanism, we'll never really know for sure how many people will donate, but I'd happily allocate $20 of my budget a month to donate to various quality sites if the donation amount is small enough. The trick is to keep the donation small enough that your readers don't even need to consider whether they can afford to or not.

    The same is true of Music. Imagine being able to buy an album in electronic form, directly from the artist, for $3. Not only would this be substantially more money then the average artist get's from a normal cd sale, they would almost certainly sell more cd's. You can then burn the cd yourself & everyone is happy. Will this eliminate piracy? Absolutely not. But, if it's cheap & easy to get a 'legal' copy, I think most people would happily do so.

  • I think another problem is that there is just a certian amount of content out there that most people find is not worth paying for.

    True, but that's another issue entirely. Just like any other commercial media, if the quality is poor enough, they wont survive. Admittedly, though, if the movie, tv & record industries are any indication, it has to be pretty poor before it's 'poor enough'.

    I'd definitly be willing to pay for Dilbert (I know it's not an online comic only, but I ready it online). Supposing United Media decided they were going to start charging a small amount for access, I'd probably pay it because I find it pretty consistently funny.

    I see your point, but I WOULD NOT pay under these circumstances. The whole point of micropayments is their ability to get rid of the likes of United Media. Why would I want to give a dime to United Media when I know that Scott Adams will only get $.01?
  • If there was a way to get the price down to 10 cents, more people might use it. At that point, though, you run the risk of alienating people by nickle-and-diminig them to do death. Most people are not going to want to pay 10 cents 3-5 times a week for a web comic. The price really isn't the issue, it's just the inconvienience.

    I agree completely, and that was covered, though not specifically, in my original post. First off, the charge has to be cheap enough to not require much thought. If I could donate $.10 with two clicks (first on the link, then a second click at the transaction procesor to verify the transaction) I would do it fairly liberally. Second, for a site such as PA, the donation should be voluntary. If it's cheap & easy enough, many people will donate freely. The numbers I cited assume only 5% of visits (that works out to about 20% of visitors, assuming 4 strips per month) donate a dime. While that's only a guess as to how many would actually donate, I don't think that that is an unreasonable guess.
  • You mean something like PayPal []?

    I just signed up for it the other day... it lets use your checking account to send money, and the payee (who gets an e-mail notice) can have it dumped into their checking account.

    Perhaps I'm missing something but this sounds a lot like what you are referring to.

  • 1) All I need to know is the BSB (ABA) number, the account number, and the account name.

    2) Oz banks get very stroppy if you try to cash a cheque not made out to 'Cash', and/or not at the branch of the payer, since there is no way they can verify signatures, and they will likely charge you heftily for the privilege.

    3) From the bank's POV, EFT transfers (which may or may not be the same as wire transfers) are significantly cheaper to process than cheque transactions.
  • Geee, that sounds so much easier than just using that 'funds transfer' thingy my bank's internet banking application allows me to use.

    Seriously, the one thing the existing credit card infrastructure has that the current normal funds transfer and cheque payments don't have, is foreign currency payments. It doesn't help artists if people outside whichever country they reside in have to jump through hoops to send them a few bucks. Currently, credit cards are the only easy way to do that.
  • -- The_Messenger, UID 110966, posting anonymously because recent censorship has disabled my account.
    PS -- You are fatter and considerably less attractive than Rei Ayanami. Please consider adopting a nick more descriptive of yourself, such as "AOLoser2165" or "GothChunk".
    I see cause and effect here. You say stupid shit like this you should expect to get moderated down.

    P.S. Censorship applies to the government, not private entities. The ownership of /. can legally restrict you or even ban you outright if you keep making idiotic comments like this...
    You think being a MIB is all voodoo mind control? You should see the paperwork!
  • Ya know, I've been puzzling over this, and I think I may have a way for things to work. It all centers around paypal, actually, though a similar system geared for this would be even better. Anyway, here's the basic idea: set up a plugin (which really needs to be cross platform). The plugin is set up so that, with a single mouse click, you can donate (to choose an arbitrary number) $0.25 to the person who wrote the page. It wouldn't have to be large or obtrusive. When you click, the plugin logs in to paypal, sends off the money, and logs out. Short, sweet, simple. Oh, and it turns off ad banners for a month, to give people a reason to send the money in.

    A slight variation on the scheme would be a setup wherein the money is collected in a central location, and then sent to the page owners once a month (kind of like what fairtunes is/was doing, if I remember correctly).

    The difference, though, is that is a general purpose setup. Anybody can offer up anything, and post this tip jar online. A user clicking on it makes a monthly payment (and a very small one at that) for content, and gets rid of banners to boot, and it's all controlled by a single click (or two). What do you think? Is it worth pursuing?

  • The original comic he did felt almost insulting at the time, particularly since I've (and I'm sure many others) had the ability to make donations to me on my site for quite awhile. The thing is that a very very minute portion of traffic actually pays anything!
    Because the proceedure to do so is highly inconvenient - I need a credit card and a PayPal account - and won't work for payments at the, say, 10 cent level, since PayPal will eat it all up in fees. Mircopayments means more than the ability to make donations - it means being able to make very small payments (thus, the micro) with almost zero inconvenience.

    Part of the inconvenience is a matter of site design. I took a quick look at your site, and even with your current PayPal setup, there are a few simple improvements that could probably increase your rate of donations.

