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Comment Re:Appleworks Paid for Development of the Mac (Score 1) 173

Yeah, same here. Great value, and everybody knew it. If they didn't, it only took a quick, "hey look at this!" demo to seal the deal. Notably, Apple still leverages software in tandem with hardware today. It's a compelling model. Not the cheapest, but very high value overall.

The only other company, I can think of right away, that did this was SGI. IRIX came with a nice set of basic multimedia tools.

Comment There is a //e Enhanced sitting on my desk right.. (Score 2) 173

. now!

I've got a project going to put a modern micro-controller into it. There are times when I will write on it too. The keyboard just brings back a wonderful state of mind and many memories of happy times.

Like another contributor up thread mentions, I owe a lot to a Mr. Krouse, who put a few of us on the machines and encouraged us to "go boldly forth", and we did! Figuring out binary math on the blackboard, typing in 6502 assembly language into the monitor to make fast little subroutines, and sounds. Shape tables. Then there was Copy II+ Yeah baby! We had some of everything floating around the school.

Text adventures were the best. I still enjoy playing them. Heh, I've not looked, but those need to be on the smartphones yesterday. Hook 'em early.


Artifacting. When I was a kid, the Apple graphics fascinated me. Other computers had a different look to them, well generally. It turns out Woz exploited NTSC to get color. The 3.58 Mhz color carrier present on composite video signals limits overall luma resolution. Small pixels end up getting translated into both luma and color because of their high frequency content. The phase between them and the reference color signal dictates which color will be seen.

Pixel position on the screen equates to color, in other words. Additionally, on all but the very first revision Apple ][ computers, the 7th bit in the high-res graphics screen would trigger a 1/2 pixel phase shift, creating the first "color cell" type graphics to be seen. Of course, that also introduced color clashing...

My first Apple experience was on the monochrome green or amber screen monitor. They had a fairly high image persistence too. I want one for some stuff today, for that exact reason. Man! We are tossing the CRT's at an amazing rate, driving up the cost considerably. I regret getting rid of my old one now, but I digress.

Simple on or off pixels made a lot of sense, until that Apple was connected to a TV where the color fringing on text could be seen, and a whole lot of it could be seen on the 80 column text! That triggered a lot of learning about TV signals, and artifacting on just about every machine I've been on since. If it outputs to TV, I've tried artifacting on it. Lots of fun.

Some of us in high school proposed making up a character set to provide for moderate resolution color graphics. Non user definable characters was seen as a clear disadvantage after we saw what the Atari, Commodore, and other machines could do. My CoCo also had a fix character set, BTW.

The number of variations on artifacted pixels ended up being quite high, with some impressive images possible. Before the Beagle Brothers software came out, we had written a simple painter program in Applesoft and were creating some fairly nice images, though many of those ONE DOT AT A TIME. When displayed on an 80's era TV, colors were seen all over the place, creating pretty solid pixel artists out of some of us.

(not me, I kind of sucked)

When double-high resolution graphics hit the scene, it became apparent that the 1Mhz 6502 wasn't really enough to fully exploit the machine capability. Until that time though, I was stunned at what people managed to do with the Apple. The other machines had faster CPU's, or better graphics chips, not just some hard-wired TTL thing, and that made for more appealing visuals in most cases, but... The Apple was a well rounded experience, and the funny thing about them was most owners had a good setup. Games saw good ports, and the experience, even the wierd audio from clicking the speaker was very good.

So much software for the Apple...

The best though? The machine was laid bare. It shipped with ROM listings, and the slots and pins inside just screamed, "hack me!", and the built in monitor said, "program me!"

Those years spent learning how to get an Apple to do stuff were responsible for my professional work today. We learned so much!

Some days, I'm crappy, burned out feeling, just funky. That's why the Apple is on my desk! I can boot up a game, and yes I still have floppies from that time and they work about as well as the new ones I bought to hold whatever disk image I want to fool with.

