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Slashback: Brilliance, Delay, Simputer 231

Slashback items of note tonight: One more report (the last word?) on the demise of Loki, a good move on the Brilliant/KaZaA front, and a little 12-month oopsie on the release schedule for the newest from Stephenson.

It's all fun and games until you end up in Bankruptcy. Born Game writes: "Loki was supposed to be declared dead today by the bankruptcy trustee. Dennis Powell has followed their story closely, and he has written a wrapup that will break your heart and make you mad."

I hope he's making it longer than Cryptonomicon. We reported that Neal Stephenson's new book Quicksilver was due last month. An anonymous reader pointed to this page at Amazon UK, writing "the book is due out March 6th next year, not this year. Meh."

Maybe calling it Brilliant wasn't such a bright idea. asv108 writes: "According to this article from MP3 Newswire, Cnet's Download.com has removed KaZaA media desktop due to concerns over Brilliant Digital Entertainment's hidden software."

It's still available elsewhere though; if you or someone you love wants to use such software regardless, TDScott writes: "In case anyone is having trouble convincing their friends that there's a problem with the b3d spyware installed with KaZaA, I've put together a quick summary page on what the problem is and how to remove it (use AdAware with caution) - pointing people to it might save you hours of explanation."

I hope these are available stateside, too. Pankaj writes "Simputer is All set to hit the market in India. The Open Source Computer (Both Hardware/Software) Has found its first makers in Encore Solutions who will start selling it within the next one month. {sources internal}. This will give the iPaq and Palms a run for their money, as the simputer is loaded with features like internal modem, smartcard reader and usb port. There are plans to add a gsm phone into it too -- watch out, Nokia! And one third the price; it's supposed to be 10,000 Indian Rupees. Thats around $210 try comparing it to the ipaq.

Did you ask what it is based on? It's Linux 2.4, man, with gtk and its developer kit it's as free as the hardware itself. This looks like hot stuff to go for.

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Slashback: Brilliance, Delay, Simputer

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The plan was a good one: Port the most popular Windows games to Linux. It would involve licensing the original titles, coding the ports, and selling them to a world full of eager Linux users and growing every day.

    I think the word that they are looking for is "giving them away for free". Because that's what happened.
    • Giving them away for free? That's strange, I paid for all the Loki-produced games I have..

    • by sterno ( 16320 ) on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @09:37PM (#3313497) Homepage
      Let's say they were charging $50/copy and they sold 5000 copies (which seemed to be a reasonable expectation given what the report said). At that price and volume, that's $250,000 per title.

      Now, figure that each title is going to take 3 or 4 developers. Let's say that each is paid $96K/year (for math simplicity) in salary and benefits, that would come down to approximately $8000/month per employee or roughly $32,000/month for each team. My numbers are totally coming out of thin air, but not unreasonable. At that burn rate you can afford to spend 7 months in development of each game with some room for some sort of profit.

      Of course that base price isn't accounting for a lot of the company infrastructure. You have to afford a place to work, computers, a network connection, marketing, packaging, etc. You'll need an office manager, somebody to run the website, and a couple other odds and ends. So probably, in the grand scheme of things, you're talking at least $50K/month burn rate. As you develop more games, the overhead is probably reduced somewhat but this is a reasonable baseline.

      So now, suddenly you are down to 5 months of development time. Ohhhh wait, you forgot to license that game, didn't you? Well that's going to shave a few bucks off each copy of the game, and now suddenly you are in the red assuming that you can get the game ported from start to finish in 5 months.

      My numbers aren't necessarily realistic, but I think they are close enough to reality to illustrate that this is, at best, a razor thin business to be in.
      • Except that the way contracts for porting games work is that they charge you an upfront fee, they don't take a percentage. So they might charge, say, $100,000, and after that you're on your own. That made Loki's business model even less likely to work.
      • Unfortunately, even though you pay $50 per copy at the store, most of that goes to the store, the warehouse, the distributor, the company that presses the CDs, etc. I ended up purchasing a copy of Railroad Tycoon 2 for Linux for less than $10 at E.B. because they had held on to it for too long, and they just wanted to reduce inventory. You know what is sad? E.B. probably covered their costs by selling it at $10.
      • My numbers aren't necessarily realistic, but I think they are close enough to reality to illustrate that this is, at best, a razor thin business to be in.

        In a free market, any business is "razor thin." Competition forces prices to the lowest they can be such that the well-managed companies survive. That the prices for these games were normal for the industry, and they nearly squeaked by, suggest that your numbers are probably pretty close.