    • I certainly should not have to leave your site to make a donation. Make the PayPal link pop up a new window.
    • Do you appreciate small donations? Make that clear! "For as little as $1, you can make an artist smile."
    • I should be able to donate directly from any page on your site. A good micropayment system would be built into the browser; but for now, I would suggest a small form on every page with a "Donate to this site" message that links to more information, a drop down menu with a few sample amounts (starting very small, and with an "other amount" option), and a submit button that pops up a new browser window that handles the rest of the transaction

    Still a far cry from micropayments, of course, but I'd say its better than what you've got now.

    Tom Swiss | the infamous tms |

  • that rocket looks like a giant...

    Wang, pay attention!
  • by blazerw11 ( 68928 ) <[blazerw] [at] []> on Tuesday June 26, 2001 @04:17PM (#126499) Homepage
    Forget about micropayments, that's a waste of time. Let's work on Microbills. Mine seem a little too Macro lately.

  • Does he use an floor-mount automatic transmission handle (a.k.a. PRNDL) for his throttle? A car's ignition key to start the rockets? Some old tires for landing gear?

    I saw this show when I was a kid. Nothing new here....
  • Where are the lies, exactly? I see a person who is spending some time dreaming, and writing about, a "better future" where this whole online comics thing works well. Then we see the present day situation where it doesn't seem to work well, due to the negative monetary return on investment that people are running in to, which forces them to drop their comics, or do them part time while they work a day job to support themselves. There's nothing wrong with Scott's vision, but what he doesn't do is posit a way to move from point A (the present case), to point B (the future case). If he (or someone else) could determine a way to move from point A to point B, then that would be something worthy of great acclaim. Unfortunately, I don't know how to do that.
  • by mattr ( 78516 ) <> on Tuesday June 26, 2001 @10:27PM (#126502) Homepage Journal
    McCloud's work is on target and probably the best way to get more people thinking again about how they would like to use micropayments and advocating testing of various models in the real world.

    You can't downgrade someone's honest work because they are more successful, and if anything good comes out of this discussion guess what, Jerry and the other slammers will benefit too.

    The tech is all there and that isn't news to anyone here. The point is that lots of attempts have been made, from 1st Virtual on up to e-Gold, and still we don't have anything in place that is going to get volumes of low-cost artistic product out to tens of thousands of people, using a system which matches the way the people want to be able to select and acquire such a product.

    There are some experiments going on with prepaid cards that might work in limited geographical settings (thinking about something in downtown Tokyo recently). It also might work if the phone company or cable company offered you say 5 bucks a month that you could use in 500 content transactions to get at a large amount of stuff you want and couldn't get any other way (maybe McCloud makes a special comic for that purpose for example). Maybe would even want to get into that kind of business (you buy a $10 credit and they handle the micropayments), at least McCloud's reference to a single click for a small transaction certainly makes sense. Also I've seen floppies sold in little artsy shops, and perhaps you could store a few of McCloud's comics on a floppy for instance, though you still have to get it in a store and that is pretty low volume for a physical, atoms-not-bits product.

    All these things are not purely technical problems, and we already have enough technology to deal with it. I found McCloud's latest comic to be well done, thought provoking even for someone who has been considering micropayment systems to artists and acceptance of lossiness.

    One data point I'd like to add. I showed a DJ friend of mine the article by Courtney Love [] from last year about the record industry and artists. I ran some ideas I had for a lossy payment system which seemed to match what she was talking about (and happens to cover a number of points McCloud covered too).

    I was surprised that my friend was totally unsympathetic to her, his attitude being that she and other bands just signed stupid contracts. Now this guy has a day job and I don't think he has ever gone through the kinds of things Courtney Love was talking about, so this kind of response is kind of take-it-or-leave-it. But it struck a chord when I read about the attacks on McCloud; other artists would never be forced to use some payment system they didn't want, but they and everyone else (except record companies perhaps) would have lots to benefit by promoting an open and frank discussion about alternative systems that could allow a larger number of people to make a living off of creative pursuits.

    I'm going to keep thinking about this but one thing that would help is to get more real-life data points to use in designing my system and also in convincing someone to fund it. The mention of $600 a month for a 30,000 visitor per month site is very valuable. More please!

  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2001 @06:24PM (#126503) Homepage Journal
    Problem is there are already happy little laws in place so if your credit card number is stolen, you are only responsible for, at most, $50 worth of charges. Most credit card companies won't even charge you that. Also with credit cards you can dispute the charges and not pay them. None of that's built into checking. It could be, but I suspect that Congress is so buddy-buddy with the credit card companies that they won't see fit to do that.
  • by RollingThunder ( 88952 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2001 @04:35PM (#126504)

    Today on Junkyard Wars, our contestants have to build a rocket of death, to propel one team mate to an unbelievable height, with certain death - and the smashing Junkyard Wars trophy - as their only rewards.

    For the blue, we had the Bodgers... with their expert Rocketman. They all said "Bollocks to this" and left, leaving Rocketman by himself.

    Amazingly enough, the pink team, the NERDS, are all still here - but they insist that it's their expert who will be the only one in the capsule.

    You know the rules... you have until sundown (or the FAA calls the whole thing off)... GO!

  • I sent them some money when they first started doing it. It's probably about time to send some more, given their situation. It's really no big thing, given the immense amount of enjoyment I get out of Penny Arcade.
  • Argh.

    > xanim
    XAnim Rev 2.80.0 by Mark Podlipec Copyright (C) 1991-1999. All Rights Reserved
    Video Codec: Sorenson Video not yet supported.(E18)
    Unknown(and unsupported) Audio Codec: QDM2(0x51444d32).
    Notice: Video and Audio are present, but not yet supported.