Appleworks. This program changed everything! It's as important as VISICALC was. To a high-schooler, VISICALC was "Star Trek" technology, and the funny thing was everybody was into it, kids, teachers, business people, everybody. Appleworks was the same way, because it brought some productivity to the masses on computers. To me, that was one of the distinguishing factors between the Apple ][ and many other 8 bit machines.

When I wanted to play games or create music, I would go for the Atari or C64, because they had capabilities that generally exceeded the Apple. But, when I actually wanted to get work done, it was the Apple every time. I kept my original into the mid 90's, authoring papers and doing basic business modeling stuff on it, despite having a PC at that time. (the PC was used for some early CAD and industrial purposes)

A well equipped Apple makes a potent 8 bit workstation! The TRS-80 could come close, as could the Color Computer, particularly the CoCo 3, but not until near the end. Apples were there and potent, despite limitations, pretty much from the beginning. Open made a big difference!

One could continue to invest in an Apple, adding things into the slots, improving the machine very seriously over the course of ownership. Advanced graphics and sound could be added. Scientific test / measurement cards were available. Industrial control. Video overlay. Big RAM. Big disk. You name it, and there was somebody doing it on an Apple, if it could be done. When IBM created the PC, it's clear they saw how that was all working and emulated it, though not doing such a fine job as was done on the old Apple at first. Took a few iterations to really nail it all down.

Today, the other thing I do on the Apple, besides write idle programs for entertainment and play games, is some electronics. It's fairly easy to bring a cable out to a breadboard and do stuff! The low speed doesn't get in the way of anything, meaning it's just a great place to explore the hardware / interfacing side of things, much like we will do with modern micro-controllers. My other 8 bitters are more complicated, the need to manage the special chips and such complicates the machines. The Apple is just really simple and useful, and that to me defines the machine more than anything else does.

Apple ][ forever, or at least until my //e dies off, at which point I may just get another one. After so many years, it's hard to imagine it not being there on the desk...

(god, we are all turning into old fuckers... getting old sucks)

Comment A fairly successful scheme (Score 1) 635

Nobody here is going to like this, but...

I've seen the following policy make a significant impact on piracy and it did so in a revenue positive way.

The licensing scheme was changed to one that was not so easily cloned. A simple MAC address or DISKID won't cut it. Hash a few factors and put some work into the hash so it makes sense after users do basic things that users do. Where the hash will fail, offer new licenses under update contract or something, and they just deal. That stuff costs a little, and they need to respect the license, and you need to service them when things happen.

From there, you know it will get cracked right? So let that happen!

When the system operates normally, all is good. That's a paying customer, entitled to their use rights, privacy and all that jazz. They have a maintenance contract that gets them license service too, accounting for dead machines and what not. In practice, setup and licensing isn't typically onerous, and the problems with that hash have been few.

So, if it's crackable, what's the deal?

For somebody who has cracked the software, it works just great! But, it also collects use info, and the data needed to identify the machine, and it sends it home, in the form of a running log, and it's done in a sporadic way too. The user isn't going to know, unless they are really looking. That's the twist. A paying user is entitled to their use and privacy, information security, etc... no worries. The infringing user? There are no expectations of any kind. Leverage that.

This monitor capability is built into the software on various levels, and it watches for various license use cases and stays silent to respect the users who bought in and are getting their stuff done, seeing the value. Where the software is operating on an unknown use case, it phones it in.

What has been the impact?

For paying users, none really. Everybody was informed, and we had a few folks call in wanting to know details. We provided them, and they have no worries.

For the infringers, it's been quite interesting. I've been involved with this kind of software for years, and casual piracy has always been at issue, but it's not really a revenue problem. People get up to speed in various ways, and one of those is running some stuff to get experience for a job. Education versions are out there, as are trials, and they are not hard to get, and they are basically full featured too. That was a nice balance, because...