        • Actually one of the concepts that a lot of entrepeneurs have been into is the notion of avoiding competition. Basically, you try to start businesses that are in new technologies, or provide services nobody else is providing. This way you don't have to compete in any real sense.

          Also, competition doesn't necessarily force prices to the lowest that they can be. Many times companies compete using marketing and branding which allow them to operate at prices well beyond what are the bare minimum for survival. I mean, are Nike shoe really worth that much money?
          • Also, competition doesn't necessarily force prices to the lowest that they can be. Many times companies compete using marketing and branding which allow them to operate at prices well beyond what are the bare minimum for survival. I mean, are Nike shoe really worth that much money?

            Well, yes, how couldn't they be? If they weren't, Nike would be out of business!

            Anyway, in this case, the prices are the lowest they can be, which is to say that the marginal cost of producing each shoe (including marketing and so forth) is not much less than the marginal gain of selling each shoe (including prices that seem crazy to a lot of us).

            Think of it this way: if Nike could cut shoe prices $5 a pair across the board, without posting losses, then it would be a good move: they'd sell more shoes, increasing their market share, thus improving the likelihood of making bigger profits in the future. Therefore, they must be working with slim margins, because otherwise they would discount shoes.

            There are some industries that are not sales-based, where this argument doesn't apply. For example, a painter who works on commissions. "Market share" means nothing, because she can't expand beyond her own abilities (by hiring employees). She will not cut prices as long as she has enough work, and raise them when she is overbooked.

            • Actually, the price is set to the optimum profit point, not the lowest price. I could conceivably lower the price by $5 bucks but I wouldn't sell substantially more shoes. They increase this optimum point by using marketing to push the demand for the shoes up enough that they can raise the prices and still sell the same number of shoes.
              • Right, but the cost of the marketing drives down their margin at the same rate that the price increase drives it up. Otherwise, the marketers would charge more (if the margin increases) or the prices would be raised less (if it decreases). You're right, if lowering the price doesn't affect demand, the price will stay the same.

                I'm trying to say that the "optimum profit point" *will be* the lowest price at which the company can survive, due to competition in the market.

  • Quicksilver (Score:2, Funny)

    by 56 ( 527333 )
    I hear that Neal Stephenson is writing it (Quicksilver, his upcoming book) with a pen in an effort to make it shorter.

    Here's hoping he fails.
    • a... pen?

      they still make those?

      or do you mean a stylus?

      ; )
      • Yes, he is using a stylus. And he's using that stylus on clay tablets. (Hmm, I wonder if that will go well with the OCR scanner...)
      • Re:Quicksilver (Score:2, Informative)

        by 56 ( 527333 )
        A fountain pen.

        "I've written every word of it so far with fountain pen on paper. Part of the theory was that it would make me less long-winded, but it hasn't actually worked. I think it has improved the quality of the actual work somewhat, simply because it is actually easier to edit something on paper than on screen. So usually every page of the original manuscript has been gone over 2 or 3 times before it goes into the computer and then when I type it into the computer that's another pass again where I can make changes if I want to."

        http://www.cryptonomicon.com/chat.html
        • Re:Quicksilver (Score:3, Interesting)

          by MaxVlast ( 103795 )
          That sounds like how I write. I am miserable in a word processor. It's too easy to get sidetracked. When I write longhand, I have to organize my ideas. Also, I really like the aesthetic of pages and pages of my handwriting spread out in front of me. To each his own, eh?
          • Re:Quicksilver (Score:1, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward
            that is the best way to design, IMOHO. I always write out code/design before doing anything on a actual computer. Then again, I rarely write prose ;)

            Adam
            • I tried it with code, but I can't read my handwritten code worth beans. With English, it isn't hard to guess, but try fudging a regex!
          • I can't stand to write on paper. And if I did try to write something like that I'd have to spend more time trying to figure out what I wrote then the time it would take to write it :P
  • ..for another year? Damn! Damn damn damn damn! I guess I really should have been looking at more sources as to when this thing was gonna come out. A friend that worked at the Tattered Cover bookstore here in Denver told me it would be out in May, I read it somewhere else...I had expectations! Guess I'll have to curb those expectations and become better informed...damn it.
  • by Anonymous Coward


    All these stories have been posted before.

    Are you people actually paying for this???

  • Kazaa Lite, (Score:5, Informative)

    by nexex ( 256614 ) on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @08:10PM (#3313209) Homepage
    Better yet, have your friends use Kazaa Lite [kazaalite.tk]. Same great taste without the fat

    • Re:Kazaa Lite, (Score:2, Insightful)

      by svferris ( 519966 )
      Better yet, use WinMX [winmx.com]. It's a large non-distributed network with a lot of users. The program runs SO much faster than Kazaa.