  • by John Carmack ( 101025 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2001 @09:31PM (#126507)
    We will have a manned rocket vehicle flying by the end of the year, but it will be a modest little thing. The performance will only be about what you got out of the old Bell rocket pack, but it is fully fly-by-wire (and can be tested remotely) with active stabilization, and all the subsystems are directly scaleable to much larger vehicles.

    I will probably enter as an X-Prize competitor at that point.

    John Carmack
    Armadillo Aerospace []
  • Ohmygod, mod this up. If only I knew all the words to "Blame Canada". Better rent BLC..
  • Go, man, go! I just wish there were more people like you, with the resources and vision to do what needs doing.
  • I might wait until Boeing has done a few test flights, introduced frequent flyer miles, etc

    You're going to be waiting a loooong time, considering as Boeing has basically cancelled its project in this area (the one for NASA, though they are doing a cargo-only one by the name of Sea Launch). Even if (when?) he blows up in space, the Brit will have gotten closer than just about anyone at Boeing and its main competitors. (Granted, he's really pushing things by not testing first, and his likely publicized demise may make things a bit harder for the rest of us, but at least he's trying.)
  • So I don't expect to see any updates on the Penny Arcade web site for a couple of weeks.

    Okay, so I was wrong. He has an update there, which pretty much amounts to an apology.

    Your responses were deft and had the weight of punishment, and I feel as though I have been taught a valuable lesson by a bloom of aluminum baseball bats. At the root of it, I misjudged the man.

    I don't believe Tycho would write that rant again if he had it to do over. (But probably he would go ahead and do the parody comic again... it was extremely funny!)

    That one I got exactly right.

    If I had it to do over again, I would have let the strip speak for itself - and then switched quickly to something innocuous, like wool. There is more than a reasonable chance that my news approach will be much softened, at least in the short term.

    Read the whole thing here [].


  • by steveha ( 103154 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2001 @10:45PM (#126512) Homepage
    Actually, I was moved by Tycho's rant to send him email about it. We wound up having an email discussion.

    I believe his rant was fueled mostly by his perception (mistaken, IMHO) that Scott McCloud was trying to be some kind of official spokesman for all comics. He wasn't any kind of jerk to me in email, and he seemed a lot less angry about it in our discussion. Note that Scott McCloud says, right at the top of his "Backlash" page, that he has been in direct contact with Tycho and "we're all definitely calming down a lot now."

    So there isn't much of a controversy left. I don't believe Tycho would write that rant again if he had it to do over. (But probably he would go ahead and do the parody comic again... it was extremely funny!)

    If you check the News on the current Penny Arcade, you will see that Tycho is out of town right now, with limited access to the Net. So I don't expect to see any updates on the Penny Arcade web site for a couple of weeks. (He says there are enough comics queued up to last until he is back, so anything we see in the next couple of weeks was queued in advance.)

    Penny Arcade being what it is, I wouldn't be too surprised if they do one where Scott McCloud shows up and feeds Tycho a radioactive scorpion or something.


  • As argued, it's not that micropayments are bad, in fact Jon from goats would argue they are very good (see previous news postings) but the way Scott writes is like he's inventing the idea, and ignores the fact that his "ideas" are already in place...
  • What the #"#% are people whining about? As a big fan of online comics (I religiously follow 12 each day, and browse around sampling lots) I wouldn't mind paying for the content, if what we are looking at is 25c each month. (adding up to a grand total of 3$, for around 360 individual strips .. I cant even get 1/3 of a printed comic for that kind of money)

    I dont understand why people, and most of all, other online comic-publishers, are flaming Mr. McCloud for bringing this subject up for debate. If anything, they should cheer him on, and encourage him to get cracking on some sort of scheme that ultimately will allow for easy transfer of funds from us (the readers) to them (the publishers), so that they can continue to deliver content to us.
    And come on, people that say that Mr. McCloud is an idiot, just because they are not interested in paying for content, in the everything-on-the-internet-should-be-free mentality, why dont you sit down and use 2 hours every day, creating something original, and then posting it online. My guess is that when the fun and excitement of doing something new wears off, you will probably really like to receive some sort of compensentation, other than emails stating that you are cool, and the comic is great etc.

    I think that KeenSpot, Big Panda and their ilk should look into implementing some sort of payment gateway, possible using your creditcard for starters (seeing as they both serve a lot of comics, and a transfer to them could be distributed among a lot of comics with only 1 creditcard transfer).
    I know I would use it.

  • Hey, James! I'd like to see your documentary in ONE file (preferably DiVX;-)) but I don't care, as long as it's ONE file and not realmedia or ASX. thanks!

    to those who wish to download it, James's site is not hosting it due to /. effect, get it at the bottom this mirror page [] (in the miscellaneous section).

  • Here's the thing. McCloud gos to talk about how PVP only needs a penny a click to break even, right?

    Tycho's right. There are just too many younger readers who don't have access to credit cards or any way to make an online transaction. Kids in the 12-17 range, who make up a good deal of the online world (I mean, look at all the trolls here, hlaf of them at least have to be under 18.) just simply are not able to make those micropayments, even though some of them would like to.

    I didn't have a checking account until my sophomore year...of college. Up until that point I didn't have enough money to necesitate an account. It's not that I wouldn't have wanted to pay for strips like Penny Arcade, and Megatoyko, it was just that, quite simply, I couldn't.