Some of the infringers are a revenue problem. The people running stuff for hobby, learning, etc... weren't prospects because the economics are not there. However, we have found that a pretty fair number of prospects do choose to run stuff to profit, and they often do so without the owner of the business even aware!

Over time, instances of piracy that were resolved were few, and those were often done by local sales who were in the know, and deals got done. Last year alone, the instances of infringers who stepped up to buy a license after being tagged hard were very high.

Typical response is to analyze the log, research the entity infringing, have legal draft it up, then send out the letter. That can very easily be cookie cutter, based on a few use cases derived from the logs. From there, the people infringing are made aware of the problem, and the assumption is some kind of error, or management issue at first. That's easy. Buy a license, or licenses depending, and from there, become a customer, no worries, no discussion. Easy.

If it needs to escalate, various things are done, always offering the simple out of a license at list, with full contract rights, and renewals, etc... no penalties.

The vast majority of people will get the letter, phone up sales, and just buy in as if nothing happened. I think that's the key there. They have the out, and when they take it, it's a good experience, the same good experience everybody gets. They need to know the remedy is complete. Just get on the bus, and the ride will be fine, just like it is for everybody else.

The asses go the hard road, and it's really as ugly as they choose to make it, and as much as you are willing to spend;.

If I were you guys, I would implement something very similar, and release it in a version, and the service patches for the last couple versions. Include the policy change somewhere, so it's fair and square, and then get the logs. From there, one single person can just do the work to get more folks paying, and do the work to keep the experience clean as possible. Collect 'em, and have somebody start the work.

In the letter, frame it as a clear act of infringement and let them know what that means legally. That's necessary. Then, just put the offer out there. A license is X, your sales person is Y, and here are the steps to get compliant, and here are the benefits of doing that. All you need to do is Z, and you will not even see a downtime beyond just loading up the proper license credentials, supplied upon payment, etc...

The person authoring the letter, just refers to sales, who can call in on a "lead" same as any other lead, and nothing really needs to be said, unless they want to talk about it. In that case, let them know how the business is structured, development costs, benefits of a license, and your sincere desire to add value to what they are doing, and by adding that value, earn the license fair and square, just as they are doing. That message works very well, because it's often seen that software isn't like manufacturing, or some other physical good. When they understand that families need to eat for software the same as what they are doing, and that the value they realize from the software isn't any different from what they are doing, it's really hard for them to just say, "no"

Spend some time on that approach, giving them the outs, education, and a path to valid use that isn't anything different, no stigma attached, nothing other than anyone else, welcome to the family, how can we help, kind of thing.

You won't get 'em all. The smarter ones will use virtual hardware, or will operate the software off-line, etc... They likely wouldn't pay anyway, and you can always queue the log, looking for a net connection on startup, too. They could log a year of use, and connect, and... there you go. And hey, we are all family here right? Who hasn't gotten a kick start in this way?

Most importantly, insure the use cases for compliant use are rock solid. You don't even want ONE instance of somebody running it on a valid use license getting out there. Encode the software identifier, and their customer ID, so that records can be checked and focus on the ones that matter.

Basically, I'm saying to get the data, then do the sales work. This is better than an escalation of DRM forces that won't really be productive anyway. Those that really want to crack it and run it are going to. But, those paying for them to do that likely don't know, or do know, and when tagged on it, will take the out given and continue business with few worries.

The rest? Court is expensive... Up to you guys.

I suppose some education version, with limits that make sense, or with ADS, or something makes sense. You have to balance that with your existing and loyal customers, and future revenue. It's not good to offer up something really viable for use cases where you've got people seeing enough value to pay what you guys feel it's worth. Be very careful about that. It doesn't take much to deflate that, costing you far more than the effort is worth. So if you do put something out there, make sure it's strongly differentiated from the commercial offering. Same with discount or limited feature packages. A solid analysis of your current customer base, feature sets, options, etc... should be the very first thing you do.