      Overall, I stay away from anything running Gnutella or some other distributed network. I get so many packets running through my computer that I can't get anything else done.
    • BTW, I found out that WinMX works rather well with Crossover Office, as long as you select the "separate windows" style interface. Also, you only get black text in the windows, so don't use the "inverted" scheme or you won't see anything. I'd give it a 85% compatibility ranking.
    • How about Gnutella?

      If you don't want Kazaa around, Kazaa Lite won't help. It still needs the huge FastTrack userbase.

      Karma whores out there, I bring you the meaning of an consistent opinion.
      • How about Gnutella?

        Umm...Because it sucks?

        C-X C-S
      • Re:Kazaa Lite, (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        although folks complain about it, gnutella isn't too terrible on my fairly fast connection. I waste about 5KB/s - 30KB/s on network traffic, and suck down another 40K (capped) for uploads, and pull down about 100KB/s fairly constantly. (I've gotten almost every ST:TNG episode in the past few days)

        It *does* really need a good replacement. (FastTrack-ish protocols are a good next step, but still provide a limited view of the network, making it hard to find rare files)

        Adam
    • Another great alternative is giFT [sourceforge.net]. Its still in development (so you have to compile it yourself). But its based on FastTrack, is free software, ad/spyware free, and I am very pleased with the results I've been getting with it.
  • ok, so we all know about the [slashdot.org] evils [slashdot.org] of the popular networks. are there any good ones left?

    it can't be down to gnutella and small opennap networks, can it?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Direct Connect is a fine filesharing network. It is organized very much like IRC in that you don't connect to one central server, but rather independently run "hubs" (you can chat with other users on there too, similar to napster). However, there is a registry of public hubs available when you load up the client. Quite a bit of data online. Check it out [neo-modus.com].
      • Direct Connect is particularly great for those of you trying to find DC games. There are tons of hubs dedicated to nothing but Dreamcast. Which reminds me...I really need to go find NHL2K2!
  • It runs a StrongARM chipset and runs linux for $210? Many newer palms sell for about 300-400 bucks. That thing better come stateside. Unfortunately, it doesn't say whether it will have a hard drive. It looks like its big enough to have one.
  • selling them to a world full of eager Linux users

    I guess Loki has figured out the difference between users and customers.
  • Speaking of Loki... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by graveyhead ( 210996 ) <fletch@fletchtronic[ ]et ['s.n' in gap]> on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @08:20PM (#3313247)
    Does anyone know who (if anyone) is going to maintain OpenAL [openal.org]? This is a promising spatial audio api, and I would hate to see it go by the wayside. Already I see dead links on their site (e.g. CVS server), and have to find backup FTP servers to get access.
    • Whoops, here's the correct link [openal.org]. Aparently "openal.org" takes you to the loki site, but "www.openal.org" works fine. Duh.
    • Creative labs? (Score:3, Informative)

      by red5 ( 51324 )
      If you go to the member companies page on the openal site: Here [openal.org]
      It lists Creative Labs and Loki Entertainment Software.
      My guess is that Creative Labs will maintain this.
      They have been good with opensource [creative.com] in the past
      • The Open Source page that you link to has the CVS access info and it seems they're hosting it for now. What's cool is that it seems they're working with the community to make full-function Audigy drivers for Linux.
  • The problem with p2p applications is, the 'P's in p2p are kinda important. I use Kazaa, less because it is "a great application", but because theres a lot more files, because its a popular program, with all important eyeball share.. (or maybe, eardrum share.. :) More than spending time on creating a better program, maybe what we need is to do is spend a bit of time marketing what we have to "idiots" (read: the average non-slashdot reader).
  • User profiles can be stored in Flash memory as accessible files or also in the SmartCard.

    I'm not to familiar with this system does that mean that each user could have its own SmartCard. Meaning that there account can be taken from simputer to simputer?

    I do like the idea and the design wouldn't mind one of these in blue. of course it would need Text-to-Speech in english. Not to crazy about learning Hindi.

    • I do like the idea and the design wouldn't mind one of these in blue. of course it would need Text-to-Speech in english. Not to crazy about learning Hindi.

      If it's got text-to-speech in India's native languages it's got it for English too. People in India often speak English better than we Yanks do.

  • Read interface a loooong time ago...it's pretty good, but has the problem that many Stephenson books have (esp the Diamond Age) - whole chunks of plot feel like they're missing...

    Great paperback, tho.
  • Loki (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RatBastard ( 949 ) on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @08:34PM (#3313290) Homepage
    Loki was not killed by a market not willing to buy their goods, though that did have some small contribution. It was killed by the absolute criminal incompitence of it's president.