    I don't think I'm a single case either. In some way or another most of these 300,000 users are not going to be able to make the micropayments, either they're too lazy, don't have a valid credit card, can't send the money, or they just won't.

    On top of that, most of the micropayment solutions out there right now will take a percentage of the transaction. To process a credit card costs the processor a 1.25% fee. That's the bare minimum, but the Amazon and Paypal methods take a cut more than that, even.

    For every $10 attaboy I send off to the guys at PA, there's 50 cents to a buck missing. Credit Card processors are NOT going to let you send a penny.

    Right now the best way I can see for these guys to make any sort of cash is to leverage their popularity, and I don't even know if that'll really fly.

    Say the PA guys link to an online game store to get a cut off of the game sales. Or maybe they start selling a few more autographed prints. Possibly even sell a few t-shirts that are as funny as the strips, or let the users design their own for a small fee. (because right now their selection of t-shirts is kinda lame.)

    But let's face it. There aren't a whole lot of ways to leverage internet popularity into profitability. A whole lot of startups and a whole lot of venture capitalists found about that the hard way. Until someone finds a honest to goodness solution, and doesn't just write a comic about the way things MIGHT work out, Tycho's right to get mad. He's probably pounding his head against a wall trying to figure out a way to make this strip keep itself afloat, and here comes some guy saying, "Oh, it's SO simple, just do what I say!"

    I'd flame that guy too, and most of the people here on /. would, as well.
  • People don't tend to fork over larger amounts of cash for smaller payments. A lot of the Asian video stores I used to rent movies from (I use [] [] now.) would charge you $50 to rent a video from them before they'd let you open an account. Then all the rentals you made after that were debited from your original $50.

    Most of those stores aren't around anymore, because people hate doing that. There's this psychological barrier that customers have to overcome. They start thinking, "Am I really going to use $10 worth of this content?"

    Now this works really good for the pr0n industry, because there are certain brain circumventing hormones at work there, including the well documented powers of L.I.B.F. (Lust Induced Brain Freeze.) Nobody ever goes, man, I need some hot humor, now! (Or if they do, they need help.)

    But I dunno, maybe something like that would work...but it'd also require a whole different set-up, and putting up the infrastructure for that is going to run someone some cash, too...
  • damn right
    id pay some real money to watch his capsule either
    a: burn up in the atmosphere or
    b: see it break apart at 300 feet

    if killing astronauts for public entertainment is good enough for nasa, its good enough for me.
  • Bandwidth = money, right? It's the most expensive part of Internet hosting, and the price only increases with popularity. So, instead of people paying a dollar to view your page (or perhaps supplementing that), have people donate their bandwidth to your cause. Since many users don't value their bandwidth as much your host does, they're more willing to give it up than they are to pay for it (in an especially inefficient and unequal manner too). I don't think Napster would have worked if people had to pay per megabyte the way many sites pay per gigabyte.

    I'm talking FREENET, baby. Or something similar, perhaps dedicated to one site. Bandwidth costs are very nearly eliminated and the system scales almost exactly with your users. Honest users will even include your ads, donate money, and buy merchandise, making not just a living for you, but profit. Dishonest users will leech off the system as always, but they won't cost you a dime.

  • Like I said, bandwidth costs aren't just a part of the problem, they're the biggest part of the problem. With no bandwidth costs you could produce a comic with little or no business-related costs. Established artists would make money through syndication, merchandising, and book sales, the same way they do now. A "struggling" artist would not make a profit immediately, but neither would he incurr a significant loss -- and indeed he could recoup whatever small costs with only minimal success and a handful of voluntary donations. This way, he may have to work to pay the rent, but at least he doesn't have to work to pay the rent and for his dream.

    You want your favorite artists to work full time and earn a better than living wage producing your favorite comics. So, buy their branded t-shirts and mouse pads. Donate to their tip jars. Buy their books. Subscribe to any magazines that carry their comics. You do all that already, don't you? And if you're not too busy, you can host a node for them and turn all the money you gave them before into pure profit.

    It may not make everyone rich by itself, but it makes getting rich a whole lot easier.

  • More like "Why does everyone use DVDs?! I can't watch DVDs on my VCR!"

    Actually, it would be more like "I can't watch DVDs on my TV!" If you have QuickTime, you have Sorenson. But if all you have is an UltraSPARC or Alpha box, you don't have a computer that can run QuickTime in real time.

    Besides, even if you have an Intel box, QuickTime for Intel costs US$350: $30 for QuickTime Pro, and $320 for Windows [].

  • Many people treat an operating system as a tool, and use what works.

    QuickTime runs only on Mac OS and Windows. Mac OS runs only on PowerPC architecture machines. Windows runs only on x86 architecture machines. Sun workstation owners are in the cold.

    Besides, even if you have an Intel box, QuickTime for Intel costs US$350: $30 for QuickTime Pro, and $320 for Windows [].

  • Probably 53 miles, set by Reaction Research Society in 1996.
  • by Gorobei ( 127755 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2001 @05:54PM (#126524)
    He is crazy, and has zero chance of making it into space.

    His efforts to date have used HPR hobby motors. [] His highest flight to date is 20,000ft: you could get to 30,000 with two of those Aerotech motors (the K700 reload as a booster, and the J570 reload as a sustainer), add two fiberglass tubes, two Acme fincans, a nose cone, and a Blacksky timer in the interstage coupler/reducer, and you've trashed his "record" for about $700.