The second thing you should do is examine the data on the deals you lost, if you have that data. I don't know how you sell. Where those losses were due to cost, it's extremely likely your pricing isn't at issue. REMEMBER THAT. What is at issue is your failure to demonstrate the full value the software brings to their operations. The better you communicate that, the more solid your pricing can be, and in general, the higher that pricing can be.

Deviating from that, when your business is selling software licenses and or annual contracts is a race to the bottom. Once you step down that path, it is very, very difficult to raise the bar again. Think it over from multiple angles before doing anything like releasing free to use versions.

Clearly this is a commercial software oriented post. I do that for a living and have for a while. Having software be open frees people of this stuff, but there are a lot of niches where the development effort and potential user base just aren't of scale needed to justify ongoing open efforts. I'm posting with that dynamic in mind.

Where closed makes sense, good pricing and licensing policy is very important, as is annual service and support contracts. From there, roping in users that should be paying is where your revenue potential is, which is the intent of the process I just outlined.

Comment Re:89 Corolla = 42 MPG freeway, 32 City and it's.. (Score 1) 633

I do not work for an oil company.
I do not own a hybrid car, but people close to me do. I've had some quality behind the wheel time and cost metrics because of that.
My preference would be we move well away from oil. It is time, and that time can't come quickly enough!
Alcohol would work nicely too. Brazil does that, having some where near 40 percent of it's cars running on alcohol.
When I can get an electric car that is a net gain, I'll gladly drive one. Hoping they sort things out soon.

At this time, hybrid cars are not the money saver people believe they are. They might not ever be! All electric, or alternative fuel may well prove out to be the best option. I don't know and eagerly await new tech to evaluate.

For me, the ROI on the hybrid doesn't warrant buying one. If I were in a different scenario, I would consider one just to support the overall advancement of transportation tech, but I'm not.

Lots of people buy them to save money, and that's not going to be a favorable experience in many cases, which should explain my post nicely enough now.

Having sorted that out, you do know I can counter with snide stuff right?
Do you actually DRIVE your hybrid?
How long have you had it?

I've owned mine since 120K miles or so, over a period of 15 years. .12 / mile inclusive. Cheap ass and very efficient.

It would be a smart wager to say you won't see the same cost metric over a similar period with similar mileage, which was the secondary point of my post.

Comment Re:92 Hinda Civic VX (Score 1) 633

Yep. Nice MPG on that one. And the mechanical engine construction out of that time? Out of this world good. Bet yours doesn't burn oil yet either. Mine goes the 5K without being down after 320K + miles. Insane.

(goes off to read the differences in Civic engines, care to share that engine specification? I'm shopping for a second lean car for kids)

Comment 89 Corolla = 42 MPG freeway, 32 City and it's... (Score 2) 633

cheap ass.

Frankly, when I get 10 percent bigger wheels for it, I expect to hit near 50MPG on freeway. It's an old engine, throttle body delivery, with a simple mod or two to flatten out the timing advance system, allowing for more "sweet spot" time at cruise, with some small performance trade-off when driving at full driver demand.

I've had this car for way too many years, and total cost is about .12 per mile, inclusive of everything I've ever spent on it.

The ROI on Hybrids do not make sense at this time. Cool, if you want to early adopt and advance things, but not cool, if the goal was actually saving money on your driving.

If I could get new gears created at a cost that makes sense, I would skip the wheels and mod the rear end to put the torque curve more toward economy, stretching the gears out to make 5th cruise only, easily getting 50 MPG.

IMHO, hybrid cars suffer from complexity right now, and battery weight / performance metrics still are a bit too crappy to make any longer term sense. If we improve batteries, we can reduce complexity, significantly improving the hybrid value proposition. Still a ways off.

Maybe if we improve batteries in general, we could go with all electrics for many use cases too. Either is ok, and I could use either, given the value is really there. Today it isn't.

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