    I feel sorry for the people who Loki owes money to. I feel no pity at all for Loki.
    • ... and I feel bad for me because now I have to use Windows to play games :(

      A quote from the article said that the one good thing that came out of Loki was the friendships. Friendships are good, but I think he forgot about the games. Boy, they did some great work over there while they lasted....
    • It doesnt seem like criminal incompitence killed Loki. I'd bet Mr. Draeker knew exactly what he was doing, stealing every cent that he could.
  • ...is what the official Cnet policy will be. Does this mean that Cnet will remove all programs with known spyware? Does this represent a shift in large corporations towards the anti-spyware movement? I shall wait and see...
  • by rw2 ( 17419 ) on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @08:36PM (#3313298) Homepage
    """The deposition took on a surreal air at times, with Draeker refusing to say whether or not he is a lawyer and in one spectacular moment testifying that as president of Loki he could say how much had been paid to Scott Draeker and when, but as Scott Draeker he could not say whether he actually received the money."""
    • Anyone running a startup, especially a startup with slim chances (and that doesn't take 20/20 hindsight to say) is going to be operating in a reality distortion field, it is practically a requirement of the job. Such fields are good when you need to motivate people to do the otherwise impossible, but they can easily get out of hand, and often do. So, it really is no surprise that the guy continues to live in his own surreal world.
    • "...in one spectacular moment testifying that as president of Loki he could say how much had been paid to Scott Draeker and when, but as Scott Draeker he could not say whether he actually received the money."

      Thus proving he was in fact a lawyer...
    • and this, ladies and gentlemen, is why Kurt Godel didn't become a CEO
  • The Loki story with the promised, delayed checks sounds like a guy I worked for.


    Barry Lewis kept promising checks, but never paid. I heard from one person, that he used stock to pay the rent for his apartment. When I told him, he would get the source code for what I worked on, he then tried extortion and harassment. Not only did his extortion and harassment fail, but he was convicted of two counts last month. The district attorney handling the case wanted the judge to include anger management to his sentence because he had threatened the district attorney.

    • Although my story doesn't involve any courts, I'm also reminded of a former employer. I started as the assistant to the office manager. Once I was trained, the office manager bailed and I was "promoted". I really should have realized what this meant, but I was fairly naived.

      As the office manager, I also did accounts payable and receiveable. Accounts payable consisted of calling creditors and explaining "no, we can't pay you this week, either". Accounts receiveable was easy -- there was only one, someone who subletted some office space. My boss kicked him out (for no reason I could see), making accounts receiveable even easier.

      When we finally landed a big contract with a big payment up-front, I made sure to bring payroll and taxes up to date before anything else was paid. Then, I quit.

      -Paul Komarek
  • What happened? (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by smagruder ( 207953 )
    I submitted the story about the Simputer on August 21 of last year! How about some belated karma points? :)
  • by OccSub ( 572282 ) on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @08:46PM (#3313331)

    Nobody is going to wait for a company to port games over to Linux if they can boot up Windows on the same box. If Loki perhaps pursued licencing good games exclusively for Linux... then they would probably have had a better chance.

    • Yeah, if they could have pulled it off.

      Many companies were generous, like Dynamax, id, and Interplay. Others were grudging to their own hurt.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      doubt it.

      Porting is much more cost effective.
      Loki had almost no expenses for content creation. They didn't have to write game engines, they didn't need original music, images, models, skins, etc.

      They were a small group of very talented programmers. Not game designers or artists.

      I think it would have been in loki's interest to just be consultants working with existing game companies to help them write linux/mac/beos etc binaries or just platform independant code with SDL and stuff like that.
      They probably still wouldn't have made tons of money, but their overhead would have been much lower, and they'd might still be in business.

      Who knows? just my 2 cents.
  • by aberkvam ( 109205 ) <(aberkvam) (at) (berque.com)> on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @08:46PM (#3313333) Homepage
    From Neal Stephenson's own web site [well.com]:
    All of my time and attention are spoken for--several times over. Please do not ask for them.

    It's not that I'm a mean guy, just that I have this book I want to finish, and I'm a long way from finishing it.

    *wince* Still a long way from having it done? We will probably very lucky if we see it by March 6, 2003.
  • on losing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by drDugan ( 219551 ) on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @08:52PM (#3313344) Homepage

    Said one, "All we lost was money. Scott lost his friends."


    ... Scott should lose his right to be with us anymore. He should be in prison, based on that story.
    • ... Scott should lose his right to be with us anymore. He should be in prison, based on that story.