    Look at his "rocket" for fuck's sake: what is the point of that steep reduction behind the nose section, especially when it expands to about the same outside diameter at the booster base! I guess the "large penis shape" is a proven aerodynamic design. Who cares about all those annoyong wind tunnel tests that show a reducer of more than 10 degrees or so will just delaminate the airflow?

  • Well, I decided to do a little checking. I found <A href=" ml">this</A> comparison really quickly, after reading up on how it works (its almost no different from MPEG, that really bothered me :P )(at least Indeo was creative, as far as new codecs go, though the license agreement made it worthless ;) ). Then, I ran into <A href=" 79491774/979508502/index_html">this post</A> about Sorenson support, and why we won't be seing it soon (unless Apple decides to embrace linux for some reason). So, in short, from my brief research, it looks like another inferior codec with a restrictive license. I wouldn't bother :P

    - Rei
  • Um, have you ever read the license for Indeo? I didn't say worthless because it costs money - I said worthless because its license makes it so. Please read it. Last time I read it, there was a clause that if you develop anything using Intel Indeo, Intel owns it. Now, Intel has since sold the codec, but I doubt the license has changed much.

    I would call that "worthless", yes.

    - Rei
  • P.S. -
    Rei is my middle name, though I do like evangelion.

    And you've obviously never seen a picture of me.

    - Karen Rei Pease
  • Because files can be very high quality and small in size. We can't all go back to 1994 and use cinepak right? Hmmm download a 10 meg sorenson or 40 meg mpeg. No big decision there.

  • Thank you and the rest of the Quake team.
    Still playing that game today, just played a dm6 match actually.


  • Today's Penny Arcade comes pretty Daned close tp apologising for the tone and content of Tycho's rant. Seems he talked to Scott, and they kind of hit it off.

  • Dang, I wanna download that quaker thing and the mirrors are dead, damn you leeches!! :)

  • collecting micropayments through the ISPs would solve the credit card problem in a heartbeat, though it would pose a few other problems.

    here's how it works. say you pay an extra 25% for your internet access, and give your ISP permission to log your web access and fold those logs into an aggregate log. those logs are used to distribute the cash.


    1. the largest ISPs would generate the most cash. the largest ISPs also have the most commercial ties with some of the companies which would get the cash:

    AOL --> Time/Warner --> MPAA --> potential for abuse

    this could cause skewed distribution, as guys like Keenspot would get less cash and the MPAA and RIAA would get more.

    2. how do you decide which artist "deserves" more money? and on a similar note, how many mp3s is a comic strip worth?

    let's say that in an arbitrary time period, there are 1,000,000 mp3s downloaded from napster, and online comic sites get a total of 100,000 hits. do you then decide that comics are worth 1/10 of what mp3s are, and pay them accordingly?

    3. overhead overhead overhead. this system would generate lots of 'funny munny'. i can see administrative overhead eating a significant portion of this cash.

    these problems notwithstanding, the major problem with micropayments is that people don't want to put their CC# in their computer, and have sites silently charge them cash behind their backs, but people also don't want to fill out 5 page forms every day to read their freaking webcomics.


  • No no no! The countdown starts at FIVE, as any fool knows!

    Good luck to him I say. He's putting his own neck on the line, and if he survives, he'll be a hero.

    Hacker: A criminal who breaks into computer systems
  • IMHO, McCloud sounds like an over-sensitive, whining child. It seemed to me that Tycho's main beef with him isn't that he's proposing something outlandish, but the manner in which he does so. McCloud's comic is so asinine it's insulting. His little dreamworld of good-willed people is simply that, a dreamworld! I dearly love Penny Arcade, but I'm not going to pay for it if I can get it free! Tycho's reply to McCloud was in standard form, meaning that it was inflamatory, derogatory, etc., but it presented far more substance. McCloud's dreamy-eyed explanation is grossly overshadowed by Tycho's realistic analysis. For example, Tycho addresses implementations while McCloud spouts some garbage in his reply in the vein of "it's not my job". Neither is it Tycho's, but he seems to at least present some relevant thought, instead of idealistic rhetoric! McCloud, you sound like a whiny prima donna, and have no fear, I'll never consider you a representative of an art form you obviously have so little grasp of. If you really want to help, stop preaching and help micropayments become a reality.
  • To go into space without testing is the very height of foolishness

    Yes, but you miss the point.

    To the rest of us it is the height of entertainment and he should be applauded for adding some sparkle to our dull lives!

  • I'm waiting until I can use my miles to upgrade to a first class cement mixer.

    The only problem with this is that in the event of most commercial airlines, it's the first and business class passengers at the front who stand the most chance of being toasted.

    This worries me, as I nearly always fly upstairs in business class in 747's!

    It seems the back of the plane is the safest part, and less likely either to break up or be consumed in flames.

    Unfortunately this also means you usually have to spend the whole flight listening to the stewards talking about haircuts, and putting up with the stench of crap food from the galley. For these reasons I'm still taking my risks upstairs!

    In conclusion, you will be better off strapped into the cement-mixer part than sitting atop a golden throne in the pointy-bit ;-)

  • I'm as big a PA supporter as the next guy, but I do think that Tyco was out of line with the rant in question in this case. That being said, one can certainly understand the frustration on all sides.

    Outfits like PA, PVP, Goats, Sinfest, Sluggy, and all the other biggies are right now producing content that is miles beyond anything your likely to see in the newspaper or most magazines. Yet guys like Jim Davis and Scot Adams are lighting their fires with $100 bills, while guys like Tycho are living month-to-month. To be honest, I don't see this changing, either, until a good number of the online artists decide to band together, and form some sort of collective, for lack of a better term.

    Let's face it, people are not going to pay for something they can get for free somewhere else. People have their favorites of course, but if the average consumer is suddenly faced with the prospect of paying for PA, they'll likely drop it from their bookmarks, and go read PVP, or MegaTokyo, or whatever sites still offer free content. Only if the strips band together, and all (or most) start offering their content for a price, is the consumer going to be forced to make a choice: pay for online comics or not.

    Sure they'll loose some readers permanently that way, but that'll happen no matter what system you choose.
  • Well, several sites, such as PA, Goats, and a bunch of the Keenspot comics have had Amazon and Paypal donate links on their site for the past couple months. Minimum is $1 I think. It worked very well the first month, but has since tapered off sharply for all the sites.

    If there was a way to get the price down to 10 cents, more people might use it. At that point, though, you run the risk of alienating people by nickle-and-diminig them to do death. Most people are not going to want to pay 10 cents 3-5 times a week for a web comic. The price really isn't the issue, it's just the inconvienience.

    I've often thought perhaps web comics should take a lesson from pr0n sites, and band together to create a similar system. Pay one "ComicCheck" fee for 3-6 months access, and you get free access to all the sites in the ring.
  • .. Perhaps people would pay to see Scott and Tyson fight to the death.. we could broadcast the match online and use micropayments to charge viewers admission. The only thing Scott would have to watch out for is getting his ear bitten off. Oh.. wait you said Tycho.. nevermind..

  • Well, thats *reasonable* .. I mean, I'd like to do my part to make sure that the 'new economy' doesn't grind to a screeching halt, and if that means making comics so that people can donate 30 cents to PayPayPayPal, well that just sounds like a heck of a good deal to me.. Now if only I were in the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, I could take advantage of a *wonderful* deal like this..

  • Bennett ad his rocket look like a classic con man from whats in that article.

    easy to grab headlines and with it funding right up to launch time then make a well timed run to a warm place with no extradition laws...

    The american looks a little mroe genuine (in that he's doing it himself)

  • Sorensen is great. I use it all the time when producing video from my Power Mac. It's xanim that needs to support it.

    That's like saying, "Why does everyone use VHS?! I can't put my DVD disc into this VCR!"
  • You can do better than that too. If the payee has multiple banks in varying jurisdictions, you can also make it extremely difficult to trace the money. Naturally, this is only really useful for porn and contraband online, but it's nice to bring back that anonymity of paying in cash.

    For an algorithm that I think works to do as you wrote above, you can see my report on limited knowledge purchasing [].

  • ..but Steve Bennett just might make it to space. Granted he does not have the technical knowledge or resouces of NASA or the ESA, but it certainly is a possibility that he will reach LEO. The components he is using are easy to use, mass produced and highly available. It is not too far-fetched to believe he could reach space. Once the feasablility of home-built rockets is proven, I think industry will be quicker to jump on the bandwagon and get all of us who would like to travel to space the opportunity. I would be delighted if Mr. Bennett were to win the X-prize. I see a parallel between these endevours and early aviation history. When airplanes were first being developed, large companies and governments were the only ones making progress in developing them. Normal citizens did not have much access to them. After the large entities had done the serious R&D in aerodynamics, citizens began building their own planes and flying them around. Granted, there is quite a leap between Orville and Wilbur Wright and NASA, but I totally believe that space flight is now within reach of the common man (like me!).

  • ouch - my mistake. merci.

  • Scott is a successful comic artist who's had work in print, on shelves, and is now looking to on-line media to increase his income by doing an end-run around conservative comic book publishing houses

    If you read the article you will see that Tycho assertions are not true - those being the false ones you repeat above - Scott himself has problems with money, as an artist, with a heatlhy and responsive audience, he is angry there is no method for him to make a living - like PVPs Tycho.

    Scott feels the publishing houses are fat thieves (like the RIAA & MPAA they are unnecessary in the citizen->artist relationship the net provides).

    He just wants a simple system, with low overhead (less 'intrusive fat capitalist' and more 'tolerable-silent-inconvenience') so he can put a 'tip-jar' out on the net and help at least pay for the endevour... or perharps pay for some necessities for his family-of-four. I feel for the guy - he is very bright and talented, instead of work like his most of the net is destined(sp) to be a puff-bladdy-mcblondalds-brand-themed-mega-cross-ti e-in-promotional fucking wasteland.. instead of the means to liberation for artists it can be..

  • But the big thing I long for was my doom days. I spent so many hours playing doom and doom II... i wonder when we get it's, what, 8th anniversary or something. :)

    Stop Facism NOW! []
  • Are you sure PayPal is credit card based? While I know that Amazon whacks off an incredible 15% from donations (!) and rides the CC system, if I recall correctly, Paypal is under 5%, and does NOT ride the credit card system.

  • It seem's the biggest complaint's are that Scott got press and can feed his family.

  • by vertical-limit ( 207715 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2001 @04:16PM (#126550)
    As we progress into the future of computing at an ever-expanding rapid rate, it is imperative that we occasionally take time to reflect on how these unprecendented advances will impact our daily life structure. The recent backlash to Scott McCloud's micropayments proposal shows how controversy can touch upon many aspects of a new payment paradigm. On one hand, we have enthusiastic "early adopters" who represent the perennial quest for new ways of doing business. On the other hand, we have the more traditional viewpoint of many Internet users and "old-ecomony" leaders - who view micropayments as confusing, unintuitive, or in some cases downright dangerous.