      I disagree. He deserves to win a Darwin award, but that's about it. Based on that story I don't think he ever deliberately acted criminally; he just didn't have a clue what he was doing.
      • Re:on losing (Score:5, Informative)

        by fishbowl ( 7759 ) on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @09:20PM (#3313421)
        >I don't think he ever deliberately acted
        >criminally; he just didn't have a clue what he
        >was doing.

        Certain types of failures when you're running
        a public corporation *are* crimes.

        There are plenty of situations where being in
        a position where you "should have known better"
        is enough to be charged with federal crimes.

        The tax issue is a big one to me. If you, the employee, have filed w-4 forms for withholding,
        and the company withholds the money from your checks but doesn't pay the taxes AND YOU HAVE
        NO WAY TO FIND THIS OUT or to correct it, how
        can you be held responsible?

        I think the person who did that needs to pony up
        the tax bill, then go to jail for 50 years.

        • Re:on losing (Score:2, Interesting)

          by aberkvam ( 109205 )
          Well, according to an older article [linuxandmain.com] that was referenced on /. last month:
          During at least part of the period when employee payrolls were not met, Loki sometimes gave employees "advances" on salary owed. Former employees say that these advances were in the amount of their net pay; the benefit to the company was that federal and state taxes on the payroll were not paid, because the money was treated as loans rather than pay. This in turn resulted in the now-former employees receiving 1099 forms instead of W-2s in January. The 1099 covers moneys paid to non-employees, but more important to the former employees, it meant that they would now have to pay taxes -- and perhaps penalties -- on what would have been their net pay.
          If the company withheld the taxes they would have had some recourse. But it sounds like no money was withheld. I would suspect that the company didn't make the point clear and that the employees didn't ask. I haven't heard anything that implies that there was a deliberate effort to cheat the employees on this point, it was more likely bad communication. In any case, the employees owe the money and they never paid it. One would hope that they could get some kind of extension from the government but the debt is theirs to pay.
        • Using withheld tax money for operations *is* a crime. The penalties are generally particularly severe (as corporate penalties go): the debt can not be discharged in a bankruptcy, and the directors of the company are personally liable for its repayment. Note that this breaks two of the fundamental tenets of corporate law, as businesspeople typically understand it: something that can't be cleansed by a Chapter 11 filing, and something that pierces the corporate veil to the director level (even if the directors had no way of knowing.) Another fundamental understanding that businesspeople should have is: you can't screw the government out of money and get away with it (or "they who makes the laws makes them for their own benefit" which I hereby dub Gwalthny's law unless I unconsciously plagiarized it.)

          Of course, in this case they didn't spend withheld taxes, they were making loans in the guise of advances on payroll. Gwalthny's law now works on the employees: personal bankruptcy doesn't usually cleanse tax liabilities (but check with your lawyer!) On the other hand, the IRS is often open to negotiation, just like any other business.

          • I want to amend the last paragraph of my above post: it sounds from the article that the employees may have been employees in 2001, not contractors - if so, the directors of the company may be liable for the withheld taxes not paid to the government. This is what you should check with your lawyers.

    • But he did.

      His name is now written in Linux history as a jerk, a PHB, an Enronish manager. Any tech aware of his past deeds will prefer working for Taco Bell or even Microsoft.

      In this sense, he is no longer with "us".
  • The whole Loki thing is really sad. I guess all I have to say now is thank you to the Loki programers, it was you who made the company run (financially too by the looks of it :). And I get alot of enjoyment out of playing the games you ported. Thanks.
  • This resulted in the sale of 7,487 units [of Civilization: Call to Power]; Loki sold about 1,500 others itself.

    I bought one of the 9000 copies of Civ:CTP that were sold. I feel like I'm part of an elite group! :)
  • I picked up a copy of the Linux port for $5. Good times. It plays pretty smoothly on my celeron 400Mhz.

  • Somewhat offtopic:

    Does anyone know where to get some of the games that Loki ported? I've looked for them but can't seem to find them.

    • If you don't mind paying for them, you can check out tuxgames.com or linuxcentral.com.

      If, on the other hand, you're just looking for a free ride, well, you're on your own....
    • Re:Loki games (Score:3, Informative)

      by Paul Komarek ( 794 )
      I recently bought a second copy of Tribes II from Tux Games [tuxgames.com] (which seems to load somewhat slowly right now). I think there are a few other places, too, but I'm not able to find them right now.

      There are several good linux gaming sites, such as linuxgames [linuxgames.com] and icculus.org [icculus.org]. icclus.org has a nice faq [icculus.org] and lots of projects, and linuxgames is a cornucopia of helpful info for gaming on linux.

      -Paul Komarek
    • Below are a few links to where you can buy some of Loki's games...
      LinuxMall [linuxmall.com]
      TuxGames [tuxgames.com]

      As a side note, did anyone else catch this in the article on Loki?
      The biggest miscalculation came with Quake III Arena, originally published by id Software. Draeker thought that a "limited collector's edition" shipped in a tin box specially made in China would be just the ticket -- so he ordered 50,000 units, making it the least limited of all of Loki's editions. About 7,000 units sold; most would be unloaded on a liquidator later.

      I don't know about you, but I'll be keeping my eye out for the liquidation company that will be selling these tins--I'll be happy to pick up a few games cheap. Amazon.com [amazon.com] has the Quake 3 tin for $10, but its currently "unavailable".
      • by Anonymous Coward
        They're already pretty much out in stores. They're tins with a green sticker saying "Works with windows, just download this file from here".


        The local Microcenter has a boatload of 'em, in fact.

  • I had not read the bit on CNet [cnet.com] about the distributed computing system [com.com] that was being included with KaZaA until today. I find this interesting since the reason I switched from KaZaA to BearShare several weeks ago was because my whole computer became sluggish the moment I started KaZaA up, and 1ghz Thuderbirds aren't supposed to be sluggish. I don't know if this is what caused it, but I'm glad I stopped using it when I did nevertheless.
    • My celeron 433 isn't affected one bit by my running Kazaa.. methinks you may have a deeper problem.

      Having said that, I long ago switched to Kazaalite. It loads about a million times faster (no ads) and of course, has no spyware or hidden p2p network.

  • loki (Score:2, Insightful)

    by spir0 ( 319821 )
    perhaps another failing - other than scott - is that MOST linux users still think that free software means you don't have to pay money and would pirate loki games on the principle that everything should be free.

    they would probably have doubled their sales if it wasn't for the users.

    not that it would have helped loki, but I think that if someone else were to consider doing something similar to loki, they'd seriously have to think about it. their target audience don't like paying money, or are running their OS because they simply don't have the money.

    linux users need to get out of that mentality for their own computing future to be fruitful.
    • perhaps another failing - other than scott - is that MOST linux users still think that free software means you don't have to pay money and would pirate loki games on the principle that everything should be free.
      Really? I don't know why you would say that... do you have experience to that effect? Linux ideologues certainly wouldn't. Any serious gamer is likely to have a Windows partition anyway. Are you sure you aren't just making this up?
    • actually, Loki games were the only ones that I ever refused to pirate, mostly because I thought (innocently maybe) they were doing the "Right Thing". I always told my friends that asked for them to go buy them.

      One of the stats I was looking for in the article and didn't see...I have always wondered how many games Loki sold the day that the first article appeared on /. about them filing Chapter 11. Their ordering page was slashdotted within minutes, and after that for a long time. I had to wait several hours before I could order SimCity3000 (which is now at EB in the mall for $10) @ $30-some. It's pretty easy to believe that they made a LARGE chunk of their profit on that day, if the numbers in the article are accurate.

    • "they would probably have doubled their sales if it wasn't for the users."

      Actually, they wouldn't have had any sales if it wasn't for the users.
  • Its strikes me as kind of funny that his novel is wiated for with the same anticipation as gnome 2.0 and kde 3.0. It's not software guys. Its a hardback. Two different animals.
  • The original rumor of the Quicksilver release date was entirely based on the amazon.co.uk site's date. When the initial slashdot story came out, I looked all over the net for some sort of corroborating evidence and found none -- everything traces back to amazon UK. Then, as March 7 2002 actually approached, suddenly the date jumped by a year -- kind of suspicious. I can still find no indication that this is anything but a placeholder. So don't hold your breath. (But on the other hand, perhaps it will actually come out sooner -- you never know!)
    • Yep, I noticed the same thing. I actually pre-ordered Quicksilver from amazon.co.uk several months ago, when it said it was coming out on March 7, 2002. When March 7th rolled around and I hadn't gotten an email about my order, I checked back and, voila, 2002 had changed to 2003. Sigh.
  • by The Pim ( 140414 ) on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @10:19PM (#3313761)
    break my heart? Frankly, it bolstered my belief that the world will punish crooks and fools. Sure, you say, hindsight, etc. Well, let's look closer, and you can decide whether my criticism is revisionist.

    The legal profession had not worked out for him.