    Who is correct? At this point, it's difficult to tell. Some detractors would argue that micropayment technology presents an undue intrusion into existing content distribution model. Micropayment technology is a revolutionary alterance in the existing capacity of authors to receive payment; it alters the capacity for content distribution in ways that our current economic structure and techonological understanding may not be prepared to accomodate. Perhaps glitches in this untested process may condemn the concept of micropayments to a footnote in computing history.

    Supporters, on the other hand, say that micropayments are an important step forward for computing and publishing. With previous payment schemes, users could not take advantage of the most important technological benefits gained from modern-day information research. Micropayments, they say, opens the proverbial floodgates by allowing the every-day users to pick and choose what they pay for.

    There is some probably some merit to both viewpoints. Certainly, commerce as a whole will encounter some friction as it shifts to accomodate the capacity and access provided by micropayments. However, the end result may be worth the infrastructural shifts; existing payment schemes may not be as structurally capable as their newer cousin.

    Will micropayments sink or swim? The question is still up in the air; with many unique forces and viewpoints at work, we'll likely see many interesting challenges and confrontations for the pioneers in the online content field. Whatever the final result is, it's sure to give the key players on all sides of the issue a trial by fire.

  • This guy's been watching Salvage One [] re-runs. If memory serves, The Vulture [] was made from a converted cement mixer as well.
  • Any online artists wanna get with me and organize a "boycott the public" week where all the online comics and art sites become unavailable?

    Go ahead. I think you might be surprised at how little you're all missed.

  • Scott McCloud's full of ideas, but Tycho's arguments largely ran along the lines of "why the hell are you speaking for me?" Penny Arcade has been running on donations, but the largest barrier is one that Scott runs right around when he mentions Tycho's post. Tycho mentions that most of their viewership cannot perform credit transactions, which basically they don't have a credit card or don't trust the net with it. Scott paints the world black and white, where either the customers pay or steal, whilst directly ignoring the large majority of people who would love to pay but walk away when they find out they can only use credit cards. I think the largest issue is that people want an automatic central system to handle micropayments, but nobody is going to build a central credit system out of the goodness of their hearts. Even if it was built, somebody would have to be there to work accounts recievable, since credit card only is a proven waste. There will always be a middle man in a central system.
  • I'm afraid I must question the existance of the "large majority of people who would love to pay." Maybe there is some innate differance between the tip-jar like donation buttons and micropayments that cause this, but the vast majority of Penny Arcade viewers don't donate. They claim a halflife of a month on payments via donations.

    My point here is that Tycho and Gabe of Penny Arcade loved Scott's idea, but after a few months in the trenches with depressing results, they were a bit sour on the idea, especially when the newest ICST basically said the same thing as the one before it.

    Its a bit like reading an article about the radical possiblities of Internet Companies and dotcom's today.

  • I give 50/50 odds that he makes it into space. Thing is I don't think he has a chance in hell of turning the thing around or landing intact. Like the mantra of the article Bye Bye Steve
  • After the large entities had done the serious R&D in aerodynamics, citizens began building their own planes and flying them around. Granted, there is quite a leap between Orville and Wilbur Wright and NASA, but I totally believe that space flight is now within reach of the common man (like me!).

    His capsule is a cement mixer. I'm with Taco. I'm waiting until I can use my miles to upgrade to a first class cement mixer.

    Art At Home []

  • Yeah, my favorite (check my id). And he gives Thunderbirds [] a bad name.

    "What are we going to do tonight, Bill?"
  • I think another problem is that there is just a certian amount of content out there that most people find is not worth paying for. They may be wiling to spend time viewing it so long as it's free, but they don't find it worth money. For example, since we're on the issue of online comics I read a few on a semi-regular basis but I don't think I'd be willing to pay for many. I'd definitly be willing to pay for Dilbert (I know it's not an online comic only, but I ready it online). Supposing United Media decided they were going to start charging a small amount for access, I'd probably pay it because I find it pretty consistently funny. Then there are some like Penny Arcade and 8-bit theatre. Both make me laugh form tiem to time BUT I'm not sure if I'd be willing to pay. Maybe a bit, I mean I already donated a bit to PA, but I'm not sure I'd be willing to pay a subscription. They don't come out daily and I don't find them all that consistently funny. Then there are a few others I read that if they charged I'd just say "oh well" and do without.

    Now I full and well realise that a good deal of effort goes into making comics and most other online content BUT that doesn't mean that I'm necessairly willing to pay for it. Effort goes into a lot of things I won't buy. I think that some online sites need to come to terms with this too that, while people many like their content and take it for free, they won't pay extra for it. When you start asking people to spend their money, they start to get more discriminating. The more you want, the more discriminating they are.

    Now this isn't to say that sites don't have the right to try to charge for their content, but I think many may be sorely disappointed. The best solution as far as micropayments go is what we are already seeing with things like voluntary top jars. If people want to pay, they can. Now on an honour system like this you probably aren't going to be able to collect enough to make a living, but at least you make some.

  • ltintospace.html [] - 8 paragraphs down

    On October 14, the High-Altitude Research Corporation of Hunstville will fly their hybrid-motor powered rocket from a barge in the Gulf of Mexico. HARC flew it's amateur rocket 36 miles in 1997, a Guinness Book World Record.

    dont know if its still current though. Theres other pages there that talk about people launching from high altitude balloons, and getting considerably higher... here's some []
  • "I dearly love Penny Arcade, but I'm not going to pay for it if I can get it free!"

    What just about everybody fails to see, though, is that "getting it for free" is only temporary, no matter what. You pay for it after initially looking at it for free (billing, donations, what have you), or nobody pays anything and the site goes down. Either way you're not looking at it any more. At least the first scenario gives you the option to continue reading at a later date if you feel it's worth the money.

    So you'll have to decide your own priorities. You claim to love PA dearly. If you're not willing to part with some pocket change to keep it going, then perhaps you don't love PA as dearly as you claim, especially if you rate it below pocket change. You'd rather be able to buy a pack of gum than read it?

    Of course, if you'd rather wait until a comic makes big-time syndication before you're willing to read it (so they can pay for the site, saving your precious coinage), then you shouldn't even bother to read lame comics like PA that will never get anywhere. I mean, c'mon, if it was any good, somebody else would be paying money for it by now.

    Sound harsh? Your words, not mine. Or at least the only logical conclusion of your statement. Just think, your unwillingness to support art that you enjoy is helping to give industry groups like the MPAA and RIAA a good name. Without these fine folks around to tell customers what they really want, pre-packaging it in hype and marketing, nobody could afford to be creative.

    When next I hear yet another boy band on yet another top 10 radio station, it will remind me of you. N'Sync wouldn't be able to survive without teriffic fans like you around to support them through inaction.

  • "Why do the banks *have* to be at the center of it all the time? I know they are, but let's remember, the bank does not have a god-given right to make money off every human money transaction. I should be able to pay you without paying someone else a fee as well; or at least, not just paying the bank."

    First off, free checking. I don't pay my bank for my checking account or even my checks. If you're paying, you need to change banks. :)

    Secondly, until I get a Jetson's-esque pneumatic tube from my desk to the desk of the particular artist I want to pay, there will always have to be some sort of intermediary to take my money from point A to point B. You can either use the "Give him the money and I'll pay you back later" method (credit card), or "you already have my money, give some to him" method (check). (I'm ignoring Western Union because they're expensive). Either of those methods require someone who handles money for a living, storing and/or lending. By definition, a bank.

    "A competitive market of micropayment providers would be good, all linked together."

    ... and that's not the modern banking system how?

  • by Guppy06 ( 410832 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2001 @06:00PM (#126570)
    The main problem with micropayments as they are now (at least from my own POV) is that they're all credit-card based. Just the process of using the credit card to pay an individual requires at least two middlemen scalping money from both ends.

    First off, the person paying the money has to have a credit card to begin with. Even if you're unAmerican and pay off the balance of your card every month, they'll still find ways to turn a profit off of you, even if it means selling your name out to advertisers ("We at Discover Card thought you might be interested in...")

    And then to access the credit card's proprietary network infrastructure in order to GET a payment, you either need to set up an account with the credit card people directly, or (which is more likely for people looking for micropayments) go throgh another middleman like Paypal. Either way costs the payee money as well.

    So what do I think would be a better alternative? We have OpenPGP (which still seems quite secure), we have electronic signature laws on the books... how about e-mailing a check?

    First off, checking accounts cost the payor inherently less, because it's dealing with money the bank already has (and can earn interest off of), as opposed to the lending-on-the-spot concept of credit cards. As for the payee, the only fees that come along for them are bounced check fees from their bank (which can be passed along back to the payor if agreed upon).

    Imagine this: You send an e-mail to whoever you want to send money to. You include your street address, unique check number, "pay to the order of" stuff, routing number... all the stuff you'd include in a real check. For the signature, you use a private key for which your bank has access to the public key specifically for that purpose. The recipient needs only forward the document on to their bank to have the check deposited.

    Beyond that, the only thing that a real check would have and this one wouldn't would be copy protection. The only threat from copying is doctoring the copy (the bank isn't going to process check #512 twice). Doctoring is prevented by the signature process (hashing). If you're still a little squeamish, you make the signature time-sensitive according to taste.

    If after that, you still aren't sure about using one of these, either you have no faith in encryption algorythms, or you're too paranoid to use a paper check to begin with.

    It's cheaper for the payor, it's cheaper for the payee, it's cheaper for the bank (automate the whole thing and fewer warm bodies need to be employed to read my chicken-scratch handwriting), and digitally signing the "paperwork" instantly makes it more secure than most on-line credit card transactions.


    Or I could be talking out of my ass again and I should go back to playing StarCraft. :) Though I'm now considering talking to my bank and asking what they think of electronic signing like this...

  • by sllort ( 442574 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2001 @05:49PM (#126573) Homepage Journal

    "the Thunderbird capsule is actually a converted cement mixer, containing sheets of hardboard and a few computer joysticks."

    Man if he does make it up there, I can tell you who will win in traffic mix-ups. Would you get in the way of a guy using an Atari to drive a cement mixer?

    Me neither.

  • Supported. Mod it up, or I'll boycott Slashdot for a week. (who am I kidding?) It's funny. It's well written. It rhymes. It's got relevant links. It's not all that offtopic. The mother article has no topic, but is a loose collections of bits and pieces. Flamebait? The only war going on is a moderator pissing contest. Even if it had been a duplicate (i don't know that it is), it's a worthy song, and deserves printing.

  • the very height of foolishness. Even if your design is essentially sound, what if you've attached a valve the wrong way? Or forgotten to actually install the control for some key component? A remote-controlled test launch is the best way to find out about the little trick that Murphy plans to use on you. So why not do it?

System checkpoint complete.