    Ok, a failed lawyer, starting a Linux game company. Sounds suspiciously like an opportunist with no relevant experience and dollar signs in his eyes. Did he at least have some technical background? Experience in the (brutal) gaming industry? Familiarity with Linux? You'd think the article would have mentioned it (working at Apple does not imply a technical background).

    a possible -- no, sure -- winner.

    If anyone ever gives you this vibe, get out, quick. The best of plans, in the best of circumstances, executed by the best of people is a long way from a sure thing in the free market. Optimism and confidence are good, but counting on success--even just in your heart--before it's in the bank is always a mistake. This lesson, it seems, will be learned over and over until the end of time.

    Scott Draker continued to collect unemployment.

    You're only supposed to get unemployment benefits if you're looking for work. So Draker was dishonest from the start.

    During 1999, ... venture capital was beginning to dry up.

    My company was financed in 1999, so I recall distinctly that the boom was in full swing the whole year. (Hint: when did VA Linux IPO?) If they couldn't find funding in 1999, something was very wrong.

    I'm going to stop, because the later signs are too obvious, and because if the signs were all there at the height of the bubble--well that's just pathetic.

    Reading this, I couldn't help being reminded of the movie startup.com. Somehow, you were supposed to feel sorry for these losers, even though they aspired to nothing more noble than easy riches, and pursued them with laughably poor judgement. I can't fairly blame them for dipping into the overflowing VC pool, but I certainly didn't cry for their failure.

    Maybe my standards for entrepreneurs are too high. Maybe it's because I've been with a tech start-up that I was and am proud of (founded in 1998, and still going, thank you).

  • Shocked (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jucius Maximus ( 229128 ) <m4encxb2sw&snkmail,com> on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @10:54PM (#3313909) Journal
    When I had orignally read that article [slashdot.org] about the Brilliant Digital (BDE) Trojan being silently distributed in Kazaa, I laughed and became glad that I had never installed Kazaa.

    But what's this? There's a new Ad-Aware? I download it and run it. It finds 19 new components. Guess what, the BDE Trojan is installed on my machine. How? I have no idea. I never downloaded installed Kazaa and nobody else uses this machine. And I almost never browse with IE so ActiveX couldn't have let it in.

    The only conclusion I can come to is that BDE software is being distributed with applications besides Kazaa. The only newly downloaded (Windows) software I have installed recently are Ad-aware and WinAMP and honestly I think they are unlikely suspects. The date on the BDE files was JAN 12 2002!!! That was 3 months before the original slashdot article!

    How did the Brilliant Digital Trojan get onto my computer?

    Log:
    Started file scan

    Other file:D:\WINNT\bde\bdeclean.exe
    FileSize : 32 kb
    FileCreation time : 12/01/2002 17:08:06
    Last accessed : 09/04/2002 22:32:07
    Build : 3.0.7.0
    OS : Win32 executable
    Description:BDEClean
    Version:3, 0, 7, 0
    ProductName:Brilliant Digital uninstaller

    Other file:D:\WINNT\system32\bdedata2.dll
    FileSize : 36 kb
    FileCreation time : 12/01/2002 17:03:51
    Last accessed : 09/04/2002 22:32:09
    Build : 1.0.1.9
    OS : No executable
    Description:BDEData (Release)
    Version:1, 0, 1, 9
    ProductName:BDEData Module

    Other file:D:\WINNT\system32\bdedownloader.dll
    FileSize : 88 kb
    FileCreation time : 12/01/2002 17:03:51
    Last accessed : 09/04/2002 22:32:09
    Build : 3.0.38.0
    OS : No executable
    Description:BDEDownloader
    Version:3, 0, 38, 0
    ProductName:Brilliant Digital Entertainment Inc. BDEDownloader

    Other file:D:\WINNT\system32\bdefdi.dll
    FileSize : 40 kb
    FileCreation time : 12/01/2002 17:03:51
    Last accessed : 09/04/2002 22:32:09
    Build : 1.0.0.7
    OS : No executable
    Description:BDEFdiTest
    Version:1, 0, 0, 7
    ProductName:Brilliant Digital Entertainment Inc. BDEFdiTest

    Other file:D:\WINNT\system32\bdeinsta2.dll
    FileSize : 97 kb
    FileCreation time : 12/01/2002 17:03:51
    Last accessed : 09/04/2002 22:32:09
    Build : 1.2.3.9
    OS : No executable
    Description:BDESmartInstaller (Release)
    Version:1, 2, 3, 9
    ProductName:BDEInstallerComponent Module

    Removing selected components:

    Deleting:Other,3,file,2,,D:\WINNT\bde\bdeclean.e xe , 4
    Deleting:Other,3,file,2,,D:\WINNT\system32\bded ata 2.dll,44
    Deleting:Other,3,file,2,,D:\WINNT\system 32\bdedown loader.dll,44
    Deleting:Other,3,file,2,,D:\WINNT\s ystem32\bdefdi. dll,44
    Deleting:Other,3,file,2,,D:\WINNT\system32 \bdeinst a2.dll,44
    Deleting:Other,1,HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT,2,.b 3d,,
    Deleting:Other,1,HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT,2,.b3dini ,,
    Deleting:Other,1,HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT,2,.s3d,,
    D eleting:Other,1,HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT,2,b3dini_auto_f ile,,
    Deleting:Other,1,HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT,2,bdepla yer.bde playerctrl,,
    Deleting:Other,1,HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT,2 ,bdeplayer.bde playerctrl.1,,
    Deleting:Other,1,HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT ,2,bdesmartinsta ller.bdesmartinstaller,,
    Deleting:Other,1,HKEY_CL ASSES_ROOT,2,bdesmartinsta ller.bdesmartinstaller.1,,
    Deleting:Other,1,HKEY_ CLASSES_ROOT,2,clsid\{519581 69-d5e3-11d1-aa42-0000e842e40a},,
    Deleting:Other, 1,HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT,2,clsid\{679251 65-c4b6-11d2-b9c6-0000e84f59a6},,
    Deleting:Other, 1,HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT,2,interface\{67 925164-c4b6-11d2-b9c6-0000e84f59a6},,
    Deleting:Ot her,1,HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT,2,s3d_auto_file ,
    Deleting:Other,1,HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE,2,software\b ri lliant digital entertainment,,
    Deleting:Other,1,HKEY_CLASSES_ROO T,2,typelib\{82fc 7881-aacc-11d2-b9c6-0000e842e40a},,
    • Is it possible that the Kazaa/Fasttrack folk slipped it in via Morpheus before they made it incompatible?

      Because, now that you mention it, I have it on my box too...and I've only used Morpheus.

      -Jayde
    • I also have all of these files on my second last install, still residing on my backup drive. I've never installed Kazaa, main folder has an install date of Nov, 13, 01..........I don't remember what I was doing that day. Consider it all deleted.
  • by peter_gzowski ( 465076 ) on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @11:34PM (#3314068) Homepage
    Read what KaZaA has to say about your privacy:

    http://www.kazaa.com/en/privacy/index.htm

    and then answer my subject line. Their own website states that "spyware is any software (that) employs a user's Internet connection in the background (the so-called 'backchannel') without their knowledge or explicit permission." They also state that:

    "The service downloads a collection of banner ads from a web server while you are online. As you use the KMD, the service rotates ads and intermittently polls the server for new ad collections. Statistics are sent to the webserver recording which ads were displayed and how often. This information is used to bill advertisers. It may also be used to target ads for you. For example, if you often click CD store ads, you will be shown more of these than pet store ads."

    I don't remember giving them "explicit permission" to do all that. I know this is preaching to the choir, but I am stunned by the obvious contradictions on their website... Thank you to the above comment poster who pointed me to KaZaA Lite. I had not heard of it previous.
    • Sorry, you gave "explicit permission" for all of the above, including the BDE client as well when you clicked "agree" on the Kazaa Installer. Read it sometime, despite that it's several pages long and in a small scroller box.
  • C|Net may have removed Kazaa downloads, but their subsidiary ZDNet still has it available [zdnet.com].

    They include a link to the C|Net story [com.com] which discusses the B3D spyware, so this is not just an oversight.

    I was all ready to applaud C|Net's decision to pull Kazaa, but this makes me wonder.
  • It seems that the biggest problem Loki has was mismanagement. No good manager would be paying themselves $125k a year when noone else is getting paid. It should have been his responsibility to go with as little pay as possible to please employees, and hopefully get themselves out of the hole. Large salaries could come later. It seems to me he had no idea what he was doing or what he was getting into, and the fault lies largely in him.

    The next largest problem is probably the confusion between open source and free software. It seems that a large number of Linux users do not know the difference. That, and why would you pay extra for a port of a game you allready owned? If that were the case, most people would install the linux version for free just because they had allready paid the original price. A better plan would have been to sell the ports to the companies, and let them sell, resell, or distribute them to existing costumers for a small fee. How about letting all the customers that 'register' their games know that if they want to use their product on linux, $5 is all it would cost them? Much better plan then trying to sell the games independantly.

    A better business plan, and better management would have almost surely led this idea to success.

How many hardware guys does it take to change a light bulb? "Well the diagnostics say it's fine buddy, so it's a software problem."

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